Making changes wasn’t easy. My 70-pound weight loss, which took more than a year, began with small steps. I started exercising a little every day and making family recipes healthier. I’m Hispanic, and I grew up eating a lot of animal products and thinking you had to fry most things to make them taste good. So when I started on my missions of healthy living, I had to completely transform the way I ate.
Little by little I added more fruits and vegetables to my diet and began cooking differently. Soon healthy living became a family affair. My husband started getting healthier too, and soon his own cholesterol and blood pressure numbers started to improve. I have incorporated more vegetables and fruits to my children’s meals and my husband and I make sure to keep them physically active.
Before my father died, I encouraged both him and my mother to transform their eating habits. Though they lived in Colombia and I live in New Jersey, I enjoyed “sharing” family meals again because we talked about the foods they were preparing each day.
Sharing what I have learned with family and friends has become a calling. I am now a certified fitness instructor, started a free fitness club at a local school one night per week, and also use social media to share heart-healthy tips with online “friends” I have never met. I’m happy to help them live healthier lives.
HOW TO LIVE A HEART-HEALTHY LIFE? Become aware of your family medical history and learn your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Have a conversation with your doctor about your heart disease risk factors and about recommendations for a healthy lifestyle.
My own health is now top priority. Because what good does it do my family if I am not here in the long run to take care of them? I am taking care of me and setting an example for my kids, who now see that healthy eating and exercise are just part of our family routine.
GO RED FOR WOMEN My story is not a new story. Heart disease does not discriminate. It is the No. 1 killer in the U.S., and affects more women than men. It’s more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.
That’s why, as a mother and a daughter who lost her father to heart disease, I Go Red For Women. For 10 years, women have been fighting heart disease individually and together as part of the Go Red For Women movement. They have proudly worn red, and shared their survival and healthy living stories. More than 627,000 women’s lives have been saved, but the fight is far from over.