After poor health took her loved ones, one woman decided to take control of her future.
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Cigna 2017

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

via Cigna/Upworthy.


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.

via Cigna/Upworthy

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."

via Cigna/Upworthy

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.

via Cigna/Upworthy

"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.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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Anderson Cooper has interviewed hundreds of people, from top celebrities to heads of state to people on the street. He is fairly unflappable when it comes to chatting with a guest, which is what makes his reaction while interviewing inaugural poet Amanda Gorman all the more delightful.

Gorman stole the show at President Biden's Inauguration with a powerful performance of her original poem, "The Hill We Climb." People were blown away by both her words and her poise in delivering them, especially considering the fact that she's only 22 years old. But it's one thing to be able to write and recite well, and another to be able to impress in an off-the-cuff conversation—and Gorman proved in her interview on Anderson Cooper 360 that she can do both at a level most of us can only dream of.

In the interview, Gorman explained how she dove into research to prepare her poem to fit the occasion, and then how that work was disrupted by the attack on the Capitol.

"I'm not going to say that that completely derailed the poem, because I was not surprised at what had happened," she said. "I had seen the signs and the symptoms for a while, and I was not trying to turn a blind eye to that. But what it did is it energized me even more, to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope and unity and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear."

After explaining how she used tweets and articles and messages about the Capitol insurrection to hone parts of her poem, she shared thoughts on reclaiming the power of words.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.