#SWAAYthenarrative

We Don’t Deserve Our Immigrant Moms

3 Min Read
Lifestyle

They are warriors, selfless human beings who are determined to give their kids opportunities they never had for themselves. There were willing to leave behind the comfort of family, love, and language for a shot: a shot at that dream we all talk about. It's not a lavish lifestyle but a dream. This dream is achieved through access to education, a good paying job, and opportunity. And it's all for you.

This is for you, the first-generation American citizen who was raised by an immigrant mom that we don't deserve.

Now, don't get me wrong, all moms are badass. But there is something special about those who cross a border, sacrificing everything they know, to see their kids live a better life. According to Pew Research, "more than 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year" and today, "more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country"

Among that bunch, is your mom, my cousin's mom, my neighbor's mom, and my mom. And the truth is, there is so much more that brings our immigrant moms together than what pulls them apart, even if they were all born in different continents.

It all began with packing whatever could fit in a few suitcases to prepare for a long flight, boat ride, or walk across the US border. In the suitcase are clothes, important documents, and photos of family. What doesn't fit is the one-stop-shop to learn the complex English language or the rest of their family. What they feel is hope and anxiety. But they do it anyway.

According to Pew Research, "more than 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year" and today, "more than 40 million people living in the U.S. were born in another country"

They are soon entering foreign territory. The only familiar piece of their life might soon become seeing the face of the love of her life, a partner in the journey. But they do it anyway.

Maybe they become a citizen. Maybe they are handed a rectangular beige card that has the word alien at the top. Maybe they live in the shadows⁠—undocumented. Your life is different than that of your American friends because of your immigrant mom who knows they will never be American enough.

You are a translator, in fifth grade or college, at doctor's appointments or parent teacher conferences. You first hear the word and not only can you not translate it but you also don't know what it means in English. But you learn. In that moment, you clarify, use hand gestures, and use several small words to explain the big word to make sure they understand. Because you are the translator, and your immigrant mom needs to understand.

You are a financial provider. You work at the fast food job, because you know there is only enough money to pay the bills. You apply for college scholarships, because there is no way you can ask them to co-sign for a student loan. Mom is working in a factory and is not eligible for higher paid jobs because of a language barrier and lack of access to acquiring new skills. But she doesn't complain even though she knows that she is sacrificing her body working the job that most Americans would never apply for.

Your life is different than that of your American friends because of your immigrant mom who knows they will never be American enough.

You are the one who will overcome adversity. Your mom has proven that there is no alternative. Because when your mom picks up and moves to another country without even knowing the language, your motivation is at its highest caliber possible. There's a certain pep in your step to achieve success. You will not only survive, but you will thrive.

Because you are the child of an immigrant mom: a mom who has shown you that being in this country and providing you access to opportunity is worth the repeated sacrifices.

Follow Theresa Agonia on Twitter or Instagram at @TheresaAgonia

This article was originally published January 29, 2020.

3 Min Read
Health

7 Must-have Tips to Keep You Healthy and Fit for the Unpredictable COVID Future

With a lack of certainty surrounding the future, being and feeling healthy may help bring the security that you need during these unpredictable times.

When it comes to your health, there is a direct relationship between nutrition and physical activity that play an enormous part in physical, mental, and social well-being. As COVID-19 continues to impact almost every aspect of our lives, the uncertainty of the future may seem looming. Sometimes improvisation is necessary, and understanding how to stay healthy and fit can significantly help you manage your well-being during these times.

Tip 1: Communicate with your current wellness providers and set a plan

Gyms, group fitness studios, trainers, and professionals can help you to lay out a plan that will either keep you on track through all of the changes and restrictions or help you to get back on the ball so that all of your health objectives are met.

Most facilities and providers are setting plans to provide for their clients and customers to accommodate the unpredictable future. The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C. An enormous amount is on the table for this coming fall and winter; if your gym closes again, what is your plan? If outdoor exercising is not an option due to the weather, what is your plan? Leaving things to chance will significantly increase your chances of falling off of your regimen and will make consistency a big problem.

The key to remaining consistent is to have solid plans in place. This means setting a plan A, plan B, and perhaps even a plan C.

Tip 2: Stay active for both mental and physical health benefits

The rise of stress and anxiety as a result of the uncertainty around COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way. Staying active by exercising helps alleviate stress by releasing chemicals like serotonin and endorphins in your brain. In turn, these released chemicals can help improve your mood and even reduce risk of depression and cognitive decline. Additionally, physical activity can help boost your immune system and provide long term health benefits.

With the new work-from-home norm, it can be easy to bypass how much time you are spending sedentary. Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity. Struggling to find ways to stay active? Start simple with activities like going for a walk outside, doing a few reps in exchange for extra Netflix time, or even setting an alarm to move during your workday.

Tip 3: Start slow and strong

If you, like many others during the pandemic shift, have taken some time off of your normal fitness routine, don't push yourself to dive in head first, as this may lead to burnout, injury, and soreness. Plan to start at 50 percent of the volume and intensity of prior workouts when you return to the gym. Inactivity eats away at muscle mass, so rather than focusing on cardio, head to the weights or resistance bands and work on rebuilding your strength.

Be aware of your sitting time and balance it with activity.

Tip 4: If your gym is open, prepare to sanitize

In a study published earlier this year, researchers found drug-resistant bacteria, the flu virus, and other pathogens on about 25 percent of the surfaces they tested in multiple athletic training facilities. Even with heightened gym cleaning procedures in place for many facilities, if you are returning to the gym, ensuring that you disinfect any surfaces before and after using them is key.

When spraying disinfectant, wait a few minutes to kill the germs before wiping down the equipment. Also, don't forget to wash your hands frequently. In an enclosed space where many people are breathing heavier than usual, this can allow for a possible increase in virus droplets, so make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Staying in the know and preparing for new gym policies will make it easy to return to these types of facilities as protocols and mutual respect can be agreed upon.

Tip 5: Have a good routine that extends outside of just your fitness

From work to working out, many routines have faltered during the COVID pandemic. If getting back into the routine seems daunting, investing in a new exercise machine, trainer, or small gadget can help to motivate you. Whether it's a larger investment such as a Peloton, a smaller device such as a Fitbit, or simply a great trainer, something new and fresh is always a great stimulus and motivator.

Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine.

Just because you are working from home with a computer available 24/7 doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your entire day to work. Setting work hours, just as you would in the office, can help you to stay focused and productive.

A good night's sleep is also integral to obtaining and maintaining a healthy and effective routine. Adults need seven or more hours of sleep per night for their best health and wellbeing, so prioritizing your sleep schedule can drastically improve your day and is an important factor to staying healthy. Make sure that when you do wake up well-rested, you are getting out of your pajamas and starting your day with a morning routine. This can help the rest of your day feel normal while the uncertainty of working from home continues.

Tip 6: Focus on food and nutrition

In addition to having a well-rounded daily routine, eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help decrease poor food choices and unhealthy cravings. Understanding the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy can help you stay more alert, but they do vary from person to person. If you are unsure of your suggested nutritional intake, check out a nutrition calculator.

If you are someone that prefers smaller meals and more snacks throughout the day, make sure you have plenty of healthy options, like fruits, vegetables and lean proteins available (an apple a day keeps the hospital away). While you may spend most of your time from home, meal prepping and planning can make your day flow easier without having to take a break to make an entire meal in the middle of your work day. Most importantly, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

Tip 7: Don't forget about your mental health

While focusing on daily habits and routines to improve your physical health is important, it is also a great time to turn inward and check in with yourself. Perhaps your anxiety has increased and it's impacting your work or day-to-day life. Determining the cause and taking proactive steps toward mitigating these occurrences are important.

For example, with the increase in handwashing, this can also be a great time to practice mini meditation sessions by focusing on taking deep breaths. This can reduce anxiety and even lower your blood pressure. Keeping a journal and writing out your daily thoughts or worries can also help manage stress during unpredictable times, too.

While the future of COVI9-19 and our lives may be unpredictable, you can manage your personal uncertainties by focusing on improving the lifestyle factors you can control—from staying active to having a routine and focusing on your mental health—to make sure that you emerge from this pandemic as your same old self or maybe even better.