Five Peaks recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of our incredible Tribe5 members, Loriana Hernandez-Aldama, about ArmorUp for Life – her passion-project charity that grew out of her experiences battling Leukemia after her initial diagnosis in 2014. Our Good Karma Community Flow, every Friday at 4:00pm, supports ArmorUp for Life by helping provide funds to purchase fitness equipment for local hospitals and cancer patients who are currently battling against cancer, so that they, too, can become “Fit to Fight”. Read on to learn more about Loriana’s story, and the work that she and Armor Up is doing in our local community.
Five Peaks: Tell us a little bit about yourself! What got you started along this path?
Loriana: I’m a former local and network news anchor and fitness/health reporter of more than 20 years, turned cancer survivor/fighter and advocate. I turned that advocacy into a non-profit called ArmorUp for LIFE. I founded the non-profit from my bedside after struggling to understand how the “clean eating, green drinking, yoga enthusiast and on-air health coach” could get cancer. After my diagnosis, I felt I had to answer to my viewers, who were asking so many questions. I asked my doctors why I’d wasted my time doing everything right, only to get diagnosed with cancer anyway. My doctor said, “You have it all wrong. The more FIT you show up and present yourself to us, the more aggressive you can fight. Put your Armor on. You will be here for a year separated from your (2 year-old) son, and stay focused. ” He went on to say, “Take a look around the hall. Not everyone’s chemo bag is the same size. You may all have leukemia, but you don’t all fight the same. We have to tip-toe around other problems that get in people’s way, like diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure. They will get a smaller dose.” IT was the light bulb moment for me and the biggest story of my career, and I needed to shout it from the mountain top… What you do each day, how you live your life, what you eat, how much exercise you get, how much stress you allow in, all determines how well you show up to YOUR fight, whatever that fight may be AND… your ability to fight and your dose will be directly correlated to your health and fitness level. This was MY BREAKING STORY!
Five Peaks: That’s incredible. How does your yoga practice fit into all of this?
Loriana: I practice yoga because I truly believe it is amazing for the mind, body, and soul. I started practicing yoga in 1999 when I did a story on the power of yoga for one of my fitness stories, and I never looked back. I have seen people walk in broken, and walk out of class 6 months later standing tall with no back problems, emotionally grounded, and all-around feeling better. I have been in awe of the impact I have seen on those who practice yoga and make it part of their lives.
Five Peaks: Tell us some more about Armor Up For Life…
Loriana: ArmorUp for LIFE is a non-profit with a dual mission: 1) To help everyone “armor up for life”, and get their bodies prepared for the unexpected – so that they, too, can receive the most aggressive treatment possible for whatever comes their way; and 2) To use the money we raise to help those currently engaged in the fight against cancer “armor up” through diet, exercise, lifestyle, spiritual, and financial fitness. When I was hospitalized for an entire year, I had a tribe, and even better I had a “pit crew” of friends/viewers/professionals come to my aid and help me on all those levels throughout my fight and even after my battle. At ArmorUp for LIFE, we want to be that “pit-crew” for every cancer patient.
Loriana: The Five Peaks Power Yoga community can get involved in so many ways. You can donate your time as a volunteer to help the following ways:
• Donations – Money raised will be used to host events at cancer centers to raise awareness of fitness with cancer patients and give them the tools their need for success. (Fitness gear, healthy snacks, medical massages, sponsor a patient, pay for house cleaning, or fund getaways for patients to make memories).
• Collect new or gently used fitness gear (clothing, sneakers, yoga mats)
• Secure partnerships with any businesses to help ArmorUp for LIFE on a larger scale. (Can your business help fund or sponsor a medical massage for a patient? A trip to make memories? Contact us!)
Five Peaks: What is some advice you can offer to our community here at Five Peaks that can help everyone “Armor Up” for life?
Loriana: My advice for everyone, yogis included, is that we often check off all the boxes to a healthier lifestyle and think, “Oh, this will never happen to me,” but the truth is, it CAN happen to you. Your life can flip upside down in an instant. It’s not just eating right and exercising. Sleep, and stress levels, are critical. Did you know that cancer is caused by inflammation in the body? And guess what causes inflammation? Chronic stress. So yes, there is a wheel of success that includes diet, exercise, lifestyle and stress, alongside spiritual and financial fitness. You have to find balance, and incorporate all of this into your life. Yoga is the perfect way to achieve this, but you can’t just show up for your yoga class and leave… You have to practice this all day, every day.
Five Peaks: Is there anything else you would like our community to know?
Loriana: I am available for speaking engagements to share the ArmorUp for LIFE story, and the money raised helps fund the non-profit and further promote the mission.
Colure is a mostly-vegan yoga teacher, mom, wife, graphic designer, self-proclaimed nerd, and proud Co-Founder of Five Peaks Power Yoga. When she’s not at the studio teaching or practicing yoga, she can be found relaxing in her favorite local coffee shop, or adventuring around the greater DC region with her family.