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To Fit In, the Gym was Her Best Friend

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Haley Erickson had long lived by the motto: “eat clean, train mean,” but it eventually took over her life. “I was mentally enslaved at that point,” she recalled. Haley had never been happy with her body, or her weight, something she picked up from her mom. “I saw my mom always dieting and talking about what her body looked like and needing to change her body. So as a young girl that really looked up to my mom, I thought that I needed to look a certain way to also be loved and accepted by others.”

In high school, she started eating healthy, dieting, and exercising constantly. “Although I tried to play it off as just being super healthy, and loving to exercise and eat healthy, I knew in my heart that this is not healthy. This is an obsession,” she said. “My life revolved around food and exercise and what my body looked like. Every time I looked at myself in the mirror, there was always something that needed to be better. Whether it was fixing my body or something about my face, it was never good enough.” 

Although she was considered underweight, she was healthy for the most part. In her sophomore year of college, Haley overheard some of her sorority sisters talking about going to the beach for spring break and needing to lose weight. “That seed was planted of, oh I need to lose weight too,” she recalled. “I know subconsciously it was, I just wanted to fit in with these girls and be loved and accepted, and I wasn't even going on the trip with them, but I just wanted to belong.”

Now, she took her obsession of non-stop weight training and counting calories to a new, unhealthy level. This led to many physical and mental health issues. “I was very lonely and sad and felt very isolated,” she said. “The gym was my best friend because I didn't have those solid relationships. Also, it really took a toll on my health physically, but I kept pushing past the pain.”

During Christmas break of her junior year, Haley slipped on black ice and injured her leg. It wasn’t broken, but doctors told her she couldn’t exercise for weeks. The now 20-year-old became desperate. “I begged God to please show me the purpose of my life because everything I was living for was gone. I didn't know why I was here, or what the purpose of my life was, and I honestly wasn't sure if I wanted to live anymore.” 

Weeks later, as soon as the pain subsided, Haley was back in the gym. This time she met then 85-year-old Mary Jane. The two hit it off and Mary Jane invited Haley to her home the next day. When the conversation turned to families, Haley shared a picture of hers, explaining she grew up in a Christian home. She didn’t know her new friend was a follower of Jesus. “I asked her, 'are you a Christian?' She cried and I knew that something was missing. I thought, this is why she’s here,” recalled Mary-Jane. Until then, Haley considered herself to be a Christian. Haley said, “Right then and there I heard the Holy Spirit's very clear conviction almost as if it was an audible voice, and the Lord just said, ‘you poser.’ I was claiming to being a follower of Christ because I had gone to church when I was younger, but I definitely did not know Jesus.”

Mary Jane explained God’s plan of salvation through Christ. “I started with John 3:16 and I put her name in it,” she spoke. Haley accepted Christ into her life that day and began to grow in her faith. However, she would continue to obsess over her body image for another three years. Then, at 24, she completely surrendered it to Jesus. “I said, ‘Lord, I don't want anything to do with this anymore. I ask for your healing and that you would show me what it looks like to eat in a way that is glorifying to you.’ Finally, surrendering the food and exercise, I really just let God walk me through this healing journey. The Lord led me to really cling to truth instead of what I thought was my identity and what made me worthy,” she said.

Now a nutrition coach, personal trainer, and public speaker, Haley still likes to stay fit, but says she sees herself through God’s eyes. “The Lord really helped me renew my mind,” she stated. “With seeing who He says I am instead of what I thought made me worthy.”

To learn more about Haley and her holistic nutritional approach, please visit her website: You can also check out Haley at her Instagram handle: HolisticallyHaley.

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About The Author


Morgan Costner is a features producer for The 700 Club (2023) and formerly the Production Coordinator for The 700 Club (2020-2023). Morgan and her husband, Thomas, both work for the Christian Broadcasting Network and actually met while working together on a project. They serve as the Young Adult Directors at their church, Harvest Assembly, and are in love with their sweet pets, Percy and Julia.