During the last 27 years, we’ve certified over 130,000 health, nutrition, and fitness professionals. Each month, we recognize one of our distinguished graduates who use what they have learned to inspire others and make a difference.
Meet our graduate for the month of April, Laura Heflin, an AFPA Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant.
How did you initially become interested in health and fitness?
At the age of 19, I found myself struggling with borderline anorexia. My relationship with food and my body was very toxic, and I truly was miserable. The mental and physical stress I was under and the enormous amount of weight that I lost eventually triggered a hormonal imbalance as well as anxiety and depression. I lost my menstrual cycle completely for half a year, and I had no energy or willpower to get up and do anything that was required of me. One day, I woke up and realized, “there has to be a better way to be fit and in shape.” So, I decided I would find it. I began researching what a healthy adult human body required to thrive, and I found myself becoming enthralled with the many amazing and healing foods and remedies that were at my fingertips and had been all along. I stopped counting calories and restricting myself from certain food groups, and I began spending lots of time in the kitchen creating recipes that were plant-based, anti-inflammatory, and balanced (all of which can be seen on my blog and in my book Live Healthy With Laura). Within a few months, I got my glow back, my energy increased, my hormones leveled out, and I returned to a healthy weight. I then realized that food was not the enemy, but instead, it was a powerful healing tool for my body. My husband saw how happy I was and how passionate I had become about health and wellness, and he encouraged me to get certified so I could help others. So, ten years ago, and after much research, I came across AFPA, and within six months, I was certified as a nutritionist and began helping others find freedom and healing. Ten years ago, my company Live Healthy With Laura LLC was born.
What certification did you choose, and why did you choose AFPA?
I chose the Nutrition and Wellness Consultant certification because it was developed around the belief that I already knew to be true, and that is that food can be the best form of medicine or the worst form of poison. In our culture, we focus so often on the wrong aspects of one’s diet, and we focus so much on the scale. So, I was passionate about changing our society’s way of thinking and redefining what “healthy” really means by utilizing my certification and using it as an opportunity to be a voice.
What was your career like prior to becoming certified?
I was a business major, and at the time, I was working as a receptionist for my dad, who is a family physician.
What is your career like now?
I have my own office space within my dad’s office. He is a well-known family physician in the Fredericksburg, VA, area, and he refers patients to me often who he believes can find healing holistically through their diet as opposed to medicinally. I am also the nutrition spokesperson for fit20 USA as well as a three-time published author as of this month.
What are your favorite parts of your career?
I love helping my clients rediscover a healthy relationship with food as well as their bodies. I also love teaching them how to tune into their own body’s unique needs. I love hearing their positive feedback on how their energy and overall quality of life have increased too!
How has becoming certified with AFPA impacted your life?
I feel so empowered now to help others, and I just love making a difference! I also, through helping my clients, am even more so reminded to take care of myself, especially as a busy, working mother of two. I know that I can’t afford to burn out if I want to make an impact (I dive into this topic quite a bit in my second book, Mama, You Still Matter)!
Do you have any client success stories you would like to share?
I had one woman recently who was told that at the rate her diabetes was going she could likely have permanent organ damage and be reliant on insulin for the rest of her life. Within three months of working with me, she was down thirty pounds. She has been told that within a few weeks, she should be able to get off of her insulin completely. She also has expressed to me that since starting with me, she has felt better than she has in years, and she feels that she has finally gotten her life back.
What advice do you give others thinking about becoming certified?
Dive all in. Don’t be afraid to work hard. Get excited for all that is to come, and come up with a company name, logo, and social media page. Know what you believe, and be passionate in sharing those beliefs with your client. Remember, you are allowed to be unique, and you don’t have to teach in the same style as any other nutritionist. Don’t be afraid to challenge your clients and hold them accountable in a kind way. You can teach them all you know, but remember, it is up to them to implement the changes and do the work. Lastly, have your lesson plans, client questionnaires, and handouts organized, and secure office space that you are proud of and that is personal to you.