top of page
  • Writer's pictureStephanie Toler

The Long Way Home.

Updated: Jun 19, 2021

Born in 1980, I grew up on processed food. I was overweight from the time I was nine and spent my twenties attempting to lose it. I ran marathons, did too much yoga, joined Weight Watchers, drank SlimFast, ate Lean Cuisine and other pre-portioned low-calorie foods. I had periods of anorexia fueled by diet pills and bulimia fueled by laxatives. I took Ibuprofen like candy and smoked weed to dampen the pain I felt in my body. Oh and coffee to combat my chronic fatigue.

At the same time, I was bright and determined to “succeed” by society’s measures. I joined the Air Force so I could use the GI Bill to get my business degree, ran my own green house cleaning company in college and eventually made my way to Silicon Valley where I became a Regional Operations Manager for a hot tech start-up.

Desperately seeking validation and approval from my peers, I was completely wrapped up in my looks and professional status. I silenced my body’s cries for love and compassion while my spirit ached for authentic self-expression.

In 2015, I was at the point of a near-nervous breakdown so I took a week off for a yoga retreat. While there, I had a moment in class where I saw our beautifully serene teacher and thought, “Where did I go wrong? There are women teaching yoga in tropical locations because that’s what they want and I’m here because I’m constantly stressed out.”

I had been practicing yoga for ten years already but knew I needed more than the occasional post-yoga-glow to bring my life into better balance. After the retreat, I gave my boss three weeks' notice and signed up for a yoga teacher training (YTT).

During YTT, my mother tragically passed away from a 100% preventable disease. Her early death forced me to look deeply at my life and confront the pain and trauma I had experienced as a child. I knew I was out-of-alignment, full of bad habits, and living inauthentically but the extent of it would take years to reveal itself. I also knew I had a distorted concept of health since I was on the same track she had been on.

I took off for South America where I dove deep into spirituality through the study of yoga philosophy, Reiki, Shamanism and plant medicines. I had a spiritual awakening as I touched in with my energy field and got real about the longings of my soul. I wanted a family, community, vibrant health, and authentic relationships. I didn’t care about money, status, or anyone’s opinion of me any more. It was time to get real.

I landed on the beautiful coast of Ecuador and began leading yoga retreats. I had always enjoyed cooking and so I catered the retreats myself. My guests were happy and life was feeling more aligned but eventually I knew it was time to come home. The only problem was ~ I didn’t have one. Instead, I made my way to India for another yoga teacher training and more soul-searching.

In India, I had a mysterious health crash and dark night of the soul. An Ayurvedic doctor told me to lay in bed for a few days and except to eat and go to the bathroom. I stayed in bed for over a month journaling, reflecting, and asking, “How did this happen?” From my bed in India, I had some wild experiences ~ prophetic dreams and messages, out-of-body travel, and a voice that kept repeating, “Asheville, Asheville, Asheville…”

I didn’t want to be the crazy woman following the voices in her head so instead, I made my way to a Vipassana Meditation Center. I spent ten hours a day for ten days in silent meditation. There I realized that while I haven’t always followed that still, quiet whisper within, my intuition knows the way. My life played out before me and I saw that all my premonitions about my life’s situations and relationships had been correct. It was time to release my fears and tune into that voice so I made my way to Asheville and that’s where the real healing began.

I sought proper medical care to uncover the reasons for my chronic urinary tract infections, pain, and fatigue. A hormone panel revealed very little circulating cortisol and I received a diagnosis of adrenal fatigue. To heal, I needed to know my food sensitivities so I began experimenting with food sensitivity tests and elimination diets. I was shocked to learn that I was sensitive to foods I ate every day and realized that I was never really “heavy” but had actually been inflamed since I was just nine years old.

Unfortunately, my “UTIs” didn’t resolve and I wasn’t getting answers as to why I was always bleeding from my urinary tract. I had to take my health into my own hands and learned everything I could about the body and how all of my issues might be related. I came to realize that I was not just dealing with adrenal fatigue and food sensitivities but that I had a “leaky gut” and Interstitial Cystitis ~ a condition where the bladder lining is compromised. The intense stress of my mother’s death and the years immediately following had allowed these chronic conditions to set in. It’s amazing the toll that unmanaged stress can take on the body.

I was never taught proper self-care at home or at school and I realized that while I had been busy addressing the spiritual aspects of my being, I had not been taking adequate care of my physical body.

I toned down my workouts since extreme exercise habits had been part of my adrenal fatigue and I began to take detoxing seriously. I nurtured my nervous system with healing herbs and intentional breathwork and began viewing food as medicine. I have been on a healing whole foods diet that has brought renewed energy, reduced pain and inflammation, a much healthier bladder and a naturally leaner physique.

I learned to incorporate physical care with spiritual tools I had learned along the way ~ meditation, deep reflection, and visualization practices ~ all of which helped me to create a life in alignment with the yearnings of my soul. I also went back to school for health coaching so I could learn how to share a well-rounded and holistic approach to self-healing with others.

Today I live in a beautiful wellness sanctuary with my beloved and our sweet daughter, enjoying a peaceful and balanced life with the family I’ve always wanted. I lead yoga retreats and teach healthy home cooking classes that empower students to take control of their diet and healing path while still eating delicious meals.

I’m also a practicing holistic health coach, certified through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. It is my passion to share the tools I’ve used to leave my high-stress lifestyle behind, along with all of the trauma responses, addictions, and conditioned programming I’ve learned to shed.

If my story resonates with you, get in touch! It would be my honor to help you find your way to wholeness, in alignment with your higher self so that you can live your best life. You deserve it!



67 views0 comments


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page