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“Once I crawled out from under the covers, I looked in the mirror and didn’t like who I saw…inside or out. All of the sudden, reality hit: I was not taking care of myself – or my health.”–Lauren Berliner

Today’s guest post comes from Lauren Berliner who writes with such endearing passion about her health and transformation. I hope you enjoy Lauren’s story as much as I do.

Oh, memories. It was the morning after my best friend’s birthday party and I was tired, groggy and downing whatever Advil, Gatorade and carbohydrates that I could get my hands on. Indeed, it was another one of those nights. The kind of night where countless drinks win the battle against your normally-astute intuition and you suddenly find yourself dancing on tables like Snooki circa Jersey Shore Season 1 and becoming – er – “acquainted” with a handsome Australian gent.

Once I crawled out from under the covers, I looked in the mirror and didn’t like who I saw…inside or out. All of the sudden, reality hit: I was not taking care of myself – or my health.

As a 24 year old recent graduate, I found it difficult to break away from the social patterns of my college years and to fully develop into the adult – mind and body – that I desired to be. I was heavy, sluggish, and felt the wear and tear of years that included late nights, fourth meals and treating myself poorly.

Exercise and what I thought was healthful eating had always been a big part of my life, but I still felt miles and pounds away from my ideal weight. I was frustrated with the countless “diet” books and programs, over-exercising, feeling guilty and having a love-hate relationship with food. For the first time in my life, I was mature enough to admit that I needed a little help, and as a result, was ready to make real changes to my diet, lifestyle and everything in between.

When I walked into my nutritionist’s office for the first time, I didn’t really know what to expect. However, Bonnie Taub-Dix was kind, beautiful, smart and immediately made me feel at ease with her understanding of health, food and wellness. I don’t remember much of what happened during that first appointment, but I do remember lots of tears while setting long-term goals and learning the A, B, C’s of nutrition, portion-sizes, fat and calories that I still use each and every day, two years later. It wasn’t long before I saw results, both on the scale and even skin deep. I replaced former bad habits with new routines and traded out the roadblocks of negativity to make way for strength and ambition. My almost-daily workouts of cardio, spin class or vinyasa yoga followed by a home-cooked #foodiefitgal dinner became my new happy place.

The day before my 25th birthday, after (7) months of hard work, discipline and dedication, I reached my goal weight (and then some) that I have maintained since then and have committed to always maintaining. I dropped 20 lbs, 3 dress sizes (yes, charities benefited greatly from multiple closet clean-outs!) 30 cholesterol points and gained a sense of self-worth, confidence and empowerment.

I am forever grateful to my support system (including Bonnie, who will always be an important and very special mentor) and my “a-ha moment” which led me not only to a healthier life, but to a happier one.

Looking to eat smarter? Here are a few healthy tips that I’ve learned throughout my journey:

1- No one is perfect! Don’t obsess over food. Enjoy it.

2- Are you sure you are hungry? You may be thirsty or tired.

3- Your food for the day is like a bank account. Pick and choose your spending wisely.

4- Eat lots of fiber! It keeps you full and your tummy flat.

5- Drink lots of water.

6- Enjoy each milestone in your weight loss journey. Each pound does make a difference!

7- Make sure your clothes fit! Fitted clothes show off and flatter your new figure. Donate the old clothes to charity. You ain’t goin’ back!

8- Focus on eating food that makes you feel good and nosh accordingly.

9- Don’t worry about other people’s eating habits or weight. Don’t preach, focus on yourself.

10- Compliment yourself often. It’s not easy to lose weight these days. But YOU look great and CAN accomplish your goal.

11- Watch the alcohol. Cutting back totally sucks at first, but then you realize that you don’t get those nasty hangovers, beer bloat and excess calories that you used to…and that you’re having more fun.

12- Keep your favorite foods and drinks in your diet, but choose wisely when to have them.

13- Cook up a storm! Bulk up your meals with whole grains, fruit, veggies, good protein and fat!

Do you have incredible stories of health, wellness and happiness? Leave them in the comments section or share with me on Facebook, Twitter (@LaurenBerliner) or Instagram (@misslorzie)!

Also, check out Bonnie Taub-Dix’s book, “Read It Before You Eat It,” her Facebook page and follow her on twitter at @eatsmartbd

I’m Jen Glantz. I’ve been a published writer for over 13 years, spilling my words into magazines (ranging from style to scuba diving), newspapers, websites and even this one time, a speech, for someone who didn’t speak a word of English. What drives my words, my site, my writing, is the power of relating to people. I find that many people, especially young girls, feel so alone and quite often they feel embarrassed. I want to shatter those feelings! I want them to read what I write and understand that it’s okay to be a little outside of the box, but most importantly, that it is okay to just be who they are.

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