“If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”
Finding our dream career is no easy task. Searching for that inner drive, strength, and passion to go beyond society’s expectations and take the ‘road less traveled’ can be even more challenging. But, it is possible.For a long time I didn’t believe that. I thought that I had to go the ‘safe’ route (job wise) rather than pushing myself to combine all the things I truly loved into a career. Now I realize that finding your passion, your purpose, your niche, and creating that into a fulfilling life and career is achievable (even if it sounds absolutely terrifying).
When thinking about how I wanted to create this new project, I knew that I wanted to present truly inspiring and talented women that could not only share their experiences, but also show that there is so much beyond the typical nine to five desk job. The ‘safe’ route (aka the boring job that controls your life and makes you unhappy), and picking your career based on what that form you filled out in ninth grade told you isn’t the only thing our there for you.
So, when I took on the task of finding women to interview, I knew that Lauren Bongiorno needed to be one of them. As a follower of Lauren via Instagram, I’ve watched a talented athlete, yogi, and entrepreneur through my social media. But, what you see on Instagram is only half of it.
You know when a person’s energy is just magnetic? That’s exactly what I experienced upon meeting Lauren Bongiorno; health coach, athlete, and snack bar creator. When she walks in a room, you can just feel her positive energy, and genuine happiness (maybe that was because she agreed to meet me on her birthday, but I’m pretty sure it’s just her). That’s not something you get from many people these days, so it was refreshing to say the least when I got the chance to talk with Lauren.
But, why does all of this matter? Why Lauren Bongiorno?
In my head I thought, “what twenty-three year old do you know that took a risk, despite what we’re all told we ‘should do’, to create her passion into her purpose which then became her career?”
Success obviously does not happen overnight, but that hasn’t stopped Lauren, and my curious self needed to know how she had done it (and continues to do it).
In a series of questions, I learned what Lauren did to get where she is today, what fuels her drive to continue down this path, and the advice she has for other millennial women out there searching for their purpose. Not only are her answers insightful, but will leave you thinking long after reading them (at least they got me really thinking).
CW: What did you originally plan for yourself throughout college?
LB: “Everyone is always so baffled when I tell them what I studied in college haha. I actually was a history major with a psych minor and on the pre-law track. Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a trial attorney. I grew up watching my dad in court and loved the idea of fighting for justice. He used to joke that I would take over his law firm one day and that I was his retirement plan. Sorry dad!
CW: How did you get involved in the health and wellness industry at such a young age
LB: “When I was a sophomore or junior in college I started a blog called “Lettuce Be Healthy and Happy” after watching the Netflix documentary ‘Hungry For Change’. The documentary is about the food and weight loss industry and all their deceptive tactics they use that has contributed to the rise of binge eating, eating disorders, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in the U.S. I spent roughly two years sharing my health journey with Facebook friends/family/anyone who wanted to read, which mostly included healthy recipes, yoga for the mind and body, workouts, and anything new I was learning from books, podcasts, online videos, ect. During these two years this was my hobby, along with becoming a certified group exercise instructor and yoga instructor. It wasn’t until my last semester before my college graduation that I realized I wanted to pursue health as a possible career.”
CW: What made you finally decide to take the ‘unconventional’ route rather than a more solid 9-5 job? Or in your case, choose the wellness industry over your law degree
LB: “During the fall semester of my senior year of college I was studying for my LSATS. I took it once in September and another time in early December. Whenever I made my “to-do” list for the day, writing a blog post, answering emails or comments on my blog, or watching a health video always came before LSAT studying. But even though it was so evident to those around me how passionate I was about the wellness world, I never once considered the option of not going to law school. It was my plan. It was what I was meant to do. So I thought…
That was until one day I went to a hot yoga class at my yoga center that I religiously practiced at and had a complete epiphany. I was laying in savasana at the end of class and as quickly as the idea popped into my head, I made the decision that I was going to put off law school for a year to try and pursue being a health coach. I ran home and told my best friend Emily about this program I had seen ads for on Facebook called the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The first thing she said was, “What do you think your parents are going to say?”. I picked up the phone and told my dad to get my mom because I had something important I needed to tell them. I told them my plan and promised if it didn’t work out I would go to law school the following fall. I explained that if I started law school immediately after college, I would go for 3 years and be on this hamster wheel of law school, then working in the District Attorneys office, then working in my dad’s firm, and having the responsibility to take it over once he retired. I knew that if I didn’t go after my passion first and at least try, I’d be 40 years old before I ever considered it again. In my head that just didn’t make sense to waste those years to later decide to follow my passion.”
CW: How long did it take you to really build a following for your programs and social media?
LB: “My blog and Instagram had a few hundred followers that organically and gradually just grew overtime. I remember when I hit 3k followers on Instagram I went to Costco and bought a box of larabars to do a giveaway on my page. I was so excited. I was just so amazed and grateful that people wanted to follow my journey. My social media presence became a little bigger when I transitioned from blogger to the Health Coach, Entrepreneur, Yoga and Bootcamp Instructor who believed in the power of the mind and body and all that encompasses total health. I started to post more that incorporated all aspects of my life- yoga, fitness, healthy food, traveling. I think the more transparent I was with my ups and downs and what I was up to, the more people could relate to me.”
CW: What gave you the courage to follow the path of online health coaching (especially when society has always told us to do the ‘safe’ career route)?
LB: “I believe that having a support system and people that believe in you is huge. When I told my parents my plan of putting off law school they were 100% behind me, and told me if that’s what made me happy than I should do it. I do know though that there are a lot of people who don’t have support from many friends/ family because why would anyone leave a good paying 9-5 job for something that in their eyes should be reserved as a side project/hobby? To that I’d say, believe in yourself. Be your own cheerleader. Listen to your heart and just go for it. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s 100% true. Quiet your mind and listen to what lights your soul on fire.”
CW: Do you or did you ever have any moments of self-doubt, and what pushed you to keep going?
LB: “Being super honest, the only time I doubted my career was when my dad sat me down and laid out all my expenses that I’d have to eventually start paying once I started “adulting”. Car insurance, car inspections, gas, transportation, gym membership, restaurants, movies, groceries, health insurance….the numbers just add up so quickly and I definitely questioned whether I’d be able to support myself as a health coach in my own business…at 22 years old none the less.
I like to consider myself a minimalist in the sense that I don’t need fancy clothes, cars, nice apartments, etc. However, I do know that I never wanted to struggle with money and I need it to do the things I love (basically shop at Whole Foods and travel haha). After the big hit of how much money I would need, my dad assured me to ‘do what you love and the money will come.’. I’ve had so many amazing opportunities and side projects that I am super grateful and now believe if you set out doing what you love and stick to your morals with good intentions, the money will come.”
CW: Where do you think your positivity comes from (it’s so evident through your work how passionate and positive you are about life), and how do you remain positive in the face of the ups and downs of life and your work?
LB: “Ironically enough, when I was 7 years old I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and I think my positivity now largely stems from that. Growing up with a disease where you constantly have to be checking your blood sugar, monitoring every piece of food you put in your mouth, and dealing with the sickness of having blood sugars too high or too low at least once every day forces you to be pretty tough and mature beyond your years. Living with diabetes for over 15 years now, being a division 1 soccer player in college, and finding a love for yoga, I’ve learned that our reactions to the world are not what happens to us, but rather how our minds see it. Nothing is forever, challenges and life’s ups and downs are only temporary and you just have to ride the wave.”
CW: What’s your favorite part of sharing/connecting with your followers on social media?
LB: “I love that social media allows for you to connect with people all around the world. Just from Instagram I have made friends in Australia, Aruba, India, Utah, Texas… 3 of my clients actually found me through Instagram and they are from Scotland, London, and California. A reach that I wouldn’t otherwise have had. People put down social media sometimes saying we’re too consumed in it or that we only portray the best versions of lives, but let me tell you, it’s a powerful tool if used the right way. I feel that sharing your purpose, connecting and learning from others, it’s what life is truly about.”
CW: Are there any difficult parts about putting your business all out there on social media?
LB: “People are harsh sometimes if they misinterpret something you write in a caption or a post. I had this one instance a few months back where on a diabetic page I left my website and information as a diabetic health coach and I got backlash from a member saying I was spamming them and trying to sell my services. I don’t think of what I do as a “business”. To me what I do is help people. That’s my only intention. So to get those backlashes from time to time, it hurts. Because you just want to call that person up and say I’m so sorry you felt that way when you read my post but it really came from a good place!”
CW: What do you think sets your online coaching business and new endeavor with your snack bars apart from the rest?
LB: “Both of what I am doing are kind of an untapped market which is pretty cool. For my health coaching, I specialize with diabetics and give them a resource other than their endocrinologist, diabetes educator, or nutritionist. We look at their health goals and I stay by their side for 3-6 months as their guidance, support, and accountability to help them make long standing changes in the realm of home cooking, home environment, stress, exercise, optimal nutrition, and learning how their body works best. As for my Low Glycemic protein bars, there is not one single bar on the market that is low glycemic and does not have a long list of ingredients with some kind of chemical,sugar alcohol, preservative, or word you cannot pronounce. I’m not another big company, I’m just a woman that truly cares about the health of others and I just want to help make lives and this world better.”
CW: Being that you’re an active athlete and yogi, is there any advice you would give other woman out there who feel lost when it comes to trying yoga or any type of fitness program in general?
LB: “Just because a type of workout is popular or it’s your friend’s favorite, doesn’t mean it’s right for you! Find a workout that helps you grow both physically and mentally. Find a workout that you look forward to doing. Find a workout that you do to become a better version of yourself and not just to get a nice butt. Try different classes out, get on a routine of the classes/workouts you enjoy, and stick to that routine the best you can with dedication and commitment to help you reach your goals!”
LB: “Follow your passion to find your purpose. Life is too short to waste it going through the motions of something you don’t enjoy doing. We’re lucky enough to live in a world these days with so many amazing tools and resources that you can use to create any vision you have. If you take a leap of faith, opportunities will present themselves.”
CW: What’s something that no one would know about you from just looking at your Instagram or website?
LB: “I really love listening music, like I don’t like rap or any radio music, I love like jazz or Motown music. Jackson 5 is my jam, I listen to that so hard during my workouts. I love music clubs in the city, I would rather be listening to a guy jamming on the cello rather than going to a club. That’s me in a nutshell, I’m an old soul in a way. I can get teary eyed listening to someone play the acoustic guitar.
Oh another good one, my friends and family still call me ‘Lo’ to this day because in high school I felt like ‘Lauren’ wasn’t exotic enough, like I wanted to be more exotic, so I made everyone in high school call me ‘Lo’ (I wouldn’t answer if they didn’t call me that), and it actually just stuck.”
Finding a person who only knows one or two rap songs (one being Kanye’s ‘Stronger’) was probably the most shocking part of our interview, especially for a rap lover like myself. But, aside from the laugh I got out of that, I was able to walk away from our breakfast with a new found love of chia seeds in my yogurt, a laundry list of insightful thoughts shared, and a whole lot of inspiration that I didn’t realize I needed myself.
Taking a chance on yourself can be fear inducing, but as you can see from Lauren, the risk is so worth the rewards.
So, go follow this girl on Instagram if you haven’t already. You’ll be inspired if nothing else, and maybe even a little jealous of her amazing yoga skills!
And for more information on her health coaching check out Lauren’s Website!