My Health Journey

The truth is, I wasn’t always healthy. I grew up on Captain Crunch and microwave meals, was overweight as a child, and developed serious body image issues and eating disorders at the age of 12. For most of my adult life, I struggled with yo-yo dieting, digestive issues, anxiety, depression, and a serious lack of self-worth. Simply put, I hated my body and I tried everything to change it.

Eventually, my vicious cycle of extreme dieting and binge eating, work/coffee addiction, lack of sleep, chronic stress, and completely toxic lifestyle finally caught up with me one morning in July 2009 when I couldn’t lift myself out of bed. I literally could not move. 

Specialists, scopes, and scans later, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I was 24 years old. 

In that moment, I realized something extremely important – I have one body, one life on this earth, and I better start learning how to take care of myself before it’s too late!

So, I did just that – I got serious about my health and fitness, started researching how to heal my body naturally, and read every holistic health and nutrition book I could get my hands on. Luckily, at that time I was entering my second year of graduate school and had access to a wide range of public health researchers and natural health experts. I quickly shifted my focus from solely studying obesity and weight loss to studying autoimmune diseases and using food as medicine.

I had no idea that what you ate had such an impact on all aspects of your health (beyond your weight). 

Drink vegetable juice? Yuck! Eat berries? Does strawberries n’ cream oatmeal count? Apparently not. Reluctantly, I listened to the experts. I adopted an anti-inflammatory diet eating nothing but high-quality, nutrient-dense whole foods. I stopped eating sugar and started drinking green smoothies. I slept more. So much more. 

Two weeks in and I felt like a new person. I had more energy, my skin was clearing up, and my digestion improved. Within a year, I completely reversed all of my symptoms and had no sign of an autoimmune disease when tested.

Now, I wish I could say my life was full of rainbows and butterflies from there. But it wasn’t.

After graduating, becoming a personal trainer, getting a full-time job, and starting my first business I found myself slipping back into old habits (working 12 hour days, staying up late, neglecting family & friends, flogging my body at the gym, and counting every morsel of food on my plate) all in the pursuit of “success” and the “perfect body.”

My physical appearance may have looked healthy, but my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors were FAR from it.

I became obsessed with fitness to the point where I was diagnosed with athletes amenorrhea (I didn’t get my period for 3 years) and adrenal fatigue. I was “fit” on the outside but still felt miserable inside. 

At this point, I had ENOUGH! I wanted to be happy and healthy – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

By the grace of God, my cry for help led me to the largest nutrition school in the world, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, to start my journey to become a certified Holistic Health Coach.

At IIN, I quickly learned that health is SO MUCH MORE than the food on your plate. Health is…

…Your mind, your body, your spirit, and the world that you create for yourself – NOT just your physical appearance.

…A direct reflection of your thoughts (such as “I am beautiful,” or “I am fat”), core beliefs (such as “Losing weight is hard,” or “I can do this”), words (that you say to others and about yourself), actions (such as what you choose to put in or on your body), and environment (such as the air you breathe or the people you surround yourself with).

…A journey, not a destination.

I also learned that being the healthiest, best version of you is not something you can ever forget about, or be done with. It’s a decision that you’ll have to make every single day.

Even though I may be healthier, happier, and more in tune with myself than ever before, I’m still refining and adapting my habits, and I know I always will be. 

My focus is on consistency, not perfection, which can be a struggle for us Enneagram 3’s who are typically success-oriented, excelling, driven, and image-conscious achievers!  

As I reflect back on the times in life where I was in a complete state of flow – thinking, feeling and performing at my best, I was always taking care of myself. Whereas, the seasons in life where I felt anxious, overwhelmed and exhausted, it was the exact opposite. I was so focused on getting a 4.0 in college, excelling in my career, or growing a business that I put my health and self-care on the back-burner. 

My personal health challenges are one of the many reasons I do what I do. I’m passionate about teaching other driven women how to stay healthy while they’re focused on hustling in their career and reaching their dreams. Because the truth is, impacting the world and people around you becomes increasingly difficult if you don’t feel your best.

Your health is your greatest asset. It’s not your house, your business you’ve worked so hard to build, your savings, or your job.

I truly believe that with God and good health, we can do ANYTHING! I also believe that we’re better wives, mothers, daughters, friends, and leaders when we’re well rested, nourished, and fulfilled. In my 10+ years educating on healthy lifestyle habits, I’ve helped hundreds of women to lose weight, sleep better, reduce stress, and reclaim their energy. I’ve witnessed women transform mentally, physically, and emotionally by adopting simple daily health habits and I am thrilled to share everything I’ve learned to help you live a healthier, happier, more abundant life too. 

If my story resonated with you or if you have questions about what I do, feel free to reach out – rachel@rachelsunley.com. I’d love to connect with you!