Love yourself by living healthier
By: Jayson A. Francisco
When I finished college and landed my 1st job, things changed. It was the start of my experience to harvest the fruits of my perseverance in getting a degree and a professional license as well. Had a lot of first times, especially when it comes to food. That’s also the time when I enjoyed the perks of having numerous local travels with a lot of buffet meals, various meetings and corporate gatherings with again, overwhelming food servings. In short, gluttony. “Ang takaw takaw ko, kain dito, kain doon.”
Stress was added to my lifestyle as I have to finish lots of demanding academic requirements in graduate school. Juggling corporate work and part-time teaching in a state university every weekend, plus being a dedicated and hardworking graduate student made my lifestyle so unhealthy. I always sleep late due to lots of readings, had to prepare lectures and exams, had to check and read my students’ manuscripts, overtime at work, etc. “Ang hindi nawawala doon ay kumain nang kumain na para bang wala ng bukas”. I eat when I’m stressed and when I’m not. Funny.
Two (2) years passed by, this stress eater and too-lazy-to-exercise-junky got a huge weight increase from 75 kilos to 104 kilos, with an obese level 3 BMI, I looked older.
People keep on asking me what made me change my lifestyle?
This is my story.
During the medical examination I underwent 2 years ago, the doctor frankly advised me that for a 23 year-old man, it is surprising that I already have high blood pressure and probably, have to intake maintenance drugs to prevent possible heart attack and similar illnesses. That time, I’ve also got high glycemic index approaching to diabetes level 1. The doctor stressed that if I will continue this lifestyle, I would need to undergo a lot of medication including insulin therapy to reduce my blood sugar index. Which is, really costly.
That time, I realized as a bread winner, my health condition will make me more financially challenged. Aside from that, I will be having lots of food constraints. And most importantly, might have limited time to enjoy my life with family, friends and loved ones.
I decided to stretch my schedule and allowed time for physical activities. I also consulted my friends in the medical field on what to eat, and what other things to do to lose weight. I started jogging every weeknights. Even though it is really a challenge for an overweight man to jog, I pushed myself to do it. It took me an hour and 10 minutes to finish 5 km (average pace: 14 min/km). Slow but motivated. Until I found myself running 5km thrice a week and several weeks after that, running became my habit.
I also became mindful of my food intake. I always put aside “bad” calories and tried to take in foods with “good” calories. I maintained eating low-salt, high-protein, low-sugar food which are sourced from wheat bread, potato/rice, fish and fruits. Also minimized fast food eating and I strictly removed carbonated drinks from my diet. I also have an inevitable item in my To-eat-list: banana, a very good source of potassium to avoid muscle cramps during physical activities. I made sure to drink at least eight (8) glasses of water daily and took vitamin C supplements. As much as possible, I sleep at least six (6) hours a day. All of these seemed to be a 180-degree turn in my lifestyle.
After weeks of establishing my habits, I enrolled to a nearby gym which pushed me more to get a treadmill run whenever I need to do overtime at work. I decided to regularly attend high-intensity dance classes (zumba, hiphop, streetdance), with some sessions of yoga and spinning. At first, it was way too difficult to add another physical activity aside from running, but I kept motivating myself that all my hardships will turn into something great!
Eventually, I saw difference in my body weight, 240 pounds reduced to 175 pounds within eight (8) months of hardwork. As the time goes by, I increase the intensity as well as the frequency of my activities. That time, I also joined a mountaineering club to improve my physical fitness awareness and survival skills. With that, I also learned lap swimming through our basic water safety training as a part of our basic mountaineering course.
Losing weight is challenging but to maintain the routines established in your lifestyle is the much more challenging. What you really need to put in your mind especially when you already reached your maintaining weight, is to remember how much bloody sweat you had shed just to be fit, and you must always go back to why you started. In my part, despite having a very busy schedule and got demanding requirements in my current responsibilities, I am doing my best to maintain my habit of running, swimming, dancing, mountain climbing and doing yoga.
This story is not to boast my achievement but to inspire others who are also having difficulties to include physical activities in their demanding and tight schedule. I really want to imply that if you are really decided to do it, no matter what, you’ll make a way to achieve it. What I did is to make a firm decision that I will have a healthy work-life balance. This is how I actually understand what is meant by loving more of myself, to make myself stronger.
As of this writing, I recently successfully completed my 1st Pinoy Fitness SUB1 last March 29, 2015 and continuously finishing 21-km run in series of marathons organized by Runrio and Natgeo since last year. I am now gearing for my 1st 32km run this June 2015 and targeting to finish the 42km run in the last quarter of the year. If the schedule permits, I am hopeful of joining aquathlons as I also started improving my routines in lap swimming.
Again, thank you to my very loving family and loved ones, my fitness mentors and friends especially to senior members of Sierra mountaineers, my SIKLAB batchmates which eventually became my marathon and swimming buddies and to all people who keep on cheering me to achieve my goals and fulfillment in physical fitness. I will continue to inspire them to work/study hard and sweat harder.
To those who really want to shift to a very active and healthy lifestyle, here are my cents:
1. Discipline and determination are the keys to change your bad habits. Start now.
2. Live healthy and eat nutritious food. Avoid fast food and eliminate carbonated drinks.
3. Always remember MIND OVER MATTER. Exceed your limits and always train for an activity you will be joining may it be a marathon, sub series, mountain hikes, swimming races, etc. No matter how difficult it may seem, the bloody sweat and tears will eventually pay off.
4. Maintain what you have started. Increase intensity if you can but balance every aspect of it. Think of time schedule, preparation for transition, and most importantly your determination to do it.
5. Put God first in everything you will do. Ask his divine intervention and guidance to help you successfully achieve your goal.
Thanks for reading my story. Always remember, HARDWORK WORKS.
Member, Pinoy Fitness
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