Growing up in Los Angeles I was exposed to the exploding culture and diversity. Every experience ranged for me. One of the biggest eye openers was the social and economic difference cross the various districts within the Los Angeles County. The further west you traveled from the inner city to the beach you were able visually see a difference. The streets are cleaner, the food is healthier, and the people are wealthier.

My parents immigrated from Guatemala in the 1990’s. They met through mutual connections within the family and married in 1995. Soon after I was born on September 24, 1996. Since then I depended on my mother for survival. As a stay at home mother she cooked soul filled dishes from traditional Guatemalan recipes. Rich in salt, fat, and protein. I didn’t complain! If anything I looked forward to those dishes. Over time my brother was born on July 14, 2000 and we were growing fast. We were always hungry especially since we refused to eat the disgusting food from school.

Almost everyday after school my mother bought my brother and I McDonald’s. We ate everything on the Menus, except the salads. My mother never bought salads because she could “make those at home” even though she really didn’t. By middle school I was 13 years old and weighed around 150 lbs. I was bullied by the kids a school because I was fat. My body was changing and I began to get grow stretch marks behind my knees, on my arms, breast, and stomach. I had the body of a 40 year old woman who was not physically active and had 3 kids.

The constant bullying pushed me to contemplate suicide. I thought of the pain and how I could make it go away. At that time my faith in God took me away from those thoughts and filled me with some sort of hope that the bullying would change. By 8th grade all my bullies became either acquaintances or friends, but the effects of their bullying still haunt me to this day.

By high school I weighed 180 lbs. Fortunately I joined the soccer team and lost so much weight. I was 16 and weighed 165 lbs. The doctor said I was 10 lbs away from a healthy weight for my age. I felt like I was on top of the world! Then when I went to University I was able to avoid the dreaded ‘Freshman 15’. A label given to those that gain 15 lbs their first year of school because of all the available food options on campus.

I began to gain weight when I met my awesome boyfriend JC. I gained relationship weight. I went from almost 165 lbs at 18 to 209 at 20.

I gained 44 lbs in 2 years.

Right now I feel like I failed myself. But no more. My eating habits are a product of the environment I grew up in. I still live in the house I was raised in and within a 5 mile radius there are 3 McDonald’s, 1 Taco Bell, 2 Subways, 2 Pizza Huts, 1 Domino’s Pizza, 2 Pollo Locos, 1 Jack in the Box, 2 Yoshinoya, 1 KFC, 1 Burger King. Need I list more? That is just within a 5 mile radius. Fast food companies like McDonald’s deliberately place their locations close to each other to further temp and entice you to buy food for dinner on your way home from work or school. That became my life story, but no more.

I promise I will eat healthier and by doing so ill Live Smarter, Play Harder.


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