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Spotlight on Tina Salazar, McDonald's Owner

Tina’s Journey to Health - Tina Salazar is passionate about health and making healthy choices, but it wasn’t always that way. While going to school for business and advancing her career, her weight increased to over 300 pounds. One day, as she was getting ready for work, she found herself struggling to tie her shoes because of her size. This was the day she decided to make a change. It took five years of educating herself on nutrition, cutting back on portion sizes, and exercising for Tina to reduce her weight by half and reach her health goals. Being a mom of a young girl, at first Tina felt selfish taking the extra time out of the day to exercise and prepare meals. However, as time went on and she regained her health and energy, she saw that taking time for herself was making her a better mother to her daughter.

“Don’t feel guilty to take care of yourself, you will be a better mom because of it,” Tina Salazar

Tina started working at McDonald’s at age sixteen in her parent’s store. She now owns four San Antonio area McDonald’s restaurants. She recognizes the importance of having healthy choices available and sees ¡Por Vida! as helping to provide the nutrition education on how to create a healthy meal from the menu. Every McDonald’s in San Antonio now has information available about the meal combinations that fit into the ¡Por Vida! program guidelines, so their customers can make informed choices.

People who have known Tina since before her health journey want to know the secret to reaching and maintaining a healthy body size, she says. Tina is open to sharing the formula to success. She started with small changes, like cutting back on sugary beverages and bread portions by half. Then she’d substitute higher calories foods, such as fries or battered chicken, for lower calories foods like a green salad and grilled chicken. Next Tina learned the art of carrying healthy snacks, such as packing apple slices or mandarins in her purse for between meals. Tina made small changes along the way on her journey that added up to the final formula of eating healthy “most of the time” and exercise five days per week for an hour each session.

Tina doesn’t focus on the scale. As part of her cross-fit training, she does body composition measurements twice per year to track muscle mass. She feels healthy and knows what it takes to maintain her health goals. She doesn’t need a number on the scale to measure her success. Tina focuses instead on being a role model for her daughter. She wants her daughter to know that eating healthy and exercising is what it takes to have a healthy body - and a healthy body comes in many shapes and sizes.

“I want my daughter to grow up eating well and exercising to have a healthy body, not for a number on the scale,” Tina Salazar

At Tina’s McDonald’s restaurants, she sees changing trends usually start with children. She may see a parent order fries for the child only to have the child ask for an extra mandarin orange instead of fries. McDonald’s now offers a substitution of the side of fries for an extra piece of fruit, apple slices, or a Go-Gurt® at no extra charge with their Happy Meal. Sugar-sweetened beverages are no longer listed on the kids menu and have been replaced with 100% juice and low-fat milk.

From barely being able to tie her shoes to doing cross-fit five times per week, Tina exemplifies how small changes towards healthy choices add up to reaching and maintaining health goals. Tina continues to be a strong supporter of ¡Por Vida! by educating patrons on how they too can make changes toward healthier choices.

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