Health Nut


It’s no secret I’ve been dead serious about getting lean and fit since I refused to print my digital photos in Hawaii last year and the (still) ongoing (and unrealistic) $100 6pack-abs bet with a college bud early this year. But this week has been a really busy one and preparing measured and healthy lunches and dinners was close to, if not completely, impossible. And so last night, after a hard day’s work, I settled for a double quarter pounder at a nearby McDees. Despite the grease from the beef patties and the HFCS content in its ketchup, the burger was unsurprisingly satisfying — perhaps it was because I was hungry or because I have not eaten in any fastfood since February. Besides, it was, as David Zinczenko of the Abs Diet fame terms as, my cheat meal of the week. So, no guilt there. Just the usual resolve to run an extra lap on the treadmill.

But today, being a Saturday, was a slow and lethargic day. If there was something to feel guilty about, it was not being able to warm up the inviting living room couch and stoke my endorphins with nonsensical shows on TV for an entire week. As an expected result, this type of day and activity end in procrastination to cook smart food or even eat out for dinner. And so I ended up eating two hotdog bunwiches and reliving my not-so-distant days of watching live basketball games or idle times spent in 7-eleven combinis.

Anyway, midway through my second mustard and mayo-smothered, pickle-relished, mozarella-wrapped hotdog, I get to grin and remember the Bud Light commercial I hear on the radio of late.

I made a transcript of the radio commercial and it goes something like:

Deep and serious Voice Over: Bud Light presents… Real Men of Genius

(Second Voice: Real Men of Genius)

Today we salute you, Mr. Hotdog Eating Contest Contestant!

(Mr. Hotdog Eating Contest Contestant!)

What does it take to eat two dozen hotdogs in 12 minutes?

Determination.

Fortitude.

And a complete disregard for what they actually put in a hotdog.

(Open wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide…)

How many times have we said “Sure, one hotdog is nice. But 47 more would really hit the spot.”

(Get me to a bathroom)

What’s for dessert?

Nine pounds of antacids.

One bleeding ulcer.

And seven hours of routine angioplasty.

(My left arm feels tingly…)

So crack open a can of Bud Light, oh diplomat of the dog! Because our appetite for you would never be satisfied!

(Mr. Hotdog Eating Contest Contestant!)

Absolutely hilarious! I crack up and roll over just hearing this radio commercial and apparently, there are several variations of this (e.g. Mr. Chinese Food Delivery Guy, Mr. Silent Killer Gas Passer, Mr. Really Loud Cellphone Talker Guy, etc.) since Anheuser Busch commissioned DDB Chicago in 2004 for its ads.

Laughing over it somehow diverts the guilt away from eating two hotdog bunwiches today but I reckon tomorrow I need to sweat it out in the gym. Daunting, yes but for now, I just have to enjoy and laugh the rest of the day off.

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. 

You read right.

Goodbye beer and soda. Hello Gatorade and sport drinks; Goodbye sweets and carbs. Hello grains and protein.

What gives?

Hav'ta shed the beer belly and tone up for next year's wedding.

Serious. For real. No kidding (OK, I get the drift… I am convinced!).

To my fitness buff-slash-guru friend Michael, yes, the dormant six-pack challenge is officially on (again!?!).

To my fiancee, yes, more washboard abs and less love handles for, well, you know what.

To my grade school bully, watch out!

To myself… good luck! 

Ulcer.

I was 6 when I first heard of this medical jargon from an uncle whose profession is both a physician and a smart ass. 'Pep' in peptic ulcer was supposed to stand for Pepsi (how plainer can it get?) and drinking too much, especially early in the morning results to, well, ulcer. I had to suck everything in without question. But my smart ass of an uncle failed to mention that early research findings listed alcoholic and caffein beverages as contributing causes of ulcer, too, so (had I put my nerdish pursuits to good use then) I should've made a smart ass of myself and admonished his fondness for beer and capuccino.

Fast forward to 2005.

The recepients of this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine are scientists Barry Marshall and Robin Warren, whose research on ulcer makes them more than winners but winning smart asses as well. As early as 1982, these Australian scientists discovered the Helicobacter pylori bacterium (now known as the ulcer bug) that breeds and infects the stomach lining. But instead of shouting 'Eureka!', the medical community saw this discovery as a product of two smart asses out to debunk the popular belief that ulcers are caused by acid, stress, and (to some) spicy food: Earth became the center of the universe all over again and Marshall and Warren became the Galileos of the 20th Century. Popular Belief: a common conundrum encountered by smart asses.

Well, thanks to the Nobel Prize, this conundrum was reduced to misconceptions on ulcers; thanks to the Nobel Prize, the smart asses were acknowledged and recognized to the hilt.

And so we find that ulcers are mere infections that can easily be treated by doctors with simple antibiotics. Hail to Marshall and Warren for their discovery for we can now truly enjoy drinking beer, soda, and coffee without worrying about ulcers! The only symptom to worry about now is gaining pounds and the dreaded beer belly.

Putting Morgan Spurlock's edifying docu Super Size Me aside, honestly, fast food is, and will always be, a part of everybody's life. It is convenient, always available, and affordable without the usual hassles of cooking, baking, or any activity inside a kitchen.

In one of those lazy afternoons, G and I ate snacks at a Burger King joint after spending long a time in a local Borders bookstore and came up with a list of fast food items that fit right in our pop culture-doused palate. Turns out we have our own preferences (save for a couple):

Favorite Cheeseburger
D & G: Tropical Hut cheeseburger. No other burger beats the classic.

Favorite Fries
D: KFC. I like my fries thick.
G: Twister Fries and Mc Shaker (McDee's) and Potato Fries

Favorite Chicken
D & G: Jollibee Chicken Joy and gravy overload!

Favorite Ice Cream
D: Wendy's Frosty or McFlurry Butterfinger (McDee's)
G: McFlurry M&Ms (McDee's)

Favorite Burger
D: Wendy's Spicy Chicken Fillet Sandwich or Burger King's Angus Ranch Double Beef Burger
G: McDee's McChicken Sandwich

Favorite Breakfast
D: McDee's Longganisa Meal. The egg is a bit overcooked but if you mash and mix it with the fried rice and put a squirt of ketchup… yumyum.
G: Jollibee's Longganisa Meal

Favorite Pizza and Pasta
D: Sbarro's Baked Ziti with white & meat sauces and chicken parmigiana or CPK's Fetuccini Alfredo (okay, that doesn't qualify as fast food)
G: Sbarro's white cheese pizza or Sbarro's Spaghetti with white sauce and chicken parmigiana

Favorite Dessert
D: Starbuck's Oreo cheesecake. It's a sin eating one (no sharing!).
G: Ube cake (Red Ribbon)

Favorite Drink Other Than Soda
D: Lemonade, preferrably bottomless.
G: Iced Tea and McFloat

Favorite Rice Meal Other Than Chicken
D: Salisbury Steak with mushroom gravy
G: Fried Bangus with vinegar (Red Ribbon)

Favorite Condiment Other Than Ketchup
D: Parmesan and Chili Powder
G: Mayonnaise (for my McDee's fries)

There ya go! Of course nothing is definite. Taste buds are a fickle lot and so, tomorrow we might have a new list (and another blog entry altogether)…

Oh yes, I'm getting a whole lot of lovin' since leaving Japan almost three weeks ago.

Love handles that is.

A fat and flab build up around my midsection is in progress. I shelved my exercise routine, as well as my low carb-high protein diet; I eat and sleep more, at least while in New York. I'm on vacation, for crying out loud! I can have an unrestrained and unchecked supply and dosage of calorie-rich soda, choclits, pasta, pastry, and pizza without the guilt and the obsessive-compulsive glance at any product's Nutrition Guide label.

Then the sight of love handles. Ugly. Why these bulges become love handles is beyond me. The feel of flab is not exactly something to excite one's sexual drive; Fat is more tasty and tempting within one's gastronomical pleasures, perhaps, but not a wattle to find arousal from.

G is not keeping mum about my lovehandles, either. She gets to drop a line or two (on best-timed occasions, at least) that I am packing in more fat than developing a 6-pack abs.

Browsing over fancy magazines and watching programs (from 900+ channels!) are not much help, too. Torture, even. I endure the sight of flat hard ab Calvin Klein type guys and end up either frustrated or challenged (the former more recurrently).

I miss my gym sessions in Japan. I used to visit thrice a week at least with 10reps, 2sets per machine and a full 30 min/12kph run. I took pride at staying fit and toned. Now, I dread to weigh or measure myself.

Okay, so I need not stay frustrated nor embarrassed.

I need to be challenged.

I've always wanted to try to jog around Central Park. I played this thought over and over while I was on the immobile treadmill in the gym in Japan. But given the proximity between Long Island and NYC, I thought of just running around the Jericho Turnpike block since arriving early this month. Still, with winter chill in linger, I yearn to opt and try the stationary bike beautifully decorated (as it is still unused) beside my bed, instead.

Three weeks after, none materialized (save for a visit in a local gym two weeks ago). Again, the word is frustrating.

Okay, challenge. I need to be challenged.

I'll start slow. Tomorrow, I'll hit the bike. Next week, I'll probably cut my carb intake.

Sounds good, you might say. Well, remind me!