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 Getting to Know SDCOE: Custodian Spreads Healthy Message

Have you fallen behind on your resolutions for healthy habits in 2017? Then let San Diego County Office of Education custodian Daniel Figueroa inspire you to get back on track.

Figueroa, 29, carries a healthy outlook on life — mentally and physically. He doesn't let the rough patches get him down, and he exudes passion for nutrition and fitness.

"Out of all my brothers, I'm the one who always tries to eat healthy and exercise," said Figueroa, who's the second-oldest of five. "I was always interested in nutrition and exercise."

Still, it's his older brother who turns out to be Daniel Figueroa's biggest inspiration. Gus Figueroa, who also works as a custodian at SDCOE, is a YouTube sensation with his cooking channel, We Grubbin' with El Guzii.

Seeing the potential to promote his passions via video, Daniel Figueroa launched his own YouTube channel in 2016.

Daniel Figueroa's channel is called "Hier Lifestyle," which stands for "healthy ideas and exercise routines." He said he simply wants to share his ideas with anyone looking for inspiration. The channel currently features Figueroa's video demonstrating a recipe for Ensalada de Invierno — Winter Salad. The video is lively and full of warm charm — just like its star. And it may leave you craving a salad.

Staying fit doesn't have to break the bank, Figueroa said. He's never been on a sports team or paid to join a gym.

"I've always liked recreational exercise, like running and swimming," he said. "Exercise is important for my health. It goes hand in hand with nutrition."

Figueroa said maintaining healthy eating habits doesn't have to cost a lot, either. He always preps meals for the week, usually on Sundays, because he knows he's going to be busy.

"That way when it comes to Monday through Friday, I'm not stopping at a McDonald's. And it's a lot cheaper," he said. "I buy in bulk, and I try to buy different foods so that I don't get bored."

Figueroa has found that carving out time for the videos is challenging because of his busy work schedule. He also works as a food service assistant at Mar Vista Academy, a Sweetwater Union High School District junior high campus in Imperial Beach.

Although the Figueroa family has struggled at times, Daniel said that "being united in love" is mainly what has kept him and his family going strong.

"Sometimes we get so caught up in life. Live every day to the fullest and plan a time when you can actually do the things you love rather than just thinking about them," he said.

Ultimately, he would like to pursue a career as a registered dietitian. Figueroa has taken community college classes and hopes to transfer to a four-year university to complete his studies.

"SDCOE is a really good place to be. Not only is it a good job, but I can be free in the morning hours to take classes and gain more knowledge about nutrition," he said. "I have a strong feeling that staying at SDCOE will help me do what I really want to do."

He is hard at work on his second video, a recipe demonstration for a beet juice drink.