Find a life coach, therapist, guru, whatever you want to call it! You need someone that isn’t biased about your situation. Someone that can see you outside of yourself, give you proactive feedback and hold you accountable.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Chelle Neff. Chelle has been a leader in the U.S. salon industry since founding Urban Betty in 2005. As the CEO, Neff has successfully grown Urban Betty year after year and today has a salon company that houses more than 60 employees and has 2 locations.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?
I have been exercising pretty regularly for most of my life. Being in the salon industry, you can sometimes stand on your feet 8–12 hours per day. If you aren’t in good shape, it will take its toll, and you won’t be able to sustain your career; that was my driving force behind staying in shape. The biggest motivator for me, however, was six months after I started my salon, I started to get constant dizzy spells, so I had to look into the stressors behind that. I became more conscious about my diet, my stress levels, and I started to get therapy to help solve this issue. I discovered the dizzy spells were vestibular migraines (I get regular migraines as well). With some significant emotional and physical tweaks, I was able to cure myself.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
The most interesting thing that has happened to me since starting my career was founding a second company! My husband and I call our side hustle The Weird Homes Tour. We noticed an abundance of weird homes here in Austin and we were just nosey enough to want to go inside them. So, we started a tour that happens once a year in Austin. We are in our 5th year, have expanded into five other cities, and wrote a coffee table book. I never could have guessed this would all happen!
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
In 2002, I launched a website with a terrible logo. At the time, I thought my logo looked good. It was a lady with a city background, and she seemed very cartoonish. Think Sex and the City if it were a children’s book. Not good. We reworked it after a couple of years. I recently found an old scrapbook with my first brochure and the original logo. I showed it to my employees and they couldn’t believe how bad it was. We all had a good laugh! I learned that you should always be re-evaluating your brand and evolving to stay current.
Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I have been on a constant mission to improve my health, all while maintaining my life balance being a CEO. I have incorporated a mentor, meditation, regular workouts, massages, and self-care days. My unique contribution combines wellness with spirituality. Very often we think that these two things are separate when in fact, they are not. If you learn to manage the voices in your mind that usually hold you back, good health will have no choice but to follow. I mentor all of my employees to follow this mantra. It has changed not only their way of thinking but the whole scope of how we run our salon company.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would not be where I am today without my life coach/therapist, Rebecca Hamm. I met with her once a week for the first five years after I opened my business. I am down to every other week now. When you are an entrepreneur, you always need someone in your corner who can call you on your BS in a gentle way. She does that for me. She has helped me overcome my ego and become a boss in every sense of the word.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
The three main blockages I believe are (speaking spirituality with physicality with you here):
- Our perception of self-worth. Self-worth is the value we put upon ourselves. It is also how we communicate to the world what we believe we deserve to receive back. You must improve your beliefs around your self-worth in order to clear blockages.
- Early programming. Most of us grew up with parents that put upon us the beliefs their parents put upon them. And the cycle continues. And I’m here to tell you (even though they did the best job they could) a lot of what they said to you probably wasn’t the best for you. You have to get outside of your parent’s beliefs and find what your real views are. Find a belief system that practices love, self-acceptance, and forgiveness.
- Self-forgiveness. Especially, if you eat that large pizza. Tomorrow is another day! Don’t get stuck in the cycle of beating yourself up, that only drives you to keep doing the thing you are trying to avoid.
Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Find a life coach, therapist, guru, whatever you want to call it! You need someone that isn’t biased about your situation. Someone that can see you outside of yourself, give you proactive feedback and hold you accountable.
- Meditate. My goal is once a week. Some people do it once a day! That is my goal for the future. And listen, you don’t have to do it for long. Fifteen minutes is plenty and will help center you. I mark time off on my calendar every Monday (with two reminders) from 10–10:15 am. No exceptions, no excuses. It’s in my calendar, so it’s happening.
- Get in the flow. Do something that makes you forget about time. My flow is painting. I took an art class about a year ago. It was six weeks long, and it gave me so much knowledge to take home. I now make it a priority to drop everything and paint at least once a month.
- Get rid of your to-do list! I’m serious. I did this in the last year, and it dramatically changed my life. I now schedule everything on my calendar. It DOES NOT get put on a to-do list. It gets put on my calendar. Groceries, meditation, checking emails, working out, posting on Instagram, it’s all scheduled now. And if I run out of time, I move it to another day. Stop with the lists! They will keep you up at night.
- Schedule a recharge day (and not Saturday or Sunday). I’ve just incorporated this into my life. Too often we run around all week and never take time for ourselves. I have booked every 4th Friday of the month as a “recharge day.” I am not allowed to put anything on my calendar unless it includes self-care. Give yourself a day that is all about you. What makes you happy? Do whatever you want, make sure it gives you peace and recharges you.
As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?
Three benefits of working out regularly:
- Mental Health. I call my exercise “nature’s Prozac.” Working out helps release endorphins and serotonin, reduces inflammation, and gives you better sleep.
- It slows your body from breaking down as you age. I look around at some of the people in my gym who are in their 70’s, and they can outrun and do more pull-ups than me! They are an inspiration. That is who I want to be and why I work out. I want to be able to live well into my 90’s with less pain and more ease.
- It energizes you! If you battle with fatigue or sluggishness, regular exercise will help combat that. I am amazed at how much energy I have even after a tough workout. It’s especially important to me since I travel a lot. I like to be able to do hikes, climb Mayan temples, and swim in the ocean!
For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?
- Pushups. These are not fun, I know. If you want to target your chest, triceps, biceps, core, shoulders and back all at the same time, pushups are the way to do it.
- Squats. It’s important to maintain our lower body strength and the best way to do it is through squats.
- Lunges. These strengthen your glutes, hips, and hamstrings, the muscles that are going to keep you walking.
In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long term injury?
If I’m not sore, I feel like I haven’t done enough. Ha! Soreness is a great thing. Celebrate it and know that it’s only temporary and will get less with each workout. To help with pain, I stretch after every workout and give each muscle at least 30 seconds of stretching. I also take several hot baths per week to help relax my muscles. The best thing that I have learned to avoid injury is to take breaks and not do lots of heavy lifting several days in a row. Your body needs time to recover. Change up your routine. Do upper body one day and lower body the next. Give sore muscles 24 hours of rest. Also, LISTEN to your body; if something hurts, don’t’ ignore it. Go to a specialist if it is reoccurring, and they will give you the best advice on how to recover.
There are so many different diets today. Can you share what kind of diet you follow? Which diet do you recommend to most of your clients?
I follow mostly a gluten/dairy-free lifestyle. I recommend that to everyone. Those are the top two ingredients that can cause the most inflammation for me. To achieve this, I usually make a smoothie that is veggie-heavy in the mornings, bring a soup/salad for lunch, and I try to limit eating out to a couple of times a week. The best way I have found to be successful at this (because honestly none of us have enough time to prepare all this food) are subscription meal plans. I do one that has premade smoothies, soups, and another subscription meal plan that has dinners that I can cook at home. I also don’t put snacks in my house that aren’t healthy. I choose almonds, dried mango, or popcorn if I have to have a snack at night. I know if it’s in my house, I’ll eat it, so I have to remove the temptation. You can also replace sodas with sparkling water. That’s how I weaned myself off of them. It gives you the same fizzy enjoyment without all the sugar.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?
I recently finished Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown. This book taught me about true belonging and how important it is to be yourself, surrounded by loving people. I am on a personal quest to be my authentic self, and this book is a reflection of that. It’s okay to be different or a weirdo and you should celebrate it! I often worry about what others think of me. It’s hard to keep everyone happy when you have a small business. I love anything that helps me to be okay with myself and to celebrate mistakes.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to inspire a movement of supporting other people’s successes. The world is not one pie for everyone. We each have our own pie! When one person is successful, they are never taking away from you. Your worth and all that you have are based on your emotional well-being and your beliefs surrounding that. Whenever you celebrate another person’s success, you draw that same energy onto yourself. I would love for everyone out there to want others to succeed and be happy for them!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite quote is, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I heard this quote right after opening my salon company and I was completely overwhelmed with all of the things that I needed to do. I believe that all movement is forward movement. Even the smallest thing like having coffee with another business owner — asking them one question may help you get to where you want to go.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would love to meet Bethenny Frankel. I love the empire that she has created with her brand. She has had a ton of challenges in life and has overcome them all with laughter and even more success. I am so proud of her!
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
Instagram & Twitter: @urbanbetty