Adopting healthy habits early pays off.
Omar and Margaret Martinez sat down with Our Health Matters to discuss how they work to maintain a healthy lifestyle. And it doesn’t involve a gym membership. Omar and Margaret decided years ago to change the way they ate, and they are now passing on these healthy habits to their children.
What are you doing as a family to live a healthier life?
We don’t work out, if that means going to a gym as a family. We will go to a park maybe two or three times a week when we can, especially when the weather is nice. Our children are always active and very energetic, in the house and outside in the backyard.
We try to include vegetables with our meals every day. We eat foods and drinks that are nutrient dense, as well as limit how much sugar we eat — especially sugar that’s been chemically treated. We also believe in buying straight from the farmer and cooking at home a majority of the time. We also believe in eating organic foods. Besides food, we also try to teach the children to take a break if they get frustrated or upset, to get some fresh air and breathe, and we take a moment to talk it out.
Why did you decide to pursue this lifestyle?
After my husband and I saw the movie, “Super-Size Me” around 2004, and before we had kids, we questioned the food system in the U.S. Then, we started checking out natural grocery stores and noticing the organic and natural labels. We realized that a lot of food in regular grocery stores contained chemicals and preservatives. This eventually led us to start buying directly from farmers. We wanted to know where our food came from and how it was grown and treated.
How long have you been doing this?
For more than 10 years.
Have you noticed any changes in your health?
(Mrs. Martinez): I used to get panic attacks, especially when I was stressed about work projects. I even felt like my lower chin went numb right after eating a fast food meal, and would suffer from sleep apnea. I do not experience these symptoms anymore. In fact, I feel more relaxed, and sleep better than I did in the past. I also noticed that when I switched to eating organic foods, I lost some weight – about 10 pounds.
How do your children feel about the food choices?
Our children grew up eating this way and it’s just normal everyday food for them. Very rarely, do they not like food at home or even out. They have always like vegetables prepared in different ways, I’ve never had an issue with them eating their vegetables. This is what they know, so I think that has a lot to do with it.
What physical activities do you engage in?
I personally do not work out at a gym, nor are we involved in any organized sports. The children have participated in soccer, karate and ballet, together and separately. They are not involved in sports right now, but I try to sign them up when I can, and when we have extra resources and availability. (Mrs. Martinez): I work out at home. I do push-ups,
(Mrs. Martinez): I work out at home. I do push-ups, lunges and planks multiple times during the day. We have stairs in the house and I do things like skip steps to make it challenging. The children for now very actively play in the park, and we sign them up for different activities when we can.
What advice would you give to other families who are struggling to start or maintain a healthier lifestyle?
Keep it simple. I always tell people to visit local farmers markets. There, you can meet farmers and establish a relationship with them, and learn how their food is grown. I think a healthy lifestyle starts with eating healthy, and doing physical activity like walking more.
What are the individual goals for the family?
(Mr. Martinez): Our individual goals vary. My kids just want to be active and do more sports but sometimes cost can be a factor. They like to participate whenever they can and that’s awesome. As for me, my goal is to practice more of what I preach and stay away from the stuff that I know inevitably bogs me down and prevents me from reaching my mental and physical goals. I have even been posting my workouts every now and then to my Facebook peers, in order to stay true to myself.
What healthy lifestyle challenges did you have to overcome, or may be still working to overcome?
(Mrs. Martinez): I had to change my diet first. I have a weakness for sweets like cakes and cookies. I will eat them, but not too much. I really have to watch it, because I like these foods. Instead of reaching for sweets, though, I reach for a piece of fruit or some nuts. I also feel that I could exercise more. For instance, I have an urge to go out first thing in the morning and just take a 30 minute walk, but I get lazy and the day’s chores take over and I end up just skipping the activity altogether. I also stay up late, and this practice makes my days long, and does not allow my body to get the proper rest it needs.
What do your family doctors think about your family’s choice of diet? What might one of your breakfast, lunch or dinner meals look like?
We have a holistic family doctor who agrees with our food choices. A typical breakfast can vary. We try to change it up daily and nightly. Breakfast could be oatmeal with scrambled eggs and bacon. It could also be a mushroom and cheese omelet with butter and jelly toast and strawberries, or diced potatoes fried with eggs.
Lunch could be a yogurt parfait with sliced Italian meats and local sliced cheese, or a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.
Dinner has a lot of variety, too. My husband makes homemade cashew chicken with rice, I make meatloaf with buttered mash potatoes and steamed broccoli. The meals change daily.
Share any other thoughts you have.
(Mrs. Martinez): I also think it’s important for people to grow their own gardens; whether it’s in the backyard or in flowerpots that sit in the window sills. This is something I have not tried yet, but would like to. We can be our own farmers and grow our own herbs and vegetables for cooking at home. It is so important, I believe, to take care of the bodies that God gave us — mentally and physically. I also believe that we were meant to grow our own food, trade with other growers, and to walk to places
Omar and Margaret decided very early in their marriage that they would search for and pursue a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their children. When I asked if their children crave for fast foods they replied, “they don’t ask for or prefer to eat those types of foods because it has never been a part of their diet.” Hats off to the Martinez family.
Visit http://kcfoodcircle.org/farmers-markets/ to find a list of organic and free-range farmers in the Kansas City area.