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Episode 1: Dr. Heather’s Real and Raw Gut Health Journey

Hey everyone! Today’s episode is special as it the first episode of the Love Your Gut Podcast. Join me, Dr. Heather as I take you through my gut health journey, how I dedicated my life to getting into the bottom of my own gut issues, and now how I coach women just like you to transform their gut health. We do this through identifying the root causes and making transformational and sustainable changes so that you can consequently unleash your true potential.

Let’s get started!

In this Episode You’ll Learn:

[01:45] A little bit about my story

[04:38] My High school and college life

[05:07] How being busy and overworked contributed to my gut issues

[06:12] My career path

[08:37] My conversations with my dad on what to do postgraduation

[ 08:58] Dad’s sudden illness, battle with cancer and his demise

[12:11] There’s so much more to digestive health, than just food

[13:47] Marriage and enrollment to doctorate program

[15:09] Cutting out gluten is a temporary solution for gut issues

[17:12] Application of root cause-based approach with clients

[18:00] The root cause of my gut issues

[19:10] How stress contributed to my gut issues

[20:53] Gut dysbiosis as a catalyst for my gut issues

[ 22:29] The reasons why I started my online business

[26:57] Why the name “Love Your gut Podcast.”


·       “I tell people all the time that I was pretty much born constipated.” [01:52]

·       “And now looking back, I realized that that probably was part of the reason that I was struggling so much with gut issues, because I was so incredibly exhausted, depleted, and just overworked.” [05:07]

·       “I was studying nutrition, and I still couldn’t figure out my own issues.” [08:26]


Hey, welcome to the love your gut podcast. I’m your host, Dr. Heather Finley, I know what you’re thinking, how am I supposed to love my gut when all it does is hold me back. I thought the same thing before I found relief from my own gut health issues. I dedicated my life to getting into the bottom of my own gut issues. So I can help women just like you transform theirs. Now, I’m here to guide you through your own gut health journey. We do this through identifying your root causes and making sustainable and transformative changes. As a result, you can unleash your true potential. My goal is to empower you with the information and tools you need to love your gut. So it loves you back right here on this podcast.

Welcome to the love your gut podcast. This is Dr. Heather Finley, and this is the first episode of this podcast, I am so glad that you’re here. And really what I want to do on this podcast is just share a bit about my story, how I got where I am today, and hopefully encourage you that you too can find relief from your gut symptoms. On this podcast, you can expect tons of really actionable and sustainable tips to help you to find relief from your digestive symptoms. I know if you’re anything like me, and you’ll learn a bit about my story in a second. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably tried everything and feel really hopeless, that you might never find relief. And so I’m here to bust the myth of gut health and help you to feel more hopeful about your gut symptoms and just empower you with the tools that you need to find relief. So thank you for being here. And so glad to share this space with you. So I want to just tell you a little bit about my story. It dates back way, way way to basically the time that I was born. I tell people all the time that I was pretty much born constipated. And that might sound a bit extreme. But to be honest, I don’t really remember a time in my life where I wasn’t constipated. I have so many childhood memories of being constipated, struggling with bloating, really struggling with stomach aches, and just generally not feeling well.

And it’s something that I don’t think I realized was a problem because I had struggled with it for so long. I just thought well, everyone must feel this way.

And so it really wasn’t ever something that I brought to my parents attention because I thought everyone must feel the same way that I did. It wasn’t until really, this is kind of a funny story, but at the time was definitely not. I was probably 12 years old, and my family decided to go on a summer trip, we were gonna go to San Francisco, and we were gonna go visit my grandparents. And so we’d been in San Francisco for a couple days and you know, touring and seeing the sights and everything. And I remember sitting down for dinner, and my dad looked at me and he said, Heather, what are you going to order? And I just burst into tears thinking, There’s no way I can order anything. And so in the middle of this restaurant, I said, I can’t order I haven’t pooped in five days, I am so constipated. And I’m sure my dad was completely mortified. Because here his 12 year old daughter was sitting in a restaurant crying about the fact that she couldn’t poop. So I remember my mom taking me to a roadside stand after buying me a Dr. Pepper of all things, thinking that maybe that would make me poop. Honestly, I’m gonna have to ask her about that. So mom, if you’re listening, let me know why. We decided to buy a Dr. Pepper. But we went and bought a Dr Pepper to see if that would make me poop. And to be honest, I really don’t remember if it helped or not, I’m assuming it probably didn’t. But I then you know, proceeded to go visit my grandparents for a couple days. And I just all I can remember about that trip is how uncomfortable I felt and how miserable I was. And it really just distracted me from a lot of the big moments in life. I wasn’t excited about touring around San Francisco or really doing anything because my stomach hurt so bad. And so obviously I have very great childhood memories and lots of fun experiences that I could share with you. But I really share that story with you to show you that. You know, you’re not alone. And I’ve had experiences like that. Those experiences really kind of led through my entire childhood and even into college. As a as a high schooler and even in college. I was a competitive swimmer. I swam on a club team in high school. I swim for my high school as well. I was busy. I was also running cross country. So in addition to school in addition to all the training, I didn’t have a lot of Time for other things. And now looking back, I realized that that probably was part of the reason that I was struggling so much with gut issues, because I was so incredibly exhausted, depleted, and just overworked. And I really didn’t know anything different. I’m a very type a high achieving person. And so it just seemed normal that I would have to be up at 445 in the morning first would practice and then go to school, and then go to swim practice after school. And that’s just kind of how I operated my life. And that’s really how it kind of flowed into college. And, you know, I graduated high school, I’m 17 years old. And I had decided to study nutrition. And the reason that I really decided to study nutrition was actually because I thought that I wanted to do more of sports nutrition. So as an athlete, I was super interested in how food affected performance. And I remember this time, swim practice, we had a dietician come and speak to us. And I remember coming home and just sharing with my mom, how excited I was about it.

And I didn’t even know that people could study nutrition in college. So totally shifted career paths, I thought, for the longest time, I thought that I wanted to be a teacher.

And that’s really kind of how I had directed my college search was looking for programs for teaching. And this was my senior year. So I felt like okay, I really have to shift focuses. And I knew I also wanted to swim in college. And so that’s kind of how I landed on going to TCU, Texas Christian University, it’s in Fort Worth, Texas, I grew up in Southern California. So if you knew me in high school, I was extremely shy. I remember multiple people telling my mom, there is no way that your daughter is going to make it one day in Texas, she’s going to be so homesick. And honestly, looking back, I have no idea how I ever decided to move halfway across the country to pursue my dream of studying nutrition and swimming in college. But I’m so glad that I did. Because it’s really what landed me here today. And obviously, it’s been a twisty, windy journey to get here. But really, in college is where, you know, I was swimming, I was in the nutrition program at TCU. I was super busy again, between swimming and a sorority and nutrition and studying. And really, my gut issues just continued to get worse. And, you know, partially I thought, oh, it’s probably because I’m in college, and the food here is different. And it’s not the food that my mom cooked. And I’m not used to this food. But even on my own. When I moved out of the dorms, I remember still just really, really struggling and feeling pretty hopeless, towards the end of college, ended up trying to go to a couple doctors to really figure out what the heck was going on with me. And that’s when kind of the journey of frustration began, I was told so many times to just drink more water and take me relax. And I had already tried all of that. I mean, I was studying nutrition, and I still couldn’t figure out my own issues. So I approached graduation and I remember just feeling extremely frustrated and also a bit of imposter syndrome like, Okay, I know that I want to be a dietitian and I want to help people but I can’t even help myself. So how am I supposed to go into this field and you know, truly help people? I remember having several conversations with my dad about really like, what should I do postgraduation? Should I get a job? Should I go get my master’s and at the time I my dad, actually my senior year of college, got diagnosed with colon cancer. And honestly, I mean, I was shocked. My dad was the healthiest person that I ever knew. He was the person that ran at lunch every single day he worked, he coached all of the teams, he was at everything and all of a sudden, he had this diagnosis that was basically terminal. And I had no idea even what to think about it because he had never been sick a day in his life. And here he was basically fighting for his life and didn’t even know it. And really, the next year was just this confusing journey of why did this happen and how did this happen? And a lot of kind of inner turmoil to have okay. If I have digestive issues, like you know, could this also be my story too, you know, if my dad is struggling with colon cancer and seemingly doesn’t have digestive issues, how how is this As far as like, how does it run in our family. And so I really started researching gut health because I wanted to be able to help him. And I wanted to really understand why. And unfortunately, there was just not a ton of information about it. And it was a hard year. And unfortunately, he did lose his battle to cancer almost exactly 10 years ago, to the day that I’m recording this, if it was a week later, it would be 10 years, which feels a little bit surreal.

And a bit raw, and I’m sharing all of this, but it’s an important part of my story.

So one of the last conversations that I had with my dad was surrounding my career, in a sense, um, was a bit more broad than that. But one of the things that I told him was, I really, I want to understand gut health. And I also want to understand just how to help people. And so we had this conversation, and I told him, you know, one day, I’m going to help people that have got issues, once I figure out how to help myself too. And also, one day, I’m gonna write a book, and also feels very surreal to be recording this because I’m in the midst of actually editing a book right now. And so just crazy, a bit like, you know, how all these things have kind of come to fruition. And I really, truly do feel honored to be in a position now in which here we are a decade later, almost to the day, where I’ve been on this journey personally, with my two decade long struggle with gut issues. And now here I am helping hundreds of women help to identify and in find relief from their own gut issues.

So you know, fast forward, my dad, he loses his battle to colon cancer, and really like, that was kind of what sparked actually the biggest flare of my own digestive issues that I ever had.

I was in the midst of a master’s program, I was also working a clinical job as a dietitian, and I was having really severe digestive issues, I’d never had flares like I ever experienced then. And it was then that I realized, okay, there’s so much more to digestive health, then just food. I was working at a hospital. As I said, I was working in clinical, I had actually just met my now husband who’s sitting right next to me as I record this, and just really trying to search for answers and realize, okay, there’s gotta be something to grief and stress and overwhelm that affects the gut. And through my own journey, searching for more functionally minded doctors, I really started to understand how the body worked together. So I started to understand that my gut health was not just what I was eating, it was not just what I was putting in my mouth, but it was also how I was thinking, how I was sleeping, how I was managing my stress how I was exercising, which was way too much at the time. And even just the stress of my clinical job, which I’ll record a whole podcast on that at some point about my career, journey and all of that. But I had way too many stressors in my life on top of dealing with the grief of losing my dad and sought out some other doctors to finally helped me that’s when I started doing more like stool testing and stress management and supplementation and all the things that I’d never been told by my regular doctor. Pretty much as I said earlier, the recommendations that I would get would be drink more water and take me relax, and that just was not cutting it. So fast forward a couple years, I got married to my husband, Dave, and I remember sitting with him in our first condo that we ever lived in and telling him I think I want to go back to school. And I’m pretty sure he thought I was crazy, because I’d already just finished a master’s. But I just was so curious to learn. I think I will always be a learner. I love learning and I also love teaching and so I decided to apply for this doctorate program. And it was a clinical nutrition program but with more of a functional emphasis and I signed it alright, I filled out the application really did not expect to get in and did and just decided I have to do this.

So started a three year journey and that program, met some amazing people and really kind of went in with an open mind knowing that a lot of the stuff that I’ve learned, I had to unlearn it Um, a lot of the approaches that I had learned as a dietician, not that they were necessarily wrong, but they weren’t working.

And so I wanted to have an open mind about other ways in which I could help people and other ways in which I could support people on their digestive health journeys. And really, what I mean by that is, I knew how to bandaid my problems, I knew that if I cut out gluten and dairy, I might feel better for two weeks and then start feeling bad again, I knew that if I did low FODMAP, I would feel better.

And those were all the things that I was taught and knew to do. But I knew that there had to be something more because I was not interested in continuing to bandaid my symptoms. And it was also not interested in continuing to have to be the crazy girl that was on a restrictive diet, I did not like and I did not enjoy going to restaurants going to family functions and being able to or having to say, I can’t eat that, or I don’t, I don’t feel good, or my stomach hurts another podcast for another day. But it definitely affected the relationship with my husband, Dave, and even just in our dating life, because sometimes I just didn’t feel good. And so I was not interested in continuing to have to do extremes or jump from one restriction to the next because it just didn’t work. So as I entered this doctorate program, I knew that what it was going to teach me was beyond kind of these Band Aid fixes, how do you actually get to the root of the problem? And how do you actually provide someone with sustainable relief. And although sustainable relief is not necessarily the sexiest thing, it’s what people actually want. Because no one actually wants to do a juice cleanse, no one actually wants to be on a restrictive diet, what people want is to feel good to feel vibrant, to have their life going the way that they want it to to have energy to show up every day for the people that you love the most. And when you can’t do that, then you feel defeated. So this program really taught me how to do that. And also just even the experience working with clients. So you know, I had left my clinical job, in the meantime, had actually started a brick and mortar private practice, and started us utilizing some of this more root cause based approach with these clients that I was working with. And not only was I finding the relief that I wanted, my clients were to, and I had a full practice of people wanting to work with me, because they were telling their friends, and because people were getting better, and because they were finding the relief that they wanted to. And they were finding it without having to have all of these crazy restrictions, extreme dieting, you know, cutting this and out here, and millions and millions of supplements. So obviously, we’re gonna go over all of this in depth on the numerous podcast episodes that are coming your way. But I wanted to give you a little insight on really what I discovered was the root of the problems that I was having the constipation, the bloat, the fatigue, my hair falling out my skin issues, et cetera, you name it, that symptom, I probably had it. So really, at the root of my symptoms, the number one thing or one of the number one things that was so often missed was my thyroid.

I had undiagnosed hypothyroidism, and that was severely slowing my gut down. So I worked with someone to help improve my thyroid function. And that was such a needle mover for me.

And we see that all the time in our clients is undiagnosed hypothyroidism, or even subclinical hypothyroidism, and just how much that actually slows down the gut. So thyroid health was so important for me and the more that I improved my gut health, the better my thyroid got, I had super high thyroid antibodies, and was considered more Hashimotos at that point, and now I run my antibodies and have none, which is pretty miraculous. And that’s really part of, you know, all the work that I’ve done to improve my gut. And another big piece of that was stress. Like I’ve mentioned numerous times already, stress was a huge piece of my puzzle. And that looks like not only just stress about work, and obviously the grief of losing my dad, but just stress from being way too busy. I was the person that always said yes to everything. i If you asked me to do something, the answer would always be yes. And I didn’t realize how much every time I said yes to something I was saying no to my health and I was making sacrifices of my own health to people please. And so really learning to say no was one of the hardest lessons that I ever learned, I have my husband to thank for helping me and that lesson. But the more that I said no to obligations, and the more that I said yes to resting, and sometimes just doing nothing, the better my symptoms got, I no longer was the girl that always had to wake up at 6am and run six miles, I would sometimes sleep in, which was a very foreign concept to me, I would maybe, you know, not even exercise that day. And that was also a foreign concept to me, I really learned to balance my blood sugar, that was another huge stress on my body is my blood sugar was super imbalanced. And because of all the dietary restrictions, my diet was super limited, another root cause my gut was just not diverse. And I have a episode coming up about this about gut dysbiosis. And what all that means. And so I encourage you to tune into that. But because of my restrictive diet, my gut bacteria was not diverse. And of course, I was having bloating and constipation. And so those were some of the major pieces, there’s obviously more pieces to the puzzle. And I could spend a whole hour talking about that.

But it really took me slowing down taking time. And just resting, it looked like a lot of sleeping, a lot of stress management going to therapy that was a big one, improving my thyroid health, including more foods into my diet, which is so opposite, I think of what you hear in the digestive health world of, oh, well, in order to have a healthy gut, you should just continue cutting things out.

So just to give you kind of a little bit of insight that’s a bit more about really what helped me more to come on that. But hopefully that resonates with you a little bit on. And maybe you can relate to this busyness feeling or this kind of overachiever type A Enneagram three, mentality of always having to go go go. And if that’s you, I would highly encourage you to really take a step back and see how every yes, you’re saying is a no to your your gut health. So finish this doctorate program, and just felt really empowered, like, Okay, I have so many things that I want to share with people, I have so many tools in which I can help people. But I also feel very limited in being able to help people outside of this zip code that I live in, and was really inspired to take my business online. And this was all pre COVID pre pandemic, I knew that I wanted to help people larger than just the DFW Texas area that I lived in. And so I decided that I was going to just trial putting myself out there on Instagram, and actually invested in a business coach to help me do that which looking back was one of the best investments that I’ve ever made in being able to reach more people like you that are listening to this podcast. I wanted to be able to help people that felt frustrated just like I did, I wanted people to know that low FODMAP wasn’t their only option, that mere relax wasn’t their only option that eating more fiber or drinking more water wasn’t their only option because they were still feeling stuck and they wanted to get better. And so in 2019, I took my business online, and kind of going way, way back to what I was talking about at the beginning, a shy little Heather from high school, the super shy girl that no one thought would survive a day in Texas, decided to start an Instagram account and start talking about poop online, which is so funny to me just even thinking about kind of where I came from, and now kind of where I am. But I’m so grateful that I did that because it’s allowed me the opportunity to help more people allowed me to share the message of sustainable gut health with more people. And it’s it’s pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. And as a result has paid off in the empowerment of so many women being able to find relief from their digestive symptoms. So I know that I shared with you in the beginning that really my goal you know in in doing this was to help people find relief from their digestive symptoms. But as I’ve been on this journey for the last decade, growing and building my business and really the last couple years bringing my business online and scaling my business to help 1000s of women, which I’m so grateful to have been able to Support, I’ve realized that my mission and my why is so much deeper than just digestive health. My why is to empower women in any capacity. Whether that is because you’re struggling with digestive issues, or because you’re struggling with building a business, as far as the practitioners that I work with, I’m meant to also make generational changes, to allow you to be more present with your family to ditch the food, fear and how that then affects your kids, to build a business that you love and empower your children that they can do anything that they want as well. And I love just the freedom that I am able to empower women to have now that they’re not so focused on their digestive issues. So yes, on this podcast, we are going to talk so much about digestive health and what you can do to improve your digestive health. But my mission really is to empower you in all areas of your life, because the gut is just one piece of it. And as you’ll learn to the gut is really where it all stems from a lot of the times, you’ve probably heard the saying, I feel it in my gut, or I have a gut instinct, or I have a gut feeling, we feel so deeply in our emotions are so connected to our gut. And really, you can’t ignore all the other pieces, the emotions, and just the feelings to that are a part of this journey. So yes, digestive health is about poop and nutrition, and all of that.

But it’s also more about empowerment, and freedom and generational changes. And that’s truly why I’m so grateful to spend some time in your air pods today.

Whether you’re driving or walking or doing the dishes, I’m just grateful that you would spend these minutes with me, I’m really here to just die to help bust the digestive myths that keep you super stuck and frustrated, but also to empower you to make these changes to feel free again in your body, to trust your gut, and to love your gut. That’s why I named this podcast, the love your gut podcast. Because I know probably the last thing that you do right now is the last thing that you feel right now is love for your gut, especially if you’re having these symptoms. But there is a way for you to feel connected to your body again, to feel in love with your body again and to feel supported in all areas of your life. I’m so grateful that you are a part of this community. It truly is a pleasure and a privilege to serve and educate. And really that’s what this podcast is all about. I never imagined in even 10 years ago, when I had that conversation with my dad, that I would have had the opportunity to serve 1000s of women in our Get Together program on their digestive health journey. I’m here to bust the digestive myths that are keeping you the most stuck and frustrated, give you insight to understand why you are experiencing the symptoms that you are and provide you with the sustainable tools that you need to improve your symptoms.

I truly hope that you come away from each episode with pages of notes, tons of hope and the empowerment that you need to love your gut so it will love you back. I would absolutely love it if you would share this podcast with a friend. tag me on Instagram when you’re listening to it and give us a five star review. The more we share the more women we can empower to find relief from their digestive symptoms. And that truly is the overall goal of this mission. So thanks again for being here. And remember to love your guts so it will love you back. I’m giving your gut a thumbs up because you just finished another episode of the love your gut podcast. Thanks so much for listening in to this episode. I hope it was helpful. I know you feel like you’ve tried absolutely everything to get to the root cause of your gut symptoms. And if you ask me, I think it’s about time we find a long term solution. My gut Together program is a life changing program that will help you finally understand what’s going on in your gut and the steps you need to take to find relief. Visit Dr. Heather finley.co backslash gut together for more information so that you can start transforming your gut today.

And as always, remember to love your gut so it will love you back



Learn more about me and my gutTogether program:

gutTogether is a life changing program that will help you finally understand what’s going on in your gut and the steps you need to take to find relief

Blogs: https://www.drheatherfinley.co/blog/

Find me on:

Facebook: Dr. Heather Finley, RD

Instagram: drheatherfinley

Kindly share my podcast with your friends and others. The more we share the more women we can empower to find relief from their digestive symptoms.  To help this podcast grow please leave an iTunes review and don’t forget to subscribe. I would love to hear your comments and thoughts on my Instagram and Facebook pages. Remember to tag me.


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Hi, I’m Dr. Heather

Registered dietitian and helps people struggling with bloating, constipation, and IBS find relief from their symptoms and feel excited about food again.

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Dr. Heather Finley