July 06, 2015

Wellness then...Wellness NOW

A Former Professional Athlete’s Wellness Shift

A Guest Blog by Wellness Coach, Caroline Stilwell Burckle

On the mat: Caroline Stilwell Burckle On the mat: Caroline Stilwell Burckle

Santa Barbara is known world-wide as a hub for wellness, yoga, and emphasis on healthy lifestyle, and thus attracts many people whose lives are devoted to these very things. This article serves as an introduction and a welcoming to a new Santa Barbara resident who we think ROCKS in many different ways and who has a lot to share with our wellness-focused community.

Caroline Stilwell Burckleis a former professional swimmer who, after taking home the Bronze Medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, was faced with the massive question of, “So what is next?” Being a driven and health-focused individual, she was forced to look closely at what she was truly passionate about and what she wanted to create with that passion. The following is a synopsis of that journey in wellness, from her former lifestyle as an pro swimmer, to her current one, here in Santa Barbara, as a fitness-yogi health coach.


Caroline with her Bronze Medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics Caroline with her Team and Bronze Medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics


  • Six hours in the pool a day
  • Two hours in the weight room
  • One hour dry-land cardio
  • Eight meals of heavy meats, pastas, sugary recovery drinks, and every protein bar or drink on the market
  • Gatorade. Not water.
  • Artificial ingredients in pretty much everything I put on my body, from lotions, shampoos, conditioners, perfumes.... CHLORINE!
  • Escaping emotions and blocking all feelings and just GOING.
  • Some Ice
  • Dash of Advil
  • Maintaining a “suck-it-up-or-bust” attitude



  • One workout a day for 1 hour or less: Focusing on High Impact strength training with yoga and running on odd days
  • Six small meals a day of a plant-based diet and lean fish. This includes minimal farm-meat (I don’t completely avoid), NO dairy, NO gluten, low sugar, and NO processed foods
  • Daily meditation to steady the mind of limiting thoughts and beliefs
  • Herbal teas and Probiotic Tonics
  • WATER. WATER. WATER. (And some wine...)
  • And committing to a new attitude of: “Honor your body, but push it to be the best it can be every day - in a healthy way”



The life of a Professional swimmer is incredible. Yes. And I'm grateful for all of those things got me to such a beautiful place: Standing on the podium in 2008 in Beijing, China, with a Bronze Medal being draped around my neck. However, I cannot help but to think... “what if I would have adopted my habits that I have now, back then? So many of my friends that are still competing at high levels have embarked upon the plant-based diet. Deemed as “risky” to so many, it has in fact proven to be such a driving force in the athletic world, time and time again.

Take Rich Roll, for example: A phenomenal Ultra Marathoner and Triathlete that has absolutely dominated the world with not only his physical feats, but also with his holistic lifestyle approach to a plant-based performance. His view of wellness has shifted from an unhealthy, unhappy lawyer, to a wild and free man, running miles upon miles with the purest of legumes and vegetables in his system.



The drastic change I felt and have experienced to overcome post-Olympic mental depression, physical depletion of nutrients, lack of self-love, and insecurity with my post-athletic body, was what finally sparked my undeniable passion to get my degrees in both design and wellness psychology. My vision is to create and shape the ultimate healthy canvas...YOU. The approach I take emphasizes that your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health is your wealth.

I recently moved back to California after a few years away and started my business while pursuing my Masters Degree. I always knew, deep in my heart, that I belonged by the ocean and mountains. I strongly believe that I did not choose Santa Barbara at this point in my life, but Santa Barbara chose me. I am here to help build a community of healthy individuals on ALL levels, not only physically. I strive to take each of you, through the power of a positive relationship, to the next level of your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. This community bursts with joy, beauty, vitality, health, positivity, and open-mindedness. I am excited to be part of this thriving community.


Join me on the journey. You can find me at www.stilwellness.com, where I do one-on-one health coaching and wellness consulting on Skype and/or in person. You can also catch me speaking and connecting with various groups on subjects such as reaching your personal goals, creating your vision for life, and realizing your DREAMS.

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