Health Advice from Mom and Dad

So now I’m nearly 50 and I’ve been dealing with health issues. It’s gotten so bad, I’ve had to take some time off work to address them and figure out how to manage the conditions, control the pain and deal with the subsequent mental health side of things.

Today, my father lectured me for an hour over Skype, reminding me of all the things he has been lecturing at me since he started looking after his health at the age of 50.

  1. Drink water.  Make it a habit to drink water and only water.  Not soda, not juice, not milk.  Room temperature water.  One tall glass of room temperature water as soon as you get up.  Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
  2. Eat bigger meals in the morning and lighter meals at the end of the day.  Eat until you are 60% full and then stop.  If you get hungry after dinner, go straight to bed.
  3. Go for a brisk walk everyday.  For 30 minutes.  Walk after dinner, everyday.  Be consistent.  Everyday.  If you do this, you will be physically tired and it will be easy to fall asleep.
  4. Think about the stressful things while you walk. Then forget about them.  Do not take those thoughts home.  Think about the meetings you will have the next day, think about the agenda items, think about what you are going to say and how you are doing to say them.
  5. Get good quality and enough sleep.  Get to bed early.  Turn off all electronics.  If you wake up in the middle of the night, do not check your phone.  Just go back to sleep.
  6. Crack open your windows and let the air flow through your room at night when you sleep to get fresh air.  If necessary, turn on a fan to keep the air moving.  This will help you get better sleep.
  7. Lose weight.  Carrying around too much weight is hard on the knees, the hips, the heart, etc.  Walk more.  Eat less.
  8. Do your own research.  Do what works for your body.  Do not take the advice of doctors.  They only know a little bit and they do not care about your overall holistic health.  They will prescribe pharmaceuticals and every single medicine you take from them will have adverse side effects.
  9. Do all of this everyday and you will have no more health problems.  But you have to do them consistently, without fail, without break.  You can’t just do it one day and not another.
  10. After you have been doing this for a couple of months, we discuss your progress and determine next steps.

So… it was slightly disconcerting to be lectured at for an hour.  Especially since I was already doing quite a lot of this due to my most recent health problems.  It is not always fun to get yelled at by my father, especially since he’s not that interested in hearing what I have to say (e.g. But I have sleep apnea and stop breathing, so I need the machine.  You don’t need a machine, you just need to have air flow through your room.  Uh, Dad, it’s a medical condition.  I stop breathing 80 times an hour and am down to 60% oxygen at night.  Well, whatever, you will have more oxygen in your system if you turn on a fan and open your windows.).

I managed to stay calm throughout the whole thing (he literally repeated each piece of advice about 10 times in different orders and using different phrases) by reminding myself that he is doing this from love, because he cares and because he’s panicked.  It’s taken him this long through very hard work to get his health more under control.  He’s figured it out (late, by his standards) and he does not want us making the same mistakes, so he’s trying to give us good advice that he wants us to take now, now, now, and exactly in his way.  He’s worried about my health and about our family’s well-being.

When I shared this story with my husband and the boys, my husband nonchalantly said, “Well, Gong Gong isn’t wrong.  He’s made some good points there.”  True, true.  And I’m definitely working on it, I suppose, seeing as I’ve come to some of the same conclusions.  My kids found it interesting, as I have been working so hard on getting them to eat, think, and do healthy for such a long time.  They think it’s funny that I’m getting lectured by MY parents.

Then there’s adding all the advice my mother has been given me:

  1. Swing your arms everyday.  It will cure hundreds of ailments.  Do it once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
  2. Rub your stomach, clockwise, slowly, every morning and every night. This is good for your digestive system.
  3. Do Qigong everyday.  This will heal a lot of your illnesses, but it just takes longer.  Do it once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
  4. Meditate.  Meditate and calm your mind.  It is very important to calm your mind everyday.
  5. Have positive thoughts and look on the bright side.  Don’t focus on the negative.  Find a more constructive way of thinking about things.
  6. Stress is terrible, so don’t get stressed.  Find a way to release the stress from your body.
  7. Eat ginger, garlic and onions.  They are antibacterial and can kill lots of germs.
  8. Drink lemon water or apple cider vinegar.  They will help clean out your system.
  9. Soak dried longans and goji berries in hot water for a drink.  It’s really good for you.
  10. If you need to go to the washroom, just go.  Don’t hold it in, it’s not good to hold things in.  Your body needs to get the garbage out. So, if you feel you need to go… GO!

There you have it.  Advice from my mom and dad.  They aren’t wrong you know…  There’s science behind a lot of this stuff.

Now I’ll add mine:

  1. Be kind to yourself.  Treat yourself as if you were your own best friend.  Love, appreciate, and praise yourself. Be aware of how you are speaking to yourself.
  2. Remember your strengths. Focus on things you are good at.  Give kudos to yourself for being good at those things.
  3. Remember to enjoy life.  Do things you love to do.  Slow down and appreciate, savour, soak up the beauty around you.
  4. Remember that life goes up and down.  Prepare yourself for down times so that you aren’t surprised or disappointed.  Be ready for down times with things that will help it go by more easily and quickly.
  5. Find the helpers.  Reach out to people who are amazing and can provide you with some support during difficult times.  Find people who will give you good advice rather than cut you down or amplify the negativity that is already in your head.
  6. Consider every single failure an opportunity to learn. Anything that doesn’t work is now knowledge that something is not the answer.  It may be part of an answer, it may lead you to an answer… or it may just be something you know you never want to do again!
  7. Eat to provide nutrients to our bodies.  Less processed foods, less carbohydrates, less fatty foods, less red meat, less sodium, less deep fried foods, less canned foods, less sugar.  More fruits, more vegetables.
  8. Find an exercise you love.  Not just that you don’t hate it.  Find something you enjoy, maybe by yourself or maybe with others in a more communal environment.
  9. Address your health issues right away, in the least invasive manner possible and as soon as possible.  Do seek out professionals and specialists, but do your own research and trusts your instincts.  Find communities of people who are dealing with the same conditions.  There is so much to learn and medical knowledge is evolving all the time.
  10. Pay it forward.  Find where you can make a difference in this world. Be a helper, make your corner of the world a better place.  Be the change you want to see. Find a big meaningful goal to work towards and go all out.

So the question is: how does one fit all this in one’s life?  Well, that’s part of the journey we are all on! That’s what’s going to make life interested during the next part of life!

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Good Stress, Bad Stress

Like cholesterol, there is good stress and bad stress.  Bad stress brings fear (of failure) and disruption (to your health).  Good stress on the other hand, comes from challenging ourselves, which in turn, helps with our development and growth.

The boys have been going to their Kung Fu summer camp this week at the Shaolin Temple Quanfa Institute.  Initially, they were a bit stressed by all the practice and how hard Shifu was pushing them.  Then, two days into it, something clicked.  They felt stronger, more focused and leaner.  They were proud of their stances, they were fast and strong and eager to perform!  The stress brought out the best in them.

For me, as a new driver (at 46 no less!), I noticed that I was feeling stress when driving on the highway.  Initially, I didn’t realize that my body was stressed.  When I noticed it, I became aware of how much I was concentrating to do the right things: merging, watching the big truck in front of me, checking for pedestrians, slowing down…  A few days into it, something clicked.  I felt more aware, more confident and more focused.  I was proud of how much I improved, and at the same time, understanding that it was still going to take a great deal of practice to be a good driver.

Good stress: makes you better!

Bad stress on the other hand comes from toxic relationships, lack of constructive communication and constant unknowns. Bad stress causes frustration, anger, confusion and ultimately hurts our health.  There will always be unknowns in life, but we all need to work harder at improving our relationships through communication… or removing ourselves from relationships that hurt us.

Bad stress: makes you sick!

It is up to us to see what kinds of stress we are under and how to address them: rise up to the challenge and develop… or get out of the situation quickly!

It Was Pretty Bad

I’ve struggled with my weight.  All my life.

When my family returned to Taiwan after living in North America for 8 years, I was 11.  The sales lady from the clothing store took one look at me and shook her head disapprovingly.  “No ekes, ekes, ello – you too big.  We no have your sizee.”

Even though I have athletic tendencies and enjoy various sports, I am very much a couch potato, a book worm, an all-day administrator desk person… After the birth of my first son, the pounds melted away from nursing and lack of sleep, but that didn’t happen after the second.  At nearly 200 pounds, my body ached all over, I panted after running up two flights of stairs at the subway station and I could barely keep up with my ‘real’ full time job at work and my second full time job taking care of my children.

“Mommy, when I turn my head to look at you, I can see your tummy sticking out.  Is there a baby in there?”

My parents were worried about my health, my BFF offered to do some gym training and my husband checked on me at 10 pm to make sure I wasn’t succumbing to all the fast food commercials, poking my head in the fridge and eating the kids’ lunches for the next day.

“Hey, your mommy is here to pick you up!”  “No, my mommy’s at work.” “She’s got glasses, she has black hair and she’s fat.” “Oh yeah, that’s my mom.”

The stress of decision-making at work coupled with feeling like an inadequate mother led to stress eating, which led to feeling bad about myself, which led to more stress, which also led to worsening health and so on.  I was in my early 40s and my mind and body were falling apart.