You may recognize Lisa Hayim, MS, RD, and wellness blogger from her popular Instagram® handle, @thewellnecessities. It’s where the 31-year-old native New Yorker dispels diet myths and other rubbish that her clients and followers have been taught about nutrition over their lifetimes — including popular “quick fixes” promoted on social media. “Everyone has been fed the BS that their bodies can’t be trusted,” says Hayim, who graduated from Columbia University® with a Master’s in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology.
Before Hayim began speaking to the masses digitally, teaching hundreds of students through her own online programs, she, too, had been the recipient of misinformation. Hayim initially pursued a career in nutrition because she was looking for a way to outsmart her body. “I was drawn to this field for the wrong reasons,” she admits. But she found that becoming a registered dietitian (RD) and working with her clients has allowed her to work through her own issues. “It’s helped me guide people back to their ultimate power, which is their innate ability to listen to, honor, and respect their bodies.” Her core belief: “Everyone deserves a chance to learn how to listen to their body and develop a healthy relationship with food — and themselves.”
In our one-on-one with Hayim, she walks us through the obstacles she overcame to become an RD, what she never eats, the beauty treatments she loves, and how she mindfully spends her downtime.
Spotlyte: Treating “food as medicine” was a catch-22 for you. Tell us about that.
LH: That took me down a dangerous road. While food is healing and functional, I developed orthorexia, a type of eating disorder where you’re fixated on the “healthiness” of your food. It becomes similar to a diet, despite not being about weight management, because you’re not listening to any internal cues to guide you. You have rules disguised by “the pursuit of health.”
Orthorexia is sneaky. In fact, during my eating disorder, I believed that I had found true “food freedom.” I was less rigid with what, when, and how much I ate — as long as it was “healthy.” But this honeymoon-feeling faded quickly as food became all I could think about. I knew something wasn’t right.
Spotlyte: How did your eating disorder lead you to a game-changing epiphany?
LH: I started to challenge myself with foods that had become my “fear foods” — those were foods I eliminated in the name of “health.” Something amazing happened that changed the trajectory of my life, and my career. With radical permission to eat those foods at any time, and not view it as a “cheat” moment, I realized these foods were good — but that there was a point where they weren’t “as good” as I thought they were when they were off-limits foods.
This ended my binge-eat-bad-food cycle: the mentality of, “I blew it, might as well keep going and restart my diet tomorrow.” The more I allowed myself to eat without rules, the more I noticed my body was taking charge — not my mind. The real nail in the coffin was waking up on a Monday after a weekend of drinking and eating fried food to find myself craving a salad. This was the moment that changed it all. Despite having all this knowledge of nutrition, the body is smart. I’ve realized that nourishing our bodies is important, but so is nourishing our souls. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Spotlyte: What other personal obstacles did you overcome to get to where you are today?
LH: I was rejected from my first-choice college, University of Miami®. I spent a year at another Florida school learning how to study and take school seriously before applying to transfer and successfully getting in. I failed to match for my dietetic internship, the necessary clinical training to fulfill in order to sit for the RD national exam.
Spotlyte: What did you learn from these challenging experiences?
LH: Not getting into University of Miami taught me adversity, sticking to something despite not enjoying it, and earning my spot at a better school.
Not matching with an internship taught me the importance of experience — a humbling year I spent commuting back and forth from Long Island and NYC, and alternating shifts between working at a café and for the hospital. I also happened to meet my husband while working at the hospital – divine timing, thanks to my “setbacks.”
Through this all, I learned that everything happens for a reason, and failures don’t exist. Failures and rejections reroute us from our plan, but ultimately it becomes clear that we end up where we’re meant to be.
Spotlyte: What does a typical work day look like for you
LH: It’s different every day, and that’s what I love. While I have tasks that keep me on track, new things pop up every day that make it different. Some days, it’s working one-on-one with clients; other days, it’s going live with my hundreds of students. Most days are creative in some capacity, whether that’s researching and creating blogs or recipes. I love to learn where my audience and students currently are, and create content unique for their needs. Sometimes I work with brands if I feel my audience can benefit from their product or services.
Spotlyte: What’s the best career advice you’ve been given? And who gave it to you?
LH: “Say yes and figure it out.” — Keri Glassman, [RD, MS, CDN]. She allowed me to intern for her, despite her going through a business transition herself. I never had issues saying yes, but I had to learn to say no to what doesn’t serve me. That has been so, so powerful!
When something is right, I’ll say yes, even if I’m not sure how it will pan out. But, when it feels not right, or not a “hell yes” — it’s a hard, unapologetic no. This has saved me so much agony and allows me to best serve those that need me.
Spotlyte: What advice do you have for aspiring registered dietitians?
LH: If you want to be an RD, expect bumps on a long, winding road. You’ll have difficult times that make you want to quit. You’ll learn things you don’t agree with. [But] what you can do after you get your license is up to you. Stick with it.
Spotlyte: People often connect their eating habits to feeling good about themselves.
LH: It’s important to take time to foster, develop, and tap into your true sense of self-worth. So much of our world and society talks about self-esteem. Self-esteem is a construct that’s based on what others think of us. While it’s fantastic to do self-esteem-boosting behaviors, it’s important we develop the construct that sits beneath it, and that’s self-worth. Learning that we don’t have to lift a finger to be loved, or belong, that we can just be — and still be worthy of love, and belonging — is how we find the freedom necessary to be our truest selves.
Spotlyte: Do you have food-related mantras?
LH: I’ve got a few! One is “F*RK THE NOISEsm,” which is also the name of my online program. FTN stands for reconnecting with your own body by way of getting quiet. “Noise” can be anything, but ultimately, there’s a lot that interferes with our ability to hear the signals our bodies are sending. Once we recognize noise and learn to tune inward, we reconnect with our bodies’ signals and can redevelop self-trust and self-respect, which changes everything.
Spotlyte: What does a typical day of eating look like for you?
LH: I share bits and pieces of my day on my Instagram stories all the time. My “papaya boats” have become Insta-famous and I get such joy making them most mornings! You slice papaya the long way and scoop seeds out. In the middle, toss in berries, coconut, cacao nibs, and cereal. Seal it in with a fat drizzle of tahini and enjoy with a spoon!
Spotlyte: Is there anything you will not eat or drink ever
LH: Accidents happen, but I despise bleu cheese.
Spotlyte: What's your fitness regimen like?
LH: I subscribe to mindful movement: asking my body what it needs and wants. I’m constantly mixing it up and leaving room for rest and restorative stretching. Just like my body guides me to eat, it also guides me to move.
My favorite piece of gym equipment is the stairmaster. It’s been my go-to for years, and I just splurged on one for my home! Yoga is a big part of my life, and I’m forever grateful for how yoga taught me to get quiet and respect my body. I got certified in Pilates while getting my Masters in Nutrition & Exercise Physiology, and I’ll forever incorporate Pilates into all that I do. Even if I’m just walking to and from the kitchen, I have an engaged core, which naturally corrects my posture.
Spotlyte: What industry influencers do you follow for guidance and inspiration?
LH: @nutritiouslifeofficial for all things health and wellness. Keri Glassman is an industry leader and her platform, Nutritious Life®, shares her brilliant pillars of wellness. @carolynbrownie is one of my best friends and go-to experts for everything about hormones and science. @abbysfoodcourt's ability to live a low-waste lifestyle by way of a healthy vibrant diet is inspiring! @mollysbest has some incredible recipes. Her handle is a beautiful balance of fashion, nutrition, and doing it all.
Spotlyte: Speaking of influencers, are there any Instagram trends you wish would disappear?
LH: The fixation on “fixing bloating” has everyone bloat-obsessed. The stomach is elastic! It’s meant to extend, to hold food, and contract as food leaves. Naturally, there will be stomach distention for all people. I think there’s some confusion online as to how that all works, and many people will jump into an “anti-bloating” protocol to fix that.
Counting macros is also one to be on the lookout for. This is counting calories dressed up. It feels liberating to eat this way at first, but often leads to disordered eating, as it doesn’t consider the body’s changing energy needs.
Spotlyte: What are the best foods to eat for clear skin, shiny hair, and strong nails?
LH: Real, whole, foods! Especially those with healthy fatty acids, like avocado and sesame seeds. Sea veggies are also amazing, like spirulina, chlorella, and seaweed!
In order for the body to focus on things like hair and nails, it needs to have enough nutrients to fulfill its higher duties in the body. That means you need to eat enough in general, if you want to reap these non-essential benefits.
Spotlyte: What is your morning skincare routine?
LH: Using an oil cleanser versus an abrasive cleanser has changed my skin. Tata HarperTM Skincare Nourishing Oil Cleanser leaves my complexion feeling energized and alive. I also use a super soft washcloth that’s either bamboo or hemp. Tata Harper Resurfacing Serum is amazing, and I recommend it to everyone. It’s nontoxic, like all Tata products, and contains AHA and BHAs. It gives you an instant glow. Skinceuticals® CE Ferulic® is hands down the best vitamin C. I use this to target my dark sun spots. It’s expensive, but 100% worth it. I use Farmacy® Honey GrailTM Ultra-Hydrating Face Oil, and open up my lymph drains manually by self-massage and with the help of my Refa STM Carat Face Roller. I finish up using my Wildling® Empress Stone to move fluid, massage my skin, and lock in the oil.
Editor’s note If you take blood thinners, talk to your doctor before doing lymphatic massage.
Spotlyte: What does your makeup routine entail?
LH: I’m not a huge makeup girl. I use Laura Mercier® Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20 and Tarte® Cosmetics Concealer. I curl my eyelashes. Most days I skip mascara and reserve it for nighttime or going out to dinner. I throw on some NARS® bronzer or some highlighter. I always put on a dash of Henné Organics® Luxury Lip Tint.
Spotlyte: What is your evening skincare routine?
LH: First, I remove my makeup and oil cleanse. Most days, I use one active product: usually Skinceuticals® Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream or Farmacy Honeymoon Glow® AHA Resurfacing Night Serum, which resurfaces, hydrates, and brightens skin overnight. I may lock it in with an oil, too, and a guasha. I lock my lip moisture in with the lip mask: Henne Organics Lip Mask. I keep this next to my bed and in my sleep travel case too. Can’t live without it.
Editor's note Retinol shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use.
Spotlyte: What is your take on anti-aging?
LH: I think it’s complicated! The word itself says so much — what does it even mean to be “anti-aging?” It’s impossible. If you want to live, you will age. While I want to fall in the “embrace it” category, I’ve found that the way I look can affect the way I feel. Meaning, if my skin looks damaged, it makes me feel less like “me.” As a 31-year-old, I’ve found that my skin is affected by a lot of the things I did in the past that I thought I was immune to. Now, it’s my job to give my skin the love and attention it deserved all along. I’m committed to spending the time, energy, and money on good, mostly non-toxic, quality products and techniques I can do at home to feel the most “me.”
Spotlyte: What treatments do you get?
LH: I’ve had IPL laser [treatments] for my sun spots, and they’ve worked magically. I’d like to experiment with more lasers when I move back to New York. I think they’re incredibly powerful.
Editor’s note As always, talk to your doctor before starting any new treatment.
I get my nails done in DC at Varnish Lane®. They’re a waterless, nontoxic salon in DC. Recently, I’ve been going polish-free, and have come to love the look of my natural nails. Our nails give us clues about our health — the body communicates in so many ways! I’ve been polish-free on my toes for about six months now, and I’ve been loving the break.
For facials, in New York, I love Pacific Touch NYC℠ for a good holistic, nontoxic cleaning and microcurrent facial. Nichola is a gem. I go to NOY Skincare® for facial massage — gua sha buccal, where founder Danna Omari goes inside your mouth with gloves and works out the facial tension and knots you didn’t know you had. You walk out with a sculpted, supple face.
Spotlyte: Do you get injectables?
LH: I’ve had injectable wrinkle reducers in my forehead a few times. The first time was when I turned 30. It’s been more than six months since my last treatment.
Editor’s note Injectable wrinkle reducers are used to temporarily smooth the look of moderate to severe wrinkles in certain areas of the face such as the forehead, frown lines, and crow’s feet. They should not be used more frequently than every three months. Like any medical treatment, they have potential risks and side effects. Be sure to talk to a licensed provider to see if they’re right for you. Have more questions?
Spotlyte: Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
LH: Mindfulness for me isn’t always sitting meditation. It can be connecting with what’s around me, walking in nature, reading a book, or connecting with my husband. I love being offline and practicing being present.
Read about more inspiring people in the wellness space:
- Meet Marnie Alton: The Fitness Instructor Who Gets Drew Barrymore Into Her Best Shape
- F-Factor Founder Tanya Zuckerbrot Talks Fiber, Skincare & How She Maintains Her Lit-From-Within Glow
- How a Family Member's Health Scare Inspired Tata Harper to Develop Her Clean Skincare Line
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