With Bri Blank Alexander & Ming Zhao

For those who are going into it with passion, my best advice is to never give up. There will always be setbacks and people who don’t believe in you, but when you’re following your dreams, pushing through the challenges is so important. Those who achieve success are those who persevere through the harder times. Don’t […]

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For those who are going into it with passion, my best advice is to never give up. There will always be setbacks and people who don’t believe in you, but when you’re following your dreams, pushing through the challenges is so important. Those who achieve success are those who persevere through the harder times. Don’t worry about how competitors might feel about you. When you shine your light, the right people will come to witness it.

At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s well being, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep and preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving leaders and influencers who are practicing their own philosophies about how to maintain their wellbeing.

As a part of our series about “Social Media Influencers Share Their Top Self Care, Wellness, and Beauty Tips, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bri Blank Alexander.

Bri Blank Alexander is a 27-year-old bright and bubbly, relatable television host, wellness expert, producer, influencer, self-love advocate, and inspirirer with a contagious smile and laugh, whose life mission is to make a healthy lifestyle fun and enjoyable for everyone. She discovered her passions for health, fitness, and making the world a healthier place in a very interesting way.

Bri grew up extremely obese, eating whatever she wanted whenever she wanted. She didn’t realize how serious this was until one day, as a 19-year-old college sophomore, she stepped on a scale and saw that she weighed 306 pounds. At that moment, she knew that she needed to make a change, not for any other reason, but for her health. She researched healthy foods she could eat at her campus’s dining hall and began to track her food intake via UnderArmour’s app, MyFitnessPal, who later did a Victory Story video featuring her. After four months, 50 pounds flew off, and she began to teach herself how to exercise at the gym. After one year and ten months of hard work, self-love, dedication, and determination, Bri officially reached her goal: she had lost 150 pounds, nearly half of her body weight.

Bri’s journey immediately inspired her to want to empower others to take control of their health. She created her platform, Bri Healthy, in 2014, with a dream of being a talk show host. She has developed videos, recipes, and social media content with the intention of inspiring and helping others. Her platform has come a long way, and she is now a popular television personality, social media influencer, public speaker, and as she likes to refer to herself, Chief Inspiring Officer of her own brand, Womenspired™, a platform in which she interviews female founders and other successful women to help inspire others to pursue and achieve their dreams, through live events and her video series. She now hosts her own Instagram Live show weekdays at 2 pm Eastern Time, Be Healthy with Bri Healthy, to help inspire others to stay healthy during this new lifestyle shift.

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 backstory of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?

Absolutely! I fell in love with health and wellness in a very unique way. I grew up extremely overweight and continued to gain weight as I grew older. One day, as a college sophomore, I decided to step on a scale (I consider it divine intervention, as I used to avoid the scale at all costs). I saw the number 306, and I never thought I’d see a number on there that started with a 3. At 19 years old, I knew I needed to make a change for my health. I immediately changed my eating behaviors and began tracking my calorie intake, and found healthy foods I could eat at my college’s dining halls. After 4 months, 50 pounds flew off, and then I began to exercise. After a little under two years, I officially lost 150 pounds, and I immediately realized that I wanted to use my story to help inspire others, to let them know that they could do it, too. I also realized my dream that I want to host my own talk show, and I’m so thankful that now, years later, I’m well on my way to achieving it. I now am a television personality and a social media influencer (although I prefer to call myself an inspirer), and I feel so grateful to help inspire others every day.

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’m really grateful for my friends and family who supported me along my weight loss journey. Their support always kept me happy and confident, and I’m so thankful for them. In a business sense, I’m so grateful for my husband (who I met after my weight loss journey), who loves me unconditionally and helped me to turn Bri Healthy from a passion project into a business, and who helps me to achieve my dreams every day.

With my talk show dreams, I started Bri Healthy by producing videos on a super cheap camcorder in 2014. I stopped filming the videos for a few years, due to the quality of my equipment and the fact that I moved to a different house and didn’t have a great filming location, and I became a recipe developer for a few years. One day, after we had just bought a DSLR camera and I began to make basic, informative YouTube videos again, my husband said to me, “why don’t you make your own full show?” I said to him, “I don’t know if anyone will watch something that long.” He told me that I wouldn’t know unless I tried. So I did it. I produced, filmed, and edited an entire year-long season of YouTube shows. That show didn’t necessarily take off, but it gave me SO much experience in hosting, which helped me to get to where I am today! I’m so grateful for his gentle push out of my comfort zone, because it helped me to grow immensely.

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?

It wasn’t humorous back then, but it is to me now, even though everyone needs a starting place. I used to do a LOT of work for free. I really just wanted to partner with wellness brands to make my brand look good, but I ended up doing so much free promotion for these companies. That was a big mistake, because those same companies still don’t feel the need to pay me for any collaborations nowadays, since we’d already made our little complimentary arrangement. I just didn’t understand my worth back then. There’s nothing wrong with a mutual collaboration without any payment, but there becomes a problem when you’re scared to ask for what you deserve!

Thankfully, I was convinced by other people that I really do deserve to make money off of the actual work that I was doing, and I eventually found the bravery to ask. I still remember when I secured my first sponsored post — I felt so much joy! Once I secured that, I felt much more confident and more empowered to ask for money. It can still sometimes be a bit uncomfortable, but I’ve learned that when I just go for it, it can happen for me. Also, I learned that I AM valuable enough to be paid for my work, and that I deserve it, too! It’s funny to look back at all of the free things I did, but I’m still grateful for them all.

As an influencer, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

The funny thing is, I didn’t choose to be an influencer. It just happened as a result of following my passion. I started Bri Healthy in 2014, when Instagram was still so new and influencers weren’t even a thing. Over time, my following grew, and then all of a sudden, I was an influencer!

I think the most important thing regarding this is to become an influencer for the right reasons: because you’re truly passionate about something and you want to help others or inspire them to improve their lives. I believe that if you go into it just for the perks or for the status, it may not be what you think it will be. I believe the best quality an influencer can have is a genuine desire to share their light and their authenticity with an audience.

For those who are going into it with passion, my best advice is to never give up. There will always be setbacks and people who don’t believe in you, but when you’re following your dreams, pushing through the challenges is so important. Those who achieve success are those who persevere through the harder times. Don’t worry about how competitors might feel about you. When you shine your light, the right people will come to witness it.

Can you share with our readers some of your strategies you’ve used to build an engaged, loyal, and large online community?

Being a genuine human is my biggest tip for this. That may sound funny, but it’s true! I once heard Oprah talk about why she feels that people love her so much. What she said has stuck with me. I don’t remember her exact words, but she said that it’s because she treats others like they are equal to her. That she is one of them. I think that there’s a standard that when you get a large following, you need to feel like you’re better than others, or above them. But for me, I feel like Oprah. I treat people like we are the same. Because we are! We are all souls in bodies, regardless of our gender, age, race, religion, size, etc. I will never act like I’m better than anyone, because the fact is, I’m not.

Because of this, I’ve always been very interactive with people, on Instagram especially. To grow my following, I interacted with other people with similar interests. I would search #weightlossjourney and comment on people’s photos with words of encouragement. Many times, I would mention my journey, and they would come to my page and follow me. Also, being featured on large platforms like the Today Show, MyFitnessPal, and more, has gotten me a lot more attention. My television hosting career has helped, too!

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart.

You are a busy person with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers two self care routines, practices or treatments that help your body thrive? (Kindly share a story or an example for each.)

Self-care is EVERYTHING. I really want to emphasize this. When you’re taking care of yourself and loving on yourself, everything will come so much easier for you.

One of my favorite self-care practices is meditation. It really changed my life! I used to be such a reactive person, and now I’m able to take a step back and think before I react. It helps me to feel happier, more calm, and connected to myself and Source energy (what I feel is God). I make sure to take at least 10 minutes a day to sit in quiet. The more I do it, the easier it gets, and the more connected with myself I become. When I’m connected, I’m able to achieve so much more, as I’m more in tune with my intuition and my inner creativity, which helps everything else as a result.

Another self-care practice that I have is actively giving myself words of affirmation. I love to wake up in the morning and look at myself in the mirror and say, “today will be an amazing day. Something amazing will happen today.” Then, I’m at least subconsciously expecting something awesome to happen, and I look back and get to see what amazing thing occurred. Saying kind words to ourselves about our appearance is super beneficial too. I love to look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful. I am amazing.” Even if you don’t believe it, your subconscious will begin to, and with consistent practice, you will be believing it, too!

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind or heart to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

The most important practice for my mind and heart is to just sit quietly and check in with how I’m feeling in these places. Sometimes I’ll feel a heaviness in my chest, and I ask it what’s happening, and the answer usually reveals itself to me. I’ve learned how powerful it is to ask our bodies what’s going on, because our intuition will give us the answers. We aren’t taught to check in with ourselves in that kind, gentle way, but when we do, we learn how magical we truly are.

I also like to use a rose quartz crystal to clear out any density in either of these areas. I’m still learning more about the power of crystals, but I do believe that they can help us to heal. So sometimes, if my head is hurting, I’ll place my rose quartz on the spot that hurts, and it so often instantly starts to feel better. I do the same with my heart space. I believe there’s so much magic in the world that we don’t know about until we try it!

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

I love this! It’s so important for us to feel beautiful, and it can only come from within us, not from anyone else outside of us. No matter how many people tell you you’re beautiful, you still may not believe it, so it has to come from within.

My biggest tip is giving ourselves positive affirmations, like I mentioned above. When you look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful, I am amazing,” even if you don’t believe it, your subconscious hears it, and those words will be remembered. You can also try journaling these affirmations. Seeing them written down, and even the act of writing them, helps them to become true in your life.

Another way to do this is to actively love on parts of your body. For example, after my weight loss journey, I had a lot of loose skin. Some of it has tightened a bit over the years, but I still have some hanging parts of my body. My arms have been one of my more self-conscious areas. But instead of saying negative things about them, like I used to, I now actively appreciate what these body parts do for me. My arms allow me to hold my loved ones, to pick things up, to write, to display my creativity, to pet puppies, to cook. My arms help me to achieve my dreams, and I love them. Shifting to this place of gratitude from a place of not feeling good enough is SO powerful. I love my arms so much now and I appreciate them just as they are.

Another idea would be to dress up in some clothes that you know you look GOOD in. We all have that favorite piece that looks so flattering on us. Especially during quarantine, get all dolled up (it doesn’t matter your gender identity, doll yourself up!) and admire how amazing you look. Give yourself some of those positive affirmations. Do a mini photoshoot (and try your best to feel satisfied with the photos, just appreciating your unique beauty). You don’t even have to post them. These are for you to look at when you’re not feeling so great. You can flip back to them and remember how beautiful and empowered you feel during these moments, and bring that appreciation into the present moment.

Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, or podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

There are a few key people who have helped me to thrive. Ana Holub, a forgiveness healer, and I met through fate, and she helped me to let go of a lot of hard emotions I faced last year. She helped me to really open up to the idea that we are such powerful, magical beings and that we can let go of the things that don’t serve us, and that we are our own healers. My friends Danielle Bryan and Lisa Kalt-Gergasko are also huge lights in my life that help me along my journey and have helped me to become connected with myself on a much deeper level.

Also, in a more business-oriented sense, Lisa Skye Hain, the founder of Primary (a NYC-based coworking office space), has always been such an inspiration and an amazing mentor to me. I’ve always been inspired by her because her creations are tangible. She made her dreams come true, and I exist within them when I work out of her space. I think that’s so beautiful and powerful, and she has given me so many tips to help me succeed on my journey. I’m so grateful for these amazing humans — they’ve served as guides and lights in my life.

Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced?

FULL-BODY CRYOTHERAPY. I personally don’t like to try a lot of the bizarre wellness trends, like IV vitamin infusions or blood facials (no shade to anyone who does!), but I was invited to an event at a cryotherapy salon and the cryo chamber was just absolutely wild. I was in my bikini and before I went in, I picked a song to dance to as I was in the freezing cold chamber (Stir Fry by Migos), and oh my gosh it was insane. SO COLD!! I’m pretty sure it put my whole body into shock, and that’s probably why it claims you burn so much fat (because your body probably thinks you’re dying!) That’s one I will NEVER do again!

As an influencer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire 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 really want people to love themselves. That’s my biggest mission. I want people to be kind to themselves. I have a hashtag called #HealthNotLooks, and I use it to showcase that any healthy lifestyle should be for your health, and not for the sake of looking good. I believe that if we all loved ourselves, the world would be a MUCH better place. I believe that hurt people hurt people, and that happy people don’t go out of their way to bring others down. So I really want people to fall in love with themselves, so they can view others as beings of love, too, and just be kind to one another.

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 with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

Hi Oprah! I love you! I am available when you are. It would be the greatest honor to have breakfast with you! Thank you for being the biggest gamechanger in the industry. I aspire to be like you. 🙂

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Instagram is my favorite platform right now. You can follow me on there at @bri.healthy. You can also subscribe to me on YouTube at youtube.com/c/BriHealthyTV. I’ll be emerging on TikTok soon so keep your eyes peeled (@brihealthy)!

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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