Flourishing: Hayley's story

In this episode, Claire interviews an amazing member, Hayley, who shares her story around food, health, and body image, and how Flourish fits in to her growth.

Show Notes
Program note: Hey, glad you’re enjoying the podcast! In this episode, you might hear Claire talking about Nutritional Freedom and Foundations. Since we launched the podcast in 2020, we've undergone a makeover to improve the membership experience. For more, listen to our "And we're back! All the updates!" episode.

Claire Siegel: You're listening to the Flourish podcast. I'm your host, Claire Siegel, founder of Flourish. We're on a mission to help women get healthy for good. Join me each week for a new episode that'll help you sustain healthy habits and nourish your body so you can Flourish in life.

When it comes to nutrition, does it feel like you know what to do, you're just not doing it? Or maybe you find yourself stuck in this annoying all or nothing cycle. If it sounds like I'm reading your diary, well, that was my diary for a while too. And it's also the story of the thousands of women I've personally coached.

That's why I created Flourish, the nutrition and body image support app made for women. If you recognize that diets don't work, but "just not dieting" isn't helping you feel your best either, download Flourish today. Your first live session with one of our credentialed nutrition and psychology experts is totally free, no credit card required.

From there, you'll continue your journey with personalized accountability and support so that once you graduate from Flourish, you'll never need another nutrition program again. So head to the show notes and download Flourish for iOS or Android today.

Coming soon!

We are in the process of adding transcripts to our entire back catalogue. New episode transcripts are typically available within 24 hours of the episode release.

Claire Siegel: All right, welcome everyone to the Flourish podcast! I am so honored. We have a very special guest here with me today. Welcome Hayley! Hayley is one of our incredible Flourish members, and I am just so delighted that she's going to be here sharing more about her experience, you know, before Flourish now in the Flourish membership, um, with, with all of you today.

My intention with all these member interviews is that, you know, If you're, you're here listening, feeling like you're struggling with your approach to health or struggling with your body image, that you can really see yourself in, in our amazing members.

So Hayley, welcome to the podcast!

Hayley: Thanks, Claire.

Claire Siegel: So why don't we start with the beginning? Let's start with kind of a, an introduction of who you are, and then take us back. Tell us a little bit of your story. What, what had been your experience with nutrition, health, body image before Flourish?

Hayley: Okay. So my name's Hayley, I live in Denver, but I'm originally from Oregon. I've lived here for like five or six years now. Um, a little bit about my story. I grew up with a twin sister and an older sister, and my parents met in athletics. So we were like really, really busy all the time playing sports. Um, and that was kind of my life growing up was playing multiple sports all the time, being really active. But there was definitely like some food rules, um, imposed from my family that I think back now and realize that that was going on. And also some like comparison with my sisters' sizes. Like I am in a much larger body than one of my sisters and even my twin. I remember, I think in second grade I was five inches taller than my twin.

Claire Siegel: Wow.

Hayley: Yeah, so we definitely have different body styles, and growing up, I was aware, but it wasn't really anything that I struggled with I would say. I moved away to go to college, and I went to a college in California that was kind of like... I like to say every person there could have been on The Bachelor. Like that was the image we were looking at. It was like on the coast, and that was the first time I experienced like unintentional but noticeable weight loss.

And looking back, I was eating intuitively and I didn't even know. And it was just, honestly, I think I just moved to off-campus, and I was like cooking my own meals again, I found an exercise program I loved... did it with my friends, and I was just walking a ton. But I lost a considerable amount of weight. So much that like a lot of my family noticed when I came back, and I got a lot of validation, um, from that. Especially from my mom, um, who I think had some of the same struggles that I have dealt with with her body growing up.

And she was just like so thrilled. I look back now and I think like my mom was so happy, and my dad actually like pulled me aside and was like, "Listen, you look great, but I want to make sure you're doing this the healthy way." So it was like—

Claire Siegel: Wow.

Hayley: —looking back, I'm like, that's so sweet. But at the time I was like, "Oh my gosh, like I must be really doing great on this weight loss thing if someone thinks I'm struggling through it."

So that was the first time. And like working with Flourish, I realized like that was major validation. At the time I didn't call it that, I just thought, you know, "Oh, great, my mom's like happy with me." But now I think, "Wow, that was really like validation and encouraging me to continue to try to change my body."

But I still feel like during that time I was eating intuitively. I had a good relationship with food, I would say, and moving my body. I think when I really started like struggling through that was after college graduation. I moved to a new city, and I started grad school and working full time.

And I had gained back that weight I lost when I studied abroad in Italy, which I was fine with because I was like... that was great. But then I developed this hormonal imbalance during that time in my life, and it was hard because it was like your young twenties. I had like developed or I kind of joined this friend group of girls that were really successful, really gorgeous, like... and we would spend a lot of time going out. They would always like get attention from guys. And I'm like, not really like that anyway. My, my favorite spot is not a bar. But I think during that time, it kinda, that's kind of what started this like, realization that maybe I am different in the way that I look, this is how it's affecting me, and I have this like underlying hormonal imbalance that is really affecting my mental health, my body image, the way that I interact with food all the time.

I figured out what was causing the hormone hormonal imbalance and got diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome—PCOS. So I kind of felt like, "Okay, well, finally I know what caused this.

Let's like shift to trying to lose all this weight that I've gained through this process. And that's when I started doing Whole30s, which I, I liked the way I felt on a Whole30. But like the Sunday after I would quit, I would just, you know, go to the grocery store and get like a ton of licorice and just like go back to eating mostly Whole30, but then having those times where I would overeat because I was restricting.

I didn't ever lose like a considerable amount of weight on it, but it just... I felt better on it.

So then I was like... well, this isn't working, I'm going to hire a coach to give me my macros, and I'm going to spend every Friday morning weighing myself, measuring myself, weighing everything—I weighed everything I put in my mouth for a whole year. Or like if I ate out, I would eat out at places that I knew had that menu in MyFitnessPal.

And I think I lost a little bit of weight, but it was like a year and I was like... My body hasn't changed. I don't feel better. And I remember like looking at a little thing of cashews and just like calculating how many grams of fat that would be, and I was like I don't want to live my life being afraid to eat some cashews.

So, I stopped doing that and that was about a year before I joined Flourish. And in that time, my body changed probably a little bit, but it didn't change drastically and I wasn't controlling my food in a way that I had. So I was like... it kind of gave me a little bit of a baby step to be like, okay, well, I've like released the reins a little. My body hasn't changed drastically. I feel better. Like maybe I'm ready to take the next step.

And I have been following you for several years, I think, at this point. And then I don't know what happened, but I was just like this is the time I'm going to join, and I'm gonna invest in myself because I finally felt like it was like, not so daunting. I joined about five months ago, so that was my story leading up to joining.

Claire Siegel: Wow. That is amazing. I super relate to your experience of counting macros. Like that was probably one of the last diets. And I didn't think of it necessarily as a diet. I thought of it as a lifestyle because truly it did take up my entire life. It's very time consuming to do so.

Um, but I think it's one of those things where you're not necessarily eliminating food groups or things like that, but I had a very similar experience where like my body didn't change all that much, which was the reason I was doing it, and so when I kind of released that control and the world didn't end, it was like, man, I just wasted a lot of time and mental energy on food for really like no reason.

Hayley: Yeah, and I think we frame it as like the whole, "If it fits your macros." Like, "You can eat whatever you want, If it's your macros." And so it seems like you're not restricting, but I like... the numbers just like would always stick in my head every single day. And that's... I didn't want to live like that.

Claire Siegel: No, not at all. It is so, it's so unnatural. And it's like one of those things where I think you have to get away from it for a little while to realize like, man, that was, that was interesting that choice that I made.

Hayley: Yeah.

Claire Siegel: Okay, so I love that. So you, you had the Whole30 experience, you had the macros experience, I'm curious, coming in to Flourish, like what felt different to you about Flourish versus some of these other things that, that you had tried, especially even like working with another coach?

Hayley: Yeah. I think like, number one, your experience really resonated with me. I was like this girl like gets what I went through. But pairing that with like the knowledge you have on... like not... like nutrition, but also like diet culture. Like that seemed like I had been getting those messages a little bit, but I didn't necessarily get them from someone I trusted, I guess, and like with you sharing your story and understanding like she's gone through what I've gone, but has the extra knowledge that I don't have through like your schooling and your, you know, experience. That I feel like is what made me feel different. And then I think I joined like one of the workshop classes with my sister and it was just like—

Claire Siegel: Oh yeah, I remenber that.

Hayley: Everything about, it was just like, like the pendulum swinging the on, the off, like, it was just like, I've never had, I guess, it, um, explained so clearly to me that that was my experience, you know? And it made me think, "Oh, well, if this person that doesn't know me can like generalize my story in a way that affects— like also resonates with so many other people, there must be something behind that, you know?

Claire Siegel: Yeah, totally. Well and I think that is, in and of itself, just like so poignant to think about for a moment because I remember going through that experience feeling like I must be the only one.

Like I must be the only one that feels like I need to control food this much. I must be the only one that like wakes up so unhappy in my body every day. And I thought that this was something that I was going through by myself. And it really wasn't until I kind of like got out into the world and certainly started working with women that I realized like, oh my gosh, like my story is not that unique.

And it is why like those workshops and especially being like in community with other women, whether it's on the workshops or, you know, certainly in the Flourish membership, why it's so powerful. Because otherwise you sit in that shame of feeling like alone and feeling like you're the only one who feels this way. And so to be able to connect with other women is, is just so helpful.

Hayley: Mhmm. And to have, like, I don't know if it's necessarily like scientific, but the like... I'm really analytical, so to have the studies that you show and like all— like that's stuff that I could never find on my own.

Claire Siegel: Totally. Elizabeth, our nutrition coach in the program, she is also big on the research. I swear that girl's brain I'm like, how do you have just a study for like every life situation? It's so great. I love it.

Okay. So what have been—you know, today you said you've been in, in Flourish for about five months, so what have been some of the big takeaways for you since being an active member?

Hayley: Yeah, I think we touched on one which was like this was a huge realization to me that what you think is like your deepest, darkest secrets are not that unique.

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: Like you said, I've been saying for years, I don't understand why this is my struggle. Like everyone has a struggle in life. Why is this mine, when like my sisters or most of my best friends seem to not have this? You're just, you know, everyone has a struggle. You're not the only one, and like sharing that with the group made me realize it's not that unique.

And then I also think one huge thing was uncovering the psychological reasons of why I feel the way I feel. And that's something I've never been able to do on my own.

With Elizabeth with Julie, they're able to like make these connections of like, "Well, like that time you got validation from your mom for losing weight." I've never thought of that before. It was like the first time I met with Julie. And she was like, "That probably felt pretty good." I'm like, yeah, I guess that was a motivator to continue try to lose weight.

Um, so that's been really helpful and eye-opening. And then the last one that I'm still working on but I've adapted the takeaway is that what you eat does not define your worth as a human or what you look like does not define your worth. Um, and like, I know that that's easy to say, but it's something that's practiced over and over again in Flourish, and that's really what's stuck with me.

Claire Siegel: Oh my gosh, I love that. So Julie is our mindset coach. Um, and I love what you picked up on or really what she picked up on, which is like highlighting like that validation that, that you received. And it's so interesting because I think it's such a common experience, right? One of the reasons why it's painful to regain weight, especially after weight loss is because you start to miss that feeling of validation. But it's almost like so much part of our culture that we don't think about how, how potentially painful that could be right. How validating someone's weight loss and praising someone's weight loss may not actually be helpful. Right?

I think it's kind of gets back to that, this idea that we talk about a lot these days, which is like intention over impact, right? Certainly when your mom was praising your weight loss, she was not intending to be harmful. But the, and even in the moment the impact probably wasn't that harmful, but it wasn't until you're a little bit further from, from that period of time that you can look back and say, "Oh, wow, I see how that reinforced some ideas that I had about my size and my worth."

And, and so the impact of that, um, praise wasn't ultimately super helpful for me. And I'm sure that I would imagine— has that had an impact on how you kind of engage with others who may be experiencing body changes?

Hayley: Um, I think so. I recently saw on Instagram—I forget what account it was, but it was like, "Weight loss is not an accomplishment, because it can go away and an accomplishment is something that can't go away."

Claire Siegel: Oh interesting.

Hayley: So, I don't know if it necessarily changed the way I look at other people, cause I think that's always been because of what I go through. My lens of what I look at when other people lose weight is different. Or when people are in bigger bodies, I think like my mindset around them is way different than someone who's in a smaller body might have.

But your point about like how it, the impact may not be in the moment... it might be later where like your body changes and then you realize, "Wow, I really got these comments when it was smaller."

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: My mom never says anything to me about being overweight or like your body changes, nothing like that, but it's like the absence of that that you notice.

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: Which I think a lot of people do after weight-loss.

Claire Siegel: Yeah. We've had members who like, in, in the past have, um, you know, like documented weight loss journeys. Like on social medias they'd have like special profiles to like document it as kind of like an accountability thing, which I totally get having accountability, obviously. But they talk about the pain then of, you know, having regained the weight.

Like now having this like kind of, uh, what is the word, this artifact of that experience. And like, again, like missing that, you know, people liking and commenting on those photos and now like that, that praise it's like, "Well now, what do you think of me?" You know? And it can leave that the absence for sure.

Hayley: Mhmm.

Claire Siegel: Okay, cool. So let's talk, you talked a little bit about getting coached by both Elizabeth and Julie, our, our... Elizabeth's our nutrition coach. Julie's our mindset coach. They're both incredible women. I know I'm not... this is not news to you, Hayley, but perhaps for someone who has never been coached before either one-on-one or in the group, tell us what you get out of that experience of, of being coached— privately and then also in the community setting.

Hayley: Yeah, privately, I feel like I get, this is where I get my most breakthroughs because it's like personalized with your story.

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: And it's, for me, it's really like tying your behaviors or your thoughts back to things that have happened to you. Like recently I had a call with Elizabeth. And I was like sharing my thoughts, and I was like, you know, when I was writing these down, I realized how fatphobic they are, and that makes me feel really bad, but I'm going to tell them to you anyway.

Claire Siegel: Mmm.

Hayley: But I had to put a disclaimer on that. And she was like, "Well, you're not born with those thoughts." You know? Like things happen to you along the way. You're, you're not born with these set of thinking.

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: It's all influenced by your environment and like you don't need to feel bad about what has happened. So things like that have been major breakthroughs in the private ones. And just, I feel like I always go in with like, "I'm going to talk about this." And then it always changes! Like they ask these questions and you're like, oh, wow, like.. that was way deeper than I thought my question was, but that was actually— they're always asking like what actually you mean by what you're struggling, um, with.

The private ones I love, I always use mine—

Claire Siegel: Good!

Hayley: —in the membership. And then the group... honestly, going into Flourish, I was like, I don't know about the group. I think on the first call, I didn't have my video on, and then it was like, "turn your video on if you can!" And I was like, oh my gosh, okay, I guess I'll be vulnerable.

Um, but those have been like one of my favorite parts too about the membership, because it's like that sharing. I, I've never really had a group of women in my life that I feel like understands what I'm going through because a lot of my friends, I feel like, and I don't know their struggles, but I feel like they don't struggle with the same things.

My sisters don't. And they can try to be supportive, and they are. But, um, sharing those things that you think are shameful in this group is always... someone always agrees and someone always supports you. And I think like the group calls, even if you don't have your topic, it's like most of the time I resonate with someone else's topic very easily.

And so it's like, maybe I wouldn't think of anything, but it's still so beneficial to go and listen because hardly ever I'm like, oh, none of that applied to me or I couldn't take anything out of this. So it's kind of like a bonus coaching even if you don't have a topic that you've thought of.

Claire Siegel: Totally. I, yeah... so we do, for those of you listening, we do two types of group coaching calls in the membership.

We do topic workshops which are more like lessons. Like we tend to prepare like a slide deck and it's on this very specific topic. But then we also do what's called open coaching. So on those calls, I typically lead those and our members will come in, they'll submit in advance. Typically I get to coach like three to four people per call on various topics.

And what's really cool is, to Hayley's point, like typically you can kind of relate in some extent, or to some extent to, to whatever's, you know, whichever member's being coached. But I think what's really cool is when you, as a member sitting there listening has to do a little bit of like mental gymnastics to apply the concept to what you're going through.

So I had a member, I, I, I can't remember the exact topic. I think I was coaching a member on like black and white thinking and I'll have to go back and check, but I got a message from another member saying, "Hey, what you were coaching"—let's say it was Hayley—"What you were coaching Hayley on didn't really apply to me, but I realized it applied to this other area of my life. And she was able to just extract this amazing breakthrough, something that she didn't even necessarily realize that she needed, and it's, it's just such a powerful experience. And so I love it, Hayley. And I think your experience of like not... I always, I always say, when I'm talking about the membership, like community isn't necessarily something that people come to Flourish like, oh, that's the thing I want, but it's one of the main reasons that they stay.

Hayley: Yeah. And it also feels like... we always talk about low-hanging fruit. Like, to me, it is pretty low-hanging to show up at the group calls, because for the private coaching, like, you feel like you have to... I feel like I have to prepare a little bit and know what I'm going to talk about, whatever. But with group coaching, it's like you just log on and you're gonna, you're going to have a takeaway, you know?

Claire Siegel: Totally. Oh, I love that. I love that. That's so good. Okay. Amazing. So I wanna, I want to like paint a little bit of a picture for someone listening at home. Like where would you say you are now relative to where you were before becoming a member and kind of coming into, to Flourish?

Hayley: Yeah, I think, um, I definitely feel less drama towards food, which was like one of the main motivators for me because I just felt like paralyzed in the grocery store, with like, "Oh this week, am I going to eat, you know, bread?" Or I'm going to try to, you know, like trying to make those decisions with the on-off—all-on, all-off kind of approach.

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: It was just stressful. And so I've definitely had less drama. It's easier to go grocery shopping. I'm a huge meal prepper, so it's easier to do that. So that's been one place of like, not feeling bad about the food that I've gotten or that I'd eat.

And then a huge growth place for me is I've realized that like the whole, when you under eat that can lead to overeating, like the whole hunger and fullness and listening to that. I think that's been my biggest growth point is like I used to do, intermittent fasting too, and so it took me like several months of Flourish to move past that idea of like I can't eat breakfast before eleven.

Claire Siegel: Mmm.

Hayley: But it was because like going through the work with honoring your hunger and fullness cues, I realized like by me not... even just like a little bit like a yogurt... by me, not feuling at all in the morning, it made me over eat dinner because I had been ignoring my hunger cues for so long.

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: So I think that is where, nutritionally that's been my biggest growth period was. Like I can eat when I want to eat. And that's also going to help me not over eat later, which I feel bad doing physically.

Claire Siegel: Totally.

Hayley: I don't know if that really answered the question.

Claire Siegel: No, no, it totally did! No, you absolutely answered the, answered the question.

And in terms of like, yeah, it sounds— what I'm hearing is yes, decrease in food drama, which is, I mean, amen to that. I think like there's enough drama in the world right now that anything you can do to like decrease your personal drama. Let's, I'm all for it. Especially if it's around something that you engage with, like three or more times a day and need to survive.

Hayley: Right.

Claire Siegel: So yay for less food drama. And then what I'm also hearing is an increased sense of like body trust. That I can, that I'm connected with my body, and that I know what it needs to be nourished. And that I'm going to do that regardless of the external noise and what perhaps even like other people are doing.

Hayley: Yeah, exactly. And it's like giving yourself permission to trust your body. It's been years since I ate three meals a day, honestly.

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: And now I do and I, you know, my world hasn't blown up. Nothing has happened that has been, you know, the end of the world going from two meals to three meals a day.

Claire Siegel: Totally. Well, it also sounds like not only has the world not exploded, it sounds like it's a lot better for you. That you're actually able to make more conscious decisions around your nutrition because you're not like under eating and starving yourself in the first part of the day.

Hayley: Yeah. And like emotionally I feel like it's... one of the things that made me really like connect to Flourish at the beginning was I did not feel good every night after eating dinner. Like I remember, I think it was maybe my first stage assessment. It was like every night I feel icky, like physically.

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: And it was like, not until I realized that under eating was causing me to overeat, which was causing me to feel bad. Like that connection was I did not have before.

Claire Siegel: Yeah. It's such a common cycle. So we talk a lot about, I just did a workshop last night, so this is like very fresh on my mind, but like, we talk a lot about these cycles. So people tend to experience like either a weekly cycle or a daily cycle. So kind of that all-on, all-off thing. Oftentimes it happens like Monday through Thursday, Monday through Friday. You're good. You're all-on. And then like the weekend it's, you know, totally out of control. Or... and/or, I should say, um, there's the daily cycle, which is I'm, you know, I'm good at breakfast and lunch or in your case, maybe just lunch and I intermittent fast through breakfast, and then something happens. I don't know what it is, but I totally lose control at night, and I just overeat.

And because we have all these messages, like pointed to us, especially as women about what we should, what we should eat when we should eat, we blame ourselves for that kind of perceived lack of control that we experience at night. The overeating, the, you know, like emotional eating, like the, the grazing through the pantry, whatever it is. When in reality, it's literally just like our body trying to support us and like keep us alive and nourished and, and all of those things. So I, I love that you are getting to experience that level of freedom. That's so awesome.

Hayley: Yeah, definitely.

Claire Siegel: I love it. Okay. So something that I always like to make very clear just in life is like... I think we're all like works in progress. I got coached today by, by my coach who I work with, and so I don't, I don't want to, um, make anyone on the who's listening to the podcast... make them feel like either you or I have this all figured out because listen, we're all works in progress and this stuff ebbs and flows. So what would you say that you're kind of continuing to focus on at this point? What is like, what are some of the things that you're, you're still working on either in Flourish with, with Elizabeth, with Julie within your own work, and then I don't know anything else that you care to mention?

Hayley: Yeah. And I feel like I'm still like in the beginning of a work in progress with this work, I, and I'm going into it I knew like this is going to take a long time for me because I, I felt like so entrenched in these ways of thinking. And it's been so long that I felt comfortable in my body. So I also like appreciate that because I do not want to give off the picture that I am done with this.

The biggest thing I'm working on right now is like, not even body acceptance, but just like, body neutrality and still disentangling my body from my worth, which to me... I know it's possible, and I see other people doing the work, but it just feels so insurmountable right now. And I actually, had it as one of my new year's goals when we did like the quarterly goal setting, and then I was talking to Julie about it and she's like, "You know, I just don't feel like you want to do this."

And I was like, I absolutely don't want to do it. And she's like, "Then don't put it as a goal." I'm like, "Oh my gosh, okay." Like you don't have to jump in to full on body acceptance. Um, and so I've been working on disentangling that and, um, just trying to, yeah, I have felt for so long that the way that I look determines my worth, and I'm I've have for so long said like, you know, I think my personality is great, but people have to like get past the way I look to get to know me. I've always said that. And I said that to Elizabeth and she's like, "So you think the way that you look contributes to your worth?" And that was like, I guess I do.

Um, I don't know that kind of got off the rails, but I just think that like separating that like, I can say my personality, but I can't say I like me because I have this barrier to like liking my body.

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: So I'm working on that and saying like, I don't need to love my body, but I also don't need to have it be this barrier to thinking that people will like accept me. And I think that'll be like a lifelong thing, honestly. I feel like it's so ingrained. It's going to be like body image where ebbs and flows every day.

Claire Siegel: Totally.

Hayley: Um, but if I can just a little bit of progress, it'll be worth it.

Claire Siegel: Totally. Well, I love... what I'm hearing is you, first and foremost, just willing to be honest with yourself and like call these things what it is.

I think a lot of us, we try to like rush to that body positivity place or body love place, and we're not... but it's kind of like, it, it's almost... what I'm hearing is like maybe what you're experiencing before in that conversation with Julie was like, I want to want to be body positive.

Hayley: Yeah.

Claire Siegel: And that's not helpful! (laughing) It's not helpful. It's like, cause you're not, you're not being honest with yourself in that moment, right? Which does not help. Like it does not help us work together, it does not help us make, make progress. It reminds me of... there's this really funny thing that a lot of our members do when they are initially in the program.

Um, so we talk a lot in, in Flourish about like neutralizing foods that there's no good foods and no bad foods. And so people will get on group calls and say like, yeah, I, I had this, I know it's you know, I had the salad and I know it's, you know, a good food and they'll start using air quotes around good and bad, but they still mean good and bad.

Like they're using the air quotes to try and like, indicate like, I, you know, I'm making progress. I'm not thinking this way anymore. But in reality they still think that way because it is very difficult to unlearn these things that we've internalized, and that are still being perpetuated in the culture around us.

So what's not helpful is to like pretend that we're not, you know, categorizing food into good and bad. And what's helpful is just to be honest, like, "Hey, I'm actually still struggling with labeling foods as good and bad," or "Hey, I'm actually still struggling with, with how I feel about my body. And I don't know if I want to accept this body."

Like, and, and I think that's so helpful when you can get into kind of get into the ring, like with your coach and start to wrestle and untangle some of those things.

Hayley: Mhmm, yeah. It seems so straightforward to just be like, be honest, set goals that you want to do," but then— and that's, what's helpful about a coach is that they can say, "what I'm hearing is that you don't want to. What I'm hearing is you brought a book about body acceptance and you don't want to read it." Like that is what the experience is like. That was literally my call. And so I think like having someone challenge those. Because when it's just, you, you know, you think like, "Oh, I've taken on this food neutrality thing," or "I've taken on body positivity." But it's nice to have someone challenge you in a gentle way and saying like, you know, you don't have to take it on if you don't want to, if you're not ready and it sounds like you're not ready.

Claire Siegel: Totally, totally. And I think this is also like the benefit of having a real life coach. Like someone that you can actually like pick up the phone and talk to and who knows you and knows your story, versus like a chat bot who like doesn't, doesn't know you and doesn't know your story cause they're a robot. Because, listen, you like, Hayley, your experience of coming into this program and, you know, you're intermittent fasting for the first couple of months, you're wrestling with body, you know, body acceptance, like all those things like you can come into an environment like Flourish and, and be working through that stuff while someone else is maybe having a completely different journey.

And you're able to have that, that experience while also being in community with all those people. Right? I think there's, there's such a benefit to having the community aspect while also having those, um, interactions with someone who really knows you, who supports you, who's on your team. Right?

I think that's the other thing too about, specifically, like the way that we coach in the program is I like to call it like gentle accountability. Yes, we hold you accountable to the things that you most want for yourself. This is not about like pleasing us or checking boxes. It's like, Hayley, what do you, what do you want? What are you here to do? And where are you in your journey? And how can we like, hold your hand and like move forward together?

Versus like, I don't know, I've had coaches where it's like super like Shame-y and like bootcamp style. And that's not my personal vibe, I don't think it's always super helpful. So I'm so glad that that's been your experience.

Hayley: Yeah. And I want to say, like, if there's anyone that's gone from like a macro coaching and is now considering this type of coaching to me it's way different. Like, I don't know when you counted macros, but my coach would be like, it's the same questions every week. And I could find myself wanting more.

And Julie and Elizabeth, and even in the open coaching calls, there's never set, you know, questions.

It's never like, "Okay, how do you—like there's the weekly, like self-reflection questions that stay the same, um, but it is so personalized and they're never going to ask something that's not relevant, just, you know, for process. So that also been so beneficial.

Claire Siegel: Oh good. I'm so glad to hear that. I never got coached on macros, but I can see how it's like, yeah, "How many...?" What do they ask you? Like how many grams of protein are you eating right now?

Hayley: Well, I had to like submit my MyFitnessPal, so like, they like synced it. So they saw everything I ate, and it was just like "How are you feeling?" Um, "Where could you have done better?" Like...

Claire Siegel: Okay, very interesting. Very interesting. Okay. So you, you... that was a beautiful segue. Who do you think would really benefit from becoming a Flourish member? What, what, what is this woman like going through? What is she thinking, feeling? Who do you think would benefit?

Hayley: I think the first thing that came to my mind was like, if you've ever said, like, "Why is this my struggle?", which I have said all the time, I think it would be great because I think it is hard to find a community like this. Like it's very vulnerable, but not in an intimidating way, but it's just like, I have lived like 28 years of, you know, not really having friends that I can... I mean, friends will listen, but it's not the same to have as Flourish.

Um, and I also think someone who... I felt like I had a lot of knowledge about nutrition compared to like the average person. I'd like done a lot of research, and, and like with my body, I feel like I've, you know, experimented with a lot of things, but I still felt overwhelmed by all of the like, communication that comes at you. And even from like doctors. I've had doctors... like one doctor told me, "Intermittent fasting will change your life." And it didn't do anything. I mean, I guess, like, I, I do feel like I realized some stuff about my digestion system maybe that was helpful.

Um, but just like paralyzed with like this, I don't know, indecision about what diet am I going to eat this week? You know, all these sources of information are coming at you. And if you feel overwhelmed, this might be a good program for you to just ditch it all, you know? And it's just, I don't know. I think like, if you feel like you're alone, if you feel overwhelmed with like how to fuel yourself, like you said three times a day, it's not going to go away.

And that's something too that I think it's like someone who is ready to invest in themselves, which I was not, but it has been like one of the best investments in myself cause like you're going to need to eat food for the rest of your life, you know? And if you can't figure it out, it's going to continue to be consuming and potentially disruptive to how you live your life, you know?

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: Um, I do think that someone who's ready to be vulnerable. I think for me, I jumped in and was like, I'm going to be a hundred percent committed because I don't want to like, half-ass this and in a year from now be the same spot that I was.

And it does take commitment, I think. I don't know how much you get out of it if you're a passive participant.

Claire Siegel: Yeah. That's so— but I think that's the other thing too, is like, the commitment looks so different from, for so many people. Right? I know we have, we have members who have had such a great experience just from listening to the replays, like just from listening to group call replays while they're on a walk and maybe doing their private coaching. I think the private coaching is like one of the most powerful things to do, and then everything else can really supplement that.

But as long as you, as long as you're getting coached, like two private coaching sessions a month, that's one hour a month. Like you can get a lot done in, in that amount of time and really like grow through that process.

Hayley: Yeah. And with the curriculum, like it's, I think you can... there's so many different levels you can choose. I, I don't think you can be in the program and be passive, you know, like, um, unless you're just not doing it.

Claire Siegel: Totally.

Hayley: It does require like a lot of self work independently, you know, beyond the calls, beyond the coaching. Like it's a lot of mental work too. And I don't know, I just think if you're ready to like invest in yourself, this is what I would suggest if you're struggling with food and body. Cause I've tried—I've gone to therapy, I've done the other coaching. Like none of it stuck really. It's like combining all of those things.

I also was like, this is the number one priority in my life right now for me is like figuring out this body and food stuff. So I was like really able to commit.

Claire Siegel: I love that. So good. Oh my gosh, Hayley, thank you so much. Talk about being vulnerable, like it talking, talking about this with like thousands of strangers is pretty freaking cool and very vulnerable.

And I think your experience just shows like when you do sort of like, I dunno what, what's the word like disarm yourself and open up to these experiences, you get so much out of it. So thank you so much for just coming on here, being willing to share your story. It really, it means so much to me. This was like such a treat, and I know that it's definitely gonna going to touch many of our listeners. So thank you for being willing to come on here and talk with me!

Hayley: Yeah, of course. I feel like it's just like you create such a trusting environment because Julie and Elizabeth also say that, they're like, "Thanks for being vulnerable." But I just don't see like how you could go through this and not, you know? But it's nice, it normalizes that.

Claire Siegel: Yeah.

Hayley: It normalizes talking about things that you don't normally talk about, and it doesn't seem so scary at the end, so—

Claire Siegel: Totally.

Hayley: —I think anyone can do it.

Claire Siegel: I love it. Well, thank you so much, Hayley. I, uh, well, I'll probably see you next week on a, on a coaching call, but thank you so much for all of our listeners. I know if you have, you know, kind words to say to Hayley, send me a DM. I'll forward them along to her. Um, and everyone listening, we will see you next week!

Claire Siegel:

Thank you so much for joining me for today's episode of the Flourish podcast. If you enjoyed it, please take a second to leave us a five-star review or better yet, share it with a friend. And if you're ready to start your own journey to get healthy for good with accountability from expert coaches and the support of an incredible community, head to the show notes to get started on your Flourish journey.

I'll see you in the next episode.

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Claire Siegel
Co-founder, CEO
Claire Siegel is the founder and CEO of Flourish. Claire has made it her life’s mission to help women create a sustainable approach to their physical and mental well-being.

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