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A little backstory in my education and what lead me to where I am now :
I started school at Appalachian State University upon graduating high school with the intentions of studying Nutrition. So many questions from family and friends about what I would study. I thought about my interests and nutrition and food always came to my mind. I knew I loved researching it and talking about, but the problem was, I was still struggling with binge eating at this time. And since we’re being completely honest in this post, I decided against it pursing it as a career path because in my silly 17-year-old brain, I told myself that I was “too fat” to be a Dietician. “Who would listen to me anyway?” I am cringing as I write this and think back those days, but it was true. I can’t believe I used to talk to myself that way.
So still undecided on my future, I signed up for a couple of basic required classes to get me through my first semester, desperately hoping something would peak my interest. I was taking Chemistry at the time and I really enjoyed it. I was good at in high school and I was good at in the college. The other courses I was taking at the time included some sort of literature class, world history and world music. And to be quite frank – I hated them all. I was good at math. I was good at Science. So I decided to pursue a degree in Chemistry, totally unsure of what I would even do with it. I just knew I liked it more than literature or history or art. This continued for about a year until I began Organic Chemistry. And let me tell you, the days of thinking Chemistry was my “thing” were very much over. I struggled to get through it. I even had to get my first tutor. Needless to say, I knew I needed another game plan.
I thought about pursing nutrition again, but again, let me brain talk me out of it. I was comparing myself to the other (literally 4) nutrition majors I knew and they were all skinny, ate healthy and seemed to fit the “nutrition major” mold. Meanwhile I was still deeply struggling with body image, still binging, and still out of control when it came to my food. Again I thought to myself – “how could I help people with nutrition when I can’t even help myself?”
These thoughts that I carried with me throughout my college years were brutal. I never want people to think I wasn’t happy then, because I was. I just had so much emotional and mental turmoil going through my brain that I now see was unhealthy and held me back from reaching my potential in many areas of my life.
At some point through it all, I finally decided on a degree in Exercise Science. At least I was committed to the gym and could maybe use that degree to become a physical therapist or something? I still felt self-conscious in my body when telling people I was majoring in Exercise Science. All I could think about was that they must be judging me asking how I could be into Exercise (again, shaking my head at myself. Just being honest with y’all here). Yet despite the continued overthinking and negative self-talk, it still felt better than telling people I was majoring in Nutrition for some reason?
Looking back, I really hate how much my thoughts and other peoples opinions of me dictated not just my career path, but my well-being. I KNEW I loved nutrition and macronutrients and food science and learning how to fuel your body. I even took five nutrition classes in college to get my minor in it and they were no doubt my favorite classes. But still, I was letting my own negative self-talk keep me from pursing that as a major and a career.
You guys, I wasn’t even that big. At my heaviest, I was 150 lb (I am 5’3″) and that was for a brief period of time before starting my job as a server and losing some of that weight from all the walking. Most of college I hovered around 135-140 lb). But still, there were so many stupid thoughts spinning around in my head, even after I officially setting my mind to a degree in Exercise Science.
What am I even going to do with this degree?
Who is going to take me serious?
Will I ever get my binging under control?
Will I ever feel confident in my body?
The last semester of college came, and still, I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do with my life. It really is hard trying to make so many important decisions when you are so young. I again thought about nutrition, but at that point I would need to stay at school for at least another 2 years to get that degree and then internship, and I just remembering thinking there was no way I could do that NOW – that I’ve already come “this far.” (Yet, another moment that I should have followed after my passions!)
During this time, I got another part time job in the Emergency Department as an ED scribe. Basically, it was my job to go with the the ED physician into the patients room as he/she examined the patient and asked them questions. I then wrote a summary of what the physician did, saw, and talked about with the patient. This went into the patient’s electronic health record. I got my first real taste of what it was like to work in a hospital. I liked interacting with the patients. I observed the nurses as they worked and thought, “I would like this, I could do this.”
So long story short, I set my path towards pursing a nursing degree. This was no easy path by any means as I had to apply for more pre-requsite classes, first get my CNA before applying, take the TEAS test, apply for schools. “Would I even get accepted? Is this even what I want to do?” More mental and emotional turmoil. I decided I HAD to do something, and nursing was intriguing and safe. So I put my all into it.
Nursing school was kind of a blur. Not really 😆 it was actually two of my most favorite years. We were living in Raleigh, NC at the time, and while school was stressful, life was really good. Simon and I officially starting living together for the first time and it was truly the best thing ever. There really is nothing like living with your best friend! We were close to friends and family and I made a bunch of deep connections with my nursing school friends. And even though nursing school was harder than any of my other previous studies (and anything I’ve ever done for that matter), those years were really some of the first that I felt like I fit in and belonged. Not here and there or in some moments. But all the time.
During this time, I also started working out regularly (not just here and there) and I started tracking macros. I fell in love with it. It honestly gave me the structure that I needed at that point in my life. I felt confident knowing I was eating the amount I should for my goals without over or under-eating. And oddly enough, it was during this time that I stopped binging.
I can contribute the end of binging to the macro-counting. I can contribute it to the fact that I was finally prioritizing self-care, finally implementing stress-reduction strategies. I can contribute it to the fact that I was prioritizing living, and hanging out with friends, and date nights, over spending the night in my own emotions escaping in food. I don’t know if there was one thing that led me stop, but I’d like to think it was a bit of all of the above. All I know is, there was a shift mentally. And the more I believed in myself and praised myself for all I was doing, the more I excelled in all areas of my life.
I started getting A’s (LOL if you’ve gone through nursing school, you know this is a big deal).
I started being a better friend, daughter, sister, girlfriend. I was present. I was there.
I noticed myself getting stronger and stronger in the gym.
AND throughout all my classes, clinicals, studying for exams, working at my part-time job, hanging out with family friends, and prioritizing my fitness, the beginning of Lauren Fit Foodie was born.
It quickly became my new favorite hobby experimenting in the kitchen and finding ways to make macro-friendly food and treats that were good for me and tasted delicious too. If you know me, you know I love food! And I am not about eating food that isn’t yummy. With my workouts and fitness goals becoming a new priority of mine, coming up with healthy desserts and meals fit right along with it. I won’t gone all into it, but holy cow I spent so many hours in that Raleigh kitchen of ours coming up with things. Even all our friends were like “When is Lauren NOT in the kitchen?” Life was busy then with all my goals and to-do’s, but it was good.
Fast forward to the end of my two years of nursing school. It was the last semester and all of us were applying for jobs. At that point, Simon and I had been dating for just about 4 years. We had already lived together while I was in nursing school and we would talk frequently about where we wanted to live when I graduated and started my first big girl job. Luckily, the company Simon works for gave him the okay to work from home wherever, so we could go anywhere. We loved Raleigh but knew this was the time before having kids and settling down to experience living in another city.
I applied to hospitals in Pittsburgh, Denver, Austin, Atlanta, DC. Pretty much all the cities that even somewhat peaked our interests. I got a couple of offers back and it didn’t take too much thought for us to decide on DC. It wasn’t too far from home, it was city-like but not too much of a city. It seemed perfect. So I accepted the job offer where I would be working as a registered nurse in a Cardiac Intermediate Care Unit in the largest hospital in DC.