Name: Lauren Bathgate
Location: Baltimore, MD
Weight: 110 lbs
Years Bodybuilding: 4
How did your fitness journey begin?
In 2009, I was in college pursuing a bachelor's degree and ballooned up to 170 pounds. My gynecologist cautioned me about the negative health impacts and consequences of obesity. Seeing that number on the scale and hearing the concern in her voice was the wakeup call I needed to make a lifestyle change. I was obese, depressed, sedentary, and unmotivated.
I started losing weight by cutting out fast food and sugary drinks. Then I instituted a nutritious meal plan with regular exercise and the scale number started to drop. I became consumed with pound-chasing and strove to reach 130 pounds, which I reached in six months. The feeling was great but somewhat misplaced. In ways good and bad, I decided this wasn't enough for me, so I set new goals to attain a higher level of what I believed to be health and fitness.
During my weight loss journey, I found Bodybuilding.com and relied heavily on its information, supplementation, and motivation. Following my participation in the 2011 Transformation Challenge, fellow BodySpace members suggested I compete, so I started competing in NPC bikini competitions to stay on track. Having lost so much weight, I felt like a fat girl trapped inside a fit girl's body. I weighed 102 pounds at my first competition but my body just kept dropping weight.
The psychological and emotional consequences of my dramatic change were immense and frightening at times. The compliments I received after my weight loss were appreciated but it felt degrading as time went by. It seemed like my friends and family valued me more as a thin person. Ironically, I spiraled into a much deeper depression as a fit person following extreme diets and suffering from prolonged loss of my menstrual cycle.
Following my first NPC competition, I needed to take a step back and analyze my life to get healthy. It took eight months to recuperate from the stress I put my body through. Since then, I've reawakened to the fact that life is good. I placed too my pressure on myself for the show and forgot to enjoy the process.
I'm currently training for the Jay Cutler Classic in November. I reestablished my priorities this time around and am making efforts to strike a balance between training for the show and loving my body. I'm no longer fueled by being compared to other women onstage.
How did your passion for fitness emerge?
There have been plenty of ups and downs during my fitness journey, but I welcome the challenge wherever it takes me. What I find most fascinating about fitness is the interplay among physical, mental, and emotional well-being. I translated my passion for fitness into all areas of my life. It showed me that I have tremendous focus, willpower, determination, and drive. Although I'm up onstage against beautiful women who work equally as hard, I constantly strive to be my best.
What motivates you to live a healthy lifestyle?
I find motivation in many experiences—past and present—and from diverse people. I'm motivated by stories of others who overcame great challenges with grace and dignity. I often mentally dedicate my workouts to people who overcame adversity and touched my heart in some way. I channel that energy and focus it on my workouts to stay committed to this lifestyle.
Where did you go for inspiration?
Music plays a key role to help me be focused and motivated to work out. I start each morning with music and keep it flowing throughout my workout. Training excites me so much that I often have a difficult time sleeping because I anticipate waking up the next morning and doing it again. When I feel tired or unmotivated, I check my BodySpace because I have wonderfully supportive friends who continually encourage me there.
What is the most important fitness tip?
When I started believing that I was capable of doing more than what my mind limited me to, I started living life to the fullest. It extended to all parts of my life. Believe you can do the last rep no matter what your mind tells you. Believe you have an inner source of strength and willpower that will carry you. Believe you can do anything you set your mind to. If you fall short, you'll always know you tried your best.
Who is your favorite fitness competitor?
Erin Stern inspires me because she's real, understands that it's about the journey, and is respected. She recently posted a picture of herself with Cory Everson at the Tampa Pro on her Facebook page, with a caption that read: "Wow! At the Tampa Pro tonight, I had a chance to meet my role model. She's the reason why I picked up the weights (put them down, and picked them up again): Cory Everson!" I was inspired by this because it shows that Erin was once a young lady looking up to others.
How did Bodybuilding.com help you reach your goals?
The support from total strangers has been the driving force that keeps me going on my fitness journey. After my participation in Bodybuilding.com's 2011 Transformation Contest, I received suggestions from other BodySpace members who inspired me to compete.
Lauren's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Sail" by Awolnation
- "Levels" by Avicii
- "Fully Alive" by Flyleaf
- "Heart Song" by Automatic Loveletter
- "Hard" by Rihanna (Feat. Jeezy)
- 2012 NPC Tracey Greenwood Classic - 5th Place Bikini Class A
- 2012 NPC Maryland State/East Coast Classic - DNP Bikini Class A
- 2013 NPC Schakbuilt Blueridge Mountain Classic - 6th Place Bikini Open Class A, 8th Place Novice
- 2013 Jay Cutler Baltimore Classic - DNP Bikini Open Class A, 15th Place Novice
I've had so much wonderful support from so many people that I can't mention them all. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who continues to support me. Sharing it with you makes it that much more worthwhile and fulfilling!