A stranger appeared beside him one day and said, “Will you jump from this building to that building?”
Guy looked at the distance between the two buildings. “Why would I?" Guy said. He may be able to, but if he misses, he’d smash dead or be broken into pieces on the pavement below.
“What if I pay you a dollar?”
“No way.” “What if I give you a million?”
“A million is not enough if I end up in the ICU, comatose for life or whatever. Even a billion is nothing if I’m dead.”
“What if there’s going to be a safety net below? And here’s something you can tie around your waist.” The stranger handed him a rope.
Guy paused, looked back and forth at the building and at where he stood. He may be able to do it. He’ll have a billion to cover the cost of rehab and more—“No thanks.” Guy shook his head. “It’s too hard. I don’t think I can do it. And why are you asking me to jump from this building to that anyway?”
“Because you’re the only one who can and there’s someone there who needs you.”
Guy looked at the other building. An apparition of his little daughter appeared, waving frantically. “Daddy, help!” Smoke bellowed from behind her and tongues of fire threatened to swallow her.
“Are you crazy?” Guy shouted. “I’d jump even if you don’t pay me.”
THE POWER OF YOUR WHY
What is your WHY?
Do you have a compelling reason for doing something you deem impossible? You may have tried many times in the past to lose weight or stick to a healthy lifestyle and still end up where you started. You’ve tried to give up a bad habit and it still managed to creep back into it. And somehow, you may have given up.
But look around you.
Find a compelling reason to accept this challenge to become healthier, happier, and yes, holier (whole).
Do you wake up everyday and feel satisfied with your health? If yes, congratulations! You’re one of the few in this universe. Keep doing what you’re doing and share your tips here.
But if you’re one who’d rise up with achy joints, tired even as the day is just starting, and drag yourself to the bathroom to wash your puffy, dark-circled eyes, and you snap at your whining child or your spouse, maybe this challenge is for you. Maybe do it for them if not for yourself. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up with a smile, thank God for another blessed day, and embrace each moment with vibrant energy?
List your why. Why do you want to improve your lifestyle? Your food habits? Who do you want to be when you grow old? Given your current lifestyle, can you envision where you’re heading? Will you be that 80-year-old runner bagging the medal for the 10-km race? Or will you be that person sitting on the wheelchair, hooked to an oxygen tank with a full-time caregiver pushing you to your weekly doctor consult? Do you envision yourself traveling around the world in your 70s or confined to a nursing home watching TV? If you continue with your current eating habits, will you be wearing those same clothes 10 years from now or will you be buying a larger size each year?
We’ve seen the devastating impact of the pandemic and how this battle has turned into the survival of the fittest. Recent studies have shown how obesity increased the risk of infection, severe disease, and death with COVID-19. When I embraced the Culinary Medicine advocacy, I had a simple intention: to keep my family away from the hospital—that’s four less patients taxing the healthcare system. The strategy: enhance our immunity through a healthy lifestyle. And I hope and pray we remain true to that vision, pandemic or no pandemic. If you have to create a vision of the perfect happy, healthy, and holy you, how will you look like?
List your why today. And that is our challenge.
Create a vision of a better you ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. Grab a journal and write your why.
Why do we do what we do?
Why do we eat what we eat? We will not stop with the answer, “because it is good.” We trace the root cause of why our minds tell us that a certain food is good when our hearts say, “No, for heaven’s sake, don’t give me a heart attack!” We won’t stop asking Why until we get to the bottom of things.
When you put food in your mouth, are you really hungry? Or... Are you simply bored? Are you just thirsty? Are you stressed? Are you mad? Are you sad? Are you sleepy and trying to keep yourself awake?
Do you find any eating patterns based on these triggers?
A long time ago, a scientist named Pavlov did an experiment. He noted that his dog salivates at the sight of food. But ringing a bell does not make the dog salivate. However, when he rang the bell and presented food to the dog, the dog salivated. By doing this often, the dog would soon salivate at the sound of the bell even without food. This classical conditioning theory may explain some of the reasons why we eat when we’re sad. Do we associate eating with celebration and being with family, and enjoying joyful times? What about associating chocolates with rewards? Were you given ice cream as a treat when you were a child? If you were well-behaved, did you get sweets? If you were sick, were you given soda, so now, whenever you feel bad, tired, or stressed, you dig into a gallon of ice cream and drink a liter of Coke and finish that bag of M&Ms? Is this why you have a sweet tooth?
Or are you a salty snacker?
When the body is dehydrated, the blood pressure goes down. A typical body response is to crave salt because salt draws water into the blood vessel to increase blood pressure. Before pulling that bag of chips, do we ask ourselves why we’re craving something salty? When was the last time you drank water? Why does your body fail to get the proper signal? Are we listening to our bodily cues, or do we react mindlessly?
In the next couple of days, let's try to observe our eating patterns.
Use the journal to list down triggers and unhealthy patterns.
Write down your “Bakit List,” as my husband would say. (Note for English speakers: “Bakit” is the Filipino translation of “Why”). Gaining insight into your whys will make it easy for you to answer your What, When, and How—more on these in the next 40 days.
Finally, why 40 days?
When we want to change or improve ourselves, it’ll require some amount of challenge. The bigger the change, the greater the challenge. Why is it hard to change our dietary patterns? We’ve learned from the last two days of introspection that many of our food habits come from nurture and nature. Some risk factors are genetic and make us prone to develop certain diseases. Familial and cultural practices aggravate the risks. We can’t undo the outcomes of such habits overnight. We can’t be complacent either. The transformation has to start somewhere.
In many faith traditions, such transformation often happens in 40 days. The great flood in the time of Noah occurred in 40 days. Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days. Jesus went to the desert for 40 days after His baptism. Then He spent 40 days on earth after His resurrection before ascending to heaven. There are 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter (not counting the Sundays)—a period generally associated with self-reform.
In my own experience, I’ve often allotted myself 40 days to develop a habit—20 days to unlearn the old and 20 days to learn the new. Food addictions will be hard to give up unless we adopt a healthier option to replace them. Substitution can be a good tool—our halfway home to health, so to speak. What habit(s) have you decided to let go of and what healthier options will you embrace for the incoming days to meet your goal?
Do you have a plan?
Are your goals SMART: - Specific - Measurable - Attainable - Realistic - Time-bound
This will help us succeed in our endeavor. Let’s map a path for ourselves these forty days… a path that we can sustainably walk beyond the forty days.