As long as I can remember my mother has always been a fervent advocate of home cooked meals. Growing up in Colombia, her mother taught her and her older sisters not only the nutritional value of a home cooked meal, but the family value. A family who eats together, she would say, is always going to be united. Little did I know that family tradition would have more of an impact on my lifelong wellbeing and not just family unity.
My mother taught us to eat healthy. Growing up I never craved a greasy hamburger or a pizza with extra cheese, rather I would ask my mother to make me her signature broccoli or lentil soup. She would always have our breakfast ready before we would go to school, a well-rounded plate for lunch and a small something for dinner — always making sure we did not go to sleep with our stomachs full.
My father, on the other hand, was the one who taught us to keep active. Being a former body building aficionado and an amateur volleyball player, he wanted to pass down his athleticism to both my brother and I. I began participating in team sports early on, eventually sticking to dance and cheer through most of my schooling years.
We were a healthy family, or so it was until the economy took a turn for the worst and both of my parents were laid off, making stress cloak my home. That stress eventually turned into sickness when my father was diagnosed with diabetes, triggered by the worriment of not knowing how to provide for the three loves of his live.
During that period my father taught me a very important life lesson; “I either learn to make my condition my best friend or it kills me.” Meaning he had to learn the ins and outs of his new lifestyle and what he had to do to keep as healthy as he could. His words would be applicable to my life sooner than I anticipated — the same year I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, a condition in which the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone, a hormone that essentially runs the body’s metabolism. As I began researching this new curveball, I learned it would affect me in almost every aspect of my life, from losing hair and feeling fatigued and depressed to weight gain and a possibility of becoming infertile.
But if I ate well and was consistent with exercising I could decrease the symptoms. All the way up to this point of my life I took my health as something that would just be OK if I did the normal “being healthy” with no real effort being put in. I began exercising regularly, going on runs every day with my dog and thinking consciously of what I put in my body.
When I began college I was asked a question, a very silly one I thought at the time; “Are you afraid of gaining weight since you live in the dorms?” With a slight chuckle I thought “No. Why would I? I have never struggled with weight before.” What I didn’t account for at the time was that having no kitchen in my dorm room or my mom by my side meant home cooked meals were no longer in existence in my life. I remember the first “real”—not home-cooked—hamburger I ever ate was when in college. I began to eat out, as college students tend to do. I began eating late, staying up and taking less care of myself. But I would never have to struggle with weight gain, I thought, because I had never before.
It wasn’t until the end of the second semester of my freshmen year, when I had to fit into my summer clothes again, that I realized I had gained 20 pounds and inches on my waist. That was a lot for a girl who weighed a little more than 100 pounds when I moved out of my parents house. I was devastated and spent my last month of school depressed because how could this have happened to me, I thought.
Nevertheless I was determined to lose the weight once I went back home — and I did. But this was not enough for me. I had a newfound passion for health and fitness. I didn’t want to just be small or skinny; I wanted to be fit and strong.
Ready for my second year in college, this time living in my own apartment, I was not going to be cynical and think weight gain could not happen to me, but rather I came to school with a new mentality — I had to learn how to manage getting fit and a full load at school. I researched healthy meals that would be easy and fast for me to make and I began following hundreds of nutrition, meal planning and exercise accounts on Instagram. I learned to change what I was not happy with and to take control of my life.
Seeing the change it had on me, I became an advocate for taking care of oneself, encouraging those around me to think of their health and begin exercise and eating healthier. As a golden opportunity, I was given a voice to share my interest and conviction in physical and mental wellness and to help others try to attain longevity as the health and fitness reporter at the Clovis Roundup. Throughout the year in writing for this section I have learned motive and motivation is the number one reason people attain their goals or do not because the lack of.
Now, as I get closer to the year I graduate, my workload has multiplied. Last school year, while handling two jobs, being a full-time student with more than the minimum amount of units and holding an internship, I managed not to fall off the deep end again. And although I did try my best to keep committed to my weightlifting and cardio routine, I did have my fair share of Subway sandwiches and Panda bowls. As I begin my last summer as a college student and having more free time than I did during the school year, I have the opportunity to focus on my health.
My fitness goal for this summer is not solely for myself, rather to do a service to the community and impart my energy to motivate others in reaching their fitness goals through Get Fit Clovis. As I think about my personal goal, my new vision lies in gaining muscle and reducing body fat. I know nutrition wise I have the opportunity of much more improvement. My hope is to begin creating habits that will transfer on when I begin school again in the fall, which means kissing au revoir to In-and-Out and saying hello to meal planning.