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How One Top NYC Trainer Beat Cancer, Lost 20lbs & Stays Insanely Energetic
If all the top trainers in NYC got rounded up in a yearbook, Lauren Chiarello’s nickname would be “Most Inspirational.” She teaches classes at FLEX Studios (TRX) and Exhale (Core Fusion Barre), with the requisite super toned bod and dynamic personality; but unlike most trainers, she has also beat cancer (twice), and uses her fitness expertise to raise money for cancer patients, donating over $75,000 to date.
Her incredible journey from a survivor to a fitness superstar started at age 23 when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma out of nowhere. When most young women that age are struggling with the NYC dating scene, she found herself fighting for her life. By 25, the cancer was in remission, and she upped the ante on her health by challenging herself to run her first half marathon–only to discover 10 days after the race that the cancer was back.
Lauren credits her commitment to fitness and her plant-based diet as two things that helped her conquer cancer for good. Nowadays, she is not only cancer-free without any long-term side effects, she is also 20lbs lighter, and spends all her days teaching or taking TRX, Pilates, barre, yoga, and spin classes. (Seriously, her energy level is insane. I was left in a puddle of my own making while taking her TRX class.) Oh, and that’s when she’s not taking a break by teaching fundraising classes at Equinox or the W Hotel, guest-teaching at Samsung, or doing speaking engagements.
Here are Lauren’s essential tips for becoming–and staying–your healthiest self, in mind, body, and spirit.
- Find what excites you. Try all kinds of workouts until you find something that you love, and keep going back so that it becomes your lifestyle. When you start to get antsy, remember that this will energize you and help you lead your best life.
- Try portion control and mindful eating for weight loss. Several years ago, Lauren lost 20 lbs doing a 21-day fix with Team Beachbody. She modified the plan to fit her plant-based diet, and the biggest takeaway was using small containers for portion control. Knowing exactly what you’re putting in your body can be a huge eye-opener and give you a template for a sustainable diet for the rest of your life.
- Eat highly nutritious foods every 2-3 hours. Lauren eats a breakfast within a few hours of rising. Her go-to breakfast is an acai smoothie: 1 packet of Sambazon acai, frozen berries, 1 cup of Silk soy milk or almond milk, 1/2 banana, 1 tablespoon of Peanut Butter Company’s Smooth Operator. Alternatively, she might eat a piece of avocado toast. After teaching a morning class, it’s time for snacks: she likes a serving of almonds, raw red pepper slices, or snap peas. For lunch, she eats an open-faced sandwich or a salad with cherry tomatoes, homemade dressing, and a Boca burger. Dinner is usually a stir fry with tamari and veggies, over quinoa or brown rice. She does eat dessert, like cookies or almond ice cream that’s coated with chocolate–it’s all about balance!!! Her favorite nutritional add-on or supplement is Maca powder, which she uses everywhere for energy, focus, and endurance.
- Wellness treatments are a must, not an indulgence. Invest in your overall health and wellness–it’s just like going to the gym! Lauren gets a massage a few times a month, uses Headspace app for meditation, and splurges on natural, non-toxic beauty products like the cult favorite Beauty Counter (Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer) and Naturopathica (cleansers and scrubs). Self-care is about your whole wellness, not just about workouts and getting a sculpted physique.
- Take resting seriously. No matter how busy or driven you are, try to take at least 1 day off in a week from workouts and work. Lauren aims for working out 5-6 days a week and gives 1-2 days for her body to recover. Make sure to get enough sleep while you’re at it! Lauren tries to be in bed by 11 and wakes up at 6 or 6:30 for a solid 7 or 7.5 hours of zzz every night. Sleep is essential for energy to live your best life.
- Have a mantra that you truly believe in. No wellness is truly possible without connecting to a bigger idea and purpose, and favorite quotes or mantras can help re-set your focus on what’s important to you. Lauren swears by “No one can make you feel inferior without you consent” (Eleanor Roosevelt) and “Be the change you wish to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi).
- Don’t ever take a setback for a failure. You will always run into problems, from minor to truly serious, but don’t use that as an excuse to give up on your dreams. For example: after going back to chemo just 10 days after her first half marathon, Lauren has now run several full marathons–with no signs of slowing down.
Are you as girl-crushing on Lauren as I am? She teaches special fundraising classes at places like the W Hotel, Bali and more. (mmm, Bali!) Find out more about her schedule here. And follow her on IG @chichilifenyc.
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Photo: Lauren Chiarello