A HUSBAND-AND-WIFE DUO STRIKES THE RIGHT BALANCE IN WORK, FITNESS AND LOVE.
After 23 years as husband and wife and 17 years as colleagues at Torrance
Memorial, you’d think Diego and Marcela Agudelo would’ve lost
that spark. But anyone who has seen them eat lunch together every day
knows differently. Their chemistry is still very much alive.
“Once a lady came up to me and said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know
you were dating Diego,’” says Marcela, 44. “I just laughed
and replied, ‘No, I’m his wife.’”
The pair met in 1989, shortly after Diego emigrated from Colombia. Marcela,
also a native of Colombia, was “more Americanized,” in Diego’s
words, having moved to the U.S. at the age of 10. They were married on
Valentine’s Day in 1990 and their son, Adrian, was born the following year.
In May 1996, Marcela began working in Torrance Memorial’s health
education department. She held that position until seven months ago, when
she transferred to the volunteer services department as an office assistant.
Diego joined Torrance Memorial two months after Marcela. He started in
the billing department, then moved to the warehouse and radiology department
before finding a more permanent home in IT, where he now works as a customer
The Agudelos gained a new appreciation for their employer when, at the
age of 33, Marcela suffered a heart attack. Fortunately, she was at Torrance
Memorial when it happened. Michael Tarnay, MD, a physician in the
emergency department admitted Marcela that day and held her for observation.
“Dr. Tarnay decided to keep her, and I’m glad he did it,”
Diego says. “He could have sent her home. I believe he had a suspicion.
He just wanted to make sure.”
Eric J. Castleman, MD, diagnosed her with a congenital heart defect. She had three stents inserted
in her left anterior descending artery and was able to leave the hospital
after a few days. But the episode forced the Agudelos, who had always
been an active, healthy couple, to reconsider every facet of their diets
and lifestyles. “The mentality changes when a health scare happens,”
Diego says. “The whole family has to change.”
That change began at home, where the couple tries to cook most of their
meals. “We changed from white rice to brown rice,” Marcela
says. “We eat red meats once in a while, but we mostly eat fish,
chicken; that’s what’s best for us.”
The Agudelos ride bicycles to the beach and take walks together, but for
the most part, exercise is one thing they do separately. Diego hits the
gym five times a week and runs at least one marathon every year. Marcela
keeps it more low-key, walking at least three miles a day, usually with
her poodle by her side. She also takes advantage of the exercise classes
at Torrance Memorial.
Their focus on physical fitness has rubbed off on Adrian, who is now in
college. The couple proudly describes how their son eats healthful, balanced
meals, avoids sweets and runs eight or nine miles a day. He has entered
the past seven Mud Runs at Camp Pendleton in San Diego and has joined
his father for several local running events—but no marathons thus far.
“He says that I’m crazy,” Diego reports.
The couple plans to stay active, fit and healthy for a long time, and they
plan to do it together. Their secret to longevity, in life and in love,
is staying connected.
“People ask, ‘How do you keep it going?’” Diego
says. “Communication and patience.”
“And we are completely the opposite,” Marcela adds. “He’s
more hyper; I’m more calm.”
Diego agrees. “We complement each other. It’s a balance thing.”