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Behind the Handle: See why @WholeLivingLauren’s 35k followers love her

Kelsey Lawrence

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Welcome to Behind the Handle where we catch up with one of Columbus’ many busy Instagram influencers—be they fitness, fashion, food, or fun—to see just how they balance work, life, and play. And, of course, we get to the bottom of how they have so many followers!

Lauren Blake, RD, LDN, CHWC has been featured on Dr. Oz, Today.com, Fitness Magazine, The Huffington Post, Health.com, and many more for her expertise in dietetics. On Instagram, more than 35k people have smashed the follow button to keep up with @wholelifelauren on her journey through food, health, parenthood, and life!

614NOW: How did you get started with your account? Did it start off as a personal account?

Lauren: “I started using Instagram strictly for personal use. I think when the app first came out, people used it for purely personal reasons. I started posting pictures of food because I’ve always been interested in health and nutrition and that was just something i was really passionate about and something I was doing all the time: cooking and experimenting with different things. So I started posting photos of food and other people were doing that too but it was certainly what it is today in terms of the food community.”

“So, from there I just started connecting with people very organically and the account started  growing and people started to say ‘hey, you should start a blog,’ so I did and that’s when i changed my Instagram handle, around 2014.

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“At that point, it was purely a hobby, it wasn’t my job at that point. It was just, I kind of identified with the brand that I wanted to create, which was really just naming something I was already doing. @wholelivinglauren is my business account, but I post a lot of personal things on there. I post about travel, I post pictures of my family, pictures of my home.”

“I want people to be able to navigate seamlessly between the blog and my social media accounts. I’m definitely more active on social media than my blog, but I make sure to post pretty regularly to my blog as well.”

“It’s not so much a blog as a business website. The blog is just one piece of it that lives on my website. So my website serves a great purpose for me because it’s a landing page for my business. It showcase the different services i offer with individual clients, with business consulting, it highlights different projects I’ve done, different national and international media outlets that i’ve been featured in.”

“I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities because of my online presence. I’ve worked really hard but i will say that having the visibility of that is certainly a benefit of what I do.”

614NOW: When did you feel like you were successful?

Lauren: “I feel like it’s hard to define a moment when you’re success because there’s always new goals (you’re never done), which is great but it’s also hard. The hustle is real, you’ve always gotta keep up with things. There’s always bigger better more etc. it’s easy to get caught up in that, and I try really hard not to. Of course, the number of followers is important, But I really try not to get caught up with that. What I care most about is really engaging with the people I connect with. That’s really important to me.”

“The power of social media is incredible. To be able to meet friends through social media and Instagram is incredible. I had the opportunity to be on the Dr. OZ show in 2015 because one of the producers had been following me for years and she wanted me to come on and be part of a segment. That’s an opportunity I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for Instagram.”

614NOW: Do you find yourself getting stressed about having to keep up with your business, website, and social media accounts? How do you unplug?

Lauren: “It’s something that’s incredibly important. I know for me and for everyone too, it’s a weird world that we live in because everything is instant and 24/7 and it can be so easy to get in that scrolling trap and comparison trap. I think that’s how people get down and out: mindlessly scrolling all the time, they’re spending so much time on social media that it’s impossible not to compare and not to feel like you’re not good enough. All those things exist and that’s the hard thing about social media and I am very aware of those things personally.”

“What i try to do is time block. When I’m planning out my day, I time block time for Instagram. From 9-9:30 for example, responding to comments, etc and then I put it down. I have to display a lot of self control with that and sometimes I do a better job than others, but that’s really the goal.”

“When my husband gets home from work, we really try not to be on our phones. It’s a really important time for us to connect, to not be distracted by social media and everything on our phone. Another thing too, is we have an 18-month-old son and I have become acutely aware of the fact that I don’t want him to see me on my phone all the time. I have to set those boundaries for myself.”

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: Do lemons help with digestion?

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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Lemons have been used for years in cooking to add acidity to foods, but is there actually a health benefit to using lemons in your food regularly? According to this social media post below, yes. The post alleges that lemons are a key to improving digestion due to their pH.

But, let’s stop there and explore whether or not there's any truth to this claim.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzOtnFuACkO/?igshid=8d43kyu9c3fh

First of all, yes, lemons are acidic and have a low pH, and our gastric fluids or stomach acid is also acidic with a normal pH range being 1.5-3.5. So, lemons and our gastric juices do have similar pHs, and the acidity of stomach acid is vital for correct digestion processes. Thus, one might think lemons would be great to eat every day to keep our stomach acidic and digestion flowing,

However, it’s not common for stomach acid to get out of normal range. Our bodies have a strong capability to maintain homeostasis, meaning if things get outside “normal” levels, our bodies will try to correct it from within. If your stomach acid is not in the normal range, that could be indicative of other health conditions that lemons may not be able to cure.

Take-Away: Continue to use lemons in your foods for acidity, flavor, and color, or if you really enjoy eating them—they do count as a serving of fruit! But, there is no need to force yourself to add more lemons to your diet for digestive purposes. Our bodies work hard to keep us stable, and if your gastric juices are out of range, visiting your doctor is the only thing that will help.

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Health & Fitness

Truth or Trend: Pregnancy Fit Tea

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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We don’t have to be a woman to know that pregnancy can be difficult time, so a tea that helps with the nausea and discomfort seems like a great idea, right?

Wrong.

While many herbal teas are safe for the general public and pregnant women, there are some concerns.

https://www.instagram.com/p/By3mfoQn4gD/

First, some of the "beneficial" ingredients in the Flat Tummy tea above are not supported by any real evidence, let alone by information stating that they are safe to consume while pregnant. One of those ingredients is Rooibos (asparlathus linearis), which is touted as a "digestive aid" for pregnant women. However, this claim is not corroborated by a single study on The U.S. National Library of Medicine’s PubMed database.

Ginger is yet another ingredient present in the tea that has not been proven undeniably healthy for pregnant woman.

"Although several studies have found no evidence of harm from taking ginger during pregnancy, it’s uncertain whether ginger is always safe for pregnant women," according to the National Institutes of Health.

Not only is ginger a questionable ingredient for a child-bearing woman to consume, the Flat Tummy tea fails to specify exactly how much ginger was used to make it.

Take Away: Please do not fall for the schemes of these “Fit Teas.” If you are pregnant, please be cautious of all ingredients you put in your body and discuss with your healthcare provider before starting any supplementations.

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Truth or Trend: The “fat” foods

Becca Kirian RD, LD, CNSC

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Waist trainers, crash diets, colon cleanses—all things touted as the next miracle solution for weight loss. With the help of our new Registered Dietitian columnist, we'll sort out the truth from the trash when it comes to health trends on your social media feeds, and provide healthy, sustainable alternatives for those to-good-to-be-true fixes. Welcome to Truth or Trend.

Diet culture strikes again with the lists of "fattening" foods you see floating around your feeds. These lists often include things like soda, pizza, ice cream, and French fries. As a Dietitian, it's unlikely that I'll encourage clients to start drinking soda, but it's also unlikely that I'll tell them they can never have soda again and must only eat "clean" in order to lose weight.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BxR3vqRjLKS/

Our diet culture has vilified high fat and high carbohydrate foods, while marketing teams continue to do an excellent job of portraying their products as alternative options that are “healthier.” However, all foods have the ability to make us lose or gain weight; it’s about total caloric intake and overall nutrition pattern. An organic “healthy” green juice could have just as many calories as a regular soda, while a sandwich from a fast food restaurant could actually be a good source of protein.

Take Away: Instead of putting foods into only “good” and “bad” categories, try increasing nutrient dense foods like fruits and vegetables while also allowing yourself to indulge in treats like fries to create a healthy and sustainable dietary pattern.

Becca is an Ohio native and University of Cincinnati graduate who works as a traveling consultant dietitian, currently living in Juneau, Alaska. She owns Centum Cento Fitness LLC, a company dedicated to using evidenced-based practice to help empower clients to build sustainable and healthy lifestyles through nutrition and fitness. Follow Becca on Instagram!

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