your body does not define you

Lauryn Elder

My name is Lauryn. I am so many things, which can keep me pretty busy. I am a wife to a pretty awesome man. I am a dog mom to my pitbull, Max. I am a foster dog mom for rescue pit bulls. I am a dance teacher to a pretty incredible group of young ladies. I am also a board-certified behavior analyst for the school district I grew up in. I consider myself an advocate for those with disabilities, for rescue pups and for eating disorder awareness. I am a lover of all types of art, music, plants, essential oils and holistic wellness.

What is one thing no one really knows about you?
I seriously dislike when people tell me what to do

What is the best advice you’ve ever received? 
I’ve received a ton of tough love advice that has stuck with me, and allowed me to grow. I can think back to so many wonderful people in my life who have provided me with constructive feedback and I am thankful. One of the most generalizable pieces of advice that I have ever received was from a friend when I was 16…. I was expressing the desire for an opportunity, but I was fearful to ask. He said to me “ Lauryn, just ask…. What is the worst that would happen? They would say no. But what if they said yes? At least you asked.” It was simple, to the point… and now I often find myself asking “what is the worst that could happen,” for SO many aspects in my life. Thanks Hermann!!

What would you say to 16 year old you?
You are more than just a body, and you are capable of hard things.

What is your favorite thing about where you live?
I wake up in the morning and look out of my two bedroom windows to an abandoned golf course that now looks like a meadow. There are often wild animals out there, people enjoying time with their animals and family, huge beautiful trees, and a trail that we can access daily. We are out there at least once a day just enjoying nature. I cannot think of one single day that I was not thankful for that view. Even with a crappy commute to work and all that life throws at us, I am always in love with the view.

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What message do you think every woman should hear? 
Learn to question things. It’s okay to ask a question, and its also okay to disagree. We absorb what is in our environment. It shapes our behaviors, our thoughts, and our actions whether consciously or subconsciously…. It is so important to acknowledge this, and not be afraid to question. Educate and empower, always.  We live in a society that is drowning in diet culture, tons of fads diets and exercises and information that is easily accessible and not always credible. Speaking on diet culture specifically, if you do not learn to question, you can find yourself following fads that are not suitable for you, that do not feel good for you… and that only does more harm than good. I used to never question, and I always followed. This led me down a very long road of recovering from orthorexia. I now have not only learned, but have truly practiced with the help of professionals that beauty is not a size, health is not a size, and when you mix diet culture with unrealistic ideals of beauty it can be detrimental.  Question the advice that is given to you around YOUR body, and YOUR health.

What do you love most about yourself?
I am ridiculously passionate……. Borderline high strung for the things I care about…. And I care a lot about a lot of things.  I never felt that I only needed to have one passion in life, and I have never limited myself to focus on one thing (not always the best advice cause focus isn’t always my strong suit ☺ ) On top of my career as a board certified behavior analyst, I am also super passionate about applying applied behavior analysis to my own life, I love dance, rescue animals, music, art, thrifting, plants, and reading about essential oils and holistic wellness. If you asked me when I was a kid what I wanted to be when I was older, I could never give an answer… and If I did, I would tell you five different jobs I would juggle. I never realized how applicable that would be to my life.

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What is the biggest thing you have learned along the way? 
How important it is to 1. Not take life too seriously and 2. To empower yourself  3. To never play the victim. And 4. To not be afraid to ask for help. These four steps have been crucial. I process it as 1. Breath, 2. What do I need to learn? 3. What can I do? 4. Do I need help? Nothing good will ever come from pointing fingers, only good things will come from education and self reflection… and there is zero shame in needing help.

How do you manage your work-life balance? 
I have always been working my entire life. I was in the dance studio from the age of 7-22 at least 25 hours a week, mostly more. It was a full time job as a child. There were pros and cons to this in my life. It allowed me to be very disciplined, but it didn’t give me a great picture of what work-life balance truly is….. which somewhere between the two, you need to know how to rest. I work a pretty intense day job, among all of the other hobbies I have mentioned…. And the burn out can be real. I have had to really learn how to listen to my body. I would say my lack of ability to rest efficiently, and my lack of ability to identify when I needed rest contributed to my orthorexic behaviors. I think it’s important to acknowledge that work life balance is not just simply working and having a social life… it’s being able to be a functioning human being, and having the knowledge of how to be at your most optimal health mentally and physically. It’s being able to plan, but also being okay with flexibility….. the ability of working hard, but also getting adequate rest…the ability to incorporate play, and creativity…. And also the ability to prioritize efficiently.

What do you do on a daily basis to grow and move forward?
I am a behavior analyst, so I study Applied Behavior Analysis. I am so passionate about not only applying it to my clients, but to myself as well. We replace harmful/interfering behaviors with socially significant ones. This gives me the ability to look at what behaviors I engage in that impede my progress, how to identify them, and how to replace or decrease them moving forward. I also am not afraid to work with professionals to learn more about the things I want to change about myself. I worked with a nutrition coach to teach me how to get to my most optimal health, to replace all of my orthorexic behaviors with functional ones. I work with an esthetician so I can learn a little more about my skin, and how to care for it. I am not afraid to ask for help, and I am constantly seeking to learn more.

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Lauryn Elder

Lauryn Elder is a behavior therapist for children with autism and a dance teacher. She just recently became a wife to her amazing husband and is a puppy mom to the silliest rescue pit-bull.
Lauryn is an advocate for rescue pups, kids with special needs, and for health and wellness. She is a lover of all types of art, of food and of the simple things in life like essential oils, tea and sunsets.

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