Cristi Cuellar, PT
Cristi has evolved into Austin’s “Holistic” Physical Therapist and loves the title. She has over 13 years of experience as a Physical Therapist, working with all types of patients ranging from high school athletes to 80-year-old runners. Cristi takes pride in providing high quality, one-on-one care. She listens to the patient’s whole story, which can give her clues into what the root cause of their pain may be. Cristi is passionate about healing through conscious exercise, and she encourages all patients to return to their favorite sport. She enjoys teaching Pilates, Yoga and even meditation techniques to eliminate pain and improve patient’s flexibility and strength.
Cristi specializes in dry needling, a highly sought after manual technique acquired by skilled Physical Therapists. This special treatment uses thin filiform needles (acupuncture needles) to reduce muscle spasms, increase joint mobility, and improved athletic performance.
Cristi has a Bachelor’s of Health and Science Degree from Baylor University and a Master of Physical Therapy Degree from Texas State University. As a licensed Physical Therapist , she has various continuing education certifications in Dry Needling, Exercise Correction, Reformer Pilates, Manual Therapy, YogaFit, Qigong, and Kinesiotaping techniques. She has also been part of the CHEK (Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology) Institute as a Holistic Lifestyle coach for over 4 years.
CRISTI’S HEALTH JOURNEY
Cristi is not shy about sharing her personal journey of what true health is: a balance of physical, nutritional, and mental power. She believes that when one of these systems are not cared for, the body will show illness.
A STRONG PHYSIQUE
Cristi’s health journey began as a 15-year old track and field athlete and cheerleader. She fell off a cheerleading stunt, injuring her ACL which required surgery. This is when she first experienced her leg muscles shrinking and grew curious about muscle growth. Fast forward 12 years. While working as a traveling physical therapist in Las Vegas, she soon found herself burned out from the party lifestyle and became influenced by a co-worker who was a bodybuilder. Cristi grew interested about what it would take to compete, and she decided to give it a go. She wanted to get healthy. She thought that having a strong muscular body would fix the fatigue and digestive problems she had. Cristi won her first ever competition. She
learned that perseverance and commitment to a health plan can produce amazing results-a total body transformation. Strong shoulders, ripped abs, and a tighter tush. The dare to wear a bikini in front of hundreds of people even boosted her self-confidence. After that, she competed about twice a year in various federation of organizations from 2007-2011. She was sponsored by several supplement lines and featured as a writer for various fitness magazines and had countless fitness model opportunities.
It was in 2010 that she noticed her life was consumed by making her outer appearance look “perfect” for the judges, and how her inside was starting to suffer. She began to have reoccurring sinus infections- 6 of them to be exact. This wrecked her metabolism and energy. It was around 2012 when she met her first functional medicine doctor who explained how to heal her gut.
THE GLUTEN-FREE LIFE
Cristi lives the gluten-free lifestyle and proud of it. Healing the gut is her #1 priority. In 2012 she discovered that her on-the-go lifestyle wreaked havoc on her gut, causing severe food allergies, hormone imbalances and gut dysbiosis. Although some think that being diagnosed with Celiac Disease (a form of severe gluten allergy) would be a curse, she saw it as an opportunity to make clean eating a lifestyle. She noticed refined foods were creating inflammation in her body. She then noticed other people going through the same thing, especially her patients with chronic pain. Most of her patients followed the SAD diet (Standard American Diet). Although diet is not in the scope of physical therapy, Cristi brings up the correlation between food and inflammation in the body.
THE MIND: THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF FITNESS
Cristi has gone through her own health challenges with adrenal dysfunction and has found that simply going to sleep earlier is not the only answer to balancing out stress. She realized she wasn’t giving herself enough self compassion. Relaxation is crucial for everyone, and it can be achieved through passive resting activities and hobbies. One of the most powerful tools for overcoming stress is meditation. People think that meditation is sitting down with your eyes closed, but there are so many other forms.
For example, Qigong is moving and meditating. While another form of meditation may require sitting, such as praying before a meal. The biggest thing here, is taking time to quiet your mind. You must turn the negative thoughts into grateful realizations.
Cristi would not be where she is today without the health challenges she has been through in the last several years. Her holistic wellness foundation inspires others to turn pain into power. Her journey has led her to become a lifelong patient of the Functional Medicine model. She is a great practitioner because she can help you feel good, look good, and do good.