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Dear Latinas: Skip the surgery, complete this workout instead

A few days ago I stood in the middle of a noisy New York City street having a casual conversation with other Latina women about the frequency of body modification surgery in our community.  Since I am a fitness and health professional I stood quietly trying (hard) not to judge how frequently young Latinas go abroad to places like Colombia and Dominican Republic to get rid of abdominal fat or gain a bigger bust or butt.  I judged first, then got worried, not because I don’t understand the allure of surgery (quick, inexpensive) but because it happens as early as during a girl’s early teen years.  WOW! I am the first to admit being Dominican-Chinese meant less curves in all the (culturally) wrong places but surgery is something I might consider in my 40s and 50s and definitely not while I am still young enough to hit the gym and avoid the junk food.  For all women, Latina or not, the first goal of a fitness and health regiment is self-love. It’s almost impossible to truly change the person you see in the mirror until you learn to love and accept yourself as you are now.   In the meantime, if you are a Latina of non-curvy or overly curvy variety wishing to get in shape naturally, try my Half-China butt-enhancing workout and be ready to have your tias wondering where you got your surgery.

Reduce the risk of injury by beginning your workouts with either a dynamic warm-up or 10-15 minutes of cardio on the rowing machine, bicycle or elliptical machine.


I.  5 sets of 5 Heavy Dumbbell Deadlifts

Dumbbell Deadlifts:  Choose 2 Dumbbells of challenging weight.  Stand with your legs slightly wider than shoulder-width with weights in between your feet.  Hinge at the hips ¾ of the way to bend down and pick up the weights, bend the knees and reach for the weights.  Keep your chest and your gaze up; with your back flat lift the weights, without bending the elbows, reach an upright position.  The weights should be in front of your hips in the upright position.  Reverse motion to lower weights and repeat 5 times.  Rest for 30 seconds before completing second set.  After completing 5 sets, rest for 60-90 seconds before continuing to jump rope.


II.  Jump Rope

Complete 2 sets of 30 seconds of jump rope with 10 seconds of rest in between each set.  Begin with two feet on the ground and bring both feet up as you jump.  Simple and very effective.


III.  5 Sets of 5 10-Second Weighted Squats

10-Second Weighted Squats: Use one of the dumbbells from the deadlift exercise; hold the dumbbell in front of your chest, elbows bent.  Keep your back flat as you hinge your hips and bend your knees into a deep squat (without allowing your knees to go over your toes).  Count to 5 on your way down and 5 on your way up.  Remember it’s not about the quantity but about the quality of the squat.  Repeat 5 reps, rest 30 seconds in between each set.  After all 5 sets rest 60-90 seconds before continuing to jumping squats.


IV.  2 Sets of 25 Jumping Squats

Jumping Squats: Bring your arms out in front of you, parallel to your feet and bend your knees to get into a low squatting position.  From the lower squatting position jump up high, bringing arms to your side. Land back into a low squatting position with knees bent, bringing your arms back to parallel as you land.  Take a 1-minute rest before completing 2nd set.


After completing your workout make sure to re-hydrate the natural way with agua de coco.


About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.


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  2. DON’T DO THE SURGERY! I know too many Latinas that have suffered because of the surgery – one even went into a coma and died. Exercise, mindful eating, and lifestyle modifications will help instead.

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