By: Carolyn Frances Klinsport
America is the largest empire in modern civilization, with 314,795,434 counted bodies according to the Census Bureau, though this number changes every day. Florida alone has 18,801,310 counted individuals, but houses many more people not counted by the Census Bureau because of their immigration status, which is also common in the rest of America. Due to the high level of poverty, my family is considered to have a fixed income under the poverty level with an annual gross income of less than 15,000 dollars.
This financial limitation gives us the need for budgeting and federal support. We have the eligibility for food stamps and shop at places where food is quality and moderately priced. When I am in Miami, staying with my family we are from a culture that celebrates foods of all kinds. I am of Cuban heritage and am taunted by the fried foods of the Latin culture, the constant cigar and cigarette smoking, and also the overabundance of things, like ice cream at 3 AM or Coffee after Coffee.
I was raised by a single first time father, my dad didn’t know how to cook at first so we always ate fast food or television dinners because of it being cheap and easy to prepare. This was a large setback on becoming active and healthy. Money an issue, my father worked from 7 AM to 6 PM, but continued to work at home after just to be able to support two girls. My Father after receiving a raise and company car that fit a family in it, started to support health, we played outside everyday no matter if it rained or was dark and he forced us to consume all of our vegetables. This is where I gained the desire to eat food with substantial nutrients.
Then my mother resurfaced, she took us to live with her and had financial assistance, she cooked always some rice, vegetables and meat. We couldn’t play outside the same way we used to as the neighborhood was dangerous, luckily mandatory physical education helped. The schools in Miami emphasized nutrition, exercise and making dietary choices according to the food pyramid. I was teased for being slow and having a hard time keeping up, always picked last on teams. I noticed that other kids were smaller and I always felt so ugly and out of place, I struggle constantly with confidence and body image.
Now I am still bombarded with images of thin and tall women. I have doubts, but that is ok. I am aware that nobody is perfect, especially me. I have food stamps and shop for nutritious things I wouldn’t be able to eat without federal aid. You can always see me buying carrots, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, alternative milks, bananas, berries, whole grain products and juices. These are the foods I enjoy without regret. It is a struggle when choosing my own groceries, I read nutrition labels and search for products that serve vitamins, breakfast bran flakes have a list of vitamins, the only cereal I enjoy.
I have recently been pushing myself to do fitness work daily, minimal or full workout and I always take the stairs. Ride bike to places and spend leisure time in activity. I can’t afford cable, so I spend a lot of time trying to visit places that are unseen by most people. These places are a trek and get revisited frequently.
I am so lucky, getting an education, working hard to do what I love. I’m getting better at my passion. Art is the only thing I have stuck with consistently because there is nothing better to me. I have fears of losing my ability to illustrate, but know that these fears if realized couldn’t stop me.
My heart is small, I have a blood pressure disorder called syncope so this hinders my ability to be constantly engaged in activity. In Florida the thick air and blazing sun can be a threat to someone with syncope, these elements, physical exertion, and an insufficient amount of salt can make me ill and cause fainting. I wish I didn’t have this because it makes me feel sick and slow sometimes, I want to always be fast. High Blood pressure in the future is unlikely, but most of my family should be cautious. I am the needle in the haystack, currently on holiday trying to be the voice of reason. “Don’t eat that.”, “Really another diet soft drink?”, phrases I repeat weekly. My sisters are similar in their quest for a healthy lifestyle, we are all trying to change the family, but persuasion isn’t a promise.
I request visits to the beaches or parks, but my mother doesn’t want to go. She complains about being tired and stressed, eats bad and chain smokes in the car next to me. Vegetables provide humans with natural sources of energy, but so does caffeine. I want change, but old habits die hard. So I take the bus and ride bike places really far to make a point about enjoying outside. I brought home almond milk, spinach, cucumbers, and a bag of sweet peppers. It’s an introduction to a salad for a fit king, but like I previously mentioned nobody is perfect.