About the Book

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Darlene Rodriguez
Co-Anchor, Today in New York

As a young Latina growing up in the Bronx, there are so many customs and traditions that I learned as part of my Puerto Rican heritage. We are a passionate, emotional and fiery people, but loving and affectionate at the same time. There is music and language and a family gathering for every occasion you can possibly think of…and at the center of it all..is food. Delicious food that would send a spark through your taste buds and have you salivating as soon as the aroma hits your nose. In a close-knit, poor community, it is the single, most sincere way that our grandmothers, mothers, aunts and neighbors showed their love. And as your friend's mom heaped a mountain of rice, beans, pork chops (fried of course) and plantains (also fried) onto your plate, you were grateful and she was content, because after all you were way too skinny as far as she was concerned. "Tu estas muy flaca…you need to eat".

For many women of color, putting the needs of the family and everyone else before our own needs is what we learned growing up; it's what we watched our mothers do. We do this today in an environment that seems to have more stress, more pressure, more guilt and less time. An unfortunate by-product of doing this for generations is poor heart health. Many women in our communities are suffering from the effects of obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes and the number one killer of us all…heart disease. We fear that getting heart healthy would require us to drastically change what we eat and force us to hit the gym seven days a week, but the wonderful thing about this book is that Jennifer and Terri Ann really get it. They understand the issue from our unique perspective. They will give you tools to make necessary changes without dramatically changing your life, while you get on the road to saving it. They address all of our concerns about giving up all the things that we're used to and they help us step out of our comfort zone without totally giving up our comfort food…the things that remind us of our aunties and abuelas.

Heart Smart will help you work on your mind as well as your body, with Jennifer and Terri Ann walking you through as you make small, but significant changes, one step at a time. We might not be able to ever stop putting the needs of others first…and many of us can't change our socioeconomic situation overnight or miraculously erase the stress that comes with it…but what we can do is get on the right track today by moving ourselves up higher on that list of priorities. We need to do this so that our daughters, nieces and granddaughters can follow in our healthy footsteps and not have to deal with heart disease in the staggering numbers that we are dealing with it today. And more importantly, we need to do this so that we are here, to watch them grow, with a heart that is healthy enough to overflow with love.

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