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How to be a Healthy Latina 

18 November / 2019

At De Las Mías being a Healthy Latina is all about being body positive, food positive and culture positive. We don’t reject our food, our culture or our body to live a healthier life. We embrace the whole paquete and find the healthy path.

To become healthier and more powerful, más fregonas, we need to build a life of healthy habits. And that’s one of the areas we want to focus on:

Build daily healthy habits. 

Ours is not a faster path to skinny jeans. We want to change poquito por poquito, and build up our healthy habits over time. 

Ditch the Diet Culture and Stop Dieting

We are not a diet club because diets don’t work. But, we want to help you crack the healthy weight code. It’s no secret that we all want to feel attractive, guapas, and be healthy and strong. But here’s a novel idea: STOP DIETING.

The way to crack the healthy weight code is to STOP DIETING. I know you don’t believe me so read on…

“Would you take a medicine that was proven ineffective 95 percent of the time? That’s the failure rate of most traditional diets.” That’s what Rebecca Scritchfield, a registered dietician and author tells us in her book, Body Kindness.

Think about that, Mujer! We spend billions of dollars a year on diets that don’t work.

So here’s the magic formula that is going to crack the code: First, stop dieting. Then, mix one part self-love and self-acceptance, and one part make small healthy changes over time. This will build the life-long habits that will turn you into a Super Mujer. That’s it!

Habits are the building blocks of life. 

How Habits Tie into Our Identity

I came across some interesting work by James Clear, author of the New York Times Bestseller, Atomic Habits. He has some insights on habits and he ties habits with identity

The basic premise he explains is that in order to change habits, you need to “embody” the new behavior. In order for it to turn it into a habit, it needs to become a part of your identity. Make it part of who you are and how you express yourself.  

This made perfect sense to me…I remembered many years ago, when my friend and creative writing mentor, Miriam Sagan, gave me some very good advice about being a writer. 

I was just beginning my life as a short story writer and I told her I was worried that I would never become a writer because I would never get published. And this is what she said to me, “Honey, a writer is not someone who gets published. A writer is someone who writes.”

At first, I didn’t get it. “I’m not sure what you mean,” I said.

She said, “The way to become a writer is to do what a writer does. That’s it. If you want to become a writer, write.”

The second explanation made more sense to me and I have called myself a writer ever since. And yes, I have had lots of my work published, but publishing didn’t make me a writer. Writing made me a writer. I first had to own my identity as a writer and then do what a writer does.

My daughter is another good example of this. Sada is a dancer. Her identity is wrapped up in being a dancer. She dances. When she doesn’t dance, she doesn’t feel like herself. And that is because she is not doing what a dancer does. A dancer dances.

A cyclists cycles. A cook cooks. A mother mothers. Get the picture?

The Healthy Latina Identity

Now, let’s talk about our identity as Latinas. What do you do as a Latina that makes you a Latina? Think about it. I am sure you can come up with a few examples. ¿Cómo te latinas? How do you Latinize yourself?

Now let’s jump to a Healthy Latina identity. I call myself a Healthy Latina. That is part of who I am and what I do. Am I at the “ideal weight” according to the BMI charts? Nope. Do I eat donuts? Yup. De vez en cuando. Do I love me a good bizcochito once in a while? ¡Absolutamente! Con un cafectio por favor.

Donuts and bizcochitos notwithstanding, the way I embody my identity as a Healthy Latina is by what I do on a daily basis. Every day, I eat fruits and veggies. I bike. I walk. I get my sleep. I drink my water. Those habits are all part of what makes me a Healthy Latina. Do I do this all the time? No. But I can tell you that these are my healthy habits that help me own my identity as a Healthy Latina.

A word of caution about labels and identity: There is so much research out there that points to the health problems that we Latinas and Latinx face. These health problems are real, but it is not, nor should it be, part of our identity. For example, having diabetes doesn’t make you “A Diabetic.” You have diabetes, you are a person with diabetes but you, my dear, are not A Diabetic.  

We can be Healthy Latinas. We can claim that identity for ourselves and do what Healthy Latinas do.

Choose how you want to identify yourself and own it. Embody your identity and don’t let anyone pin a label on you that you don’t want. 

What makes you a Healthy Latina? 

Tell me. Start practicing those healthy habits now. Start small. Build Up. Poquito por poquito

 

References: 

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Book by James Clear

October 2018

Penguin Random House

 

Body Kindness: Transform Your Health from the Inside Out–and Never Say Diet Again

Book by Rebecca Scritchfield

December 2016

Workman Publishing

 

 

 

  • Lori Matiella

    Hola, I love this article. This is a great boost for us who tend to judge ourselves over our body type, weight, etc…I know I am a healthy Latina because I am aware that I need to take control of my own self talk. We want to embrace our latinaness but fall short because of what we have heard from our relatives, friends, media and culture. Since I started readying the De las Mias blogs I have learned to accept and embrace and yes, change some of my habits to healthier habits!

  • S Rivera Roca

    Wow! I love this article! It’s just what we were talking about this morning…like I said to you, it wasn’t until I stopped stressing about sticking to a diet and reaching a certain weight that I started losing weight without effort.
    The key for me has been for me to accept that I will NEVER be a size 6…but a size12 is ok and I’m 1 size away from that. Yes, my weight loss has been ssssllloooowwww, but it’s happening. My curvas are what makes me me, and as I’ve gotten older and slightly wiser 😜 I’m embracing those curvitas.
    Bottom line is that I’ve realized that while looking good is always a plus, FEELING good is what it’s all about. Feeling good allows you to participate in life…con gusto! Cuantas palitos have I known who may be that size 2 but their health keeps them sidelined because they don’t have the energy or strength to enjoy life.
    No, amiga…mejor ser sana y un poquito gordita que wila y enferma.

  • Everly Macario

    It’s funny, because I didn’t view myself as a “Latina” until I came to the U.S. as an eight-year-old immigrant. That is when others around me started to refer to me as a “Latina” when, at most, I may have identified as an “Argentinean” and more naturally viewed myself as just a girl in the world. It’s taken growing up and going to school in this country, as well as marrying an American man for me to understand what my Latina identity means to me—indeed, over the years have I striven to fortify my Latina-ness through the intentionality in my efforts to maintain my Spanish fluency, however uncomfortable I might find myself in certain Spanish-only scenarios. (I think many immigrants share that feeling of not fully belonging in either the country of origin or destination country.) So much of my connection to my Latino roots is food-related. Every summer—winter in Argentina—I spent with my paternal grandparents on their cattle farm with gauchos roaming on horses in La Provincia de San Luis—Las Pampas, Argentina. Here is where I was habituated into the daily dietary routine of eating food “from the land” / “as close to its natural source.” This meant fruits and vegetables from trees and gardens, eggs from hens, and meat from chickens, pigs, and cows killed earlier that day or week. That is why proteins packaged in Styrofoam, wrapped in plastic wrap, and processed foods feel “wrong” to me till this day. One of the healthiest approaches to the way I live life now is in the preparation of food using sustainable, organic, grass-fed (for beef), unprocessed, local, and seasonal ingredients (to the extent possible). This has even influenced my daughter Elena to plant vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers), fruits (raspberries, strawberries), and herbs (oregano, thyme, basil) in the raised garden bed behind our urban house. At the farm in Argentina (“La Chiquita”), physical activity was not something to schedule in one’s daily itinerary—it was built into the way one lives life—whether sweeping the floor, handwashing clothes, feeding chickens, kneading potato dough for gnocchi, or rounding up cows. I think this has been imprinted in my being, even though my own work has me sitting in front of a computer, I get up every 30 minutes or so to also sweep the floor, wash dishes, make beds, fold clothes, weed the yard—anything that will keep my body moving. My every day routine is also marked by multiple trips to the kitchen to get hot water from the whistling kettle to fill a cup of mate—ideally accompanied by an alfajor in the afternoon. Indeed, my tea breaks are part of my daily personal wellness plan, along with assuring I get enough sleep every night and pushing myself to engage in somewhat regular socializing—this includes scheduling walks with friends. At this stage of my life, given that I am not as active as before and my metabolism has changed, instead of restricting certain types of food, I continue to eat whatever I want—but I do make a conscious effort to simply eat less of it in any one sitting.

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