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How Cecilia Blanco Healed Her Gut and Changed Her Life

In her mid 20s, Cecilia Blanco thought she was at the top of her game, until she started having health problems. After finding and treating the root cause — a gut imbalance — Blanco’s skin cleared up and she experienced a full health transformation that inspired her to launch The Healthy Gut Club.

I have always been interested in health and wellness. At Boston University, I bopped around between majors like physical therapy and occupational therapy, but it wasn't until I started my own personal training business after college that I realized my true passion was nutrition.

Around that time, I also started competing in bikini competitions and was shocked when my health began to deteriorate. It’s kind of ironic because people look at bodybuilders and bikini competitors and think that they are so healthy because they are really fit and lean. In reality, I was in the worst health of my life.

Bodybuilders have to have a pretty strict diet. Although you're not eating “bad things,” you are eating things that don't have a lot of nutritional value and you're not eating a lot of variety. My menu included a lot of egg whites, rice cakes, plain chicken, and plain veggies. It really wasn't enough calories, and it definitely wasn’t enough nutritional diversity. I later learned that the number one thing that's important for gut health is a variety of foods because that's how you get different strains of fiber to feed the good bacteria in your gut. When you're repeatedly eating the same thing, you're just feeding the same gut bugs, and eventually that can create dysbiosis, or an imbalanced microbiome.

I started experiencing bloating, acne, and acid reflux. On top of dealing with these symptoms, I was also really stressed. Competing is a big stressor on your body because you're working out and pushing yourself every single day. I wasn’t sleeping that much because my body was in a constant state of stress, and I would wake up in the middle of the night hungry. My issues compiled over time.

But it still wasn’t back to where it used to be. I did a GI MAP test, a test that looks more closely at your gut microbiome, and I went back to school to learn how to read and interpret functional testing results. It turned out that I had a ton of dysbiotic bacteria, a parasite, and a yeast infection called Candida. Once I put myself through a protocol to target those imbalances, my acne cleared right up.

Fixing my gut also improved my mental health. I didn't have as much anxiety, I had more energy to the point that I could ditch caffeine, and my circadian rhythm was becoming more in tune with my normal daily rhythm. My acid reflux also went away, and I no longer got bloated from eating the things that had previously disrupted my gut.

Once I targeted those imbalances, everything else in my health started to fall into place and I began to realize that this is how the human body is meant to feel – and that a lot of people don't ever feel that way. I wanted to help people to see that feeling good is possible. That’s why I founded The Healthy Gut Club, to help other women understand how and why to heal their gut health.

I believe a balanced gut is the foundation of good health. That’s why we always focus first on that area at The Healthy Gut Club rather than immediately trying to address individual symptoms. The gut is connected to so many other systems in the body. Without good gut health, you're not going to have what you need to keep other sectors of your health balanced, such as your hormones.

We have so many clients who come to us planning to heal their gut first before they start to work on healing their other issues, like hormone problems. But they find that once they fix their gut health, their other problems also often clear up. Your digestion really is the epicenter of health when it comes to things like your skin, hormones, or thyroid. So, if you start to address your gut problems, the other sectors of your health also begin to fall in line.

Going into this business, I really thought we were just going to help people with their digestive health and with their nutrition and overall wellness. But what I’ve found is that when you help people in these areas, you're also improving their quality of life. Women in our gut healing program joke that they are also going through a spiritual renaissance because when you’re healing your gut, you're shedding layers of who you were and really focusing on becoming who it is that you want to be, working towards your highest self.

Bikini competitions absolutely demolished my health – I will never do them again. Today, I’ve learned to worry less about caloric intake and instead focus more on how I’m feeling. I focus on how my body feels like it should be moving each day, rather than doing the latest fad workout. Living this way, I’ve healed my health, lowered my inflammation, and just naturally started to be slimmer without having to work as hard. I’ve healed myself by prioritizing my gut health and by listening to what it is that my body actually needs.

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