Meet a Health Hero: Nicky Uy

Read more about the Food Trust's Nicky Uy, a semi-finalist in our 2013 Health Hero Challenge!

>> You can vote for Nicky on our Facebook page September 3-9. Mark your calendar!

Name: Nicky Uy

Occupation: Senior Associate at the Food Trust

Who or what motivates you to be healthy?
Part of enjoying life for me is to be able to participate and contribute to efforts happening within my family, work and various communities I’m fortunate to be a part of in Philadelphia and elsewhere. It motivates me to be healthy so that I have the energy and focus to contribute, participate and enjoy all the amazing things going on. It’s possible, but harder to appreciate the good things in life when I’m not healthy.

Describe a health- or fitness-related turning point in your life.
When I was in between jobs, I started cooking at home more both to save money and out of interest. I definitely saved money and the skills I learned then still serve me now when I have to pull a quick weekday meal together. More importantly, cooking at home also made me more energetic and I felt and looked healthier. I became aware of the many unnecessary things added to foods I was eating and still eat (in moderation) outside the house.

What “policy” would you institute to make Greater Philadelphia a healthier region?
I would institute a policy that would require students to cook and garden. It doesn’t have to take the place of learning something else. I learned fractions (and how to make Silver Palate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies and Hershey’s one bowl chocolate cake) while baking with my aunt. Cooking and gardening are life skills and all folks need to know how doable it is. I hope that one day cooking and gardening will become as natural as walking.

What’s the most important part of your health or fitness regimen?
Walking and shopping regularly at any of the weekly farmers’ markets that dot the City of Philadelphia and its surrounding area. When I don’t make time to do that, it’s harder to motivate to cook at home and I start to feel unsettled and sluggish if I eat out too many times in one week. Luckily I live in Philadelphia where there are a multitude of farmers’ markets daily from Tuesday to Sunday in neighborhoods from the Southwest to the Northeast. Shopping seasonally and buying fruits and vegetables at their peak helps me with my budget and has the added bonus of being delicious and saving time because food that fresh doesn’t need much preparation at all.

What is your number one piece of health-related advice?
Try to cook more at home. Have fun! Like the clothes you wear or the books your read, cooking can reflect and express who you are and there’s no wrong way to do it. Increase the number of meals you make at home. You don’t have to pack a lunch every day or stop ordering pizza; just try easing it into your schedule where possible. If you have kids or live with a partner or housemates, make it a regular part of your time to prepare and eat meals together. Eating and being healthy can and is fun and doable. Try small steps, and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t work out here and there. You might be surprised at the cook that emerges within you and how much more affordable it is to eat healthy, when you are preparing food at home.