By Ira Pablo
We know that we say this every year—that having a healthier lifestyle will be the ultimate goal for ourselves. But we never really know where to begin. When was the last time we did something good for our bodies, anyway?
Christmas is fast approaching and before we could tick off half of our New Year’s resolutions for 2017, we enter the holiday season again (I honestly think the weight I gained from my last Noche Buena still remains).
Don’t worry! We know how hard it is to resist overeating during Christmas parties, which is why we sought healthy holiday advice from Dr. Benedict “Ben” Valdecañas, Medical Director of Aegle Wellness Center.
The best thing about this is (he even said so himself!) is that we can’t not eat. But to better promote healthier celebrations among Filipinos, Dr. Ben gathered dedicated suppliers together to participate in Healthy Holidays: A Health And Wellness Expo held at The City Club last November 17 to 18. With the insane number of bazaars that are bound to scatter the metro, the wellness enthusiast figured it was time to provide shoppers better gift ideas by putting up one that could benefit their well-being.
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When it comes to indulging during parties, Dr. Ben believes in balance. He says, “Diet is just giving up something for something. If you want desserts, you have to take a load of carbohydrates off your meal.” He suggests substituting rice with potatoes, adlai, or quinoa instead. Not bad, right?
His professional advice is backed by experience. The amount of diabetic patients he’s treated over the years has decreased by 50%. “We had clients who (were using) Insulin. They were able to wean themselves off just by shifting from rice to adlai,” he proudly explains.
Problem is, some believe adlai isn’t affordable. Dr. Ben disagrees, saying, “If you delve deeper into these products, you’ll find out that they’re not as expensive as they seem”. He adds that healthier food choices are “an investment” cheaper than future medical bills.
Over at the expo, we also met former PBA star Ali Peek, who confessed that, had he not made big changes to his lifestyle, they would have cost his life. The 6’4’’ defensive power recounts how aside from the hours put in team practices, he allotted time for strength and conditioning training with different coaches, leading him to become one of the most watched defense players of his time. PBA fans will recall that he was drafted in 1988 when was just 23. But it only in his mid-20s that he realized how effective diets were for his career. “At 36 I was able to get close to where I was in my 20s,” he reveals. “I was taking better care of myself. It’s all about getting enough calories and rest.”
Experience also taught this hulk that changes in recovery levels can occur anywhere between their late 20s and early 30s. “I didn’t jump as high as I used to. That was kind of strange,” he recalls. To get back on his game. Ali hired new coaches to change up his workouts and steer his body away from familiarity.
Six years ago, Ali made headlines when reports surfaced that he was shot in the neck by an unidentified gunman. In an interview with ABS-CBN News (http://news.abs-cbn.com/sports/11/08/11/gunman-wanted-ali-peek-dead-police), Coach Chot said, “The bullet missed his spine by 1mm. It was a hairline away from his jaw and a couple of centimeters from a major artery”. Ali adds that his doctors said that his muscles helped slow down the impact of the bullet when it entered his body. “If I wasn’t in good condition, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation”, he reflects. Despite the incident, Ali managed to get back on the court in as little as two months. That same year, Ali made sure to always treat himself to the gift of health every holiday.
Even after retiring from the game in 2014, ball is still life for Ali. He’s now a sports analyst, a big man coach at the College of St. Benilde, and an entrepreneur. His athlete mentality still holds through his continuous workouts and healthy food choices—the same things that ultimately saved his life. Kudos to guys like Ali and Dr. Ben for putting health on top of their Christmas lists!
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Photographs from Sparta Philippines, Instagram.com/mtnpeek24, and Facebook.com/TheCityClubAlphaland