“I would start a movement that empowers people to use the brain space they once used for hating their bodies towards that which is really important to them; finding fulfilling relationships, pursuing a new career path, social justice causes, starting a family, finding a new hobby. I believe that when people feel empowered in their bodies, we can quite literally change the world.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Holly Toronto, a Certified Health Coach and the founder of Love Your Body Health Coaching, who supports women and men in finding freedom from body shame and food fixation. She uses a non-diet, pro-self care approach that focuses on cultivating a peaceful relationship to the body and food, while avoiding deprivation, restriction, guilt or shame. Holly is extensively trained in the Transformational Coaching Method. She works with both private clients and groups, runs online courses, teaches workshops and speaks on panels discussing body image and intuitive eating.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I worked in the fashion industry for 7 years before becoming certified as a Health Coach. The hours were grueling and I rarely felt fulfilled when I would come home after a 12 hour day. Body image issues are extremely prevalent in that industry and I was one of the many who fell victim to the pursuit of thinness through disordered eating and over exercising.
What I thought was a healthy lifestyle was actually quite unhealthy in many ways as I was socially isolating, experienced anxiety daily and my hair began to fall out.
I eventually came across the book “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch and my entire life changed. I learned how to cultivate a peaceful relationship to my body and food, use mindfulness to care for myself and disconnect my self worth from my external appearance.
I felt so much freedom in my body and I knew I was meant to help others do the same.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
Just after I launched my business in 2016, I did my first speaking engagement. I partnered with a Pilates Instructor and we put on an event at a local wellness space that was attended by many women in the community.
As a new entrepreneur and someone who had previously feared public speaking, this felt like a massive accomplishment to me.
However, the man who managed the wellness space thought otherwise. He told me that he didn’t think that what I had to offer had any value and that he didn’t want to partner again in the future.
It was a blow to my heart and my ego, however I learned so many lessons from that experience. I learned how to get back up after harsh criticism. I learned how to host a successful event. Most importantly, I learned how to define my own worth and value. This man didn’t believe that what I had to offer was valuable yet it was up to me whether I chose to believe him or not. I chose the latter and since then have committed to defining my success, worth and value on my own terms.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
The funniest mistake I ever made was launching my first online course at the same time I was going away on retreat. I didn’t realize that the retreat was a “tech fast,” meaning no technology for 5 days. By the time I realized this, it was too late to push out the start of the course. I ended up having to get my husband and a friend of mine to field questions, take payments and do the administrative tasks while I was gone.
I learned a lot from that experience. When I first realized my error, I panicked and thought the only options were to either skip the retreat or not do the course.This type of black and white thinking doesn’t support growth or innovation in a business. When I chose to be in the gray area, I was able to find a solution and everything worked out perfectly.
When you’re a solopreneur, it might feel like you have to do everything yourself and you’re a failure if you can’t. However, what I learned from this experience is that asking for help actually empowers others and creates stronger bonds between you and the people you trust to support you.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes my coaching practice stand out from the rest is that I don’t talk about weight loss as the way to achieve ultimate happiness in life. I come from a belief that every body, regardless of size, ability, race or identification, has the right to be happy…now.
So many of my clients come to me telling me that once they lose weight then they will pursue the lifestyle that they truly desire. I help my clients open up the possibility that they could be living that life right now.
A client of mine expressed to me that she wanted to be a personal trainer, yet she didn’t feel like she would be taken seriously since she didn’t have the “ideal body.” We worked together to shift her perception of herself and by the time we completed our work together she had completed her personal training certification and is on her way to having the career she’s always desired.
Our society tells us that once we “lose the weight” or “fit into the mold” then we will get to be happy. This mindset keeps people in a place where the scale or the mirror is holding them back as their lives pass them by.
It’s the #1 mission of my business to shift that mindset, one person at a time.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The best tip I can offer to any entrepreneur is to set healthy boundaries for yourself. When I first started, I felt compelled to work all the time, seeing clients at any time day or night, going to networking events 3 nights a week and working on projects on the weekends. I was completely burnt out and feeling resentful towards my work.
Eventually, I began to set boundaries for myself and I found that I was even more present and committed to my work.
At first it may feel like you don’t “deserve” to set boundaries or that you have to “pay your dues,” however having agency over my schedule and my time was one of the primary reasons I wanted to become an entrepreneur. Working all the time was out of alignment with my core values, and I knew that if I wanted to stay on this path I needed to change my mindset.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I’m grateful to a lot of people who have supported me along the way. I have an amazing coach, mentors that have gone before me and peers who have supported me along the way.
The person I am most grateful towards is my husband. He has had full faith in me since day one. When I first left my corporate job, I had a lot of fear. I told him that if it didn’t work out within a year, I would go back to work. He told me that there was no plan B, to commit to this path no matter what and it would all work out. Those encouraging words still stick with me today.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I consider learning to accept my body and have a peaceful relationship with food as a success that now allows me to support other people who are struggling with the same experience. So many people have felt alone and hopeless on this journey, yet it’s so helpful for them to work with and be supported by someone who has been through it.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.”
This quote is relevant to my experience as an entrepreneur. We live in a world that expects instant gratification and it can be very disorienting to the business building process. My business was not built overnight. It’s taken time, discipline and resiliency. Though it might have been easier to have my business materialize overnight, I would’ve missed out on all of the lessons and growth that were waiting for me on this path.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Success doesn’t happen overnight — When I first launched my business, I expected that I would have a full practice within a couple of months. That might happen for some people, but it didn’t for me. For a long time, I felt ashamed that I didn’t have a full practice and that robbed me of a lot of joy. I eventually realized that not only does “success” happen over time, but that I can also choose to define what success looks like for me on a daily basis. Celebrating my minor successes along the way led me to the success I’m experiencing now.
- Work smarter, not harder — I used to pack my days with back to back meetings, coffee dates, client calls, networking events and still manage all of my administrative work by myself. I thought that this is what I had to do to be successful. What happened instead is that I ended up burnt out and resentful. When I learned how to work smarter, focusing on one task at a time, I felt a lot more ease and peace in my work.
- Don’t feel like you have to say yes to everything — Not every client is a good fit. Not every referral partner will understand you or your needs. I’ve said yes to working with people when my intuition told me not to because I thought I “needed the client” or “needed the money” and it usually ended with regret or resentment. Trust your intuition, it doesn’t lie.
- Welcome vulnerability — The idea of being vulnerable is becoming more mainstream, which I believe will only serve businesses in the long run. We have been socially conditioned to cover up our flaws for fear of rejection or appearing weak. That has left us unable to connect with others or feel like we are showing up authentically in our lives. I believe being vulnerable is an incredible strength that supports growth, connection and freedom.
- Have Fun — Because otherwise what’s the point?!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
We live in a world where 91% of women and a growing number of men are dissatisfied with their bodies, and many are putting their lives on hold until something about their bodies changes.
The mission of my business is to help people stop living behind the number on the scale or the reflection in a mirror and start living their lives unapologetically in the bodies they are in today.
I would start a movement that empowers people to use the brain space they once used for hating their bodies towards that which is really important to them; finding fulfilling relationships, pursuing a new career path, social justice causes, starting a family, finding a new hobby.
I believe that when people feel empowered in their bodies, we can quite literally change the world.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!