Profiles in Recovery

Cali Estes

As an addiction therapist and life coach, Estes’ high-profile clientele includes rock musicians, corporate CEOs, notable actors and athletes.

“I have worked with some of the most famous and powerful people in the world, yet when I see them, they are at their worst,” says Estes, who has shared her insights on “Dr. Drew,” CNN and other national media. “I feel like a proud momma bear when one of my clients gets and stays sober.”

It was Estes’ personal odyssey — a tortuous food and diet pill addiction — that motivated her to help others. Today she draws on two decades of recovery — along with a Ph.D. in psychology, national certification as an addiction professional, and her skills as a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, personal trainer and yoga/pilates teacher to lead others to wellness.

Day Job:
CEO, The Addictions Coach and The Addictions Academy.

What I lost to addiction:
My food addiction turned into a pill addiction that cost me my heath. I have permanent heart damage, a thyroid issue, an adrenal gland issue and a lot of the time simply don’t feel ‘well.’

Most people wake up full of energy ready to start the day. I drag myself out of bed and drink 4 cups of strong coffee just to get my adrenal glands up to normal. I can’t tolerate the heat or the cold and I have worn all the enamel off my teeth and they are falling out and breaking . . . Being told at 23 yrs old that I was going to die was a wake- up call for me.

At my worst, I was:
90 pounds (at 5’ 2”) and thought I looked good. I had poor self-image, was living in a house with no running water and no heat and could not function. I was a junkie and a slave to the pills and food.

Hitting rock bottom:
I was totally addicted to pills. I could not sleep, I was up all night, my heart hurt, I had headaches. I went to a doctor — he told me at 23, I was eating the lining of my heart and would be dead in a year. . . . My rock bottom was my ‘hell year’ of trying to kick a pill and a food addiction together with virtually no help and no insurance.

Best advice for newbies:
Stick with it. Get a Coach. Every good coach has Coach.

What worked for me:
I ended up in a Yoga class and learned Balance, Breathing, Calming and Centering. I learned to take 20 minutes to do Yoga before I raided the fridge and take my emotions to the Yoga mat instead of the kitchen. I cried on the Yoga mat, I had tantrums on the Yoga mat and I got sober on the Yoga Mat. Now I’m the crazy lady in Target doing a Swan pose to kill a craving.

Rules I live by:
I believe in Karma. I refuse to lie, cheat or steal because I believe that it will come back to me. I believe that to be successful, I must help others achieve their goals. It’s the universal Law of Energy. I gave $50,000 in student scholarships in the past six months to people who want to help others change their lives and yet had no extra cash to make the career switch.

On my bucket list:
Visit every state and National Park. Open a no-kill animal shelter rescue.

When cravings come:
I eat fruit, exercise and do Yoga. I call friends, I write a letter, I go for a walk. I stay busy and let the feelings pass…they take 20 minutes. I will do Mike Tyson’s ‘Death Squats” in 20 minutes and by the time I am done, the cravings are gone. My serotonin in my brain has jumped and I feel good.

Stigma I faced:
Food Addiction is not ‘a real addiction.’ I assure you it is. Doctors also dole out diet pills like candy and think that is the solution. It is not. Getting to the root cause of any addiction is the solution.

On finding purpose:
Purpose and Passion in life are keys to staying sober. You need to find where you fit and where your ‘tribe’ of like-minded people hangs out and join the group. The most sought-after things in life are: 1) Where you fit in; and 2) What your purpose in life is. And if you can achieve these two items you will not want to use drugs and alcohol or even food. You will be content and excited to live each day to the fullest.

Shed the Stigma:
If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].