Working Healthy

Healthy Tech: Heidi Hankins

After making lifestyle changes and losing 40 pounds, this energetic nail tech felt so great that she decided to become a health coach to help others learn how to turn their lives around.

Hankins before and current
<p>Hankins before and current</p>

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.
I grew up with my whole family in this business as stylists, barbers, or nail technicians. It’s in my blood. In 1996 I had decided to attend beauty college and make a little money to put myself through college to be an elementary school teacher. After about a year of doing nails I changed my mind and decided this was my calling. I worked with my mom at her salon in Santa Maria, Calif. for 10 years, then moved to Poulsbo, Wash. with my husband and opened my own full-service salon called Tiptations 11 years ago.

What are your health challenges?
Six years ago I had almost given up and accepted the fact I was just meant to be fat. I had tried every diet scheme out there from prescription diet pills to counting points. I had just been to the doctor and was put on high blood pressure medication, which at 39 is pretty horrible. I had no energy and was depressed and disgusted with the way I looked and felt.

What was/is your plan of action?
I saw one of my clients lose 50 pounds and thought, “I’ll give it one more try, what do I have to lose?”  What I didn’t know was making that decision would be the beginning of a whole new life for me!  I started the program she was on with my own free, personal health coach. She showed me how I could eat six small low-glycemic meals a day and fit it in between my clients. Before I knew it, I lost 40 pounds in four months and have never felt so good!

How has/does your job as a nail tech affect your plan?
For a lot of people in our industry, it is so hard to eat healthy and eat frequently. In the past I would eat a semi-healthy breakfast and then not eat again until I got home from the salon and wonder why I couldn’t lose weight. I didn’t understand I needed to fuel my body every few hours with the right kind of foods. As I was losing my weight I was also learning healthy habits that would help me with the rest of my life through reading and working on my own personal issues with food. What I finally realized is dieting doesn’t work.  I had to change the way I thought about food, learn my personal triggers, and get out of a deprivation mentality.

What has been the greatest challenge and the greatest success of your new lifestyle?
After getting the extra weight off, I had so much energy that I looked forward to getting out and walking, and I eventually joined a gym. I started snow skiing again and decided to run the Roc-N-Roll half marathon in Seattle.  I had hated running my whole life because of being overweight, so this was a huge accomplishment for me.

How long have you been working your “plan” and what has been your result so far?
After watching me lose the weight, a lot of my clients wanted to know how I did it. I was offered the opportunity to coach them myself  — what better way to keep myself accountable than help others? So five years ago I brought the program into the salon and have helped our clients and their friends and family in losing over 4000 pounds! My own family has lost over 300 pounds and been taken off their high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes medications.

What are your best fitness tips and advice for other nail techs who need encouragement to embark on a healthy lifestyle?
Decide what is most important to you and ask yourself why you want to get healthy. Write these things down and share it with someone close to you.  I would also recommend making the decision to get healthy with friends; it’s so much easier when you’re around like-minded people. Don’t decide to get healthy for anyone other than yourself; you’re worth it!

Are you a healthy nail tech? Every month, NAILS will feature one nail tech in a monthly column devoted to shining the spotlight on your health and fitness success! If you would like to share your success story (overcoming health issues, weight loss — any health-related triumph) with NAILS readers, email [email protected] to find out more about how YOU can be featured as a NAILS’ Healthy Tech.

You Might Also Like: Healthy tech Q & A: Jeanette McGrew

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