January 22, 2021

How IIN Transformed My Life, Featuring Lauren Cunningham

The IIN community is comprised of over 100,000 unique individuals from all over the world, but we all share similar stories of what IIN means to us and how it changed our lives. No matter the circumstances that brought us here, we’ve learned the journey toward health isn’t linear but rather filled with ups and downs that challenge us to grow into people who are capable of sparking real change in ourselves and others. In this series, you’ll hear from IIN students and graduates who share their inspiring stories about how IIN transformed their health, from physical to spiritual health and everything in between. These stories have the power to unite us in continuing our mission to spread the ripple effect of health and happiness, one Health Coach at a time.


Lauren is 23 years old and lives in East Tennessee. She is currently getting her masters of business administration at Lee University as well as completing the IIN Health Coach Training Program. She will finish both in the spring of 2021. Lauren loves cooking, watching football, and traveling.

Your health journey begins with a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease at 18 years old. Can you share what your experience was like up to and after diagnosis?

“About seven years before I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, my mom was diagnosed with Crohn’s. She had surgery and has been in remission ever since. My symptoms were different than hers, so we never suspected I had it.

“I went undiagnosed for a few years, which only made my case more severe. One month after being diagnosed, I graduated high school. That summer, my symptoms worsened. A couple of weeks before I started college, I ended up having a bowel obstruction – my intestines had closed because the inflammation was so severe. I spent a few days in the hospital, then continued my recovery at home.

“I started college, but six weeks later, I had another bowel obstruction. I was able to finish the semester but had to withdraw the next semester because I needed two surgeries.”

What did you know about nutrition and its connection to your condition?

“When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, autoimmune diseases were becoming increasingly prevalent. I was always told there was not much of a connection between food and disease; that eating healthy might help my symptoms but would not “heal” me. In college, most of my meals came from restaurants. I rarely cooked because I did not see the value of cooking or eating most of my meals at home.

“With the increase of autoimmune illnesses, some physicians are beginning to treat patients with diet and lifestyle. Only in the past few years have I received advice from my physicians regarding food. These conversations have been helpful but are typically very brief.”

After your initial surgeries allowed you to go into surgical remission from Crohn’s, what did you do?

“I went into surgical remission in 2016. I was symptom free for about 8–12 months before I relapsed. The reoccurrence of my symptoms after surgery was more frustrating than actually having to have surgery! I knew having surgery was not going to heal me, but I thought I would be in remission for longer than one year.”

“Although I had several flare-ups, I was able to finish college and graduate with a degree in accounting. I loved what I learned, but I knew I did not want to have a traditional accounting job. While I was in college, I became interested in holistic health – it started when I was introduced to essential oils by a good friend. I was shocked at how something that was not medicine could help me so much!”

“I have been blessed to have a wonderful gastroenterologist, and his wife practices Healing Touch (energy work often combined with massage therapy). I visited her when I was sick. My time with her also seemed to help my condition.”

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It seems like you were at a pivotal moment in your health journey – how did you finally decide to pursue your interest in holistic health?

“Enrolling at IIN was all about timing. If the opportunity had presented itself six months before, I probably would not have taken it. I was in the middle of a big flare-up, and I just felt like there had to be more I could do. I did not want to live my life constantly in fear of when the next flare-up or surgery would be.”

“One day I came across something from IIN, and I was hooked. The more I read about IIN, the greater my interest became. It seemed to be the perfect fit. Given my interest in holistic health, no one was surprised when I decided to take classes at IIN. I started in March, right as the pandemic hit, and it was so nice to have something I was genuinely excited about during quarantine. It really did come at the perfect time!” 

How were you feeling when you started the IIN program? Did you notice changes in your health as you went through the program?

“When I started the program, I was in the middle of a flare-up. My doctor had scheduled a scan in March 2020 to address some of my issues. The scan was postponed until June because of COVID-19.

“After the scan in June, my doctor called to tell me I was in remission – I had no sign of active Crohn’s or inflammation! I knew I had been feeling better, but I was shocked I had gone into remission without having another surgery. If anything, this gave me an immense feeling of hope because I now know I can heal myself and it is possible to live my life without the constant plague of worry about my condition.”

What changes did you make to your diet and lifestyle?

“The biggest change has been cooking more at home. I figured out I love to cook and bake. Now, I cook and eat around 90% of my meals at home as opposed to eating from a restaurant. I also began to limit my sugar intake. Sugar is extremely inflammatory for me, and I can tell a huge difference when I limit my intake. Dairy is also a trigger for me, so I limit that as well. I truly understand how to listen to my body now.

“I have been blessed with a very supportive family. They are happy to see me so passionate about something! My gastroenterologist and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) specialist are also very happy I have begun to enact positive changes in my life.” 

How would you describe your overall IIN experience?

“My experience at IIN has been life-changing, and I am so proud to be associated with a school that is making such a positive difference in people’s lives. The most rewarding part of it all has been the process of learning, implementing, and then seeing a positive change in my own life.

“Before IIN, I suppressed my love for holistic health because I did not really understand it. It was different and not many people had an interest in it. IIN has connected me with like-minded people who have the ability to teach me and offer me community. I am so grateful for all the opportunities IIN has given me!”


Health transformation will not look the same from one person to the next, and that’s what IIN is all about – encouraging you to dig deep to figure out who you truly are and what makes you truly happy, fulfilled, and healthy! Our Health Coach Training Program has transformed the lives of over 100,000 people, and YOU could be next! Learn more about what makes our innovative curriculum so life changing by downloading our free Curriculum Guide today.

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