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Nora Benazzi Cebulski

This mother of six children has become stronger – both physically and mentally – over the course of her fitness journey.

Nora Benazzi Cebulski

Written by Nora Benazzi Cebulski

I was always the “heavy” girl through adolescence. As the oldest of eight kids, I ALWAYS had a lot on my plate — figuratively and literally. I had five brothers under me who were all crazy athletes. I was definitely not athletic, so they graced me with the nickname “thunder thighs" somewhere during 7th grade.

I always had self-esteem issues that I wanted to blame on someone else. I went to an all-girls' high school and college because I was shy and really intimidated by guys.

I was lucky enough to study abroad in Paris in my junior year of college. This is where things got out of control. I basically ate my way through the country – binge-eating to overcome anxiety and depression. I was MISERABLE and weighed 167 pounds at 5'3”.

I met my husband upon my return to the U.S. I was super obsessed with him (still am, actually!), but at that point, I figured I HAD to lose weight to keep him, so I decided my next diet would be to starve myself.

When starvation didn't work, I turned to laxatives and throwing up. By the time we married in 1996, I weighed 96 pounds. My family and friends asked me if I was sick. And I took it as a compliment. 

Being that thin had its advantages: I scored a huge job as an executive assistant to a venture capitalist in NYC. I was whisked in cars to the best restaurants and events. I met celebrity clients daily.

But my home life was falling apart. I had no stamina for anything involving my new husband. I just wanted to be rich, famous, and thin. 

Six months into that job (and our marriage), I got pregnant with our first child. I was 26. Pregnancy hormones mellowed me and gave me a reason to get healthy, so I started exercising and eating well. I had six kids in 10 years and with each one, I got stronger — physically and emotionally. 

The gym became my home. Whether I had a good day or a bad day, I went to work it out at the gym. When my youngest started kindergarten, I decided to make my hobby my lifestyle.

I wanted to share my fitness journey with others. On one of my husband's business trips to Hawaii, I took my NASM test and prepped for the CPT exam. I stopped doing classes at the gym and picked up some heavy weights. I used virtual online trainers and trained with my co-workers to really get strong. My brothers call me "thunder thighs" for a whole new reason now! 

I found Jim Stoppani upon the advice of a girlfriend back in October of 2017. It was actually on a dare that we started Ripped in 6, our first JimStoppani.com Challenge.

I started taking JYM supplements (Pre JYM, Post JYM, Pro JYM, ZMA JYM, Vita JYM and Shred JYM) and I seriously couldn’t believe the increase in all of my weights — or how shredded I became!

I investigated and studied carb cycling, intermittent fasting, and periodization. I learned how to balance stuff out and how to give myself amazing results. I weigh in these days at 121 pounds, which is far more than 96 pounds. I look so much healthier and leaner. Oh, and of course, stronger!

The thing I want to emphasize the most about the JYM Army is the amount of genuinely supportive, loving, amazing, and inspiring people I have met. This journey with Jim Stoppani and his Army is NOT only about lifting weights. It's about lifting people up. It's about believing that nothing is impossible. It's about paying it forward. 

And I'm so glad that I'm a part of this amazing journey.  


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