How one woman turned pain into a healing retreat.
Words by Paige Townley
or Diana, it all started about 15 years ago when she was suffering from a multitude of health issues—everything from chronic fatigue syndrome and weight gain to thyroiditis and debilitating pain. After receiving no real help from traditional doctors—only medications that just added to her illness—she decided to take action herself. She began by eliminating foods from her diet that were weighing her down, eventually adopting a raw food diet. That decision led to not only a healthier life for Diana—she lost 100 pounds, cured her conditions, and increased her energy level—but also help for others as she penned her first book, Get Naked Fast! A Guide to Stripping Away the Foods That Weigh You Down.
Now—14 books later, with a 10-day detox program called The Naked Challenge, and Truth Bar, a line of prebiotic and probiotic gut health bars—Diana has toured the country to talk with others to help them find hope, help, and healing.“That’s my purpose in life,” Diana explains. “Everyone has to find their purpose, and for me it has always been about helping. If I couldn’t help people with my life, I don’t even know what I would do.”
That outlook was tested once again years later when she was faced with a divorce. Diana didn’t know what she was going to do with the rest of her life—she just kept having recurring dreams about being on a mountaintop overlooking the ocean. At the very same time—on the very same day her divorce was finalized—her mother’s husband passed away. “I went to see my mother, and she mentioned to me that she could no longer pay for some property she had purchased in Costa Rica,” Diana says. “On a whim, I told her I’d buy it from her, which I did, site unseen.”
Three months later, Diana finally visited the property, and immediately her dreams—her renewed purpose in life—came into view. “I got there and stood out on the mountain and looked out at the incredible view, and my knees shook,” she says. “It was all meant to be. Everything. I realized everything had happened in order for me to get there. I could suddenly make sense of my di
vorce. The universe conspired to make my dream could true.”
With purpose in place, Diana set out to build The Retreat Costa Rica, a wellness resort and spa where people can come to feel their best. But while the vision was there, the road to achieve it was seemingly blocked by great difficulties. “I was focusing all of my grief and sadness into a project that I felt would help other people, but I had no idea what I was doing,” she says. “It was hard, and I constantly feared bankruptcy. But I kept saying a specific prayer—from A Course in Miracles—that seeks to release yourself of your own mind. Every time I did that, the money would show up and we could keep going.”
The Retreat opened nearly five years ago, and it offers programs to tackle whatever a guest may need, whether it’s daily yoga, cooking classes, hikes, or simply downtime. “We try to keep the program really light so that people can actually relax into it,” Diana explains. “People need the time and space to relax, which is really healing in itself.”
Earlier this year, Diana completed The Retreat’s luxury spa,Vida Mia, which is another method Diana employs to help others heal. Being literally built on a crystal quartz mountain, the spa provides all sorts of treatments for those looking for health, beauty, relaxation, and healing. “I believe wellness is like a blank canvas,” Diana says. “You get to paint the picture you want for yourself. So that’s where the healing is—in the space that’s in between.”
In just the last few years, The Retreat has received numerous awards and accolades, from “Best Wellness Spa of the Americas” to the “#1 Detox Spa Worldwide.” While the road to get there hasn’t been an easy one, it has been a healing one, not only for the resort’s many visitors, but for Diana too. “We all have adversity in our lives—whether it’s divorce or death—but we can turn it around into something beautiful to help the world,” she says. “Our pain is given to us in order to heal the world.