I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Dr. Maya Angelou
My name is Leila. I was born in Puerto Rico and currently live in Alabama. I have lived around the southeast for the past 15 years. I am married and a mother of two girls. I studied Biology, Microbiology and Biochemistry and held jobs in different fields from labs, to medical offices, hospital, as an educator, nursing homes, hotel, restaurant, retail, engineering office, attorney’s office… My life has taken me to many places and exposed me to fields that I never thought I would learn. Everything that has happened, I can now attest that it has led me or helped me later with something else in my life. I did not think about it like that at first, but it sure has worked that way. The puzzle of life placing its pieces together. Why mention all of this? Because it is from my life experiences that you will be reading here. I have many passions, health and nutrition being what I am most passionate about. Family and education are also important to me and you must know I LOVE to travel.
Why enter the blogging world now? You might ask… The closest to me know that I tend to be very private when it comes to social platforms. I’ve always been grateful that I’m no Hollywood star. I enjoy walking down the street with no makeup on just because I can, and nobody would care, nor they would care what I’m wearing. However, I have found myself at a point in my life living certain experiences that have helped me grow and create perspective on many aspects of life. I constantly find myself responding to a message or a call from a friend or meeting someone that shares a specific situation they are going through and somehow, I usually end up listening, sharing, helping them get back up again and growing a little more myself in the process. I decided that we all have a voice and I wanted mine to be heard and maybe inspire someone. Even if it’s just one person. Then, it has been totally worth this effort of stepping out of my comfort zone. I am not trying to tell anyone what to do, instead I’m trying to inspire you to strive and look for more, for better. So here we are…
I will start by sharing a little a about my health…
5….4….3….2….1 HERE WE GO!
(If you’ve read Mel Robbins’ “5 Second Rule” book you’d understand- if you haven’t, you should add it to your reading list)
I focus my diet on eating plant based. Vegan. Some of you might want to stop reading now, but please give me a break here. I will not be trying to convince you to stop eating meat, I will just share why I made that choice and things I have learned since I decided to change my eating habits. First, let me tell you, Vegan is a movement of NOTHING animal, it is more of a social movement. Plant based, although it could apply to vegan, does not mean the same. At least to me it doesn’t. Nothing wrong with one or the other just want to clear that up.
After several miscarriages and a painful (and expensive I might add) fertility treatment I became a mother. I have been a runner and physically active my whole life. I thought of myself as a “healthy” person. Discovering that I had Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and endometriosis, I blamed my genes for that whole process even when infertility was not a trait in my family. That experience made me read more about the topic and what was affecting me and so many of my friends all the sudden seemed to be fighting the same things. Was it something in the water?!
My husband (also a runner and active athlete during his younger years) was prescribed cholesterol meds. Well…I guess that is what happens as you age, keep piling up meds until you end up like your grandparents, carrying a pill case wherever you go. I was not happy about that future but did not think much of it. Around that time, I received a call, one of my best friends was diagnosed with breast cancer. She too had dealt with infertility problems. Here we were in our early thirties (yes, that is a young age!) with young babies trying to figure out end of life matters. My scientific mind just went on research mode. I improved my eating habits increasing vegetables and fruits and started working out more frequently again. Still learning more and more about how some of the ingredients in our food were harmful and disruptive to my system. Then it happened…I could not get out of bed. My joints hurt, it was so painful to move. At first, doctors blamed it on the flu, but I knew it was something else. My mind went back to my childhood. My paternal grandmother suffered from Rheumatoid arthritis. My memories were of her in a wheelchair. She died of complications from her RA way too young (in her sixties) Ok, just to give some perspective for some of you that think sixties are really old; just think it was before retirement! I was in my sophomore year in college when she passed. I called my aunt and started asking about my grandmother, her symptoms, the age she was diagnosed (which was about my age at that time), all sorts of questions. I called my doctor, explained my concerns and after several laboratory studies performed by a Rheumatologist, I was diagnosed with Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease (UCTD). What?! So let me explain…It means I have an autoimmune disorder but the markers do not meet the criteria for physicians to diagnose an actual disease. It is the limbo of the autoimmune disorders if you will. I had the symptoms for RA, maybe Lupus, or Sjogren’s disease but can not officially be diagnosed. Okay…so as frustrating as this may seem I took it as encouraging news. It meant that I still had time to do something to reverse, stop or delay what my genetic material was claiming. Back to research I went… Fast-forward three years. What I found not only by reading but by doing has been life changing. Daily exercise is a MUST for me now. NO excuses! My dietary improvements have made the biggest difference in my life and my family’s. I do get days where my flare ups want to affect my day, but I carefully continue, and it does not take over my life anymore. No magical pills (although I do follow my medical advice and continue my checkups- I am a scientist after all). I have eliminated meat from my diet; except for some rare exotic trip we might take where I do try local food. Eating vegetables, whole grains and fruits is a habit for me and my family now. It has improved our health tremendously.
As a busy mom and busy person like most of us are in this day and age, I continue the search to maintain and even increase my food intake with high nutritional value. I also pursue my daily personal growth. Reading, meditating, praying, and setting my daily priorities is part of my overall health. Our mind has a lot of power over us. It must also be exercised.
I will be sharing with you every week things I have learned along the way through my own experiences, adventures and research. There is no magical diet, no magical technique for anything in life. It is all about sharing, trying and doing your BEST. Let’s dive into this adventure together!