The Power of Three


Photo from Darling Magazine

Eat. Move. Sleep.

No brainer, right? This is Tom Rath’s formula on fighting cancer. Our problems, the slightest of our disappointments, seem to fade away in the view.

For Tom, time is of the essence. There is no room for unnecessary worries. Instead, he spends his precious days crunching the latest studies on how he can starve his tumors. It’s simply admirable how people like him afford to have the most formidable of spirits. After all, what can be his best weapon?

Such a staunch soul has given us the best knowledge there is – rightfully the obvious ones. Tom gave out to the world the arsenal of living a healthy life, embodied in his book, “Eat, Move, Sleep.” Tom’s odds of living longer are, of course, battered by cancer. In contrast, we have the stark capacity to change the fate of our genes dramatically.

Looking back, I didn’t put much thought in those three – I eat crap, barely move, and sleep less.

His book helped me change gradually. As with every habit formation, the first step is to know thyself. Our habits are deeply ingrained in us, so it’s imperative to take a step back, and see how we form our own. I took Gretchen Rubin’s test and found out I was a Questioner (you can take yours, too). Questioners meet inner expectations without fuss, but it has to make sense. Being a Questioner, I had these on mind:

  1. What are the benefits if I make it a habit to eat healthier? What If I do it long-term? For the rest of my life?
  2. What do I get from increased movement? How much time is enough?
  3. How much better will I feel if have enough sleep? Does sleeping more mean I’m going to miss out? Or my body will thank me more for it?

I needed to know the answers. So I tried. I eat, move, and sleep well. Suffice it to say, I got caught in the movement. And I never regretted it. Since then,

  1. I maintained my current weight. I have PDA (patent ductus arteriosus, a congenital heart disease), asthma and PCOS. Watching for my diet helped me avoid exacerbating my condition.
  2. I feel more energized than ever. Running for 20 minutes at an endurance level three times a week was liberating. Plus, it gives me tomato blush – it’s the best part (aside from feeling good inside).
  3. Because I run and walk most days, I have attained the best slumber of my life. I cannot trade that feeling for anything.

These are no maxims. No one size fits all. So it helps to ask ourselves what satisfies our interests and how these small changes make us feel.

Of course, going through a change can be challenging, given our differences. Still, at the end of the day, we have the best say on our time.

The thing is, the hardest part is already behind you. You may find yourself testing the waters for the first time after many planned attempts; then, to your surprise, end up being caught in it. Good for you.

As your habit takes shape, you gain muscle. It becomes automatic.

Take a moment to look at how you eat, move, and sleep. And see what you can change in each aspect, in small, concrete ways. Take note, though, that the three aspects have to work together. Because if you eat well, you’ll have the energy to move well. If you move well, it can help you sleep well, too.

I know. There are no shortcuts.  So slowly build on your diet, movement, and sleep. Guard against possible pitfalls. Create accountability, if necessary. Cherish baby steps. Small changes, when you add them up, can only make your life better.

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