Episode 14: On being a healthy foodie, and then some!

Being a foodie doesn’t mean enjoying food and drink with reckless abandon. A food lover must still look after his health, especially in this age when hypertension, diabetes, cirrhosis, and other lifestyle ailments are partly the result of bad eating habits.

The worst lot of all (and everyone’s worst nightmare) is that dreaded feeling of growing fat – the growing bulge on the stomach, the sluggish feeling, the tendency to crave for more food, not to mention the frustration you get when your flab pops out of your clothes and your pants no longer fit. All together now: “IT’S TOO, IT’S TOO TIIIIIGHT!”

These (including the tightening pants) are the reasons I started working out at the gym last February. I thought I just had to lose all the pounds I gained through the years, especially from the eating raids I’ve gone to.

Every night (at least four to five times a week), I go to a 24-hour gym in Malate for my workout. Yes, Malate, the same place where Matsuri Bayashi and most of my previous hang-out spots are. It doesn’t help that near the gym is a mini-eatery and a ramen house that slashes 50% off its prices once every month.

My first workout routine consisted of 35 minutes on the treadmill, 20 sit-ups at the sit-up machine, and 20 minutes on the strider machine. I also lifted two 5kg dumbbells occasionally for good measure. I spend at least two hours doing my exercises.

I stopped working out last June when my cardiac arrhythmia manifested. After some time, my doctor told me to stop taking my medicines, relieve stress, and then he allowed me to get some exercise. I can’t do a lot of vigorous exercises, though.

Recently, I changed my whole routine by doing weight exercises. My new routine goes as follows: Do 40 situps. Lift two 10lb dumbbells overhead 25 times, then to the front x25, then to the sides x25. Do 25 squats with a 20lb barbell. Run (or use the strider) for 5 minutes. Do 60 leg extensions with 20lb weights. Repeat all over 2-3 times. Ouch.

Resistance training makes my muscles feel heavy and painful from time to time, but since I feel less flab and more solid mass in me, I know I’m doing it right. Also, lifting weights also helps increase my strength and cardiovascular endurance, as long as I don’t overdo it.

Now there’s one thing I have to admit: I still tend to eat as heavily. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not driving myself into a yo-yo diet, or that I stuff myself and then try to lose everything by working out (the food tour at Bonifacio Global City doesn’t count). It’s just as I said: I still eat a lot… though there were some changes in my diet.

I stopped eating pork (though I still end up doing so especially when I’m with my siblings), and shifted to beef and chicken. I’m recently into fish and seafood as well, especially salmon (except that I only get to eat salmon sushi) and tuna (especially Century Tuna).

I heard from the bodybuilders at the gym that eating protein-rich food helps shed unwanted pounds. That’s apparently because protein helps burn more calories while developing lean muscle (it seems fat gets burned faster than protein). Protein also makes the belly feel fuller and more satisfied, thus curbing your appetite.

I’ve also started drinking more water and juices, especially Fit-‘n-Rite (an L-carnatine-laced juice drink) and Gatorade. Lately, though, I just drink lots of water. Now it turns out that drinking lots of liquids, especially water, actually increases metabolism, which helps in burning calories, thus speeding weight loss. That liter of water I guzzle down every morning probably helps.

Thankfully, I’m able to drastically cut down my smoking and curb my alcohol intake. However, instead of beer (sorry, Lalaine), I now drink sake. Yup, Japanese sake. That’s because Japanese sake is stronger, tastier, and now doctors are saying that sake has lots of good cholesterol and amino acids that are good for the heart and liver. (Moderation is the key, as always, when it comes to drinking stuff such as these.)

The only thing I’m unable to stop stuffing myself with is rice. I love rice. Rice is life, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says; unfortunately it has so many carbohydrates that eventually get stored into fat. Yikes.

Some recommend brown rice for meals instead of white rice. That’s because brown rice has more fiber content, which helps flush down toxins in the digestive system. Pasta and bread are also believed to be healthier alternative carb sources. Thing is, no matter what I do, I still prefer white rice. Double yikes.

When I first weighed myself last February, I was obese and in bad shape. I weighed about 220lbs, plus the visibly ugly bulges here and there. It didn’t help that I was also a nervous wreck, but that’s another story.

Last night, I tipped the scales at 194.7lbs. Not really much of an improvement from 220lbs, but at least my belly flab is smaller and looser, my appetite is better and I crave less junk food and drink. I now sleep well, and I get relaxed more easily. The best part? My palpitations and chest pains have become less frequent (although they’re still painful when they do hit me).

I’ll still continue working out as much as I can, not only to keep my weight in check, but also to build up my muscles and keep my heart as healthy as possible. Maybe some time, I’ll try training in martial arts or practice yoga, or maybe at least I’ll do harder workouts just to make myself stronger.

Being healthy is fun. Even if you eat what you want, you still find ways to indulge in nutritious food and healthy dining. A proper diet, rest, exercise, and a lot of positive thinking and motivation paves the way to becoming a strong, healthy, happy foodie.

Just a thought: if there’s one other thing I’m having a hard time letting go of, it’s cake. Especially dark chocolate cake. They pack a lot of calories, they’re sweet, and they’re addictive. Thankfully for me, all I can eat nowadays is dark chocolate cake. Dark chocolate is good for the heart. A bit of chocolate every now and then, just like love, is good. Most of all, eating cake even just once a week is a good way to reward oneself for being a hardworking health nut.


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