How did I get here?
I'm an IT professional. I'm guilty of a lot of bad things for my health. You've seen movies where the "geek IT guy" is a fat guy drinking a venti sized soda with a pizza on one hand and is sporting around a huge belly. Yep, that could well be my old self.
Raise your hands, IT peepz if this sounds like you.. You slept for maybe just 3-4 hours last night and you woke up feeling like there's something you could quickly knock out or this crazy idea you just had before shower. So, you quickly open your extremely exhausted machine because it was running some background task while you were sleeping (oh, your router is tired too!). And now, you're online again working on your poor computer. Ok, it's now 10 in the morning and you're feeling sleepy. Oh, wait! You forgot breakfast. Breakfast, but first, coffee. So you sip your venti sized coffee pumped with maybe 2-3 shots of espresso becaue.. why not? You just love it that way. You eat your lunch.. which is most likely pizza or some burger with fries, upsized (all of them). Type away until the afternoon and coffee is out, and you'll need another dose. Oh, end of the day. You need rest. You forgot to drink water. Great. See you tomorrow.
Easy to just follow your whim until it takes a toll on you one day. And now, you're ready to change. I was. I kept praying for good health for me and my loved ones, until I was given the opportunity to be healthy. This is me. Is this also you?
Back in 2013, I was told I had a mini stroke. Not once, but twice. The bloodshot eye had it written all over my face!
Exactly 32 days ago, I almost died. Long story short, I ate steak for breakfast (Jollibee breakfast steak). An hour later, I felt a little bit dizzy, so I moved from the dinner table to the sofa. Then I felt a ringing in my left ear which doesn't ever go away whatever I do, and definitely not within the next 3 minutes. It altered my hearing and immediately caused vertigo. I hollered for assistance. I tried to stand to go to the room but everything went spinning. The only option I had was to crawl to the bedroom. I couldn't even open my eyes because literally everything was spinning. I lay on the bed with my eye mask on because opening my eyes wasn't helping at all.
Then, lying down was no longer good. I started vomitting everything I ate and it didn't make me feel better. It was a good thing someone was there with me that time and took a reading of my BP. As my eyes were closed, he didn't immediately divulge the reading he got from the digital blood pressure machine. He was secretly shocked. I was just told, my BP was high.
Having grown with both parents having high BP, I've got a few tricks up my sleeve for first aid. Since at that time, I already ran out of Apple Cider Vinegar (which is also good for first aid by the way), I asked for a tablespoon of pure calamansi (also an alternative first aid). Sitting down raises blood pressure, so sleeping / lying down would help make it go down. So after these quick first aids + water, I fell asleep. I woke up with a reading of 140/90. Note that the initial reading at the time of the attack was 185/135, followed by 165/115.
So, that was day 0. A life changing day for me.
I could easily run to my doctor and complain about my bad health and wait for him to quickly jot down stuff to drink and I'll be on my way. No fuss, nothing to do, just buy medicine and take it. Easy, right?
I thought to myself, medicine is important only at the "emergency" situation. You need it to quickly correct something, then.. and then, do something to fix it. Naturally! But, they say.. (or so I heard), it isn't easy to fix health problems by mere medication because you accustom your body to these artificial chemicals tricking your body to think it is working the way it should. Sooner or later your might become immune to these or maybe even damage other parts of your system until everything becomes a web of complicated illnesses.
No. This isn't what I want for myself. I believe that we have everything we need around us to help us survive and sustain good health. Why not just tap on those instead? Everything that comes easy will come with a price. What's a little challenge to keep myself healthy??
So here goes. You're here reading this, because you too need this. You know you do.
I'm no scholar, I'm no doctor. I'm telling you these because these are the things that works and I have proven it for myself. I have read a lot of health related articles because I usually allot the first few minutes of my working day reading health articles. And these are accumulated knowledge and most aren't rocket science. You've probably heard this from your elementary teacher, or your officemate and most especially likely, from your mother.
While I list the things that I do, I would mark them as either crucial or optional. To those scienfitically oriented, I would also list references for you to follow through and briefly explain the logic why this is important for you too.
The anatomy of a day
While it is important to be a spontaneous person, it is also important to have a plan. And because stress is everywhere, it is extremely important to automate yourself. The less you need to think or worry about something, the more you take away stress from your life. Let's dissect an ideal day and how to inject the important habits to form.
5:30-6AM: Wake up
You open your eyes, don't think about anything first. Take your pulse. Count the number of pulse in 60 seconds. Note this down. This is your resting heart rate.
The SCIENCE: The resting heart rate is the amount of force your heart needs to beat in order to circulate blood to your entire body. The lower your heart rate, the better. This figure rises up whenever you're doing some activity or even just by thinking stressful things. This figure will tell you immediately how much you'll need to change in your daily life to get this to a good figure. Take note of this.
Learn more: 5 heart rate myths debunked
I personally am using a fitness tracker that has a resting heart rate measuring capability, but this is entirely optional. I just wanted to have some form of digital tracking that is linked with the other health stuff I love to monitor (I'm using Jawbone UP3).
Next, before going to the bathroom or moving around to do your chores, take your vitamin C supplement already along with one glass of room temp water (take note, not warm, not cold). Ideally your C supplement should be coated so that you won't have some acidic bouts.
TIP: Infuse your water with cucumber and lemon for extra detoxification and a boost for weight loss.
6AM-7AM: Some chores
You can either already take a bath, (for me, clean the house, etc). And get ready for breakfast. The ideal breakfast is taken usually one hour after waking up. If you can attend to that, that would be great.
Let's talk about your breakfast. Eggs aren't guilty in the morning. Eggs in the afternoon are, because of the protein and the cholesterol that you might not be able to burn, so take your eggs however you want them during breakfast.
The most important thing here is: Drink your second glass of water before eating. EAT YOUR BREAKFAST. Then, the next crucial thing here is put two bottle caps of your favorite apple cider vinegar and mix in your 3rd glass of water for the day. Drink up!
8AM-11:30AM: I don't really care what you do during this time. We're all most likely doing some work anyway!
Now, it's half an hour before lunch. Drink your 4th glass of water (if you haven't already). See, before noon, you've reached half of the daily quota! You don't feel flooded with water by this time (unless you are extremely dehydrated before).
TIP: If you're a beginner to this seemingly too much water intake, try buying a water bottle that has a capacity you can multiply to reach 1.8L or 2L in a day. And drink from this from time to time. Just check how many bottles you've had accordingly.
12NN: Eat your lunch, whatever it is, however you like it. Enjoy!
If you love eating meat, or maybe you try to remove meat, but you just couldn't or wouldn't forget how it tastes like, bring with you a little bottle with apple cider vinegar and put some in your next glass of water after this lunch meal.
TIP: You can buy these miniature bottles at Beabi. That's where I got mine, which I pack with me everyday especially when I need to eat out (where I might be eating unhealthy fast food). I put in 30 drops of apple cider vinegar to the glass of water I'm taking after the meal.
The SCIENCE: Apple cider vinegar has been discovered with many health benefits. Among these is support for hearth health by lowering the bad cholesterol from the food we eat. To some extent, it inactivates some of the enzymes aids in complete disgestion of carbohydrates. Since our staple food includes rice which is a big source of carbs, we are prone to diabetes and Apple Cider Vinegar is a friend to us. To some extent, some say it could also aid in weight loss. Read more here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/03/21/apple-cider-vinegar-uses.aspx
12NN-5PM: Well, do your thing, whatever it its!
During the afternoon, you might feel sleepy or have the urge to drink coffee. It is good to have coffee at most once a day, but never take it past 3PM. Because this disrupts your sleep cycle (true for most people).
TIP: Take green tea instead! Some green tea have infused caffeine, but you'll benefit from the green as well. If you must have coffee, don't go ventie. Take tall and sip very very slowly and very very little everytime until you're no longer sleepy. Most people just gulp away coffee like it's some soda and afterwards, the jolt won't last that long but you've consumed one cup already. This is usually the time I drink my other green teas for the day. I have one Oolong tea, Green tea with Honey or Rooibos Red tea.
Remember, coffee also drains your vitamin C. Take another C supplement before 4PM if you need to work late in the day. Nothing post 4PM! If you have followed our water drinking, you'll be thirsty by now. So, take your 5th glass of water within this period. Read more: on vitamin C allowances
5:30PM: Half an hour before dinner.
At some days, I can do this, but not everyday. I have dinner by 5:30PM to follow an after 6 pattern. So, before the meal, I drink my 6th glass of water. In the evening, I no longer eat rice. Take note that if you skip rice, you shouldn't stay late in the day because you'll feel hungry soon and might be tempted to reach for that bag of chips or maybe a late night snack, so plan accordingly! Eat rice with your dinner if you need an extra energy.
After dinner, take your Iron and B complex (and so this marks your 7th glass of water today).
The SCIENCE: This is important because this aids in the blood circulation, prevents anemia and strengthens your blood vessels. The reason why you'd suffer from dehydration and higher blood pressure is because when you're dehydrated, blood can't flow freely into your veins. They are constricted; and B complex strengthens them. You'll get less of the hand shaking too if you take B complex religiously (based on my own experience). Iron is equally important because, don't forget, blood pressure is about your heart and your blood. And Iron boosts muscle function, and heart is pure muscle.
6PM-7PM: Cooling down, going home routine
Traffic is hell. (this is relative, from the perspective of a habitant of a third world country ranking 5th from the world's top in the worst traffic situation)
Ok, so bring your water bottle. Don't just keep filling it up. Understand the science of counting your intake. It might also help you in travelling light, right? So if you've got one last glass of required water intake, then your bottle would be lighter with that last glass capacity inside. (or you may choose to fill it to 2 glasses capacity in case traffic gets you thirsty).
See, at this point you're already hydrated. Easy, right?
Late night: Now, you're home.
You're not a fan of tea, but this is very important. This one isn't optional for you. Drink Hibiscus tea. This tea may be infused with different flavors that you'll love (because most people hate the taste of tea). There's blueberry hibiscus, strawberry, apple, etc. I recommend you visit the nearest Healthy Options and get your Hibiscus tea. It would cost you something around ~585 Php. This is around 36 bags already, so if money is an issue, this would last you one month. Let me stress it again, you need at least one cup of Hibiscus tea everyday. Studies show Hibiscus to be a natural blood pressure lowering flower.
The SCIENCE: Blood pressure has two components: Diastolic and Systolic. Sometimes, it is more important to watch out for the Systolic figure (bottom number in 120/80). It describes how soon / how easy your rise in blood pressure gets dissipated. If this figure is high, then any blood pressure build up isn't getting released faster. That is usually what kills you. Hibiscus flower tea will help you keep that systolic figure lower if taken consistently (at least once a day).
Good day. You've done it chap! Now what? You might be asking yourself, where is the exercise in this day?? I know you're busy, and if you aren't like me (working from home), this is even more challenging. I sometimes wake up earlier than 5:30AM to do my exercise because that is how I like it, but you're not me and I'm not you, so this is what I recommend for most people.
That is why I reserved this last part for you. Make sure it has been 2 hours since you ate. You've had your Hibiscus tea and you're already getting ready for bed. Now, try this for a wee bit of exercise which could also help you in your sleep.
Do a downward dog yoga pose. This is a restorative pose, that also stretches your body in different parts, but also helps lower your blood pressure.
If you're already taking beta blockers, but sometimes feel that your pressure is still a bit high, do an extra Viparita Karani.
Try to do these postes alternately or within 2 minutes each.
When you're done, use the remaining 3 minutes for meditation. What to do? Sit with your back against a wall. Close your eyes. Count your breath while counting to 180 seconds. Easy, right?
Then go to sleep. good job, good job. rest well.
And then, let's see you get well very slowly. You'll have to do these religiously if you want to see some changes. If you do, it would take you minimum of 3-5 days to see some changes.
For me, I took really drastic measures to keep myself in shape, but these are the minimum things to do to see some change. I opted to remove meat from my diet, but not to go vegetarian because I find it too strict, and I love seafood LOL.
I do minimum of .5 to 1.5 hours of yoga everyday (at home, using my own set yoga sequence). A minimum of 1 minute of plank pose to also rev up some good heart pumping (done sporadically during the day); this is what I do to replace the need for cofee everyday because it will really wake you up! Try it if you're up to that challenge. Swimming once a week because I'm lazy :D and a marathon of 5k-16k once a month.
It might be a bit slow, but I find it really good. From day 0, to day 31, I lost 2 lbs by just drinking water and following these regimen.
The daily cheatsheet
- If you need coffee, take at most one per day. Morning drink is adviseable. Nothing in the afternoon.
- You are made up of 70% water. Take 8 glasses of water in one day. 1 glass is equivalent to 8 big gulps (if you don't have an exactly one glass) or 250ml - 300ml per glass.
- Drink your Hibiscus tea everyday. If you need weightloss aid, take Oolong tea with flaxseed oil too. You can get your tea fix at Healthy Options. I love the Hibiscus tea of The Republic of Tea for around Php 585 with ~ 36 bags of tea.
- Remember to drink two bottle caps of Apple Cider Vinegar after breakfast. Don't do this before eating and not before bedtime especially if you are hyperacidic. Always take it after a meal when you're most full. As a bonus, repeat this after every meal especially if you had meat or oily foods for your meal. I'm taking Cadia Apple Cider Vinegar, also found at Healthy Options for Php 200. Don't hoard. I'll kill you if they run out of this! >.<
- Eat your fruits. A banana everyday is a good minimum to start with. If you can go the extra mile, buy stuff that are red or purple.
- Eat your veggies. I know, right? Who wants to?! ..you. yes, you! so do it! Greens like spinach, kale and watercress is perfect! I blend them and add a bit of honey if I'm lazy to cook.
- You need at least 1000mg of vitamin C. Take an iron supplement like Iberet daily and B complex tablet daily (I buy the RiteMed box). I keep a little pill box with me so I can check my intake by end of the day.
- Avoid too sweet or too salty foods. If you have do, then do this once a week. I'm serious. Once a week. My sweets day is usually Saturday. If I should snack on chips, I buy the Veggie sticks from Healthy Options too for around Php 200 for the big bag already (takes me 2-3 days to finish the big bag).
- Exercise. Ideally the minimum is to take 10k steps, but for busy people like us, just always choose the better option. To walk than to ride, the stairs instead of the elevator (but don't go bat shit crazy climbing/descending 20+ floors everytime!) An ideal 30 minutes is recommended for daily exercise though if you can take your exercise a notch higher, do so!
- Sleep! Oh yes, the best part of everyday! Sleep is another form of meditation. They say 8 hours is ideal, but newer study shows, 6-7 hours is optimal. This keeps your mind at minimum 2 REM frequencies which wakes you up after the last full REM (REM happens in about 2-3 hours when we sleep). Waking you up after a full REM will make you feel more alert. 5 hours or less and even 8 hours or more will make you feel sluggish.
Be well. Triumph over your most difficult enemy.. yourself! Remember to try and experiement too what schedule works for you. Don't forget to enjoy your journey to healthy living!
This is my inspiration, hanging on the wall in my hallway. Tell this to yourself everyday.
Questions? Shoot me a comment. __
Banner image borrowed from: http://mdjunction.com