• Missionary Spotlight: Get to Know OHI Missionary, Amber Hicks

    Amber Hicks grew up in a family that was health conscious and focused on prevention, but it wasn’t a specific health concern that eventually brought her to OHI.  In 2017 Amber lost someone close to her in an unimaginable way.  “I was really struggling to deal with the loss,” said Amber.  “I stopped doing many of the things I loved, and wasn’t living a very healthy lifestyle for a while.  I knew I needed a change.  My parents offered to send me to OHI, so in September 2018 I spent my first week at the San Diego campus.  While I was grateful to get away and eat healthy, I didn’t have any idea about the true changes I would experience that week.”

    Amber’s first stay at OHI was more than she could have hoped for.  “Before I came, I was tired, had brain fog, insomnia, stress, and anxiety, like many of us do,” said Amber.  “Halfway through the juice fast, I started to feel so much better, and I was able to sleep at night.  By the end of the week, I had lost weight, had a clear head, and more energy than I’d had in a long time.  While I really enjoyed the juice fast and the food, I especially benefitted from the classes.  The facilitators are so knowledgeable and passionate about what they teach.  I learned how intertwined our diet and mindset are with our physical, mental, and spiritual health.  Best of all, I learned different tools to let go of past trauma and grief.  I actually felt free and happy again.  The culmination of the week for me was the Release Ceremony.  It was honestly life-changing, and was just what I needed.”

    Amber’s first stay with OHI multiplied into three separate stays, which then led her into the OHI missionary program.  “I know how I felt after one week here.  I couldn’t imagine how great I’d feel after three months of detoxing and healing my body, mind, and spirit, and being able to support others to do the same,” said Amber.  “I was a full-time caregiver to my grandparents for the last 2-1/2 years, and when they passed away at the incredible age of 99, I decided to spend my transitionary time after their deaths at OHI, and start the next chapter of my life in the healthiest way possible.”

    Amber completely immersed herself in her new role.  “I love so many things about this program,” said Amber, “but I’d have to say the best thing about being a missionary is the fellowship.  I’ve become very close with my fellow missionaries.  We all support each other, and have formed lifelong friendships.  Being a missionary has really changed my thinking, and has given me a better sense of the type of life I want to live and the kind of people I want in it.”

    While Amber has benefitted from all of the classes at OHI, she does have a favorite.  “The Mental and Emotional Detox classes have had the most impact on me,” said Amber.  “We can actually rewire our brains and better our lives just by changing our thoughts and actions.  I find the science behind it fascinating!”

    Amber has noticed a change in herself after going through the OHI missionary program.  “I’ve always been a pretty positive person,” said Amber, “but being here has taken it to a new level.  I really do feel genuinely happy, at peace, and grateful every day.  I meditate regularly, and continue to learn and grow.  My life going forward is full of exciting opportunities and possibilities!”

    Optimum Health Institute is here for you! We will motivate you to stick with your commitment to health and discover new ways to empower yourself. Explore the holistic healing program offered at OHI. This program offers three week-long sessions, where you will learn to cleanse the body, quiet the mind and awaken the spirit. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.


  • Nurturing Yourself With Nature

    At OHI, our entire focus is helping support your on your healing journey through life.  We extol the virtues of an organic, raw, plant-based diet because we know that is the best way to nourish your body and mind.  We teach you all about meditation, and journaling, and vocal toning so that you can nourish your spirit.  But there is one key way to nourish your body/mind/spirit that we don’t teach a formal class on at OHI.  We simply let our beautiful campus set the example — everyone should spend time nurturing yourself with NATURE.  And now that summer is coming, consider the beautiful weather and longer hours of daylight your personal invitation to GET OUTDOORS!

    Why?  Being outside and communing with nature has some serious health perks:

    1. 1. Soak up the Vitamin D: When you’re outside in the sun, your vitamin D levels increase.  According to Harvard Medical School, vitamin D helps fight off conditions including osteoporosis, cancer, heart attacks, and depression.  As many as three-quarters of the population is vitamin D deficient from spending too much time indoors.
    2. 2. Improve Mood: Being exposed to light has been shown to improve happiness levels and mood.  So take advantage of those extended summer hours of daylight, and drink in the natural outdoor light.  It’ll lift your spirits!
    3. 3. Exercise in the Sunshine: Working out in your home during the pandemic is a great choice, but with the warm summer weather upon us now is the perfect time to exercise outside.  Put on your walking shoes, and go for a jog or take a lap around an easy walking path.  Get your heart rate up while you soak in the sunshine to get those mood-enhancing endorphins to kick in.
    4. 4. De-Stress in Nature: Spending time in the great outdoors has been shown to reduce stress levels, anger, and aggression.  If those stresses aren’t mitigated, they can elevate your blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension, and negatively impact how your nervous, endocrine, and immune systems are working.  Reverse all that negativity with a quick walk around the block!

    At each of our OHI campuses, we put in many hours to keep our grounds and landscaping in full seasonal beauty.  Why?  When people go through our program, they slow down and literally stop to smell the roses.  They notice God in nature, and this is one of the spiritual disciplines embedded within our program, as important as prayer and meditation.  To nurture oneself with nature is to see God in the beauty of the world — in the plants and flowers, in the birds and animals, and in the fruits and vegetables that nourish our bodies every day.

    Studies show that time in nature increases our ability to pay attention.  Because humans find nature inherently interesting, we naturally focus on what we are experiencing outside.  This provides a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks.  Spend some time in nature, and pay attention to how each of your senses is responding:

    • What are you seeing?
    • What sounds are you hearing?
    • What scents are you inhaling?
    • What can you feel on your skin?
    • What tastes are you aware of?

    As CDC guidelines evolve in this pandemic and some state/counties are loosening travel restrictions, we encourage you to enjoy time outdoors in a way that is both smart and safe — please continue to wear a mask in public, wash your hands, and physically distance.  It’s a small effort to make to protect yourself and everyone around you.

    So, hug a tree, and enjoy the healing power of nature for yourself!

    Our caring staff is eager to give you all the unconditional support, inspiration, and transformational tools you need to bring your body, mind, and spirit into healthy balance in a serene, peaceful setting. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.

    “How does Nature Impact Our Wellbeing?”, takingcharge.csh.umn.edu

    “Why you should nurture yourself with nature”, myseniorhealthplan.com

    “Nurture Yourself in Nature,” by Judy Klipin, judyklipin.com

  • Guest Spotlight: Meet Sarah Meyer, a first-time guest at OHI Austin!

    Sarah Meyer is quite the globetrotter.  Her job has taken her around the world, living in far flung places like Afghanistan and Vietnam.  She currently resides in beautiful Tunisia, at the northernmost tip of Africa on the Mediterranean Sea, so she did not make the decision lightly to get on a plane amid a pandemic to come to OHI.  “I knew I needed help,” said Sarah.  “I was at a breaking point.  OHI seemed like the perfect medicine.”

    Sarah was diagnosed with MS in her early 30’s, and, still active at nearly 50 years old, has worked diligently to manage her health.  “I have lesions on my brain and spine,” said Sarah.  “I took medication for nine years, but after all those years of declining health and much research, I decided to focus my emphasis on nutrition.  I became ‘plant-based’ on Thanksgiving night, 2011.  So many of my health problems (e.g. persistent vertigo, eczema, etc.) resolved so quickly that I didn’t feel the need to ‘prove’ the positive impacts of my diet changes until 2015 with an MRI, which showed that my lesions were either stable or had reduced.  My neurologist said it was probably a fluke, but year after year my MRIs showed improvement.  I decided to stop taking injectable MS drugs in 2014, which my neurologist said was a terrible mistake, and still my lesions remained stable or continued reducing.  By 2018, my doctor just shook his head in amazement, and told me to keep doing what I was doing.  I can tell you from personal experience that nutrition is absolutely vital to continued good health.”

    In late 2020, however, Sarah started having severe trouble walking, and her MRI showed four new lesions on her brain (the first new lesions since 2010).  “My diet hadn’t changed at all,” said Sarah, “but I was under tremendous stress.  My professional workload was heavy, but that was not new; however, working in-person in an office during a pandemic was very stressful, particularly given so many unknowns about COVID.  I could see I would eventually be in a wheelchair if something didn’t give.  I was talking to a friend, and she suggested OHI.  I looked at their website, and it checked all the boxes for me — organic, vegan diet, strict COVID protocols, and time and space to work on my mindset.  I booked a 3-week stay right away.”

    Sarah immediately connected with the staff and missionaries at OHI.  “They were all so supportive,” said Sarah.  “Cheryl Green was instrumental in changing my thinking.  She said to me, ‘It’s not just the food, maybe it’s your mood’.  I suddenly realized I needed to pay attention to my stress, and add more fun into my life.  As soon as I changed my perspective, my body responded.”

    Sarah’s stress made it difficult for her to maintain weight.  The classes in digestion and food combining were pivotal for her.  “The idea that you have to slow down your eating, thoroughly chew everything, and not drink for an hour or two after eating to give your body time to absorb the nutrients seems so obvious now,” said Sarah.  “It’s a game changer.  It solves all sorts of problems like irregularity and weight loss.  Since leaving OHI, my weight has held steady at a much higher, healthier number.  The simplicity of the OHI program is what makes it so meaningful.”

    Sarah also enjoyed the Deep Breathing class.  “It helped me get so much more out of meditation,” said Sarah.  “I feel like my health is my own again.  Thank you OHI!  And for anyone interested in a blog about my personal MS journey, they can read more at www.blessedwithms.org.”

    Optimum Health Institute is here for you! We will motivate you to stick with your commitment to health and discover new ways to empower yourself. Explore the holistic healing program offered at OHI. This program offers three week-long sessions, where you will learn to cleanse the body, quiet the mind and awaken the spirit.

    Call OHI at (800) 588-0809 or visit www.OptimumHealth.org today for more information.

  • Scholarship Recipient, Hiba Zananiri, Finds a Change of Perspective through OHI

    Born in Jordan, Hiba Zananiri came to San Francisco with her family before the age of 2.  She works as a makeup artist, and also with an association for au pairs, supporting them and their host family on their 1-2 year cultural exchange commitment.

    “Coming to America can be a big adjustment for young people,” said Hiba.  “Embracing change really is a journey.”

    In 2018, Hiba was rear ended in a serious car accident, and was left with tremendous back pain.  “My friend told me about OHI.  I became a Christian at the age of 21, and my friend told me that OHI’s Christian values would set the tone to take advantage of this health opportunity.  But even working my two part-time jobs still left the cost out of reach for me.  I applied for the scholarship, and was thrilled when my application was accepted.  The scholarship gave me the chance to do something no one in my whole family has ever done — take time for ME!”

    Hiba immersed herself in the OHI program.  “I learned so much about food, healthy body treatments, and lymphatic exercise,” said Hiba.  “The breath work exercises were life-changing — so simple, yet so effective!  The amazing teachers made all the difference.  And the most unexpected outcome from my time at OHI is that I met my best friend.  It was the first stay for both of us, so we really bonded.  Outside of OHI, we happen to live very near each other, so we hang out all the time now.  It has been a huge blessing in my life.”

    OHI helped Hiba change many habits for good.  “I do the lymphatic workout all the time,” smiled Hiba.  “I practice my breath work, and make it a point to incorporate raw foods into every meal.  I know I’m getting real health benefits from every raw veggie I eat.”

    But OHI’s biggest gift was an adjustment to Hiba’s perspective.  “I used to walk around carrying the burden of trying to share my love of God with every single person I met,” said Hiba.  “But OHI showed me that everyone is dealing with different challenges.  I needed to give up the burden of responsibility, and trust that God will take care of everyone Himself.  That trust means when I share my love of God with people I feel more loving and relaxed about it.  I know that God is sovereign and I’m grateful to be led by Him, and trust His plans for everyone.”

    Please consider contributing to the OHI Scholarship Fund to help those in need experience the benefits of the OHI program. Over the course of our 44 years, OHI has provided scholarships to individuals who could not afford to otherwise attend. In most years, we have been able to fulfill all requests for assistance through the generosity of our community. OHI invites you to join with us in celebrating our healing mission with a tax-deductible gift. Your contribution will help to make our community stronger, healthier, and more vibrant.

    Provide the Gift of Healing today by supporting the OHI Scholarship Fund with a tax-deductible:
    • One-Time Donation, or
    • Sustainable Monthly Contribution

    Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, or call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your contribution.

    Thank you for your generosity!

    Optimum Health Institute is a non-profit, religious organization. Your donation is tax-deductible.


  • Staff Spotlight: Introducing Pharon Wilson, Kitchen & Growhouse Manager at OHI Austin!

    Pharon Wilson laughingly says he ended up working at OHI by accident.  “I have been a guest at OHI seven times,” he said, “and I’ve loved every minute of it.  I was strongly considering applying to be a missionary at OHI, but when I went on the website for the application, I noticed that they had a job opening for a Kitchen & Growhouse Manager.  I thought, why bother becoming a missionary for three months when I could take this opportunity to work at OHI full time.  I’ve now been at OHI for 2 years, and I couldn’t be happier!”

    Pharon had an impressively diverse work history leading up to OHI.  He graduated from the University of Texas, Austin, with a degree in Communication Disorders.  He worked at Procter & Gamble for 19 years in sales and product supply, then moved on to attend culinary school in Manhattan at the Natural Gourmet Institute of Food and Health.  He took his newfound culinary certification to New Orleans, and started his own catering and wellness business.  He also opened his own healthy café, and taught cooking to kids.  After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Pharon moved to Los Angeles and worked as a chef for a healthy home meal delivery business, creating custom meals for clients with specific dietary needs (heart-healthy, diabetes-friendly, etc) for two years.  He then moved on to Cincinnati to start an early childhood school for students aged 6 weeks -14 years old.  The school was based on restorative practices, and focused on empathy and creativity.  He had been in Cincinnati for five years when his father suddenly got sick, so in 2017 Pharon moved back to Texas to care for him.  After a year of care, his father recovered, and that’s when Pharon felt ready to take on his next adventure, and began working at OHI.  “I had a deep desire to work in the wellness sector,” said Pharon.  “OHI is a great fit for my passion and values.”

    As the Kitchen & Growhouse Manager, Pharon manages the kitchen and growhouse operations (preparing food for guests, and growing wheatgrass and sprouts), and also teaches food preparation classes.  “I teach four classes — Sprouting, Dehydrated Foods, Fermented Foods, and Wheatgrass Growing,” said Pharon.  “Each week, guests come to OHI with varying health opportunities and needs, so each teaching experience is different depending on what the guests’ interests are.  It’s never boring!”

    Having been a guest at OHI many times helps Pharon connect with guests.  “I understand that there will be low and high points throughout a detox,” said Pharon.  “I can definitely empathize with that because I’ve done it myself.  I know that I have to be present in the moment and put the guest’s needs first.  On a personal note, my mother passed away from colon cancer several years ago, so I think differently about life now.  I know how fragile it is, and yet how amazingly strong and resilient people can be.  I am so happy to support guests on their individual journeys of growth and change while they’re here at OHI.”

    Pharon’s personal wellness journey has led him to consider his own habits, and what he should let go.  “I have become much less attached to the outcome,” said Pharon.  “I now see the value in the journey itself.  Goals are so important, but when you’re working on yourself, you can’t be so invested in achieving the outcome that you try to tackle too much change at once.  That’s setting yourself up for failure.  If you can find one thing that really speaks to you and work on that, then you’re more likely to embrace that change for good.”

    Optimum Health Institute is here for you! We will motivate you to stick with your commitment to health and discover new ways to empower yourself. Explore the holistic healing program offered at OHI. This program offers three week-long sessions, where you will learn to cleanse the body, quiet the mind and awaken the spirit.

    Call OHI at (800) 588-0809 or visit www.OptimumHealth.org today for more information.