Sofia Ortega – Finding your wellness journey

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Wellness for me is a continuous process of growth and change while making choices toward health,” admitted Sofia Ortega, nutritionist, wellness and health coach. While she began her career in a corporate atmosphere, and has a marketing degree to her name, a few years into it, she decided to make a change and switch to doing something she was far more passionate about – nutrition.Today, she helps others find and create their wellness journey, and bliss in the kitchen with easy and delicious real food recipes. In conversation:Tell me a little about yourself and why you decided to become a nutritionist and wellness coach. I studied Nutrition and Dietetics, so that was the kick-start for my passion to teach others about wellness. I also did some additional certifications such as sports nutrition, plant based nutrition and health coaching, as I believe that being in constant learning of the latest studies and researches on the field can help me help others to enhance their life when it comes to wellness. What does being a nutritionist mean to you? The way I see it, being a nutritionist gives me the opportunity to help others improve their health, by improving their eating habits. These changes will help the individuals to be healthy and prevent diseases. Healthy individuals are able to impact one another and in that sense, I feel a great deal of accomplishment by being a nutritionist. What does wellness mean to you? Wellness for me is not just being illness free; wellness is a continuous process of growth and change while making good choices towards your health. It’s a lifestyle of choosing what’s best for you to develop and improve your health and mind. How does these two work together and how does it impact a person’s life? They complement one another, and I as a nutritionist can help people reach their health goals based on the food they are eating every day. With my knowledge of wellness, it is a plus to show my patients how to have a better lifestyle by maintaining a balanced diet based on healthy habits. What best health habits would you recommend to anyone and why? =Have portion control and ensure all your meals always have veggies, proteins, fat and carbs. =Having a positive mind will help you accomplish your goals. Do not sabotage yourself. =Be active. Find a workout that you enjoy and do it at least 30 min a day; even walking helps! =Take care of yourself and rest. Getting enough sleep is the key (7-8 hours). =Be consistent and have patience! Consistency in physical activity, good nutrition and good rest. Patience because results can take time. =Never ever compare yourself to others; everybody is different. What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietician? Dietitians are trained professionals who promote nutritional well-being and treat medical conditions through medical nutrition therapy. They often work with people diagnosed with chronic diseases and suggest dietary changes. Nutritionists, on the other hand, are focused on promoting healthy eating habits and a balanced lifestyle. They work exclusively with individuals who are seeking to improve their nutrition intake and lifestyle by making better choices about the food they eat. Nutritionists take on a preventive role rather than a problem-solving one. This means working with healthy individuals to change dietary habits that could lead to health problems in the future. This is in contrast to a dietitian who provides consultation to individuals with illnesses, such as those with diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. Also, in many parts of the world, dietitians are regulated, where they need to meet specific professional requirements and register with the relevant body in order to call yourself a dietitian. This is because the field of dietetics is medical and diagnostic (identifying illnesses and diseases) in nature. How much should one eat? We should start by understanding that every person is completely different and so are their goals. What is important is the daily calorie intake vs. the calorie burn. Whatever the number is, while building your meal, a very simple tip you have to keep in mind is to follow the rule of 50% veggies, 25% protein and 25% carbs on your plate or bowl. You also create healthy recipes on your blog and Instagram. How and why did this come about? I love cooking as well, so when I moved to Sri Lanka I realised that I wasn’t able to prepare the same meals I had back in Mexico. Hence, I started to develop some recipes with the ingredients available here. I began to receive a great deal of questions as to where I sourced the ingredients and to share the recipes so that’s how my blog and the Sofia Wellness Instagram account – sofiawellness – started. What methods have you found to be effective as a wellness coach, and how do you implement them in life? Changing habits can be quite challenging but if you are really committed with your goals, the best advice here is to begin step by step. Perhaps you could start with two at the time, so the process becomes easier for the body to adjust it. In addition, I guide my patients on how these new habits will have positive effects in their life, and the best feeling is when they start getting the results. They return twice as motivated to keep going on this journey and accomplish their goals. What inspires you? My biggest inspiration is being able to help others to improve their quality of life, and by giving them the tools to be and feel healthy. What’s your most favourite dish to make and why? My favourite dish to make probably is healthy pancakes or muffins. You can have them for breakfast, dinner or even as snacks if they are made with the correct amount of protein, carbs and fats. My favourite ones are banana cinnamon. What’s your go to snack? My go to snack will probably be a smoothie and you can make them different every time so you will not get tired of the same thing. Most people tend to skip breakfast – is this good or bad, and why? It doesn’t matter if you skip breakfast or not if you eat the correct amount of calories and nutrients in your other meals. Is exercise just as important as the food you eat, and why? Exercise is key part of the process of living a healthy lifestyle. Every part of the puzzle is important and complements each other, and exercise is as important as resting and nutrition, but each one has different weight and value. If you’re travelling, how would you best recommend someone continues to stay and eat healthy? As I always say, the key is to learn how to eat. I teach others on what is the correct and healthiest way of eating so they can make the correct decisions and choose wisely. It doesn’t matter if they are at home, at a restaurant, in Sri Lanka or anywhere else in the world. What do you do in your spare-time? I love spending time with the people that I love and my pets. I spend time with my husband and my friends. I really enjoy watching movies, series and going to the cinema same as much as playing with my dogs for hours. What are some of your favourite restaurants to dine at in Colombo and why? My favourite restaurants are probably The Grind, Zen, Bowl’d and Natural Eats (UberEats). I love that they have healthy options that are well balanced and full of flavour. How do you manage to stay positive and fit? As any person, there are days that I don’t want to hit the gym or I crave a donut. The idea is to live as healthy as possible so when this happens, you won’t feel guilty or bad, so you just go and enjoy that moment. It’s all about balance. Having a healthier lifestyle is something we all need to learn how to live with, and enjoy the journey. What’s your daily routine like? I normally wake up around 6:30 or 7a.m. I exercise at home or go to the gym. Have breakfast around 8:30 – a smoothie, pancakes or eggs. Then I will go teach barre class and give consultations in the morning. I come back home to make and enjoy lunch with my husband. Then it’s back to work or work on my blog or a new recipe. After 6 p.m. I will stop working and enjoy some family time, watch movies or a series or I will take a yoga class. We will have dinner together and go to bed around 10:30 – 11:00 p.m.My routine is different everyday but what I cannot miss are my main three meals of the day, doing some type of exercise and spending time with my family. Pix by Udesh Ranasinha