Getting Personal

When I started my website 6 years ago on blogspot, it was an outlet for me to write about the things I loved. Mainly, I wrote about food and fitness;what I was eating, new things I found at the supermarket, benefits of certain foods, the kind of workout I was doing (this was before the growth of boutique workout studios)and eventually I began writing recipes.

There was never a set goal of my blogging, it was just an outlet, outside of work, a place where I could talk about the things I was passionate about. If my friends and family wanted to read it, I was always happy to send them the link.This was long before Instagram and even before blogging was very popular, it was just something for me.

Eventually, my passion for food and wellness got so strong that with no set plan, I enrolled at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN) to become a Holistic Health Coach. In the back of my head I always knew that I wanted to help people and that I wanted to be able to make a difference in the lives of others. At that point though, I didn't know what that would look like. All I knew was that I needed more in my life, I had an office job where I had spent my first 5 years out of college planning amazing parties at a talent agency, executing charity events and taking care of the day to day assistant needs of professional athletes. I felt unfulfilled. I was over the parties, the nightlife, the 24/7 anxiety that came along with my job.

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I didn't know it at the time but I was setting out on a journey that was not just to help others, but it was to heal myself. Of course I would have to stumble a few times to be able to heal on a deeper level.

After enrolling at IIN, leaving my job and taking a leap of faith, I was introduced to people working in the recovery field. They were a brand new company opening upscale recovery homes for clients facing addiction issues. That was my "light-bulb moment", I knew that this is where I needed to be. They were looking for a chef, and a chef I was not, but the truth is I believed in them and they believed in me and that was enough for everyone involved.

I went on to spend the next 3 years working as a chef, as well as a coach in the addiction space. Throughout my life people very close to me have suffered from drug and/or alcohol addictions as well as eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, exercise bulimia as well as overeating). To be totally honest, I am fortunate to have a level of self control where I have never let myself spiral into any strong addictions, although I have most definitely gone too far with all of those things in the past. I may not have been in recovery myself but I understood and respected the field to a point where I knew I had to be there.

Over my three years in the addiction field, I had the pleasure of watching some clients really flourish and develop life skills, excelling, while others would really struggle to find themselves. Addiction is a tricky thing, and for me I best relate it to the ego, we can feel so strong and amazing one minute and the next the ego can send us on a downward spiral. It was working in addiction where I had to opportunity to learn about myself, to be opened to discussions about a "Higher Power" (whatever that may mean or be to you), to learn the difference between wants and needs and to really understand that we are most often our own worst enemy.

Truth be told, I was watching clients succeed and couldn't be happier and more proud of many of them, but at the same time I began living a double life. I had started dating someone and things got serious quickly, lets just say it wasn't the healthiest relationship.I rarely discuss this in a public forum out of courtesy but the reality is that this is my story to tell. It turns out that I was dating someone who in many ways was an addict. This relationship was a continued pattern for me, welcoming people into my life that were "wounded", for whatever reason it was they would always find me and I would always find myself drawn to them. A doctor once said to me that it is often people with addiction that have to most light to shine, it is just up to them to get past the dark to share the light. I guess you could say I have been know to be the batteries to a few flashlights.


Anyways, the relationship was wonderful at times, I truly was happy… until I wasn't. My ex had a way of manipulating me, making me feel guilty for just about anything and everything, it was like I had traded in the anxiety from my old career for anxiety within my relationship.

If I was out with friends, there were always questions. If I had to work late, more questions. If I ever questioned though, I was made to feel stupid. There was a lot of blocking out feelings with weed and alcohol, and I had a feeling that he was using other drugs (which later was confirmed). I know my ex loved me but unfortunately he really didn't know how to express that all the time, in a positive way.

I would go to work everyday and help people heal, only to return home to my apartment in which I both loved and hated so much at the time. On the rare nights when I was alone, I would find solace in the kitchen; the only thing that really ever made sense to me was cooking. Going to work everyday always made me happy because I knew as long as I was in the kitchen I would be okay. When I would create food, both at work and for myself, I always felt better. Cooking was like the one thing I could do and as long as I had one thing, I knew I could find myself again.

Eventually I found the courage to end the relationship. It took me a long time, even after getting out of the relationship, to realize how much damage his controlling nature and manipulative ways had caused me. I went to speak to a therapist but what always seemed to work for me was cooking and being in the kitchen. It was my space.

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Soon after I left my job and branched out on my own, I began working with clients who were moving from recovery into their own apartments, we would cook together and talk. For me, the "everyday therapy" never felt natural and so often my clients would thank me after our cooking sessions.

They had not just learned to cook a new meal, but they would thank me for taking the time to listen to them and for giving them a judgement free forum. With the healing of my clients I too began to heal. I found myself a second lifeline in a spiritual practice, Kundalini Yoga. I began to put down "beach" reads and pick up self help books.

What I knew was that my journey while working in recovery, and through my relationship was all for a greater good. I know now that it was a test of my strength and my ability to cope as well as grow, succeed, and learn from all of the things that I had both seen and personally experienced. This journey I speak of is nowhere near over, I know that throughout this life I will play many roles (the partier, the insecure teenager, the sister, the daughter, the best friend, the bitch, the comedian etc.) and I can tell you this, I wouldn't trade any of it.

Over the course of the last two years and finding my healing process, I turned solely to food and being a chef. I took a step back from coaching because I knew in order for me to be the best coach to others, I had to first be the best coach I could be for myself.

Well, it has been a little over two years now and I realize that this whole time I have been the best coach to myself, as well as to friends and family who have always come to me for judgment free discussions.


I have learned many life lessons over the last 6 years since leaving my old career behind. I understand what is it like to be overworked and underpaid, I know what it is like to take a leap of faith into the unknown, I know what it is like to struggle with addiction, to be in destructive relationships, to not feel good enough, to feel unworthy of love and so much more.

The reason I am sharing this part of my journey today is because I feel called to do so. We live in a time where so much of our world is a facade put up by social media, where everything is carefully curated with pretty photos and colors. There were many times where I wondered if I was the only person who was sad or going through a hard time. The truth is no one has a perfect life. We all have struggles, some may be different then others but they are not for us to think about. We must stay in our own lane and trust the path that we are on.

I have learned so much over these last two years, let alone the last six. I have become a chef, something I had never dreamed to be. I have started, developed, and managed a meal delivery service and created a snack line which I am diligently working to launch. Most importantly though, I have healed that lost girl that was inside of myself. Don't get me wrong she still tries to come out and get me down from time to time, but now I know how to deal with her and I am ready to start helping anyone who may need the same tools I have gathered.

Life is not easy, we must ask for help when we need it, we must find the right people to turn to. Not everyone will relate to what I went through, but even if 1 person does, I know that this was a story worth telling.

I will be getting more personal on my blog, adding things aside from recipes. I want to give you readers a holistic approach and not just a piece of me. If you are here and are still reading, you deserve what I am ready to share and I thank you for being a part of my journey.

I have a brand new 8 week Food Therapy program that I have developed to work with clients, both in and out of the kitchen. I will be working with only 10 clients at a time in order to give each my full attention. I am so excited to share parts of that program here.

Well, that’s all for today. Wishing you all a fabulous Tuesday and a wonderful week ahead.


Lauren Courtney

PersonalLauren Unger