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Veronica Villanueva of ‘AliveWellThrive’: “When you eat right, you think and move better”

Stress has become the new “norm” and unless we learn to manage it, we are creating a perfect storm for illness to manifest in our body. Since my stage IV “incurable” lung cancer diagnosis 4 years ago, I have learned many ways to manage stress. First, I become aware of it when it happens, then […]

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Stress has become the new “norm” and unless we learn to manage it, we are creating a perfect storm for illness to manifest in our body. Since my stage IV “incurable” lung cancer diagnosis 4 years ago, I have learned many ways to manage stress. First, I become aware of it when it happens, then I start to take notice of my breath, and finally, I close my eyes and repeat my mantra — Respirez…tout ira bien… BELIEVE! This practice usually brings me back to a state of gratitude for being able to breathe again.


Often when we refer to wellness, we assume that we are talking about physical wellbeing. But one can be physically very healthy but still be unwell, emotionally or mentally. What are the steps we can take to cultivate optimal wellness in all areas of our life; to develop Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing?

As a part of our series about “How We Can Do To Cultivate Our Mental, Physical, Emotional, & Spiritual Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Veronica Villanueva of AliveWellThrive.

Veronica Villanueva discovered her “why” after being diagnosed with stage IV cancer in 2016. She knows she is alive today to share grace, blessings, and the lessons that cancer has taught her. Her “incurable” disease gave her the gift of knowing herself, loving herself, and sharing herself with others in a profound way. Through her work as a trained Cordon Bleu chef and certified health coach, Veronica aims to inspire others to embrace a holistic lifestyle built on a commitment to growth, eating healthy foods, taking the time to create memorable moments, and of course, fostering loving relationships. She does not endorse opting out of conventional treatment for the sake of using cannabinoids. Combining cannabinoids with cancer treatment seems very promising, but to try experimental therapy while refusing established treatments is dangerous.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I was born in the Philippines and raised in San Francisco, California. My family moved to the United States when my biological father passed away from a plane crash. I was seven years old when this happened. In many ways, I didn’t have a childhood. I was forced to grow up quickly to help my family. We didn’t have much money for private education, so I worked several jobs so that I could pay for my high school education. I then took a few gap years and delayed my entrance to UC Berkeley so I could work and travel. I am glad I did this as I matured a lot during these years. In my last year of college, I graduated pregnant with my first child, Mirabella. I decided to be a stay home mom when my darling daughter was born — I fell in love with her and couldn’t imagine leaving her to go to work. I decided to have 2 more children shortly afterward so all three could be close in age. I am so grateful for being a mother to my three treasures, Mirabella, Karina, and Stefan.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

When you heal yourself from a very mean and horrific disease like cancer, it becomes a responsibility to help others in their healing journey. Cancer is who I have to thank for being my main inspiration. I have been given a new life with a new purpose: to help others in their cancer and health journey. Someone up there must really believe in me — how can I not listen when I am being guided to not only help and heal myself, but also the world? It’s a huge blessing to have this mission and I am grateful for it.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

When I was diagnosed with a stage IV “incurable” metastatic lung cancer, I knew and felt I was not alone. I was blessed to have such amazing friends, who became my family. I consciously made sure I listened to very few voices, one of them being God. I prayed and promised that I would remain open and look for signs as I BELIEVED God would guide me in my healing process. I also knew I needed to do the inner work. There were no shortcuts! It meant going to dark places before I could see the bright lights — that’s HOPE!

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

Since I have been a stay at home mom for over two decades, an entrepreneur for only four years, my mistakes and lessons are very fresh in my mind. Right before I launched my medicinal cannabis products, Alive Well Thrive, our lab discovered — only after all the bottles were filled with the RSO (cannabis) oil — that the tincture bottles contained lead on the writing of the dropper. We, of course, threw it all away and started over again. The lesson: have the containers tested too, not just the content of the packaged products! And most importantly, operating with integrity usually costs extra, but it is well worth it.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of my favorite books that I have read several times in different stages of my life. The idea that I owe it to myself to pursue my dreams, live and embody them, and master who I am, liberated me from my own self-inflicted prison. It’s through living that I define my legacy — inspiring others to live a healthy and purposeful life!

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” — JK Rowling. My life hit rock bottom, from a horrific divorce to getting a cancer diagnosis — all in the same year! I used both to fuel me to heal myself and create a phenomenal life!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Both of my companies — veronicavillanueva.com and alivewellthrive.com — exist to help and support people in their health journey. Every day is exciting as we are part of the wellness revolution that is happening and gaining momentum. The world is finally waking up and witnessing the need to feel optimal, live life to the fullest, and experience vitality so we can do what makes us happy and feel ALIVE, WELL, and THRIVING!

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. In this interview series, we’d like to discuss cultivating wellness habits in four areas of our lives, Mental wellness, Physical wellness, Emotional wellness, & Spiritual wellness.

Let’s dive deeper into these together. Based on your research or experience, can you share with our readers three good habits that can lead to optimum mental wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Being in a state of “gratitude” allows me to be present in the moment, protect myself from negative thoughts, manage my stress, and embody peace and contentment. This has had positive effects on my sleep and health, while bringing joy in all aspects of my daily life.

I like to study and learn, so I read daily. I have books everywhere in my house. There are books that I consider to be “snacks”, meaning, I will read a line or a paragraph and leave it to process what I just read. The goal is not to sit and read the entire book, but rather serve as “food for thought”.

Daily rituals like journaling is key to my mental health. When I first started journaling, I saw it as a way to download negativity, but today, I also add my dreams and goals to manifest. I found that the more I journal, the less negativity I have to download.

Do you have a specific type of meditation practice or Yoga practice that you have found helpful? We’d love to hear about it. Thank you for that.

I meditate daily, in the morning and in the evening before I go to sleep. I have a mantra that I say quietly at the beginning of each meditation session. There are times when I meditate using breathwork, and when I do this, I always get teary as it takes me back to when I couldn’t breathe due to having lung cancer. Breathing is a gift that I never take for granted.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum physical wellness? Please share a story or example for each:

I am very happy that we are changing our opinions about sleep. Not too long ago, sleeping was underrated. Today, I hope everyone knows and accepts that sleep is key to optimal wellness. Chronic sleep deprivation is dangerous, as it increases the risk of many chronic illnesses. Lack of sleep can also weaken your immune system. It is important to develop a clean sleep hygiene practice. For me, it’s turning off all lights and relying on candles to give me light, while having soothing music in the background, lavender or frankincense essential oil in my diffuser, and a nice hot shower followed by tea with a few drops of my Alive Well Thrive CBN. This helps promote deep and restful sleep.

When you eat right, you think and move better. The same way we train our bodies, we must train our bodies to crave healthy foods. I am committed to choosing a diet that will nourish my body, which ultimately means eating nutrient dense foods every time I sit and enjoy a meal.

When you get the right amount of sleep regularly and eat a nutrient-dense diet, there is no way your body will not crave exercise! Exercise not only re-designs your body, but creates positive changes in your mind and energy. Daily walks and some interval strength training have replaced my previous daily activity of playing and competing in tennis.

Do you have any particular thoughts about healthy eating? We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

We only have one body so we must treat it well and give it the finest healing ingredients that it needs to feel ALIVE, WELL, and to THRIVE! Healthy eating is the foundation of loving yourself. It is a form of self-respect, especially to our body. How many times have we heard, “You are what you eat”. So if this is true, then why do we eat fast, and eat toxic, processed, or fake foods? Eating a nutrient dense diet is key to being healthy, and it must be a daily commitment — not part of a seasonal or a 30 day diet plan!

Sadly, our culture relies too heavily on willpower to create behavioral changes in our lives. I believe this is not good enough. Our lives are fast paced, over-stimulating at times, confusing with so much unfiltered information, and plagued with distractions, addictions, and escapism. It’s too easy to lose focus, and willpower won’t be sustainable if your environment is in conflict with your goals. Eventually, what I have experienced is that your external world wins. I believe the key to any behavioral change is — you have to create a “sacred” environment to live your life with intention, endless creativity, and boundless productivity. This has to be your new “norm”! I have learned to create a nurturing environment that helps me create and control my environment so that it doesn’t control me.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum emotional wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

I believe self-love is the main ingredient to my emotional well-being. One way I show myself love is by believing that I am enough.

Stress has become the new “norm” and unless we learn to manage it, we are creating a perfect storm for illness to manifest in our body. Since my stage IV “incurable” lung cancer diagnosis 4 years ago, I have learned many ways to manage stress. First, I become aware of it when it happens, then I start to take notice of my breath, and finally, I close my eyes and repeat my mantra — Respirez…tout ira bien… BELIEVE! This practice usually brings me back to a state of gratitude for being able to breathe again.

An empowered, positive, and growth-oriented mindset is what I believe is one of the most important reasons why I am alive today. Even after 5 doctors told me I had less than 6 months to live, I felt empowered to tell the doctors that I would find a way to heal myself, educate myself on the subject of cancer, and believe that I AM GOING TO LIVE!

Do you have any particular thoughts about the power of smiling to improve emotional wellness? We’d love to hear it.

Smiling and laughing were definitely part of my healing treatment from cancer. I knew when I smiled, my body was releasing cortisol and endorphins, thereby boosting my immune system, which was key to fighting against cancer.

Finally, can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum spiritual wellness? Please share a story or example for each.

I find meditation paves the way to a healthy lifestyle. I am more patient, and my level of awareness increases the more I meditate.

Journaling has become essential to my healing and well being. It allows me to download all the negative thoughts in my head. It reminds me to live an intentional life.

Mastering who I am, and knowing and living my purpose in life, are very important for my happiness.

Do you have any particular thoughts about how being “in nature” can help us to cultivate spiritual wellness?

At 53 years old, I have learned to value the simple pleasures in life — being “in nature” is one of them. I have made a commitment to live close to nature as I need a daily dose of the beauties and the mysteries of what nature gives us unconditionally. For me, it is a place where I feel my entire being is healing and recharging. So when life hurts me, I run to nature to clear my mind and be healed.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I would like to believe I am on the path of influence by sharing my stage IV cancer story. No, I didn’t die despite the 6-month prognosis from 5 doctors. In fact, I received a clean scan after 9 months and found a phenomenal life through my healing journey. I am alive today, to inspire, to educate, and to motivate people to see cancer as a “modern” disease triggered by our modern and inflammatory lifestyle. Healing can only occur when we take full responsibility for our life, and thankfully, I knew this from the beginning of my diagnosis. I pivoted and the side effects were only positive — a phenomenal life!

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

What I know is, I always enjoy meaningful conversations around a delicious meal. It would be so exciting to share a meal with some of the Greek stoic philosophers like Marcus Aurelius, Epectetus, and Seneca. Today, I don’t know what would be equivalent so I will have to say, Oprah is one person that comes to mind as she has had a platform where she has interviewed many different and interesting people. I am sure I would enjoy a meaningful conversation with her.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My mentoring and coaching is available through www.veronicavillanueva.com. My medicinal CBD and cannabis product line for cancer warriors can be found at www.alivewellthrive.com.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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