On Identity

Hey hey, friends! How are you? I hope you are doing SO good. I have missed you!

The past 3 months I have struggled and obviously avoided my little piece of the web. The feelings I have felt towards what this blog is supposed to be about have caused me to do some good digging into why I have been so afraid to come here lately. Long story short: I have felt disconnected from my identity as a blogger. As I get super vulnerable about this source of shame in the next 1100 words, I hope that you will walk away with at least one nugget of encouragement or useful information.

I often avoid vulnerability at all costs but as one of my favorite authors Brene Brown says:

“When we deny our stories they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.”

So buckle up, folks, here we go…

I started blogging in January of 2014. I had just finished school and was excited to have some time to start this thing I had been wanting to take on for a while. Now I look back and cringe while reading some of those first posts, not because of the content particularly but because they bring me back to an identity I held on to as if my life depended on it. IMG_8192

I named this blog “Healthy Regards, Hayley” because I was overly obsessed with the idea of “health”. What I ate, how I looked and nailing every obsessive workout and training session ruled my thoughts. In January of 2014 I was underweight, injured because of my obsession around food and exercise and unable to really enjoy, engage in or even handle life. I look back now and know that I actually wasn’t all that healthy. The 2 years following the inception of this blog brought so many unexpected changes, challenges and heartbreak. Things I never expected to happen, happened.

When I started this blog 2 years and 4 months ago my entire being was tied to sport, “health” and fitness. Those three things were everything to me. 

While looking and playing the part of athlete and health and fitness guru brought me satisfaction and some of my most cherished moments, it also brought me a false sense of what made me Hayley. I honestly believed that doing well in sport meant more happiness and more love from others. On the flip side, the idea at “failing” or underperforming in sport or not living up to this outward appearance of health haunted me. I literally had nightmares about racing poorly and gaining weight. The extreme anxiety I experienced before races was due to the belief that if I didn’t do well, people including my family would think less of me. I was so scared of disappointing the most important people in my life. I was terrified of what others would think of me if I wasn’t always performing at the highest level. The amount of satisfaction I found in a number on the scale, how I looked and generally what I portrayed on the outside is a place I never want to be again. 

And then I got injured, I found out I had a whole host of health issues and I watched everything I had placed my identity in being ripped away from me. It was a tough time to say the least. I avoided seeing people I loved because I feared what they would think of me. I felt shame and I then I felt more shame for feeling shame!  I was lost and hurting. I tried to fill my void with other athletic, health and fitness type things but nothing made me feel like myself so instead I spent a lot of time alone because I was so convinced that I was “less than” without my sport. 

Don’t get me wrong, sport is an amazing thing. It has given me SO much. Some of my best friendships, greatest moments and even some of my key personality traits have come from being an athlete. But when being an athlete became everything I was, disappointment was inevitable. I placed my whole identity in athlete Hayley for so long that I literally felt like I had nothing else. 

I never thought I would think of my injuries as a blessing but now I know that it was the only way to get my stubborn self to see, after 2 years, that I am so much more than how fast I can run and how clean I can eat. Placing all of your identity in something like sports, an appearance, a job or a relationship will never get you where you want to be.

With aaaaalllll of that said, there is such a fine line between chasing your dreams and resting your identity in those aspirations. We all know that success in any area takes sacrifice, hard work, focus and dedication to name just a few, but how do we make sure to separate those things from becoming all we are? While I have found so much more clarity in this area over the past year, I am still a work in progress and this is still an area I struggle with. I don’t have a good answer. I can say with certainty however that if I made it to the top step of the most important podium and had sacrificed deep relationships and certain “life moments” along the way, it might feel good for a moment or even a week but eventually it would wear off and if after that I was left with the life I had 2 years and 4 months ago, it wouldn’t be worth it. 

So slowly but surely I moved away from the identity that started this blog. I realized that the people who loved me, were going to love me even during my stupidest, most desperate times. I learned that nothing worth placing my identity in had to be earned. I got comfortable with the truth that although I am so not perfect I have a perfect Creator that loves me and is for me, no matter what. And so after 3 months of avoiding my blog because I didn’t want to post about food or training, I decided to pour my heart out instead.


Healthy Regards,




ohhhh and incase you are wondering… when I am ready, mentally and physically, you can bet you’ll see me toeing the line with a new confidence and appreciation for sport. 



  1. Amaliasays:

    This post has me in tears. Thank you for sharing. I think it’s amazing that you can recognize all of this and use that as a catalyst to boost you to find more balance.

    And by the way, I identify you as the funny, outgoing, snarky one of the family who works really hard at whatever the goal is.

  2. Bonitasays:

    Beautiful post. We all move through stages in our life and our experiences within those stages is what makes us who we are.

  3. I relate to this post SO much. I, too, have struggled with my identity being based on my athletics/health/appearance. It was my everything. When I got injured and had swimming/running taken away from me, I was forced to really reevaluate who I was and discover a life outside of exercise. While I hate that it took some serious injuries to see that, it was almost a blessing in disguise. Thank you for sharing <3

    • hayleyelytle@gmail.comsays:

      Thanks for reading, Sarah. It is so nice to hear that you are able to relate!

  4. Well said friend. Life takes us down certain rocky roads only to figure out the right path and grower stronger through it. Never easy, but always rewarding in the end.

    • hayleyelytle@gmail.comsays:

      I am finally beginning to really believe that. Thanks, Lindsay.

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