I want to be a Latino health leader for Hispanicize 2013

A little over three years ago, I was suffering from chronic headaches. I thought it was my vision, thinking I was due for my yearly test. I went and had my vision checked, but the headaches continued. A few weeks later, I had my annual visit with my gynecologist scheduled, and as the nurse was taking my vitals she noticed the numbers were unusually high. She took them twice more, thinking it might have been an error, before she asked the doctor to review the numbers and they checked they compared them with those in my chart from previous visits. According to their records, the last time my blood pressure was high was during the later weeks of my pregnancy, two years prior. After my examination, he asked that I see my primary doctor as I seemed to be suffering from hypertension.

My primary doctor confirmed the hypertension diagnosis and grew concerned because of my family’s history with high blood pressure. He advised me that we had to monitor it as it was getting way too high. He asked me if I was stressed, and I immediately responded “yes”. Circumstances at work had changed and the environment had become quite tense. Additionally, my husband was going through management changes at work and was going through difficulties as well. My doctor prescribed a beta blocker, had me monitor my blood pressure at least three times a week, asked that I improve my diet by limiting salt intake and drinking more water, and that I try to do more exercise. When I told him the only exercise I do is chase the kids around the house, he frowned at me and told me I need to actually do an activity, like walk around the neighborhood for 30 minutes a few times a week. Never really an active person, I moaned about it when I got home to hubby.

I took the beta blocker for about six months, but didn’t do anything about exercise. There was always an excuse: “I don’t have time”, “it’s too hot”, “I forgot”. But then I realized that I didn’t want to be on medication forever. The beta blocker was doing its job, but if I could improve my health naturally that would be even better. A friend convinced me to try running, and after some more moaning I gave it a shot. There really was nothing to lose. At first I didn’t do well at all, I couldn’t run for more than a minute and it took me forever to recuperate after a run. But soon I could run without gasping for air, and eventually I could run and comfortably have a conversation. Now, I’ve got over a dozen 5K’s under my belt, and 5 half marathons too!

My eating habits changed as well. I used to skip breakfast, but I have made it a point to have something early on in the day, even if it’s a yogurt and some juice. While I still love to have my rice and black beans, and we do have burgers or pizza once in a while, I’ve tried to cut down portions, and have incorporated more vegetables and healthier snacks into my family’s routine.

It is so important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially within the Hispanic community. Diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and even childhood obesity are chronic health issues with Hispanics. But small changes can produce great results, and with awareness and implementing new habits these statistics can change. This Hispanic Health on the Run video highlights key points to increase health awareness within the community.

UHC Latino provides bilingual material, through their website and through materials provided with the employers they work with, tailored to meet the needs of it’s Hispanic members. Awareness is key, and United Healthcare is doing things right by providing the tools for their members to make healthy lifestyle choices.

United Healthcare and Hispanicize have teamed up to award one lucky blogger a pass to Hispanicize 2013, and amazing five-day event taking place here in Miami in a couple of weeks. I would love to be chosen as the winner, not only to be associated with these two remarkable brands, but to represent Hispanics who have made important changes in order to lead a healthier life.

Latina Blogger

Disclosure: This post is an entry for a giveaway for sponsored admission to Hispanicize 2013. All opinions above are my own.

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