Candy Calderón Is Decolonizing Health and Wellness for Latinas and BIWOC

October 8, 2021
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Welcome to our series A Day in the Life where we ask women we admire to share the daily minutiae of their professional lives, from the morning rituals that set them up for success to their evening wind-down routines. In this edition, we’re getting to know Candy Calderón, a holistic health and wellness coach and the founder of Glow Wellness Tour, an educational platform, community, and event series focused on decolonizing wellness for Latinas and BIWOC from multicultural backgrounds. Ahead, she tells C&C what inspired her to help people reclaim their well-being, why she starts each day with a Caribbean ritual that pays homage to her heritage, and how she’s working to push the health and wellness industry forward.

You’re a holistic health coach whose work is dedicated to helping people reclaim their well-being. How were you first drawn to wellness and what inspired you to pursue this path?

After my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer (just a few years after my grandfather had passed away from cancer as well), I knew I had to do something to help her. 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). After her miraculous recovery, everybody started asking me to share my story. I soon discovered that helping others (especially Latinas and Women of Color) to learn about prevention and how to lead healthier lives fulfilled me in a way I have never experienced before.

I, then, decided to go enroll in nutrition school to get certified as a holistic health and wellness coach, and my health and wellness career began!

You’re also the founder of Glow Wellness Tour, a wellness community making wellness accessible for BIWOC (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Women of Color) people. What inspired you to launch this initiative, and what do you hope people take away from it?

At first, it was pure frustration that the wellness space was so dominated by other demographics that did not represent me, understand me, or even care for communities of color and the nuances and challenges we face. It was hard to not find faces and voices I could relate to. Also, the outrageous cost of access to these communities and education. But then, it evolved into a clear purpose of, “If not me, then who?” I wanted to change this narrative, so I did. And that’s how Glow Wellness Tour was born.

My hope is that each one of us has that inner force, that light, that courage to make a change that we sometimes wait for others to make. And that healing can be a beautiful journey when we embrace our roots, our ancestral practices, and we combine wellness at the intersection of culture, and heritage.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to reclaim their wellness and take actionable steps toward leading a healthier lifestyle?

To see their well-being as a whole, instead of focusing just on just one area (typically, what we eat). You can be eating the greenest of salads, the most alkaline diet, but it won’t matter if you’re in a job you hate, extremely stressed and unfulfilled, in a toxic relationship (be it romantic or friendship), if you’re not exercising your boundaries, focusing unapologetically on YOU. The body keeps score, and reclaiming our well-being will not always be pretty. It will require you to do the WORK. But the results on the other end are so worth it!

Now, let’s talk about your workday routine and how you maintain your personal well-being. First, are you a night owl or a morning person?

A morning person? Lol, I’ve tried… Oh God knows I’ve tried, and I’m still trying! I’ve been a night owl since I was in high school. My sister and I used to share our room and it annoyed her so that I would not fall asleep until really really late! But I have learned to give myself GRACE, I’m not a morning person and that’s okay despite what your favorite productivity gurus want to make you believe. What I don’t negotiate though, is my eight hours of sleep (granted, I don’t have kids!). 

What time does your alarm go off, and what’s the first thing you do upon waking?

Again, I’m not a morning person, but I don’t let that define me. Believe me, when needed I’ll wake up at 5 am like I’ve been doing it my whole life! But typically, I wake up at 8:00 am (that’s LATE for social media hustle-life “standards”), and, real talk? I still check my phone first thing, most days (trying to change that, though. HELP!).

What does your morning, pre-work routine look like?

Always my warm water with lemon on an empty stomach, 10 to 15 mins prior to my cafesito. Then, I’ll have a green smoothie and off I go! I can’t exercise with a full stomach, so it’s always a liquid breakfast.

What’s the first thing you do when you get to your desk?

I work from home, and I’m very intentional about how I start my workday. As soon as I get to my desk in my home office, I take a deep breath and smell a glass of water with camphor cubes I have on my desk. (It’s a Caribbean thing, especially if you’re Afro-descendant. Indigenous people have their palo santo, we have our camphor!), and I write three things I’m grateful for. Whatever comes to mind, no matter how big or small!

What are you working on this week?

On my Breast Cancer Awareness Month agenda through Glow Wellness Tour! Final touches to our speakers, logistics, and the fun, uplifting agenda we are preparing for our virtual event at the end of the month teaching Women of Color about Breast Cancer prevention (and really, any other type of cancer), how to reclaim their self-worth after a mastectomy, navigating intimacy, managing mental health during, or post going through Cancer, plant-based nutrition for cancer prevention, etc! It’s a topic so close to my heart, obviously because of my mom’s cancer and my own breast cancer scare (that, luckily, ended up being a lipoma—fatty lump).

What’s been the most rewarding part of running your business? The most challenging?

Most challenging: Funding! Black and Brown businesses are severely unsupported, and we bring so much to the table and to our communities! I made a conscious decision in regards to my business model to rely, mostly, on brand partnerships/sponsorship to fund our initiatives and business growth, so it allowed us to keep our classes, events, and private membership very low cost (or free when possible) so we can keep serving our target audience. 

Most rewarding: The testimonials I receive from the women in our community speak volumes of the impact we have and the need for safe spaces like ours.

Do you ever reach inbox zero? How do you handle the constant influx of inquiries and communication entrepreneurs are so familiar with?

Hahaha, what is that?! I don’t. I do the best I can with the level of support I have at the moment. The growth we are experiencing is so (excitingly) overwhelming and I’m trying to tackle each request very intentionally!

What is your go-to work lunch?

I’m a pescatarian. So, usually, a bed of arugula (or similar dark/bitter leafy green) with salmon, feta cheese, sauerkraut, tomatoes, and dates.

What advice do you have for balancing the minutiae of day-to-day tasks with big-picture planning?

Focus on your zone of genius, and delegate the rest (if you can and are able to). Something I’ve learned from my mentors: Hire slow, fire fast (no matter if they’re contractors, full-time, or part-time employees).

What are some work habits that help you stay healthy, productive, and on track to reach your goals?

Habit stacking has been a real game-changer for me. It means stacking one (good) habit on top of another old habit to help trigger each other and so on. I use this technique for myself, and teach it to my executive clients seeking to be more efficient, and productive. 

Any favorite apps you use regularly?

Calm is my favorite. And if you’re on a budget, just search for “guided meditations” on YouTube and you’re golden!

What are you reading, watching, and/or listening to right now to help you wind down at the end of the day?

I just finished Nedra Tawwab’s “Set Boundaries, Find Peace” and it was liberating

When do you go to bed? What’s your “optimal” number of sleep hours?

Eight! Lol, I can’t function without less than eight. Also, as a holistic practitioner, I know the harmful effects of sleep deprivation on our brain and overall health, so I am a HUGE advocate for the importance of our rest! 

What’s the most rewarding part of your day?

Getting to bed, with a full heart, knowing that I did the best that I could, with the gifts that I had!

Photos: Courtesy of Candy Calderón

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