Written By: Nikki Utley
CEO/Publisher BillyBow Aguirre asked me a while ago, “What is my legacy?” and “What am I leaving behind?” In order for me to answer that question, I turn back to a previous generation of my family. I look to my grandmother, Alcine Utley. She was an outspoken leader in her community who played a major role in giving back to the less fortunate in Trenton, New Jersey. One year, she fixed a Thanksgiving dinner and served it out of her beauty salon for the entire neighborhood, even after they broke into her shop and stole from her, littered her property and sprayed graffiti all over her building, she still wanted to feed them. She believed whether it is money, insight, or truth, God wants us to share it with others. There is a tremendous blessing to be gained by opening our hearts and lives to those who need to know about unconditional love and forgiveness.
I also look back to my great grandmother Lucille Jiles aka ‘Little Mom’, the true matriarch of my family. She was a trailblazer in her time, not only obtaining a college degree and a master’s degree, as a Black woman in rural Alabama, but becoming the 1st Black to hold the position of Superintendent of Troy, Alabama’s then segregated school system. She was a strong advocate for education, despite all of the inequalities; she dedicated her life to providing quality education to all. She along with my great grandfather (Folly Jiles) made the ultimate sacrifices, so that their children and grandchildren could enjoy a full life that consisted of a strong intellectual and cultural background. She was very much the political activist in the 60’s during the Civil Rights movement, and garnered the respect and admiration of many of her contemporaries, Black and White.
When I look back to these great women in my family I recognize my purpose. I am a leader. I am an advocate for change. I am the voice for the unheard. I am the beacon of light for anyone who has lost their way.
So, in honor of my family legacy, I’ve strived through my own fitness journey to touch people’s lives in any way I can. I’ve teamed up with fitness personality Jodi Tiahrt at Quest Nutrition, a brand that prides itself on helping people to eat naturally. I’ve followed the direction of fitness and figure competition coach and mentor, Cathy
Savage. She’s paved the way for many women to transform their physiques naturally by teaming up with Isagenix. Thanks to the Savage team, I’ve joined the Isagenix family, an organization that is committed to making an impact on world health and free people from physical and financial pain, and in the process create the largest health-and-wellness company in the world.
Most importantly, I’ve partnered with a dear friend, David Wilks, who came to me with the idea of creating a platform for Black women in fitness to stand upon. I jumped on the idea right away and we created Black Fitness Women, a support group that is dedicated to acknowledging Black women who compete or simply train and strive to promote a positive example of health and fitness. According to the office of Minority Health, “African American women have the highest rates of being overweight or obese compared to other groups in the U.S. About 4 out of 5 African American women are overweight or obese.” With BFW, we are giving Black women an opportunity to change their lives and not become a statistic. They can no longer use the excuse that there’s no one like them in mainstream media to give them hope and motivation about their health. When they see BFW, it’s like looking in the mirror. They will be inspired by women who look like them and have the same needs as them.
My goal is to continue the legacy my great grandmother and grandmother left behind. They were leaders. They lived to make a change. I know that when it’s my time to pass on, no one will remember how many trophies I won from competing, no one will remember how many likes or comments I got on cute pictures on Facebook, no one will remember the crazy reality shows I produced…What people will truly remember and honor is how I used my life to make a difference in other people’s lives…that is my legacy.
So, I thank you “Little Mom” and Alcine Utley for being strong, intelligent, resilient women who drew the blueprint for my legacy. In all that I do, I do in homage to you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nikki Utley is FitnessX Magazine Cover Model and serves as a Producer on a host of acclaimed reality television programs such as NBC’s Emmy-nominated “The Apprentice” and Bravo’s top rated “Flipping Out”. Nikki’s passion to motivate others has led her to establish a fitness career. Currently, she’s the overall winner of NPC’s MuscleContest.com Bikini Masters Division 2012. Her unwavering focus to help women know their worth and ability to succeed propels her to be a formidable force in the fitness world.
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FitnessX Magazine 2012: FitnessX Magazine for November 2012
FitnessX Magazine hopes to inspire and motivate women to live a healthy lifestyle. Our writers/models will inspire you with articles and tips about fitness, health & wellness. All our models are natural athletes and excel in other disciplines. At FitnessX Magazine, our tagline says it all “Inspiring YOU to Live Well…Naturally!