The Role Model In You – Sonia Pressman Fuentes

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Role Model
Sonia Pressman Fuentes

As part of my new web series, The Role Model In You, here is my most recent interview. The Role Model In You series discusses how individuals were influenced as a child to lead a healthy lifestyle. It discusses who influenced these people, the changes they made in life to be healthy, and the message they would like to pass along to the youth of today. I hope you enjoy it!

Today’s guest is a very special individual, who is truly inspiring. Sonia Pressman Fuentes, at 83 years young is a remarkable individual, whom we can all learn from.

1. Your name, title, and age? What do you do (or did you do) for a living?

Sonia Pressman Fuentes, MS., eighty-three. In my first career, I was an attorney with the federal government and major corporations. I was also a founder of the second wave of the women’s movement. Since I retired from law, I have been a feminist activist, writer, and public speaker. I am the author of a memoir entitled, Eat First—You Don’t Know What They’ll Give You, The Adventures of an Immigrant Family and Their Feminist Daughter.

2. What inspired you to be healthy and fit?

No one inspired me to eat healthy as a child. My mother, born in Poland, was a wonderful cook of Jewish food, which we know today–but didn’t know then–was not terribly healthy

However, since I consider myself an intelligent person, I made it my business the older I got to eat what I thought was a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight. I ate no red meat and watched my cholesterol, sodium, and fat intake. I worked out twice a week with a trainer and attended a water exercise class twice a week, both at local Y’s. I regularly saw doctors, including a cardiologist. I had never had any trouble with my heart other than a slight murmur in recent years.

I was thus taken aback when in July of 2011, I was suddenly stricken with shortness of breath, and taken to a hospital where a cardiologist inserted four stents in the arteries of my heart, which were 80 and 90% blocked.

After that, at that cardiologist’s recommendation, I signed up for a thirty-six week Cardiac Rehab course at a local hospital. That course included exercise and lectures. One of the lecturers, Jill Edwards, advised all attendees to go on a heart-healthy diet, which she said had to consist 80% of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, with no processed or dairy foods. She also told me to stop concentrating on calories and fat and concentrate on eating the proper foods instead. Another friend recommended I see a DVD called Forks Over Knives, which I did. It reiterated the message Jill had given us.

I am now eating the diet Jill recommended. It was a tremendous change for me and very difficult in the beginning. I had to find restaurants that served vegetarian entrees and grocery stores that sell prepared cooked vegetables (since my busy schedule precludes my cooking) . Breakfast is still difficult. However, I have made the effort and find that I enjoy the variety of vegetables I now eat very much. I also lost seven pounds, to my delight, which I needed to lose.

3. What would be your main message to children today to lead healthy lifestyles?

Eat a heart-healthy diet such as I’m eating, get the proper amount of exercise, and keep your weight where it should be. Don’t smoke, of course.

4. Do you have a web site you would like to promote….web address only?