Lauren is one of our 2020 Inspire Me Ambassadors and we caught up with her in February to hear about what motivates her to be active.
Lauren had started off being a dancer at school, in particular, she loved ballet, but as often is the case, she left school and hadn’t been active at all for 7 or 8 years.
She went off to university in London to study film and drama and admits that she didn’t really look after herself that well.
“I partied quite hard, I didn’t make good food choices and by the time I graduated in 2013, I had piled on some weight for sure.”
I then went into an office job after Uni and again, snacks and drinks were on hand all the time, s the weight didn’t improve and sadly, neither did my self esteem.
“I was going into shops and I couldn’t buy the things I wanted to because I didn’t like the way I looked at all and I just wasn’t in a very good place physically or mentally.”
“About 2-3 years ago, I was at a very low point in my life and there was a lot of things going on that were making me unhappy.”
There were also some personal issues going on and I just didn’t like myself very much at all. I was very insecure about my body image and I lacked any motivation. Looking back I think I was depressed, but I didn’t realise it.
I remember thinking that I needed to address how I was feeling and I knew I had to change something, if I wanted things to change!
A friend of mine suggested that I play badminton with her at Abbeycroft’s Newmarket Leisure Centre, and to be honest we chatted probably more than we played.
But then another friend encouraged me to try a fitness class with her, and even after the first one, I knew I’d found something that I loved doing.
I was still very conscious of my body back then, so I used to wear leggings and a big baggy top to cover everything up, but it didn’t take me long to learn that you don’t need to be a size 8 to be healthy or fit in!
I also started to use the gym, even though I felt a little bit intimidated to start with because I thought I’d be the odd one out. I envisioned everyone to be fitter than me, full of muscles and totally knowing what they were doing.
But it wasn’t like that at all! I went with my boyfriend who did know what he was doing and so I had his help which was great, and he also understood my insecurities at the time and that helped a lot.
Exercising was having a positive impact on my entire life!
I felt more energised, so I felt more productive, so I was more productive and more sociable, which in turn made me feel happier about myself, and motivated me to change my job.
I used to be the sort of person that would sit back and listen in a group situation, but now I’m way more confident and my self-esteem is much better.
I think it’s important that you find something that works for you though. All over social media, I kept seeing people doing boot camps and running but that just wasn’t for me.
To start with all I wanted was fast results, fast weight loss, but I soon found that that wasn’t achievable or sustainable.
I have lost weight but I’ve done that very slowly over time. I was a dress size 16 when I started and I’m now down to a 10/12, but the dress size that you are doesn’t matter, it’s about feeling strong and toned, and that’s how I feel now.
I try to explain to people all the time that it’s just not about the weight anymore for me, it’s about feeling stronger, more toned, more energetic and happier.
Emma now works in the HR department at Mizkan in Bury St Edmunds, and she’s loving the job.
She puts a lot of her fitness success down to the fact that her Abbeycroft membership gives her so much flexibility.
“Why it works so well for me is that the class timetable is so varied and flexible, so I manage to fit in at least one or two classes, plus a gym session and maybe even badminton too, but that’s still more for the social side of things. I love the cardio-based classes particularly and spinning.
I can’t ever see myself not exercising now, I mean sometimes I might have a bad week and might overindulge at the weekend, but I never worry about that anymore because I know the next week I can just get straight back on it, and by the end of that week I will feel much better.”
When I was at my low point, I felt as though I didn’t have control over many things in my life, but I could control what exercise I was doing, what calories I was burning, and how I was helping myself to feel better.
Back then I would never have seen myself as a fit person, and I’ve still got a way to go.
I’m certainly not the fittest person in the world, but exercise is such a part of my lifestyle now, and I’m a completely different person because of it, happier and healthier!