Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Magandang araw! Good day!
For this piece I will tackle a topic that has been at the heart of my formulas for my successes in my various endeavors: good health. To those who are not familiar with me, visualize from your side a middle aged man who is quite muscular, moves with verve and suave, carries a tireless demeanor, and looks like somebody in his early 30s. Save for my graying hair, which is okay because today sporting white hair is a fad, one may not mistake me for what my age really is: late 40s. What is my secret formula for looking younger, be continuously energetic, and generally exhibit good health?
Good health is itself comparable to wealth. We are accustomed to wishing about good health aside from prosperity every end of the year as part of our rituals to welcome the coming New Year. It is indeed a remarkable ritualizing act to include good health among our wishes or goals for any particular year. The simple reason is that without good health, we will fail in our goal of attaining good wealth for any particular period. What good will it do to a person who owns billions worth of assets if s/he is sick more than half of the 365 days of the year? Our simplified thesis is: good health precedes wealth.
By good health I mean not exclusively the absence of disease or dis-ease. More universally, good health means total wellness or well-being. Good health denotes manifesting balance and harmony, stability and functionality in all the facets of our life: bio-physical, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual. When balance turns to imbalance, harmony turns to turbulence, stability turns to instability, and functionality turns to dysfunctional state, then ill health is the general result. So, the stress in my perspective of health is on attaining wellness, based on the wellness model rather than the sickness model.
The person will have to choose between the two paradigms: wellness or sickness? There is so much stress on the sickness side of the health equation and to be on the wellness side means one is attuned to a counter-culture. And that’s what I always like: the counter-cultural. Having grown up as an iconoclast, deconstructionist radical, I always have a feeling of high when I smash commonly accepted or orthodox wisdom. And I am today feeling victorious, being among the wellness paradigm advocates, because the equation is now moving closer to the wellness side. It is now certain that in just couples of years away the wellness side will surpass the sickness side of the health formula worldwide.
Economically, the question is: if you have a given amount of money to expend for and invest in health, will you spend it for wellness or for sickness purposes? If you are so obsessed with doing away with sickness, and you do so by amassing investments in medicare or health welfare, and that you wish there were as many hospitals as there are good doctors and health professionals in your area for you to run to in case of illness, then you better know where you are in the equation: fixated to sickness model. Mind you, if you only have ways to investigate my investments right now, you can authenticate this well: I hardly have investments for sickness, not even as private health insurance, save for those funds deducted from my salaries during my years of employee history. But every month, without let up, I spend money on wellness practices.
Not only that, I do go some extra miles advocating for the wellness paradigm. I wasn’t originally trained as a health professional, not even in my fields where I could have opted to become a health sociologist and health economist, yet early in my life I found the wisdom along the way to invest time, effort and money for wellness purposes. I had near-death experiences then as a child suffering from chronic nephritis (kidney ailment) and as a young professional who contracted falciparum malaria. The debilitations caused by those experiences were enough to waken me up, challenge me and set my goal never again to fall prey to ailments. And the formula was not on the sickness side, because I really hate hospitals that smack of the ambience of Grim Ripper. The answer to my periodic health problems reclined more on the wellness side.
The results were simply astounding! Not only did I gain good health and general wellness, but quite late in my life I re-invented myself to become a competitive powerlifting athlete. I was a sickly boy till age 14, an experience that barred me largely from becoming an achiever in athletics. But I never got discouraged by the failures, and always visualized myself to shift from my frail and thin frame to a muscular, athletic frame one day. And it happened, as I discovered the efficacy and beauty of weight training exercises when I was aged 30 more or less. At ages 31-33 I was very active in the powerlifting world, and was winning medals at the national level of competitions. Were it not that I had to undergo tonsillectomy at age 33, I could have climbed to international athlete status and slugged it out among the champions of Asia’s powerlifting circuits. I lost my competitive edge after three (3) months of post-surgical rest, but I never lost my love for powerlifting that I still conduct today as a strengthening and health-sustaining practice.
Let me now share to you my formula for sustaining good health and wellness. My macrobiotic side of health has been quite perfect along my biographical trail, though sometimes this gets disturbed by sinusitis and allergy-related problems. Given my good macrobiotic condition, I can focus fully well on addressing the microbiotic side of my condition: the specific organs or tissues. So far my lingering micro problems are my sinus-throat-bronchial areas and my heart. I attack the problem more as a preventive medical practice, though sometimes I do have to medicate as curative practice, with medication largely using alternatives such as herbal-organic formulation that now abound in the country.
Let me go over my practices item by item:
• Diet Formula. Strictly follow the athlete’s macrobiotic formula of 65-20-15: 65% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 15% fats. Sustain this with high fibers (vegetables and fruits). On the microbiotic level, sustain health with food supplements, with strict observance of herbals & organics for multivitamins, ascorbic acid, omega 3 (for heart) and garlic pills (heart & allergic rhinitis control). I honestly found the Nutrilite preparations as the best food supplement set. Those fried breakfast foods, junk food and the greasy fast-food things are a no-no in my regimen. And at night, preferably fish or vegetarian meal should be taken, with just a cup of rice or equivalent of bread or noodles as staples. Milk every morning has been a must for calcium and other nutrients, with mixed nuts or peanuts to go along with breakfast. As a tip from sports science, I alternate my staples in order to avoid allergies (one of my congenital weaknesses).
• Physical Exercise. For 4 mornings in a week, I do my exercise regimen of powerlifting. Incidentally, in Manila, there is hardly any neighborhood today that doesn’t have a gym nearby, so rain or shine I ‘report for duty’ to my neighborhood gym (PRO Gym inside the U.P. Hotel). Even on Signal No. 3, with gusty winds almost knocking out trees, for as long as the gym is open, I report for exercise. I’m on a split routine program…I support this with some walking regimen of around one (1) hour at least once a week. Not brisk walking which stresses sugar burning, but rather moderate pace of even slow strolls to emphasize fat burning. …Body massage at least once a month is also a nice reinforcement practice.
• Water Therapy. Upon waking up in the morning, after my yoga meditation (which comes first), I drink a glass of warm water to expel gases. Drink a mug of coffee as stimulant, then drink milk-choco to go with my breakfast. Water comes again 2 hours after a meal, with last glass of water 30 minute before the next meal. 1 glass of water is around for my night’s sleep, which I drink around past midnight. All in all, around 18-20 glasses of water in a day, including those used for coffee, milk, and herbal teas. After breakfast and dinner, I clean my throat and sinus with saline water, warm yet soothing to the throat-sinus areas: 2 glasses to as mouth-throat gurgle, and 4 glasses for my sinus (I ‘pump’ the water into my sinus and then take it out, and then drain the excess water after the ritual is done).
• Herbal Tea Detoxification. At night, to go with my dinner, I drink 2 glasses or mugs of herbal tea to wash away the excess sugar, amino acids, and toxins. Sometimes when I don’t feel good due to excess sugar or hypertension (which rarely happens), I quaff 4-6 glasses of green tea or banaba (instead of take pharmaceuticals). The formula is not to stick to just 1 kind of herbal tea, but rather to alternate the teas. My standard teas are: black tea, green tea, banaba, and pito-pito (7-7 or 7 herbs in one). There is nary a grocery in Manila today without teas in sachet form, so this habit has been facilitated by accessibility and availability. Sometimes I schedule a regimen of 7 days every month of intensive cleansing, by drinking 8 glasses of herbal tea in a day, most specially when the task is curative. For the latter habit, I add to my regimen: cogon roots, kulantro seeds (good for sinusitis/rhinitis), and avocado leaves. And, I prefer fresh herbs for the latter, prepared through decoction, that I purchase at the Quiapo church area (P10 per pack, good for 8 glasses).
• Yoga Meditation & Prayer. A regimen of 20 minutes of meditation a day, 10 upon waking up and 10 before sleeping, would be good for centering & wellness purposes for a starter ‘yogi’ or busy persons. Being a yogi and guru, I am now up to 1 hour upon waking up, and 1 hour before sleeping. A prayer before meditating would be excellent a practice to set one into deep focus right away. I never meditate without praying. Pray your standards, like the Lord’s Prayer and Hail Mary for Catholics, before meditating. Meditation takes off excess dense energies, brings vital energy (prana or chi) into the body and the electromagnetic field or aura, and sustains the health of all of our bodies (physical, emotional or astral, mental bodies). Many other benefits can be gained from meditation & prayer, but for this article let me stress on its wellness function.
• Light Therapy. Too much sunlight and lack of sunlight are extremes. Around 20-30 minutes of sunlight a day is great for the health. When suffering from an ailment, such as severe infection of throat and sinus, I do sunbathing for around 30-40 minutes a day. Incidentally, there’s plenty of sunlight in the tropics, and so one need not do sun bathing here in Manila. Beyond the equatorial regions, one can do sunbathing during colder days, and I did this exercise when I resided in California for a time… When my sinus swells badly and herbals can’t seem to recede the swelling as expected, I add exposure to black light among my therapies. For 30 minutes before dinner, I post the black light (which one can buy in any sounds & light shop), installed in a hand lamp, near my sinus area. I just need to cover my eyes with a bandana to avoid unnecessary radiation to the area. (See John Ott’s Light Therapy for this practice.)
• Music Therapy. Musical vibrations affect our aura directly, so care must be exercised in choosing the musical genre at certain times of the day. Since music impacts on our astral body, the seat of our emotions and feelings, it directly affects our mood. In the morning and after lunch, I play fast beats, sometimes with alternative music (though only occasionally now), since the rhythm at daytime is the action force (kinetic energy). Fast music sets one on working and exercise mood, and one should not play sweet soft music at daytime except at lunch time if one were to take a nap or siesta (soft music has lullaby functions). Past 5 p.m. however, one should shift to finer frequency genre, such as soft classical, nature music, soft world music, and Celtic music. Ballads and R&B are a no-no in my formula, as they can make one melancholic. If one can’t avoid it, listen to them at the 5-7 p.m slot, but balance the melancholic effect by shifting to the finer genre from 7-10 p.m. or before sleeping.
So, dear reader and Seeker, you can see from above where I spent much money over the last decades of my life. One thing I found out was that choosing which path is most efficacious as a general program for wellness is a matter also of personal efficacy of a practice. In Filipino we have this concept of hiyang, which explains that one method may be effective for a person but not for another. For instance, doing water therapy could be good for me, but for you who does not perspire a lot this method may not be effective, so better look for another option. Sunlight therapy may not be good for those with sensitive skin, but good for me whose skin is moderate to oily. Music therapy is generally good, but for a yogi like me I can’t have an overdose of rock or alternative music (I feel drained or not good past a 1-hour listening regimen).
One other thing is clear: you need not spend too much to sustain wellness via the health regimen way. If you are convinced by the power of my regimen, then you may as well invest in your wellness than in your sickness or its prevention. Spend on food supplements, gymn fees, herbal teas and organics, and adopt a mental attitude that they will work. Otherwise, if you manifest obsessive-compulsive attitudes or fears about their ineffectiveness, or that sickness is just around the corner again as your hypochondriac signs are telling you, then indeed you’re doomed to regular hospitalizations. It’s the psycho-somatic grid that one should not fail to examine too, since ailment is 75% psychological and only 25% physiological.
Should you exhibit dysfunctional symptoms of neurosis, or personality disorder, or psychosis, or any other mental disorder condition, then begin with a curative regimen. In my youth I manifested signs of melancholic personality, and so I check-mated this condition early by visiting the university’s guidance counselor, seeing my psychology & sociology professors for engaging chats, maturing early by immersing with adults, and learning yoga meditation while still in college. Reading lots of self-analysis theories and tools (offered by psychology) also helped me so much. Eventually, the yoga meditation and the other regimen cited above took off the melancholic side of me, and I was able to perform an added function from age 20 onwards of doing psychosocial intervention (listening & counseling). The wellness path has become more manageable ever since, though not exactly smooth a road to traverse.
In sum, wellness is a possibility, and excellent wellness is the best formula for wellness in the other spheres as well: interpersonal, organizational, community, national, international/global. Wellness is the key to harmony and balance in the world, inner peace the key to social-political-economic peace. Be at home with yourself first, before you can be at home with the world. If everyone is at home with himself or herself and with the world, then total peace is built. Let me end from here, and articulate on peace in some other articles later.
[Writ 21 December 2007, Quezon City, MetroManila]