Perfection and comparison. Birmingham-based podcaster and lifestyle blogger Heather Brown says that perfection and comparison can rob Christian women and families of joy, but that she aims to provide a realistic and healthy understanding of life via her social media presence.
“If you don’t have joy in Christ, it won’t come from exercise or a diet or anything else,” she says. “I want to let women know that no one’s perfect, and that you can have a healthy balance.” Brown’s “My Life Well Loved” blog, “Healthy with Heather Brown” podcast, and other online channels continue to gain followers and fans, as she engages with more than one million women each year.
Humble Blog Beginnings. While blogs and social media channels are ubiquitous in society now, they haven’t always been everywhere- and Brown was on the ground floor in the health and lifestyle blogging industry. A journalism and mass communications major at Samford University, she started her first blog in 2010 after a friend encouraged her to share her knowledge about couponing and meal planning with others. Brown’s husband, Eric, had recently given up his accounting job and decided to go back to school to train to be a nurse practitioner. To save money, she began “heavily couponing in order to pinch every penny” they could. “I got really good at it,” she recalls. “I’d walk out of CVS and they’d pay me money.”
She and her friend sat in a coffee shop and talked about her expertise, and before she’d left her friend had started “Saving Money and Living Life” for her. That blog led to her work with Birmingham-based emeals.com, where she produced its blog, and then eventually back into business for herself. All along the way, Brown says, God orchestrated signs and opportunities for the changes in her career. She talks often of “doors”- both opened and closed- that have pushed her in the direction God wanted her to be. “God just kept opening doors and challenging what I thought I could do on my own,” she says. “I asked God to both open and close doors for me, and we took many leaps of faith. Looking back, He blew every expectation I would have had on my own.”
When Brown was pregnant with her first son, Leyton, she knew she didn’t want to go back to work full time and instead decided to “put a toe in the water” to see where God would lead them. She began working part time in real estate, teaching Pure Barre, and spent the other 20 hours a week working on the “My Life Well Loved” blog. She asked God to “slam any doors that needed to be slammed” and soon found that she was making more money on her website than in her part time jobs. She and Eric took that as a sign to finally devote full time energy to the blog. “I don’t want to do it if you’re not guiding me,” Brown told God, and the rest is history.
Today, Brown’s blog provides a wealth of information and inspiration through articles, e-books, a newsletter, and an accompanying podcast. Visitors to the blog will find stories on everything from recipes to parenting to beauty to healthy lifestyle issues. When naming her blog, Brown says she wanted it to incorporate all the areas that women struggle with and celebrate. She wanted them to know that every aspect of life can be loved. “I wanted to have different doors I could go into and explore,” she says. “I want to let women know that you can love your life in every aspect.”
Journey of Faith. Brown’s mother tells her that she first accepted Christ when she was just three years old and while she can’t remember the instance herself, she credits her family with providing a Christian example that has stayed with her since then. “I did deal with doubt many times since I was so young when I first believed, and I’ve recommitted to Christ over the years,” she says, “but I know that the Lord has been so sweet to me. He guides and leads me and my family.” Brown recalls hearing when she was young that missionaries are not just those who serve far away. She’s learned throughout her faith journey that anyone can serve Christ- whatever their career, location, or life may be. “People want to separate so much in their lives. They want to say you can only be a missionary, or only be a doctor, or only be a faith blogger, but as Christians, we’re all missionaries in our jobs and our homes,” she says. “I’m what you’d call a health and lifestyle blogger, but if you read or listen to me for very long you see that I’m a Christian.”
Brown grew up in the Birmingham area and attended Shades Mountain Christian School, and today her family lives in Hoover and attends Christ Fellowship Church. She and Eric do whatever they can to incorporate Christ’s teaching in their daily life with sons Leyton, now 7, and Finn, 4. As a working mother, she captures every moment she can with her sons to instill a sense of faith and belief. In addition to attending church, she and Eric have a Bible verse they focus on each week; she practices the verse with her sons on the way to preschool in the morning and then prioritizes the verse’s meaning in her parenting throughout the week. She also utilizes a family devotional time once a week (she recommends the ones from “Deep Roots,” which include cut-out cards, stickers, and other tools to accompany the devotional). They also sing “Jesus Loves Me” and “The Doxology” every night before bed. “I just try to make things as natural as possible,” Brown says. “Tell the boys about Jesus as just part of our daily life.” Brown also stresses that she and her husband keep each other accountable. “You never really feel like you hit the perfect balance, but we are working toward balance,” she says. “He’s my accountability partner, and we want to make sure our priorities are on the same page.”
Expectations and Social Media. As a social media influencer, Brown says that the internet can be a wonderful thing- but that it can also be extremely harmful if things aren’t put in their proper perspective. Brown says she experienced this on a personal level after the birth of Leyton, when she had a fourth-degree tear and also suffered from postpartum depression. “Because of the traumatic birth, I couldn’t even walk to the mailbox for six months. That truly rocked me to my core, because I had to put things into perspective. I realized that I’d treated my fitness like an idol,” she recalls. “And that led to postpartum depression, and I went down such a rabbit hole.” Brown learned that joy came not from external activities, but from a relationship with Christ.
That whole experience taught her that so many women believe their lives have to look a certain way and that they’re a failure if it doesn’t. Social media, Brown says, only exacerbates the problem. Brown now strives to be honest in her online storytelling and encourages women to find their worth in more than what their lives look like or what they accomplish. “I want women to know that it’s normal to have this experience,” she says, “and I try to use my story, whether it’s me talking about postpartum on my blog or sharing my faith on my podcast.”
Brown also encourages mothers to watch for signs of social media dependence in their children and recommends that children not be given phones and internet access until they’re older. “Communication is so important,” she says. “Know what your kids are looking at, and don’t be afraid to talk with them.” Children and teenagers are bombarded with similar ideas as adults are, and they are similarly challenged with ideas of perfection and comparison. “I keep hearing the verse that says the enemy is here to lie and deceive and steal,” she says, “and we need to remember that Tik Tok and other platforms can be used by the enemy.”
Plans for the Future. Brown recently expanded her business to include her “Healthy with Heather Brown” podcast and plans to focus on it more in 2023. After becoming a bit disheartened by Instagram and her inability to share her faith effectively there, Brown decided that podcasts were a good way to focus her energy- and share her faith more freely. The first season of the podcast focused primarily on physical health, but the upcoming second season will focus more on mental and spiritual health. “The podcast lets me talk longer about my faith, and I’m able to bring on guests who can share about theirs too,” Brown says. The podcast can be found on Spotify, Apple, and Google. As she looks to the new year and new opportunities through such things as speaking engagements and personal coaching, Brown says that she is staying in tune with where God wants to lead her. She’s chosen the word surrender as her personal word for the year and streamlined for her business. “I want to be openhanded in my life,” she explains. “God has shown me many times in my life that I just need to surrender to him.”