Be Proud of Yourself, Chica!


As humans, we tend to feel embarrassed of ourselves sometimes for things that make us unique or different. We can feel insecure because of our smile, how we speak, our height, our dreams, ideas, or anything else that makes us distinct. In fact, we should embrace all of that! Here are 5 things that can make you value and appreciate yourself more as a person:

Remember That Being Different is Good

There’s no one else like you, there won’t be someone exactly like you. Sometimes we tend to feel bad for some flaws we have, but it’s normal. It is important to stop criticizing yourself for your flaws and what makes you different. “Tell your inner critic to be quiet,” recommends the website. “If you have a mean thought about yourself, see if you can change it to something positive instead.”  We all have a purpose here and were created to do something great. Your voice, your mind, your ideas, your face, your hands, even your eyes are different from the rest.

Get inspired by others

Even when we don’t realize it, we make a mark on people’s lives. Whether it is through kind words or by a simple action, that can leave someone thinking about what they’re doing wrong and think about changing it.

“I used to have a friend who wanted to learn how to dance. She went for it, even if she didn’t know how to and it made me realize that the biggest failure would be not trying. No matter how much time it takes,” said Pamela Herrera,18. Inspired by her friend, Pamela decided not to shy away from trying new things because of fear of failure. This motivated Pamela to embrace her wish to learn to dance and she enrolled in a dance program. You never know when a small act of kindness or kind words can encourage others.

You’ve done some amazing things in your life

Stay focused on the amazing things you have done in your life, remain positive. You’ve seen some places other’s have not and you have made friends that you won’t forget. There are some memories that will stay with you forever. Think about your first party, when you won a prize for something, your first concert, a road trip or any other great moment in your life. You’re special for having experienced and accomplished that, even if there are times when you compare your life to others and you think that you’re missing out on something. Time will come and you will get your chance to do something great as well.

When she is feeling down, Melissa remembers to reflect on some of her favorite experiences. “One time when I was little, my brother took me to see a Broadway play, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” says Melissa Hernandez,19.

“I went to see my favorite band after days of looking for tickets. It was amazing, I was on the front row, but the most important thing was that my dad was there with me, we’ve never shared a moment like that before,” shared Alejandra Valdez,19.

You have dreams and goals to achieve

You have dreams to accomplish in life, you have your own goals and wishes that will lead you to great things in life. But to achieve this, you have to work hard and prepare yourself for it. Dreams do not run to your hands, you have to go out and chase them.

Luz Espinoza,19, stays focused on her goal to keep her confident and driven. ”I hope that one day I can get to be an actress, that’s my main goal in life”.

Your mind is like no other

All of those things you feel, think and like are unique, there’s no other person in the world that thinks like you do. Every dream, every thing that you want to accomplish, go for it. You’re capable of doing great things. 

To finish, I’ll leave you with one thing: you should be proud of yourself. You’ve come so far in life; keep going, be happy with who you are, and always try to improve in every way that you can. You can do anything you set yourself to.

At-Home Workouts for Busy Chicas

Being a student can definitely make it hard to fit in time for a workout. However, it is definitely something that will benefit you in the long run to have the energy to do your best at school and work. When you are stressed out because of an upcoming exam or maybe just a bad day, you can relieve stress in a healthy way that also makes you feel great.Having an active and healthy lifestyle can not only boost energy and improve your mood, but it can be a fun way to maintain healthy. There are lots of ways to stay active without having to leave your home. Here are a couple of personal favorites.

1. Jumping Lunge

a) Get in a lunge position with one foot in front and one foot behind with your hips dropped into a squat. (Keep your chest upright throughout complete movement.)

b) Begin with normal lunge, with front leg at an angle in the squat position and back leg behind you.

c) Squat body up into a jump.

d) Replace your feet in the air, moving back leg in front, and front leg in back.

e) Go straight into lunge with opposite legs.

f) Repeat on other leg. Perform 10 reps on one side, and then the other. This counts as one set. Do this four times.

2. Curtsy Lunge

a) Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands on your hips.

b) Take a large step back with your left leg, crossing it behind your right.

c) Bend your knees and lower your hips until your right thigh is practically corresponding to the floor.

d) Keep your chest upright and your hips and shoulders as straight as possible.

e) Return to start.

f) Repeat on other leg. Perform 10 reps on one side, and then the other. This counts as one set. Do this four times. (Feel free to add weight once you master the form.)

3. Jumping Squat


a) Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms hanging at your sides.

b) Squat down until your knees are bent. (As if you are sitting on a chair)

c) Immediately sway your arms over your head and jump up as high as you can

d) When landing, gently bend your knees and fall back down into the squat position.

e) Repeat 10 reps per set, do four sets. (Swaying your arms will give you momentum so you can catch more air!)

4. One-Leg Squat (with back leg elevated)

-This exercise requires a bench or chair(around one or two feet high).

a) Place your working foot a couple feet away from the chair and place the balance keeping foot flat on the chair.

b) The frontward knee should be inline with the toe of the working foot as you drop down into a squat.

c) Repeat on other leg. Perform 10 reps on one side, and then the other. This counts as one set. Do four sets. (Brace your core a all times.)

5. Skateboard Abs

-This exercise requires a skateboard.

a) Getting into a push-up position, carefully place the skateboard at the tips of your feet and place your hands up in front of you on the floor, shoulder’s width apart.

b) Pull in the skateboard using your core muscles.

c) Pull out the skateboard using core muscles.

d) Repeat 10 reps per set, do four sets.

Zumba Your Heart Out

DSC_0259Dancing Salsa may have been considered exercise before, but now it’s one of the most popular exercising techniques around. The Zumba craze began in the 1990s and was started by a Colombian dancer. Imagine how many other salsa dancers were upset when they found out they could have gotten so many people across the globe to take place in a fitness routine revolved around doing what you love.

Zumba is now officially trademarked by Zumba Fitness, LLC., and it is basically a dance routine that is done to Latin music, mostly, as well as other genres of music. Although Zumba can be learned by almost anyone, has a series of programs and workout videos that can be purchased in order to help people participate in the exercise program in the correct and healthy manner. When on the website, there’s even a link to find out how to become a Zumba teacher if you’d like to teach at a gym in your area or just with friends.

Although Zumba can be done alone, the more the merrier! If someone wants to make their own dance routine, she could always choose a song, look up some salsa moves, and make them work with the beat. That’s exactly what Julia Sloan, 20, did for her women’s retreat. She chose a song she liked, Dance Again by Jennifer Lopez, looked up some Zumba videos on Youtube, and just made her own routine to the song and taught it to a group of women. “It was great and I had so much fun,” she said after the retreat.

Even celebrity Latinas love doing Zumba because it’s so healthy and fun to do. Jennifer Lopez (Puerto Rican), Eva Longoria (Mexican), Shakira (Colombian), and Eva LaRue (Puerto Rican) are only some of the many Latina celebrities who include Zumba in their daily workout routines.

According to, “we take the “work” out of workout, by mixing low-intensity and high-intensity moves for an interval-style, calorie-burning dance fitness party. Once the Latin and World rhythms take over, you’ll see why Zumba® Fitness classes are often called exercise in disguise. Super effective? Check. Super fun? Check and check.”

If boredom strikes and there’s nothing to do in your town (or if there is), Zumba  your heart out. “I’ve always wanted to try Zumba,” said Alejandra Luna, 16. “But I never wanted to do it alone. I never thought of looking up videos on Youtube and just doing it with my friends.”

What isn’t to love? Great music and loads of fun dancing in a room with your friends! That’s gotta be one of the best workouts that’s ever existed. Curious about how to get into a class in your area? Hit up the Zumba website. It is extremely user friendly and contains plenty of information about classes, teachers, programs, and so on.

As the website says, “Zumba is for everybody, and every body!”

DIY: Holiday Recipes

Holiday season is just around the corner! It  is the  best time to pamper family and friends with the ultimate holiday desserts, YUM! Check out these recipes that are guaranteed to make you and your family’s sweet tooth happy. These recipes require you to use the stove or oven, so ask an adult for help on making one of these delicious treats.

Rainbow Cake for Santa

This Oreo inspired recipe wrks best with the help from another person. Plus, it makes it more fun!

For this recipe you will need:

  • 15 Oreo cookies
  • 2 bars of cream cheese
  • 90 grams of no salt butter
  • 1 tbsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup of table cream
  • 1 cup of condensed milk
  • 2 packages of unflavored gelatin
  • ¾ cup of water
  • 3 plastic bags with a seal
  • Santa mold (preferably plastic)
  • Red food colorantRainbow pie 1

After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.       Take the white center of the cookie and put the cookies into one of the plastic bags. You don’t need the white center part of the cookie for this recipe, so you can eat it or set it aside.

2.       Crush the cookies until there are no more chunks of it. That’s right, it’s just dust!
Rainbow pie 2Rainbow pie 3

3.       Put the cookie dust into a bowl and mix it with butter. Using your hands to mix both ingredients makes the whole process easier!
Rainbow pie 4

4.       Move this mix to the bottom of the mold and push until it is flat.

Rainbow pie 5

5.       Place the mold with the mix into the refrigerator until it is cold and hard.

6.       Mix water with the 2 packages of gelatin and place it into a microwave for 80 seconds.

7.     Next, while the mold is in the refrigerator, get a bowl and mix cream cheese, condensed milk, cream, vanilla extract and the juice of the lemon.
Rainbow pie 8

8.       Wait for the water with gelatin to cool, and, once it’s ready, pour it into the mix.

9.       Keep mixing until there are no more lumps.

10.   Separate the mix into the 4 bags, add food coloring to two and leave the other natural.
Rainbow pie 11

Rainbow pie 12

11.   Take the mold out of the refrigerator and cut a corner of the bag so the mix can be poured into the mold.

12.   Do layers, mixing one layer of red and one layer of natural mix, until you have 4 layers.

Rainbow pie 13

13.   Put the mold with the mix into the refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours. Then, take the mix out of the mold after the 3 hours are up!
Rainbow pie 17

Rainbow pie 19


For this recipe you will need:

  •  200 grams of dark chocolate
  • 1 tbsp. of butter
  • ¼ cup of whip cream
  • 1/3 cup of hazelnut cream
  • 2 cups of white chocolateRainbow pie 16

 After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.      Place a container inside a large pan with water. Then, under a simmering heat, melt the dark chocolate and add the butter, whip cream, and hazelnut cream.

truffles 1


truffles 2

2.       Once everything is melted, mix it and put it into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

truffles 3

3.       After the 2 hours, get the mix out of the refrigerator. Use a Parisian spoon to make little balls and put them over sealed paper.

4.       If they’re not hard enough, place them into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.

5.       While you wait, start melting the white chocolate in the microwave.

6.      With help of a toothpick, immerse the truffle into the melted white chocolate.

7.       Then, add decorations of chocolate.

8.       Put them into the freezer for a few minutes, enjoy!

Cookie Christmas tree

 For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 recipients
  • 2 cups of flour
  • ¼ tbsp. of salt
  • ½ tbsp. of baking powder
  • 1 bar of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. of milk
  • ½ tbsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1 cling wrap
  • Star molds (different sizes)
  • A rolling pin
  • Skewer sticks
  • Vanilla icingcookies 1

After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.       In recipient #1 mix flour, salt and baking powder.
cookies 2

2.       In recipient #2 mix melted butter, sugar, milk, vanilla, and an egg.
cookies 4cookies 5

3.       Mix recipient #1 and #2 together.

4.       Wrap the mix to the cling wrap and put into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

5.       Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

6.       Put flour in a flat surface and spread the mix with a rolling pin.

7.      Take the star cookie cutter and press gently onto the cookie mix. Don’t forget to use molds of different sizes because this will shape the Christmas tree!

8.       Then, spread a thin layer of butter onto a cookie tray. Place the cookies you just cut out onto the tray and insert tray into the oven.

9.       Bake them until they’re lightly toasted, take them out, and let them cool off for 10 minutes.

10.   After they have cooled down, you are going to stack the cookies into the shape of a Christmas tree. Put them one over the other, from the biggest to the smallest one, on a plate. Put a stick into the center of the top cookie and connect with the rest of the cookies.

11.   Add vanilla icing to decorate the cookies and enjoy!


Holiday Punch

Looking for a quick recipe that doesn’t involve an oven? Holiday punch can be just as festive.

For this recipe you will need:

  • 4 guavas
  • 3 pears
  • 3 apples
  • ½ cup of raisins
  • ½ cup Roselle dried flower
  • 1 cup of tamarind
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 ½ lt. of water
  • 250 grams of sugar or piloncillo

 After you have gathered the ingredients, follow these easy steps:

1.       Cut the fruit in small pieces.

2.       Place a cinnamon stick inside a pot of water. Turn on the stove and let the water boil.

3.       Once the water starts to boil, add tamarind, fruits, Roselle dried flower, and sugar or piloncillo.

4.      Keep an eye on the pot and occasionally stir while it heats up. It will be ready when the fruit changes color.

5.       When the fruit changes color, turn off the heat and let it cool.

6.       When it stops boiling, add raisins, mix the contents, and serve.

The holidays provide the perfect opportunities to test out new or old recipes. With the help of an adult, making these recipes can be a breeze!

Hairstyle MatchMaker

There are so many hairstyles in this world, but so little hair! There are so many factors when it comes to picking the perfect style for your hair. Whether you’re a person that’s always on-the-go or someone who likes to take things slow, there is a perfect haircut for everybody! Something that is important to think about when choosing your haircut is your face shape and personality.

Hair Length

Something to carefully consider is the length of your hair; how long or short do you want your hair to be? If you are a girl who is always in a rush to get to school, then a short to medium length is a good option. The longer your hair gets, the more maintenance it requires because it starts to lose its strength. That is why girls with long hair will take longer than a girl with short hair. If you want long healthy hair, then you have to be patient and be willing to work with your hair by buying conditioners and other products to help strengthen it. So, if you’re a chica who is looking for some spice and easy handling, then a cute short hairstyle could be the thing for you.

There are many hairstyles out there that can truly make a girl look cute and professional while saving time by being easy to handle. If you are a girl that has time and the patience, then a long length could be the way to go! Many girls can get irritated by split ends and tangles, and that its why maintaining long hair can be a challenge. Although, with patience comes rewards. Long hair is also a good option for fashionistas who love to do exciting things such as curling and braid hairstyles that can only be obtained with long hair.

Hair Texture

Hair can be thick, thin, straight, wavy, and curly. To find the perfect haircut, think about your hair texture If you want a short hairstyle and you have curly hair, remember that your curls can shrink up the shorter it gets. Therefore, if you cut an inch then the final product is that your hair will get shorter by two inches or more — depending on your curls. Hair can also change depending on the length. For example, a chica with wavy hair might get straighter the shorter the length is. You’ve had your hair for years, so you know how wild or tame it can get. Take some time to understand how exactly your texture changes when it comes to haircuts by straightening it, wetting it, or simply measuring it.

Face Shape

Face shape is also a very important factor when it comes to the foundation of your haircut. A haircut can either compliment or bud heads with it. If you happen to have a round face shape, long hair will actually make it look less round. If you have a shorter hairstyle, your face might appear more rounder. If you happen to have a long face than long hair might make your face look even longer. If you have a square face, then you might consider wanting to get choppy ends to even out your strong-like features.



Your personality can also influence the type of haircut you should get.  A new haircut can boost your confidence, so if you think that you look fabulous with a short bob, even though you have a round face, then go for it! The feeling you get after getting a haircut is mainly influenced by your attitude and personality. If you are fun and creative, and you like long, big curls, then you’ll love long hair. If you’re more on the shy side and don’t want to go a little too crazy, trimming, adding bangs, or even adding layers is the best bet. And if you’re an athlete or an avid traveler, then a short and fun hairstyle would most likely be the best option for you.


By picking the perfect haircut, you’ll be enhancing your beauty, personality, and even lifestyle. There are guidelines when it comes to picking hairstyles that flatter your features, but remember that you have the right to break the rules and still be beautiful. The best thing about the haircut is that it is not permanent — hair grows! Have fun and experiment to find the perfect match made in heaven haircut for you. Remember chicas, you’re all fabulous and beautiful.

Staying Fit for a Healthier You

Fitness is a mixture of staying physically active and eating a variety of foods to help keep your heart, mind and body balanced. Most people choose a fit life because they want to feel great about themselves, because when you feel good it shows on the outside — great vibes all around!

Benefits of Exercising

Latinitas El Paso - Summer Camp, Yoga Session

Latinitas El Paso – Summer Camp, Yoga Session

Physical activity can reduce stress and help you feel content. Brain chemicals, called serotonin are released during exercise, and they improve your overall mindset. Melissa Gomez, 7, says, “I like to ride my bike on trails. My dad takes me to the park and I ride my bike and he walks. I go a lot with my dad since my friends don’t live around here.”

Staying Active

Working out with a friend helps keep you motivated to have an active lifestyle. Being on a team helps create a tight bond with friends. For example, Angelina Diaz, 27, says, “I like to come to the park with both my aunt and my three daughters. I like watching them have fun.”

Her daughter, Mya, 3, jumps from one end of the hill to the next. “I would like to see my daughters live an active lifestyle. I know they look up to me. I do play soccer. I met some of my best friends on my team. So, as they get older I will encourage them to take up soccer like I am,” Diaz says.

Mya screams out, “Swing!” and proceeds to run from the hill top to the swing at the playground. Diaz says that though her aunt and other family members are overweight, she does her best to limit fast food and encourage more time outside so that her children remain consistently active.

In a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2011-2012, it found that Hispanic obesity (being overweight) was slightly higher than any other group at a percent of 22.4% that set off the epidemic into adulthood. Having an active lifestyle at a young age helps decrease chances of obesity into adulthood. The benefits of physical exercise include the prevention of cardiovascular disease and obesity, as well as improving overall health, being more energetic, and being more confident.

Jenna Duenez, 8, says, “I play handball at school every day.” Her mother is quick to say that it isn’t only about being active, but the types of food consumed.

“It’s also a matter of what chemicals are in our foods. We live a no meat, no dairy diet and find that my daughter is growing with these eating habits just fine,” Duenez’ mother explains.

Duenez says, “I like coming to the park with my brother and mom. We like to walk around and play on the playground.”

Eating healthy means having a balanced diet with a lot of fruits and vegetables. Even though Duenez does not eat meat or dairy products, like milk and cheese, you can lead a healthy lifestyle by reducing the amount of junk food, like chips, coke, fast food, etc., in your diet.

Melissa Gomez, 7, says, ““I don’t drink soda’ cause it rots your teeth…I drink lots of water… it helps me stay cool.”

Finding the Motivation to Exercise

Though overweight children have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self esteem, Kimberly Avalos, 13, and Ana Espinoza, 14, are the best of friends with the same journey. Avalos says, “I used to be a little thicker, well chubby. I was always so depressed.”

Espinoza adds, “Me too! I really wanted to feel better about myself. I was hoping to join the dance team by this year, so last summer Kimberly and me started running at the school park. Then we got into doing yoga to help stay flexible, and,well….”

“Now we’re both on the dance team,” Avalos finishes.

Avalos explains, “I get why we run in gym class. I get that it helps our self-esteem. It’s helped mine. When I see other people in gym who don’t try, Ana and I like to be positive and tell them, “You can do it. Hustle! Hustle! Hustle!”

“We mainly try to say encouraging positive words because we both know how it was to be chubby.”

Having a positive support group, like your best friend, can be the motivation you need to go start exercising. A little “sì, se puede” from a friend can make a 15 minute walk around the park seem like 1 minute!

Ana adds, “Staying active starts off slow.

“There is a lot of pressure to look good from artists like Becky G and Jennifer Lopez, I like to tell myself that I do this to feel better about myself, to be a better person and be body powerful,” Espinoza adds.

Physical education can encourage a fit body and mind. It helps fuel the mind and pumps the heart to alleviate the stress and prepare students to do their best in school.

You too can take small steps in achieving a fit lifestyle. Encourage family and friends to ride bikes to the park or walk around town to find a new location to talk to talk to other kids your age.

Gluten-Free Dessert Pizza

Gluten intolerance has become more common in many people today.  More often than not, many are gluten intolerant without even knowing! Being gluten intolerant means your body is rejecting gluten, which is commonly found in foods process from wheat. They may be experiencing stomach troubles and not able to figure out why this is so. Since gluten intolerance is becoming more and more common, many foods have become available to these people in the past year or so.

This  gluten-free dessert pizza recipe is for those who are gluten intolerant but still want to be able to eat delicious foods like everyone else! Not to mention, this may be more healthy than many other desserts out there.


What You Will Need:


1 large ripe banana

1 box Gluten Free Graham Crackers

3 tbsp agave (or honey)


3/4 container Cool Whip

1/4 cup cream cheese

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup sugar

Before beginning, preheat the oven to 350ºF.

To start off, crush the graham crackers until it becomes almost like a flour texture. To do this, you can use a food processor or manually. After this is done, add the ripe banana and agave, or honey, into the graham cracker crumbs. Combine these ingredients with either an electric mixer or a fork, so that the banana is mashed completely or until the mixture will turn into a dough.

Next, grease a baking sheet, and roll out your dough mixture onto the sheet—flattening it into your desired shape. If you would like, indent the edges of the dough with a fork (like you would on empanadas) to add a little decoration to it.

Once this is done, place the crust into the oven for 12-15 minutes. Check on it periodically. It is done when the crust has a cookie-like texture.

While the crust is baking, prepare the frosting topping.

Add all the frosting ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until the frosting is whipped and creamy. Refrigerate the frosting mixture until it becomes firm. While the topping is firming up, let the crust cool down on the baking sheet.

To decorate your dessert pizza, grab your favorite fruits and other toppings such as nuts and seeds. Set them out and have them ready to use as toppings for your dessert pizza while your frosting is firming up and your crust is cooling down.

Decorate your pizza however you desire and have fun with it! It is healthy and safe to eat for those who are gluten intolerant.

Latinas Living Healthy

Did you know Latinos are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States? That’s right, according to the U.S Census Bureau, there are approximately 52 million Latinos living in the country! With a population like that, you would think Latinos would surely be healthy, right? Well, according the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one-third of Latinos in the U.S. do not have access to health insurance and are facing some pretty serious health conditions like Cancer and High Blood Pressure. Diseases like these and many more are becoming a noticeable trend amongst Latinos and are indeed affecting La Raza of all ages.

Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama addressed the topic of Latino Health and stated that a whopping “Forty percent of Hispanic children are overweight and 50 percent are on track to develop diabetes.” With data like this, you may be pretty worried about you and your loved ones also becoming part of the statistics, but, don’t panic just yet, there’s good news! Simple lifestyle changes like exercising and eating healthy can drastically improve your health and lower your chances of diseases.

Water - healthy option

San Jose State University alum, Karen Gonzalez, says when you choose healthier snacks and leave the sugary drinks behind, life has more to offer.

“Health is important because you cannot enjoy the pleasures of life or any aspects of life to the fullest if your health is not a priority,” shares Karen.

While some focus on their health to enjoy present times to the maximum, other like Claudia Candelas says she maintains a healthy lifestyle today to make her future brighter. The Public Relations major says, “I want to be healthy when I have my children in order to be more active and keep up with them, eating clean and staying active is part of my life.”

Finding healthier food alternatives can be somewhat difficult so ask your parents for their full support and make it a family lifestyle change all together. Join them on grocery store visits and even offer to find new healthy recipes to whip up together. You’ll show your parents and family that you are actively taking interest in your health, which will inspire them and many more to take preventative action against health diseases in the Latino community.

Now that you know the value and importance of living a healthy lifestyle, the next step is in your hands.Doctors typically recommend daily physical activity anywhere from 30-45 minutes so find a local hiking trail or grab a few girlfriends, a softball bat and a new attitude to hit your health out of the park!

Your Questions About Body Image, Answered

1. My friends are always calling themselves fat even though they’re not. I weigh more than they do and it sucks that they’re always calling themselves fat. They make me feel like a whale. Should I tell them something? I’m worried that they’ll make fun of me. 

Yes, tell them something! Friends should always be able to talk and be honest with one another. What’s more, I think you’ll probably be surprised by what this conversation brings to light. Notice that you don’t think they’re fat, even though they call themselves fat. Could it be that the way they’re looking at their own bodies is way too critical? And if that’s the case, isn’t it also possible that you’re being way too critical of your own body when you say you feel like a whale?

Talk to each other. Listen. Use this opportunity to help bring each other up, rather than putting each other down. We’re always hardest on ourselves, and what are friends for if not to help us see the good in each other?

2. My mom calls me “gordita” and makes comments that my clothes are feeling tight. It bothers me, but every time I bring it up she tells me I’m being dramatic.

First of all, know that you’re not being dramatic—words are powerful and for some reason in our culture, words like “gordita” and “flaca” are considered terms of affection, even though I’ve never met anyone who actually enjoys being called either. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our loved ones called us by nicknames that are a reflection of who we are rather than how we look?

In fact, next time your mom calls you “gordita,” ask her to think of a new nickname for you—one based off her favorite quality about you. Make it something you both can do together: ask her to pick a few names, tell her which ones you like and which ones you don’t, and why.

If she continues to comment about your clothes or say that you’re being dramatic, don’t let that stop you from speaking up. Tell her, “You may think I’m being dramatic, but it’s only because this is a big deal to me. Can we please talk about it?”

3. I started to lie about what I eat to lose weight. My friends are telling me it’s not healthy, but I’d rather be skinny than be fat. How do I make them realize it’s what I want?  

Let’s start with the issue of lying. Ever notice that we only lie when we know something we’re doing isn’t right? You should never have to lie about your eating habits, so why do you feel you have to? Could it be because you think your friends might be right? It sounds to me like they’re concerned about your health, and are worried that you aren’t eating enough in an effort to lose weight. If this is the case, they’re right. There are healthy and effective ways to lose weight, but lying about what you eat and starving isn’t one of them.

It’s time to be very honest with yourself and those who care about you. Are you trying to be “skinny” because it’s something you really want, or are you hoping to look like the supposedly perfect models we see in magazines or in the movies? The problem with having “skinny” be a personal goal is that we end up pursuing an idea of perfection that doesn’t exist. Skinny models and actresses in magazines are Photoshopped to look pounds and pounds lighter than they are in real life. This means that girls who end up pursuing this idea of skinny can never reach that goal, because that goal is a lie.

But, you know what’s a great goal to have? To be healthy and strong. If you want to feel good about your body, start by treating it right—no negative thoughts like calling yourself fat allowed. Make sure that your body is getting the foods and nutrients it needs, and find fun ways to exercise like playing sports, dancing, or whatever other fun activities you enjoy. Ask your parents to help you pack meals that are healthier for you.

You’ll find that eating better and getting exercise creates some positive changes in your body, like giving you more energy and helping you get stronger so you can do more of the things you love. Take care of your body and it’ll take care of you. Honestly.

4. Every time I go to a family member’s house they serve me soooo much food! I try to be nice and say I don’t want that much, but they get offended. I don’t want to be fat like them, what do I do? 

First, thank them for the food. Oftentimes food is how family members express their love and affection, so it might be hard for Abuela or Tia to not take it personally when you turn down their homemade meal. Keep this in mind as you tell them how much you want—it’s not that you don’t appreciate them cooking for you, and it’s not that you don’t like the food, it’s just that you want to enjoy it without feeling super full afterwards. Try to make this clear to them, and well, if they still serve you too much, listen to your body and stop eating when you’re no longer hungry, not when you’re feeling stuffed. Offer to put away your dish and thank them again for the meal. Keep this up and they’ll get the message eventually—no one likes to see food go to waste!

Most importantly, treat each other with respect and kindness. Nobody likes being called fat, and if you judge your own family by their looks and weight, you’re bound to judge yourself by the same measures. We are all so much more than that.

Latina Health: Small Changes

Healthy foods often get a bad rap in a world filled with diet fads, endless salty and sweet snack foods, and a media that says it’s “okay” to be curvy but better to be thin with an endless supply of enticing snack products. These contradictory messages and food influences are especially dangerous for Latinas.

The Latina community has a higher risk compared to other minority groups for developing health problems such as: obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. According to a 2010 study from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of Latinas (ages 6-19) were considered obese, and nearly 75% of Latina women had already developed some type of diabetes.These health issues are partly influenced by family health history, but they can be largely prevented by individuals who make healthy lifestyle choices — especially in nutrition.

Healthy Changes are possible!

Melissa Alvear, a Professional Chef based in Seattle, WA, emphasizes the importance of taking responsibility for your health and lifestyle. In the past, Alvear reached 300 pounds before she decided to make changes in her life.

“My mother has diabetes, and I realized that was my future if I continued living the way I did,” Alvear said.

She took control of her health by enrolling at the Natural Epicurean, a professional culinary school in Austin, Tx, where chefs are trained in healthy and savory cooking techniques. Alvear is now able to honor her family’s heritage while making delicious and heart-healthy food.

“Latinas look at food as a part of the family, and together it bonds us all,” she said. “At the same time, we are confused by the American diet- we need to go back to our roots.”

Mandy Seay, a Professional Health Consultant and Dietician located in Austin, Tx, encourages Latinas to take control of their health by taking control of what is on their plates.

“Please don’t overly restrict yourself. One thing I see happen more often than not, is that people who want to change their diet, think that they must limit themselves greatly.One of the best tools is the healthy plate. This is the best way to eat – it’s balanced and provides a lot of nutrients and quite a bit of food,” states Seay.

Both Alvear and Seay were able to give readers helpful tips and advice on Buena Salud, or how to implement small, healthy changes in their daily lives.

Get Involved with Your Food:

Alvear encourages girls to get involved with their food. “Don’t be afraid to experiment with food. You can still make the same flavors you love by playing with spices and ingredients,” both shared.

Make small realistic, goals for your health and nutrition:

Seay advises individuals to “make small goals each week (no more than 2-3 goals) for food and exercise and then evaluate at the end of the week. If you achieved them, great – keep doing them and then add one more goal. If you didn’t achieve them, either try again or revise your goals to make them more realistic.”

Everything in moderation:

Both Seay and Alvear emphasize eating in moderation. “Remember splurging every once in a while is fine,” Seay said. “Eat 80/20. Eighty percent of the time eat healthy, 20% of the time have a treat,” she added.

Avoid mindless eating:

“You can still have a couple of cookies,” said Alvear, “but count them out and avoid eating in front of the TV, computer or on the phone. Try eating a snack outside!”

It is time for young Latinas to redefine what it means to “eat healthy”, and to realize the importance of  having a buena salud. The world needs strong Latinas; It is important for young women to realize that as individuals and members of the global community, every Latina matters.

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