01 November 2012

Adelante Movement Inspires Women to Make Their Own Way

Last week, I had the great opportunity to attend the 2nd Annual National Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) Conference in Houston, Texas. I went to the conference last year in Chicago, and one of the things that really struck me about the conference was that it wasn't all business. I laughed a lot, acted silly, and made new friends.

On the second day of the conference, the lunch keynote speaker was Nely Galán, first generation immigrant and self-made media mogul, and the first Latina president of a U.S. television network (Telemundo). She is also the founder of The Adelante Movement (presented by the Coca Cola Company)

"[We should] work because we want to and not because we have to," said Galán. "That is my dream of for you, my Hermanas Latinas: that you gain the economic freedom to make choices for yourselves and for your children."

The lunch was followed by an afternoon presentation by Galán, along with author Sandra Cisneros and founder of the "Count Me In" nonprofit, Nell Merlino. I wasn't able to attend the forum, but following the #latism12 and #adelante Twitter feeds, it was clear that the experience moved, inspired, and motivated many of my fellow Latinos -- and Latinos. (Thank you on behalf of all of them who were there!)

I had to make a choice that afternoon, whether to attend the forum, or to dive deeper into my own mission of promoting healthy lifestyles to the Latino community. About three years ago, I started eating organic meat and vegetables. I started eating more vegetables than meat, and cutting out processed and packaged food. I started to buy locally. I started re-integrating physical activity into my daily routine.  I started becoming an activist in local food and agricultural policy.

Although I had always been very thin in my childhood and in my 20s, eating large quantities of whatever I felt like eating, and only exercising once in a while, it caught up with me in my early 30s. I gained weight and generally felt sluggish all the time. I had to make those changes in my life - not to prove anything to anyone - but for myself.

When I decided to change my eating and exercise habits, my life improved. I'm not talking about going on a diet or counting calories. I'm talking about truly looking at what I ate, where my food came from, and how I cooked it and ate it. I've discovered the absolute joy of eating seasonally and locally, and of fitting this into my ever developing sustainable lifestyle. (Eating food that doesn't come in a package is good for my body, and it's also good for the environment!)

I have not met many other Latinos who feel the way I do, since I started on this journey a few years ago. But I did meet one - Catarina Rivera - at the LATISM conference. I had seen her speak on panel called "Healthy Latinos" earlier that day. Catarina talked about the importance of focusing on both the individual and the environment in creating healthier lifestyles. She talked about food deserts! We were definitely on the same wavelength.

After lunch, we decided to go to the Nintendo room and play some Just Dance 4 on the Wii - we broke out a sweat, not minding we were wearing our business casual outfits and not gym clothes. We also brainstormed. We exchanged ideas. We schemed ways that we could create an online community where other Latinos could learn the things we've learned - to inspire them to make the changes and choices we've made in our own lives.

Although we weren't at the The Adelante Movement with the rest of the LATISM attendees, Nely, Sandra, and Nell -- please know that we were right next door, taking our own dreams forward. Thank you for sharing your dreams with us.
Alexandra Landeros and Catarina Rivera - Promoting Healthy Lifestyles!

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