TOTAL FITNESS: Why LOVE is good for your health


NOTE: Published in this month’s TOTAL FITNESS Magazine. Grab a copy today!

***

Love, it seems, has immense therapeutic potential that inspires professionals to continue exploring ways in which to channel its benefits in promoting good health, longevity, and a fulfilled life. Where there is love, intimacy cannot be too far behind. And these two, put together, often bring healing, joy, and meaning to human lives.

1.  Being in a healthy relationship keeps you fit. Literally.

But before that, a caveat: Just because you consider yourself (finally) off-the-market on account of a relationship, it doesn’t mean that you have earned the right to let go as some men/women tend to do. Being in a healthy relationship means looking after each other’s needs and in doses that are non-detrimental. Keeping it to the physical aspect of romantic relationship: Did you know that the simple act of kissing can burn up to 28 calories, while up to 30 minutes of sexual activity can burn 85 calories – the equivalent of a small glass of red wine. This might not sound like much but a vigorous session can burn up to 200 calories, which is about the same as running for 15 minutes. Sex also works the core muscles in your legs, pelvis, bottom and abdomen and can boost levels of testosterone, which leads to stronger bones and muscles. So, next time you feel like opening that bag of Cheetos, grab your beau instead.

2.  Love is a potent stress-buster

Relationships – and especially marriages – might traditionally be seen as sources of stress but supportive, long-term relationship brings mental health and physical health benefits to both the man and the woman.  To prove this point, a study published recently by researchers at the University of Chicago found that men and women in happy relationships or marriage had lower levels of stress hormone cortisol in their bodies, indicating they had reacted less to the stress. In addition, happy and fulfilling relationships have also been linked to improvements in mental and physical health and longer life expectancy.

3.  Healthy relationships promote better immune system and can help reduce pain

It has been found that optimism and positive attitude boost immunity and people who are in love and cared for in return are naturally optimistic. Going further, some studies indicate that having (safe) sex once or twice a week lead to higher levels of an infection-fighting antibody called immunoglobulin A, or IgA. Having physical contact with another person, whether kissing, cuddling or having sex, promotes the release of the hormone called oxytocin – dubbed the “love hormone”. Aside from its relaxing effect on the body, oxytocin can also reduce anxiety and help numb pain by releasing endorphins.  To demonstrate this, scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine, launched a trial whereby patients suffering from chronic headaches were given a dose of oxytocin in the form of a nasal spray. Around half of the patients administered oxytocin said their headache pain had been reduced by half and a further 27% reported no pain after four hours.

4.  Healthy sexual relationships promote longevity

On the subject of longevity, many scientists believe that good sex and orgasm may be linked to higher life expectancy. In 1997 British Medical Journal, there was a study published which reported that men who had at least two orgasms a week had less than half the risk of dying from various causes over 10 years of follow-up than those with a lower frequency of orgasm. Meanwhile, other studies have suggested that sexual dissatisfaction is a predictor of the onset of cardiovascular disease.

5.  Love and marriage alleviate depression

It’s quite common to hear people complain about their significant others driving them crazy on many occasions, but what most people don’t know is that companionship actually tends to be good for mental health—especially for women. This is particularly true when it comes to depression, which is roughly twice as common in women. According to experts, depression is a very female expression of psychological distress and the benefit of marriage shows up in women in lower levels of depression. Marriage also appears to be a stabilizing force in women with bipolar disorder. Married bipolar women have fewer and milder depressive episodes than their never-married counterparts, but the same trend is somehow absent in bipolar men.

6. Financial Stability and insurance

Believe it or not, married people are more financially stable than their single counterparts.  By recognizing the fact that they now form part of a partnership, couples tend to become more conscious of their expenses, savings, and the pursuit of a comprehensive insurance for their family in the future. While worrying less about money certainly helps reduce stress and anxiety, financial stability also impacts health in a more concrete way, via access to health care. Marriage is associated with a hearty increase in the likelihood of having health insurance for both parties.

So, are love, relationship, and marriage good for your health? In general, as research and studies suggest, YES. People who are in happy and fulfilling relationships tend to live longer, have better access to insurance and health care, enjoy a more satisfying and exciting sex life, experience less stress, live a healthier lifestyle, and have lower rates of serious illnesses and depression compared to their single counterparts. Now, if you happen to be in a relationship and you don’t see or feel any of these, then it’s time to evaluate the situation and work on changing the course.

Thirty Three.


There comes a time in your life when you stop thinking about your birthday and I think I ceased obsessing about mine a long time ago. In fact, my birthday is the last occasion I would look forward to with excitement – not even a speck of it. Last year, though, was different. It was romantic and special because at one point after our dinner, C got down on one knee and with tears glistening in his eyes, asked me to be his wife…and I said yes!

Before that, my birthdays have all just been a haze of billowing cigarette smoke, fun, sidestitch-inducing moments of hilarity, and fifty shades of drunkenness – but there was no singular moment that really stood out. I think, perhaps, age has a lot to do with it: this mellowing out. The wanting to just be with a few people you feel most comfortable with. People who allow you to just be.

And that’s how I celebrated my 33rd, cruising Palawan’s famous subterranean river national park (aka Palawan Underground River), named as one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of Nature early this year, with Atche Noel, Jay, and C. We had to wait for hours on end to get on the boat that would take us on a 1.2 kilometer river ride inside the cavernous cave, but it was well worth it! I told C that in a way, we’re truly blessed to have traveled to a few places together despite living miles apart and having individual careers to manage. C and I may be poles apart in a lot of ways (and I’m obviously not just talking about our complexion, accent, and passports), but if there’s one thing we both love to do, traveling would be it.

After our Underground River adventure, we wanted to see more of Puerto Princesa and so the four of us decided to go to Isla Pandan and just chill before boarding the 5:30pm flight back to Manila on Sunday. At this point, we were ever so glad that the sun actually came out after a gloomy Saturday on account of tropical depression Ferdie that submerged some parts of the country in floodwaters, so we happily sunbathed until it started drizzling again shortly after noon. I had wanted to try stand-up paddling but there were only two boards and they were unavailable at the time of my asking.

Once back in Manila, I immediately threw myself into work as there are about a million and one things to be done still before  we fly to Jakarta for our biggest annual event on September.

Palawan for my birthday wasn’t such a bad idea. I wish I were more relaxed, though, but it was quite tough because my mind was just running at top-speed, almost nonstop, thinking about work and projects still sitting on my plate. In any case, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I had great Palawan memories – Kalui’ being one of them. Food and ambience are top-notch in this famous Puerto Princesa restaurant, you’d be crazy not to pay a visit when you’re in town. Meanwhile, those looking for fun live band entertainment can opt to hie off to Tiki Bar, where incidentally I spent the eve of my birthday sipping red wine and trying to make sense of one of the showband girl’s bad singing.

So this is it. I’m 33, all-woman, and soon-to-be bride/wife to the most loving, patient, understanding, (and a few more things) man I have ever known. And oh, incidentally, with zits the size of Jupiter I would put any acne-sporting 13-year-old to shame. I’m surprised that C can still look at me adoringly and call me mon amour even with these unsightly marks on my face. This really must be love.

Happy birthday, psychogirl.:)

TOTAL FITNESS: Conquer Your Relationship Slump


July 2012 Cover

Check the online version here:

***

Most, if not all, of us who have been in the dating scene for a while would know that there is no such thing as unbreakable, consistent winning streak when it comes to relationships. Often, it all starts out hunky dory until you get past the crux of the honeymoon stage, then things start spiraling down, and before you know it, it’s over.  And the process gets repeated in your succeeding relationships to a point that you feel you have officially struck out. This stage is what we call The Slump – the danger zone in which you begin to suspect that your unlucky streak might have already taken a permanent residence in your life.

Being in a slump is a terrible situation to get caught in. Not only does it give your dating resume an unpalatable feel, it also does some very weird things to your ego. Being unable to keep a relationship and make it last longer than the first season of Game of Thrones can make you feel insecure and incapacitated. Unless of curse, you don’t mind the label – which I highly doubt because at the end of the day, we all just want to love and be loved in return. Don’t we?

Your dating slump may feel like a terrible disease, but the prognosis is excellent. It is highly curable and with some work, you can just as easily get your groove back and maintain the upper hand. Here are some recommended courses of action:

Have a long hard look at yourself; do you still like what you see? In this case it could be you and not she or even the ones that came before. One failed relationship too many should alert you to something no longer caused by external variables you conveniently put the blame on the first few times. Evaluate yourself from your wardrobe, mannerisms, to where you typically go on dates. Analyze your attitude carefully and look out for glaring signs of self-fulfilling pessimism or intolerable self-indulgence as these could potentially ruin your chances of relationship success. How nicely do you carry out a conversation? Are you aglow with positivity or do you immediately launch on a barrage of complaints about the weather, traffic, and your evil boss and co-workers? Remember, the next time you have an opportunity to date someone new and actually start a relationship, be mindful of the ruts you keep falling into and make a conscious effort of avoiding them.

Don’t try too hard. Dating and going into a relationship is supposed to be fun, so let loose! Maybe you are simply trying too hard. Approaching each new date as though the long buffet cart is going to run out of food the first five minutes will freak anyone out so bad they’d be running towards the opposite direction – on a sprint pace. Don’t come off as uptight, overly serious, and emotionally fragile— too terrified of yet another strike out before the pitcher even takes the mound. I bet you’ve heard it said a bazillion times but ‘Relax. Take it slow.’ The journey to a relationship is not about winning or losing, it’s about having as much fun together as possible. Don’t obsess about your losing streak because it will show in the manner that you speak and conduct yourself.

Choose Carefully. It’s true that being in a slump longer than you’ve gotten accustomed to can really put your patience to the test. But you must also realize that willingness to wait for the right person to come along never stops being an essential element of your dating game. Do not swing wildly at anything or any relationship possibility that shows up in your orbit. Chances are, these may NOT at all be what you need in your life. Ultimately, your goal should be to have a good and fulfilling relationship and that usually takes time.

Listen Carefully. Everyone needs objective input now and then. We need to keep ourselves attuned to what our friends, co-workers, and family think about the state of affairs of our relationship. Even though, ultimately, the decision rests entirely on us, it helps to listen to our friends’ advice, opinions, and perspectives. If you’ve got someone whose insights you trust, listen carefully. There might be some things or behavioral structures that we tend to overlook which gets in the way of lasting and meaningful relationships. Most important, allies like this provide encouragement to press on and persevere until the slump is over. After all, it always pays to have friends as cheering squad when you’re feeling way down in the dumps.

One last tip: when you finally overcome your slump, invest a good amount of energy and commitment into making the relationship work and last. Best of luck!

TOTAL FITNESS: Secrets to a healthy relationship (And why you should know them)


Total Fitness May 2012

Relationships are a tricky business. Even with a thick manual on Do’s and Don’ts, a lot can still go wrong and you’re left wondering why, when you were pretty confident you followed every single ‘How To’ down to the last punctuation mark. This happens usually because most of the thoughts and sentiments of both parties are not conveyed verbally and it can get so cryptic at times that you would think mindreading really ought to be put down as a qualification for a potential partner.

So, really, what is deal here? Are there any more juicy secrets that men and women ought to know about each other to settle the stalemate once and for all? There are, in fact, a few secrets women wish men knew about them and men, too, have a list of what they want women to know. So how about we go through them quickly now?

She said:

  1. There are no secrets among us girls. We talk about everything, including sizes and embarrassing gaffes.
  2. We love men with an outstanding sense of humor. So make me laugh and that will make me happy, but being able to laugh at yourself and not looking so constipated-serious all the time; that, my man, is what will make me love you.
  3. Please listen to me when I’m saying something. Not because my statement will change the course of the world but because listening is a sign of respect. And respect just happens to add great value to how our relationship can eventually change course from being casual to serious.
  4. Always tell me when I look hot and try to bite your tongue when I just barely tip the scale of hotness to my favor. I’m only human and I have bad hair days, too. But you must know that I always want to look pretty for you, hence, the spa, mani-pedi sessions, shopping, etc. These activities I know you consider as frivolous, but let me tell you that the time to worry is when I stop making an effort.
  5. I love sex and yes it applies to days when you’re not around and I have to take care of business all by myself. I may be a suit-wearing corporate hotshot by day, but my mind is filthier than you might think. So allow me to run the night show sometimes and I guarantee you will be blown out of your mind.

He said:

  1. Men are turned-on by a challenge, NOT a chore.  We don’t like getting anything too easily, too fast. We want to work a little bit to get the woman we want. Instant gratification is cool when we are simply out for a play, but when we are serious we really mean ‘meet-my-family’ kind of serious.
  2. Men are not mind readers and we really need women to give us a bit of a heads-up, a hint here and there, to know exactly how to handle certain situations. Giving us the cold treatment will only cause us to fumble some more. You don’t even need to spell it out; just a hint will do because we are quite smart too.
  3. Guy time is an absolute necessity for us. We NEED time to bond with our buddies over sports, drinks, etc. Not for anything, but because it is healthy for us to develop and maintain good friendships and support systems in a highly competitive society.  This is not to alienate or isolate you and in fact, we will love you even more if you would also show some streak of independence and not demanding to be constantly together 24/7.
  4. Men love being wanted just for being who they are. Learn to simply bask in my presence and not only will you make me feel special, I will ensure that you will not nothing more when you’re with me.
  5. Men DO like it when women initiate sex. As seemingly crazy as we are about sex, we are impressed and pleasantly surprised when women are just as exuberant and sometimes take the initiative when it comes to sex.

By taking into account these suggestions, any woman can greatly enhance the way they communicate with the men in their lives, and vice-versa. Men desire to be understood just as much as women do; women desire to be listened to just as much as men want to dominate the conversation sometimes. And guess what? Both have a healthy appetite for sex and intimacy which when stoked, will certainly add spice to the relationship. With this in mind, any woman can always do her best to better understand her man; and any man would adore the woman who could apply such suggestions towards building a healthy relationship with them.

Paris Rendezvous.


In just a few hours, I will be with C in his home city/country. It’ll be my first time to meet his family and can I just say that I am a ball of shaky nerves right about now? In large part due to the fact that C and I haven’t seen each other for over a month and I’m traveling alone to a foreign country, a continent I’ve never set foot before. And of course, there’s the usual – and perfectly normal, might I add – mixed feelings of excitement and anxiety of meeting my fiance’s family. But they’re nice and sweet I’m pretty sure I’m gonna love them on sight – especially the kids! Speaking of anxiety, I am actually more worried about the weather. C told me it’s still pretty cold in Paris even though it’s spring and sunny during the day. This morning, he said, temperature was 8 degrees. If you know me, then you would know how absurdly low my tolerance is for cold temperatures. And being a tropical baby through and through, I am in perpetual summer mode – hence, my somewhat interesting fashion picks. If I could wear a bikini to work, I don’t think it’ll take much prodding for me to turn up one day in an animal print beach ensemble. I’ll make sure to wear bumblebee shades so no one would recognize me. hahaha.

Anyway, I’m about to board my next flight in a few minutes and really, there’s no better airport one could get stuck in than Changi. I just love, love, love this airport! Everything around here is shiny, pretty, clean, and there’s free wifi everywhere! Just now I wanted to test it by Instagramming while brushing my teeth in the loo but it being inappropriate, never mind that it can still be somewhat funny, I decided against pressing the ‘done’ button. I still am a lady, after all. *wink*

Soon, it’s Paris with my one great love. Can life be any more magical than this? Thank you Lord for the gift of love and commitment.

Travelbug fashion.
Livin' la vida loca.:)

 

Better Together.


Wow. The past two weeks in Malaysia just zoomed by it feels as though I merely blinked a few times and I’m home, once again behind the desk, trying to make heads and tails of the year 2012 and how I can make it even more grand than 2011 – in so many different facets of my all too-grown up world. I think I did pretty okay this year. I had a somewhat tumultuous start, which I attribute to my penchant for ambivalence and playing it safe when I should have been taking great risks; and doing the exact opposite when I really should have been more logical and pragmatic. At 32, surprisingly, I still sometimes fail to get it together. Oh I do appear to be in total control of the situation all the time, but 3 out of 10 – still not a bad fraction, if you ask me – I’m simply bluffing my uncertainties and inadequacies away.

And since 2012 practically has one foot planted firmly on that spot where 2011’s exiting foot should’ve been, I have an excuse for waxing nostalgic at midnight. Would you kindly indulge me? Oh never mind. You know darn well I would ramble on regardless. If I ever did great in anything this year, it would have to be on these three areas: Career, Relationship, and Personal Growth. I know it sounds too self-indulgent and perhaps it is, but from where I’m sitting, I have far less reasons to complain now than last year – or even the many years before. Or perhaps I have simply become more tolerant of disappointments – people and scenarios alike? Be that as it may, I’m still inclined to think Life has been kinder – generous in unquantifiable measure – to me.

My passion has not waned and my faith has grown stronger, thanks in large part to the people around me: the love of my life, my brother, some of the truly amazing people I work with (there are only a few of them I respect and love with such ferocity and I am truly grateful for the learning experience), and the few people I consider good friends. All of them, I must say, are worth so much more than their weight in pounds.

Especially you, C. Remember that song I told you would make a perfect march song? Thank you for turning out to be that one person I can say those words to – without having to conjure up some perfect image I know would only shatter at the slightest ripple.

As individuals, we are strong and capable, no doubt about it. But together, We. Are. So. Much. Better.