The day has finally come, the end of Mission: Incredible NOLA. It’s been a great ride.

Remember the challenge?

“It's time to stop breaking the promises you make to yourself to eat right, exercise and develop healthier habits. For the next three months, from 05 September 2011 to 05 December 2011, MISSION: INCREDIBLE NOLA focuses on getting healthier one day at a time. There is only one rule: do a little more today than you did yesterday to keep your promise of taking better physical care of yourself. Follow that one rule - EVERYDAY - and the changes you see in three months will be incredible.”

We’ve talked about exercise, obesity, heart disease, cancer, food and the emotional hold it has on so many of us. I’ve detailed my meals and illustrated the good, the bad and the ugly of calorie and fat gram counting.

Assorted candy. (Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Yesterday morning, December 5th, I got on the scale and found I had lost ten pounds. Ten pounds in thirteen weeks is not too shabby, especially when I know it is weight I won’t regain.  Mission: Incredible NOLA is a way of life, not a fad.

When you think about it, making changes – even small ones – in a city like New Orleans is a tall order. I’m in the land of pralines, beignets, fried seafood, gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp creole and fried turkey. And that’s just for Sunday dinner!

That was the thrill, though: challenging life-long habits and cultural mores, and resolving to find a healthier way to live. Excuse me while I pat myself on my ten-pound lighter back.

It hasn’t been easy, not by a long shot. That devil behind the deli counter I spoke about before is still giving me that crap-eating smile every day as I attempt to choose salad over red beans, rice and fried chicken.

Sometimes I give him the finger and walk away proudly with my arugula, balsamic dressing and grilled chicken. Other times, I throw my hands up, say “What the hell!” and grab a roll of paper towels to wipe up all the grease from the barbecue ribs I’m going to inhale.

Hey, life is about balance, right?

Had it not been for Mission: Incredible NOLA, I doubt if I’d be an avid walker, getting in four to six miles per day, four to five times per week. It’s done wonders for my cardiovascular fitness and my self-esteem. I can see and feel the changes in my body and it’s great. I’m not the same person I was three months ago.

I was asked recently to spearhead an effort similar to MI NOLA for one of the local Mardi Gras parade groups here in the city, also known as “krewes.”

This particular krewe hosts an annual 5K run/walk, and the chairperson of the run/walk wants to increase participation. He felt like more members of the krewe and the general public would sign up if there was a support group that helped individuals to prepare a few months in advance. It felt great to be seen as a go-to resource for inspiration and encouragement for a healthier lifestyle.

I’d like to thank all of you out there who’ve been so supportive and helped me through the rough days when all I wanted to do was lie in bed and eat ice cream. And thanks for sharing your stories and your journeys, as well. Most of all, thanks for putting up with my corny jokes. I believe everything is better with a little humor.

Several months ago, when I reached the age of forty one, I figured it was time to take stock of my life and give myself some direction. We don’t live forever, and it would kill me to look back and think I hadn’t done my best with all the gifts and blessing I’ve been given.

I worked hard on crafting a mission statement to guide me. After months of powerful self-reflection, it seemed to me that my life’s purpose is to have the words I speak and the things I do inspire and liberate people to live happier and more fulfilled lives. My life’s mission is to relentlessly communicate the idea that together we will survive, thrive and create our best life.

 I hope that Mission: Incredible NOLA and its message of “small changes, big difference” has helped you to begin to create your best life in some small way.

Remember, you can do it.

Geauxing farther,

Nicole P. Moliere

Nicole Moliere is an artist, speaker and freelance writer based in New Orleans, Louisiana. She can be reached at and

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