Reflections from 2011 – And Health It Is!

Tenerife - Mount Teide in the WinterAround this time of the year, last year, I put together a blog entry over here under the suggestive heading of “Three Wishes“, where I tried to reflect, once again, and like I have been doing for the last few years, on what I would want to accomplish in the New Year. Not necessarily a new set of resolutions per se, year in year out, but thinking more along the lines of being pragmatic and focus instead on those little things that one could embrace and adopt rather easily and yet have a greater impact altogether. Now, how far off was I eventually? Let’s see … Here’s today’s “Reflections from 2011″ blog post.

In that article I mentioned above I wrote about those three wishes being as follows: Stay Healthy, Sustainable Prosperity and Be More Human. Those were not such a bad idea, don’t you think? Perhaps a bit utopian at large, but even then today, nearly a year later, they are still as relevant as they were when I first jotted them down together in that blog post. I’m not so sure whether we have embarked on sustainable prosperity in the last few months, judging by the current state of affairs with our global financial crisis, specially, when you read articles like this one that postulate the crisis won’t finish till around 2031 (Quite an interesting reading, by the way, that clearly confirms how we, human beings, seem to be really good at repeating the very same mistakes throughout our history time and time again! -In Spanish-) or whether we have become more human.

I will leave that last one up to you folks to decide based on the good amount of happenings and events taking place around us over the last 12 months. I would tend to think we are, slowly, but steadily, judging on a good number of rather interesting articles I have bumped into over the course of the last few weeks / months that seem to shift gears and focus more on that aspect of celebrating and fully embracing our humanity. And I am sure you may have bumped yourself into a whole bunch of other interesting and relevant reads along those lines, too.

Interestingly enough, with regards to “Stay Healthy” I wrote back at the beginning of January the following paragraph:

[…] So my first wish for everyone out there is to stay healthy no matter what.

To me, that means staying away from the computer for longer periods of time (I know that’s going to be a challenge on its own already!), do plenty more exercise, eat even healthier, get plenty more sleep (I know some of you will be having a giggle or two while you are reading that one!) and, eventually, continue to take much better care of myself, since I know no-one else is going to do it. Not even work! hehe

Little did I know, as I was putting together those few words that it would all turn out to be quite an amazing and inspiring revolution altogether to push me forward several months later on to what I am today: probably the healthiest in the last 16 to 17 years of my lifetime that I can remember! So much so that over the course of the last few months one comes to realise that what really matters in our today’s-more-hectic-and-busier-than-ever-lives is just something so relatively simple as staying or becoming healthy. The rest, as they usually say, will come along. Hard to believe, but yet, so accurate, it’s scary!

Stay healthy is also going to remain my main wish for everyone out there as we approach the beginning of a New Year: 2012 (Even if it is the last one). Stay healthy has also taken a new meaning for yours truly after quite an amazing 6 months where I have gone through something that I’m still trying to find proper words to describe it, yet, it’s had some of the highest impacts on not only what I do, but also who I am. Short version of the story? Well, in a bit over 6 months I have now lost 18 kg (Almost 40 lbs) and have gone back to the weight I used to have 16 to 17 years ago: 83 kg / 183 lbs / 13 stones.

Here is the long story though of how I made it happen and how it continues to work for myself as I have now stabilised on that specific weight range. It all started back in July when after all of the business travelling with all of the evening meals out, drinks, very little sleep, the accumulated stress and a whole bunch of other things put me on the high end of 101.5 kg / 224 lbs and I thought enough was enough. I had to stop it. It was getting far too much and I needed to find a way out without being it too costly. You know how it goes, once you reach a certain age (Mine will be coming along next year!), where you combine the big 4 with the big 0, you come to acknowledge you need to do something about it before it is too late or else. And since I didn’t like much the else bit, I decided to do something about it right away this year.

Now, before I go any further into sharing further insights based on my own first hand experiences of how it’s worked out for me becoming a lot healthier losing that amount of weight I mentioned above over the course of the last few months, I would want to stress out that this has worked with me really well, but there is no guarantee, nor will I offer one, that it would work out for other folks out there. There are plenty of health specialists and nutritionists out there who you folks should go to, if you would want to start up something similar, specially, at this time of the year when we all have got that lovely resolution of wanting to lose some weight :-)

Ok, with all of that said, here are the three things that I have done this year to help me Stay Healthy and regain back plenty of my own life along with it:

  • Regular Exercise: Right off, back in July, when I decided to start losing some weight I knew that, for me, there wouldn’t be any magic diet out there that I would need to follow in order to lose all of that weight. It had to come off from somewhere else and since I used to play basketball in my younger years for a long while I knew that the best thing that would work out for me would be to engage on regular exercise. And that’s what I did. So almost every day (I usually take a break in the middle of the week) I go half and half running and fast walking for about 7 to 8 km non stop (Ohhh, Boira has been a great help in this area, too! Specially, in the last month or so); then during the course of the day I also do about 10 minutes of rowing; some yoga exercises and, finally, some abs, too (Working my way to 100 a day at the moment…).

    I must confess at the very beginning I thought it was going to be rather difficult to build the habit and all, but the reality is that it hasn’t. It’s been a blast all along. The key trick that worked out for me very nicely was to consistently continue doing the exercise till I would build a habit, then the rest would be much easier. And it surely has! 6 months down the line I still go out running / fast walking for one hour to make up for those 7 to 8 km and I still enjoy it just as much as I did at the beginning. 

    However, the beginning was not that easy. Through a good number of experiments, trying to fine out the length of and what time of the day for the exercise that would be the most suitable for me, I figured out that I eventually enjoy doing the daily workout first thing in the morning (Right after I wake up, drink a couple of glasses of water and off to hit the road, or, better, the countryside) and that’s basically what I do still today. In case you may not have seen it, here is a superb .PDF article that explains the “Best Times to Train” with lots of pros and cons for whatever the time so you can find the right one that just works for you. Like I said, I know that for most folks would vary, but, for me, it looks like early morning exercise does the trick. It keeps me going for the rest of the day, too!, and big time!

  • Watching what I eat: I bet that this is the one item you would all be thinking about “Ohhh, so you eventually are dieting and everything, right?”. Well, not really. I am not following any kind of specific diet and surely don’t plan to start one now. I eat everything (Meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, sweets, legumes, dairy products, etc. etc.). I haven’t cut down on anything rather drastically, even carbs; what I have done though is I have started watching the amounts of food I eat on a daily basis. I watch out for the portions. Long gone are those meals where the food was overflowing the plates. Now, I just have enough food intakes that allow me to feel full, but not overblown (out of proportion, like I used to do!). I have a light breakfast, a somewhat heavy lunch meal and a coffee / tea break in the afternoon and a very light dinner by the end of the day. Yes, indeed, I don’t starve, nor do I plan on doing it any time soon. Not worth the pain, nor the effort. Rather prefer to concentrate on watching out for large portions and focus instead on medium / smaller ones. 

    One other thing that I have done rather consistently is to drink a lot of liquid as well during the course of the day. Specially, water. I usually drink between 2 to 2.5 liters of water, plus the odd juice, coffee / tea, etc. Earlier on with this initiative I realised that another thing I knew was going to help me in the drinking department was going to reduce my intake of alcohol to a certain degree. So I’m not alcohol-free at the moment, but I don’t drink as much beer, long drinks or wine as I used to do and my body seems to be rather grateful about that, to the point where I am no longer missing it. I have switched from long drinks to scotch on the rocks and every time I get one I surely make sure I enjoy it to the max. It doesn’t happen too often, so better do it, right? The same for a glass of wine or a good quality beer! But that would be it. The next day up early again and off to burn it all. 

  • Sleep: I know that this may sound rather ironic and perhaps a bit too funny, but the third thing that has helped me tremendously in building up the habit of losing weight when I’m not exercising, or watching over what I eat, has been something so relatively simple as having enough hours of sleep. Plenty of people out there would probably be saying how sleep is for the weak and everything, but, seriously, I no longer care much about such statements, specially, knowing the many key benefits I have been getting back from making a habit of good long nights of sleep. Sleep is probably more important than food, and I can certainly confirm it’s helping me burn fat at a faster pace than whatever I could ever anticipate (Did you know that your body, as an average, could probably lose about 1 kg per good night sleep? Mine does … hehe), so I am planning on continuing to get my beauty sleep for as long as I possibly can, although I have lately settled down between 7 to 7.5 hours per day.

    Have you ever heard about sleepyti.me? Not sure whether you may have seen it or not, but, lately, in the last couple of months, I have found it very interesting to help me establish the best wake up times based on the good number of hours I intend to sleep, which sleepyti.me has settled down for me on 7.5 hours per day. So I do try to follow it up as religiously as I can and so far it’s working really well. I no longer even question whether I can stay a little bit longer up or not. I reach a certain time of the evening and straight to bed! Building up another habit I have learned to enjoy quite a bit, too! That’s the beauty of it, that I no longer feel bad about sleeping more hours than what I used to in the recent past.

And that’s it! With those three simple things, although I am sure I could add plenty more details about each of them, which I may be able to do during the course of the next few months to share across with folks progress on how things have been moving along further, I came to the conclusion that health as far too important to neglect it, specially, when you can see, live and experience fully some of those amazing results at the end of the tunnel. There used to be a time, and plenty of folks who know me can confirm that, where I continuously neglected both my body and overall healthy just to remain connected online a little bit longer. I have been accused (in a healthy way, I suppose…) about being part of the club of social networkers who never sleep and rightly so, if I judge my online virtual behaviour over the course of time. However, over the last 6 months that’s no longer the case and I can surely guarantee you all that the same would be happening in 2012. There was a time for me to put a stop to how much my online life was trumping my physical health and while I was still on time, I realised that I was rather lucky to change the tide of things right when I could. There is no way back for me any longer.

So if you don’t see me online much over the course of the day, there may be multiple reasons for it… I may not be connected due to technical problems, or lack of network coverage, or the social tools not playing nice, or whatever else. Or, just plainly, and from this blog post onwards, because I may be just simply out and about embarking on my daily workout. Hopefully, you will be, too! Remember, no matter how cool the Social Web is for all of us on how it keeps feeding our brains to unparalleled levels of greatness, enlightenment and learning, we still need to attend to our physical bodies and ensure we are all in good shape with our health to enjoy both the mind and the body, because if we don’t do it, no-one else will!

Have a wonderfully Happy, Prosperous and rather Healthy New Year 2012 everyone!! :-D

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