Chiantelle Rey has a unique story of overcoming obstacles and adversity and creating her own well-being. The reigning Miss Earth British Columbia and Former Miss Greater Vancouver was first introduced to us through a chance encounter, as she was volunteering for a charity drive (The Gift of Giving) along with our co-founder Jody. Her story was remarkable, and we had to share it with our readers – along with her five tips to improve well-being in Vancouver.
When people ask me who I am and what I do, I find it challenging to say just one thing. I’m a daughter and the oldest of four kids, a chiropractic assistant or office superhero, a student studying holistic nutrition, a regional and provincial pageant titleholder, and a child of God. Growing up, I’ve always had a fascination with the human body and the human mind; the way that such a complex system is comprised of simple components functions and creates life. Because of that, I knew I wanted to be in the healthcare field; I just didn’t know what. I’ve also had a love for organizing and being creative. Looking back, there were three things that I wanted to be when I grew up: an event planner (specifically weddings), a doctor, and a pastry chef. Still to this day, those sound like something I would still want to be yet a variation of it.
It wasn’t until about 5 years ago when my life pretty much turned a complete 180. A week or so after my 19th birthday, I was taken to the hospital because of over-exhaustion – my first official burn out. My roommate found me on the floor of our dorm room unresponsive and I honestly didn’t remember anything except finishing up my physics lab the night before and getting ready for bed. My health has always been “under patrol” for lack of better term since I was young but that night was the peak. This resulted in me being on bed-rest for almost two weeks.
A couple of months later during Christmas, I got really sick. I lost about 14 lbs in under 5 days and I had no clue why or how. No matter what I ate, it just never stayed in me. For the next year, I went to several doctors appointments, ultrasounds, specialist appointments, and did several tests. They couldn’t find anything exact and just told me that I had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and a sensitivity to both gluten and dairy. It was one of the hardest years of my life. I didn’t want to take medications and have my body rely on it so I searched for other alternatives that were healthier. It worked slowly but surely and during the summer/fall of 2013, I started to gain more weight and build my energy back.
In the Fall of 2014, I went to London England for an internship at a non-profit organization. Unfortunately halfway, I ended up with my second case of burnout. Not as severe as the first one but it was enough that I was put on bed rest for a week. Just when I thought that my body was starting to recover, the amount of toxic load that my body had accumulated was too much. It was at that point I realized that I really needed to focus on my health and truly take care of myself.
While I was finishing up my internship and as I returned back home to Vancouver, I’ve tried a variety of things that would help me feel better so that I can ultimately become better in order to do better. Here are my top five:
Get good quality sleep.
Our bodies repair the most effectively and efficiently at night during our sleep especially after eventful and long days. I saw value and the importance of having an evening routine to ensure that I received good quality sleep. One hour before bedtime, I stretch and I do my best to stay away from technology. I put my phone on “do not disturb” and charge it away from my bed. I declutter my mind by writing to-do lists and have my things ready for the next day, plus I also found it important to reflect on how the day has been. Starting and ending the day off with gratitude just makes sleep even better. Oh and ensuring that you have the right mattress, pillows and temperature in your room are a must!
Mindfully or intuitively eat: “eating with intention and attention.”
I absolutely love food – from the production to the preparation to the eating experience itself. When I was sick, all I wanted to do was eat anything whenever I could. I learned the hard way that that kind of mindset just stressed my body out even more and didn’t allow me to function more efficiently and effectively. My doctors and specialists wanted to put me on antibiotics and other medications but I wanted to see if there were alternative ways. That was when I learned that food can be used therapeutically. I found that eating slower with fewer distractions allowed me to appreciate, respect, and enjoy food. Plus, I had to make sure that I made time to eat and actually ate with no compromise. With mindful/intuitive eating, you’re eating with the intention of nourishing your body and taking care of it while paying attention to how the food you eat is affecting your body.
Get up, move and breathe.
There were multiple days where I would get so discouraged and unmotivated that all I wanted to do was stay in bed but I realized that on top of eating better and developing a better relationship with food, I knew I had to respect my body by strengthening it. As I was recovering, I found that moving and being outside allowed me to think clearer, be more creative, and reduced a lot of my anxiety. I felt more alive, at peace, restored and connected with who I was and my purpose.
Surround yourself with people who will support you and rebuke you.
One of the most important factors in my recovery and to this day are who I surrounded myself with. My family and my friends keep me grounded and help me grow into the woman that God intended for me to be. We are meant to be in community to motivate each other, to support each other and to share our experiences with each other. Choosing the right people to be a part of your community, your village, your tribe, is important.
Be okay with just being.
In a world where everything is fast paced and always on the go, it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of it all and get overwhelmed. This was probably the biggest contributor and struggle throughout the years – juggling too many things all at once, especially with the fear that I wouldn’t have the opportunity again. I felt like in order to make a difference or to get somewhere in life, I had to be doing so many things and getting so many things done that I never gave myself the chance or the permission to slow down and just be. It’s always a reminder to myself that in order for me to efficiently and effectively take care of and be there for other people, I had to be able to do that for myself too.
My hope and goal with all these experiences that I have is be able to provide integrative care for people. With my nutrition background, I want to be able to share how food can definitely heal the body from the inside out. I want to be able to use that to help people who are wanting to make a lifestyle change and to incorporate more alternative ways of therapy in the healthcare field. I’m always learning (definitely a lifelong student) and always meeting new people, and I love supporting others who have similar goals and values as I do in any way that I can.
What’s your story? Why do you do what you do? I’d love to hear from you!