Khalil Rafati will be the first to tell you that he has an addictive personality. Although sexual abuse, neglect and being raised in a divorced family were all part of his childhood, he insists that his intense past addiction to drugs was only due to one thing: it just felt good.
“The negative consequences of having an addictive disposition is that it steered me toward an ongoing lifestyle of serious drug abuse,” he recounts. “It left me homeless and living on the streets of Los Angeles for 18 months.”
Now living a life of optimum health and becoming a role model and business owner focused on overall wellness, Rafati can look back at his drug addiction with a completely different perspective. From the looks of it, you’d almost think that he’s found a way to cure his soul with his sobriety. He now uses his obsessive traits to completely commit to sobriety and it has led to some very tangible and fulfilling accomplishments.
A Healthy Business
During his path to recovery, Rafati regularly attended 12-Step meetings, discovered yoga, meditation, healthy eating, cleansing and organic smoothies and food. “The single thing that changed my life around was when a friend introduced me to juicing and superfoods,” he says. “The results were remarkable and instantaneous.”
This was further confirmed when Rafati opened Riviera Recovery Center, a transitional living facility to support addicts in their quest for sobriety, and found himself preparing these same healthy superfood smoothies and cleansing juice blends for patients, staff and friends. “So many outsiders came to Riviera Recovery just to enjoy one of my smoothies,” he says. “It even became a bit embarrassing since many of these people were not part of the Riviera Recovery program. When I saw firsthand how much their health improved with healthy and cleansing smoothies, I knew I had to open SunLife Organics…it was inevitable.”
Rafati opened the first store in Malibu, California in 2011 with a simple mission: “to love, heal and inspire.” Now, SunLife Organics is a rapidly growing juice and smoothie chain and Rafati is continuing his mission of spreading a message of healthy eating for a healthy life. Rafati strongly believes he is a living testimony to how food can heal. He has literally traveled the world to search for organic nutrients and proudly says, “We take meticulous care whenever we introduce a new ingredient to our store menus. Not just a new product, but each and every ingredient must contribute to the body’s health.”
Rafati’s commitment to wellness also includes educating his 175 employees. “Knowledge of our products will ensure that our customers receive the greatest benefits from our nourishing and life enhancing products. Whether someone needs a boost to their immune system or a cleansing smoothie, our employees can guide them to the best option to reach their health goals.”
The pink lotus, found in the SunLife Organics logo, symbolizes this rapidly growing business because, as Rafati says on the company website, “From the mud and the darkness and dirt grows a beautiful flower. That's why I chose the name SunLife. Life in the Sun. It's not just a catchy name and logo, it's who I am."
Today, Rafati’s passions include more than just healthy eating. He also owns a yoga studio called Malibu Beach Yoga, and enjoys activities such as traveling, running, surfing and paddle boarding. “I actually feel the closest to a Higher Power when I am riding a wave,” he says.
Rafati has documented his astonishing life story in an autobiography titled I Forgot to Die, where he details his countless struggles through drug addiction, homelessness and loneliness, and how he has overcome it all.
Thirteen years ago, Rafati decided to make one simple lifestyle change that later carved out a whole new reason to live. He’s now dedicated himself to spreading the message that “health can heal.” According to Rafati, “People must know they can change. If they have pain or if they are suffering, change is one thousand percent possible. What is needed is a belief in a higher power and a method to reaching your goals.”
Next week, on June 15, 2016, exactly 13 years to the day that he entered rehab, Rafati will return to the Pasadena Recovery Center Speaker Series to share his experiences and life story. For more information regarding this event, contact the Center at pasadenarecoverycenter.com.