She’s been a star employee at her neighborhood Quality Food Center for many years, and now Dani Martin has a healthy food focus to share. We talked to her about her advice on eating, exercise, dancing in the kitchen, and more!
How long have you worked at QFC and how did you get your job?
“I’ve worked at QFC for 15 years. I just got my 15-year award earrings.” Dani shares. She secured her job at QFC the summer after her junior year in high school. “I told myself just walk in, go upstairs, get the job!” After being hired, her beginnings were absolutely equitable. She had to get a food handlers permit and “my manager said one thing to me. If you don’t do the job, I will fire you right away.” Her reply: “I got it, sir, I got it – so I will do the job the way you want. I was 18 years old.”
Tell us about making good food choices?
“People need to eat whole grain bread, and not white bread…Mostly they need to eat a lot of healthy things for nutrition like salads and water and a little bit of milk. Keep amounts low, not too high for milk, coffee. Every night now I eat healthy things like salads, a little bit of chicken, and little bit of fruit and ice water. I usually have veggies every day. I usually have a lot of water.”
How did you learn about healthy eating and exercise?
“Get Fit Club, provided by Friendship Adventures.” Dani explains, “It’s about learning how to eat less and not a lot of sugary stuff. I have been having a little bit of sugar. [It’s the holidays, after all!] January, I’m getting back to my step counter, my fitbit.”
Do you have a goal for steps each day?
“8000.” To achieve her goal each day, Dani has a strategy: “at night, we do dancing steps – it works with eating less and drinking more water.” She turns on a music station in the kitchen “and I start shaking it up!” She calls it kitchen steps and someone even gifted their family a kitchen towel that says “this kitchen is for dancing.”
What else do you do to stay active?
“Seattle Parks has a swim team at Meadowbrook called Seattle Sharks, which is my boyfriend’s team. I swim with the Seattle Eagles at Helene Madison Pool.” Dani also has her own pool at home and does 100 laps without stopping in the summertime! She’s been swimming and participating in Special Olympic sports since she was 9. “The first time I went in the pool for Special Olympics, I looked in the water and it was kind of fuzzy. It was a big pool. But it’s nothing now.” Dani even lettered in high school for her achievements on the swim team, in drama, and academics.
Growing up in Seattle, what was your education like?
“Nathan Hale was a really good education. I took all regular classes.” Dani’s parents were strong advocates, choosing to drive Dani to an elementary school in Magnolia which, at the time, was dedicated to inclusion with no segregated special education classrooms. Later, they found the program at Nathan Hale high school to be the best choice at the time to continue Dani’s inclusive education.
“I was on my middle school volleyball team. My team was called the tigers. Everyone wanted the tigers to win. Everytime we score, we win. Nothing gets by the tigers. I’m a tiger!”
Her tenacity even earned her the opportunity to give a 3 minute long speech at her Senior graduation breakfast. She ended her speech with “Go Raiders! Hale yes!”
Dani continues to describe her high school activities: “Drama, for sure. Shakespeare. I was the priest marrying the people. I was in MacBeth, Say Any Word, 12th Night, and the first part of Shakespeare. I’ve been in lots of plays in Friendship Adventures as well.”
Now, as a working adult who is conscious of food and fitness, what else do you do for fun?
“The things that I get involved in with Friendship Adventures is that they have lots of trips. They take people with disabilities on little trips like Leavenworth, Holiday Lights, the hoedown. I went to Disneyland as kid and this year I went on my own with Friendship Adventures. Another one that is coming up is a cruise to Alaska.”
“I started out in the band because I have a ukulele. I always wanted a ukulele, wanted to be taught how to use it properly and not break it. But the band is at 4:30, and I have to work.”
Dani tells how she’s been involved in many Special Olympics sports as a child and an adult “Everytime I win a gold medal, I get to go to State – swimming, basketball, soccer, track and field. I got first place this year for bowling.”
And of course, Dani has a boyfriend who she encourages to stay strong in the Get Fit Club: “My boyfriend got involved in it too. I’m helping him. I say ‘Why are you having soda right now? That’s not good for you.’”
Any final words of advice for those of us who are also working to be healthier and more fit in the new year?
“Keep on dancing, and be more active, not eating a lot of things like sweets and sugar. They need to start exercising better like the treadmill or swimming any kind of activity or sports basketball, walking.”