Food & HealthHealth

Healthy Journey: Guest Post By Lauren Najar

The never-ending, ever-changing fitness journey


Five years ago I was barely 125 pounds (I’m 5’6) and for me that is a weight I haven’t reached in a very long time.  This is because I was coming out of a three week hospital stay due to a 2nd round of cancer (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma).  Yes, now I have been five years cancer free.  Let me start out by briefly telling you my healthy habits pre-cancer though.

In my late teens/early twenties, I could eat and drink whatever I wanted.  I guess most of us can.  From the time I was in high school until my first cancer diagnosis (about 8 years), I was consistently 130-135 pounds.  Even during my first cancer battle, I kept strong at 135 pounds.  My metabolism was pretty good and I never struggled with weight but I was very unhappy with how I looked.  I wasn’t a size two, and I had fat that I could “pinch” and I wasn’t how I wanted to look.  I mean I wanted to have rock hard abs like Britney Spears and when I thought I needed to lose weight I would starve myself because I knew I could drop 1-2 pounds of where I wanted to be (now I know that kind of practices ruins a metabolism!

Fast forward to life after cancer, I started out at 125 pounds and had sunken to a size two.  I love food, and I love bad food and I felt pressure from those around me saying I looked sickly and how I needed to buy smaller clothes.  Of course, I knew that I was going to gain my weight back because I wasn’t going to stay this size forever.

Well did I ever – I gained my weight back very easily actually.  I found out about two years later that my thyroid is failing and I now have hypothyroidism or an under-active thyroid.  Not only have I gained weight, but with hypothyroidism it makes it impossible to lose weight.

Now while gaining this weight back, I ran about 20 races.  I worked out consistently and I am normally an active person.  The weight just wasn’t dropping off as it used to.

I noticed myself gaining weight more and more and I think what finally hit me is I had to buy bigger pants for work.  I was growing in sizes and this was getting to be expensive now.  I really need to make changes for the first time ever.  My highest weight was recorded in December 2016 at 172 pounds.  My cholesterol was the highest it had ever been and my blood pressure was also very high according to what I have always been.  I went all the way up to a size 12 in pants.

This was now something that I needed to absolutely change.

I have spent the last two years gaining weight and battling an under-active thyroid.  I was irritated and unhappy with how I looked in pictures.  Heavy filtering on Instagram was my friend.  I finally hit “my ground zero” – my turning point of no more!  I need to make changes to my diet; that was the final piece to my puzzle.

The journey is that – a journey!  There is no end destination.  There might be an end result that you want, but as you go along this journey of health and fitness, the end result keeps changing, at least it does for myself.  I started out wanting to be how I looked before my health issues. Now, I understand that was an unhealthy way to live, starving myself in my 20’s and not eating healthy.

Now I eat healthy three times a day and water is in my diet more than ever in my life.  I work out 4-5 days a week and I understand that lifting and muscles don’t make you ugly.  I don’t want to be a size two ever again; that is my personal preference.

My workouts usually consist of different things.  What has always been something I can heavily rely on is my running.  Running mostly on the “dreadmill” (treadmill) because it’s cold in Chicago!  However, the last few months I have been building my body in a different way and took up weight lifting and I am losing inches fast than when I was running every day.  It is proven that weight lifting helps you lose fat faster!


In 2017, I set out to better myself and better my body.  From January to June, I lost 20 pounds and 16.5 total body inches and I started feeling really good again about myself.  At that time, I only felt half way there and I still am not where I want to be.  Life sometimes gets in the way and I was not consistent the 2nd half of 2017, however I had the tools to not fall into bad habits again.  2018 has been a different story and I have actually changed up my routine to now working out in the mornings at 5:30 am before I leave for work and I am almost where I want to be.

I FEEL thinner now and I feel happier about myself.  I have not felt confident in a bathing suit in over two years.  In a few weeks, I will be going on a vacation where there will be bathing suits and I have bought two new ones!  I may not be where I want to be yet, but I am almost there and just knowing that I have the tools to make it really makes me feel better.

The journey that you embark on for weight loss needs to be thought of as a “lifestyle” choice.  This isn’t dieting, this is making yourself better in areas of your life and sticking to that for the rest of your life.  This journey changes and fitness and health need to become a part of your life if you ever intend on succeeding.  When I have my bad days, they are exactly that – bad DAYS.  If I eat a bad meal, I make sure that the next meal is a good one.

If I drink a can of Pepsi or something else that has sugar, I make sure that I drink a lot of water afterwards.  I don’t deprive myself of treats but I also have learned that I can control these cravings and have tweaked some things in my life.

It still amazes me when my husband and I go to the grocery store where our cart is filled with fruit, veggies, coconut milk, almond milk and various meats for the week.  Those are our essentials.  It wasn’t too long ago where pop, chips and other snacks made their way into our carts every single week!

The biggest takeaway from this is please know that if your intention is to lose weight and keep it off, you must make it a part of your lifestyle.  While cooking dinner with your kids, do some squats in the kitchen.  Do lunges with the laundry basket.  Fit it in somehow and someway.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have 30 minutes in a day to work out, fit it in in little spurts.  You are still doing SOMETHING to better yourself and still burning calories.

I hope that this inspires you to make the changes you need and maybe give you that final push that I needed two years ago before I became my heaviest.  Don’t let it spiral out of control!  You can do it!



Thanks for reading!

Lauren Najar.


So, I hope you enjoyed Lauren’s story and I hope it inspired you to take good care of yourself !


You can visit Lauren at her blog and social media handles:

Blog: Laugh Always
Facebook: Laugh Always Fitness
Instagram: Laugh Always Fitness
Twitter: Laugh Always Fitness
Pinterest: Laugh Always With Lo


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Also, comment below what your health journey has been like and any other experiences you want to share!.

We all keep learning everyday!!!.

You could check out my facebook page: Enele Ogah , Twitter: @rosesoflife17 , Instagram: @rosesoflife17

and Youtube: Joy Ogah

6 thoughts on “Healthy Journey: Guest Post By Lauren Najar

  1. Wow that a health journey. I’m happy to read that Lauren is doing way better these days. We all struggle with issues esp. health but it’s the life choices that we make that can make or break us. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I really need to add in exercise to my routine. I say that every day but never make time for it. Ug! 🙁

  3. That’s a hard life. But I love the spirit and battling out…the 2016 to 2017 has been awesome. Way to go!

  4. Wow what an amazing lady with such inner strength and now bodily strength to match. A warrior a winner and a women!! Killer combination and could conquer the world. So she did!! Thank you for this post I really needed it. I suffer chronic illness and although not a battle like yours, it easy to get over whelmed. I have been for the whole of May and now it stops!! Thank you the words of courage and inspiration and I hope your journey is forever happy and healthy xxxx

    1. Thank you so much for reading! If you want to connect somehow and be a part of several different groups I run, I would love to have you 🙂 That is what my “laugh always” motto is all about – grinding it out and getting through tough times!

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