Hello and welcome to my blog. It actually won the #2 spot on the Best 10 UK Organic Food Blogs 2018, even though I’m not a food blogger! But food is still an important part of what I do so here you can find all my health-inducing recipes.
Now on to what I really do!
I’m Lauren (obviously). I’m a health writer, wellness, transformation and life coach, podcast host, aspiring novelist and mama. Having been previously wheelchair-bound until implementing the lifestyle that I will outline below, I’m also very much immersed in, and an advocate of, holistic living (a whole-person approach) and live by this quote:
My life’s work is dedicated to bringing this message to others, and to helping others attain this level of wellness themselves (and by wellness I mean health, happiness and fulfilment).
I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of two, and Uveitis in my right eye the year following that. My poor parents didn’t know what to do; in 1986 there weren’t many options. They researched as much as they could and decided that the steroids the doctors wanted to prescribe were too toxic an option for a two-year-old so instead we tried everything from homeopathy to spiritual healing. The homeopathy helped to keep my immune system strong and helped keep my joints from being damaged by the disease, which was a major achievement, but it was always like there was a piece missing from the puzzle because I was never free of the disease completely and I would have dreadful yearly flare-ups that would result in time off school and a watered-down version of childhood.
When I was 17, after starting performing arts school, I suddenly had a huge flare up that wouldn’t go away. I ended up being put on a chemo-based drug that changed my life forever. It damaged my liver, caused me to lose my hair and left me disabled. By the time I was 18 I had arthritis in every joint in my body. I was wheelchair-bound, I couldn’t feed myself because my elbows were too stiff to bend and reach my mouth, I couldn’t chew food because my jaw was so stiff and I couldn’t even sit up straight because my hips were too stiff. I left college and never got to go to uni, or go travelling with my friends; I really lost out on those late teenage years.
But here’s where it gets interesting…
You see, I needed to get that sick. Had I just been a bit ill, with some arthritis that was mainly manageable, I never would have worked as hard as I did to find the answers that led me to that missing piece. My destiny was to get that sick.
Something within me (what I now know to be an inner knowing, instilled in me by my mum who always believed we’d find a way) knew that disability wasn’t going to be my story; remission was.
I decided that sitting at an obtuse angle waiting for someone to come in and feed me mush and take me to the toilet wasn’t enough, and that I would get better.
So I subsequently spent the next decade immersed in intensive self-study, teaching myself everything there was to know about the human body and mind; what makes them work and not work. From epigenetics and neuroplasticity, to the pharmaceutical industry and how it worked, and how the healthcare/sick-care system was compounding my disability, how behavioural economics were manipulating me into thinking only someone else could make me better, to inner child healing, spiritual connection, and emotional intelligence. I later qualified in nutrition, life coaching, NLP and CBT, and, though they offered more insight and structured skillset, it was the self-study and the immersion into research driven by my desire to find answers, that taught me everything that enabled me to not only go into remission, but to guide others toward similar outcomes.
I didn’t go into remission the next year or even 5 years later. I was 29 when I went into remission. Over a decade after setting off on my journey of self-discovery and 27 years after being diagnosed with a debilitating, inflammatory autoimmune disease.
In 2010 I self-published a book about my journey, and I’m currently re-writing it for conventional publication.
That in itself led me to my purpose; it showed me I was always meant to be a writer and educator, and that guiding people back to their own ability to be WELL, in all senses of the word, was my destiny. I now do that through my writing, coaching and my podcast, Reconditioned.
Over the years I became the youngest ever trustee for Homeopathy UK, patient spokesperson for the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine and Parliamentary ambassador for paediatric autoimmune diseases and I have hosted Parliamentary events with the emphasis on making holistic wellbeing more accessible.
I have written about wellbeing and conscious parenting for publications such as Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, Natural Health, Health & Homeopathy, What Doctors Don’t Tell You, The Green Parent, The Natural Parent and more. I have recently begun writing more mainstream features, too. I speak at a range of events from conferences to festivals, and I am in the process of writing my first novel. I also spend as much time as I can campaigning for the awareness and accessibility of natural health options and informed choice for parents alongside wonderful organisations such as the Arnica Network.
My most recent venture, Reconditioned with Lauren Vaknine, is the podcast that opens up discussion on all aspects of health and growth, looking at ways we can recondition ourselves back to wellness through integrating the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual elements of ourselves. (Tune in to hear me alongside some pretty awesome guests!). Creating a podcast felt like the next natural step to be able to share all the things I’ve learnt throughout my journey that I hope will help others. The podcast page here will tell you more.
Many years have now passed since I stopped all forms of conventional medication – including pain-killers – and I have been in remission since 2013, with the exception of postpartum flare-ups following the births of both my children, which was an important learning curve as each one reminded me that this autoimmune disease lives dormant within me and any number of things can trigger it and it’s up to ME to tackle that – not the doctor, not my parents, not my husband, and not the pharmaceutical industry… I take my healthcare into my own hands. Postpartum hormones were not something I had control over but the need to up my game to get back into remission each time spurred me on to really practice what I preach. I believe that in order to cure, we must heal from the root cause, and after that, we must focus our energies on prevention.
I live in London with my husband, Daniel, and our 2 children. The picture below includes our precious dog, Milo, even though he is no longer with us, because I can’t bring myself to take it down!