Wednesday, August 22, 2012


In the eyes of friends and colleagues, I'm a super health nut. They know I pump iron and yoga regularly. They've seen my lunchbox filled with wholewheat sandwich with loads of fresh vegetables and fruits. Most of them (if not all) think that I'm in a pretty enviable shape too. 

Indeed I do take care of myself pretty well. I hit the gym everyday after work, pound the park trail every Friday and log laps in the pool over the weekend as well as practice yoga twice a week. For my diet, I eat at home. I always stick to a simple, light and balanced meal. Muesli and fruit for breakfast and for dinner, normally a ham and cheese on brown bread with a lot of fresh greens. And always, a lot of fluid intake throughout the day, like 2.5 to 3L. 

So all in all I'm quite a fit guy (ahem, if I may say so), generally healthy. I must admit there were times that I felt absolutely invincible that I probably we able to live up to 126 or so. Recently I went for my annual medical checkup. When the report came back, I was somewhat expecting a clean bill on my health report. 

Surprise! Surprise!

First of all, I have a low red blood cell count. The doctor asked me if I had cut myself lately? Nope. Bleeding in the gum while brushing my teeth? Nope. Blood in the stool? Errr... Doc I don't look at my shit. Well, maybe I should. Then I asked what can I do about it. Diet? Meds? He told me there's nothing I can do about it. Just for good measure he threw in a "Don't worry you are fine!" bit. OK Doc, if you said so.

Then my 3-month blood sugar is on the high side. According to the report, my glucose control index was satisfactory control. And do not be fooled by that, considering it's just a rep up from poor control, which is the worst. Again the doctor was pretty cheerful and cool about it. He offered that since I was in Africa for the last 2 month, deprived of the sumptuous food from home, I must had been feasting like no tomorrow being home. That might have skewed the test therefore no exactly reflective. He assured me that I'm fine. While that made sense, dad was diabetic and it's in the family so I do need to watch out. 

And the biggest surprise of all, my total cholesterol in my lipid profile was right on the borderline. Say what??? Oh say it ain't so! How could that be possible. I stay away from fatty stuff (mostly) and I'm not a red meat fan. Even though there's no gym in Juba I'm still manage to exercise 4 times a week. So what's going on? I couldn't believe it. That's really threw me off the loop big time. 

The cholesterol result scared me shitless. All sorts of alarm bells ringing loud and red flags rising high. A more regimented workout plan must be put in place. So far I workout on my own in my room thrice a week, found a yoga place to practice twice a week and I run with the Hash group in Juba (Yes there's even a Hash House Harrier group in Juba) every Saturday evening. More importantly I must watch out on what I put in my body. No more sugary carbonated drinks, no more less red meat, no more high cholesterol food and more greens.

Then the restaurant at the hotel keep putting avocado in the salad. Damn I love avocado!

Oh temptations...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Eid Reflection

Last Ramadhan, I was wandering along the narrow streets of Lamu old town, a 14th century settlement with the Islamic culture still deeply rooted in the island life. The people are friendly and warm and open and generous andwelcoming, inviting me to join them for iftar by the river front, receiving me into their home on a hot Ramadhan afternoon and offering me a glass of cold water while they were fasting. 

This Eid Fitr, while you are celebrating with your family and loved ones, I wish that your reflection during Ramadhan bring you clarity, strength, wisdom and joy for the year throughout. I'll be reminiscing of the good times in Lamu and reflecting on the simple lessons of humbleness and generosity of the people Lamu taught me.

Eid Mubarak.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Patchy Addis Ababa

Flying over Addia Ababa on my way to Beijing. The patch work of a spectrum of lush green and dark blue and solid black on the ground just took my breath away. Isn't that just pretty?

Addis Ababa, patchy but not sketchy.