My fitness journey started when I was quite the opposite of what I am now: I was Lauren but I was unfit, unhealthy, and unhappy.
I was 15 years old. I remember seeing photos from the night before, where I looked twice the size of all my gorgeous, petite, blonde friends. The boys in my year referred to me as “Maccy D’s” because I had a shiny forehead and I remember standing on the scales one day and seeing ‘10 stone 12.5’. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew that in our science classes, the average weight of the girls in my year was around 7 and a half stone.
I was sick of feeling uncomfortable and out of place, and I decided to do some research. A vivid memory of mine is Googling ‘how to lose weight,’ and what I found was the advice saying – ‘burn more calories than you eat’. Simple right!!
So, I took it quite literally. I ate fewer calories than I burned on the cross-trainer, every single day. I believed I was in a 200-calorie deficit, having eaten 300 calories and burned ‘500’ (or so the cross-trainer says), every single day. I wasn’t aware of BMR, and so therefore I was eating a dangerously low number of calories, and my mindset towards food became very black and white. As you can imagine, I lost weight rapidly. I lost weight, and I gained anxiety. After a while, I could not last an entire day at school without having a panic attack.
I was eating a dangerously low number of calories and my mindset towards food became very black and white.
I had achieved a ‘skinny’ body shape and the number on the scale read 8 stone (which was always my goal), but I was still not happy. I realised I couldn’t continue with what I was doing. So, I turned back to my trusty old friend: Google. And I typed in ‘How to gain weight healthily.’ My answer was weight-lifting. And at this time, I started my Instagram account which was then a secret account under the username @fitnesslifelauren
The reason I didn’t quit right there and then, was because of the community that I had built online and their ongoing support.
I researched how to do particular exercises and I loved how it was making my body look and feel, and I slowly began to look at food as fuel, rather than something that was going to make me fat. However, I was still what I would now call ‘orthorexia’. I became obsessed with ‘healthy eating’ and adding protein to certain foods. For some reason, I thought that if it had protein in, it was ‘healthy’ (which I now know has no definitive definition). Back then, orthorexia wasn’t really a ‘thing,’ and I am so glad people are speaking about it now, because it can be so debilitating.
I was sharing my protein bakes on my Instagram account and soon started attracting a loyal following. I was adding value to people, without even knowing that’s what’s the most critical component to building a brand is about. And when I reached around 4000 Instagram followers when I was 17 years old, the boys in my year found it. I was mortified.
Shortly after, they posted to one of their accounts, a photo of them mocking me. I nearly quit. But the reason I didn’t was because of the community I had created online. I had connected with so many other people who were on the same journey as me. They understood and I was getting positive feedback. Deciding not to quit and to continue connecting with amazing people via my instagram community is the best decision I have ever made. I have been able to create a business for myself that provides me with so much fulfilment.
I started off with selling fitness e-books and building the hastag #StrengthFeed and then I re-positioned myself to work on my personal and business brand. I now help others build and monetise their own brands through my online courses and seeing that I am helping to change so many peoples lives in a positive way is a feeling better than I could ever possibly explain.
Funnily enough, the ringleader of the ‘Instagram mocking episode’ actually apologised to me very shortly after, and then brought it up again a couple of years later to let me know that the only reason they were all mocking me was because, they were intimidated by the fact that I was weight training!
I found that super interesting, but it just goes to show that you cannot worry about what other people think – it sounds cliché, but you truly do have to do what makes you happy and feel fulfilled.