Fighting for her freedom – one woman’s struggle to love herself

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There are people in life who manage to inspire those around them. It can be by example, proving through their own actions how it is possible to  reach the goals you set for yourself. And it can be by hearing their life story, and learning about how they overcame hardships that at the time felt insurmountable. Lauren Drain is just that kind of a woman: after being cut off from the church she grew up in and the people she loved, she fought hard to grow into the inspiring woman she it today, as a nurse, model and fitness expert.

It wasn’t easy, and at times it was far from fun. But Lauren’s story is a testament to the powers hidden inside of us, and the ways life can both make us question our core beliefs and push us to be our own heroes. Her tale is truly an inspiration to the rest of us, and as she has already shown – it can bring many others to make the necessary changes in their own lives.


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We all know what it’s like to not feel completely comfortable in our own skin. Many people continue to feel that way throughout their whole lives. It is only a select few who will try to make a change. However, it’s not an easy task to make a healthier change, both physically and emotionally.

It is all too often easy to give into a momentary desire or a wish to fit in. How many times have we been a part of something due to peer pressure, and lived to regret it? It is so hard to live a healthy lifestyle – and to be true to yourself – simply because continuing as you are is the easier option. And so most – if not all – of us find ourselves doing or saying something we we wished hadn’t. It can be as small as indulging in a piece of cake, or a regrettable as preaching to hate your fellow man. Whatever it is, the question then becomes – what will it take for you to forgive yourself?

For Lauren, the answer to this question lay in her own self worth. Through grit, hard work and belief in her ability to succeed, she discovered that when you’re faced with demoralizing circumstances and feel like giving up, staying the course and self-motivation can turn you into the rock you need to make a positive change, and eventually become that rock for others, who are struggling just as hard.

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Practicing what you preach

Meet Lauren Drain. Lauren isn’t just a personal trainer, but she is a trainer for the masses. Lauren is role model as well. She does exactly what she preaches. And she loves it too. She uses fitness in her downtime and hobbies as well. She enjoys CrossFit, Spartan Races, and every time of active sports. Lauren is also an adrenaline junkie who seeks thrills and enjoys the feeling of her heart racing. All of this physical activity has made Lauren the ideal candidate to be a professional model, and she has done quite a few modeling gigs.

Nursing

As we mentioned earlier, Lauren isn’t only a personal trainer and model, but a licensed nurse. She’s been in the healthcare industry since she was 16 and a registered nurse for over eight years! Lauren’s passion for health is what pushed her toward a healthier lifestyle. “I was unhappy with what I saw in the mirror and I felt even worse, so I decided to make a change for the better,” she said. For Lauren, this also included regaining her self worth, which she had lost all those years ago.

Lauren’s training secrets

Lauren urges others to get healthy to “Be your own best version of you. The only secret to it is: you just have to start. Break through the mold of settling. Break through the monotony of life and challenge yourself to get better. Break free of the excuses you and society tells you: that it’s too hard or that it’s not fun. It’s not too hard and it is fun! You won’t regret becoming a better version of yourself mentally and physically. You will regret not trying or giving up.”

It’s all in the book

Despite her beautiful exterior and gorgeous smile, Lauren actually had a really rough childhood, which she detailed in her memoir, Banished. In it, she talks about how when she was a child, her family had joined the Westboro Baptist Church – an extremist, anti-American, anti-LGBT, and anti-soldiers organization recognized as a hate group. After participating in their funeral protests and hate speeches, she was ultimately excommunicated for wanting to date outside the church and was cut off from her family, to whom she hasn’t spoken since.

Looking back

It hasn’t been easy for Lauren. Ever since she was removed from the Westboro Baptist Church, she has not spoken a word to her family since. She said that despite being sucked into the Church and brainwashed by its leaders, she still knew it was wrong. “I was so ashamed, I wanted to hide my face,” she said. Lauren knew leaving the church’s hatred behind was the right thing to do, though it also meant her not seeing her family or even hearing from them in over nine years.

The Westboro Baptist Church explained

The Westboro Baptist Church is located in Topeka, Kansas, U.S. and was founded by Fred Phelps. With only 70 members you might think that it wouldn’t be that famous or make such an impact. However, the WBC is known across the U.S for its homophobia, hate speeches, anti other religious beliefs, and their strong and loud protests against the U.S. soldiers and politicians. The church has been protesting against LGBT rights and have been seen stomping on the U.S. flag for as far back as 25 years.

The life within the Church

Together with the rest of her family, Lauren was indoctrinated into the Westboro Baptist Church from 2001 to 2008 and became an active member, participating in protests against U.S. soldiers and other WBC activities. It took Lauren a long time before she started to question the methods that the WB Church used in order to express their ideologies – she was only a kid, after all. Lauren explains that due to her and her fakily being “brainwashed,” the believed that what the Church was teaching them was normal and right.

Leaving that world behind

It’s no wonder why Lauren felt the need to escape. She knew even from a young age that what she was doing was wrong. She didn’t want to be a part of these horrible protests. As a young girl taking part in these events, she would hide her face in the hopes of not being identified. The famous statements of the Church have been “thank God for dead soldiers,” and “thank God for 9/11,” it is very understandable why Lauren would not want to be a part of this hate-filled group.

Dream job

Perhaps as a way to balance her participation in the Westboro Baptist Church, even before she left it behind Lauren knew she wanted to help people. She decided to become a nurse, and attended Washburn University on a full scholarship. In 2007, Lauren received a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. She was a full-time nurse for nine years before deciding to switch to personal training and become a fitness model. Lauren uses everything she as a nurse and applies it to the regiments she offers the people she trains.

Unhappy and unsatisfied

Despite her amazing story, in the years after leaving the WBC, in many ways Lauren was just like the rest of us – at least when it came to her health and diet. She ate the wrong things and avoided regular workouts, until one day, she had had enough: she promised herself she was going to like what she saw in the mirror and feel good about herself. It was a struggle she had known all before; She knew she needed a change, but wasn’t sure how to go about it.

A New Year’s resolution

Lauren made a New year’s resolution that turned into a habit, and then a passion. She made her first healthy and proactive choice on January 1st, 2013, and it changed her life for the better. It started with a small choice to sign up for a Paleo Challenge, she wanted to start eating healthier because the winter months were usually her worst. She felt she had gained weight and the first step would be cleaning up her diet.

What is Paleo

What does the Paleo diet entail? It’s really not that complicated. The Paleo diet is supposed to resemble what cavemen ate. Whatever food was available at that time period should be the only things you’re putting into your body. For example, there was no processed food or bread back then, not even sugar, and therefore, those foods are not allowed on the Paleo diet. What can you eat? Fish, meat, chicken, and all lean forms of proteins; vegetables; and a bit of fruit and nuts.

The next level

Lauren successfully completed the Paleo Challenge and felt great. She knew that this wasn’t just any New Year’s resolution. This was the real deal. She was truly committed to getting into the best shape of her life. So Lauren signed up for the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion (WBFF) bikini competition, aimed at showing off contestants’ muscle definition – as opposed to size or bulk – paired with a fashionable outfit. It was a truly ambitious undertaking, but the competition wasn’t the first time Lauren found herself facing an uphill battle.

The fitness competition

Lauren decided to finally make a change in the way she felt about her body, and to motivate herself, she entered The World Beauty Fitness and Fashion competition. The competition strives to merge fitness, beauty, and fashion. There are two rounds – a swimsuit competition and the couture fashion round – and three types of divisions that one could compete in – the pro division, the amateur division, and the transformation division, which shows how far you’ve come on your bodybuilding journey.


The transition

Lauren states on her website that she weighed 135 lbs. before starting training for the competition. She got herself a coach and started specialized training with a new wave of determination. She started noticing muscle definition that she had never seen before and her curves looked a lot better to her in the mirror. She sliced through that excess fat and dropped to 122 lbs. She had never been happier about the way she looked. Lauren didn’t only lose weight, but she also found a newfound comfort with the person that she had become, a person who had grown so much since the trials and tribulations she had faced as a kid.

Training

Lauren trained hard for that first WBFF Bikini competition. For 14 weeks Lauren hit the gym every single day and did night shifts at the hospital as a nurse. She even picked up extra shifts at a different hospital to afford her coaches and the costs of the competition. Lauren said that “I would work from 7 PM to 8 AM, sleep from 9 AM to 3 PM, and train from 4 PM- 6 PM.”


Results

Sure enough, all of that hard work was made worthwhile when Lauren heard the results on the competition. After only 14 weeks of training (remember some of these competitors were not first timers like Lauren and have been competing and training for years!) Lauren came in ninth place out of 30 competitors. She knew that she had never worked so hard in her life for something and she proved to herself that she could compete, and now she wanted even more.


Telling her story

Overcoming incredible odds, starting out on her own and finding her calling as a nurse and fitness model truly make Lauren an incredible person and a fascinating human being. As such, it’s no surprise her memoir, Banished, became a New York Times bestseller. Her book details her leaving the Westboro Baptist Church and all of its hate behind, for a life of love. It wasn’t easy to do, at such a young age, but she felt she needed to stand up for what’s right and live a life of love, not hate.

Promoting good

After Lauren’s memoir became a hit, she was on CNN, MSNBC, and 60 Minutes. With her newfound exposure, Lauren decided to use her experiences to help heal others: she started her own charity to help who had escaped “this cult” of the Westboro Baptist Church; she joined the NO H8 campaign to promote LGBT rights and general equality; and she regularly speaks at universities and events to raise awareness of the “brainwashing” and hate that goes on in such groups, as well as ways to combat them.

It’s not that simple

When it comes to her health, (and figure), Lauren stresses she does much more than rely on good metabolism. She works hard, puts in the time and sweat to feel good about herself. Lauren was able to harness all of the bad things she went through and put it all in her workouts. She says you can blame your genetics and make all the excuses in the world but when it comes down to it you need “hard work, dedication, and vision” to actualize your dreams.

WBFF BIKINI PRO

Lauren continued to train, and following her first WBFF competition, she earned a Pro title and was driving to her next competition one week later. Lauren’s husband picked her up from from an overnight shift at the hospital and drove her to Canada while Lauren slept in the back seat for the six-hour journey still wearing her nurse outfit. They arrived at the competition with only minutes to spare, and yet despite it all, Lauren still placed in third in the Bikini competition and 5th in the Fitness category.

The shows ahead

In the next 12 months, Lauren competed in six different competitions and worked her way up the ladder. With each competition, Lauren learned from those around and never gave up on self-improvement. Finally, the day arrived when Lauren won the Bikini Division and took home to first place prize in 2014 in Rhode Island. That win took place only one year after Lauren made that fateful new year’s resolution to get in better shape and change her lifestyle.

Trophies on the mantle

In only 12 months, Lauren transformed from a person who was not happy with what she saw in the mirror into a WBFF Bikini World Champion. On her journey, she also became the Bikini Worlds runner-up and Team Domin8. Lauren explains that “the most important factors of success are simple. Have a goal, find a plan, stick to a plan, and see it through.” That’s how she went from a someone who didn’t like what she saw in the mirror to a champion who loves herself, both inside and out.

Paying it forward

Lauren was able to make a complete her self-transformation and now focuses on helping others achieve their fitness goals and make the desired transformation. Lauren became a NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certified trainer. That way she would be able to use the lessons that she learned through her own transformation and apply it to others who need help with their health goals. Lauren truly wants to help others become the best version of themselves because once upon a time, she wasn’t happy with the person she was, both on the inside and the outside.

Followers

Lauren hosts contests on her Facebook page and updates her followers about her workout plans. Lauren also posts about the transformations that her trainees have undergone to her 1.7 million followers. Lauren also has over 3.8 million followers on Instagram where she shares her personal story of growth, health, and fitness training. Lauren is constantly posting on her social media pages as well as on her website where you can buy supplements as well as her workout plans and fitness guides.

Supplements

Lauren endorses and is part of the IDLife brand. This brand sells FDA approved health supplements that don’t include genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and are hormone-free, soy-free, and even gluten-free. These supplements are endorsed by hospitals and thousands of doctors. Lauren was actually on a search for two years to find a supplement brand she could stand behind as a nurse and fitness trainer. Despite being approached by almost every supplement brand on the market, Lauren waited for one she would feel was the healthiest option for her fans.

Incentivizing weight loss

Lauren has many challenges and competitions available on her social media pages. This picture was posted next to a post on her Facebook page for a competition to win $5000 on a six-week fitness challenge. Lauren understands that some people need an incentive to get their running shoes on and start training. Some people don’t understand how much weight they can lose and how much they can learn to love their body through fitness and eating right. So Lauren came up with incentives to get people on their feet and get started on their weight loss journey.

Inspiring

Lauren is all about inspiring people to push themselves to be the best that they can be. She says that you need  “Strive for progress, not perfection. Life is about the journey, the challenge, the lessons, the ups AND the DOWNS. Confidence does not come from perfection. It comes from progressing and knowing you always have the ability to do so. It comes from knowing setbacks are not failure. They are stepping stones to success. The setbacks give the success so much more meaning. They tell a story of how you endured.”

Ditch the scale

Lauren preaches to her followers and to the people that she trains that weight is just a number. On the description of this photo she said on her Facebook account that she is the heaviest weight that she has ever been, weighing in at 141 pounds. And she has never been prouder. She teaches that you should “Ditch that scale & stop stressing about hitting that random magic number – focus on inches lost, how you feel, how your clothes fit. Chasing that “ideal weight” doesn’t mean anything, I now weight more than any of my before photos and I’m happier.”

Happily married

Lauren is not only a public figure, author, WBFF Bodybuilding Pro champion, and personal trainer, but a devoted wife to her loving husband, as well. Lauren and David have been together for seven years and happily married for four. They train and run a business together, centered around Lauren’s training and supplements. They’re hoping to start a family one day soon, but in the meantime are enjoying their lives with their puggle, Max. Lauren has overcome so much, and with David by her side, there is nothing she can’t accomplish.

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