20 Years of Wellness: Then & Now

This month marks 20 years of Sunlighten and we are truly grateful for the opportunity to help our customers with a quality product that promotes natural healing.  In this fast-paced world, wellness trends can come and go quickly. The world of wellness has transformed since our inception in 1999. Sunlighten began with the mission to perpetuate a shift from disease treatment to disease prevention.  Twenty years later, we are humbled to see that our efforts and the efforts of other like-minded brands and consumers have truly made a difference. 

According to the Global Wellness Institute, it wasn’t until the 21st century when “wellness” reached a tipping point. With a chronic disease and obesity crisis leading to unsustainable healthcare costs, the traditional medical establishment began to shift the focus to prevention and wellness.1  As technology prevailed and this information became more accessible to society, we evolved from fad miracle diets to more well-rounded concepts in self-care that encompass natural, whole foods, fitness and mindfulness.  

As we reflect over the last twenty years, we are reminded that Sunlighten exists because of personal healing experience with infrared therapy – a wellness trend that has stood the test of time.  We thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane to see what other wellness trends emerged during that time period and see which ones have lasted the test of time. While Brittney and Christina duked it out on the pop charts and Friends invaded every living room, you might have explored some of these top health crazes.


Wellness In the ‘90s


1990 – Fat-free Everything

If you turned on the television in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, you would see FAT-FREE boasting from nearly every food commercial. Food manufacturers removed fat from seemingly every product they could think to capitalize on the craze.  In order to remove fat without removing the flavor, brands added a whole lot of sugar. This did not help our health or our waistlines. A large study in JAMA found that following a low-fat diet didn’t lower the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke in postmenopausal women.2

FAD:  A nutritious diet should include a healthy balance of fats, carbs and protein. Most importantly, clean, natural foods (vs. processed fat-free products) is essential for health and longevity. 


1991 – Tighten & Tone with the Thighmaster

The Thighmaster became a household name following a 1991 infomercial featuring Suzanne Somers. After the commercial aired, the company sold 6 million of the devices in just over a year.3

FAD:  While the Thighmaster might have been great to tone the inner thighs, what about the outer thighs, or the calves or any other part of the body?  Not to mention that focusing on one part of the body is not going to burn fat; fat that covers the muscle you are trying to tone. Resistance bands provide a better solution for strengthing and toning various muscle groups, including the thighs. 


1992 – Tae Bo Makes a Mark on Fitness

90s fitness guru, Billy Blanks trained his celebrity clientele by combining martial arts with dance for high-impact cardio that burns hundreds of calories per workout.  In 1992, Blands trademarked Tae Bo (stands for Total Awareness of Excellent Body Obedience) as a hybrid of Tae Kwon Do and boxing. By the late nineties, millions were shadowboxing and doing high kicks guided by Billy on VHS tapes.4

REAL: While the Tae Bo brand may have faded away, the high-impact, energetic and just plain fun workout concept has not.  Tae Bo paved the way for other fitness trends like Zumba, CrossFit and P90X.

1995 – We Become Sugar-Conscious

Consumers began to realize that sugar significantly impacted daily calorie consumption.5 Food manufacturers seized the opportunity with endless no-sugar products and sugar substitutes. Reducing sugar was good, but replacing it with other unnatural chemicals was bad. 

REAL:  Eliminating added sugars and focusing on nutrient-dense, whole foods (as nature intended) is good for you. Reducing sugar intake can help people lose weight, prevent obesity and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.  It is not as simple as grabbing any “sugar-free” label at the grocery store. Consumers are now more educated on food labels and how to identify the hidden culprits lurking in their food.


1996 – The Atkins’ Diet Takes Over the World

It was 1988 when Robert C. Atkins first published his book, Dr. Atkins’ Health Revolution, about nutrition and complementary medicine. It wasn’t until it’s republication a decade later when his signature, high-protein, low-carb diet plan took the weight loss industry by storm.3  This low-carb diet (and many others that followed) were popular because they offered an easy solution for quick results.

A LITTLE OF BOTH: The low-carb diet comes in different names and variations. This is a lasting trend that can be beneficial for some, but not necessarily all.  When it comes to diet and nutrition, we cannot have a one-size-fits-all mentality. Genetics, lifestyle and many other factors come into play. The goal should be to come up with a balanced nutrition plan that works for your unique body and lifestyle.


1997 – Just Say “No” to Diet Pills

Pop culture of the ’70s and ‘80s glamorized diet pills. Luckily, by the late nineties, consumers began to smarten up and toss the diet pills in the trash after doctors found that some of the most popular varieties containing fenfluramine and phentermine could cause serious heart problems. 2 

REAL: As the wellness movement continues to grow, our ideas of a healthy body image are evolving along with it.  Instead of popping a pill, have smartened up and turn to conscious nutrition and regular activity to keep us healthy vs. skinny overtime.


1999 – The Turn of the Century Brings on Infrared Saunas

Saunas had been around for centuries as an ancient method of cleansing the body. Traditionally, they were unbearably hot, steamy rooms in which breathing can be difficult.  As science and technology evolved, so did this healing mechanism. Using infrared technology, a specific wavelength from the sun could be harnessed into soothing, healing light therapy. After a personal healing experience with infrared therapy, Sunlighten was born and pioneered the infrared sauna industry.  The first-of-its-kind Solocarbon heaters were invented combining high infrared emissivity with a large surface area for the best therapeutic outcome for detoxification, pain relief, weight loss, heart health, relaxation, and anti-aging.   

REAL: It wasn’t until 2009 when Sunlighten infrared saunas were featured on Oprah that this form of heat therapy became mainstream. Soon after, infrared sauna therapy was one of the fastest-growing home therapies. Today, thousands of people across the world have added Sunlighten saunas to their home for natural healing and prevention. If you don’t have one at home, you can search for “sunlighten” in your area to find Sunlighten sauna sessions near you.  


A passion for healthy living combined with science-driven innovations has been the fuel behind the Sunlighten brand. As we continue to focus on the science of light for healthy living, we could not be more excited about what is coming in the pipeline.  Light for healing. Light for longevity. Light for life.

We are truly proud to be part of the global wellness movement.  


1 History of Wellness. Retrieved from https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/industry-research/history-of-wellness/

2 The 10 Craziest Health Trends Of The Past 40 Years. (September 17, 2015).  Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/craziest-health-trends_n_55f2ed03e4b077ca094eb936

3 50 Wackiest Things We’ve Done for Health. (July 20, 2018).  Retrieved from https://www.swansonvitamins.com/blog/lindsey/50-years-of-wacky-wellness

4 Sweat Equity: How Tae Bo Conquered the Fitness World. (September 29, 2016).  Retrieved from http://mentalfloss.com/article/86779/sweat-equity-how-tae-bo-conquered-fitness-world

5 The Biggest Diet Trend the Year You Were Born. (July 27, 2016).  Retrieved from https://www.redbookmag.com/body/health-fitness/g3552/diet-trend-year-you-were-born/


Shining light on infrared technology, Sunlighten® is the #1 choice for personalized infrared light treatments.  Since 1999, we have been committed to innovating wellness products and services that empower our customers to improve their quality of life.  Our patented Solocarbon® technology rejuvenates the body by delivering the highest dose of infrared energy to the body - proven up to 99% effective.  Our technological innovations are fueled by our passion to make a difference. And we are building a global community of businesses, consumers, and trusted experts to support each other along the way and make the world a healthier, happier place.

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