Dramatically Fit
Shepherd Private Coaching
Piano, Voice, Drama

ACTRA Apprentice
BA Hon, MFA, PhD Candidate
Diamond Health & Wellness Coach
Gym & Tonic by Lauren

Lauren Shepherd



Welcome to Dramatically Fit

Posted on 24 November, 2016 at 11:00

I'm Lauren, and here's a lot about ME!



I'm 31, I live in St. John's, NL currently, and I've been married for almost 6 months. I'm not a nutritionist, or personal trainer. I'm not a chef, or professional cook. I'm an actor, a performing arts professional, and academic, who took her life into her own hands - slowly but surely - and is still trying to find her way.


Let's start at the very beginning of this journey.


*WARNING* I'm about to reveal some intimate details so get ready!


So back in 2013, living in Ontario, my now husband and I had been dating for about 6 months when my "trouble" began. What do I mean by trouble? Well it started with these weird bloated feelings, and what felt like bubbles popping in my pelvis. Eventually those would turn into cramps. And eventually this would all turn into us having lots of issues in the bedroom.


In short, it felt like I was having sex with a fork... repeatedly.


Now, I'm no expert, but I knew it wasn't supposed to feel like that. So I toddled off to my doctor, and we discussed the possibility of ovarian cysts. I went for an ultrasound. It came back negative. I was referred to a gynaecologist for Endometriosis. I endured a few physical exams, at which point the OB/GYN was confident I did in fact have Endometriosis, and required surgery to removed the affected tissue.


Just to give you an idea of timeline - I first went to my doctor in probably February of 2013, and it wasn't until October of 2013 that the OB/GYN was able to see me, book my operation, and remove the Endometriosis. In the time between Feb - Oct, my symptoms increased in severity. I was almost always bloated, feeling sorry for myself, and in pain. Both doctors kept insisting that my pain was cyclical though I had given them zero indication that it was - in fact I continued to mention the fact that it would come out of nowhere... frequently...


In any case, we went through with the laparoscopic surgery to removed the Endometriosis from my body - I was told they found a few small pieces of offending tissue - but it didn't seem to add up to the amount of discomfort I had felt. I went for my post-op checkups at 6 weeks, and asked when I could expect to feel normal again, and when we should start being intimate. We were told as soon as I felt healed - so we tried, slowly and cautiously... there was some change, but not much...


And then at another checkup I asked again whether my symptoms would disappear and when? I was told they'd like to monitor me for another 6-8 months... At this point I was about 1 year from my initial visit to my family doctor. Being told I needed to wait another 6-8 months and "just see" was unacceptable to me. Now, don't get me wrong - this was a peculiar case I'm sure. I'm positive everyone expected my body to just become "normal" as soon as the surgery was completed...


But that didn't happen.


I took matters into my own hands at that point - and after some long discussions with my family and my husband (who was in medical school himself) we decided the best course of action was to visit a Naturopathic Doctor - because at this point I had nothing else to lose. Perhaps I could figure out ways to adjust my lifestyle to promote better health...


Because throughout ALL of this I had gained probably about 10-15 pounds. Which sure, it doesn't sound like a lot, but it felt like a lot. I self-medicated with food because I didn't feel good. Then in turn I didn't feel good about my body, or about our sex life, so I ate unhealthy food. Which of course made me feel even worse in the long run - especially when my symptoms weren't alleviated. I had pushed myself into a terrible cycle, and it wasn't helping my relationship with my husband. We had recently moved in together, right before my surgery in fact. We were constantly arguing, my emotions were all over the place, and had lost my sexual confidence.


After my first meeting with the ND I was put on a very strict elimination diet. The primary goal being to rid my body of toxins and regulate hormones. Then our plan was to reintroduce different food groups and specific foods to chart my body's reaction to them. I was determined to do everything by the book - so I went gluten free vegan, cold turkey (hehehe). Within a week my parents and husband noticed a complete change in my mood, my hair, and my skin! Yes - they hadn't noticed the gradual change until it began being reversed, but over the past year my skin had literally gone grey... I was finally getting back to "normal"...


But about 3 weeks in, I just had this incredible hankering for a piece of crusty french bread. I was sitting in my parents kitchen when I just up and decided I'd have a piece. Just one piece, no bigger than an inch wide - and BOY was it DELICIOUS! Oh my goodness! I seriously cannot describe how amazing it felt to taste REAL BREAD after three weeks of being gluten free vegan in my diet. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven...


And then... quite suddenly... I actually thought I was DYING...


I don't mean to be dramatic - well maybe I do, I AM an actor after all - but I was doubled over on the floor in searing pain. My abdomen was bloated, and it was cramping. I made an appointment with the ND for as soon as I could to let her know what had happened... I wasn't feeling great for a couple days after this. And unfortunately for me, I went to a university TA training session that same week in Toronto (so that was a 45 minute train ride, plus a 20 minute subway ride each way), and lunch was provided - I made certain to choose the box of pizza labelled gluten free vegan - but within 20 minutes I knew someone had just put a vegan pizza in there as they were reorganizing... I had to leave training early and try to make it home without needing a bathroom...


YES it gets THAT BAD...


So, what was going on? Well my ND and my family doctor both suggested that this sounded like classic Celiac Disease. The worst part? Because I had been on a gluten free diet for such a long time at that point, I was ineligible for any testing performed by OHIP. Meaning, I couldn't have the blood test, or the biopsy because I would actually have to eat gluten for a few WEEKS to get my body back in to a place where the tests they perform would prove that I have it...


So what did we do? We decided to order the DNA testing kit. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder and can be tested for through DNA screening. What they look for are three gene variations that are known to be found in people who have Celiac. And those people only have one of these variations in most cases, and very rarely that have two of them. We ordered this expensive test, which you can complete at home and mail in... my results???


I have ALL THREE GENETIC VARIATIONS. Bringing the likelihood that I will develop Celiac Disease to a 1 in 7 chance. For anyone who knows statistics related to this disease, this is incredibly high, and extremely rare/odd/bizarre that I carry all three variations they test for. My mind was blown.


We instantly transformed our condo to as gluten free as we possibly could given that it had once been contaminated, and that my husband didn't have to be gluten free. We no longer allowed people to bring food to our house unless it had "certified GF" stamped on it, our grocery bills continued to go up, but I finally started to feel better; I had a diagnosis, AND a way forward - and it wasn't that difficult...


Until of course we discovered amazing places that served up all the naughty food I'd just cut out of my diet... I'd stopped eating things like bread, chips, cupcakes, cake, pie... basically ALL desserts or pastries. Of course I'd lost weight... but as soon as we discovered gluten free substitutes that tasted just as good (sometimes better... yeah, I know right?! crazy to imagine!) as the regular thing, we bought them constantly. I began treating myself for being a good gluten free eater... I was rewarding myself for having a disease that could be managed by a healthy diet.


I was destroying my health once again...


Fast forward to the winter of 2015. My husband and I are preparing for our first Christmas in St. John's, NL. Our families arrived, and we were showing them our home, our new city, and all the sights. I took our parents for a walk from our house up to Signal Hill - one of the landmarks and attractions of St. John's. The walk there and back should have taken us about 3.5 hours. We completed it in just under 3... great right? Well, not so much... we were all trying to keep up with one person... my 63 year old FATHER.


YES. Me at 30 had trouble hauling my @$$ up the hill behind a 63 year old man. That $hit hit me like a tonne of bricks. It's one thing to be working on a show, and the teenagers, tweens, and kids have so much more energy than you do - and you don't push full out at all rehearsals because you're older and need to conserve your energy and maintain your stamina. You think about endurance. But it's another thing entirely to basically be lapped by your dad, who is twice your age...


Let that sink in for a minute... TWICE. MY. AGE. and he wasn't even breathing hard or breaking a sweat. SERIOUSLY. I always thought he was superman as a kid, but now I was seriously convinced... and determined...


I promised myself that I would be back to "normal" by my wedding in May 2016. I mean, I had purchased my bridal gown in a BRIDAL SIZE 6... so I had to do something, AND FAST.


I started checking out Facebook - I'd been noticing a friend from high school going through an incredible weight loss journey, all the while maintaining balance with her work and home life (she has 4 kids all in elementary or preschool education). Whatever she was doing... if SHE could do it, then I must be able to handle it... I work from home, I have my day times free, and I have a target outfit. It was time to get healthy again.


I began my journey with Beachbody in February of 2016. Exactly 3 years since my first documented complaint of abdominal issues. I went hard core with 21 Day Fix, and within 21 days I was buying clothing in smaller sizes, that fit better - and overall I was more positive, confident, and had energy. I was dubious about Shakeology because of having Celiac - and I didn't want to set myself back before I really began...


But then my friend saw this story in me, just waiting to be told - waiting to help other people with tummy troubles that they just can't figure out and label. She offered me the opportunity to become a coach - so I deliberated for a while, and finally said yes and jumped all in - this time WITH Shakeology.


Within a week of being on Shakeology, my skin improved even more than just cutting the gluten two years before. My energy levels increased, and my unhealthy cravings decreased. At this point I KNEW this wasn't just a fad for the weekend, or the month... this was an incredible lifestyle improvement...


I had been offered the opportunity to LIVE a healthy, mindful, and empowered lifestyle. I had created a routine where my health is at the forefront of my daily activity. I privilege my health. We are super strict in our house about gluten. We have a zero tolerance policy (haha). We do not bring gluten into the house. We don't let people bring food over. It may sound controlling, but since I can't always go out to restaurants to eat, it's incredibly important to know what is in the food I do eat. And that's what I LOVE about Shakeology. Like I said - I was dubious - it's not labelled as "certified gluten free", and at first I wasn't okay with that... but the reason isn't because they aren't careless. There are no gluten containing ingredients in Shakeology - and the benefits it offers for your digestive health, as someone with Celiac, are just incredible. It cannot be classified as certified GF because some of the ingredients may be grown in land that cannot guarantee wheat is not planted near by. The odds of me having a problem are SO slim - I decided to take the risk - nothing great every comes from INSIDE the comfort zone right?!


Well, I'm now ALL IN. I'm a Beachbody Coach, I'm all about health & wellness. I want my friends, family, and followers to feel healthy, to experience mindfulness daily, and become empowered to live their best lives. I now have just as much energy, if not more, as the teenagers and youths in the productions I'm cast in. I have the stamina to complete choreography while singing and not be completely winded at the end of it. I have the confidence to workout LIVE on Facebook. I have the mindfulness to know what I'm eating, and when - and to treat myself, not cheat myself! I am now maintaining my weight through a balance of healthy nutrition and daily workouts. I am now strengthening my body, increasing my stability and core endurance. I am now helping others every day to achieve their health and fitness goals.


I've been up and down, done fad diets, tried tricks, stuffed my face, felt guilty, self-medicated with food, gone overboard and tried to fix it by eating nothing the next day, I've done all the ridiculous things you can think of... but it took discovering I had Celiac Disease - and therefore a more difficult way of life, particularly if I wanted it to be a healthy one, in order for me to wake up and see that the food I was fuelling myself with wasn't fit. And it took being out-exercised by my 63 year old father to make me truly understand how unfit I was for my age.


Don't let your potential pass you by. Let my experiences be a lesson to you that you need to get up, off the couch, and grab the day by the horns and tackle it! You deserve better - you deserve more.


If you'd like more information about joining one of my challenge groups or coaching you can find me on Facebook : www.facebook.com/GymandTonicbyLauren/


You can follow me on instagram @gnt_lauren


OR you can stay tuned to this BLOG for my thoughts and experiences as a Celiac-having, dramatically fit performer, who loves being healthy, mindful, and empowered!

Categories: Me, Myself, & I

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.