Prioritize Your Mental Health: Practices like meditation and mindfulness have been key in building my mental resilience. Regularly attending mindfulness workshops has drastically reduced my anxiety and cravings, giving me effective tools to manage my emotions and navigate challenges.
Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Gina Kunadian.
Gina Kunadian is a dedicated alcohol-free sobriety coach and the host of the top-ranked podcast show, ‘Shine Within’. Her life’s mission centers around guiding women to overcome alcohol dependency and live their lives to their fullest potential. Having personally triumphed over alcoholism, she brings compassion, insight, and an empowering approach to her coaching, helping numerous women navigate the journey of sobriety and self-discovery.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
My journey to where I am today has been a tumultuous one, marked by struggles that many silently endure but seldom share. As a child, I experienced trauma that left deep scars, shaping my early perceptions of the world and myself. This led to a series of turbulent relationships, including a destructive marriage where alcohol and drug abuse were mutual yet damaging coping mechanisms.
Life with my ex-husband, who grappled with his own addictions, was a continuous cycle of enablement and despair. We were both lost in our vices, with no clear path to escape. My life spiraled further out of control, leading to moments I never imagined possible — including time spent in jail. I was in a constant battle with my demons, and my attempts at sobriety were met with relapse after relapse. Desperate for change, I tried everything — inpatient and outpatient treatment, rehab, even AA — but nothing seemed to stick.
The turning point came unexpectedly, in a moment of complete surrender. Alone in my vehicle, tears mingling with the rain outside, I reached out to a higher power, begging for a miracle. I was at my lowest, consuming a fifth of vodka daily to merely function — at work, while driving, even when exercising.
My plea for help was answered in an unforeseen way. Hospitalized with pancreatitis, I faced a stark warning from my doctor: quit alcohol, or die within a decade. The thought of my children growing up without their mother struck a chord deep within me. I realized then that this was my opportunity for a new beginning.
In that hospital, undergoing a professional detox, I spent a week in solitude. It was just me, my spirit, and God. It was during this time that I made the unwavering decision to never touch alcohol again. It was not merely a choice, but a commitment to a new life — for myself and for my children.
That decision marked the start of a true transformation. It led me on a path of healing, self-discovery, and eventually, to a place where I could guide others through their own battles with addiction. My past, with all its pain and darkness, became the foundation upon which I built a new purpose — to help and inspire others who are where I once was.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
Since embarking on my journey as a sobriety coach, countless fascinating experiences have unfolded, but one in particular stands out. It was during the initial phase of my career, when I met a woman who, like me, had struggled profoundly with alcohol addiction. Her story mirrored mine in so many ways — from the depths of despair to the struggle for redemption. The most captivating part was how our paths intersected at a crucial turning point in her life.
This encounter taught me two invaluable lessons: the power of connection and the impact of sharing one’s own story. It highlighted how sharing personal experiences of overcoming addiction can profoundly influence others on similar paths. This woman found hope in my journey, seeing a reflection of her potential future in my past. It was a vivid reminder that by being open about our struggles and triumphs, we can be a beacon of hope and a source of strength for others.
This experience solidified my belief in the transformative power of empathy and vulnerability in coaching. It taught me that sometimes, the most effective way to guide someone is not just through structured strategies and techniques, but also by sharing the raw, unfiltered realities of our own lives.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In the early days of my sobriety coaching, a significant mistake I made was underestimating the diverse range of experiences and backgrounds of those struggling with addiction. I initially approached coaching with a somewhat uniform strategy, primarily based on my own journey to sobriety. However, I quickly realized that what worked for me might not resonate with everyone.
I recall a client who didn’t connect with the methods that had been instrumental in my recovery. This was a wake-up call. I learned that each individual’s path to sobriety is unique, shaped by their personal history, struggles, and strengths. This realization led me to broaden my approach, incorporating a more personalized and empathetic method, tailored to each client’s specific needs and circumstances.
The crucial lesson from this experience was the importance of flexibility and adaptability in coaching. It’s essential to listen deeply, understand each person’s unique story, and adapt strategies accordingly. This experience profoundly shaped my coaching philosophy, emphasizing the need to approach each client as an individual with a unique story, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. It was a humbling yet enlightening lesson in the art of truly personalized coaching.
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
As a women’s alcohol-free sobriety coach and podcast host, the core of my work revolves around guiding women through their journey of recovery and sobriety. This mission has far-reaching impacts on health and wellness, both for individuals and communities.
The work I do helps women break free from the cycle of alcohol dependency, a struggle that’s often hidden and stigmatized. By creating a safe space for women to share their experiences and challenges, I’m not only aiding their recovery but also fostering a deeper understanding of addiction and sobriety in society. This understanding is critical for removing the stigma around addiction, promoting mental and emotional well-being, and encouraging more open discussions about these issues.
Moreover, my podcast, ‘Shine Within’, serves as a platform to spread awareness and inspire women globally. The stories shared and the insights offered on the show resonate with listeners worldwide, providing them with the tools and motivation to embark on or continue their sobriety journey. In doing so, the podcast contributes to a larger cultural shift towards healthier lifestyles and more holistic approaches to wellness.
Ultimately, by supporting individual women on their sobriety journeys and amplifying their voices through my podcast, I’m contributing to a broader movement that values mental health, personal growth, and overall wellness. This work not only transforms individual lives but also has a ripple effect, impacting families, communities, and potentially, future generations.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
1 . Embrace a Nourishing Morning Routine:
I start my day with a routine that includes meditation for mental clarity, followed by a nutritious breakfast and light exercise like yoga. This combination sets a positive tone for my day, reinforcing discipline vital for my sobriety journey and overall wellbeing.
2 . Build a Supportive Community: I’ve found immense value in surrounding myself with people who support my sobriety goals. Joining hobby groups where sobriety is a common thread has helped me build friendships with those sharing similar lifestyles and values, providing crucial emotional support.
3 . Commit to Regular Physical Activity: Exercise, such as daily walks or yoga classes, releases endorphins, improving mood and reducing stress. For me, these activities have become productive ways to fill time previously occupied by unhealthy habits, serving both my physical health and mental focus.
4 . Prioritize Your Mental Health: Practices like meditation and mindfulness have been key in building my mental resilience. Regularly attending mindfulness workshops has drastically reduced my anxiety and cravings, giving me effective tools to manage my emotions and navigate challenges.
5 . Explore New Hobbies and Interests: Engaging in new hobbies like painting, cooking, or learning a musical instrument has filled the void left by old habits. These activities provide a sense of accomplishment and joy, acting as positive distractions and contributing to my sense of fulfillment and wellbeing.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
If I were to ignite a movement for enhancing wellness, it would blossom into a series of retreats designed exclusively for women.
The vision for these retreats is deeply rooted in my own journey and professional experience. Having worked closely with countless individuals as a Certified Massage Therapist at the Four Seasons Hotel for nearly 17 years, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of a nurturing touch and a peaceful environment. These retreats would embody this essence, offering a blend of wellness activities tailored to rejuvenate both the body and soul.
Each retreat would start with storytelling workshops. Here, women can share their stories in a supportive space, finding strength in vulnerability and solidarity. It’s about acknowledging our past, embracing our present, and envisioning a future where we are the truest versions of ourselves. These sessions aim to inspire and foster a sense of camaraderie among participants.
Nature walks and guided breathwork sessions would follow, allowing women to reconnect with the natural world and their inner selves. These activities are designed to ground participants, helping them find balance and tranquility in the rhythm of nature. The mini spa treatments, including personalized massage sessions, would offer a sensory journey, aiding in physical relaxation and mental clarity.
The retreats would also include fun and engaging games that promote laughter and light-heartedness, essential for emotional wellbeing. These activities are carefully chosen to encourage spontaneous joy and playfulness, often lost in the hustle of everyday life.
The culmination of the retreat — a dance party with mocktails — symbolizes a celebration of life, sobriety, and sisterhood. It’s a declaration of finding joy and fulfillment without alcohol, surrounded by a community of supportive women. This final event is more than just a party; it’s a powerful statement of liberation and joy.
Overall, the retreats are designed to be a holistic experience. They offer a blend of physical relaxation, emotional release, and spiritual awakening. It’s about providing tools and experiences that empower women to lead a balanced, joyful, and alcohol-free life. My goal is to create a movement where women can continuously support and uplift each other, fostering a community that thrives on empathy, strength, and shared wisdom.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Here are my “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started,” based on my experiences:
- It’s Okay to Start Small: Before I began my journey, I wish someone had told me the power of small beginnings. I learned that every significant change starts with a single step, and it’s okay to start where you are, with what you have.
- Healing is Not Linear: In my path toward sobriety and helping others, I realized that healing and growth are not linear processes. There will be ups and downs, but each phase is a vital part of the journey.
- Your Story is Your Strength: Initially, I was hesitant to share my personal struggles with alcohol and my past traumas. Over time, I learned that my story is not just mine — it’s a source of hope and inspiration for others.
- Self-Care is Essential, Not Selfish: I wish someone had emphasized the importance of self-care early in my career. Taking care of your mental, physical, and emotional well-being isn’t selfish; it’s crucial for sustainable success and helping others effectively.
- Community is Invaluable: Finally, the significance of a supportive community was something I underestimated. Having a network of like-minded individuals for support, advice, and encouragement makes a world of difference in both personal and professional growth.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
In my journey, both as an individual and a coach, the cause closest to my heart is mental health. My experiences have taught me that mental wellness is the foundation upon which we build all aspects of a fulfilling life. This is especially crucial in the realm of sobriety and addiction recovery, where mental health plays a pivotal role.
I’ve witnessed firsthand how addressing mental health can be transformative. It’s not just about overcoming challenges like addiction; it’s about unlocking one’s full potential, nurturing resilience, and fostering a deeper sense of self-awareness and self-compassion. Mental health is the core from which we can grow in all other aspects of life, be it personal sustainability, making conscious lifestyle choices like veganism, or contributing positively to environmental change.
My commitment to mental health is rooted in my belief that when we are mentally well, we are more equipped to make decisions that benefit not only ourselves but also our communities and the planet. It’s a ripple effect — starting from the individual and extending outwards, creating a wave of positive change.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
For those eager to explore my journey and the impactful work I do, numerous avenues are available to stay connected. My main platform, my website https://www.ginakunadian.com, is a comprehensive resource for sobriety coaching, wellness, and personal development. Here, you can access the ‘6-Step Blueprint to an Alcohol-Free Life’, a complimentary guide that I developed based on my own experience of achieving over six years of sobriety without AA.
I maintain an active presence across various social media platforms. You’re welcome to join my journey on Instagram @shine_ginakunadian, where I share daily inspiration, practical tips, and updates about my podcast. For more immersive content, you can also find me on Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, and YouTube under Gina Kunadian. My podcast, “Shine Within,” is available for streaming on popular platforms like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, offering a wealth of resources on sobriety, personal growth, and wellness.
I also have a supportive Facebook group titled “Awakened Souls: Women Embracing Sobriety and Spiritual Wholeness.” This community is a nurturing space for sharing, learning, and growing together with like-minded individuals committed to sobriety and personal growth.
Lastly, for more personalized interactions and to keep up with my latest offerings and events, I encourage you to subscribe to my newsletter through my website. Here, I share exclusive content, early access to new programs, and personal reflections that I don’t share anywhere else.
Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.
It’s an absolute pleasure to share my insights and experiences. Thank you for the opportunity to connect with your readers and for your kind wishes.
About the Interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com .