Health – General

Eat Well, Sleep More

I really truly thought I haven’t been this stress-free in so long. 

Until I got sick and the doctor told me that people get ATP when they’re under a lot of stress.

Sure, work isn’t as physically and mentally draining as it used to be for me (thank GOODNESS for that!), but there are other stressors around.  I figured that for me it was not sleeping enough and (sometimes) over fasting.

Having trouble sleeping

It’s been over a year since my Sleep Apnea diagnosis, yet unfortunately, I haven’t made much progress in creating habits to promote better sleep quality. Heck, I don’t even use my CPAP regularly. And I should. The sleep doctor recommended that I use that machine everyday, and even during travel.

When I got sick, I noticed an increased challenge in getting myself to relax and ease into slumber. At times, I even felt anxious. Of what, I couldn’t really tell.

My Fitbit comes with a Sleep Tracker, and if it’s accurate, I’m only getting an average of 3 hours of sleep. I have more Awake and Restless hours logged than actual Sleep! 

Getting enough rest and quality sleep should be a priority. No matter where you are in your life right now, it’s important to accept this. Getting sick, and being instructed by the doctor to rest at home for three days (without doing ANY work), is a sure way to get one to take this seriously. But we shouldn’t really wait for any Medical issues or emergencies before we take heed.

What happens we don’t get enough sleep?

This is Your Body Without Sleep (infographic) - see Pinterest link for image credits

This Is Your Body Without Sleep (Infographic)

Virtually everyone has experienced the negative effects of a bad night’s sleep: grogginess, crankiness, lack of focus and a host of other nasty feelings that hover over your body and mind the entire

So you see, there is A LOT riding on getting the right amount of shut-eye regularly. Our well-being depends on it.

Deliberately sleeping less

But I get it. Sleeping 8 hours or more daily means spending a third of our lifetime in bed. And when you’re dreaming big, and have so much to accomplish, that seems like too much time wasted.

So we try to make our days longer by cheating ourselves of a few minutes of sleep. Then we find that we need more time to do the things we want to do, so we wake up earlier, and go to bed later. And it keeps going on and on and on.

We tell ourselves: Oh I’m okay with just four hours of sleep. We convince ourselves that we can function just as well with four hours as we would if we had eight hours of sleep. But do we, really?

Skipping Meals

Have I mentioned that I recently lost about 40 pounds? That’s over the course of a year. The most weight I have lost and kept off EVER. Yay me.

I got here by eating well, and incorporating exercise into my routine. There’s actually a ways to go to get to my ideal weight (the answer to many health issues, apparently) but already, I know that I am in a good place in terms of my health and well-being.

My wellness plan involves having three balanced meals a day. There’s a prescribed timing for meals, but we’re cautioned not to starve ourselves. The problem is, I have unintentionally been skipping meals while at work the past few weeks. Doing so hasn’t helped me lose more weight. Instead, it just put me at more risk for getting sick. And get sick, I did.

That day I started having chills, and complained of a very sore throat, my husband immediately pointed out that I must not have been eating well. He accused me of skipping meals! I was on the defensive right away – telling him that that was against my wellness plan. But when the doctor was asking me questions around the same topic, I had to stop and really think about what I had been doing in more recent weeks. I had to admit to myself that yes, indeed I have been skipping meals to the point where I was starving. And I should have known better.

Purpose and Priority

Think about this: Instead of deliberately depriving yourself of sleep, how can you make more out of 16 hours that you’re already awake? Take an accounting of each 15- or 30-minute block of your waking hours and ask yourself: does the time you spend on the things you do, represent the life you want to live?

Do your current actions take you closer to your goals?

It isn’t easy. First you need to determine what you want to achieve. Have you painted your big picture? Do you know where you want to go?

Knowing your purpose, setting your intention, makes it easier to decide what your priority is. It makes tough decisions easier to make, like how you spend each minute, and with whom you spend it with.

If you haven’t decided yet what your big goals are, then maybe you can make to prioritize. So you can spend less time doing unimportant stuff, and have more time for what matters most – including rest and sleep.

As for me, I have my Passion Road Map (thanks to my Passion Planner). It’s still changing from time to time, and I’m not sure that I’ve already found my purpose in life, but I understand the general direction I want to head towards. But I’ve realized too that I will not achieve my goals, or it will take a lot of extra effort to do so, if I keep pushing my body to the limit without giving it the proper nourishment, exercise, and rest that it needs.

So getting better sleep, and NOT skipping meals, are currently my priority. Locking these down help assure that I will have the physical and mental energy, for everything else I need to do.

How about you? How much sleep do you get? And do you eat three balanced meals daily?

 

Recognizing Co-Occurring Disorders in Loved Ones and Getting Treatment

How good are you at recognizing the signs of substance abuse and symptoms of mental disorders in family members? Can you effectively answer how much is too much? Do you know when someone keeps having an extra drink at lunch, or nightcap, beyond what’s recommended? Or has a loved one talked about needing something to help balance them out in order to make it through the day, leaning on that extra little drink or pill? Has buzzed driving gone from just getting home to the second DUI, or that original pain pill prescription becomes a seemingly constant script fix? When there is too much partying or pain management, then it is time to seek some addiction treatment.

These questions are hard enough to answer for ourselves, let alone for a loved one. These are all reasons, and rightfully so, for additional concern.

Oftentimes, addiction may not be the only problem. There may be an underlying mental health issue as well. Fortunately, there are treatment options available to families with someone suffering from a co-occurring disorder. In fact, if the affected individual has health insurance, it might be possible for them to access free detox solutions going forward.

You have to do your best to figure out whether there are any mental disorders, substance abuse or both in order to seek out a drug rehab center for treatment. For effective recovery, underlying issues (including mental health) have to be addressed as well.

Wellness starts with admitting there is a problem. Your loved one has to recognize this in order for treatment to help. Be prepared for resistance from that person, including outright denial of a problem existing. This is true whether they’re dealing with depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism, narcotics addiction, etc.

Having adequate health insurance is a big portion of getting well, both mentally and physically. Without good health insurance or the means to pay outright, your treatment can be subpar or non-existent at all if some health institution refuses to treat you.

Also, the path from recognizing a substance abuse issue to sobriety is not usually a straightforward one, like a ‘walk-in-the-park.’ Often, it is more like Dorothy starting on that path to Oz, you have to put one foot in front of the other. There may be some stops, getting off on the wrong track even, or other unexpected detours. But you may also meet some people along the way who take care to be vested in you and your loved one’s well-being and who want to see you do well.

Sobriety is an every minute of every day, of every month, of every year thing. Falling off the wagon happens. But the most successful treatments look at the reasoning behind why you fell off the wagon and then gives you the tools and assistance and resources to help manage these detracting situations. These problem management tools become part of your arsenal in order to hopefully build another string of days, weeks, months and years of success successful sobriety. The same is true with the mental health portion of treatment.

Eating Well at Work

Working at night makes it a bit more challenging to find options for healthy eating outside the home, but it is not impossible to eat food that will truly nourish our bodies even at 3AM.

BYOB |Bring Your Own Baon

Many times this has meant bringing my own baon.

Doing this has made it easier to keep away from white rice and bread – because it’s nearly impossible to find Red or black Rice in a restaurant, much less in an office pantry or a convenience store.

Eat Well at Work: BYOB | http://verabear.net

Eat Well at Work: BYOB | http://verabear.net

It’s been fairly easy to bring packed lunch, thanks to a husband that cooks. 🙂

This also saved me a lot of lunch money (that I redirect to getting new clothes that would fit better now ?).

I used to skip lunch a lot – because I was too busy to have one – and thought I was saving money then. But it only meant over eating on the next meal which tended to be fast food, and very un-healthy.

For those times though that I don’t get to bring packed lunch, I just do my best to make the better choice.

Convenience Store Find: Gourmet Farms

At our Makati office, where I go 2x to 3x a week, I’ve looked forward to getting my meals at the Lawson convenience store nearby.

I didn’t expect it, but I was so thankful to have found that they offered Gourmet Foods.

Eat Well at Work: Gourmet Farms | http://verabear.net Eat Well at Work: Gourmet Farms | http://verabear.net

Sarap.

I would have to admit, the salads at 99 pesos are NOT cheap. Paired with the chicken or tuna wraps, or a banana, they could be quite filling.

On Tuesday, my lunch of Chicken Mexican Wrap and Sicilian Chicken Salad cost 178 pesos. Mahal if you compare it to pantry food, or a one-piece chicken meal at Jollibee. But it’s fresh, and organically grown. So that’s a price I’m willing to pay occasionally, when I don’t bring my own baon.

And if you think about the long-term benefits, okay na din to spend a little bit more diba?

If only it didn’t mean having to dump all this plastic packaging:

It is possible!

Yes, it is possible to eat better at work. It just takes some planning, and a whole lot of resolve to make informed food choices.

What are you having for lunch today?

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UNICEF Color Run Manila 2017

At the annual fiesta of the Seminary compound I grew up in, there used to be a Fun Run for different age brackets. I was never athletic, but I remember joining at least once. I’m not sure if I finished all the way ’round the designated area, and even if I did, I probably walked for the most part.

Now, guess who signed up for this year’s Color Run Manila for UNICEF?

Oh yes! Together with my girlfriends, I registered to join this 5k fun run in support of UNICEF Manila’s programs.

This is the first time any of us will be doing this. There are many such events in and around Metro Manila, some even with shorter distances, but none of us have ever joined one. What got into us?

Why are we doing this?

  • At first it was the attraction to the unicorn- and rainbow-themed freebies 🙂
  • There’s also the opportunity to support UNICEF in it’s programs for Filipino children while having fun!
  • For me, it was yet another challenge to take on. I’ve found myself pushing my limits lately in my own wellness transformation, and participating in a 5k marathon is sure to keep things exciting and fresh!

But seriously, do we really know what we’re getting into?

 

There’s no turning back now. We have registered, paid up, and we have received our race kits (image courtesy of RunRio website)!

Sadly, the deluxe kits ran out before we could register so we aren’t getting the cute plushie and socks. But that’s okay. There’s more to the race than the freebies 🙂

The excitement is really building up. We run (or walk, more accurately) on September the 3rd, just a couple more days away. To prepare, I’ve been following this 3-mile/5k power walking workout on YouTube and it’s been great.

I’ve even convinced to get the hubby to workout with me a few times. Progress. 🙂

Hands up for those who are also joining the Color Run

Any tips for me? What should we do before the run and after? How do we not injure ourselves?

 

Dieting and The Brain

This post is sparked by the TED Talk by Sandra Aamodt: Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work. Video is embedded at the end of this musing should you want to listen in too.

At the heart of the talk is the fact that the brain, specifically the hypothalamus, acts as a sort of thermostat that signals hunger, energy, and metabolism. Whether you start out thin or fat, when you lose weight, your brain thinks you’re starving. For self-preservation, you will feel hungry and have less energy available.

Because I have been morbidly obese in the past 10 years or so, my body and my brain may very well have learned to think that this is the normal. Going down to a ‘healthy’ weight in the obesity scales will definitely not be a walk in the park because I am no longer wired for a lower number on the weighing scale.

Realizing that doesn’t give me an excuse to not make an effort. In fact, what she says next only encourages me further to continue with the lifestyle changes I’ve committed to recently.

Sandra points out that there are two types of eaters – intuitive eaters: rely on their hunger, and; controlled eaters: rely on willpower. Looks like I’ve been more of the latter. That explains the endless cycle of starving and then binging. Skipping meals and then going on an all-you-can-eat buffet.

When I was in highschool, my grandmother was against my going on a diet. She argued that I just need to stick to a healthy three full meals a day. Don’t skip, but don’t over indulge. If I had just listened to her then, I may have a chance to be 30 pounds lighter today. By the way, looking at my highschool photos now, I realize now that I wasn’t FAT! But at the time? Geez.

Sandra also talks about mindful eating. Listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry. But listen too when it says that the hunger has been satiated. Now that may take me awhile, so smaller portions will also help.

She then shows a graph of a long-term study across people of various weights and their risk of death based on four healthy habits: eating enough fruits and vegetables, exercising 3x a week, not smoking, and drinking moderately. It looks very similar to this:

healthy-habits-500x360

Image Source: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/12/31/evidence-that-fat-people-can-be-as-healthy-as-thin-people/

The short story is that the more of the 4 habits you have, the lower risk of death – regardless of weight. For the obese (darkest shaded bar on the graph), even just one healthy habit significantly reduces the risk by almost 50%. And when all four healthy habits are present? Then weight doesn’t matter. The person with the normal weight is just as likely or less likely to die prematurely than the obese person. 

So I guess I am on the right track. Except that when I resolved to make a habit of having green smoothies daily I had weight loss in mind. Now, I’m changing my mindset. My goal is no longer to lose weight, but to just be better. I think that can be achieved without necessarily losing all of my excess weight. If I can lose weight while eating more fruits and veggies and adding exercise in my lifestyle, then that’s a bonus.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

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