From Struggle to Success: An Interview With A Hero
Meet Nadine Hyatt: a modern-day superhero who has triumphed over obstacles, forging a unique and inspiring story of success. After bravely stepping into the flames of an unrelenting house fire to save an elderly resident and her family, Nadine suffered a torn herniated disc, four bulging discs, and severe nerve damage. Years later, Nadine’s right leg was crushed by a motorcycle, adding a further limitation to her dreams of competing as a figure competitor. Despite the severity of her injuries, Nadine fulfilled her aspirations and placed second in her first figure competition. We sat down with Nadine to learn more!
Your life history includes martial arts, world travel, a stint driving tanks in the military, and now you wear a badge and dress in blue. Would you describe yourself as a thrill seeker?
This question makes me laugh! To sum it up, I love being challenged! I enjoy living on the edge by taking part in scenarios/situations that push my limits and abilities. That feeling of adrenaline mixed with a sense of accomplishment keeps me happy and feeling grounded in life. There is definitely a thrill seeker mixed with adventurer within me; I’m always looking for new experiences to gain greater knowledge and perspective.
How’d you get into fitness?
I have been involved in various fitness-based activities since I was a little girl. I have backgrounds in ballet, track & field, cross country running, 10-pin bowling (yes, I did just say that!), rugby, dragon boating, cheerleading, MMA, and sprinting. Most recently, I have transitioned into figure modelling.
I remember being told in grade five that my school’s policy was that only grades seven and eight students could compete in the 1500m running race. I will never know what exactly was said, but my father spoke to the principal and, next thing I knew, I was racing without being allowed to officially place if I did. Coming in second place was a victory all on its own without being given a ribbon or trophy. The following year, the 1500m race was then opened to grade six students as well. I guess you could say that I have always had a competitive side to me!
Do you enjoy the pageantry aspect of fitness competing or are you focused more on building the physique? Which comes out on top?
I wouldn’t say I enjoy one aspect more than the other. At the end of the day, it all comes together by combining the two areas of focus. I find that the pageantry aspect polishes off the whole package of how a woman’s physique can be muscular and still allow a woman to look beautiful. The years, months, and weeks prior to competing are spent focusing on building the physique to attain muscle maturity, fullness, and symmetry. Day in and day out, I love this part! It goes hand-in-hand with my lifestyle of pushing limits within my means to achieve a better package each time I step on stage. Getting all dolled up the day of competing definitely adds to the experience. Let’s face it – I’m a little ham and absolutely adore being beautified by putting on a stunning bikini and getting my hair, make up, nails, and tan done.
What’s more difficult, military basic training or prepping for a show?
Both activities are physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding at times. Both also require discipline. Basic training does break you down intentionally to show that you can function and endure in any “conflict/battle” you may be faced with (sometimes without notice!). Here you do as you’re told, not speak or ask questions until told to, and you are never told you are right. You learn to put the task at hand and fellow soldiers first, working as a team and not an individual. You learn quickly to check your personal feelings and opinions at the door when entering basic training.
Unlike military training, show prep is solely about you as an individual. Although under the tutelage of a coach and team support system, each day you have to focus on ensuring you follow proper training and nutritional programs tailored to only you. This program tests your willpower, self-discipline, and your patience.
I have never thought to compare the two before, but I could see basic training being similar to “on season” prep while the continued training and education is more similar to the “off season” until the next field exercise or course. With that being said, basic training is far more intense than show prep will ever be.
Are you as comfortable in the stage suit as you were in fatigues?
As comfortable as I am in a bikini on stage, I will never be as comfortable as I was when I wore fatigues. I love donning my custom-fit suit decked out in crystals, but there is a sense of vulnerability still knowing how exposed I am when I step into the spotlight. Fatigues cover the body and the training is not to be judged on how well your physique has matured but to know you’re capable of protecting lives and surviving combat.
At the end of the day, I am certainly proud to have been able to wear both and represent two major parts in my life that I will always be passionate about.
Your life story reads as though you’ve chased down challenges & overcame obstacles to get where you wanted to go. However, you’ve had some dealt to you which you didn’t choose, such as the losses of family members at such a young age. What kept you going through those tough times?
Looking back, everything felt surreal. There are so many variables that have impacted my emotional state over the years. Quite possibly, I was on what some would refer to as “auto pilot” mode.
You previously brought up military training; perhaps what was instilled in me from back then and what I have learned through the fitness industry has kept me focused and balanced. I know for certain that the constant support and encouragement from friends, family, and even people whom I’ve never met through social media really helped me cope during this time.
In my first competition last year, I dedicated competing for my parents. The significance of that weekend, landing on the day of my father’s anniversary from when he passed away and it being mother’s day weekend, was colossal to me. I had the mindset that nothing was going to prevent me from stepping on that stage (with or without ligaments in my leg attached to my glute!). A month prior to my second competition, I had asked my mother if she was scared of dying and her reply was that she had already lived her life and was merely watching the time pass by. Her response is a continuous reminder that no matter what opportunities or obstacles life hands me, I am extremely grateful and will make the most of all of them.
No matter what I have endured, I also remind myself that there are a substantial number of people out there far worse off than I have or ever will be. So rather than not getting up after being knocked down or willingly give up or give in, I keep going because I can.
Any words you live by?
I live life to the fullest within my capabilities, but I always push limits. I live by my motto of never closing a door before walking though it! I don’t want to look back on life and say, “If only I had…” or “I wish I had…”.