Exercise alone does not make us healthy

I’m 38 years old. My body weight is 146 lbs. Each day, I pedal that mountain-bike, smash a tennis ball, or run. Twice, I’ve crossed the 42K finish line. You’d consider me extremely fit, right? Apparently, not. My cholesterol level is 271.

Last Saturday morning, a nurse from Hi-Precision extracted blood from my right arm. Later that night, I got the result. For those who know cholesterol, the supposed borderline is 200. Anything beyond is bad. Mine was 271. Despite my relatively youthful age. Despite my lean frame. Despite my deep passion for sports — which I perform as often as I eat breakfast. Ouch. It was a shocker. My very first time to have a blood chemistry, I was bewildered. What happened? I took the blood test as part of the Holistic Approach to Self Healing (HASH) program last weekend.

The culprit? The reason behind my failure at the medical check-up? My diet. You see, I used to think this way: I sweat and exert so much physical effort — thus, I can eat anything. And, yes, I eat everything: lechon skin, Coca-Cola almost daily, ice cream, chicken skin from Sunburst, fried food, and, of course, my all-time favorite… steak.

Well, after all the talks given during the “Detox” and wellness seminar last weekend at the Marco Polo Hotel (there will be another one this May 15), now I know better. Exercise cannot compensate for bad eating habits. Sure, biking and running work. They help. They strengthen the heart. They are good. But, they are not enough to keep us healthy. My LDL count? The borderline is 130. Anything beyond that spells trouble. Mine is 186. 186! What have I learned? Simple: Diet is all-important. Starting last Sunday, I made a vow. I’ll still eat lechon and indulge in Don Merto’s steak — but I’ll consume less.

Dr. Dale Flores, the U.S.-trained food expert who handled most of the weekend’s lectures, requested the 67 men and women who joined the HASH Seminar: “Do not deprive yourself of food that you like, even if it’s unhealthy. But take it sparingly.” I’ll follow that mantra.

Also, I’ll eat more fruits. (As our business is selling fresh fruit juices, I should consume the most bananas, apples and watermelons!) Vegetables? Oh, no. This is a weakness. Though I love broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, arugula and a few more, I’m far from being a vegetarian. I’m a meat-lover. Like most. Yet, I have to eat more vegetables. You and I know this. We’ve been taught this since pre-school. I vow to eat more greens.

Soft-drinks? I love Root-Beer and Coke. Remember the old advertisement… “Coke adds life!”? To me — and millions worldwide — it does. But it also “lessens” life; as the sugar content unknowingly kills us.

How about coffee? This was difficult. Prior to the Saturday morning check-in at Marco Polo, we were asked to refrain from meat, soft-drinks, artificial juice, etc. for 48 hours. That wasn’t too difficult. But that list included coffee. A coffee-drinker since 2007, I sip that aromatic brown beverage every 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. I haven’t missed that ritual for 45 months. Until last Thursday to Sunday. It weakened my senses. I had a slight headache. (Would you believe, due partly to wooziness, I forgot to button my pants last Friday! Good thing, Jasmin noticed.) I had become, as I suspected, addicted. Coffee, it turns out during the lecture, is not bad. (There are 1,001 debatable issues on its pros and cons.) The key point is moderation. My two cups every 24 hours is okay.

The whole conclusion I derived from last weekend? You are what you eat. Eat junk and this junk will turn you into a junk-like car of a person. You’ll pay for it. I also learned, as earlier pointed out, that plenty of exercise is no excuse for good, healthy eating. I’ve learned that the fittest people are those that combine both: Healthy eating + plenty of sweating. That’s what I’ll strive to do. They say “Life begins at 40.” Well, before I turn that age in a year’s time, I’ll eat well. For me: Healthy Life begins at 40.

Categorized as Health
John Pages

By John Pages

I've been a sports columnist since 1994. First, in The Freeman newspaper under "Tennis Is My Game." Then, starting in 2003, with Sun.Star Cebu under the name "Match Point." Happy reading!

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