Friday, April 8, 2022
Testing positive for COVID-19 and having to isolate myself with my family for five days reinforced in me the importance of taking care of our health. Thankfully, my family and I were all able to recover, but it made me realize how beneficial a healthier lifestyle could be. I decided then that I would personally commit to prioritizing my health for myself, and most importantly, for my family.
Not too long after I announced my decision to make positive health changes, mixed martial arts champion Frank “The Crank” Camacho challenged me to commit to this lifestyle. I was moved by this challenge and asked him to create a regimen that will get me to where I need to be. This will allow me more time with my family and our community. This level of effort is not required for anyone in the community to strive for, but I encourage everyone to do what they can to commit to prioritizing their health for themselves and for their family.
The Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers’ mission has always been to improve quality of life for our residents. One way we can do that is by improving the overall health of our population. Making a change now can positively improve the health for our future generations.
In a 2019 report from the Commonwealth Healthcare Center, lifestyle changes and dependence on imported, processed foods were reported as factors for widespread hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer within our CNMI residents. 83% percent of Northern Marianas descent are overweight or obese, putting the majority of the CNMI's indigenous population at increased risk for non-communicable disease.
With this specific reason, I started my “Fit to Lead” fitness journey, because I learned that if we don’t make time for our health, we will have to make time later in life to repair it. I chose to make the change now, so I can have more time to watch my family grow.
My motivation for starting this fitness journey was my family, most especially my children. Like every other father figure, caring for my family is my main priority. I knew that I needed to be around longer to take care of them. As your Governor, I am also committed to living and leading a fit lifestyle so I can be the best to take care of our community.
Something that has helped me stay motivated on this fitness journey is mixing up my routine, so that I always look forward to my workout. I noticed that I have had more energy since I started this journey, which equates to more quality time with my family. This has also been one of the strongest motivating factors to continue pushing through, even when it gets hard. Having to start my day earlier, I have more time to meet with my senior staff to discuss and plan initiatives and projects for the betterment of our islands. I also feel more energetic as we are out serving the amazing people of the CNMI.
It hasn’t been easy though because food is a big part of our culture. Whenever I go to gatherings, I am always offered food. At the beginning of this health challenge, I had to set my mind on managing what I ate. I have been more conscious of my intake and have incorporated healthier foods into my diet, like local fruits and vegetables.
Through the many ups and downs along the way, I’ve had incredible support from the community, my wife, and my children to help me push through. We can do that for each other.
Little things can go a long way, and I encourage our community to do what they can to start living healthier. Take it one step at a time, one day at a time, and one meal at a time. I also encourage our leaders to join me in leading our community to a healthier, active, and fit lifestyle!
As we celebrate Earth Month, let’s also develop good habits of taking care of our environment. When you're out on a beach walk, taking a few minutes to pick up trash is a great start. Let’s all do our part to make the CNMI a clean, world-class destination for our visitors and most importantly, our community. Our environment plays a big role in our overall health and wellness. Let’s be sure to take good care of it and ourselves.
For more information, visit the GCEA at cnmieconomy.com, on Facebook and Instagram (@cnmigov.economy), or contact them at email@example.com.
By Hon. Governor Ralph DLG Torres
Ralph DLG Torres is the 9th Governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and is Co-chairman of the Governor’s Council of Economic Advisers.