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Life and Work with Dr. Heather Finley

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dr. Heather Finley.

Dr. Finley, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My story starts from a very young age and my interest in nutrition started through my years as competitive swimmer. I was always drawn to nutrition and how it impacted my performance. In addition to that, I suffered from my own GI issues that seemed to have no explanation. When I got to college, I decided I would make myself my own case study. Determined to help myself and find relief, I dug into research and discovered ways that I could manage my symptoms with nutrition and realized the impact that it had on my health and my life. As my gut issues started to heal, I noticed my anxiety improved, my skin improved, and my hormones improved. This fascinated me and I realized that if I could find relief and feel better, I could help others do this too. When I was in my doctorate program I dug deep into the research on probiotics, the gut-brain and have translated my clinical knowledge into helping clients find relief from gut and mood issues using nutrition and lifestyle. I have been working in my virtual and in-person private practice since 2012 and feel so grateful that I get to help other people live the lives they want free from gut issues that can be isolating, frustrating and confusing.

I started my private practice as a side-gig while I was working a clinical hospital job and relied mostly on referrals to fill my practice. Since then, I have been able to utilize Instagram and online social media strategies to market and sell my services to reach a wider audience. Once I started to utilize Instagram and online social media strategies for marketing, my business completely changed. I was in touch with clients from all over the world and have been able to help more people find relief from their gut issues and identify their triggers. I am grateful to do work I love with clients I love even more.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I am grateful that my private practice has been relatively smooth. I started my private practice on a whim out of a triathlon company in 2012 and it has grown and developed a lot from there. My case load has remained relatively full since I opened due to a strong network of referral sources and connections. I started my work because I am very passionate about helping others and that keeps me going. As demand increases, I grow and adjust my business in order to accommodate the needs of my clients. It has taken me several years to develop a more refined message, but nothing has held me back from helping individuals since I opened my private practice.

The part of my business that hasn’t been as smooth is getting out of my own way. For many years, I believed I had to help and accommodate every client that called and I was constantly negotiating my own values to accommodate others. As a woman, I struggle with imposter syndrome and for many years believed that I was not good enough or worthy enough to help others and get paid for it. In my 20’s I did not have the courage to be consistent with my brand message and utilizing online marketing strategies because I didn’t believe in myself. As a woman, owning my story, recognizing my value and charging my rate is scary. It took me several years to change my mindset towards money and realize that my education, knowledge and expertise was valuable. I am proud to now be a trusted resource in my field for individuals struggling with gut issues with the free content I provide daily on my Instagram (@gutbrain.nutrition).

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Nourish Functional Health – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I help women struggling with gut issues identify their triggers and find relief from their symptoms utilizing nutrition, lifestyle and stress management techniques. Specifically, I specialize in the gut-brain axis and gut issues that are triggered by anxiety or vice versa. Most of the women who come to see me have been struggling with debilitating gut issues that have held them back from living the life they want and they are desperate to find relief. These women have been on diet after diet to manage their symptoms to only continue to have symptoms unless they are following a very restrictive diet or taking a million supplements. I have helped hundreds of individuals utilize nutrition and lifestyle to manage their gut symptoms and find relief for the long term. My approach is based on the belief that the body has the ability to heal, when given the right tools and care. Most of the women I work with are overly stressed, under nourished, sleep deprived and frazzled. I was once in their shoes and for these women, their anxiety and gut issues hold them back from being the best versions of themselves.

I’m most proud of utilizing my education and experience to help individuals find relief from symptoms that have otherwise been written off by other health care practitioners. Giving women the tools they need to feel better and find relief is the most rewarding and fulfilling job I could ever have. It’s also personal to me since I always wanted to find relief from my gut issues when I was younger and could never get the answers or care that I was looking for. I am proud to bridge the gap and empower women to utilize an integrative approach in healing from gut issues that doesn’t require them to be on a super restrictive diet for the rest of their lives.

What sets me apart is how I’ve focused my message and niched down to helping women with gut issues find relief. This has truly become my specialty and the only thing that I market online. I do see other things in my practice, but several years ago I recognized that in order to become known as an expert, I needed to get very clear on who I was helping and what I was doing. In doing this, it has opened opportunities for me that I would have never had otherwise: brand partnerships, speaking at conferences and specialty events related to the gut and the gut brain.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
Favorite books:
“Start with Why” by Simon Sinek
“Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown
“Your 1 Word” by Evan Carmichael

“The Biz Chix Podcast” by Natalie Eckdahl
“Dietitian Boss Podcast” by Libby Rothschild
“The Legal Paige Podcast”by Paige Griffith
“Made for This” by Jennie Allen
“Going Scared” By Jessica Honegger

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Becca Sue Photography

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