Hi, my name is Monica Flores, Integrative Health Practitioner, aspiring Registered Dietitian, and Professional Footballer.
I grew up in Livingston, NJ. I am a 2017 fall-semester Science Pre-Medical graduate from the University of Notre Dame. At the University of Notre Dame, I also played collegiate Division I soccer for the Fighting Irish. Currently, I am working towards my Masters in Human Nutrition through the University of Alabama By Distance program.
I have just finished a 2-year contract with Valencia FC in Spain, and now am embarking on my next journey with Rayadas de Monterrey, in Mexico, as a professional soccer player. I have also been a member of the Mexican National Women Soccer Team. I am a certified Integrative Health Practitioner.
How did it start?
As a young, athletically-driven, wide-eyed, energy-filled girl, moving through her teen and high school years, I was certain of three things. First, I loved to learn and was intrigued by how the human body functioned and responded to the various inputs from the environment. Second, as a soccer-junkie, looking to challenge myself to get to the highest level, I aimed to optimize my performance in all ways possible. Lastly, I was enchanted by how my parents, both physicians, gave so much to the world.
These three passions persisted and grew as I enrolled in the University of Notre Dame as a Division 1 soccer player and pre-medical student. As I started my undergraduate journey, I fell in love with the dual responsibilities of being a student-athlete.
As an athlete, I quickly was exposed to the physical, mental, and emotional demands of competing for a top-tier program in the NCAA. I began to realize that lackadaisical habits off the field were no longer acceptable. If I wanted to separate myself from other “average” performing athletes, and rise to the top, I needed to have a laser-focus and prioritize taking care of my body. Fortunately, Notre Dame offered many resources to help athletes recover and refuel. I found myself constantly picking the brains of our team trainer and sports nutritionist because I was so intrigued by the idea of performance optimization off the field.
As a student, I eagerly absorbed all that I could from my classes, having the goal of one day being able to use my knowledge to help others. As I got closer to graduating, I settled on a similar vision that many other pre-medical students had in mind: going to medical school and becoming a doctor. The only caveat to this plan was that before going to medical school, I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a professional soccer player. Although everything seemed to be in place and clear, I couldn’t help but feel an uncertain void inside me about my medical school plans.
I thrived in all of my science courses and checked all of the boxes to follow the normal career path for a pre-medical student. Yet, I felt like my glass was only half-full. The truth was I couldn’t envision myself quickly evaluating, diagnosing, and then treating individuals with prescribed medication. My gut was steering me towards a different path. I was much more interested in developing personal relationships with others and working with lifestyle factors and holistic approaches to prevent and treat "dis- eases" of the body.
Through 2018-2020, after graduating from Notre Dame and while playing professional soccer overseas, I have had the time to explore this passion and learn about the human body and its response to environmental factors. Specifically, one sector that spoke to me was nutrition. With my experience of competing at the club, collegiate, and now professional level, I am convinced that performance on the field is largely driven by how we treat our bodies off the field. I have personally seen the positive and powerful effects of nutrition on my health, my performance, and my recovery.
After graduating from college, I started to teach myself more about these components. I began a Nutrition and Food Instagram account, @futbolfoodie, to start inspiring others with what I was learning. Becoming more sure that this was my passion, I completed the certification requirements to become an Integrative Health Practitioner and started my own business, Mi Healthy Vida.
This journey started with one of my very first clients, who is a living reminder of the powerful effects that can come from guidance in nutrition and lifestyle factors. I saw a depressed, unmotivated individual flourish into a thriving, life-loving, professional athlete. In the last 36 months, I have had the privilege of working with 25 other clients and have seen similar transformations in their lives as well.
Now, I can proudly and confidently say that my career aspirations have changed from becoming a physician to working as an Integrative Health Practitioner, and (hopefully in the near future), as a Registered Dietitian.
When not consumed with my professional soccer obligations and living abroad, I spend most of my free time working with clients through Mi Healthy Vida, and passionately studying for and completing courses to get my Masters in Human Nutrition.
After my endeavors as a Professional Soccer player, I hope to work as a registered dietitian, combine my love for learning about the human body, sports, and helping others, with my passion for integrative health and nutrition!
Along with my other colleagues in the fields of Integrative and Functional medicine, I believe that treating the cause of disease, not the symptoms, is the way of the future, for wellness. With my knowledge and passion for holistic health and healing, I want to encourage you, and everyone else to join me along for the ride!