Healthy Living with LaPesi

Victoria Valenzuela, or La Pesi, is a health and wellness enthusiast that loves sharing her light and positivity with the world. She's developed a community of followers on Instagram who love her posts on healthy living and healthy recipes (especially since the Instasnap update). 

She is passionate about cooking, fitness, and living life... well, passionately! So, she gives us some insight on how she leads a healthy lifestyle and what's inspired her to do it. Also! Pesi shares with us a delicious, healthy cinnamon oatmeal recipe. Yum!

Let’s get to know Pesi a bit! Who are you and what do you do?

Right now I am a student! I am working on getting a sustainable food systems associates degree and I want to eventually open up a farm-to-table restaurant. That’s always been my dream! So I’m working towards that. Aside from going to school, I am working in a restaurant. I’m a hostess and am just learning everything in the restaurant industry - all that you need, from servers to hosts, the cooking process… just trying to be as close as I can to that so that I can eventually set up my own restaurant.

I’ve always loved cooking since I was little. The first memory I can remember when I was completely intrigued by it was being in my grandma’s kitchen. She was baking an apple pie. I was so intrigued by what she was doing. I tried getting my fingers in it to get a bite and she slapped my finger away like, “Mijita, it’s not ready yet!” I was like, “I’m so sorry,” and she was like, “Just sit down. I’ll show you what I’m making right now.” So she was teaching me step by step everything she was doing for the filling and she gave me fork and said, “Here take the fork and you can press the crust on the pie so that it looks pretty.” She was so patient with me. I had such a good time that every time I went to my grandmas house I was always like, “Grandma what are you doing! What is that? What are you putting in there?” I’ve just always been interested in cooking and I love it so much.

I always researched the food I was eating and what was healthy for me because I wanted to educate myself. I didn’t want to just follow the trending diet.
— La Pesi

The healthy part comes from my mom because she’s definitely always been very healthy and always watching what we eat because my older sister is a diabetic so it was important for us at home to have healthy foods that are low in sugar, low in carbs. I always knew what was important to have on a plate - like whole grains, veggies, fruits, and protein.

So that’s my passion! I put in practice when I moved out of my house. I was like, “Ok. I need to start cooking for myself and find my own food.” I just started having fun with it and sharing as much as I can of it with everyone on my Instagram.

Why is it important for you personally to lead a healthy life?

I’ve always been interested in maintaining a healthy body because I’ve watched my family struggle with their weight so I was always interested in finding a way to maintain a healthy weight without constantly being on diets. I’ve always worked out and I just began understanding what my body needed a few years ago and what was good for it to maintain a healthy weight. It was really important for me to stay healthy. I didn’t want to struggle, you know? I always researched the food I was eating and what was healthy for me because I wanted to educate myself. I didn’t want to just follow the trending diet. I wanted to do what was best for my body! So I started listening to it, paying attention to what bloated me, what made my stomach feel sick. I started to stay away from certain ingredients and once I did that it’s just been really simple and easy and I love it!

What are few things (or ingredients) that you must have stocked in your fridge at all times?

I have to have almond butter (for sure), coconut milk, almond milk, vegan cheese I have to have at all times! And my number one is avocado. I cannot live without avocado.

I just feel like it’s so much more worth living to live loving your life, mistakes and all, without regrets.
— La Pesi

Other than cooking and fitness, what else are you passionate about?

I feel like I am passionate about everything. I’m a really sensitive person so I’m very in tune with my feelings and I try to do everything the best I can. I love the best I can. I have found that it’s the best way to live. It’s sad that it takes losing somebody to realize this but I think ever since my brother passed away, I realized how important it is to live for the little things and just be excited about the blessings in our life and live as passionately as we can. It honestly did take me a little bit after he was gone to realize this. It was really hard at first but once I realized the lessons that he left me, I started putting them into my life and it was completely life changing. I just feel like it’s so much more worth living to live loving your life, mistakes and all, without regrets.

You come off as such a happy and positive person and I know you get that often. Have you always been this way or was it a certain experience like this that made you become such a positive person and look at the brighter things?

I feel like I’ve always lived on the bright side but those things have definitely been the hardest things I’ve ever had to live through. Losing my brother and most recently, losing my father. Right now, for example, I’m planning my wedding and I’m so excited to marry Rodrigo but everyone’s like, “So how’s the wedding planning like?” I’ve honestly picked everything so quickly. It hasn’t been stressful for me at all. I’m trying to enjoy everything because I feel like one of the worst things that could’ve ever happened to me already happened to me. And it has been so hard and heartbreaking that I think to myself, any other little thing that could go wrong in my life cannot be that bad. You know? I went through so much pain already that I’m really just trying to enjoy the life that I have now.

When you’re feeling down, what helps you stay positive?

Something that helps me (I’m very religious) is just taking a moment to myself to breathe deeply and say a little prayer to God and ask him to help me keep those negative or sad thoughts away from me. I ask him to give me comfort. Once I’m done with my prayer, I always feel so much better and I think in a way my prayer is my way of letting those feelings go. I feel relieved and comforted. I’ll even talk to my dad and my brother sometimes. I’ll let them know like, “I miss you guys,” or like, “I’m going through this right now. Pray for me!” They’re in a better place and I know they’re not suffering, so the way I think about it is... they will happily pray for me!

So, what are some ways someone can be healthier?

I always tell people some simple ways are, number one: always eat veggies with your meals (whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner)! Another way is to drink water over any other drink and add a lemon to your water. And even if you don’t have time to do a workout, just doing like fifty push-ups in three separate sets, just drop down and do some push-ups, it’s a complete workout. Those are my tips I always tell people.

Just be as real as you can be. Nobody is perfect. The imperfections are what we all can relate to.
— La Pesi

You started a Facebook page called My Kind of Beautiful. Are you still working on that? What projects do you currently have underway?

I decided just to cancel My Kind of Beautiful just because everybody knows me by La Pesi. So I figured it would be easier to have my page name be La Pesi. What I’m working on right now is all the recipes I have posted, I want to transfer them onto my page (which will be LaPesi), so that everybody can access my recipes anytime rather than having to take a screenshot of every single snap that I make on my Instastory. It’ll be much easier and quicker for people to reach my recipes. That’s something that I’m working on right now is getting all my recipes that I have already on there before I launch it. Another thing that I’m working on is that I want to do a giveaway with some of my favorite things that I always need to have. I’m probably going to do a package with my favorite almond butters, probably put some coconut milk in there, my favorite maple syrup and honey. Some of the ingredients that are essential in the recipes that I post. I’m really excited about that. I’m just trying to get my website going, (which will actually be a Facebook page). Once I’m done with that I’ll announce the giveaways.

Okay! That’s so clever! On your Instagram you have a really loyal following. What tips would you give to somebody who’s trying to build a community on Insta or is trying to grow their followers?

I think what works best for me is just being myself. Don’t be afraid about everything being perfect or looking perfect all the time. I think what people can relate to is the realness of my Instagram. I’m honestly not afraid of sweating in my Instagram or having no makeup on my Instagram, showing snaps of failures or my mess-ups. Just be as real as you can be. Nobody is perfect. The imperfections are what we all can relate to.

When you stop trying so hard and you stop looking and begin focusing on yourself first, love will surprise you.
— La Pesi

Aside from fitness and healthy living that everyone gets to see on your page, I’m sure another thing that people get to witness is just how in love and happy you and Rodrigo are. What advice can you give to somebody looking for love?

The way Rodrigo and I found each other was completely unexpected and as cheesy as it sounds... when you stop looking, that’s when it will surprise you. I’m literally just smiling just thinking about him. I’m so excited to marry him. When you stop trying so hard and you stop looking and begin focusing on yourself first, love will surprise you.

What, to you, makes a happy relationship?

I think communication is the most important thing in a relationship. Rodrigo and I have been completely honest to each other from the start. We didn’t want to play any games, there was no playing around trying to make each other jealous. We were both real about our feelings. We liked each other right away. I was honest about it, he was honest about it. I told him I didn’t want to get hurt and I think that is what’s made our relationship so strong is how honest we are to each other. Even if sometimes we’re scared we’re going to hurt each other’s feelings, in the end it’s to the benefit of our relationship because we’re telling each other what we want, what we don’t like, what we need and that’s definitely what’s made our relationship so strong.

Another thing is allowing each other to be our own person because we are both really friendly people. We’re outgoing, we love meeting new people, making friends and we have always, always had that trust in each other that we can let each other make friends, meet people, be friendly without feeling insecure about each other’s love. That’s always been something that’s made me so proud about us is how we are so loyal and trustful and we have a lot of communication. It makes it so much more fun and enjoyable because we are not worried about losing each other. We both know what we have!

Want some exclusive content from this interview? Sign up for the JRECOGNIZE newsletter!

Ingredients:

2 Cups of Water

1/4 tsp of Salt

1 Cup of Gluten-free Old Fashioned Oats

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

2 tbsp of Honey

Justin's Vanilla Almond Butter (or any preferred brand of vanilla almond butter)

5 Pitted & Chopped Dates

Directions:

  1. Bring water & salt to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add oats & cinnamon. Stir!
  3. Lower heat & simmer covered for about 10-20 minutes (depending on preferred consistency).
  4. Once cooked, add honey to oats & stir.
  5. Transfer to serving bowl. Top with almond butter, dates, and a sprinkle of love. 
  6. Enjoy!