It’s an incredible feeling to watch someone you know make an amazing life transformation and that’s what today’s blog is about. This is a story from Lauren Nolan who has worked through many life challenges and is determined to Live a Great Story. It’s never too late to take control of your health and life. This is a tremendous example we can all learn from. Here is the journey she has been on with additional questions & answers and photos from an unhealthy to healthy Lauren with captions at the end.
As a child I was always active and thin. I lived on cheese sandwiches. White American cheese on white bread was my favorite. I’m Italian so I grew up eating a lot of pepperoni, salami, cheese platters and main meals including lasagna, baked ziti and other pasta dishes. My mom also made a lot of briskets and beef stews. I was not a picky eater. I loved cheese! I could eat cheese at every meal.
I had two boys, Dylan and Gavin, and my goal was to get in better shape than I was before I had them, which I did. I was running and eating a low carb diet. In 2009 I tried out for the Atlantic City Bikini Calendar and I was Ms. August.
Things Began to Change for the Worse
In 2011 my family and I moved to Florida and I got off my exercise regimen. I had a foot issue that lingered for years from an injury in high school. In January 2012, I had surgery to repair my heel which was off-center, had an extra bone in my ankle removed and repaired a torn tendon. During the 10-month recovery my foot healed but my body was off and I gained quite a bit of weight from being inactive and being a little depressed because of it. I don’t have many photos of myself from the time period from 2012-2018 as I hated being in photos and if I was, I usually hid behind someone. I tried every type of diet out there including getting B12 shots and nothing worked.
I sat in the car at 4:30 AM every Tuesday and watched Dylan and The Total Fitness Team run around the track while I was in my pajamas. I wanted to go out and run but didn’t have the energy and didn’t have the confidence I could. I heard Alan and Celia Dubey on the track laughing and talking with such enthusiasm wondering how they could be so energetic that early in the morning.
Things Began to Change for the Better
I began reading more about healthy nutrition including blogs from The Healthy Giraffe and listened to how much Alan and Celia talked about diet and how great they felt on a plant-based diet. On my 39th birthday, I promised I was going to take care of myself and do the things I wanted to do instead of just talk about them. I decided to cut dairy out of my diet to see if that was the issue as I read a lot of articles how dairy affected women’s hormones. After two weeks being dairy-free, I lost about 10 pounds, had so much more energy and felt great! I was starting to feel like my old self again.
I then decided to move more and purchased a Fitbit. That helped me get moving. I realized what a sedentary lifestyle I lived. Moving made me feel better and that’s when I got out of the car watching practice and began walking on the track myself. I noticed on Tuesdays I felt the best because that was the day I moved the most. I had 10,000 steps in before 7:00 AM.
I lost 30 pounds!
That year I traveled to a “bucket list” destination once a month. I was starting to feel alive again! Around July 2019, I decided to go on a plant-based diet. I lost the last 10 pounds and started running more on a daily basis. I thought I would struggle finding recipes to make and things to eat, but the transition was fairly easy. I made a lot of rice bowls with sauteed veggies and beans, used soaked cashews to make cream sauce and ate a lot of fruit. My family and friends weren’t as supportive as I would have liked them to be, but I felt the best I had ever felt so it didn’t matter. Changing my diet gave me the energy I was missing.
After years of giving Dylan advise on running, swimming and biking I realized I had never competed in a triathlon. I’d read numerous materials to try to help him train and prepare, but never did it myself. Dylan one day said to me, “you don’t know what it’s like, you have never done one.” That hit me because he was right. Once I got into better shape physically and lost some weight, I wanted to try it.
It was important for me to complete one so I could prove to myself and Dylan I could. I was born with a very large hemangioma behind my left ear which haunted me through my Junior year in high school before I was able to get it removed. I was made fun of so much, it affected my self confidence in a huge way. I never had confidence in myself to compete in any sports in high school so completing a tough event was the stepping stone for me.
I did complete it and actually won my age group. A few weeks earlier I ran in my first 5k and ran in another after the triathlon. I ran well winning the Master’s Division (fastest female over 40 years old).
I Feel Great!
- I have more muscle tone than I have ever had
- I have more energy than I have ever had
- My skin is the clearest it’s been
- My cholesterol went from over 300 to under 200
- I have the most confidence in myself than ever because of all these things
Looking back at old photos, I found I wasn’t in many from 2013-2018. I either hid from being in front of the camera and/or I was hiding behind someone.
It’s now January 2021 and I am training for a half marathon which I have always wanted to run but never thought I could. I recently ran 14 miles training for it and felt great. I didn’t think I could run four miles 10 weeks ago so this feels amazing.
I have learned taking time for yourself is so important. The balance of work, family, friends and life events can make you forget to take time for yourself. I love the quote, “Its not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary “ – Mandy Hale.
A couple bonus Questions & Answers
Q- What were some of your challenges when making the switch?
A- I really didn’t think I could do it since I loved cheese and Italian dishes so much as well as cereal. Getting used to almond milk was my biggest challenge.
Q- What were the positives you noticed early on?
A- I noticed I wasn’t as bloated and my body didn’t feel so heavy. I had so much more energy that exercising didn’t feel unenjoyable. I wanted to move!
Q- What are some of the positives you notice now?
A- My skin is better, my body functions are regular and I feel good in my body now.
Q- What are some of the most significant things you have learned?
A- I have more muscles now than I’ve ever had. I learned you do not need to eat meat in order to get protein in your diet and build muscles.