Nutrition is Life
Student: Clinical Nutrition
Lauren Johnson, always an outspoken proponent of exercise, decided to make Life University the setting for the next phase in her education. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Georgia State University, Johnson is now pursuing a master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition at LIFE.
“I grew up doing gymnastics since a very young age, and I’ve coached competitive gymnastics for 14 years now. I have definitely always been into fitness,” Johnson recounts about her early introduction to the importance of exercise. Later, she followed her interest by working as a personal trainer and participating in fitness and body building competitions. However, she was not sure what career path she would ultimately follow and did some soul searching.
“I also knew that nutrition has been a huge part of my life, and it plays a large role in my fitness routine. And at 17, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, so I’ve had to really watch what I eat since then,” Johnson notes regarding her change in pursuits. She says that as she became more interested in nutrition, she also became more of an “expert” to those around her. As a fitness leader and now a nutrition leader, she started being asked more and more questions about both. It was then that she decided to go back to school to become a registered dietitian and practice craft.
She adds, “I was always helping my friends and family with their nutrition plans anyway, so I realized that nutrition had become more of my passion than exercise. Exercise is still important to me though because for excellent health, you need both exercise and good nutrition. I just want to round out my educational spectrum.”
Pursuing that next step in her education, Johnson did research to find the right school for her. She looked at several schools and applied at Georgia State, but she was not accepted there. She said that while she was shocked that her alma mater rejected her application, it turned out to be a “blessing in disguise.” “I really believe that it happened for a reason because now I’ve come to LIFE and love it here. I’ve met so many amazing people – not just the students, but the faculty and staff too.”
Living a very active, fast-paced lifestyle, Johnson said that she wanted her next steps at LIFE to happen very quickly as well. However, that is not what happened, and when she had to decrease her pace a bit, she was pleasantly surprised. She explains, “Being here has just really given me time to find the right direction for me to slow down a bit and be present in a community of people who share common interests. It’s like a breath of fresh air.”
Johnson goes on to say that she has had an amazing time so far at LIFE. She notes that she not only goes to school full time, but she also works full time and has a home life as well. So, during her first year at the University, she did not participate in clubs or her program as much as she would have liked. Now, after finding the right balance amongst those activities, she enjoys her time at LIFE that much more. Her “passion for LIFE” spills over into those other parts of her life as well, such as when she goes to the gym for example. Following the “speak” tradition at LIFE, when she sees people she always smiles and says “hello” to her fellow gym goers. And with a grin, Johnson says, “When they don’t say anything back, I think YOU really need to go to LIFE to change that!”
She says that when comparing Life University to other schools, you see that this is a much more intimate, involved environment where you can learn, enjoy a beautiful, natural environment and feel great about your experience. She adds that with her “bursting at the seams” schedule, there are times when she’s exhausted and does not really feel like attending class, but walking across the pedestrian bridge over the 19th century village revitalizes her energy. “It’s the highlight of my day every day, and I even park out of my way so that I can walk across that bridge to connect with people and get that ‘LIFE’ energy back.”
About her new focus, Johnson exclaims, “Nutrition is life. It’s what you’re putting into your body and what’s fueling you every day. You have to put good gasoline in your car to get from one place to another, so you have to put good food into your body to do the same.”
She says that, to make a thoughtful point to future clients, she plans to ask each one exactly how long they want to live their lives. She knows that everyone is different and will require a different diet and fitness routine, but they all need to be in tune with their body and figure out what it requires to “set them up for success.”
She notes one thing, above all, is most important in answering that question of longevity – nutrition – and if you are someone who wants to live your every day to its fullest, then good nutrition is key to living a long, disease-free life.
Faces of LIFE is a story campaign that showcases members of the dynamic LIFE community, including faculty/staff, students, alumni and health science professionals. Interested in being featured or nominating a candidate? E-mail LIFENews@LIFE.edu. Read more Faces of LIFE stories.