“Approach your health in a holistic way. You can be eating the greenest of salads, but if you have a job you hate, a toxic relationship (either romantic, family or any type of relationship), etc. it will be worst for your health than eating fried foods every day. Your emotions, goals and physical activity matter as much as what you eat. Focus less on counting calories and more on how nutrient dense is your food. Cultivate balance, not perfection!”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Candy Calderon, wellness entrepreneur, a highly sought-after speaker, motivator and influencer of a new generation. She’s a certified Holistic Health & Wellness Coach from the Institute Of Integrative Nutrition, holds a Master’s Degree in Business from Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE from her natal Dominican Republic) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business as well. She crisscrosses the country with her speaking appearances for wellness events, private corporate events, universities, women empowerment conferences, among others. She’s joined the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women initiative as wellness influencer for their 2018–2019 campaigns. Through her namesake page Candy Calderon she shares her popular and outspoken takes on healthy living from the modern, busy woman-entrepreneur perspective and taboo subjects very few talks about (but still want to know) while still having fun and a few glasses of wine in the process! Her insights are often featured on Tv. and written media like NBC Latino, People, Univision, Telemundo, Latina Magazine, Bella NYC Magazine, among others. She resides in between Miami & Philadelphia.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Everything started with my mom’s Cancer diagnosis!
I have loved health & wellness all my life, but I really also love business. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business + Master’s Degree in Business which allowed me to travel the world for several years with different international corporations developing their business, but always felt in my heart that health & wellness were my true calling.
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), then decided to go back to school to get certified as a Holistic Health & Wellness Coach and my Health & Wellness career began.
Can you share the interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I have so many stories to share, I’m a storyteller after all! But if I have to choose a fun (and mortifying one!) I would say it was the first time I met Brendan Brazier in person like 6 years ago (founder of VegaOne and a huge figure in the plant-based/vegan world). I was following his work for the longest time, had all his books, a huge fan of his VegaOne brand. I had the chance to meet him in person in Miami for an expo and we had the chance to chat a little before his time to hit the stage. I was so nervous!
So nervous that in fact, I told him “I tell all my friends that you are my boyfriend in my mind!”. WHY did I do that? Who knows! Haha It was an internal joke I had with a few friends of mines, but never did I thought my nerves would get the best of me. He was such a good sport, and just laughed it off (Sorry Brendan!).
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
Oh my gosh, yes… I would vouch so HARD for veganism, disregarding people’s particularities and needs! Now don’t get me wrong, I am personally a huge champion of a plant-based diet and minimizing as much as possible our animal products intake (for both health & compassionate reasons).
I’m vegetarian and with high vegan tendencies myself, but after going to nutrition school I learned about biodiversity which means that we are not all created equal and what can be good for me and help me thrive in terms of nutrition, can be detrimental for you. I never got into that trend of “I’m better than you because I don’t eat meat”, never understood it but at the beginning, I did make that mistake of thinking everybody under the sun was meant to be vegan!
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
To never compare apples to oranges, and most definitely to understand that the human body is so complex that there is no way one nutritional philosophy can apply to the whole world. There are basic guidelines of course, but I soon understood that “biodiversity” is such an important thing when we are talking about health & wellness. Never, ever are 2 people the same!
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
I recently founded Casa Glow Media a boutique agency dedicated to developing creative content especially for health & wellness related brands looking to connect with the Latina consumption market, and at the same time connects them with Latinas & women of color content creators to develop influencer and marketing campaigns.
I’m also very excited for my Glow Wellness Tour (hitting the road this Nov. 3rd in New Jersey!), a wellness festival with speaker panels, fitness classes, music, wellness vendors, cooking demos, the whole nine yards that caters to the health & wellness challenges of Latinas & Women Of Color. This wellness festival approaches wellness taking in consideration the specific needs, culture and realities we face, a demographic that’s often neglected in the wellness industry.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I always say that my professional life has been covered with angels opening doors for me that in the natural would’ve had never opened. I came to this country with zero connections, but with a crazy work ethic and a passion for motivating others and changing lives. There are so many but I would say, Angela Sustaita, Suz Amaro, Lucinda Cross, Tania Baez. All amazing, accomplished and successful women in their own fields whom I look up to, and that have all been huge inspiration, guidance or door openers for me at different points in my life.
Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that will help people feel great?
- Approach your health in a holistic way. You can be eating the greenest of salads, but if you have a job you hate, a toxic relationship (either romantic, family or any type of relationship), etc. it will be worst for your health than eating fried foods every day. Your emotions, goals and physical activity matter as much as what you eat.
- Focus less on counting calories and more on how nutrient dense is your food. Cultivate balance, not perfection!
- Absolutely implement an alkaline diet & overall lifestyle as much as possible (disease cannot grow on an alkaline body, but thrives on an acidic environment. If we try to maintain an alkaline lifestyle by eating as close to mother nature as possible, limiting processed foods, sugar, exercising consistently, meditating (if that’s your jam!) and being mindful with self-care, we will be in such a good place. It’s all about quality of life!
Is there a particular book that made an impact on you? Can you share a story?
It will definitely have to be “The 4 Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. Especially the second agreement: “Don’t Take Anything personally”. It has served me well, especially because I’m a middle child and I crave attention all the time haha. It humbles me and keeps me grounded, especially as I navigate being in the public eye so much. Not everything revolves around me, things that don’t go my way are not always my fault, I can’t control everybody’s behavior and that’s ok!
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would definitely keep pushing for the same message I’m pushing right now, wellness is SO MUCH MORE than what we eat, counting calories and having the perfect body! You can be size 0, have a six pack or perfect booty and still be sick inside. I want to keep pushing and creating this ripple effect where we all understand that health & wellness is a “whole” and what we eat is just one part of it. I will keep pushing to bring awareness of how important the emotional aspects are, a well rounded and balanced life (not perfect) is the most rewarding one.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
It always humbles me to think about this. I want to believe I have.
I work so hard to give out to the world a message of hope, of life, recovery after illnesses, happiness, prevention and having fun! I always think about what my audience wants, how I can make the life of the people who follow me and my work better, how I want the new people who learn about me to feel when they see my work and what I do.
It’s all about them, not about me. I want them to be fearless, to know they can have fun in life and still be healthy. To know they can follow their dreams, and achieve anything they want in life!
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- That passion without structure will get you nowhere! I’m a very creative person, and it was hard for me at the beginning to grasp the concept that if I wanted to be successful in life I needed structure. To create high-performance habits that would allow me to work smarter, not harder.
- That the road to success is not linear. Being an entrepreneur is hard work and rarely did things go as I expected in the beginning, it was such a rollercoaster. It took me time to understand this dynamic.
- One size does not fit all! Going back again to the biodiversity topic. We are not all created equal and what can be good for me and help me thrive in terms of nutrition, can be detrimental for you. I never got into that trend of “I’m better than you because I don’t eat meat”, never understood it, but at the beginning, I did make that mistake of thinking everybody under the sun was meant to be vegan!
- To prioritize my mental health & self-care. I’m a doer and I’m used to always keep pushing, and pushing, and pushing without ever thinking I needed to stop and take a breather. I also used to not acknowledge when I was hurt, or sad, or when I felt anxiety because I felt ashamed of feeling those things and afraid people would think I was weak. It is a struggle to this day, but I’m getting better at it!
- That you can’t pour from an empty cup. When I started my career in the public eye I would give, give, give so much until I felt depleted and for a minute it was not fun anymore. I realize that I needed to set boundaries, that I needed to take time for myself and to connect with people IRL. I’ve become a ninja a it at this point!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
I have so many, but I read this recently so it’s fresh in my mind: “Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you’re afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that — that is what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that’s really special and if you’re not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself.”
This really made an impact because that’s been a KEY factor in my life. I have done many things before I even thought I could, before the world gave me “permission”. I gave myself permission. I’m more on the mindset of doing it and adjust as you go, but do it. Because I spent many years with this huge imposter syndrome and delaying doing things I wanted to do. It’s not a good feeling at all. So those who know me will tell you I am relentless and fearless when it comes to following my dreams.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Only one? Haha! I love so many people who I would LOVE to have a private chat. I love Arianna Huffington and Oprah, of course. Truly self-made woman who didn’t came into this world with a silver spoon in their mouth, who went hard for what they wanted and made it!
I adore Serena Williams, Gina Rodriguez and Zoe Saldana. Young women who inspire me to always give my best. All of them women of color who are doing the most for us women, equality and having our voices heard.
From the guys, I absolutely would love to meet Tony Robbins and Gary Vaynerchuk. I mean, it doesn’t get better than those two when it comes to truly mavericks in their fields. Guys who get things done, are super successful, connect their audience, but still genuinely care about people.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
My web page www.candycalderon.com is where they can find everything compiled in one place.
But from social media, Instagram is my absolute favorite and where I’m more active and have the most fun. You can find me at @candycalderon_