Q: Please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My name is Lauren and I am a registered nurse from Southern California. I am a single mother to a 5-year-old, Charlie, who is the sweetest boy and gets sweeter every day. I had two attempts at nursing school before finally finishing, and spent part of my early twenties as a civil service employee for the U.S. Air Force. I currently work in critical care at a Level I trauma center as a new grad! I also launched my online fitness coaching business in January, so needless to say, I am a VERY busy individual!
Q: Let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My journey has been anything but smooth and sweet. My parents couldn’t afford to pay for my nursing school programs right out of high school, so I rebelled hard and eloped with my high school sweetheart who was active duty military at the time. I moved across the country and enrolled in a nursing program there but shortly after found myself in a very unhappy marriage and a high-risk pregnancy. I ended up birthing my child eight weeks early, where he spent 45 days in the NICU, 300 miles away from our home.
This experience brought me to a dark and terrifying mental state. I lost 20 pounds, my hair fell out and I was diagnosed with PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder. By the grace of God, he grew out of his premature issues, but along the way, I dropped out of my nursing program to focus on what was best for him and me. I divorced my husband, saved up to move back home and applied to nursing schools in sunny SoCal. I got a phone call in the middle of a workday and started two months later but continued to work and care for my child with my family.
Day by day, I started to become more of myself again. I sought therapy for my mental health issues and started working out again. The gym and nursing school brought me back to life and made me feel my strongest self. 30 months later, I graduated and got a dream job at my dream hospital and have my dream man. The routines and habits I established to prioritize my happiness enabled me to perform at my best. My son is thriving and joyful because I took care of myself, and we are both such happy individuals because of it. I want to show and teach others to do the same and to save themselves the way the gym saved me.
Q: How do you find the time to be a nurse and fitness coach?
Well, I managed to balance working full-time and being a single mom in nursing school, so now that I’ve graduated, I feel as though I have so much time to myself! Once my little one is at school, I head to the gym for my own training program and spend about three to four hours writing up customized fitness plans along with nutrition guides for my clients. Since I coach individuals who have similar schedules to my own (full-time registered nurses/moms/nursing students), I’m able to recall what worked for me and make it work for them. I get this done on my laptop at a local coffee shop, then get to have the rest of the day to myself before picking up my little one from school and dedicating our evenings to him. I must be excellent at time management because I somehow always end up with time for a date night!
Q: What should we know about why you created the 90-day Fit Transformation program? What inspired you to create it? What do you want people to know about it?
The 90-day Fit Nurse Transformation program was like my first fitness training baby! I wrote it up for myself when I was a nursing student and continued the program when I started working as a registered nurse. It gave me the ability to have effective workouts between shifts while gaining muscle strength and burning fat. I started getting compliments at work for my ability to turn patients, and my back stopped hurting. I felt great about the way I looked in scrubs. So I took this tool and made it into a toolbox any nurse (or anyone really) could use. It gives an excellent strategy with specific exercises for proper structure with work schedules. I decided to enhance the program and offer nutrition guides to establish whole body improvements to health.
Q: Any recommendations for nursing students or nurses who want to live a healthier lifestyle but don’t know where to start?
Identify your goals, and then identify what is holding you back. Finding the right cocktail of strategy, mindset and accountability is challenging to do alone, so that’s where a coach like myself steps into play. All areas are vital to meet your goals and see lasting change. It’s OK to start with fear or uncertainty, but just start!
Q: Before we let you go, we have to ask: do you have any advice for those who are just starting out in nursing and their fitness journey?
Give yourself patience and grace. It is not easy to do both when we are already so exhausted and burnt out from work. Start with making small adjustments like packing healthier meals for work instead of ordering food with your unit, going on a 20-minute walk on your days off and drinking more water. The small but meaningful changes contribute to the big transformation that will happen in the long term.
Check out Lauren on Instagram @fitnurselauren.