In Conversation with Kelley Hoag, Behavioral Health Advisor

I don’t know about you all, but I spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing human behavior and trying to parse out why we do/say/feel the things we do. This is a subject that is endlessly fascinating to me, and I am always looking to learn and enrich my perspective with that of others. 

When I was connected with Kelley Hoag for the first time (during quarantine, no less), I immediately resonated with her background and story, which strikes a beautiful balance between traditional learning and rich personal experience. As a Behavior Health Advisor, she combined her Masters of Science in Applied Behavioral Analysis and Certificate in Integrative Nutrition when she founded her business, Root to Rise Health. In her practice, she uses behavior change and holistic health to help high achievers create a more free and balanced life. Which in my book, we could all always use at least a little bit more of.

Through her personal history losing touch with her own body and balance, she began to create a new toolkit, leaning on both what she learned in her education and by rooting back to her own intuition. She now helps others who have lost touch with their own selves, and we sat down (virtually) to discuss her journey, our own alignment, and how we can build behaviors and habits that will help us root down to rise up on our lives, during times of COVID and beyond.

 

  • As with all things, our stories begin with our personal journey. Today, you’re a behavioral health adviser. How did you begin on this path, and what brought you to where you are today?

This question makes me smile because it wasn’t linear by any means (is it ever?). I’ve created a career helping people design their truest, most aligned life by going through the personal experience of one that began in complete misalignment.

I went to 6 colleges… but literally. I moved back and forth from NY to LA twice. I’ve quit, been fired, dumped and been dumped, but it all led me here, with the ability to serve authentically.I got into behavior specifically by way of working with children with various developmental disabilities and thought that would be my career path for life. But, after the degree and corresponding promotion that I thought I had been working towards, I realized I wanted to use my skills and education differently. I quit and decided to get certified as an Integrative Health Coach to bring together my fascination with human behavior with my passion for health and wellness. When I realized there weren’t many jobs on the market for this particular combination (sadly), I decided to start my own practice!

 

  • So for all of you readers who may be new to this terminology, what is a behavioral health adviser? What’s your purpose, your toolbox, and your end goal with working with women in this way

Well, Behavioral Health Advisor is a term I made up, so it would make sense if it sounds unfamiliar. I chose it because Health Coach didn’t encompass all I had to offer with my expertise in behavior change, and anything else seemed either too restrictive or too vague. Essentially, what I do is a partnership. I give my clients the tools they need to feel simultaneously in control and completely free. 

My work excites me and lights me up because it’s research-backed, evidence-based and data-driven, but most importantly, it’s intuition-lead. Applied Behavior Analysis, or ABA focuses on observable, measurable behavior, but that’s only half the story. Our covert behaviors, our shadow, the parts of us that are buried, our thoughts and are emotions are our driving factors. 

Many people come to me because they feel they need a better work/life balance, they want to break free from what’s holding them back and making them feel stuck, and they want to be more mindful and change their habits that aren’t serving them. The end goal is to feel more clear on who they are, to feel more present, to be a better partner/friend/sibling/boss or all of the above. When we are able to lead with that true self, and align our behavior to it, it’s magic. Our lives become so undeniably true!

We accomplish these amazing successes through a 5 step process:

  1. Gaining clarity and setting goals
  2. Shadow work
  3. Skill acquisition/integration
  4. Feedback
  5. Ongoing support

 

  • Your website says “turn your overwhelm into alignment.” What does alignment mean to you? Do you believe that we ever truly find alignment and balance?

I believe that alignment isn’t perfection and balance isn’t an even scale. None of it is a straight and narrow path. Instead, it’s when we are so in tune with ourselves that we’re able to roll with life’s curveballs and still feel grounded. It’s when we open the line of communication with our soul and start to speak the same language. It’s when we continuously make choices we’re proud of from a place of self-trust.

 

  • Let’s talk about habits. This is an area that you’re passionate about, and I’d love to learn more about how you view habits, their importance, and how we can build positive habits and make them work hard for us.

About 40% of our day is made up of habits. That’s more than we probably realize! As humans, we’d prefer not to make decisions so that we can free our brain up for more important tasks. Our body is constantly seeking to preserve energy. When we procrastinate, are indecisive, argue internally, feel guilty about whether or not we should work out, eat the cake, meditate, drink more water, sleep 8+ hours, have sex, take the job, we do ourselves a great disservice. I truly think it’s a form of self harm. 

Instead, when we create habits that are aligned, the dissonance between our heart, our gut, and our logical mind falls away. When we build self-trust, the choices we do make come with ease and confidence.

To build positive habits, we have to consider all factors. Who we are, what we enjoy, what we dislike, what our schedule looks like, what our obligations are, or our priorities. Often, we try a one size fits all approach because we’re easily influenced by external factors and this leads to a cycle of frustration and what can feel like failure. So, we have to go within, really listen, and meet ourselves where we are so we can build on that and make the changes sustainable. 

 

  • What have you observed during our current health crisis as far as impacts, both individually and collectively, to our health, wellbeing, and behavior?

Oh boy. Well, I for one have noticed a significant shift in my own mental health. It’s made me realize how much I value my relationships and being social. I’ve really learned through the past few months not to take any relationships in my life for granted, and from the conversations I’ve had with others, it seems to be a common theme.

In the beginning of all of this, it makes sense that we were thrown for a loop doing everything under one roof; working, sleeping, living, eating, working out, socializing, etc. Now that we’ve somewhat adjusted to that, I think we have to ask ourselves what we want to take from this. We’ve had no choice but to go within because distractions have been so limited.

So, what do we take out on the other side? What do we do with our new self discovery, both the parts we like and don’t like? If you think of the other side of this as a blank canvas, we’re really sitting in front of it with a brand new box of paints and what comes out of it is up to us. When we shift perspective and look at this as a gift it can be uplifting and inspiring. 

 

  • Can you share a few tangible, actionable tips with Caro’s City readers for things that they can do this hour, this day, and this week, to begin to shift from overwhelm into alignment?

Tune in. I swear, going within is the greatest gift and we don’t do it often enough because we’re scared of what will bubble up. The only way to get to the other side is to go through. 

We have to build our self-trust to make decisions aligned with our soul’s purpose, and the way to do that is by tuning in. This can be done in different ways; meditation, movement, journaling. But most simply, the next time you’re not sure what decision to make, from what should I have for dinner, to should I move across the country, try this formula:

Be still, get quiet, listen inward, hear what comes up, countdown from 5 and take action. 

The more you open communication with your soul and make choices from that space, the more you’ll trust yourself and the decisions you make. 

 

Don’t miss any of my upcoming interviews by getting the scoop here first!

 

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