Wellness might have become a mainstream market but it’s not necessarily accessible to a lot of Latinx communities in the U.S. It’s a reality that Dominican holistic health and wellness coach Candy Calderon knows all too well. Her mother cancer’s diagnosis is what inspired her to go into this line of work and eventually start the Glow Wellness Tour, a wellness event that addresses the health challenges the Latinx community specifically faces. This badass entrepreneur has made it her mission to bring health education and information to the communities that need it the most—WOC especially.
“Everything started with my mom’s cancer diagnosis,” Calderon tells HipLatina. “My grandfather had passed away a few years before my mom was diagnosed, but after my mom’s breast cancer I knew I had to do something; she was, and still is my biggest inspiration and drive in life. I took it upon myself to learn everything needed to help her heal faster and naturally—without negating traditional medicine of course. After her miraculous recovery, everybody started asking me to share my story—which I did and soon discovered that helping others to learn about prevention and how to lead healthier lives fulfilled me in a way I have never experienced before.”
It was around this time that Calderon realized her true calling was in health and wellness. She had always been interested in health but her mother’s diagnosis, inspired her to get certified as a holistic health & wellness coach. In helping her mother recover, Calderon found a lot of health and wellness information but realized that a lot of it wasn’t accessible to the Latinx community.
“Although things have improved quite a lot over the past few years and there’s more information available out there, I’m also aware of the challenges our community faces when it comes to access,” she says. “There’s tons of information out there, but usually, it is not readily available in a digestible way in which the regular population can feel identified and motivated to execute based on it. There’s also the language barrier. Is the information that’s available in English also available in Spanish? That’s not always the case. We share a low level of health literacy and in part, this is the reason behind it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of adults living in the U.S. are likely to develop type 2 diabetes but the number is even higher for Latino/Hispanic men and women. Latinos are 50% more likely to die from diabetes than white non-Latino Americans. Latinos are also 1.2 times more likely to be obese than non-white Hispanics. They face higher risks of heart disease than white non-Latinos due to high rates of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Even our mental health is affected at disproportionate rates with suicide among Latinas reaching epidemic suicide levels due to the lack of mental health awareness and treatment. While socioeconomics does play a huge role in terms of access to information, proper healthcare and insurance, Calderon believes that the mentality Latinos have towards health also sets us back.
“Mostly we are reactive instead of preventive and we think about our health when we are already sick and sometimes that’s too late,” she says. “We are more “flexible” with our understanding of what being healthy really means and our body image. Typically, if nothing hurts then it must mean we’re healthy right? This totally differs from other demographics and people with other cultural backgrounds.”
Calderon points out how the holistic wellness approach that’s become increasingly popular today was once a big part of how previous generation Latinos dealt with health conditions. Casero remedies and natural medicines have been passed in Latino families for generations, a lot of them dating back to our indigenous and African ancestors.
“Ironically enough, we do place heavy trust in our “abuela’s potions” which is basically home-made remedies passed on generation to generation. For a minute we were closing that thanks to younger generations, but luckily with the boom of holistic health becoming more mainstream thanks to celebrities, millennials and younger generations who are again embracing more nature healing methods, seeing health in a more holistic way which can also provide low-cost alternatives to modern medical care.”
Calderon herself swears by remedios caseros. One of her favorite’s is using oregano oil to fight infections, a remedy she learned from her own abuela.
After attending a number of wellness events herself, Calderon felt like something was missing. She felt empty after every event and seminar and more often than not felt like as a Latina woman she couldn’t relate to the messages that were being said. She especially noticed that women of color, immigrants, and minorities were often being left out of the conversation and took it upon herself to finally change the narrative.
She described The Glow Wellness Tour as “a wellness fiesta like no other focused on women like us (Latinas + Women of color and any other woman that identifies with our culture, reality and specific needs).” The events consists of dialogue around race, culture, ancestry and a focus on our inner brujas, an old form of spirituality that’s been making a huge revival in recent years as Latinas fight the negative stigmas and taboos associated with these forms of practice. Expect to drink green smoothies as you learn about wellness potions and remedios—like the ones our abuelitas lived off.
[The mission behind the Glow Wellness Tour is] to empower women to prevent instead of react when it comes to their health,” says Calderon. “It’s harder to heal a body that’s already sick and has been giving you clues for years. I want them to see their health in a holistic way (as a whole) where nutrition is only one pillar. I want to empower Latinas to take into consideration their emotions their goals, their relationships—are they toxic? Do they add to your life goals? To spark a conversation where we break the taboo and stigmas our community has placed on mental health. I want us to embrace our history, our ancestor, and our culture.”
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And then there's little 'ol me @candycalderon_ 💁🏽♀️😌!!!… 🎉💛🔥 My passion is to inspire YOU to live a healthy, happy & balanced life without sacrificing yourself, and having a few glasses of wine in the process 🍷🍾 I meeeeean, a girls gotta live, right?! 😏😂 . I believe in eating wholesome foods 🌱🥑🥦🥥🍓🍋, eating CLEAN & finding a fitness activity that suits your liking 🧘🏽♀️🤸🏾♂️🚴🏾♀️… I DON’T believe in dieting or one size fits all. I LOVE natural & sustainable products (skin care, makeup, clothing, etc.), this is a lifestyle! 🙌🏽🌱 . It saddens me to see all the suffering from so much cancer, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression, anxiety among us Latinas & women of color and us being reactive instead of PROACTIVE… 😤😩 So that's why I'm doing this event, @glowwellnesstour is FOR US!!! . From the bottom of my heart ❤️ THANK YOU soooo much for following my work, and supporting everything I do… 🙏🏽 I'm humbled every day by your support, be it through your comments, likes, reposts, hiring me as your coach, having me as speaker for your event, creating wellness programs for your employees, trusting the brands reviews and projects I make, my YouTube videos 🎥 or simply following me for all the free stuff, recipes and shenanigans I share with you guys in here and on insta-stories 😂🙈 . Helping others reach their best life is what makes ME live my BEST LIFE… so make sure to stick around, let's keep learning and growing together!!! 👯♀️❤️ . @glowwellnesstour Early bird sale ends on TODAY, Tuesday 16th! 🎫 Buy your tickets NOW 👉🏽 www.glowwellnesstour.com OR just CLICK the link on my bio 👆🏽 #GlowWellnessTour#CandyGlowSquad _ #Latinas #WomenOfColor #Woc#BodyPositive #BodyPositivity#MentalHealth #Anxiety #Depression #Latinx #Wellness #DecolonizeYourDiet #HolisticHealth #WellnessEntrepreneur
Her first Glow Wellness Tour event took place on Saturday, November 3rd in the Bronx and it literally sold out in two weeks. This was just the kickoff though. Calderon plans on expanding it nationally. This spring she’ll be bringing them to Philly and Miami, with the goal to eventually have a tour in every city in the U.S. with a large Latinx population.
In terms of how Latinxs who want to live healthier lifestyle without feeling like they’re breaking bank, Calderon has some advice. “I love a quote that says, ‘If you think wellness is expensive, wait til you try illness,’” she says. “Being healthy is not expensive—the lack of knowledge is. The lack of access to that knowledge is gripping us and that’s why I am so passionate about sharing my message in both English and Spanish, to show people that it’s doable.”