Danielle Avery, 39, has a big definition of what it means to be healthy. Her idea of holistic wellness is made up of seven pillars: spiritual, mental, physical, nutritional, financial, relational, and sleep. Although Danielle eats a largely plant-based diet and exercises six days a week, she’s still focused on the big picture and says that those are only a couple of facets of her overarching approach to living well.

“In the Western world, we have a misconception of what health looks like,” Danielle explains. “It’s about more than just spending an hour in the gym every day.” 

From personal trainer to nurse practitioner 

Danielle has always been led by the idea of helping others. She earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Health Promotion from the University of Memphis and began her career as an aerobic instructor and personal trainer. Although she loved helping clients get physically fit, she yearned to help others on a larger scale. She went back to school for her Master of Science in Nursing in 2013 and her Doctorate of Nursing Practice in 2017, both from University of Tennessee Health Science Center. 

Caring for patients

After working in healthcare for 10 years, Danielle is thriving in her current role as a Nurse Practitioner at Neurology Clinic here in Memphis, where she specializes in sleep medicine. She sees anywhere from eight to 10 patients per day who deal with a wide range of sleep issues, from narcolepsy to insomnia to disorders of circadian misalignment. 

“This is probably one of my favorite jobs,” she gushes. “I love sleep medicine because I can bring both my healthcare knowledge and my approach to living well to help my patients.” 

Unhealthy lifestyle habits can oftentimes result in sleep issues, and vice versa. Danielle understands that coming to a medical appointment can be intimidating, so she takes a very honest approach with her patients and isn’t afraid to speak candidly about her own wellness journey and what it takes to get started.  

“I try to live my life as an example, but we all have something to work on,” she says. “No one is perfect.” 

Her best advice is to choose two of the seven pillars of wellness to focus on first, and then to build up from there.

Focused on Family

Danielle is a wife and mother to two daughters, eight and 19, and you can bet that her approach to health affects the whole family.

“When my husband and I first met, he had to get used to me working out at 5 am,” she laughs. Her early morning workouts haven’t changed, and her family respects that it’s her “me time” for the day.

The Avery family’s favorite pillar of wellness to enjoy together is definitely physical fitness. They love staying active, and Danielle says that it’s important her kids know the importance of this. Her oldest daughter has always been into cheerleading, and her youngest has gotten into gymnastics. 

From her patients to her family, Danielle is leading by example when it comes to living not just a healthy life but one centered on true wellness. No matter where we are in our quest for wellness, Danielle reminds us to celebrate the journey and remember that no two people are the same. “Your wellness journey won’t look like mine—and that’s okay!”  

By Lucy Harrison
Photo by Tindall Stephens