Working Healthy

Healthy Tech: Julie Nguyen

When salon owner Julie Nguyen found out she was at risk for a heart attack or stroke, she knew she had to lower her stress, start eating healthy, and exercise so she could be there for her children. Find out how she got healthy and became an athlete in the process.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.
I’m the owner of Blu Water Day Spa, a full-service salon located in Kensington, Md. I’m also an eyebrow artist, and I’ve been in the beauty industry for over 25 years. I previously owned three nail salons and worked as a nail tech for about 10 years.  

What are your health challenges?
I came to the U.S. at age 16 as an immigrant with one goal: I must work as hard as I can so I can provide a better life for my family. I bought a salon, and for many years, I worked 11-hour days, seven days a week, plus two to three hours of commute time to achieve this goal. Then in 2008 I bought a larger high-tech, computer software-booking, full-service salon with new services and prices. Moving the clientele and employees from the old salon to the new one was a huge struggle. I had to work endless hours on clients while marketing to keep the business afloat. At that time, I didn’t even know how to use a computer, so I would stay up until 4 a.m. every night after putting my two kids to bed so I could slowly hand-write my plans and ideas. My level of stress was enormous, to say the least.
One day I got a call from my doctor with my blood test results. My triglycerides were 650, which meant I was a walking time bomb for a stroke or heart attack. I knew I needed to take action, either with medication, diet, or exercise.  All I could think about was raising my kids and how bad it would be if something happened to me.  

What was/is your plan of action?
I was already a member of a gym but signed up for boot camp. Thankfully, one of my employees was my gym buddy and she held me accountable for the next six months to go three times a week at 5:30 am. After that, I started to see physical changes and I had so much more positive energy and more endurance to fulfill my heavy schedule. I realized exercise wasn’t important just for my health, it was my only choice. I was born to eat, so I never wanted to give up my favorite foods. Amazingly, because of exercise, my body only craved healthier food.  I also started doing yoga because it was the only class convenient for my busy schedule and I wanted my monthly gym membership to be worth it.

How long have you been working your plan and what has been your result so far?
I was addicted to the gym, working out harder, running, obstacle courses, yoga —  I even signed up for a marathon. I thought I was so strong that I could work six days a week, plus go to the gym three days for strength training and yoga, and run 12-14 miles on Sundays. Little did I know I was injuring myself. That was a wake-up call for me; I’m only human; I’m not trying to be on TV for Ninja Warrior! So I calmed down and worked out no more than six hours a week. On Sundays, I love to go hiking and connect with nature alone before my family wakes up. This is how I reset my mind for the week.

What ‘s your best advice for other nail techs who want to embark on a healthy lifestyle?
For me, th most importabnt thing is living healthy and doing everything I love with my family; the only way to do that is to be active. It’s important to set a small goal toward living a healthy lifestyle and not just for weight loss. Commit, and don’t even expect results. Just do it and know it will pay off. I advise my friends and clients to start walking five minutes the first day, or walk two minutes, run one minute, and then walk two minutes to start. It’s very simple and effective to start this way and gradually increase. Anyone can walk for five minutes.  With small steps, you can be on your way to a race before you know 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: Diane Diaz

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