Let Me Tell You A Story… Lauren’s Story
I’m greeted by Lauren with her usual beaming smile at 7:30am, showered from her morning workout having slotted me before her 9am work meeting where she works as a Director of Marketing in financial services. “I still hate the morning training sessions,” the 26-week pregnant Lauren tells me, but she long ago made the commitment to become more selfish so that she could concentrate more on her health and mornings are the time that works. But it wasn’t always this way and this is what Lauren’s story is all about- a transition from a non-stop, sporty teen into a hard working traveller who lost sight of the state of her health but later regained her health conscience and is smashing opponents in the ring as well as hitting work goals.
Transformation has been defined as “a marked change in form, nature or appearance” which is what we’ll talk about in this story, hopefully steering you away from the muddied word it has become in the health industry as a pure weight loss challenge or a parting of one’s previous self to transform into a different person.
“What sports did you play,” I ask.
“Oh, everything,” is Lauren’s reply.
Being active outdoors by the local river or playing school sport was all she knew until a move to Kingston (in Canada) for university which Lauren describes as “the best 4-years of my life.” It was a different scene of socialising and studying hard and on reflection her health wasn’t being looked after fantastically but she was still playing regular social tennis and somewhat unaware of the impact of this change. Landing her first marketing job in Toronto only pushed her more away from regular activity with long commutes and working hard to make an impression at her company. She was aware of her health declining but says, “I was a little bit blind to it all to be honest”.
Lauren’s perfectionism, attention to detail and hard work ethic saw her excel and enjoy her work and helped her to land a job in Australia only 4 years after starting her career in the year 2000.
Looking to re-establish herself in a new country with her then partner, Lauren wound up working long hours and socialising to meet new mates with only with sporadic bouts of exercise on the tennis court which lead to significant weight gain, unhealthy habits and more than a few injuries. Her relationship of 6-years also fell apart a number of years after arriving in Australia. Lauren recalls, “It was a huge knock on my confidence and self-esteem. With the ending of that relationship and the aftermath, I really put on another big chunk of weight. I felt unappreciated, deeply hurt and betrayed and my self-confidence was pretty low so emotional eating continued.”
She had transformed. From an active, non-stop young lady, she instead became the selfless reliable friend, a keen solo traveller and the diligent worker who always went the extra mile. Lauren says there were series of reflective moments where she realises now that she could’ve started taking better care of herself but that her stubbornness and defensiveness combined with a very busy lifestyle meant she would rarely take on board the signs that her health was on the decline.
Pivotal reflective moments about her health that Lauren recalls were fracturing her leg and succumbing to a DVT, developing the early warning signs for fatty liver, knee pain that had been keeping her off the tennis court for a year and persistent low back pain that started whilst travelling the world. Lauren recognised these things were connected to her career, lifestyle and her weight gain but the most telling push to an action for change came from her dad in what Lauren now refers to as “the car chat”. “My dad was a super quiet guy and hated confrontation and serious chats,” Lauren tells me but he felt the need to tell her that he and her mom were worried about her and where she was heading whilst driving her back to the airport after a trip home to Canada. Lauren absolutely adored her dad, with their similar personalities and shared passion for playing and watching sport, but remembers just feeling hurt by the chat and couldn’t help but be defensive. This would be one of the last times that Lauren spoke to her father face to face as the fit and active man, without any warning signs, passed away when heading out to take the dog for a walk at only 66, only months after his mother had passed away of old age in her 90’s.
This unexpected and devastating event had a profound effect on Lauren. After months of grieving where her weight continued to climb, she says, “it took something as big as that life moment to do something about myself. He had nothing wrong with him so I kept wondering how that could have happened to him and it made me think about my health”. She continues by saying that she knew she needed to look after her health in the past but now she actually wanted to.
Lauren’s strong mindedness put her into action. She had dabbled with starting exercise in the past but it didn’t stick. She puts this down largely to herself in that she would go and exercise but didn’t change much else about her lifestyle. This time she decided to do it all again with a program that was geared towards creating long term healthy habits of diet and exercise with a personal trainer and a dietitian. As Lauren describes it, she set big goals, “to get back on the tennis court (check), gain more self-confidence (check), be healthier and stronger (check), and get into a relationship (check)”.
The change was also a significant one for her work with Lauren feeling that looking after her health could affect her career progression. “I used to do intense, intense hours,” she begins, “people at work are still rewarded working less hours but learning that balance with a large and busy team isn’t always easy”. Lauren says that her career actually hasn’t suffered, as her title would suggest, but she has learnt to become more efficient with her time and curb the unnecessary late nights so that it doesn’t affect her training routine. And her work team members have been incredibly supportive, even joining her on lunch time training runs to get her ready for her first 5k fun run and cheering her on at her first ever boxing match as part of Corporate Fighter.
The relationship goal set at the time of starting her training has an uncanny serendipity of putting something out there to the universe and getting a response. Mike, a tinder date that she met the same week she started her personal trainer and diet regime, is now going to be the father of her first child. This synchronicity of looking after herself and meeting her new love would mean that Mike met this new Lauren, who is a re-incarnation of the teenager Lauren, and this helps to keep her on track. As she has moved through her pregnancy, Mike has joined her in the gym, which makes for some interesting 6am training banter with personal trainer.
Now well on track to where she wants to be I ask Lauren to comment on how she made that start and has stuck to it. “I’m a very goal driven person so if I want to do it I’m going to do it, it’s my mum’s work ethic in me,” she tells me. She felt that falling pregnant so easily at 40 has come down to all the hard work she has put into becoming fit and healthy. Being pregnant has had its challenges already of seeing weight go up and reaching for those favourite comfort foods but Lauren is already setting small goals to keep her on track, even if they are far from the running, tennis and boxing goals that she was setting only months prior. It’s also presents the challenges of getting general admission tickets to the Foo Fighters and feeling tired after the first 4 songs!
On her future Lauren laughs as she tells me, “I totally going to be a soccer mum ferrying my daughter around to her different activities and I can’t wait to get back onto a tennis court”. At the same time, she still has ambitious career goals and has aspirations to take her marketing career to a new level after her maternity leave. But most importantly, she simply wants to be around for a long time so she can be an active participant in her partner’s, families’ and friend’s lives, whilst also making sure that her own personal goals don’t get overlooked at the cost of her health. “This past couple of years have represented a huge period of transformation, full of blood, sweat and tears, but also a renewed sense of self. I wish more than anything that my Dad could see what I’ve achieved, but I have to trust that he knows in some form. I know that when my daughter arrives, a whole new cycle is going to begin, and it’s not always going to be easy, but I’m looking forward to navigating that crazy adventure, ensuring we are a happy and healthy family. And it’s nice to know I’ve got my supportive team of health professionals behind me every step of the way”.