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mercredi 22 août 2012


Currently Lifestyle changes as a remedy is being touted all over the world, in print and visual media. To such a degree that, every one knows that if you eat right and exercise regularly you can ward of the diseases of “civilization”: obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. For the first time in history, the emerging free market economy countries have taken their historic counterparts in the number of people having these “new diseases of civilization”.
It is interesting to dig up medical literature to read research and epidemiological papers written in the early 1990s, in each and every country in Asia and South Asia, the prevalence of these diseases were very low compared to then prevalence in the west and in fact, they were referred as the Western Diseases, or the Diseases of the Rich. Rather than entire countries becoming rich, there has been a rapid increase in the economic prosperity and I feel that it is that rapid increase that has caused the sudden onset of these “western diseases” in the Eastern Bodies.
The advice given to ward off this pan Asian endemic, the advise given: eat right and exercise can be metaphorically compared to a poor man going to see a bank manager and asking him: I would like to be rich, what is your advise?
The current health advise regarding Life Style Changes to ward off western diseases is akin to the Bank Managers answer:  Save More and Spend Less.
Those of us, who are involved in counselling patients and friends regarding their health, have to begin with ourselves. If you are Asian, please make sure that your Body Mass Index is less than 23 kg/m2. To obtain BMI, divide your weight in kg by your height in metres twice. I am 174 cm tall and 69.0 kg in weight, and my BMI is less than 23 kg/m2. I would like to see the BMI reduced to 21 or 22, and how would I go about it?
This is where the experiences in Indonesia and France come in.
After long conversations with my good friend Pak Joe in Bogor, and with non judgemental advise from him, I began walking each and every morning as soon as I woke up. I took his advice to walk briskly for the first few weeks and then increase the speed to running. The ideal body weight for me would be around 64 or 65 kg and I hope to achieve it before I meet up with Pak Joe again in Bogor in the near future.
How do I plan to do that?
In our discussions and also in my discussions with my facilitator in Yogic Philosophy in KL, it was clear that without a change in the mind, body would not follow your desires. Here the yogic philosophy comes in very handy, and I highly recommend people to learn something about Kleishas or structural defects of the mind and learn to control them with your action and words. 
(spending time with good friends can help you reduce your Kleishas or Structural defects of the mind)
Once that is in the process, exercises in whatever form (I have chosen one hour of brisk walking as I am not very fond of Yogic Asanas, but they will be quite suitable as well) would bring immediate results.
That is the gift I received in Indonesia.
(while I am considered THIN when I am in the USA, I could see that I am the FATTEST than all of Pak Joe's managers! I promise to join their THIN ranks by my next visit to Bogor, Indonesia)
Of course, Exercise is something we do for a very small part of the waking hours, while the philosophy of that change would accompany us all through the day. This will include our eating habits. And the fact that we do spend more time preparing and eating than many other activities in our daily life.
This is what I have learned from the French.
They sit down to eat
Each meal is prepared fresh, there are rarely left overs or doggy bags at the restaurants
Junk Food and Carbonated beverages are given the low rung in the nutritional hierarchy, the level they deserve.
Eat with your friends or family whenever you can. This social support is vital. Also while eating, do not do anything else, such as watching TV or checking your email. If possible, engage in a conversation.
Do not overeat.
With Pak Joe’s encouragement in person and through letters and the facility afforded to me in France, in a very short period of time, I am on my way to achieve the goal set for me: daily exercise and sensible eating.
He has converted many people to his philosophy and the beneficiaries are on the increase. Just this morning one of his managers sent me the latest measurements of a group of his managers. 6 of them had lost 70 kg in total since they began this programme and are able to keep away the weight.
BMI are between 21.5 and 23 kg/m2
The systolic blood pressures are between 100 and 120 mm hg
The diastolic blood pressures are between 66 and 80 mm hg
The pulse rates per minute are around 65; the only one at 80 per minute is a smoker!
Fasting Blood sugars are below 90 mg/dl and random blood sugars after breakfast are below 120 mg/dl.
Pak Joe and his friends have achieved their goal of loosing weight and keeping all “western diseases” at bay by a combination of social, cultural and facilitative methods. Pak Joe allows his managers time to engage in health related activities up to about 3 hours per working day! And he is present in person and spends the communal eating times to talk about compassion and emotional health.
Any programme, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, would be proud of such results. We have to find ways to propagate this anthropologically based social programme that would bring health and happiness to larger groups of people.
In the meantime, I spent all of yesterday afternoon at Thalassa, which is a French invention of Body Care. In a building overlooking the relentless waves of the Brittany coast, special building hosts various water related body relaxations, always using warm seawater pumped and heated up. One goes from one station to the next and various types of water pressure exerts its action on various types of muscle groups. It is like having a three-hour total body massage but it is done by warm seawater and not by any masseuse. The end result is an extreme relaxation of the body. It also gives time for the mind to relax.
(outdoor Jacuzzi at Thalassa in Quiberon, Brittany, France)
The dinner afterwards consisted of steamed artichokes, which is a delicacy in Brittany, dipped in a special butter and onion sauce. You suck on the bases of the leaves and in the end also cut up the heart of the artichoke. It is an extremely healthy food in every way possible. A fresh piece of bread and a glass of two of white wine were the accompaniments, not mentioning the pleasant company.
Thanks Indonesia and France for such enduring gifts and I am glad to be associated with Pak Joe and his gang in Bogor and grateful for the care and 
affections in France.
(Artichoke a delicacy in Brittany, it is grown all around the Mediterranean basin, and imported to california by european immigrants)
(to be differentiated from Jerusalem Artichokes which is native to North America and form a part of the traditional diet of many Native American Indians)
(many UmonHon Indian elders know when and where to collect these plants and their use)