Welcome to this new monthly, community-style series featuring a flourishing woman who lives with intention and passion. We believe in the power of stories and that no woman is ordinary. You were placed on this earth for a reason, so let your light shine!
I am thrilled to introduce February’s guest Alyssa—Alyssa Hustedt is a beauty inside and out and is a ballerina, barre instructor, Nutritional Therapy Consultant, wife and friend. Her passion for life, movement and healing is contagious! Funny story, I actually saw Alyssa dance, back in my own ballerina days, but did realize who she was until my best friend said they were cousins. Her wears her heart on her sleeve as she walks you through the good and painful parts of her story—her desire for contentment it truly inspiring!
Women Who Flourish: Alyssa Hustedt
Being a ballerina and dancing is a huge aspect of your life and has been for years! Tell us a little bit more about your background as a dancer and where this journey has lead you to today?
A: It really has been and still is to this day! Right out of high school, I moved to Jackson, MS to dance with the touring ballet company called Ballet Magnificat. I loved my 9 years there and feel so grateful to have lived out my childhood dream of being a ballerina. Right before my last year, I fell injured with a herniated disk in my neck and attempted many times to dance again only to wind up on the floor excruciating pain. Ballet had been my identity for as long as I could remember and when life starts to steer you in another direction it’s so hard to know how to let go and learn to dream a new dream.
In the summer of 2010, my husband started to pursue me and I moved home to San Diego to be near him. I started teaching ballet and eventually earned my certification to teach barre and become a fitness instructor. Jon and I were married in February of 2011. I was 27 and had strong convictions against using any type of birth control, so we assumed that we would get pregnant fairly quickly. Years kept passing and I started going to fertility doctors and even had some minor surgeries. Initially, I blamed myself for our infertility because the further I was from my dance world, the more I realized that the relationship I had with my body and towards food had been severely unhealthy and imbalanced for so many years.
Eventually, I needed a new passion in my life, so I signed up for the NTA program with the desire to learn more about my body, nutrition and health. So long story short, even though the dance world was a bit toxic for me, I don’t regret any of it because it’s part of my story and has brought me to where I am today with my own business of helping others learn and appreciate their bodies and work towards healing and restoration from the inside out.
You mentioned that your relationship to your body and food was unhealthy during your dancing years. When did this begin and what do you think fueled it?
A: Sad but true—I think I started to throw my breakfast smoothies down the toilet and my lunches away at school when I was only 12. I’d starve most of the day to have a flat tummy at ballet, then eat everything in sight once I got home late at night. Part of this was fueled by my environment—my teacher was a bit old school and we would overhear her telling the older girls they had to lose weight if they didn’t fit into a costume from the year before, but another part of it was my own need to be a people-pleaser. Because ballet is an extremely disciplined sport, ballet dancers tend to be perfectionists anyway, which does not help.
Over the years, how have you learned to overcome this struggle and develop a positive relationship with your body image?
A: One of the more surprising things that began to help was learning to be vulnerable. I had kept these feelings and struggles bottled up inside for so many years that when I finally started sharing, I realized my disordered thoughts were like poison to me and the only way to drain out the poison was to start letting it out with my words. When I started to share with another person (my husband), I began to realize how false my thinking was and how much meaningless value I placed on my body image. Also, learning about my body from a holistic nutritional standpoint has been huge! Understanding my body this way has allowed me to place way more value in how my body is functioning from the inside rather than what it looks like on the outside.
When I think of you, the word freedom comes to mind—how do you live freely each day when it comes to your health and contentment?
A: Freedom started for me when I finally understood GRACE. When I started accepting myself for the way that God made me instead of fighting it. It is not something that happened overnight and continues to be a battle at times, but as long as I rest in grace, knowing that I’m doing my best with the knowledge that I have, I feel free. Freedom from myself and the need to please others gives me the joy and rest I need to want to make the most out of this life. I believe that our culture today is so inward focused. We are taught to love ourselves and put ourselves first but—to me—true freedom comes when I can just get over myself enough to love the other person. And this is #1 what I love about my new career—it’s not about me!!!
You exhibit so much joy, both on social media and in real life—where does that joy come from for you?
A: Oh this is a hard one! Honestly, I struggle with social media in the sense that yes, I’d like to think that I’m a joyful person 24/7 but in reality, I know that is not the case (just ask my husband). I try my best to be really honest in my posts but I do not want it to be the place where I share all my crap and bad days either—that’s what my family and friends are for. I follow influencers who wear their hearts on their sleeves and post every tear, every emotion and I can see why that would be attractive… people want someone to relate to. I really do admire these people as it takes a certain level of vulnerability to put yourself out there like that but for myself personally, social media is a great way to connect, inspire, educate and meet new people, but I’d never desire for it to replace my real life community.
You recently opened up about your infertility journey and how this year, despite not having children you finally chose to send Christmas cards. Despite this darkness and insurmountable pain you have faced, how do you and your husband stay strong in this process?
A: There have been darker days, months, even years for us in our journey through infertility but I’ve never wanted to be defined by it or pitied for it. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from it is that there is so much life to be lived even without children. One of the best decisions we ever made as a couple was selling our sparkling new home that was inland and renting a small place by the beach. I learned how to run here (running had been a goal of mine forever!), met my best friend/soul sister here, we were able to be more involved in our church community, went through the NTA program and then the RWS program, and eventually started my business…. All of this would not have happened if we had had children when I wanted to.
What is your encouragement to other couples walking the difficult road of infertility?
A: In the 7.5 years we’ve been trying to conceive, I’ve had many friends come across my path who have struggled with infertility and I’ve seen all of them become parents, whether naturally over time or via medical intervention or through adoption. The fact of the matter is that if you want to become a parent, you will. Yes, the journey might suck but you’ll get there. At times it feels like a slow, long, painful process but I believe with all my heart that we’ll get there—whether it’s by a true miracle or by adoption. This is my hope and my confidence and if it’s not yours, I pray that it will be. My encouragement to you is this—in the process and in the struggle, don’t miss out on what life has for you right now. The other side of the grass isn’t always as green as it seems and I truly believe that the more we can learn to be content in the now, the better chance we’ll have of finding that same happiness and contentment in the future.
You recently became an NTC (through the Nutritional Therapy Association, just like me)! Congrats! What was the most surprising aspect of your education and how has that changed your health journey recently?
A: Thank you! Understanding blood sugar has been huge for me. All of those years of bad eating patterns and habits made me realize why my energy patterns were so up and down. I struggled with hypoglycemia for so many years (because of my eating habits and struggles with anemia) and I never realized this until my NTA training and more importantly, how blood sugar directly impacts hormones. This was life-changing for me!
The importance of gut health and function has also been huge for me and is the main focus of my business. The gut is the “mother” of the body and feeds every cell in the body. Even if you eat a pristine diet, if your gut is not functioning properly, you have gut permeability and/or you have an imbalanced gut ecology from parasites and/or bacterial or fungal overgrowth, this will affect EVERYTHING.
How would you define healthy living?
A: Healthy living is a way of life. It does not happen overnight but slowly, over time, as you learn and grow and aspire towards it. Healthy living becomes a day to day event where you’re feeding your body nourishing, wholesome foods, you’re removing the toxins from your life both physical and emotional, your sweating because you love to and resting when you need it. Healthy living comes from surrounding yourself with real life community, getting outside with your family and friends, enjoying the sun and vacations, working hard when its required of you, and at the end of the day, resting in grace—knowing that you’ve done your part in treating your body and your life well and God will make up for the rest.
What are some practices or routines you do each day that you believe are directly tied to your success?
A: To be honest, I’m not very good at having routines or practices (something I need to work on!) but I believe any success that I do have comes from really loving what I am doing and believing in it. I get excited to meet with clients, to study their cases, come up with an action plan towards healing, witness the improvements in their health and ultimately to see my clients flourish!
What does it mean to you to flourish?
A: To flourish is when you take ALL that life has given you (the good, the bad and the ugly) and work to forgive and heal, learn to rise above, never settle when it comes to your health and the health of your family, continue learning, continue seeking, growing and cherishing this precious gift of life.
If you were a taco, which flavor and toppings would you be?
A: Fish taco with guac!
What is one quality you look for in a friend?
A: Vulnerability and communication—they are both pretty equal so hard to choose just one!
What is one thing you say no to and why?
A: Over-drinking—I’ve never been drunk before and I may have my low blood sugar issues to thank for that as I start to feel lightheaded and sick after only a couple drinks.
Favorite time of the day?
A: Walks to see the sunset with my husband and pup.
Your word for 2019?
A: Adventure…There will be many adventures this year, and I’m looking forward to them all!
Thank you Alyssa for sharing your journey with us! xo