LatinaLista -- According to the report F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2010 released in June by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, obesity is more prevalent among Blacks and Latinos across the country.
Thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama, the issue of obesity is getting national attention and measures are being enacted to combat this "growing" problem. Yet, no matter how much the federal government does, the ultimate responsibility lies with each person.
For Latinas, getting in shape can be especially tortuous because all the foods we've grown up with are suddenly taboo, and it can be a lonely journey since we usually travel sola in our quest to shed those extra pounds.
However, two enterprising Latinas, Araceli Valdes and Adriana YÃ¡Ã±ez, realized that for more Latinas to adopt a healthy lifestyle the way to do it had to be culturally relevant and bilingual.
So the two created Bellas Ellas. The free bilingual membership site features menu plans with a "Latin flair," exercise routines for different fitness levels, community forums so Latinas can share their gripes on their way to feeling and looking better and a host of easy recipes to stay on target.
Araceli Valdes tells Latina Lista that a blog is in the works and will debut in the next few weeks. In the meantime, she explains what Bellas Ellas is all about:
LL: Why did you decide to create Bellas Ellas?
AV: We created Bellas Ellas with the hopes of helping other Latinas live a healthier lifestyle. We were tired of hearing all the statistics of Latin women with health problems due to being unhealthy and overweight.
Having tried many of the popular diets, we realized that quick fixes don't work. That is why we want to share the exercise routines and menu plans that have helped us stay in shape over the years and live a healthy balanced lifestyle.
Also we didn't really find one that had really tasty Latin dishes that we grew up eating. We knew with a few modifications it was easy to make great tasting Latin dishes that are also healthy. Along the way, we have also learned a bunch of fun tips to help us stay motivated and happy.
We know it's not always easy to stick to a healthy routine so the Bellas Ellas community is here to help you stay inspired, organized, motivated and meet women just like you who are striving to live a healthier life.
LL: How did you come up with the name?
AV: The name kind of just came to us as we brainstormed a Spanish name for a community of beautiful healthy women. It just had a nice ring to it and it represents what we want to create.
LL: I noticed your site is a membership site. Why make it a membership site? What do people get for belonging to your site?
AV: Becoming a member is 100% free, and once you join you will get a new daily meal plan and exercise plan that you can customize to your liking.
So if there's a certain recipe or exercise that you don't like, you can swap it out for another option in our recipe and exercise listing. You can also keep track of your progress sticking to the plans by adding the completed meals and workouts to your diary, and uploading photos of how you look if you want.
You also have access to our tips and video section, as well as our member forums where you can reach out to other members for advice and inspiration, and in turn, help others by sharing your experience.
LL: What is the best way visitors can maximize belonging to your site?
AV: I think the best way to maximize what the site has to offer is to stick to the plans, the best you can, for a long period of time. You will really see results in reaching your fitness goals.
At the same time, we're really looking for feedback from other Latinas, on what they like and don't like about the plans with us so we can improve over time, and share their experience and help motivate others.
LL: What is your vision for the site?
AV: I think the vision is to create a strong, healthy, positive community of Latinas who motivate and inspire each other. Over time, I would love to think that by creating this site we can help change some of the statistics you read about with the number of Latina women with health problems.