There is something oh-so special about engaging in conversation with proud boricua Rhina Valentin. A TV personality, a producer, a writer, a domestic violence spokesperson and a mami, Rhina is the full package of a Latina woman, or as she likes to call her fellow Latinas, a goddess warrior. Balancing her career and motherhood, while maintaining her feminine side has led Valentin to struggle with her body image and the thin lines between media perception and what really matters- being healthy.
On November 2nd Rhina will be running her first New York City Marathon, a dream that started with a post card she mailed to herself 6 years ago and her journey of getting lean (no thin) which has been documented on her web series “Rhina Gets Lean.”
- Chica Fresh: What is “Rhina Gets Lean” all about?
Rhina Valentin: It started when I was pregnant with my daughter. I thought, like so many pregnant women think “it’s a free fall, I have permission, I can eat whatever I want because I am pregnant.” I ended up with gestational diabetes. I had to modify my eating habits to an extreme that it wasn’t even what I was use to eating before I became pregnant.
I made the decision of not dieting anymore, but instead formulating a new habitual lifestyle.
- CF: Did you have a personal trainer or a nutritionist?
It all started from the Bronx Strong Initiative and then Bronx Net allowed me to present “Rhina Gets Lean.” They allowed me to go through my trials and errors , while being documented. Which meant I was being hold accountable for all my mistakes. I did visit two nutritionist and got into various training routines. It has been an authentic journey for the past two years.
- CF: Was it your goal to get back to your pre baby weight?
RV: After I had my girl I weighed 182 pounds, today I weigh 165.
I wanted to get back to just being me. As a mom nothing about you matters, everything is about the baby. I call it the mommy face. There was something I forgot about me once I became a mom. I didn’t matter to me anymore. I wasn’t going to put my baby in baby care so I could go work out. So I create different methods that incorporated her.
- CF: Is there a bigger pressure on you, being a TV personality, to lose weight?
The pressure is still on. The expectation is there. I have always been full figured but once I had my daughter I tilted over. I have had people come up to me and say “Oh my gosh you look so much thinner in person than you do in television,” and even if it wasn’t said in a hurtful manner, it still affected me. I have a web series called “Rhina Gets Lean” and I’m not really thin, so the pressure is there.
My answer is “I am lean, I’m just lean in a Latina frame. I am a voluptuous woman. I have always been voluptuous. I don’t think I will ever be thin.”
- CF: Do you feel like there is a fair representation of the different shapes and sizes of Latinas on television?
RV: I think it is gradually happening.
When the media puts out a certain body image, it creates pressure on the norm. There was a time in Hollywood when voluptuous was the look. Marilyn Monroe was a voluptuous woman. Now is all about being very thin and having lots of plastic surgery.
- CF: What is your message to your audience, your followers, the women who are also struggling with body image?
RV: I need to embrace the fact that I am healthy and that is what I represent. I did everything I said I was going to do: I altered my eating habits, I trained to get lean and I turned my fat into muscle.
I had to go back to the basic and figure out ways of making vegetables taste like carne. We like our food to taste flavory. So mija, I put ajo on everything, ¡hay ajo pa’ todo!
“One day I am going to run the New York City Marathon” read the post card Rhina mailed to herself six years ago. On November 2nd she will be completing the 26.2 miles for the Team for Kids charity. You can follow her along the path with hashtag #RunRhinaRun
“This is a commitment I made to myself. It is about finishing it. I will be running a dream and I am doing it because I can,” concluded Rhina.