Today’s Everyday Goddess is a Santa Cruz local whose smile is (nearly) as big as her heart.
Laura Bruner is someone who’s passionate about health in all forms: mentally, physically, and spiritually. She’s a soon-to-be mama who uses food as her weapon of love, educating her community on nutrition through her company and blog Radical Roots. Radical Roots details Laura’s journey setting down the roots of her growing family, simple recipes made with sustainable, nourishing foods, DIY projects, and fitness tips and ideas to keep movement fun.
Without further ado, Laura in her own words.
Who are you? What is “your story?”
My name is Laura Bruner. I am a Certified CrossFit Trainer, Certified Nutrition Consultant, soon-to-be-mama, and lover of the outdoors. I believe passionately that all people deserve respect and equality, that this planet does not belong to us, that empathy can heal the world, and that the lifestyle we choose alters our entire makeup. Eating well, moving our bodies functionally, lifting heavy things, being mindful, and spending as much time as possible outside – each is a key component of a true wellness.
I didn’t always believe these things to be true, though. I used to obsess over exercise, restrict my food intake and think of food as morally good or bad, and easily lose track of what really mattered in my life. Without happiness, no other components of life really matter, no matter how great they might seem from the outside.
After 5+ years of running myself into the ground and eating foods that were wrong for my body (but right by society’s standards – ie: low fat, cholesterol free, meat free, whole wheat, high carb, low calorie), my body began to rebel, and I lost touch with the ability to listen to my own needs – both physically and emotionally. Through real food nutrition, functional fitness, holistic wellness, and a regular mindfulness practice, my world changed in ways I could never have imagined. And now I want to take what I’ve learned and share it with the world.
“Without happiness, no other components of life really matter, no matter how great they might seem from the outside.”
How has physical fitness and strength impacted your journey?
After what felt like a lifetime of overtraining (basically from junior year of high school until about age 24), finding CrossFit and taking time to learn the truth of its capacity to build strength and fitness without hours in the gym every day gave me freedom I never knew possible – freedom from countless hours in the gym, freedom to know real strength and my body’s capacity, and the freedom that comes with humility and knowing that I can always be better (yes, that’s actually incredibly freeing and mind opening), and the freedom of a career I love.
Also, it gave me the freedom to have a baby. Switching my training from endurance endeavors to weightlifting and short, intense metabolic conditioning was a key factor in bringing back my period after 5+ years of amenorrhea. It’s also allowed me to stay strong, pain free, and empowered throughout this pregnancy, and it’s given me a better understanding and love for my body than I ever knew.
Tell me the lowest or darkest point in your life. Tell me the happiest point in your life. Now tell me the connection between the two: how did “rock bottom” become a foundation for success?
The first thing that comes to mind is Christmas morning when I was probably 19 years old. It was pouring down rain, and I thought I had to wake up before my whole family to get in a long run before the day started. So, at 5:00am, I put on my rain coat, strapped on my watch, and did a 45 minute interval run in the pouring rain, only to come home and ask my family to wait to start Christmas morning till I cleaned up. I look back and shudder. There was a point in my life where my exercise had to come first and where I missed out on fun social interactions because I had to be in control of what I ate and when I trained. The things that matter most – my family, my friends, my relationships, my husband, and perhaps most importantly my own mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing – came second to my need to workout and eat a certain way, or to workout in order to eat.
I can happily contrast that Christmas to this past one – 29 years old, a growing baby in my belly, and an amazing holiday with the people I love most. It started waking up to no alarm next to my amazing husband. That was followed by “paleo” pancakes, bacon, and eggs, a slow, lovely walk with our pups, presents opened with music in the background, a drive to Santa Barbara to be with my amazing family, food, laughter, lots of dancing, and pie. The contrast is so stark and so clear. Some might regret the Christmas with the seemingly insanely out of order priorities, but I don’t I don’t regret a single moment in my life because each one has made me who I am today, and each one gives me an experience to draw upon to help others in their own journeys.
“I don’t regret a single moment in my life because each one has made me who I am today, and each one gives me an experience to draw upon to help others in their own journeys.”
What does it mean to you to be “strong?”
Strength comes in many shapes and forms. It’s not just the physical muscle mass on our bodies. It’s not just our physical abilities. It’s not just physical. I think some of the most important components of true strength relate to the spirit. When we can separate our physical bodies from our emotional ones and learn to not put our value in how we look. Life comes with so many ebbs and flows. Sometimes, we won’t have the ability to keep our muscle mass, our physical strength, but in those moments we can hold on to our emotional strength, our mindfulness, our self love and be as strong as ever.
Don’t get me wrong, I think physical strength is an incredibly powerful thing (both physically and emotionally). It has been a game changer for me in many ways. I love seeing what I can do in the gym. I love the empowerment it’s brought me. I love the idea of the strength it will take to give birth to my child. But I also love knowing that when I take ample time off to let my body heal after having a baby, my muscles will get smaller, but that strength will return. I love knowing that when life, stress, work, health take a unexpected turn, that I have the knowledge and ability to build myself back up. Strength is resiliency of body, mind, and soul. Strength is loving myself and trusting the process.
“I think some of the most important components of true strength relate to the spirit.”
Describe the fearlessly authentic you.
At 29 years old, I can honestly say that I love myself more than I ever have in my entire life. I love who I am and what I stand for. I love that my body has created a small human over the last 8+ months, I love that I am surrounded by people who raise me up (and will accept nothing less), I love that I am ok admitting when I am wrong and learning from my mistakes, I love that I know I still have a lifetime of continuing to grow, change, and love myself even more, and I love that I have the opportunity to help others love themselves too.