article banner
From Where We Sit

Always a winning investment

Paz Malubay

My husband once quipped, “An investment in health is always a winner.” This comment seems to paraphrase the principle advocated by famous motivational speaker John Maxwell, who said that leaders who are already generally driven and result-oriented, must invest in their health so they can give their best at all times and have enough energy in their work. To Maxwell, eating healthily, exercising regularly and resting sufficiently are a must. He wrote that our health determines our quality and quantity of life.

I, and a lot of other people who are usually white-collar employees, can relate to what Maxwell has written. Nowadays, you may see a large number of people jogging and walking briskly around the parks in the Makati Business District, in BGC, in Alabang and even in your neighborhood. More and more people participate in fun runs, which have suddenly proliferated across the country.

Noticeable also are people who are very conscious about what they are eating, about their diets. This gave rise to another phenomenon—the delivery of diet meals to employees. Chefs and entrepreneurs are hitching on this bandwagon.

I, on the other hand, work out in a gym every morning and I always watch what I eat. When I was younger, I never thought that I would need to eat well and do regular exercise. I ate what I wanted without paying attention to my health. I relished eating chicharon, chips and other salty and oily foods. Also, I then would rather take a nap, sleep or do other things than exercise.

Moreover, when I was a young manager, I could work from Monday to Sunday, more than eight hours each day. I had no time to relax or recharge. For me, vacation was to take a day off to attend the school activities of my child or a very important family matter (Thus, when I was promoted to a new position, I also lost my earned vacation leaves of more than 100 days).

It never occurred to me that I will reap the mindless consequence of not investing in my health early on—I had an open heart bypass at the age of 45.

This life-altering event led me to this new-found determination to undergo regular exercises, follow a strict diet and have ample rest and sleep. I realized that all these activities require grit and discipline. Eating healthy requires self-control. You need to be determined to stay in the chosen diet that suits you.

For the required exercise, many experts suggest that a 30-minute physical activity for most days of the week or four times a day in a week is the least that we should have. For the desirable rest, enough sleep is very important.

In one of my consultations with my nutritionist, she told me that I needed to have seven to eight hours of sleep a day.

But how does one keep the determination and discipline for all these, short of not having a heart bypass? I know friends who started their jogging regimen but failed to sustain that activity. Some even eagerly bought their fitness trackers to monitor their health activities when they started.

In a recent article in Time magazine, scant academic research found that wearable fitness trackers did not alter behavior over a long term. When these fitness trackers were introduced to the market, there were expectations that giving people access to their health data would encourage them to exercise more, eat better and generally keep fit. Apparently, these are seen as apps or devices but not as strategies to alter people’s behaviors.

Changing people’s behavior is the key. However, changing behaviors does not happen overnight; it happens after an extended period of time. There must be determination and discipline. Studies show that exercise and related health activities must start with a goal that is specific and realistic. It should be achievable so that the goals can then progress to an advanced, and yet sustainable, level.

My goal is simple—I want to enjoy life more, in an active and healthy manner. So, join me. Let us keep our body healthy not only for our work but also for our family. Let me also mention that as physical health is important, spiritual health is equally important. I strongly believe that having a healthy body should also include mind and spirit.

May we not regret later where we put most of our investments. We may have a beautiful house, a fleet of expensive cars and lot of savings in the bank; but if we do not have a healthy body to enjoy them, what is the use of all those things? Let’s invest wisely. As my husband said, investment in health is always a winner. And husbands know best.

Paz Malubay is a partner of P&A Grant Thornton and executive vice president and managing director for payroll at P&A Grant Thornton Outsourcing Inc. P&A Grant Thornton is one of the leading audit, tax, advisory and outsourcing firms in the Philippines, with 20 partners and over 800 staff members.

As published in The Manila Times, dated 23 November 2016