Alvaro Matta

Written by Ellen Gurley

Alvaro Matta
Interview with: Ellen Gurley

E: Thanks for taking the time out of your full life to do this interview.  It’s an honour.  When I first met you, were you not in service and going to war?  What type of service and for how long?  (And thank you for your service.)
A: Ellen, thank you very much for thinking of me for this interview and for the opportunity to express my personal mission as well as Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness commitment and dedication with you and  My City Magazine. I love living in the city of Charlotte and it’s people. It’s an honor to be interviewed by you for My City Magazine. I love the the direction  and focus of My City Magazine.  Let’s see, Ellen, I am trying to remember when we 1st met. I do know we have known each other for a very long time. I first visited this great city in late 1991 (after Desert Storm, the first Gulf War). I served two tours. Once during the war  and then I returned (after the cease fire) for continued operations in Saudia Arabia, Kuwait and the region. After my return from Desert Storm , I deployed to Yugoslavia's War, only to get redeployed to the Somalia conflict. I served in the United States Marine Corps as an Infantry Rifleman, Radio Operator and Machine Gunner. I was a ground-pounder assigned to a helicopter and small boats company. My contract with the USMC started July 1990 and ended in July 1997. It’s an honor to claim the title of US Marine and  to serve our nation. And you’re welcome.

E:  You possibly lead one of the healthiest life styles of anyone I know (good food, brain exercises and rigorous training).  How do you balance all of these choices?
A: I do have a very healthy life style that encompasses a body, mind, and spirit approach. I owe it to my parents who where strict with what my brother, sister and I ate. My mom was big on veggies (mostly raw, except during the winter) and my Father was big on animal protein. Having a tabouli salad and steak or pork chops was common. Good food? Good food is only if it’s grown or raised when it’s according to nature (or, if you prefer, the way God intended).  Real food choice is a huge issue that we as individuals and as a nation face daily. The nation is SICK.  Take notice of the ills (heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity etc.); the list goes on. What do they all have in common? The answer is lifestyle choice; what we consume and lack of exercise. Many claim that it’s genetics (that it runs in the family) but the real issue is that you (and no one in your family) don’t run or exercise and eat mostly food-like products. The problem is because we no longer eat real food we eat food-like products and believe that there is a magic pill or beverage that can substitute organic food. The human body is holistic. When we consume food-like products the body does not know how to process and digest it. Many people complain that organic food is too expensive, but than I ask you, have you priced out what the cost of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity etc...cost? We are over feeding ourselves with food-like products but we are starving to death on a nutritional level. Once we begin to eat real food, the body will respond positively. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

E:  How does spirituality play into your lifestyle?
A:  Let’s start from the beginning, I am first born in this nation, in Jersey City, NJ. Jersey City is only a few short minutes from New York City. My parents are Chilean immigrants and are Catholic. My parents worked very hard to provide and be able to pay for private Catholic School for my brother, sister and myself. We all completed 12 years of Catholic School. I was also an altar boy for the majority of my grammar school years at St. Aedan's.  Then I went to St. Joseph of the Palisades High School in West New York. In both schools, many of my teachers where nuns & priests. I am very grateful for my parents and to my teachers who educated and tolerated me. I was a misfit and mischievous in a “concrete jungle” and I looked for trouble. Then one day I “woke up” and realized that I was heading ‘no where … fast’.  I then decided to do something positive with my life.  So I enlisted into the US Marine Corps in my senior year in high school and shortly after graduation, I left for boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, Marine Corps Recruit Depot to earn the title Marine. After boot camp graduation, I was given orders to Rifleman Infantry School and orders to Desert Storm the Gulf War. Throughout my youth I have been scared and I prayed.  When I was given orders to Desert Storm, I was really scared, but anxious to prove myself, so I prayed. I landed in Saudi Arabia (a nation and a religion that has spilled blood against Christians). As a Catholic, I wondered what it would be like when I met the locals. The locals I met where very friendly and offered tea and food as a sign of being grateful. This awakened a new thought; that one does not have to look too deeply into religious philosophies to realize that people are people and that they have caring hearts. What I also came to realize is that all religions have had bad apples that caused oppression and death. I stay true to my faith through my own free will and accept others for their faith as long as it does not harm others. I have traveled to many countries with diverse cultures and religions and I have learned and grown into a better self because of it.  I do believe that under certain circumstances a violent response is in order to prevent greater harm from occurring.  Sometimes violence needs to be applied with courage and fearlessness, in order to expose and eradicate evil. It is not an attitude of tolerating or excusing evil. It is not a form of appeasement in which one lets bullies get away with their action or which rewards violent action by surrendering to it’s perpetrators, in order to prevent them from causing more harm. I meditate and I pray. It works for me. I do not force my spirituality or religion onto others. Enlightenment of spirituality or religion can not be forced, it can only come to an individual though their own free will. I have experienced the good, the bad and the ugly. My faith works for me.

E:  I can only imagine that you have a very large edible garden in your yard.  Is this a truth?
A: I do have an organic garden that gets bigger every year. I concentrate on growing leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, kale, and a mescaline mix. I grow leafy greens because they are in season 12 months of the year. Since leafy greens grow all year it means that this is the foundation of what we should consume the most. Eating summer veggies that have traveled hundreds or thousands of miles in winter is like drinking eggnog in July. I grow according to the seasons. This summer I am growing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, green onions, squash, rosemary, parsley and cilantro. Gardening in Charlotte is awesome because we have a long summer veggies season. I love being able to count how many feet my veggies travel to my plate.

E: What is Semper Fidelis Heath and Wellness and when did it begin?
A: Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness is a community based 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded by two US Marine Corps Veterans and a Holistic Nutrition & Wellness Coach. We are proud to be the first and only Integrative Health and Wellness Solution providing Health & Wellness Education and Programs to our nation's wounded, ill and injured active duty and reserve military, veterans, and their families.  Our mission at Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness is a dedication to improving the lives of all our members through health and wellness, with a special concern for those who suffer from wounds and injuries, post traumatic stress disorder and other combat related illnesses, chronic pain, disease, obesity and addiction. Our culture is different in that most other nonprofits serve the active duty and veteran population through group trips and events.  While this methodology is good for renewing camaraderie of a unit or specific group, it is only temporarily beneficial to the individual attending.  These events often lead one to feel good for a brief time, be it a day week or month.  That feeling often diminishes over time and that individual is often right back where they started. SFHW is the first and only non-profit utilizing Integrative Health and Wellness Solutions that last for a lifetime and give the individual tools for a better life.  Our full circle holistic model treats each member as a unique individual; NOT a one size fits all approach.   An investment in an individual's personal wellness affects the very core of their being and spread itself outwards in a ripple effect that will directly influence friends, family and the community at large. Our programs include the Warrior Athlete Program (which meets the individual health and wellness needs of severely injured, ill and wounded service members and our warrior wellness program (a group program whose workshops, classes and events foster a culture of personal empowerment and responsibility). 
Both programs are supported by a team of volunteers and accredited professionals who are dedicated to the overall health and wellness benefits often referred to as CAM ~ Complimentary Alternative Medicine.  Our programming offers health and healing resources and assistance to groups and individuals via education and training in the areas of personal fitness, nutrition, yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, martial arts, health promotion & education and mental health counseling.  Our vision is to create a legacy that stands for Health & Wellness that will inspire healing and resiliency for our clients whose results create a ripple effect for generations to come

E: What does being a veteran mean to you? Which ways do you stay involved though you are no longer active?
A: Another etho Marines have is "Once a Marine Always a Marine"...I stay involved through Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness. Our work is focused on educating and training wounded, ill & injured Marines & Corpsman at Wounded Warrior Battalion in Camp Lejeune, NC. We also work with all other branches of service, veterans & 1st responders in our communities.

E: When you take on a client as a lifestyle coach (for lack of a better word), how do you begin to evaluate their lifestyle and where to begin?
A: I am not a life coach, I am a health coach, yoga teacher, fitness coach and a run coach. I work with civilians and the military communities. After contact is made, the individual is asked to watch a couple documentaries such as “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Hungry for Change” (plus a few other documentaries). Then they are required to fill out a health history form. If the individual does this then I know I am not wasting my time. Then the education and training begins according to the individuals needs.

E: How long (on average) do you keep a client?
A: Everyone is different, so it depends on the circumstances and the goals that are set. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. I am currently going into the third year with one client and finishing a six month program with another.

E: What is the best free advice you can give my readers as to becoming a healthier them?
A: My advice is to make the decision to love yourself by eating real food, exercise and find a higher power so that you can live way past 90 years of age and enjoy life, family and friends. Start by drinking lots of water.

E: What’s your favourite thing to cook?
A: Sautéed sweet potato with seasonal veggies mounted on top of mixed greens with grilled baby back ribs (is by far my favorite).

E: Favourite author?
A:  I’d have to say that my favorite books are “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger and “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand.

E: What’s next for Alvaro Matta (have you been published)?
A: I am going to continue on my personal path of optimal wellness so that I can educate and train the community at large. I also look forward to the next MOVE party at Crown Station so I can listen to some great underground music and hang out with cool peeps. Yes, I have been published, I wrote 3 articles for the Department of Defense, JCAMP2 (Joint Complementary and Alternative Medicine & Performance Programs) and a site that informs wounded warriors and their families about Complementary & Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Human Performance Programs(HPP).

Ellen, sharing my thoughts with you and My City Magazine has been an honor. Thank you for your this opportunity to express myself.  And I look forward to offering one of your readers (contest winner upcoming) a free customized holistic program that will last until the individual reaches their goal. Mega thanks to you and to My City Magazine.


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