Each week we speak to an inspiring go-getter as part of our Rising Stars series.
Here, 24-year-old Hazel Wallace – better known to her many fans as the Food Medic, explains to us how she mingles her medical degree studies with managing her incredible online profile.
She also intimately discusses 6am starts, the sudden death of her father, and her BIG plans for the future…
Hazel Wallace is busy. Very busy in fact. She’s taking medical exams for one, and she runs her own business. Oh, and she still finds time to go to the gym.
If you follow her on Instagram (and if you don’t you should), you will probably have noticed that she looks her happiest when she’s working out.
And yes, she now has a body to die for.
By Hazel’s own admission, however, this wasn’t always the case.
Five years ago, when she moved from her native Co. Louth to the UK to pursue an initial degree in medical sciences, and a subsequent degree in medicine, she found herself switching between comfort food and what she thought was a healthy diet of fruit, cereals and yoghurt.
Although Hazel was slim, she says she felt lethargic, lacked in body confidence and had dry skin and hair.
“I developed bad eating habits and an unhealthy relationship with food,” Hazel explains to SHEmazing! “During a six week revision period leading up to exams, I decided to join the gym as an incentive to keep me motivated and energised during the study period.
“Alongside my new training programme, I began to feed my body the nourishment it so desperately needed and soon became a more energised, healthy and happy girl. I started to cook meals from scratch, try new foods and experiment with different ingredients.”
Two years ago, Hazel decided to merge her love of health sciences with her interest in nutrition and fitness, and in doing so, created the Food Medic blog. Her aim was simple: to show people that a healthy lifestyle is possible for everyone regardless of how busy they are.
She also began posting to Instagram pictures from her sessions in the gym, and at last count, her followers totaled some 48,000.
Hazel finds her insta-fame “all a bit surreal” but says she is “humbled by the support and constant positivity” she receives from her followers.
Last year, she even released her first eBook, Clean Eats And Protein Treats.
The 24-year-old explains that her interest in medicine was first triggered at 14 when her father suffered a stroke and sadly passed away. Medicine, she says, pushes her mentally, while training pushes her physically.
Understandably, her day is planned with military precision – because it has to be.
“I get up at 6am every day to reply to emails and get organised for the day ahead by packing my lunch, a gym bag and my bag for placement or the library,” she explains.
“I spend 9am-4pm in the library revising. I hit the gym afterwards for 60 minutes and come home for dinner. I do an hour of emails and social media or any Food Medic admin that needs attending to.
“I revise for another few hours, prep my lunch for the next day and try to get to bed by 11pm. On the weekends I generally do all my meetings and events. I’m just back from the NIKE NTC tour in Stockholm!”
And Hazel has big plans too for the Food Medic brand and hopes to one day open a health food café.
“Some say I might bite off more than I can chew, but so far I’m enjoying juggling medicine and a business!” she laughs.