How Valeria Hernández built a mindful health coaching business while avoiding creative burnout
Learn how wellness coach and Podia Creator Fellowship winner Valeria Hernández is building a successful online business inspiring women to embrace plant-based foods that celebrate their culture.
When Valeria Hernández faced obstacles with her health, she discovered the power of intuitive eating and plant-based nutrition. Eager to apply this knowledge to traditional recipes, Valeria started crafting authentic Mexican dishes with vegan ingredients.
Today, Valeria shares those discoveries through VegiVale , a plant-based health coaching business that helps clients eat more delicious fruits and vegetables, enjoy the cultural foods they love, and live energized lives.
We met Valeria in early 2022 when she won our first Podia Creator Fellowship. Over 900 creators applied for a chance to receive $2,022 to grow their online business . Since winning, she’s hired a virtual assistant and plans to expand her product suite to include an online course alongside her coaching and digital products .
But Valeria's creator journey wasn't always smooth sailing.
Along the way, Valeria faced a toxic hustle culture in the online space and felt pressured to follow the crowds, even when her gut pulled her in a different direction. She also learned how to change her mindset from employee to decision-making entrepreneur, balancing a growing business with a traditional 9–5 work schedule.
Through tackling these challenges that Valeria was able to sculpt her dream business, create a sustainable work-life balance, and carve her own path.
Here's how Valeria is inspiring women to embrace plant-based foods that celebrate their heritage — and building a coaching business grounded in authenticity along the way.
Getting started in the wellness space
Valeria’s journey to wellness coaching began when she started having issues with her own health. "I got started in the wellness space, as many people do, because I was not well. I was really struggling with my mental health, and I saw a therapist who encouraged me to focus on things I can control," Valeria explains.
At the time, she lived in a city where she didn’t know anyone. After graduating from college and transitioning into a full-time job, Valeria was lonely. She wasn't feeling great physically either. Valeria had been following a vegan diet for a few years but struggled to find satisfying and filling meal options.
"I just kind of winged it with my vegan journey. I went the route of eating french fries and salad at the college dining hall, and that often wasn't allowing me to get all my nutrients. So it was no wonder that I wasn't feeling great."
Realizing there was a way to tackle both problems at once, Valeria found connections within the vegan community. She hired a health coach who specialized in plant-based eating and learned what foods she needed to eat to stay active, meet her nutritional needs, and feel better across the board .
Applying what her coach had taught her resulted in a 180° transformation. Inspired, Valeria become a health coach herself to help more people live their best lives.
Valeria began coaching through a network marketing company, but she didn’t like how the program focused heavily on dieting and weight loss. She felt limited by the one-to-many coaching approach and stressed by the constant pressure to amass more customers.
Valeria dreamed of creating a personalized, hands-on experience for her clients that gave her more freedom. Then, 2020 happened.
Amidst worldwide chaos, Valeria decided that it was time to do things her own way.
Finding the first few clients
Finding your first few clients and customers is challenging for most entrepreneurs. In the early days of her business, Valeria assumed she’d primarily find clients through Instagram and social media .
But then Valeria realized she could turn to her existing connections to gain experience and flesh out her business concept.
First, Valeria leveraged contacts she’d made in network marketing. These individuals already knew and liked Valeria’s coaching style and were interested in a high-touch, one-on-one experience.
Next, Valeria reached out to the circle of people she knew through school, her community, family connections, and mutual friends.
Initially, it was nerve-wracking to talk about her business idea with "real-life" friends and loved ones, but these people turned out to be some of her biggest fans.
"My real-life connections became my first couple of clients because they actually knew me. Through their testimonials , I was able to build trust with other people who may not know me from real life."
From there, Valeria’s business blossomed. "I started doing one-on-one coaching, and I really, really loved that," she tells us.
"I've pivoted a couple of different ways in my business, but my main passion is still helping people eat more plants. I don't force anyone to go vegan. Most of my clients are not even vegetarian, but I focus on helping people eat more plants and listen to their bodies."
The decision to niche down
With her first few clients under her belt, Valeria had a better understanding of what she wanted her business to look like. Her next step was to define her target audience. But the thought of narrowing her audience — and pool of prospective clients — was intimidating at first.
“It’s tempting to want to make something for everybody and help as many people as possible.”
Now, Valeria believes that serving a specific niche is part of what makes her brand stand out. She decided to focus on serving women of color because she noticed these clients often faced the same issues she’d experienced firsthand.
"I realized this could be a really cool subset of people that I serve, and being Latina, I understand what they’re going through. I can speak to specific things they would be struggling with that maybe other people wouldn't."
Valeria customized her programs to help women of color incorporate their cultural cuisines into their meals.
"I help them reconnect with their cultural foods because we're often taught that our cultural foods are not healthy, which is not necessarily true," Valeria elaborates. "That mindset comes from diet culture and white supremacy, so dismantling all of that by helping people with their health is what I’m all about."
While she never pushes anyone away and enjoys working with clients from all walks of life, having a smaller, more targeted audience makes it easier for Valeria to master her messaging and create digital products her clients adore.
"There are seven billion people on the planet. When you try to help everybody and speak to everybody, you’re really speaking to no one. It’s a lot more powerful when you can focus on a smaller group of people that you have built community with… because they know that you are talking specifically to them."
Using Podia for a streamlined, simplified business
After solidifying her business concept and identifying her target audience, Valeria turned to Podia to create her virtual home base. She currently sells wellness coaching sessions and a digital cookbook of plant-based Mexican dishes on her Podia site.
She was drawn to Podia because she wanted an all-in-one experience for an affordable price .
"When I first got into entrepreneurship," Valeria recalls, "I was following a lot of big-name entrepreneurs who were all preaching Kajabi . I looked into it and thought, 'I'm not even making that much money in my business. How am I going to spend over a hundred dollars a month on this?'"
She started looking for a more affordable Kajabi alternative , and Podia came onto her radar.
"I really loved that it was an all-in-one option because I often see entrepreneurs using one tool for email marketing , another tool for website hosting , and another platform for their courses ," Valeria explains.
As a consumer, Valeria knew making different logins for several platforms to access one creator’s content was frustrating. She didn't want to put her clients through the same thing.
"Podia makes it easier on the entrepreneur's side and also on the client's side. [Customers] have one login, and they can access all the products they bought from me."
Valeria also emphasizes that you don't need to use the same expensive tools as six-or seven-figure entrepreneurs when you’re first starting out. Using those pricey programs doesn't guarantee that you'll have the same results, and keeping up with hefty monthly bills can add unnecessary pressure.
“Podia really helps streamline things. I’m all about simplicity, especially at this stage in my business.”
Bottom line: You can build a successful, aligned, and fulfilling online business without spending a small fortune on software. Podia even offers a free plan where you can create a website , build an online community , and sell one digital download and one coaching product . No extra stress required.
Advice for other creators and entrepreneurs
When asked what advice she has for aspiring entrepreneurs, Valeria expressed how important it is to listen to your intuition, find work-life balance, be decisive, and prioritize physical and mental health.
Listen to your inner voice and follow what feels natural
Through her experience building VegiVale , Valeria learned that doing your own thing makes your business unique.
"Put your blinders on because it's so tempting to look at what everyone else is doing. If you see one hundred people doing this one thing, you're going to want to do that too," she remarks. "It's absolutely natural to compare…. But the beautiful thing about being a creator is that you are one of a kind. No one can do what you do in the way you do it."
“The beautiful thing about being a creator is that you are one of a kind. No one can do what you do, in the way you do it.”
"Even though there are thousands of health coaches out there, I know when I say something, it will land differently than when someone else says the same thing. Our messages will speak to different people. When you try to follow the mainstream, you lose that unique voice."
This, Valeria explains, is your special sauce as a creator.
Valeria also encourages entrepreneurs to embrace what feels good, even if that means doing things differently from others in your space. "Everyone's on TikTok right now," she points out, "There are so many health coaches there, and I felt like I was missing out. Then I joined the platform, and it was not my vibe."
Valeria couldn't find a rhythm with creating TikTok content and didn’t like how addictive the app was for consumers. So, she decided to ditch the TikTok trend and focus on emails and newsletters .
For Valeria, this format felt more authentic and enjoyable.
"I can't say everything I need to say in 15 to 60 seconds, but newsletters have stood the test of time. I want something more timeless if I’m going to invest energy into it. If I followed the crowds, I would do TikTok and ignore the fact that it's hard for me and that I don’t enjoy it."
That's not to say you should brush aside every challenge in your business, but if something makes you drag your feet, it’s worth considering alternatives.
Establish a healthy work-life balance
Carving your own path isn't just limited to your messaging. One of the biggest benefits of being an entrepreneur is the ability to design a business that aligns with your values and personality while providing a healthy work-life balance.
Nevertheless, many entrepreneurs fall into the easy trap of overworking.
Sometimes, toxic hustle culture is the culprit.
In her network marketing days, Valeria always felt pressured to grind and get more clients. She would work until dark every evening after her full-time job and lose quality time with loved ones.
But hustling 24/7 didn’t get results, and Valeria’s mental health deteriorated because she missed her friends and family.
Other times, creators overwork because they’re passionate.
"Creators are more at risk because we love what we do. We tend to blur the lines between passion and overworking, life and content creation. When you are really passionate about what you do and your vision, it can be hard to turn off."
Valeria’s solution: Take control of your schedule and structure your business to give you the work-life balance you deserve.
"I see so many entrepreneurs and creators leaving their nine to five only to replicate that structure in their business," Valeria says. "Why would you do that? Why would you only take two days off a week on Saturday and Sunday? Isn’t that defeating the purpose?"
You’re in charge, so you can:
Take days off when needed.
Work fewer hours without feeling guilty.
Decide to take fewer clients so you have more free time.
Set attainable goals for yourself on a realistic timeline.
Choose not to follow tradition simply because it’s familiar.
Having a healthy work-life balance might mean that it takes longer to reach milestones, and that’s okay. Too much work can lead to burnout , so it’s better to go slowly, give yourself a manageable schedule, and enjoy the journey along the way.
"Don't lose sight of what's important," Valeria reminds fellow creators. "You have a whole life outside of the internet."
Trust yourself when making big decisions
Early in her business, Valeria struggled to make important decisions. Now, she knows that listening to her intuition and committing is critical to moving forward.
"The way you function in a nine-to-five job is very different from how you work as an entrepreneur," she shares.
"In a traditional job, there are deadlines, projects, and steps, but you have someone guiding you. In entrepreneurship, it’s all you. You're calling the shots and making decisions, and you need to be confident in those decisions."
This can be a lot of pressure for a new creator. When she’s struggling with indecision, Valeria reminds herself that “not making a decision is inherently a decision." This helps her make up her mind and execute a plan.
Prioritize your physical and mental health
Finally, Valeria emphasizes how important it is to take care of yourself. Throughout her journey, Valeria noticed that when she didn’t feel well physically or mentally, her business suffered. When she felt great, her business thrived.
"As a creator, your biggest assets are you and your mind. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of taking care of yourself . You're the creator. It all comes from you. Please take care of your body and your mind."
To keep wellness at the forefront, Valeria follows the same advice she gives her coaching clients. "How could I tell my clients to sleep eight hours a night, drink their water, and eat their vegetables when I'm not doing that?" she says.
"I always think, 'if I were my own client, what would I tell myself to do in this situation?'"
What’s next for VegiVale?
Since winning the Podia Creator Fellowship, Valeria has been able to hire a virtual assistant . Valeria still works her nine-to-five in addition to her coaching business , so her virtual assistant helps with behind-the-scenes tasks and an exciting new project: Valeria’s first online course.
"With the help of my virtual assistant, we’re currently developing a course which will launch later this year. It's in the baby stages right now, but I wouldn't be able to work on it if it weren't for her help," Valeria notes.
"It's really nice to be able to tell someone the vision, go through the steps with them, and then let them loose. Delegating is so important because one person can only do so much ."
By leaning into her unique voice, maintaining a healthy work-life balance, making tough decisions, and prioritizing wellness, Valeria built a freeing and fun online business. With a strong foundation, the sky’s the limit. We can't wait to see what she creates next!