April 2006

In my quest to lose the dreaded beer belly (motivated by a $100 challenge), I made a switch from cholesterol-filled breakfast (mmmmmmmm, bacon!) to a healthy glassful smoothie.

For those unfamiliar, a smoothie is a blended, nutritional beverage that is perhaps a spin-off of the more common and popular milkshake.

David Zinczenko of the Abs Diet fame, describes it as a 'whip(ped) up, belly-busting, versatile powerfood'. A smoothie fills up the belly like any meal with the good stuff (fiber, protein, carbohydrates, etc.) in and the bad ones (fat, cholesterol) out. Okay, I won't try to oversell the smoothie here. I'll just post my breakfast smoothie recipe as a pay-it-forward gesture:

1 cup low fat milk
2 tbsp non fat vanilla flavored yogurt
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 scoop whey protein milk powder
1 handful of plain (unsmoked, non-roasted) almonds
1 banana
6 ice cubes

Dump everything in one reliable blender, push the button, and blend until the ice cubes are completely crushed. Good for 2-3 glass servings (take one for breakfast and another after a workout). In lieu of banana, I recommend strawberries. Yum-meh! 


Catching up on my reading backlog over Easter weekend, I came across one of many health trivias inside the February issue of Men's Health magazine. It reports that men are most likely to be deficient in zinc. Now zinc may not be as popular as Vitamin C (especially these days what with the onslaught of flu and airborn virus) but the magazine suggests that a deficiency in zinc nutrient has serious repercussions on one's well-being that include hair loss, skin lesions, diarrhea, and even death!

Men are at risk because, as the magazine says, they 'lose 5 milligrams of zinc with each ejaculation […] [which is] one third of the recommended daily dose.' And with low zinc levels, men produce 'poor sperm quality and less testosterone' meaning a significant decrease in physical endurance, memory ability, and loss of libido. Yes my friends, oversex has its downside, too. So how to know if one is zinc deficient? Well, the magazine makes it simple to detect: white spots on fingernails. How to combat? Eat meat, raisins, beans, and seafood.

I don't know when exactly I became a health nut. What I do know is I have tried experimenting with my food variety intake since senior year to compensate for my animosity towards and distaste over vegetables. I am a prime candidate for diabetes, I know (I have my mom and my physician to acknowledge for that prognosis). Lately though, I have been particularly sensitive about health because (1) I made an outrageous and impossible $100 bet with my college bud to build a six-pack abs by July this year, and; (2) Perhaps because I have relatives currently in combat with cancer whose stories ring regret but also advise caution and prudence.

Although I think I'm still young to fear death as an inevitable element in life, I believe it's never too early to start a smart, healthy lifestyle. Sure, there's a grain of truth on the saying 'People who spend so much time watching their health have no time to enjoy it', but a large slice of truth goes with the saying 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.'

Now if I could just enjoy beans and veggies, I'd win half the darn battle. 

Isn't it exciting to be a Catholic this Easter? Nope, I didn't put that lead just to arrest attention; it just is. The meat of this excitement comes from the seemingly progressive attempts to shake the foundations of the Catholic Church down to its very conservative core by controversies from recent discoveries, developments, and debates.

Of course, the Church has been plagued with controversies for centuries but of late, it has been in a defensive mode like a fifth grade bully being ganged up by a mob of hostile and fed-up first grade nerds.

The recent fissure started with the death of the much-loved John Paul II whose papacy was taken over by the ultra-conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 2005. By the great seer Nostradamus' prophecy, the new pope will be assassinated that will signal the end of the Catholic Church ("Then comes pope number 112, who will flee Rome because of an attack by Muslims"). For many, the prophecy strikes a sensitive chord with the current hostility among Islam fundamentalists against the capitalist (and with Dubya's leadership, imperialist) West. His monicker as God's Rotweiller doesn't calm nerves either.

Then there's Dan Brown. His popular novel, The Da Vinci Code, propounds a gripping conspiracy theory detailing a grand cover-up of a fictional descendant of Jesus Christ living among us today. This theory is causing ruckus because physical and visual proofs, as well as scholarly truths, are mentioned and presented in the book; supposed proofs and truths that were inconspicuously concealed by the Church.

And just a couple of weeks ago, the National Geographic Society has trumpeted the reconstruction and translation of the 2000 year-old Gospel of Judas. Unearthed in Egypt, the document contradicts the centuries-old portrayal of Judas Iscariot as the disciple who betrayed and sold Jesus to the Romans. On the contrary, at least according to the document, Judas was the most-favored disciple whose actions were at Jesus' bidding.

The Church, of course, has made its arguments known on these controversies dispelling rumors of an unstable leadership; demarcating centuries-old truths from modern-day fiction, and; dismissing results of discoveries as by-products of the eccentric nature of men less divine.

Over the course of Holy Week, I was engrossed with these controversies, watching specials on TV, reading debates and developments on print and over the internet, and reflecting in general on how these affect my somewhat lethargic faith of late. It sounds a bit shallow and cosmetic to take a sudden interest in religion because of popular, media-oriented issues, but yeah, I do feel like crap. I take pride in my relationship with God: casual and personal — beyond the trappings of grand ceremonies and traditional pageantry associated with an uptight and exacting Church.

Having said that, it also becomes an easy excuse to distance myself from God and faith, per se because, as pervasive as the voice in the reality TV show Big Brother, I feel God is always there anyway, as is faith. A housemate doesn't spend long hours inside the confession booth and open up in confidence to Big Brother; rather, a housemate go about his or her chores and whatever task is at hand to outsmart the others and win. Now I know the analogy doesn't seem solid. But what I want to say, today being Easter, is that inasmuch as I want to win in life, I'd like to spend some regular time inside the booth for a change. I'd like to be casual and personal but deep and involved. And this time, I'd like to experience faith beyond controversies and the excitement they generate.

See previous blog entry Easter Reflections (Posted 27 March 2005)

I received an email from a Filipino-Chinese friend who happen to read my previous blog entry about my recent vacation in Manila that turned into an all Chinese experience. He wrote in jest that (1) I should be thankful for the Chinese for bringing the comforts and perks I enjoyed, and; (2) the Chinese global invasion is inevitable unless Indians take over Britain by default (read: mass immigration). I didn't exactly get the drift of the joke but I did laugh out the proceeding list of mock Chinese phrases he sent in time for April Fools:

Learn Chinese in 5 minutes (must read out loud)

1. That's not right: Sum Ting Wong
2. Ayou harboring a fugitive: Hu Yu Hai Ding
3. See me ASAP: Kum Hia!
4. Stupid man: Dum Fuk
5. Small horse: Tai Ni Po Ni
6. Did you go to the beach: Wai Yu So Tan
7. I bumped the coffee table: Ai Bang Mai Fa Kin Ni
8. I think you need a face lift: Chin Tu Fat
9. It's very dark in here: Wai So Dim
10. I thought you were on a diet: Wai Yu Mun Ching
11. This is a tow away zone: No Pah King
12. Our meeting is scheduled for next week: Wai Yu Kum Nao?
13. Staying out of sight: Lei Ying Lo
14. He's cleaning his automobile: Wa Shing Ka
15. Your body odor is offensive: Yu Stin Ki Pu
16. Great: Fa Kin Su Pah!

See related blog entry Of Bean Curd And All Else Chinese (Posted: 09 March 2006)