“I want to be the best example for my daughter”
By LAURA CAMELO
Translated by NANCY OY
EL NUEVO SOL
“I only came because my daughter insisted we must get our orange,” Verónica Martínez said.
She remembers seeing a commercial about the 100 Citizens program three years ago when she was watching television with her daughter. The commercial announced that the first 100 people to show up would receive a free orange. Her daughter told her, “Mommy, let’s go get our orange.”
Verónica Martínez, 45, a native of Los Angeles, works as director of the department of religion in the Institute of Religious Education in Santa Rosa. She was diagnosed with stationary diabetes in 2005 and five years ago she was told she had Type 2 Diabetes. Some of her symptoms include feeling sluggishness and a frequent need to urinate.
“I was constantly thirsty and felt fatigue and tiredness,” Martínez said.
She remembers her stomach reached 8 inches, which made it difficult for her to accomplish daily tasks. Martínez said she reached a point in which if she sat down with her cell phone between her legs, she wasn’t able to see it. She saw her health declining and began to worry. Then she decided to take action.
According to a 2011 Los Angeles County Health Survey, diabetes in adolescents and adults continues to rise. In the last 14 years it has increased by 50 percent. Obesity is the main risk factor that should be prevented in order to avoid the increase of Type 2 Diabetes.
Martínez is married and has a 9-year-old daughter.
“I laugh when my husband complains he is fat, because yes he has fatness, but I am the one that is overweight and has Type 2 Diabetes,” she said smiling.
She started the program due to her daughter’s motivation.
“If it wasn’t for that orange I would not be here,” she said.
The program was supposed to be only eight weeks, but it expanded to twelve weeks. From the start Martínez was happy because she rapidly observed results.
“I wasn’t necessarily losing weight,” she said, “but I was losing inches. My stomach was shrinking.”
Her trainers also noticed the difference.
“I am very proud of Verónica,” said Sergio Zambrano, who graduated from California State University, Northridge and is now one of the volunteer trainers for the 100 Citizens program. “She has an admirable mental fortitude, [she] is quiet and now she tells me her doctor told her the sugar in her blood has been reduced and she attributes it to the exercise.”
“Verónica was one of the first to initiate the program,” said Zambrano, who started with the program last summer. “She did it well and satisfactorily lost weight, but unfortunately, she began to disappear later on in the program.”
Martínez initially began to see many changes including a decrease in weight and a reduction in medicine intake.
Suddenly, there was a moment in her life that made her leave the program. Her father died.
This caused a downturn in her mood.
“The problem in the family caused me to stop coming,” she said.
She took a break from everything. She gained weight and her health reached a higher risk than before.
“It’s hard. There are many obstacles. I was trying to find time to take care of myself, but in reality it is hard.”
After a long time, and to her surprise, another commercial about the program appeared. This time she wasn’t going for the orange, but for her health.
“I have to return and I have to move forward and do it for me,” she said.
The team has motivated her a lot, but she knows that what she is doing is not only for her but also for her daughter.
“My daughter started a similar program and she said she is doing it to follow my footsteps,” said Martínez.
Her daughter’s program requires the parents to participate actively and physically.
“This has always been a challenge for me, but now that I am doing it, I can join her,” Martínez said.
She and her daughter share a commitment to improving their health.
Martínez starts her day at 6 a.m. She leave her daughter at school and heads to her exercise class. The diabetes program begins at 8:15 a.m. until about 10 a.m. Martínez works only half a day, but she likes to be at work by 11 a.m.
She leads a religious program that helps prepare children to receive their first communion. She has one staff member and several volunteers helping her. At work, she helps approximately 500 children, the lowest number of children she’s had in the last 14 years.
Then, she arrives home at 9:30 p.m. and finds it difficult to dedicate time to eat. However, Verónica said she knows she has to change her eating habits because she passes hours without eating, and at night she eats too much and too late.
“I know that this hurts my health,” she said, “but there is no time. I know I have to change this.”
The program also designates a trainer to help the participants and work one-on-one. Hendro Yauw, 22, is the student trainer who works with Martínez.
“Verónica is tranquil, but I try to push her and motivate her a lot,” said Yauw, who is volunteering for the first time.
“When she comes to train, Verónica tries hard and wants to overcome the obstacles, but I have to continue motivating her.”
Since Martínez began the program, she reduced the amount of medicine she has takes due to her illness.
“Honestly, I think that if I continue moving I will feel better,” said Martínez, who has lived in San Fernando for 14 years and has witnessed the park change.
“This is a marvelous program,” she said. “Unfortunately a lot of people in the community don’t know about this program.”
Martínez admits that her main objective is not to lose a lot of weight, but something more important.
“I know I have to lose weight,” she said. “But my main preoccupation is to change my eating habits. I want to be the best example for my daughter.”