Trying hard to stay healthy (and look younger!)

“But at my back I always hear, Time’s winged chariot hurrying near.” — Andrew Marvell, To His Coy Mistress

Peach tree sap/peach gum

Last week my husband made snow mushroom soup for me. It is what the Chinese call an anti-aging soup. That soup only had the snow mushroom, goji berries and dried dates.

Yesterday at the supermarket, as we walked by the Traditional Chinese Medicine section (there is one in every big supermarket here), he decided to add more ingredients to the next anti-aging soup he makes for me (he is more proactive in trying to make me look young than I am! Lol.)

This time he added lotus seeds, longans, peach tree gum and lily bulbs. Lily bulbs are supposedly good for the heart and lungs, too.

longans

lotus seeds

lily bulbs

I don’t know if these things actually work, but he wants and tries to get us to stay healthy, so I’ll give it a try!

Apart from watching what I eat, I have also started doing planks! This is the 5th day since I tried, and I can now hold a plank for 40 seconds, and it feels awesome to be able to do it.

I used to think it was hopeless for me to lose the stomach flab, but after watching this video of an 80-year old bodybuilder, I was truly inspired. Discipline. 😉 A healthy diet and regular exercise with tons of discipline — that’s all the recipe I need.

Have a lovely, healthy weekend!💕

T.

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Another week of healthy eating

Celery, Cucumber and Apple Smoothie

Normally I try not to talk about my little achievements if I have not reached my ultimate goal yet. I have this superstition that it will be jinxed if I talk about it. But last week I wrote about my diet, and the weekend passed without me ruining it. So here I am writing something more about my diet.

Some vegetables I used to ignore have become interesting in my eyes, simply because I am looking for variety. Before I came to China, I seldom ate vegetables. This is true of most Filipinos. We love our lechon and meat too much. So one thing I’m truly happy about coming to China is learning to love and cook veggies. And fungi!

I had never eaten mushrooms before I came to China, but these days one of my favorite ingredients for cooking is the king oyster mushroom.

king oyster mushrooms

I use this kind of mushroom to replace meat, and I just love it! I cooked it with celery the other day, and today with eggplant.

King oyster mushrooms are abundant in China, but I have never seen this kind in my home city in the Philippines. I will surely miss this when I go home for good!

This evening I tried the cucumber, celery and apple smoothie after coming across this recipe. It’s not my favorite smoothie, but it’s good enough for variety.

I hope I can stick to my healthy diet (and silly dancing) so I’ll be strong and healthy for a busy but fun summer with my son!

Have a healthy, happy Monday!

T.

Losing Weight: Inspiration + Discipline

(This is about my experience, and I know not everyone has the same experience. But there are people like me out there, and this is for them.)

I’ve been trying to lose weight for as long as I can remember, but it has been on and off as my weight fluctuates. I started gaining weight and actually became a little overweight on my last year in university and my first year working. Then I went to study Latin dance and lost weight and was my ideal weight for a couple of years until my heart was broken and I became depressed and resorted to stress eating. Then I had the opportunity to move to another country. When my husband and I first met he was so thin and I was overweight, but he liked me anyway. I tried to lose weight, and I did and was quite happy with how I looked in my wedding gown three years later. After 4 years I had a baby and since then I have not been successful in reaching my target weight. My son is now 8 years old.

Looking back, my recipe for losing weight back then was: inspiration/challenge and discipline. I was inspired to lose weight because I wanted to look nice for my then-boyfriend. I was challenged to lose weight after I realized I couldn’t wear the dress I liked because it wouldn’t fit me. There were times I was challenged to lose weight because a guy I liked, liked a girl who was so skinny! As an older person now I find those inspiration/challenges seemed really silly but they helped me lose weight! The point is we need something to inspire us or drive us to want to lose weight.

At this period in my life, my first and most important reason for wanting to lose weight is to be healthy. As my son is on the Autism Spectrum Disorder and has several delays in most skills yet growing taller and heavier everyday, I need to stay healthy to still be able to handle him even when he becomes taller than I in a couple of years. This is real and serious inspiration.

Next comes discipline. Discipline means exercise and diet. Those times I lost weight I was either going to dance lessons, dancing in front of the TV (there are lots of dance workout videos available) or running almost everyday. The important thing was I was physically active. Apart from exercise, I also went on a diet. Diet did not mean not eating, but reducing the portion. I have always believed in Aristotle’s idea of moderation in everything.

I put exercise and diet under discipline because these two indeed demand discipline. There were times when I became lazy or tempted to eat more than what I needed, and it took a lot of self-control to get myself to workout or say no to more food. Again, that inspiration/challenge helped me stick to discipline.

And as once again I am trying to lose weight, I am also trying to stick to my recipe of challenge + discipline. So far I have been doing well as I am not home yet (I always put on weight when I go home to the Philippines, where everything, especially eating, is more fun!! The real challenge will be spending the summer back home.)

Right now I have started shedding a couple of pounds, and I have to thank my husband who has also become health conscious when he reached 40. Like me, he realized how important it is for both of us to stay healthy for our son. Though he does not exercise as much as I do (I dance in front of the TV everyday) as he is always busy at work, we both try to eat healthy by eating more vegetables and fruits and less meat and bread/rice.

Like I said, so far so good. I hope you find your inspiration and add lots of discipline to achieve your goal.

Good luck!

T.

Are we really what we eat? 

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Does coffee have any effect on you? Does chocolate?

Coffee is my non-human best friend. It gave me energy when I most needed it after my son was born. Though sleep-deprived, I still needed to function efficiently and coffee made it possible to stay awake and teach at eight in the morning, come home and feed the baby, and do housework, and prepare lessons, etc. I am forever grateful to the person that invented coffee drink.

My son used to have laughing fits even when there’s nothing visibly funny, especially after having his then favorite breakfast of peanut butter on toast. Several people told me back then to just let it be because he’s a “happy boy.” I also witnessed how chocolate could make him unbearably hyperactive.  His laughing fits and hyperactivity stopped when we put him on GF/CF diet. I am forever grateful to the person that came up with the GF/CF diet for people with ASD.

Reading about autism and diet, and books on neurology especially by Dr. Oliver Sacks, and witnessing firsthand the effects of medicine on my leukemic mother’s mind,  made me wonder if we are nothing but mere slaves to every single thing that is already in or enters our body — food, medicine, bacteria, chemicals, etc.

For example, what we call personality can easily be changed, not by our will to change (that’s not easy at all), but by lesions in the  brain.

In his book, An Anthropologist on Mars, Dr. Sacks wrote about Greg who, as a young man in the 60’s, rebelled against convention, took drugs to seek a “higher consciousness,” later dropped drugs to seek this “higher consciousness” in religion, namely Hare Krishna. His first year at the temple saw him as obedient, pious. Then he started losing his eyesight which the temple residents took to mean his “inner light was growing. ” Greg was also becoming more withdrawn which again, people interpreted as becoming “enlightened.” Long story short, it was only when his parents insisted on taking him to the doctor that it was discovered that Greg had a growing tumor in his brain.

     “Brain imaging had shown an enormous midline tumor, destroying the pituitary gland and the adjacent optic chiasm and tracts and extending on both sides into the frontal lobes. It also reached backward to the temporal lobes, and downward to the diencephalon, or forebrain. At surgery, the tumor was found to be benign, a meningioma—but it had swollen to the size of a small grapefruit or orange, and though the surgeons were able to remove it almost entirely, they could not undo the damage it had already done.”

This brain damage radically changed Greg’s personality. In the hospital “his seeming serenity (actually blandness), gave him an appearance of innocence and wisdom combined, gave him a special status on the ward, ambiguous but respected, a Holy Fool.”

Many other patients written about in this book showed major changes in their personalities after suffering from brain injury.

This, then, made me wonder if we have any independent will of our own at all? If the decisions that we make are truly our own, or are mere results of these little things in our body that ultimately feed our brain and change the way we think, speak and behave.

Alcohol and drugs sure can influence the way we think or behave. Children with ASD behave differently and sense things differently when they are overstimulated or not. Neurotypical people take all kinds of medication or drinks to make them feel better or think more clearly.

I used to think that the expression “You are what you eat” only referred to physical health. Now I’m beginning to think that that applies to our mental health as well.

(This is just a draft of what I really wanted to write. I’ll rewrite this when I have more time to be alone and think!)

On Living to be 100

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A few weeks ago, a friend and I exchanged thoughts about living to be 100, and this was my reply: “Nah. I really don’t want to live that long. Not even if I’m healthy. I’m curious about what’s on the other side. If there’s nothing, then at least I won’t be disappointed. ” 

And my friend replied: “Consciousness is probably overrated. “

For Christians and other believers of an afterlife, death is not scary as it means reunion with the Creator. It means eternal life of happiness. (I came across this post about death a few weeks ago, and the writer beautifully expresses, not exactly the same but similar, thoughts that I have about life and death.)

I have no idea how many there are like me , but I am one of those who are more curious about what’s on the other side, rather than prolonging our earthly life. I am not saying though that I would willingly abandon my responsibilities as a mother, daughter, wife, sister, aunt. My point is, I simply prefer not to live too long.

However, I have thought about the possibility of living a longer life. I once met an 86-year old medical doctor, who was quite spry — travellling back and forth from the US to Asia, attending medical conferences, seeing patients, doing Zumba. She’s enjoying her life at 86. Would I want to be able to do that at 86?

With discoveries and inventions in the fields of science and technology, people are living longer and healthier lives.  Not only that, it probably won’t be long before immortality ceases to be mere imagination and becomes reality with the ability of human beings to create cyborgs.

If I could stay fit till I’m 100, perhaps I would be able to do all the things I would like to do but in which at the moment I am unable to indulge. I have talked about this with a friend. We both could not understand how people could be at a loss as to what to do when there’s so many interesting things to do when you have the time and health to do them

I’m not sporty nor sociable, so I do not need to be with so many people all the time. If I could live to be 100, I would spend my time reading all the books I’ve been meaning to read. I would take photographs of beautiful flowers and landscapes, learn more about the human brain, study astronomy, volunteer to help children with special needs and starving children, go.out for morning walks, watch the sunset, and write down my thoughts about all these things.

So does this mean I want to live to be 100?

No. Not at this time when humanity’s mortality is still very real, when one can still witness the human body aging, when you can still hear people groaning in pain and watch them suffer emotionally , as they struggle to remember dates and names of people they used to love so passionately,  and suffer physically as they can no longer move what used to be nimble limbs that made them jump, run, throw or catch or hit a ball.

Having a body that slowly stops functioning one part at a time is torture. Seeing it happen to others is a scary enough reminder that it can happen to you too.

So, no. I do not want to live to be 100. “Consciousness is overrated.”

How about you?