When Sonia got up to speak at her mother's funeral, she asked every woman in the congregation to stand up too.
"We need to take better care of ourselves," she pleaded to the group
Sonia's mom died after a heart attack, and she had been one of a long list of family members who were taken too soon by heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, or a combination of the three.
When Sonia looks at pictures of her deceased family members, she sees missed opportunities.
They grew up in a time when nobody talked about their medical history. Many of Sonia's family members didn't even know their medical histories because they only went to the doctor in emergency situations.
"We used the ER as our doctor," she recalled. "That's not maintainable."
Sonia made a life-changing decision that day: to put her health first. Watch her story:
This woman has lost too many family members to preventable diseases. Now she's on a mission to help others so they don't have to experience the loss she did.Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, March 21, 2017
For Sonia's family, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar were the norm.
When she was 9 years old, Sonia lost her grandmother to a stroke. That experience made Sonia realize she wanted to be a nurse. But between her career and taking care of her family, including her ailing mother, Sonia de-prioritized her own health.
When she lost her mother, Sonia realized she could be next in line if she wasn't careful.
Sonia made an appointment with her doctor and learned she was at risk for diabetes, so she took steps to de-stress and improve her health — by meditating, spending time with her family, changing her eating habits, and discovering a love of Zumba.
Ever since, she has been speaking with and inspiring others to do the same by listening to their doctors, their own bodies, and knowing their four health numbers: blood sugar, body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and cholesterol.
According to the CDC, more than 75% of our country's health care spending is on people with chronic conditions, many of which could be prevented or caught earlier with preventive care.
One of those chronic conditions, cardiovascular disease, is the #1 killer of women. Actively knowing key indicators of cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure, can help people make changes that stop it before it becomes a true threat.
"I don't think [my family members] knew a lot about these indicators," Sonia added. "They were just living to survive."
It can be hard to make caring for ourselves a priority.
Focusing on our personal health is not an easy thing to do — especially when we have loved ones to take care of. It's important to remember that it's not a selfish thing for us to each take time to focus on our personal health. By taking care of ourselves, we can be better examples for our families and for the next generations.
"When you're healthy, you feel better — mentally, physically, spiritually — you feel better," says Sonia. "And when you feel better, your family feels better. And when you're family feels better, your community feels better."
Learn more about your four health numbers at Cigna.com/TakeControl.