I want to sum up the things I learned this year with one word: mindfulness. In this post, I’d like to reflect on the things that I learned and gained about my body, and my health.
In March 2016, I was diagnosed with borderline diabetes, in which my blood sugar is three levels above the recommended average. After the initial scare tided over, it became a major wake-up call. It had become my personal credo that, as much as I can help it, I will not become dependent on drugs. Ten years ago, I had already been diagnosed with poly-cystic ovaries. The two problems come from one source, and one that I have to face for what it is and to stop sugarcoating it: obesity.
Thanks to a mid-year revelation, I have stopped beating myself up just because of my weight and how I’m not living up to society’s arbitrary standard of beauty. However, I have to face the truth that my weight is becoming an obstacle in my fully enjoying life. The diagnosis (combined with that of being in the graveyard shift) has shown me to pay attention, and to be mindful over what my body is telling me.
When I thought that the graveyard shift would kill me, I actually came out healthier. Since my last post on the subject, the project I am assigned to has moved locations. I actually found myself back in Taguig, and moved back with my old roommate! Talk about favor 😀 ! Since September, I have taken advantage of being able to walk to and from work, totaling three to four kilometers on a casual day. The part of town where I work, Bonifacio Global City, also happens to be Pokémon Go-friendly, so there are times when I can walk a total of five kilometers on the way home. Even if I do end up taking the jeepney, I still have to walk two-thirds of the way.
What I love most about walking is that, aside from minding traffic (and Pokémon catching), I can zone out and let my mind wander with music. There are times when I just drop all my cares and sing like I’m a Disney princess \o/ (not that everyone can hear — traffic noises drown me out lmao) !
Thanks to the proximity of my place of work and residence, I have come to afford cooking my own meals. Granted, back in Quezon City, my Dad would prepare my food for me, for which I am eternally grateful, but my commute time was longer. I have come to settle on a diabetic-friendly diet:
- Breakfast: Carbohydrates + protein + vegetables
- Lunch: Vegetables + protein
- Dinner: Small of amount of carbs and non-fat dairy to knock me out.
Combined with physical activity, sufficient water intake (in that I don’t wake up with my lips or throat dry), general avoidance of sugar and sweets (though I do allow myself a piece of chocolate from time to time, and a glass of soda once a week), veering away from fatty and heavily processed foods (save for cheat day Saturday), and indulging in my favorite vegetable (okra!), I lost three kilos between September and December. It’s no Big Loser levels of weight-loss, but I believe in slow but steady progress.
What I have also noticed this year, whether it’s a by-product of my diet or a combination of diet and older age (lol), is that I get full easily. Gone are the days when I can down a full plate of pancit, followed by a full plate of rice and meats, topped with dessert, alcohol and soda. I have gone from, “I know I shouldn’t eat so much but food is just too good!” to “I want to eat more, but physically cannot.” XD
The only thing that gets me complaining about the graveyard rhythm is when the weekend comes along and I easily find yourself on the tail end of a 24-hour day (more on that as I talk about relationships later). Otherwise, I have found it relatively easy to shift back to a normal sleeping schedule — proof that our bodies really are designed to rise and sleep with the sun. At first, I found it excruciating to return to the graveyard schedule. Mondays have truly become a drag.
I have learned, however, that strategic intake of coffee combined with power naps (“caffeine naps“, I have come to call them) helps me the most. This is even better when I find something to do, such as update my bullet journal, read short and brain-stimulating articles, watch YouTube (like Kubz Scouts or the SuperCarlinBrothers — more on my favorite YouTubers soon!), and as of late, sketching.
Learning to manipulate my space has become crucial. At bed time, I draw the blackout curtains closed, put on my eye cover, and turn on the air conditioning to drop the room’s temperature. I use warm lighting as my reading light, and make good use of the iOS’ Night Shift and Do Not Disturb functions. The Bedtime feature of the iOS’ alarm has improved both my sleeping and waking routine, as it gently reminds me to go to bed, and it wakes me up in manner that’s not jarring and stressful.
While I have grown out of the teenage acne phase a long time ago, I still have my bouts with an obnoxious pimple or two around my jaw area in the course of my cycle. However, I have become more mindful of my skincare routine more than ever, and I have turned my focus from anti-aging (LOL) to hydration, hydration, hydration. Sun protection has become radiation protection, as I learned to wear sunscreen for work.
My investments have of course shifted from makeup to skin care, because good skin is better than any foundation!
Besides, putting on a face and/or eye mask as I wind down with a good book is a good thirty-minute pampering session I can happily indulge in at least twice a week!
These methods and habits obviously were not developed overnight:
My diet was kick-started upon doctor’s orders in March, and is monitored through regular check-ups. I am glad to say that I do not have to take regular medication after the period following initial diagnosis. I am currently at the stage where I can control my blood sugar through diet and regular physical activity.
Food preparation requires conscious effort. During my 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. shift, I would wake up at 5:00 p.m. to be able to prepare my meals for the day. Since working from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., however, I found it hard to wake up when it’s already dark at 6:00 p.m., so I learned from one of my roomies to prepare my food before I sleep. The food cools while I wind down, I stick them in the fridge before bed, and I’ll just heat them before consumption.
Sleep was the most challenging, and it was actually over the holidays when I learned to mind my schedule and energy levels. I have had to learn to be extra mindful when I know I have dates and social gatherings to attend. I have learned how to time my leaves, and how to graciously and humbly say “no”.
Skincare needs commitment at least once daily — twice, for me: before going out, and before going to bed. I have established this rhythm ever since I was introduced to Korean skincare back in 2005, and it’s a habit I do not regret forming.
What I hope you can take away from this is: take care to take the time to get to know your body. I cannot underline the importance of a regular check-up with the doctor if you (or your health plan) can afford it. Learn how to cook simple dishes and keep on trying healthier choices until you find one that you like and consider your go-to. Sleep is important: admit to yourself that you get cranky or cannot properly function when you’re tired. Knowing your body’s playing field is more than half the battle.