Monday, August 27, 2012

Just About Me

Just About Me

Hi! Thank you for visiting my page.  My name is Lauren, and I'm a 30-something marketing manager in New Jersey.  I rent an apartment by myself but my boyfriend, Scott, is around most of the time. My goal is to share my passion for healthy food and fitness and to hopefully inspire you to Just Be Your Best Self.

How This All Started

I want to lift things up and put them down. …

This was a popular joke circa winter of 2011 on the East Coast.  For those of you who are not familiar, this was part of a Planet Fitness commercial campaign featuring a large heavy weight lifter who was just not welcome at a civilized gym. He utters this phrase to the two skinny guys showing him around the gym who proceed to show him right out the door.  This is the only thing I could think of to say when I first met my personal trainer (now boyfriend) for a free training session at my gym. He was of course asking me what my fitness goals were and why I was there.  I honestly had no idea, or at least no idea where to begin.

Growing Up: The Evolution from Chubby to Skinny Fat

I grew up a chubby girl in the suburbs of New Jersey. I had never had shown any propensity towards being athletic. I would try out everything from dance to soccer to ice skating (usually based on whatever book I was reading at the time) but nothing stuck. My movement felt awkward, and I was not very coordinated. So I shunned sports and gravitated towards other pursuits such as writing, reading and theatre.  All through my 20s, I had an on and off relationship with health and fitness. With my weight relatively stable, I was somewhat careful about my diet but knew very little nutritional information. In retrospect, I relied way too heavily on a lot of processed health foods such as cereal bars and low-fat crackers.  My clothes fit, so there seemed to be no need to break the formula. I would also join the gym on occasion and lament I was overpaying.  Whatever the cost would be, it was too much to justify going one night a week which is what usually would happen. I had been enticed by the idea of a personal trainer for years because I wanted to go to the gym with a purpose, and to actually understand what I was doing.  However, it seemed so expensive at the time that it was reserved for rich wives with a lot of time on their hands.  I would continue to move around the gym lost or try to find the solution with at home gym equipment featured on QVC or a workout DVD purchased through Amazon.  I was thin, of course, and really didn’t need to lose weight.  Was I fit or really happy with the way my body looked, absolutely not.

The Tipping Point

What changed all of this was a terrible car accident on a scary day of black ice right before Christmas of 2010. I was driving my mother’s car, and we skidded and started to spin in the middle of the highway. We were hit by a tractor trailer that pushed us off into the guard rail. The incident was terrifying and absolutely the scariest thing that has ever happened to me.  Miraculously, my mother and I appeared to walk away unscathed.  Not surprisingly, a few days later a lot of pain started in my shoulder area and upper back. It was absolutely awful sitting through a day at work feeling it getting worse. So I started seeking help through chiropractic care, and while it did ease the pain, it was not the cure I had hoped for.  Finally one day, my chiropractor told me that I would never feel better unless I started to exercise and build my upper body strength.  This meant weights and that was a dangerous road to go down for me.  Whenever I started lifting weights either at the gym or at home via a DVD, I would inevitably hurt myself and give up.  So I decided to finally invest the money in some personal training, so I could learn what I was doing. After a few months, my trainer was leaving the gym.  I still had a few sessions left on my package. I honestly really just wanted a refund for the balance. I did not feel much better and even though I claimed it was not my motivation, I felt no closer to the hard abs and tighter thighs that I had hoped would be a by-product of my dedication. Since no gym likes to lose money or offer refunds, the manager promised me I would really click with the new guy.  She wanted to give me a complimentary session.  Reluctantly, I agreed since I knew they wouldn’t give me any money back.  I was also nervous since I still felt very self conscious at the gym and did not want to work out with a guy, let alone a cute one.  There was a very adorable blonde trainer at the gym, and I was really concerned that he might be the very one this manager was talking about. Sure enough, it was. Ugh…my Target workout pants felt very un-sexy already.

So I did of course need to buy some better workout clothes to up the ante.  I felt I needed to look cuter if I was ever going to hang out with this guy outside of the gym. Oddly enough, I began to feel very comfortable with him and in the gym environment. Unlike my first trainer, he truly understood the damage I had suffered from my accident and the work that needed to be done to get me functioning again. It took a few months for him to ask me out (although he claims he never did) and for me to start to see changes in my body. I began to become hooked on a new way of thinking that had me feeling stronger, in control of my body, and looking better. A little over a year later, Scott is my go-to resource on all things training related, but he does not really have the time to train me one on one anymore.  It should not be anyone’s goal to need a personal trainer indefinitely. The goal is to have them educate you and help you access your potential. I do miss that time we used to spend together, but I also feel incredibly empowered going to the gym and working out on my own usually with the guys who are the only ones who ever lift weights.  I often think they are very confused by me.  Who is the girl with the lip gloss and the perfect manicure moving around that bar and plates?  I must confess I do enjoy being “that girl.”


My interest in training has spilled over into so many areas of my life. It has been a great gift to me. I used to be a happy hour regular.  While I do enjoy a glass of wine at dinner or a cocktail, it became hard to fit both in since I go to the gym after work.  I believe in balance. The rewards I was getting through working out were far more impactful than any $2 draft hour had ever been.  Plus all the extra drinking seemed like a bad idea once I started to appreciate how it was actually impacting my health. Not to mention the bloat and headaches. Instead, I began to care about nutrition and organic food and started to research different types of recipes in books, magazines and websites.  My boyfriend and I cook together a lot. I also began to design a lot of recipes of my own, as I wanted to create healthier versions of foods that I loved. I began to attend yoga classes to improve my flexibility, but it opened up my mind as well. At the age of 33, I started to see that I was beginning to become an improved version of what I was…looking better, feeling better, buying new clothes to reflect my individual style and searching for what would truly make me happy. I am excited to be on this path, but I still have a lot a lot of work to do. My philosophy is that nothing should hold you back from doing what makes your heart sing….so, isn’t it time you became your best self?

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