Brandi Harvey Talks The Importance of Emotional & Mental Wellness

By Bianca Gracie | April 4, 2024

This feature is in our March '24 "Next Wave" Issue. Click here to subscribe.

Brandi Harvey is inspiring others to walk with faith and confidence, one conversation at a time. The founder of Beyond Her, author, entrepreneur and host of the Vault Empowers podcast takes a holistic approach to life, putting wellness and family at the forefront. “For me, holistic care is going to the chiropractor and having a therapist where I can speak to somebody who’s unbiased. I’ve gotten a handle on my emotional health; that is just as important as my physical health,” she explains. “I also have a person who does bodywork on me. It’s not just a massage. I’m really looking for that emotional release to come out. So I’ve committed to that along with my physical fitness. My workouts test my mental more than my physical because I know my mind is my strongest muscle.”

Here, Harvey discusses her wellness-based lifestyle & shares her daily routine.

Harvey in her podcast recording studio. PHOTO BY WILL KENNEDY
Harvey in her podcast recording studio. PHOTO BY WILL KENNEDY

There has been an influx of podcasts lately. What do you think sets Vault Empowers apart?

I'm really glad you asked me that because we actually just had a meeting yesterday of what's working and what's not. The thing that is working for us and we're making a clear decision: starting tomorrow is to lean right into faith and spirituality. Not just how people get money and become successful, but what is the thing you lean on in those moments of adversity? I'm a girl who grew up in a church. The basis and foundation of my life are Christian beliefs and Christian principles.

I'm not a poster child, so this is not what I'm saying. But I think what separates us is we're having meaningful conversations. We're having conversations that delve deeper into the lives of some very thought-provoking people and changemakers. Because I do such a deep dive and a great level of research on these people, I almost disarm them. It helps them lean into the conversation and say, ‘I want to give you a little bit more because you already know a lot.’

I think that's what separates my show from other shows. We're not looking for anything salacious, and our numbers show that. We’re for those people who want to hear the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ behind some very influential and powerful people. And that's what makes our show very important. I'm excited for this new shift. By the time this article comes out, you're going to see that shift in how we're framing the conversations. I'm moving into framing it around faith because it's a thing that is the driving force behind my own life. I want to show up as the best version of me because God gives me the best version of him.

That's beautiful. And I feel like by doing that, you're going to make it even more authentic because that's the life that you already lead.

And honestly, that's what people want to see from us. Because even when we look at the numbers, the top-rated shows are the ones where we're talking about faith. We're talking about marriage, we're talking about family. Those are the things that people want to talk about. When we have Rickey Smiley on the show, who is our highest-rated show thus far, with about 300,000 views on that episode. That was a big marker for us. But he talks a lot about faith and his career. We have Dr. Jamal Bryant and it's a topic of faith. My sister and her husband, their episode did well and it’s also about faith, family and marriage. So our audience is really letting us know what they want from us. In this season, we're leaning into what they want and not what everybody else wants.

Nice. You said you were vegan for a few years, and you lead a more plant-based lifestyle. What does a holistic lifestyle mean to you?

I listen to my body and my spirit. The body always gives us an alarm of what's going on. My spinal health is very important. So I'm at the chiropractor once a month at least, to make sure that I have great spinal health because what people don't realize everything your body is connected to the spine. So holistic care for me is going to the chiropractor, having a therapist where I can speak to somebody who's unbiased. I've learned not to suppress my emotions because in my younger days, it was all about suppressing. Because I've gotten a handle on my emotional health, that is just as important as my physical health. I have a therapist and I have a person who does bodywork on me. It’s not just a massage. I'm really going into work on certain parts of the body and really looking for release. A lot of that gets trapped in the body. That emotional release has to come out. So I've committed to that along with my physical fitness. And that keeps me in tip-top shape. My workouts test my mental, more so than they test my physical, because I know my mind is my strongest muscle.

So every time I exercise, I get to push myself a little further. I get to dig a little deeper. I believe in a level of holding myself to a level of excellence in every area of my life. So my physical body, my mental, my emotional, my spiritual health is so important. So holistically, that means I have deep spiritual practices and rituals that I subscribe to on a daily basis. I go to church.

This is not a one-size-fits-all. But I think all of that plays into why I don't get sick. On top of the fact that I eat whole foods every single day and I have colorful plates. I put an emphasis on fruits and vegetables and healing my body and listening. When I'm tired, that means I need to take a nap. I need to rest, I need to turn off the computer, I need to get off the phone. You got to tap into that. So I allow myself that freedom to do that. I think in my 20s or early 30s, it was this hustle and bustle and go go go. Now I lean into the rest. I lean into the rejuvenation. I lean into saying ‘no’ because I know that my ‘no’ is going to make room for the ‘yes’ that I deserve.

I'm so glad that you brought that up because I was speaking to Imani Ellis.

She was on my show.

She is part of part of this issue too. We were speaking about this very conversation about how Black women are starting to really learn the importance of rest. We're so used to working ourselves to the bone. It’s like rest is the reward for working so hard rather than rest being a part of our routine. It shouldn't be something that we're working so hard to achieve.

It's important. I wish that was a conversation that was being had and my 20s and my 30s. Now at 41, I think it's just the shift of where I find joy and where I create that peace and clarity in my life. It’s really found in the rest and when I'm able to take those moments to give to myself because I deserve it. I tell people all the time the reason I work out first thing in the morning is that I give myself that one hour every single day. I've given myself 4% of my day before I succumb to the pressures of everyone else. And if you're not willing to give yourself 4%, how are you going to see the benefits and the beauty and the bounty that is your life?

You're speaking to me right now because I'm on deadline, and I pushed off going to the gym in order to just get straight into work. So your saying that is reminding me that I need to give myself that 4%.

Yeah, you're setting yourself up right now. That was the thing that I learned starting my own health journey at 19 and then becoming a fitness competitor at 25 years old. He's still my trainer to this day. One of the things he told me about why weight training is so important is because you want to keep the elasticity in your skin. When we gain weight, the skin stretches out. And so when we stretch that skin, the skin loses its elasticity. So it's hard for it to come back. So that's when you see people who have gained a tremendous amount of weight, what do they have to do, they have to have surgery because the skin is hanging. But if you weight train or do resistance training, you build muscle on your body. The more muscle you have on your body, the more elasticity you keeping your skin and that's going to be the fountain of youth. That's how you stay looking young.

Brandi Harvey with guest Rashan Ali, media personality and author, on an episode of Vault Empowers. PHOTO BY PAUL MCPHERSON
Brandi Harvey with guest Rashan Ali, media personality and author, on an episode of Vault Empowers. PHOTO BY PAUL MCPHERSON

Well, thank you for that insight. You actually mentioned the word “joy”, which leads me to this final question. That's my word for this year. What’s yours?

I set a word every single year. And my word for 2024 is ‘overflow’. I believe that God is about to do exceedingly, abundantly above all in my life. There's an overflow of love in my life. So I say that every single day. It’s posted all over my bedroom mirror. So when I'm getting dressed in the morning, I live in the overflow of love and abundance, I live in the overflow of money. I live in the overflow and abundance of my finances, I have all those things around me. I am constantly circulating that in my life.

I always want to be the person that whatever you get from me is not from my reserve. Because I know that I've been called to impact people in a major way, that God has called me and chosen me for such a time as this, I have to be in a state of overflow. And so in order to stay that way, I have to stay in his presence. I have to stay grounded, I have to stay tapped in my spiritual Wi-Fi, I got to be turned on every single day so that I can get a download from the Most High to do the work that he would have me do. And bring people that type of joy and love. When they encounter me, they are feeling like ‘Man, I've had a divine encounter with God.’ I'm just being called to be a demonstrator. That means I gotta be an overflow state. The love, the grace, the mercy, the power, the divine purpose that God has for me is an overflow.



6:30 A.M.

I wake up around this time and I put on a sermon or my ‘God is Love’ playlist that’s got my gospel music on it. Currently, I’m fasting, so I pray with a group of women at 7:30 every morning. So prayer starts my day. It sets me off so I’m in the right head space to go deal with people.

8:30 A.M.

I’ll be in the gym. I train in the mornings at ROC Fitness in Sandy Springs. I train with my training partner for an hour. At 9 o’clock, I typically have coffee for breakfast after the gym.

10:30 A.M.

I’m usually at my desk in my office. It’s my family’s home, but it’s now considered a Steve Harvey global office. So that’s where I film the podcast. I’m usually in makeup at 7 and then on set at 9. Outside of the show, I’m also a producer on the Sistahs Getting Well documentary. We were at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles [last month]. But admin for me is more like research. I do all my own research for my show. I respect each and every person who comes to sit across the chair from me. I’ve interviewed some amazing people and we’ve only been doing this show for a year. If they have a memoir, I’m reading it. If they have online videos or interviews, I’m watching them. So I’m really prepping for the next week of interviews because I shoot three shows in one day. I spend a lot of time reading and prepping my notes because I almost like to memorize a lot of this stuff. By me writing their stories at my desk and [learning] some of the things that they’ve overcome, it gives me an opportunity to really put a different level of depth on the conversations. I try to meal prep as much as I can throughout the week. I’m not a ‘cook on Sunday and I’m eating meals until Wednesday or Thursday’—that is not me. I’m not a microwave girl. I can’t do it. But at least if I have fruits and stuff, I’m gonna cut it up and make sure it’s already there. The berries are already clean, everything’s already ready in containers. My vegetables are normally prepped for me to be able to quickly saute or quickly make something. I live a pretty much plant-based lifestyle. I don’t do dairy, and if I do eat any meat product it’s going to be fish. But if I’m out and about, I will hit the ramen spot for lunch. I love Thai food so I’ll DoorDash something. I make really great curry. That’s one of my favorite meals because I am really vegetable-heavy. So anything that’s going to help me get more vegetables—curries and stir-fries are really great. And then if I’m feeling frisky and want something that’s a little more decadent, I make a great plant-based lasagna.

4 P.M.

I’m pretty much done with work by then. I’m always reading something or I’m watching something on YouTube, so that’s my evening. But sometimes I’m going to pick my nephew up from school. Today I’m going to take him to robotics because I put him in a robotics program. It gives me a chance to spend some time with my family. I do not watch reality shows, I’m gonna be very honest. But I am a streaming girl. Hulu is my favorite. Black Cake is one of the best shows I’ve watched all year. It is a beautiful story and shows the layers of family and how especially families of color are so good at keeping secrets. The other show that I like is Feud. Last season they did Betty Davis and Joan Crawford, and this year they’re doing it on New York socialites. The fashion is beautiful and the storyline is crazy.

10:30 P.M.

I try to be in bed by this time. I am a bath girl, so I like to run a hot bath with a whole bag of Epsom salt and light my candles. That’s the way I like to align [myself]. It helps me because I am also a weightlifter. It allows me to recover my body after a hard workout. I turn on some rain sounds, put my little mask on and I’m out like a light.