My Younger Self
I will never forget the first time I saw water ballerinas. Their shining and colorful bathing suits, the bright makeup, and the tall beautiful headpieces… I could not believe my eyes. Nine-year-olds doing amazing formations in the water. Some formations looked like cheerleading pyramids, others looked like flowers blooming and changing colors, all the girls synchronized to the beat of energized fun music…that vision changed my young 7-year-old self…. I was mesmerized.
When they finished their routine I went running to my mother and said, “This it. I don’t want to do competitive swimming. I want to do what those girls are doing. I want to be one of them.”
After working hard for a year, I became part of the National Synchronized Swimming Team of Puerto Rico. I was 8 years old.
My life became a non-stop practice….swimming at five am before school and practicing synchro after school. I spent my summers in the pool practicing and traveling to Centro American Games in Mexico, Venezuela, and Dominican Republic. It was one of the best times of my life.
Around fourteen years of age, when I started high school, I decided I wanted to participate in school activities more often, something synchro prevented due to my commitment with the team, so I quit the team. I was grateful for that experience.
The best gift my parents have ever given me was supporting me during those years of synchro. I learned to love sports and I developed discipline. I became an athlete for life.
Fitness in My Present Life
Today at fifty-two, I still consider myself an athlete. Although I do not practice thirty hours a week anymore, I exercise every day of my life.
I learned to love sports at seven years of age, and what I did not know was all the benefits all those years of physical activity brought to my adult life.
Younger people exercise because they want to look good, but they stop once life starts getting in the way. This is a huge mistake. Loving yourself is the most important love you should express. Because without you, well…there is no mom, no wife, no sister, no aunt, no daughter, no girlfriend…. Loving yourself should always be your 1st priority.
No job, no compromise, should be more important than loving your body and taking care of it every day. As they say, it is the temple of our souls.
The Mental Health Benefits
Exercising benefits surpass body image by far, yes; you become strong and develop a fit shape, but what ENDORPHINS do for your mental health is a different story. Endorphins is the chemical that your body releases while you exercise. Believe me when I tell you that if this was something we could drink like coffee every morning, the world would be a better place. Endorphins make you happy. So happy, that when people talk about the “runners high,” this is what they are talking about… it is that moment when you feel elevated and everything looks like you are in dreamland - THAT HAPPY!
Us as women go through many hormonal changes and we go through them all of our lives. Every month during our periods, we could feel a little blue, and then if we have a baby, there is the postpartum depression, and then like if that was not enough we go through menopause… all of these changes mess with our happiness, but it is nothing that a forty minute brisk walk can’t fix.
I discovered endorphins very young and have never been able to let it go. If I’m sad I go and exercise, if I’m angry I go an exercise, and if I’m happy I go an exercise as well and that has changed my whole outlook at life.
The Physical Health Benefits
Exercise not only helps with your mental health but also helps your body become strong and powerful. This will reflect in many aspects of your life and will help you overcome difficult moments.
Even with all the exercise and healthy practices I have done throughout my life, I have been through cancer twice. The first time at the early age of eighteen and the second time at forty-six. Both times I have discovered it early, because I have always been in tune with my body.
Remember when you are exercising they always say, "listen to your body.” And well, I did listen and both times it was detected very early so it was resolved.
Some people have said to me, “why have you had cancer twice after all that exercise and nutrition?” And they look at me as if it was not worth it.
The truth is that there are conditions in your body that you cannot prevent. My parents nor any of my immediate family has had cancer, and I will never know why me. BUT, the only thing I can say is that I’ve always come on top after both of my cancers. I’ve never stopped exercising and feeling happy, even while I was going through the treatments. I felt powerful and strong. That is not something many people can say.
Sometimes life gives you lemons, and because I was a strong healthy woman, I was able not only to make lemonade, but I made key lime pie, margaritas, and lemon cake!
Exercise, eat well, and love yourself more than anything in the world!
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