Who is Holly Cotton?


Nurse, Professor, Author, Fitness Instructor, and Owner of Strong Squad


LSU- The University of Texas Arlington- Western Governor’s University (Masters)

Major: Masters of Science- Nursing

Motto: “Life is short, Live it!”

Unknown facts: “Breast cancer survivor I don’t eat any white sauces or dips. No sour cream, mayo, alfredo, etc. It makes me want to throw up.”

Fitness start: “I have always been into working out, but after cancer, I got into “fitness”. When you go through a period in life where surgery stops basic movement, where you can’t even lift your arms up to put your hair in a ponytail or reach to shave your legs it changes your mentality. I vowed when I healed I would become the strongest version of myself I could be. I started lifting heavier and focusing on challenging myself, but I also changed my mindset. I don’t stress over the small stuff. I feel I am also the strongest mentally I have ever been as well.”

Fitness advice: “Don’t give up! Don’t be discouraged by slow results. It’s so much easier to stay on track instead of constantly falling off and having to start all over again. Once you choose yourself and choose to make your health a priority don’t lose focus.”

Top 3 fitness tips:

  1. Stop minimizing accomplishments. Just because someone else did more reps or used more weight doesn’t mean you aren’t working just as hard.
  2. Focus on your diet. The reason “fad diets” work for quick results is because it forces people to look at what they are eating. Its easy to eat a whole bag of chips or candy. Look at the labels and make sure to measure out the exact serving sizes.
  3. Don’t be afraid of failure. Before you say you can’t do something try. Try to lift the heavier weight, try to do one more rep, don’t say you can’t do something unless you truly can’t. Don’t sell yourself short.

Social Media:

IG/ : @hollycotton_

Website: www.defineyourstrong.com

Nutrition: We all have time to prepare and eat right.

“I usually eat the same thing everyday. When I go on vacation I eat freely in moderation, but that is my break from prep! My daily intake is always a veggie smoothie with sea moss, collagen, a scoop of protein, lots of veggies.”

“Breakfast is 2-3 strips of turkey bacon and and half of a cup of egg whites. Lunch is always what I’ve prepped. I eat a lot of chicken-may grow feathers one day. I usually do a sweet potato, sweet potato fries or veggie pasta for carbs and asparagus or broccoli for my veggie. I have a cheat meal on Fridays. I usually go to a pizza place with my kiddo and eat without any guilt. My advice is always quit making excuses.”

“We all have time to prepare and eat right. Its easy to say I don’t have time to meal prep, but I put stuff in my air fryer while I shower or some other way I multitask. Make yourself a priority. Is it fun not having greasy fried food every day? No! But I know that it’s important for my health and I want to be here for a long time!”

Physical: My most effective activity is definitely HIIT (high intensity interval training).

“Biggest workout mistakes people make in my opinion are bad form and doing reps to quickly. I see this all of the time. Just slow down! Hold the contraction for a few seconds and fight the resistance going back to the resting position.”

“My most effective activity is definitely HIIT (high intensity interval training). I incorporate HIIT several days a week during my workouts. I have a HIIT day as well. People think HIIT means jumping around, but you can do movements that keep your heart rate elevated and get a good burn. So even people with injuries can do HIIT.”

Mental: The feeling of accomplishment is a huge motivator.

What Motivates You?

“Besides looking good in a bikini, I love challenging myself. Getting older has definitely made me question if I can or cannot do certain things, but it never stops me. I love being able to push through another rep. I love the feeling of overcoming whatever is put in my way. Weights are just another obstacle to overcome and come out stronger on the other side. So the feeling of accomplishment is a huge motivator.”

“I plan my days around my must dos and then everything else just fits in where it can. If I can’t do it today I don’t stress about it. Stress brings on a bunch of problems (lack of sleep, headaches, weight gain) that I don’t want. I know I need to workout so I always add that as a must do and I already have my meals prepped so that makes eating balanced easier. My career is pretty demanding and I have very long days. I make sure to take my time off-I love to travel, so I don’t feel overwhelmed with my day to day tasks.”

Spiritual: Spiritual strength comes from loving my kids.

“My spiritual strength comes from loving my kids. I know if I am sad or depressed I can’t be the best mom for them. It has been hard fighting cancer and being a survivor.”

“Year after year the fear is there that this may be the year they find something else. I just choose to keep a positive mentality about things. It’s easier to stay in a happy place and then come back to it when you get depressed rather than staying in a dark place and having on a few happy events. I was raised with a very devout Christian mother and that is always embedded in me as well.”