What is the essential thing to do what you like/have to do?
For sure, Coronavirus is slowing down and scaring our life. Everyone has different activities and objectives in their life sooner or later. As a curious person, I am naturally interested in many things, be it learning new things (e.g. language), dance, cooking, drawing, writing, etc. But whatever you do, there is an essential condition to allow you to do any of them. What is it?
It’s health. If you are very sick, you cannot conduct regular activities.
Although I love doing as many things as possible, health was the last topic I could think of until in my mid-20s. How did I learn its importance? In short, I learned after losing my good health. And now I became an advocate of healthy life for more than 10 years, and I found what I believe is the key, which I call 3E (Eat well, Exercise well and Energize well). Let me dig deep on each of it, hoping it will be of any help for you. It’s not new things, but being conscious about it changes your life in the long run. To live healthily, we need to do 3E every day.
If we don’t eat anything, we will die, and if we don’t eat well, we will die fast. Unfortunately, there are people without food and others with too much food or unhealthy food. According to World Health Organization (WHO), more than 820 million are without enough food in 2019, whereas worldwide obesity rate has tripled since 1975 and 40% of adults are overweight in 2016 (Source). And when we talk about eating well, we don’t even talk about the taste of the food (which I strongly advocate for).
When I was around 10-14 years old, I ate unhealthy food. To be more specific, I was eating 3 packs of Pizza Potato a day (more than 1,000 kcal as it has 350 kcal/pack). The consequence? You see a chubby unhealthy boy.
Interestingly, science on nutrition is quite tricky as it is difficult to control people’s diet, thus it makes little comparative data. Nevertheless, we know in general what healthy foods look like. According to Harvard University’s Healthy Eating Plate, the recommended plates are:
- Whole grains,
- healthy proteins
- Healthy fats/oil
- Drinking water instead of sugary beverages
There are other things to consider such as quantity/quality of food, what time and how often you eat a day, alcohol consumption, balancing salt/sodium. Also, other E also complements with Eating well. Let’s see the case of the Exercise.
Based on WHO data lack of exercise is one of the 10 leading risk factors for global mortality: 20-30% increased risk of mortality compared to those who conduct an exercise at least 150 min a week.
Coming back to the chubby boy (my unhealthy early teen), in addition to chips, I spent most of the time doing the video games. So imagine primary schoolboy holding a game controller with potato chips, without playing outside every day. The result? again, a chubby boy without discipline. I gained my weight a lot, to the scale that my thighs were bleeding just by walking normally. And you know what? I did not even realize that I was fat, and I thought others were too skinny!
(Later on, I lost 20kg in 1 year through life-changing habit and got taller, which made me a different person in terms of physical appearance).
I think everyone (if not most people) knows that exercise is good for health. The key point here is “Do something every day which fits your personality and lifestyle“. If not every day, do at least 150 min a week as recommended by researchers. Let me explain a bit further.
If you don’t have time or access to the gym, you can exercise with video at home (e.g. youtube). For me, I love swimming but access is not easy, so I’ve been doing a video every morning for the last 3 years, and whenever I have access, I go to the swimming pool once a week. For my personality, a variety is quite important.
Also, morning exercise is proven to be good, especially for your brain function. According to the book “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain“, the research supports the fact that the exercise promotes how the brain works. In other words, just running in the morning makes you a better learner and even happier.
Furthermore, research proved that you come up with creative ideas when you are walking outside, instead of being stuck in the office, so Exercise is indeed a part of E to make your life better. Let’s look at the last E.
For this part only, let me briefly explain what I mean by “energize”. In a nutshell, it is about providing energy to your brain. In my case, there are three parts: (1) Quality of Sleep (2) Learning and (3) Mindfulness/meditation. That is, they have a universal component (sleep is unconditionaly important for all) and personal components (activities to energize people vary).
Again, I am talking about very big three areas here, so allow me to simplify as much as possible and focus on something universal; quality of sleep (otherwise you end up writing very thick books).
For good sleep, you need quality and quantity. Research says that more than half (51%) of adults worldwide report they get less sleep than they need on an average night.
I also didn’t care about sleeping. As a street dancer in Japan (where you could only practice after midnight in front of the train station). I was really into it and I almost never slept at night time, and my day time was for sleeping. Continuing this lifestyle for 3-4 years, I sacrificed my sleep and got chronic nettle rash. That was why I decided to write my graduate thesis on quality of sleep.
As mentioned in the previous entry on space organization, we sleep one-third of our days/lives (at least we should). Quality of sleeping is one of my favorite focus areas (in addition to the above-mentioned thesis, I kept reading about this area, including “Sleep Smarter“). If you are serious about having a good life, having a good sleeping should be a priority. Some recommendations are below:
- Time: try to sleep at the same time (ideally 10pm-2am called money/golden time); sleep around 7-8 hours; do not bank sleeping by taking more bedtime during the weekend
- Light: get sunlight in the morning and avoid screen light 0.5-1h before you sleep; Make your room as dark as possible (don’t hit yourself with a bed though!)
- Before sleeping: alcohol and coffee are not recommended (especially the latter); do some stretch or take warm-bath; drink hot-milk if you want
- Sleeping room: Don’t bring any work, computer, and phone if possible; keep the temperature around 18-20 C (but wear socks to warm legs up); make it tech/distraction-free and silent (bedroom is your sanctuary)
- Some other tips: Take magnesium; the bedroom is for sleeping and your partner; if you wake up during the night and cannot go back to sleep, get up and do non-stimulatory activities such as reading eye-friendly books (kindle, paper book), do stretch, etc. (do not excite yourself)
Leaning and Mindfulness
If you want to establish an early morning routine (where fits meditation and learning very well), it has to be started the night before, as you have to sleep 7-8 hours before you want to wake up. Besides sleeping, learning and mindfulness are two important parts which energize my mind (some people get energized by other things). Sleep gives energy to the brain, and meditation and learning are like stretching and exercising your brain respectively. Thus, those 3 are all connected for energizing my brain, and that is also why my routine for those are all together: as soon as I wake up, I meditate, followed by learning activities.
Although I mentioned each E separately until now, they are interconnected very strongly. If you don’t eat well, you cannot function well, including exercise and energizing. If you are physically active, your brain functions better and stay fit. If you don’t sleep well, you tend to gain weight, cannot be physically active and learn less. If you don’t sleep early and enough, it is difficult to exercise in the morning. The connection goes on and on. See the below image, which connects with each other.
I must say that combining these 3 areas in 1 blog entry was quite difficult, as each area is so profound and so many studies are still ongoing to discover many unknown things. What I can conclude is that unfortunately, worldwide we are not doing very well on each 3E and we know some recommendations to make them better. It’s your life, and it’s your choice to make. For myself, I have many life objectives. As a person who underestimated all of them, I learned their importance (still I have some debt in my health), and to try to achieve them, I will work on them throughout the whole life. Then I will prove myself in 50 years when I am about to shut down the life’s door
The learning of this time
I learned that when you find the purpose of life, you can deeply care about your health, and its key is 3E: Eat well, Exercise well and Energize well.
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