Strong Is the New Sexy

My Kickass Story on Getting My “Formula for Fierce”


By Nicole Polizzi

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A number of years ago, most people thought Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was destined for either rehab or prison. When she rose to stardom on the MTV breakout series, Jersey Shore, she was twenty pounds overweight from her steady diet of nachos and alcohol. Today, not only is she a mother of two, but she’s as fit and trim as she’s ever been. She’s married to the love of her life and father to her children, but most importantly, she’s strong both in her body and sheer determination. In short, she’s got her life together and now shares with her fans how she’s transformed both her body and mindset — and shows how they can do it too! In Strong Is the New Sexy, Snooki gives her “formula for fierce” and inspires readers to tap their own deep wells of girl power.



Strong LoveStrong Love

I’m married, bitches!


Jionni and I had a strong bond before we said “I do.” We had two kids and built a house together, but nothing really seals the deal like a legal document. The knot is officially tight now. As Jionni says, “Tight as a noose.” He thinks he’s very funny. He’s got a lot to learn.

I know people say, “I don’t need a piece of paper.” You might not need it. But I, for one, wanted it. The piece of paper is like a pair of fur-lined handcuffs that lock you together. According to our marriage license, verified by the state of New Jersey, Jionni is my property, and I’m his. The only way he’s getting out of this marriage is if I kill him first. That’s not going to happen, because I’d really miss him.

Our relationship had been through a lot of changes. We started as a casual fling. Then we were friends with benefits. Then we decided to be exclusive and called each other boyfriend and girlfriend. Next, I got pregnant with Lorenzo, and we got engaged, making us fiancés. Then we were baby daddy and baby mama. And now, we’re husband and wife.

Most people do this in a different order. But we’re not most people.

Did you see that movie The Five-Year Engagement with Emily Blunt and Jason Segel? No? Me neither. If a movie doesn’t have aliens, ghosts, zombies, Vin Diesel, or Ben Affleck, I have zero interest. Anyway, the premise of this movie does ring (wedding) bells for me. It’s about a couple that gets engaged, and then, for a hundred reasons, can’t get around to planning a wedding. The movie came out the same year Jionni and I got engaged, and I remember thinking at the time, “No way in hell is that going to happen to us.” Kewl. It totally did.

Waiting to become a wife was an endurance test, like the SATs or a marathon. I sucked at the SATs. My score was 200, the amount they give you to fill in your name. And I’ve never run a marathon. I made it from engagement to marriage like a boss, though. No matter how long it took, I was not going to be denied My Special Freakin’ Day. Oh, it sucked having to wait. Patience is one muscle I will never stop needing to develop.


Hey. This is Stephanie, Nicole’s oldest friend. If you’re a fan of hers, you probably know who I am. I’ve appeared on her shows a few times. To be honest, I always found it awkward to “just act like yourself” with a camera in my face and four strangers watching. Nicole knew that, and respected my reluctance to be on camera. I only agreed when she pulled out the “just do it for me” card. It’s our understanding that we’d do anything for each other. For me, that means going on TV.

I remember clearly when I realized Jionni was the one for Nicole. It was around three years ago. A big group of us went to Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve. Nicole and Jionni got in a fight. She was crying about it to me on the balcony of her hotel room. She said, “For the first time, I can imagine spending my life with someone.”

My best friend really loves this guy, I thought, and told her, “You need to tell him that.”

She ran to apologize to him about whatever set off the fight, and everything was fine again between them. I saw them later that night, and he was just so sweet. He was a great guy from day one, and he genuinely cared about her—and us. Nicole comes with a lot of old friends, and Jionni didn’t shy away from us. That was a good sign. Nicole had dated some guys who were more interested in who she was as Snooki. Jionni fell in love with Nicole.

Now, they’re just a great couple. They laugh at each other and at themselves and they make everyone else laugh around them. You can see the dynamic on TV when they do the reaction segments together. They’re constantly joking around, teasing each other. They’re always in a good mood, making everyone else smile. You can’t help but have fun with them.

Jionni and I could have had a quickie wedding after he proposed on Valentine’s Day, 2012. But I was already a few months pregnant with Lorenzo, and feeling the first-trimester symptoms like a ton of bricks had landed on my uterus. Even that night, I dry heaved in the toilet and was so full of gas, I could have floated to the moon. My skin was starting to break out, and I just felt gross. The day of my wedding, I’d envisioned looking like a beautiful sexy princess in my gown, not a beached whale under a tarp. I wanted to be able to drink the champagne when people made the toasts. So we decided the wedding would have to wait until after Lorenzo was born.

When the baby arrived, we focused on taking care of him. We were living in Jionni’s parents’ basement at the time. The crib was on one side, and our bed on the other. If we got married then, would he carry me over the threshold of his mother’s house? That did not feel right. To be a real wife, I needed a real home. So, Jionni and I started looking, and found an empty lot in a new subdivision in a town nearby. We bought it. Jionni designed our dream house, and we hired a contractor to build it.

Even when the lot was just a pile of dirt, I started fantasizing about living there. I got this picture in my head of getting ready for my wedding in the upstairs master bedroom with my mom and my bridesmaids around me. When it was time, a white limo would pick me up in the circular driveway to take me to the church. Most important, after the ceremony and reception, Jionni and I would return to our home, and start our lives in the house where we’d raise our kids, and get old and wrinkly together. Once I locked in on this vision, I was not going to get married any other way.

Welp, building our house took twice as long as we thought. In the meantime, we got pregnant again with Giovanna. Our little family spent another hot, long summer sweating balls in the basement. During that time, I kept myself busy and distracted by planning our wedding. We had a moving date (September), a due day (October), and our wedding date (November). I think three of the most stressful things you can do in life are have a baby, move, and get married. We were going to do them all, within three months. I must have been insane. Only a psycho bitch would attempt this. That’s me: class A psycho bitch.

Everything fell into place, right on schedule. We moved in. Giovanna arrived almost two years to the day of Lorenzo’s birth. I had a little time to get back into shape postbaby to fit into the gown I bought a year earlier. I nailed down all the wedding details—invites, flowers, music, food, photographer, videographer, venue, dresses, bachelorette party, the list goes on and on, as anyone who’s thrown a wedding knows. Finally, finally, finally, just as all the pieces were in place, our wedding date arrived.

My Special Freakin’ Day

Our big day was huge. I’d been dreaming of my wedding my whole life, and I went all out. There were so many Insta-worthy, and we snapped them all.

When all my bridesmaids and I got ready in the kitchen. The room was bursting. Jionni and I had an enormous wedding party. He had seventeen ushers, and I had seventeen bridesmaids. Who the hell were they? Does a normal person have seventeen best friends? No. It was kind of ridiculous. I asked my crew from back in the day—way back, from preschool—including Stephanie, my bestie since we were three. I asked my Jersey Shore roomies, Deena and Sammi, and, of course, my Snooki & Jwoww costar and best friend, Jenni. Plus, there was Jionni’s sister, and sisters-in-law. The numbers add up fast. The whole crew and I hung out in our bathrobes, getting our hair and makeup done, drinking mimosas, and laughing our asses off all morning. My ladies looked gorgeous in the universally flattering Gatsby-inspired dresses I picked out. They will deffo wear those dresses again.

When I first put on my gown and veil, and posed for the photographer in my bedroom, holding Giovanna. She was only a couple of months old, but she got a custom-made white gown to wear, too. It turned out to be a good thing we had our babies before we got married. Giovanna in her sweet dress and Lorenzo in his handsome suit got to be in all the pictures the day their mommy and daddy got hitched. It was such a precious moment when Lorenzo walked down the aisle with his finger knuckle-deep up his nose. My baby picks boogers like a champ. He takes after his father.

When I stood on the second-floor landing in my full wedding outfit with the veil and bouquet and shoes for the first time, with my bridesmaids waiting at the bottom of the stairs, they awwed and said the words I wanted to hear: “beautiful,” “angel,” and “princess.” I picked the gown by Eve of Milady because it was so traditional and princessey, with poufy sleeves, and frilly lace. I felt like Cinderella going to the ball. No glass slippers, though. I had pearl-and-diamond embellished wedges. Comfortable, and sexy.

When I cried for the first time of many that day. Two enormous flower arrangements were delivered while I got dressed. My dad put them on a table in the front hall. My parents and bridesmaids watched as I opened up the cards to see who they were from. The cards said, “From your baby girl” and “From your baby boy.” Obviously, Lorenzo and Giovanna didn’t send them. Jionni did. Cue waterworks! I just lost it. We all did. My father cried so hard, he couldn’t breathe.

When I walked to the vintage white limo that took me to the ceremony, three of my bridesmaids had to hold my veil so it wouldn’t drag on the driveway. Dad and I rode to the church together. He said, “You’re all grown-up. You’re not my baby anymore. I’m very, very, very proud of you,” and then started blubbering. I wanted to punch him. When he cries, I start going, and I didn’t want to ruin my makeup. Don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled my parents are proud that I’ve grown into the woman they always told me I could be. It means so much to share this day with them and . . . oh, shit. Now I’m feeling emotional again as I type this.

When I arrived at church. Before, back at the house, I’d been nervous about everything, and did a shot of vodka to calm me down. It didn’t exactly work, and I was still anxious as we rode to church. We arrived to find dozens of paparazzi waiting outside. Seeing all those cameras got me excited. It was like being Beyoncé for a day—way better than being Cinderella. The wedding started to feel real to me. The dream was becoming a reality.

So I went into the church, and had to wait in a room for the wedding to start. I told one of the ushers, “I’m going to poop my pants.” He said, “You’re wearing a dress.” Very fucking funny. The music started. Our enormous wedding party filed down the aisle. And then it was my turn.

When I walked down the aisle, and kept my eyes on Jionni in his tux at the altar. The man of my dreams was smiling at me, waiting for me to join him. It was an incredible rush. I loved him ten times more than I ever thought possible at that moment. I kept thinking, I love him and he’s mine. I also thought, Why didn’t I spit out my gum? And, Would it look bad if I let out a big fart right now? (Nerves affect my guts like green tea. I was pinching my butt cheeks the whole walk down the aisle.) The crazy, stupid things that go through your mind when you’re two seconds from getting married, I had no idea.

When I got to the altar and the priest started talking to us about what it means to get married. No other word describes the feeling of being up there, in front of all those people, than “jitters.” The planning and waiting to get to this moment made me quake. My lips were quivering. My hands were shaking. I was so terrified to mess up my part in the ceremony, my legs were trembling. I also felt shakey from having so much love for Jionni. The emotions were overwhelming. I had to leave my body, and watch myself from above. It was an out-of-body experience.

When we exchanged vows. Jionni and I promised to be there for each other, in good times and bad, to stay together until death, to raise good Catholic children. While we were saying these important vows to each other, Jionni broke eye contact for a second. I said, “Look at me!” When I pictured this moment, I saw us staring into each other’s eyes the whole time. When he glanced down, I had to bring him back up. He busted my balls about it afterward, how I yelled at him in the middle of our ceremony. My first nag as a wife. (Get used to it, babe.)

When we slipped on our rings, both of which were made by B&B Jewelry in Totowa, New Jersey. Mine was a copy of the band on my engagement ring, so they’d look awesome together. Jionni’s ring was a copy of Brad Pitt’s wedding band. My husband is obsessed with Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt. We looked online and couldn’t find a good picture of Johnny’s ring, so we went with Brad’s. It’s two gold bands fused together with diamonds embedded on the side. I also gave him a rinky-dink cheap ass ring to wear when he’d be doing yard work or playing sports. Now, someone might say, “Why doesn’t he just not wear a ring when he’s shoveling snow or playing golf?” I don’t care what he’s doing, he could be swimming in an ocean of shit, my man will wear a damn ring 24/7 that tells the world he is mine. I wear my rings that say I’m his. It’s only fair. So shut up, Jionni, and put on your ring! (See what I mean about nagging?)

When we kissed for the first time as husband and wife. Jionni came in for a peck in the lips. My mind was going a million miles a minute. I was thinking, Holy fuck, we’re married. I just swallowed my gum. I have to poop. Now what do we do? I was so stuck in my thoughts, I wasn’t aware of what was going on. The kiss came as a surprise, and it was over before I knew it happened. So I grabbed him by the neck, and brought him down to give me another one, a nice, juicy kiss, to savor the moment and seal it in my mind forever.

When we arrived at the Venetian—the catering hall in Garfield, the best in New Jersey, the number one venue for weddings on the East Coast—and saw the reception room. I flipped shit. It was exactly as I’d envisioned it. They did it up right, with the chandeliers and centerpieces, totally nailing our Gatsby theme. Walking in there was like zooming back in time to the 1920s (although I don’t think they had LED lights, a fog machine, and video monitors back then). As a bride, you plan and plan, you obsessively search Pinterest for decoration ideas, you describe what you want in a hundred meetings—and then you walk into the space you created, and it’s beyond your wildest dreams. It was an exhilarating moment. You get one day in your whole life to be the star of your own fantasy. On my day, the Venetian set the scene perfectly. They gave me an official helper, an adorable young woman, to tell me where to go and what was happening. She was my little bitch for the night, and she was phenomenal. Everyone there did a great job feeding and entertaining our four hundred guests. I didn’t know half of them. Jionni’s parents and my family invited the second cousin from Florida that just had to be there, who I wouldn’t know if they pissed on me. It didn’t matter.

When we got a look at the cocktail-hour spread. It had twenty food stations—pasta, seafood, roast beef, homemade mozzarella. There was a suckling pig on a spit wearing a pair of sunglasses (not Snooki Shades, I noticed). I could have fed my family for a year at that cocktail hour. I didn’t get to eat any of it, though. I was upstairs in a private area, changing into dress number two. My reception dress was fun, flirty, and sleek, by Ines Di Santo. It was my “go crazy, no nuts” look, long-sleeved, lacy, silvery dress, fitted tight to my body and thighs, and then a detachable mermaid skirt so, when dancing started, I could take it off and frolic. From behind a curtain, I peeked at our guests enjoying the cocktail hour. That was the whole point: To throw an awesome party that people loved and would remember forever.

FYI: I read reports after the wedding in the tabloid trash mags that I got my wedding for free. I wish. I paid for every piece of shrimp, every slab of filet mignon, and every glass of prosecco. I don’t get stuff for free. With the exception of my two dresses, I wrote checks for everything. People, I’m not Kim Kardashian! If I want stuff, I have to pay for it.

When we were announced as Mr. and Mrs. LaValle, my hubbie and I stood behind a curtain at the top of a long, curved staircase. The curtain opened and our guests on the dance floor below could see us on the landing in all our glory. Eight hundred eyes locked on us—not a comfortable feeling. I was convinced I was going to slip in my six-inch glitter heels and fall down the stairs. But Jionni held my hand and kept me steady. I thought, My man is going to keep me from falling on my face for the rest of my life. Cue happy tears . . . again. Warning to brides: You will cry twenty times at your wedding. You will blow your nose disgustingly. Your friends will cry, and snot will flow for them, too. Your parents will blubber. The happiest day of your life will be a sobfest from beginning to end, so make sure you carry tissues and use waterproof mascara.

I took Jionni’s name. I was a Polizzi for twenty-seven years. I still am professionally. But personally, my name matches my husband’s. By becoming a LaValle, I wasn’t betraying the Polizzi name. I’m not giving up my identity. I know a lot of women feel like taking your husband’s name means you become his property, and maybe that’s how it used to be in the oldie days. But I feel that taking his name means he’s bringing me into his family, that I’m one of them. Our children are LaValles. We are family and we all have the same name. If I kept my maiden name, they’d all be LaValles, and I’d be the only Polizzi. I’d feel left out, like I intentionally kept myself apart. That was the opposite of what getting married meant to me. We were uniting our lives, linking ourselves together in every possible way. We share everything: our time, our dreams, our house, our kids, our money, and our name.

When we ran under the bridge. We survived the walk down the stairs, and our guests clapped and cheered. Yay! They didn’t break their necks on their wedding day! Our bridal party stood in two rows and made a bridge with their hands for us to run under. We’re so short, we barely had to duck down. I giggled the whole time. As Jionni ran, he tapped his friends in the balls. He thought that was hilarious. According to my hubbie, this is appropriate wedding behavior. What is wrong with him? I was soaking in the romance, and my husband was flicking his pals’ nuts.

When Jionni and I had our first dance to Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful.” The fog machine was pumping. The dance floor was lit up purple. It looked and felt like we were dancing on a magical cloud. I know that sounds corny, but when you’re a new bride, you pile on the cheese, and it’s awesome. We did the steps we rehearsed. Spin out, spin in, dip, stare into each other’s eyes, smile blissfully, be super romantic. We practiced a hundred times at home, but until we did the dance at our actual wedding, I didn’t feel the love as powerfully. When we were alone out there, on the cloud, with the lights and the music and the loving energy washing over us from our guests, I just kept thinking, I love you, you’re the one. I love you, you’re the one. It was a glorious moment.

When Dad and I had our father-daughter dance. Dad and I started dancing, and it was sweet. But then he told me to look at the video screen that appeared suddenly on the wall. A video montage of me through the years started playing, including photos of my grandparents who had died, and my uncle who had passed. Eye faucets open again, especially from Dad. It only confirmed in my mind the bonds I have with the Polizzis, my first family. That will never change, no matter what my last name is.

When Jionni and I cut the cake. I don’t remember eating anything at the wedding. I was too busy dancing and making the rounds, meeting a hundred cousins. I’d taken off the mermaid part of the dress by then, and had to change my shoes, too, because I broke a heel dancing so hard. The whole night went by in a blur. It seemed like it was just starting and then we were called to cut the five-tiered, gold-and-white, art-deco Gatsby-inspired wedding cake. Jionni and I held the knife and made the cut, and then confetti snowed all over us. That was a total surprise. First we were on the magical cloud, and then we were in a beautiful blizzard. We kissed in the confetti and I just felt so happy and blessed that Jionni—a fling, this guido I picked up at the club, didn’t even know his name and could barely remember having been with him the morning after—was the father of my babies and my soul mate. How crazy is life? It just proves that you never know what’s going to happen to you, even while it’s happening, if that makes any sense.

When my roomies and I fist pumped to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” I was thrilled to have my old Jersey Shore roomies at the wedding. Jenni is my BFF and we do everything together, including pregnancies (she gave birth to Meilani two months before I had Giovanna), and making fools of ourselves on TV. Sammi and Deena and I are still tight. Paulie and Ronnie are like my big brothers. My wedding was a mini Jersey Shore reunion. We talked about how much things change, and how much they stay the same. We used to party at Karma until dawn, dancing to house music and drinking until we puked and passed out. Now we’re old, hardly drank, and got tired at 10:00 p.m. Not that night, though. We kept going, and going, for hours.

When the after-party got underway. Most of the guests left at midnightish. And then the real party got started. Jason Kim, the designer I work with on my clothing line, and I made tracksuits for my wedding party with the word “Gatsby” on the front. We all put on our comfy clothes and went nuts. That was the best part of the wedding for me, when I was doing shots and dancing with my friends, celebrating this momentous event with the people who know me best, and have been with me through thick and thin.

When it was all over at 4:00 a.m., Jionni and I snuggled in the backseat on the way home, and decided to make a Wendy’s run in the limo. I’d been eating right and working out to look slim in my wedding dresses for months. Now that it was over, I gave myself permission to eat junk food, and couldn’t wait to bite into a cheeseburger. But when we pulled up to Wendy’s, it was freakin’ closed! I was so pissed. We got home at 4:30 a.m., and made Hot Pockets, pizza bagels, frozen french fries, and tater tots, sat down at the kitchen table, and stuffed our faces with greasy crap.

I woke up at noon the next day, hungover. The first thing I did as a married woman? Took a shit. All the nerves and jitters—not to mention the Hot Pockets—just came out of me. It was a great way to begin my life as a wife—clean, clear, and unblocked from the inside out. I still felt hungover, though. So I thought, What will make me feel better?

McDonald’s! Jionni, Lorenzo, and I drove over there and ordered the entire menu. Cheeseburgers, nuggets, fries, everything. I ate it all. Woo hoo! I can inhale the entire McD’s menu in one sitting!

I felt awful afterward. So I thought, What’ll make me feel better?

A pepperoni-stuffed calzone! Jionni found me making out with the huge calzone in the kitchen that afternoon, and said, “Whoa. My wife is eating a cow.”

I stayed in a postwedding food coma for a couple of days. But then I got back to reality (real reality, not the TV kind), and started working out again. I gained four pounds on my wedding splurge. It was worth it.

Now What?

I’m a grown-up, a wife and mother. So what do I do now? Do I plan my funeral?

I’d rather plan another wedding. I want to do it again, mainly because the first one went by way too fast. It was eight hours long, but it feels like the entire day and night just went by with the snap of a finger. I tried to take mental pictures, and we’ve got the official wedding album, too. But I feel like I missed so much of it. The only solution is to do it all over again so I can remember everything.

I said to Jionni, “Let’s renew our vows next year.”

He laughed in my face. Okay, maybe it is too soon to do another extravaganza. But I’d love to throw another huge party in ten years, and make the marriage new again. I know that, especially after you have kids, the relationship gets old. Stale. You need to make it special again, have fun and wild out. What better way to do that than throw a huge, extravagant party?

Once a party girl, always a party girl.


On Sale
Oct 13, 2015
Page Count
224 pages
Running Press

Nicole Polizzi

About the Author

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi made her mark on the MTV breakout series, Jersey Shore, the highest-rated show in the network’s history, and became the star of its spin-off, Snooki & JWoww. The bestselling novelist, podcaster, and clothing designer lives with her husband Jionni in northern New Jersey with their son Lorenzo and daughter Giovanna.

Learn more about this author