Tell us a bit about yourself and your career.

My name is Hilary Dawn Herrera, and I own Lacquered Loft (@lacqueredloft) in Orem, Utah. Nails began as a smart side job while I got my education degree over 15 years ago. When it came to graduation time, I was starting a family and had a great clientele that I loved, so I chose to keep doing nails instead of going into formal teaching because of the flexibility.

What are your health challenges and/or goals?

There have been times where I’ve been the main provider for our family while my husband grew his career. I developed some unhealthy habits of neglecting food or rest breaks, and taking a client instead of going to the gym. I would push myself to the max, and 15-hour days were normal to me.

Tell me about your plan of action.

About a year ago, I stopped eating meat. I realized how much better I was feeling and became a vegetarian. I also joined the local Pilates studio because I wanted to feel strong again, and I now go a couple of times a week. I am not focused on being perfect, or even being a certain size, I am focused on living life in a healthy way where I can work as long as I want to.

What has been your result so far?

As I have put a priority on myself, taken breaks, and fed myself during the workday, I’ve noticed that my income has increased. I don’t find any lack of energy due to adding on Pilates in the mornings — if anything I’ve gained more energy.

What further goals do you have?

I would like to keep at the Pilates and hopefully gain even more strength. I have a new interest in cooking plant-based meals that are satisfying and I have so much to learn there. I’m learning to get creative with how I feed my body. Most of my days could be jam-packed with back-to-back appointments, so I’ve started to treat my lunch breaks as if they were appointments to guarantee that time for myself. As a salon owner and boss, my breaks are booked in my schedule for all my employees to see and hopefully emulate.

What has been the most difficult aspect of your healthy lifestyle?

It’s hard to plan so I don’t cave and just eat macaroni and cheese or something else that lacks nutritional value. I am reaching for progress and a real lifestyle, not perfection anymore. Instead of shaming myself into becoming skinny, I am choosing to love my body (and mind) for being strong.

What’s your advice for other nail techs who want to embark on a health journey?

Start with one thing. Don’t try and build the Great Wall of China all at once. Start with one brick. Change one thing, maybe with a small lunch break where you leave the salon for 30 minutes. Give yourself permission to do that one thing you choose, and more balance and more abundance will come into your life.

Are you a healthy nail tech? We want to hear your success stories. Email to find out  how you can be featured in our Healthy Tech column.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.