PERSONAL ESSAY: My Journey Back To Wellness

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 April) — What started out as a short Facebook post meant to inspire and encourage friends, eventually evolved into an essay narrating my journey the past few months. Although I was very hesitant to post this story(and some photosshowing ‘progress’) —  trying to avoid appearingvain and self absorbed — I pushed myself to share anyway, remembering thatI also found inspiration in my dear friends who took courage to share theirs. I hope this storywould also have that same effect.

I’ve consistently been having “wins” specially in the physical health aspect the past months:

I biked 22 kilometersper day (45 mins to one hour per way) the pasttwo days from Juna Subdivision in Matinato Microtel, Damosa and back (44kilometerstotal) on my rickety Japan-surplus folding bike carrying my backpack with laptop and several essential things.Of course I wore a helmet, have a bicycle bell “ringer” (serves as a horn), wore light blinkers (for evening rides) andbiked carefully. Despite the long ride(relatively long for newbies like me), I arrived ahead of time both days for the activity.

I’ve been doing intermittent fasting and biking around the city as transport for the past one month and one week. I’ve gone back to my regular Tibetan Rites (Physical Yoga)practicesince I started intermittent fasting. I’ve stopped hiring weekly house help and instead, have been doingdaily household choresmyself.

I’ve been sticking to my daily health routine: sufficientsleep,consistent sleeping and waking hours,balanced and mostly plant based diet(without the aid of weight-loss tea or protein shakes), enough hydration, regular meditation, healing and service the past months.

Ayyi Gardiola has been sticking to her daily health routine: sufficient sleep, consistent sleeping and waking hours, balanced and mostly plant based diet (without the aid of weight-loss tea or protein shakes), enough hydration, regular meditation, healing and service the past months.”

As a result, I’ve been working more efficiently and with a lot more focus and creativity.

If you knew how I lived the past decade, this is definitely a far cry from those days.

I’ve been struggling with maintaining a healthy weight since I graduated from collegeback in 2006.I went from being a very athletic person regularly playing basketball, practicing Aikido, Kali Eskrima (Arnis), doing mountainclimbing (you can invite me to climb Mt Apo the next day and I wouldn’t hesitate), wallclimbing, doing Tibetan rites daily, among others; having great strength, high stamina and endurance– to someone with close to no regular physical activity, physically heavy, feeling unhealthy, barely sleeping, eating a lot of takeout and junk food, feeling depressed from dealing with a lot of stresswithwork and life issues.

I had several attempts at regaining my old physical strength, healthy weight and endurance by going back to Arnis, joining dragonboattraining, trying out protein shakes and weight loss teas, trying different diets, using my bike as transport (I brought my old cruiser-mountainbike hybrid for daily transport when I was assigned in Iligan, Cotabato and Valencia, Bukidnon back in 2011-2013, and for sometime in 2014 while in Davao) but I never managed to sustain these due to various factors (and excuses).

Finally this year, I decided to kick this overly-used excuse called “busy” in the butt and prioritized my health and wellness by re-structuring my daily routine around these two.

Recent events helped push me to finally re-set my life:

Firstwas receivingalarming results from my general checkup with a homeopathic doctortwo months ago(no actual illnessBUT a heighteneddanger of developing certain illnesses such as diabetes and gallbladder stones, among others IF I continued living the way I was living).I was feeling tired most of the time, I was so physically heavy that my gait / walk was already affected, and I also had some recurring pains in different parts of the body. Right then and there, the doctor made me do a five-day full detox upon receiving my health assessment results. I also went straight from her clinic to another clinic to have my first-ever session with a chiropractor. Both doctors gave the same advise: I needed regular physical exercise, more sunlight, more hydration, enough rest and sleep, and a healthier diet. I immediately felt better after the chiropractic session and the five-day detox, but I wanted to sustain the progress and restore the body back to its optimum health.

Second was witnessing my friends– especiallyManila based LEAP 48council mate Carlo Angelo P Gonzalescrossing the finish line during the recent Alveo 70.3 Iron Man race here in Davao.He basically went from video gamer couch potato to triathlete in a little over a year, losing 105 pounds throughout the process. The regular #fitspirationposts of VeganDinosaur owner-biker-vegan-zerowasteadvocate Sahara Lara Casteeland peacebuilder-yoga instructor-surfer-zerowasteadvocateMeg Villanuevaalso greatly inspired me. Their posts alwaysdemonstrated how it is possible to stick to their health-fitness-wellness regimen and zero waste lifestyle no matter how busy or frequently on-travel they are. All three friends also reminded me of my physical capability andgreat love for sports and the outdoors.

Third, as someone training to be a proficient holistic healer(using Pranic Healing, a system of energy healing as my main healing modality), I knew I needed to walk the talk and serve as an example to people who would ask for support in their healing journey.Since I was a child, I have always been exposed to people who lived an overall healthy lifestyle. I grew up studying in an alternative school with zero junk food offered in its canteen, turned vegetarian at eleven years old out of my own volition inspired by my mother, was practicing meditation since I was eight years old, and always played sports and enjoyed being in nature.

However, through the years, I still let myself be influenced by school mates, work mates and society in general, succumbing to the pressure and illusion of the “necessity” of a harried, frenzied sedentary lifestyle that allegedly complemented meat-based, oily, salty, sweet, fast-food oriented eating under the overall theme of “being busy.” I always came up with excuses not to start doing things that I knew was best for me. I convinced myself that I didn’t have the ideal bike and matching high-end equipment to start long distance rides, I was always running after deadlines so I didn’t have time to prepare or find healthy meals, I have failed several times in the past so why bother even trying… the list of excuses went on and on.

However, the Higher Self (the part of me left UNINFLUENCED by negative belief systems that make me believe I can’t change) was already incessantly telling me that I needed to act immediately. Change was inevitable. Thebody was barely able to catch up and sustain all the great downpour and use of energy frommeditation, healing sessions and a generally full daily schedule. Practicing Pranic Healing and Arhatic Yoga wasvery crucial and instrumental in helping me heal andclear the energetic, psychological and emotional blocks hindering me from being consistent with all my goals (health, career, relationships, community worketc) and fully integrating the strong energies into my system. With the help of both, it became so much easier for me to stay consistent in all aspects of my life, since the body can better cope with all the processes.

The lastsignificant event that definitely pushed me forwardwas the series of stroke incidents and deaths of several young friends…they were only in their early fifties, forties, thirties and twenties.Of course we can say that basically their time on Earth was done and they lived a full life doing service…

BUT, since a visibly unhealthy lifestyle also contributed to their demise(heart attack, diabetescomplicationsetc), it got me thinking “I would do what I can to keep the body healthy, thriving and very capable of serving as long as possible, to help me live out my life purpose.”

Sooo… I finally did it! I’ve successfully re-set my life and already have loads of progress in a little over a month.

Consistency is key to sustainability, as in other aspects of personal life and society. I feel stronger, lighter, healthier, happier and have greater endurance, stamina and confidence. All the recurring pains have disappeared.

I’m more focused, organized and more diligent overall. These help fuel my daily efforts at maintaining my new healthand wellnessroutines.

I’d also like to give a shoutout to my fellow fitnessand spiritualbuddies, who are very positive, driven, consistent and supportive… Davaoenyo(as) Maverick Dave Cantillo, Debbie Joy Lumagod, Maya Flaminda Javellana Vandenbroeck, Gina Cembrano,Monica Ayala,Angie Maestrado,Nick Solanaand those from across the Globe: Christine Sumog-oy, Lorena Russell,Namrata Vishwanath, Gagandeep Singh Khuranaand Hakan Olgun(Burundi, the UK, India, India and Turkey, respectively). My deepest gratitude.

Everything starts with a single step. May you also be blessed with the Courage to begin, for your sake, for your loved ones, and those you strive to continually serve.POSIBLE!

[Mariel Andrea “Ayyi” V. Gardiola is a student of life, and a traveler. Born and raised in Manila with roots in the Northern Philippines (Bicol and Mindoro) she has the heart of a Mindanawon and considers Davao City (and Mindanao) as her home. Ayyi continues to explore paths to holistic healing, cultural renewal, inner mastery and community service as her means of giving back to the world. While working on setting up a social enterprise called “Adhika at Gawa Upang Umigpaw ang Salinlahi (AGUUS)” with fellow young development workers, she continues to work freelance with various organizations taking on various roles in peace and development work]

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