Monica: I’m so excited to chat with you, Haley! I really appreciate the way you’re helping others find love and compassion for themselves to cultivate a healthier mind and body. How did you first find yourself heading in this direction?
Haley: I don’t think there was one specific instance that led me towards becoming a dietitian. It was more of a string of life events and experiences that were preparing me along the way. It was obvious I wanted to work in the medical and health field from the time I was little, and begging for a stethoscope for Christmas so I could set up a stuffed animal hospital in my room. As I got older, I loved food and simultaneously learned to fear it as my body began to change and from the pervasive diet culture that surrounds us. In learning how to make peace with my body and care for it no matter what, I discovered this is right where I need to be.
Monica: It sounds like there were life experiences along the way that shaped your understanding of how you wanted to help others in their health. Can you share what gave you your current perspective?
Haley: I truly believe we are given our personal battles to fight as an invitation to learn something that can change our lives, and therefore the lives around us. I chose this path – to face what challenged me, so that I could gain a unique skill set and help others. Through my own experience navigating diet culture and body image, I knew I was meant to be a part of a greater movement that helped change the narrative around food and bodies.
Health is a continued practice, and your body and your needs change every day. Health is multifactorial, meaning that there are physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects. There are parts of your health you can’t change. There are parts of your health that your behaviors can influence. There is no getting it right or wrong, only observation and adaptation. We try things on, learn from our experiences, and become more skilled at understanding what our body needs. With all of this nuance, one thing is certain:
You have to first believe that your body is worthy of care.
Monica: That is such a powerful statement, people need to believe they deserve health and happiness in order to even achieve it. How has that impacted your own view of living a healthy life?
Haley: For me, the definition of health means being able to care for my body in a way that allows me to experience a full life outside of my body. When I am my healthiest I am able to experience joy, satisfaction, fulfillment, creativity, belonging, cultivate meaningful relationships, and impact others in a positive way. When I am my healthiest, my mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing all weigh the same.
The work I do has changed my definition of health and happiness over the years. I have learned that your lab work can look perfect, and you can still be unwell. I’ve learned that your body size isn’t an indicator of health or happiness, but is an indicator of the amount of assumptions that will be made about a person. I’ve also learned that caring for your mental health is the most challenging, scary, and rewarding of them all.
That’s why I now seek to find more ways to fully experience life.
For me, it’s about remaining open to learn as much as I can, practicing loving myself and others more fully, and being present to soak up as many moments as possible. I’m proud that the work I do with clients reflect these values. Many people I work with are struggling because they are stuck in the rigidity of dieting and are consumed with food and body thoughts. As they discover their own values around health and wellness, they free up the mental space needed to live a sustainably healthy and fulfilled life.
Monica: I appreciate how you emphasize mental health as a critical component of your own self-care. How do you keep it in balance, and how do you want others to thrive in their own health and happiness?
Haley: I am humbled daily by the work I am so fortunate to do. I witness the power of liberation as people learn that hating their body doesn’t have to be their life’s story. I am also a business owner, so my work challenges me to keep a work-life balance that keeps me outside my comfort zone for growth, while keeping my mental health in check. Boundaries, personal and professional, are another way I keep my own health in perspective. This could mean making sure I attend regular supervision with my mentor, blocking off times on my schedule when I need more ‘me’ time, closing the laptop to unplug, and knowing what my limits are as a clinician.
I believe that the secret to thriving is taking it a step further than just discovering your values, but also to turn down the extra noise that keeps you from fully living your values. Unsubscribe from, delete, unfollow, or remove anything from your day that isn’t helping to fill your cup, or that is telling you you’re not good enough. Reserve your energy for doing more of what feels good and what’s most important to you.
Learn more about Haley at www.inspirdnutrition.com.