It never fails.

Every time I hang out with people who have not seen me for quite some time, they always remark that I have lost a lot of weight and have become… leaner. I understand them, because from a high of 176 lbs. three years ago, I am now at 148 lbs.—a weight that I achieved a year ago—and it has practically stabilized there.

And I can say that I am now physically fit.

They would ask me why I decided to be fit. I would crack a joke by saying that I wanted to have abs like Derek Ramsay’s. But then again I tell them seriously that I was already “de-risking”: taking off the health risks associated with my lifestyle.

For starters, I am genetically predisposed to some of diseases. I’ve had relatives from both sides of the family get afflicted by—and die from–cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack; my mom is diabetic, and one uncle died of esophageal cancer.

Second, I was living an unhealthy lifestyle: unli-rice, bottomless soft drinks, fatty foods like chicharon and lechong kawali, drinking… and I was a smoker to boot ever since my early college days. I was 176 lbs. then for a guy 5’8” in height so I was overweight.

But what really made me decide to get fit was a visit to a house of a rich person: big house, nice cars—the works. Yet when I saw the owner, he was already confined in a wheelchair, paralyzed because of a stroke—and he is just at the prime of his age.

And then it struck me: no matter how rich you are, then you cannot really enjoy all of those wealth around you, much less live life to the full if you are not healthy. It got me thinking: how many years would he live just confined in the wheelchair, not enjoying life, nor running around, playing with his grandchildren, or going around hugging his loved ones?

Money doesn’t matter anymore. And I don’t think all the money in the world can bring him back from paralysis.

But of course, everything has a reason. Nonetheless, it could have been better had he still remained healthy and truly enjoy life. Health really is wealth. I mean, how can you enjoy all of your riches when you are just confined in a bed or wheelchair, paralyzed?

And I don’t want to be in such a situation—I want to enjoy my kids and my grandchildren and grow old with my wife, enjoying life fully. Moreover, how much would bypasses cost, not to mention hospitalization expenses, diabetes shots, medicines, etc.? Huge, most probably. And they would just all eat up my money. I mean, what’s the point of having all those money if you can’t enjoy it? Worse, you see it all go down the drain because of health expenses.

The old me

So I enrolled in a gym near our place, cut down my carbs and sugar intake, and quit smoking.

Changing my lifestyle was the hardest part: some were abrupt, but some were gradual. The abrupt one? I am a morning person, and I have to wake up early morning just to go to the gym. I love rice but I gave it up, albeit slowly.

From 1 ½ cups standard, I took it down to 1 cup for the first month, then down to ½ cup the second, then to no rice at all on the third. I really did not subscribe to any diet—I just ate sensibly. Sugar and carbs definitely went out: no pasta, no sodas, no juices, no cakes. And I took my coffee black.

Gym was thrice a week, and I run or jog over the weekends or in-between gym days. If ever there would be occasions that would entail eating more than the usual, I make it a point to offset the calories by not eating as much on the other meals of the day and/or jog. Of course there would be cheat days where I can have my cake or sweets, but the calories are offset in other meals or through physical activity.

So, from 176lbs, I went down to 148 lbs. in two years’s time—not drastic, but a gradual normalizing of my weight and body fat. From a 36-inch waist line, I am now at 31, and from XL I can now don Small size clothes—and can even get away with slim fit clothing.

But these effects are just icing on the cake. I guess the real takeaway for me is being healthy and knowing that I am at lower risk of contracting my predisposed diseases. It’s not a guarantee, but at least I may have bought some more time for to enjoy life with my loved ones, fully. And no money in the world can amount for that.


About the author
Rienzie Biolena, RFP® is one of the pioneering Registered Financial Planners in the Philippines. Apart from this profession, he is also a writer, speaker, and trainer on financial literacy. He is currently the CEO of Wealth Arki, Inc.