We spoke with Haley Hughes, about her philosophy of saying “NO” to fad diets, and “YES” to evidence-based medical nutrition therapy.
In her business, RDRx Nutrition, Haley provides individualized nutritional counseling, both virtual and in-person. Haley is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, CrossFit Level 1 Coach, as well as an avid athlete and adventurer. She is also a Clinical Inpatient Dietitian at a high acuity hospital in Anchorage, Alaska.
— A Conversation with Haley —
What role has fitness played in your own life, and how do you incorporate that into your work with clients?
As a past D1 collegiate track athlete and gymnast, exercise has always been a huge part of my life. Through fitness, I’ve made many long-lasting relationships and learned the importance of consistency. After completing a few marathons, I felt I could accomplish anything physically and mentally. I want each and every one of my clients to feel that sense of accomplishment. I want them to find activities they are passionate about and find a community that lifts them up.
Finding the perfect combination of diet and exercise that suits their needs, can plant the seed for overall sustainable and healthy habits. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to see my clients join a gym they love or accomplish their first 5k marathon!
We love your philosophy on helping your clients break the cycle of dieting. Why is this so important to you?
Many of my clients come to me by the time they are already burnt out. They’ve tried everything, spent endless hours searching for answers online and spent years following fad diets. Helping people pinpoint which of their habits need to change and the gaps in their knowledge of nutrition, really make my job exciting. It’s extremely rewarding teaching people about nutrition and showing them that it’s not impossible. I get to build relationships and coach my clients while helping them reach their long term goals. All while focusing on what makes them feel good about themselves.
You have an individualized and high-touch approach to meal planning. Why is meal planning an important component of your work with clients?
Being prepared and having a plan is the key to success. Generic meal plans don’t work for many of my clients because it doesn’t always make sense for their schedules or food preferences. My custom meal plans include flexible days to dine out and give the client the opportunity to choose a fun meal as well which is necessary for quality of life. However, having an idea of what is on the menu for the majority of the week helps with grocery shopping, makes healthy snacks more realistic and prepares them to have weeknight dinner ingredients ready. This strategy is very successful for people with busy lifestyles and helps them avoid making poor choices or constantly eating out.
I strongly believe that there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to eating styles or meal plans. Every week I create a customized meal plan for each of my clients based on their lifestyle, preferences, and goals. I support and check in on my clients daily and provide feedback on their food journals. I love working with clients who I also get the privilege of coaching at CrossFit but also people who may be just starting to think about exercise. My ideal clients are individuals who are ready to make lifestyle changes and are tired of fad diets and restrictive eating. I love being able to simplify healthy eating in a way that is specific to their goals!
You have a TON of amazing recipes on your blog. What inspires you to create new meals?
I create recipes based on what clients ask for. It’s fun to create healthy alternatives to family favorites or comfort meals. Sneaking in veggies is one of my specialties! I also use a lot of fresh salmon and wild game to cater to the Alaskan demographic (and we enjoy hunting and fishing ourselves). My passion is for baking, to be honest, using alternate ingredients to avoid allergens and to increase the nutrients in baked goods is always a delicious experiment.
We understand that you love Practice Better’s virtual features. What are your favorite ways to keep your clients accountable and motivated online through the platform?
Oh my goodness! All of it. Practice Better has been a lifesaver for staying in constant communication with my clients. I absolutely love being able to comment daily on food journals, see that they are checking off goals, and provide them with 24/7 access to the chat feature for any questions they may have. For me, coming from the traditional hospital atmosphere, it’s amazing to now be able to be more of a resource to my clients and provide them with as much follow-up as they need.
What advice would you give to any new practitioners just starting out with their business, who may be feeling overwhelmed?
To be honest, it’s going to be overwhelming. Being a small business owner and sole practitioner is hard work especially when you’re just getting started. I would suggest to seek out resources and ask other practitioners you admire how they got started. Most people are more than willing to share their personal stories and how they got their business going. You are not alone and we need more healthy providers like you to help people change their lives for the better! If you have found your passion in this world to change people’s lives, the hard work is worth every second. I’ve never taken a business class or course, so running a business vs. being just a dietitian has been challenging, but after finding resources like Practice Better I’ve certainly been able to manage clients more smoothly!
Do you have any encouraging last words for our readers?
Be yourself! That’s what makes clients attracted to you and your approach. It’s important to find a niche and the clients you love working with. It makes your job and business much more successful vs. trying to take on anyone and anything. Learn from those experiences, it will help you continue to dial in your specialties and what makes you unique.
Thank you so much, Haley!
You can also check out this YouTube video Haley has created to introduce Practice Better to her new clients. What a great way to personalize your clients experience with Practice Better!
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