I have the pleasure of sharing with you a personal interview I did with Sergio Valentin, who has struggled with Celiac Disease. I could relate a lot with his story as I have had my own struggles with Ulcerative Colitis. As you know, living with a disease like this is never easy. It usually involves years of learning how to change habits, routines, jobs, even broken relationships. I hope you gain something special from Sergio’s story as I have. I plan to keep doing more interviews so make sure to subscribe to the newsletter.
Q: Tell Us a Little About Yourself
Sergio: My name as one would have already surmised is Sergio Valentin. I am a Puerto Rican American who was born and raised in CT. I went to college at a Christian University in Cleveland, TN and then spent most of my twenties in Atlanta, GA pursuing a career in the music and film industry. I have battled the symptoms of Celiac since I was 12 years old but had not been properly diagnosed till I was 32. So, by that time my body had collapsed. I was 115 pounds with multiple injuries across my body.
Currently, since going AIP Paleo and doing Yoga, along with a host of other processes I’ve accomplished over the last 4 years of recovery, I am doing much better. I have gotten healthy enough to return back to my pursuits of passion. I am now professionally working as an actor, author and speaker as well as the Founder/CEO of my company F.A.T.E. Protocol. Which is the sole reason of sorts that I am doing so much better with my health and life. It’s the program I developed to get my life back on track and keep it there in the fight against Celiac and so much more.
Q: How Did You Find Out You Had Celiac Disease?
Sergio: I finally found out I had Celiac Disease when I was 32 years old. I hadn’t had health insurance for over 8 years and finally was granted free health insurance through the state of Oregon. So, I went to the doctors and lucky for me, was diagnosed by a doctor who was well-versed in ibs and auto-immune diseases. At this point of my life, everything had come crashing down. I was so sick that I could not keep sickness out of my body. I was no longer able to work in the industry of my passion due to my health, and my whole life in general was falling apart. I talk about it in my book. At this point in my life I was waking up from sleeping on the floor of a pest-infested apartment, 115 pounds, with multiple injuries across my body and walking 7 miles to and from work at Walmart for minimum wage. It was the ultimate low.
Q: How Has Celiac Disease Changed Your Life?
Sergio: I didn’t realize it until I was waking up to the reality of living in Portland, Oregon at 115 pounds and going through a divorce, that my whole life had been impacted by Celiac Disease. In a sense, the sickness that was in my body for so long had shaped the experiences of my life. My life was as broken outside as it was inside. I realized that all these things were connected and that I had settled for relationships and environments that felt equal to the experiences in my body. I was used to dealing with an immense amount of suffering in my body and so allowed these things to be prevalent in all areas of my life. The diagnosis of Celiac Disease freed me from that paradigm.
When I was diagnosed, I was given a clear directive. If I wanted to live then I was going to have to change the way I was eating. This wasn’t a clear cut and dry directive either. It was clear to me that I was going to have to change much more than just my eating habits. I was going to have to change my lifestyle. That meant my environment and the conditions of my life and all my relationships. I was poor most my life and had taken whatever life granted me. Now I was going to have to set a standard. It was a change in the way I viewed myself. Before my diagnosis, I didn’t feel worthy enough of justifying spending large amounts of money on quality of food. Where I came from, it was a privilege, not a mandate. The people in my life didn’t cater to my needs previously; they expected me to suffer for theirs. I knew taking a stand for my food was taking a stand for my expectations in life. I was setting a standard that would change my entire life and thus change the landscape of my environments and relationships as well.
I can’t say that Celiac Disease has done anything bad for my life except the experiences I had with it growing up and not knowing. I mean, sure the pain has been horrific, embarrassing, humiliating and self-demoralizing at times. My bathroom episodes have been ones of horror and torment. I account for all of this and more in my book. However, finding out was a revelation. I realized that my body is my friend and a line of defense for me. Celiac Disease was just the bodies’ last attempt at saving my life before I died. Where I come from and the ghettos I was brought up in, food is for pleasure, not medicine. I had no idea that the way I was eating was taking me to an early grave. When I was told I had Celiac Disease and that it was an allergy to gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye, I didn’t just ask myself what was gluten, I asked myself what was wheat. I had no food knowledge whatsoever. If I had to go through all the suffering I had to go through in life to get to where I am now, it was worth it.
Q: What Foods Do You Avoid Now?
Sergio: Currently, the only diet that I have found to work for me is strict Auto-Immune Protocol Paleo diet which I learned about and through Paleomom.com. I have a few of her books. I don’t eat much fruit; I try to be as sugar-free as possible. I don’t eat any nightshade or root vegetables. I don’t eat peanuts or eggs. I primarily stick to meats and leafy greens and eat a well-balanced portion. Funny thing is, I’m sure people will read this and find it limiting. I think that curtailing my diet has made me appreciate food once again and I have become more creative than ever in coming up with truly inspiring food that tastes good to the mouth and feels great on the belly. I never want to go back and never will. This is a lifestyle for me. (side note: the amount of junk that they put in “gluten free” foods is insane. Read the labels and discover what those ingredients are and do to the body.) It’s not about eating gluten-free anymore. It’s about living and eating as whole and clean as possible. My consciousness has risen.
Q: What Has Been Instrumental in Helping You Deal With Celiac Disease?
Sergio: I only have one answer for this, F.A.T.E. Protocol. It’s revolutionized my life. I talk about it in the book as well and, of course, I have a website and blog focused on the program at fateprotocol.com. I realized early on that if you try to fix one part of yourself, another part reels its evil head to take the place of the lack of suffering. Pain transfers from one part of the self to another part unless you take a holistic approach toward change. F.A.T.E. Protocol’s chief aim is to bring us into homeostasis. We call it Tri-Fold Wellness (healthy mind, healthy body, healthy spirit). Through F.A.T.E. (food, affirmation, therapy and exercise) Protocol we look and deal with the actions of the whole person and break and build necessary habits that help people achieve that Tri-Fold Wellness. I know a lot about wholeness because I worked as a minister in the church for several years and have a religion degree. At first, through the spirit is where I tried to fix all of life’s ails. Then I got a communications degree and began to study psychology. I wrote a daily affirmation book called Daily Surge that helped people “be transformed through the renewing of your mind.” So, I tried to fix all of life’s ails by addressing the mind.
None of it ever worked. Or it did, but only for a little while and then everything was back to where it was. Then through Celiac Disease and my struggle with learning all I could about the body in order to transform my condition, I realized that all of these parts of self, had to be addressed all at once. Consider this; when I had a bad bowel experience, I got so angry that stress shot up and then sleep was bad and then inflammation was shot up. It was a cycle. So, I knew that I had to address all the parts of myself to keep it all well balanced and in a unified attack for achieving wellness. It worked. My whole life changed and faster than anticipated. All my tracking and mindfulness or awareness around my practices kept me happy through the pain and I finally achieved my goals in health and in business.
Q: How Has Celiac Disease Affected Your Work?
Sergio: I can relate to what you wrote about Brian in your personal story. I too could not leave home, and began to consider some way to work online in order to pay the bills. Actually, for a long time I was homeless and just moving around from state to state during my recovery. Over 2 years I had moved between 5 different states and 8 different homes. I couldn’t keep sickness out of my body, so I couldn’t hold a job. It was tough. I was on food stamps, trying to eat gluten-free and going at it alone. Not working affected my self-esteem and others looked down on me.
In hindsight, it was a blessing. Sure, in the moment it was hell, but since I am not a quitter and actually a very hard worker and learner, I took my downtime to study coding, internet marketing and wrote 2 books. I built a system in F.A.T.E. Protocol to live by. Before now, I would say that Celiac Disease ruined my work life. Now I can say Celiac Disease, because of my focus, has not only transformed the direction of my body health but also the direction of my dreams and business.
Q: Tell Us About Your New Book
Sergio: I’m really excited about this book. I’m a tell-all writer. I love to be completely vulnerable and tell my story. I think people can gain true insight when someone in a positive way is able to really discern all the horrific events that have taken place in his life and connect all the pieces in the end to form a clear message and direction for life. It’s in those readings that the book becomes a mirror for our own lives and suggests to us insights and revelations about our own situations that we had not previously considered.
“Finding Myself, Chasing My Dreams and Overcoming Celiac Disease” is all that the title entails. You wake up with me as the bio for the book reads:
“Just 1 year after his move to LA, he was waking up on the floor of a pest-infested apartment, 115 pounds, sick with multiple injuries, walking 7 miles to and from work at a job he held at Walmart making minimum wage, divorced and facing his new diagnosis of Celiac Disease.”
Read the rest here. I allow the reader and anyone struggling with sickness who has dreams in their life to take the journey of self-discovery with and through my story and as a lens to see their own. I want to help people see real change. I want to help people get healthy, whole and successful in their life goals and dreams. That’s why I built a system in fateprotocol.com and that’s why I wrote this book which they can purchase here. We were all meant for so much more. What we go through is horrific and terrifying. I’m not sure the world really understands yet. That’s why I must, we must, Brian, tell our stories and educate others while we inspire and motivate our own.
Q: If You Could Give One Piece Of Advice For Those Struggling With Celiac Disease, What Would It Be?
Sergio: Don’t give up, don’t look at the affliction as punishment but as direction. Utilize your affliction as the conviction to move forward and learn all you can. Know that what you will learn is building you as a person for all your hopes and dreams and to lead you toward a life of full abundance.
Q: How Can People Find You and Stay In Contact?
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I hope you enjoyed reading Sergio’s story as much as I did. I personally connected with so much of it as I have gone through similar struggles. I urge you to share this with your friends and family members who might not know what Celiac Disease is and how hard life can be with it. It is so encouraging to see Sergio overcoming Celiac Disease and fighting back! As he said, never give up and don’t treat it as a punishment, but rather a different direction. If I’d never had Ulcerative Colitis I would not be sharing this story with you now, and would never had gone gluten-free. I would still be living an unhealthy lifestyle.
If you have your own story you would like to share, whether it is Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, or Ulcerative Colitis, please contact me. We need to help spread the word.