My name is Natalia de la Canal and I was born in San Diego, Ca. I am half Mexican, half American and anyone who knows me knows that my identity is completely defined by my bicultural background. Although I may look like a California girl, on the inside I am a true Chilanga and owe much respect to my father who came to the United States from Mexico City to seek opportunity and provide the best for his family. With my mother wholeheartedly believing in him, my father started off selling slinkies (yes, slinkies) out of a box, and has reached above and beyond the American dream by achieving success in the U.S. and in Mexico.
Although I am only twenty-two and have a long journey ahead of me, I believe I have already mastered one key to success that I believe everyone can benefit from.
About four years ago, I reached a standstill in my life. I was extremely unhappy with my choice of college, I felt guilty for not meeting my parent’s expectations, and had fallen into an unhealthy and unbalanced lifestyle. On the verge of depression, I no longer could handle being dragged down by my weak physical and mental condition. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I stopped making excuses and rediscovered the passion for life within me that I had somehow lost. I had to make a lifestyle change to get back that happiness that was missing from my life. I made healthy diet choices, turned to dancing Zumba as my exercise of choice and my new mantra became: Si se puede!
But enough about me, the point I want to convey is the importance of finding inner happiness and confidence through a healthy lifestyle to help you achieve the success you want and deserve. We all have busy lives and sometimes it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. But we owe it to our body and soul to be healthy, as the stresses of life really do take a physical toll on us. Our Latino cultures are defined by passion, delight y sabor! We need to remember these characteristics when it comes to taking care of ourselves to live the best we can.
I am not a doctor, but I am proof of how my own well-being has provided me with the mental stability, confidence and endorphins (yay!) to face the challenges that may come my way. With Hispanics making up 39% of the obese population in the United States, we need to take our health into consideration. Physically, and even more important, mentally, there is too much as risk to not take charge of our health. We Latinos are passionate people. The traditions that Latin Americans share revolve around dancing, music, food, family…all things that make up the spice of life. I urge you to dance a little more, laugh a lot more and maybe think twice when reaching for that next taco. But most of all, remember that when you respect yourself, others will respect you and doors will open for you to achieve what you want in life.
Natalia de la Canal is currently a student at the University of Miami, double majoring in International Relations and Art History. Upon graduating she hopes to work within the international art district based in Miami. Besides being a full time student, Natalia is a Zumba instructor and promotes health and fitness among her college community.