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The UAE Fitness Challenge: Unlocking your healthier self

The United Arab Emirates is now on the forefront of encouraging its residents to take part in this year’s Fitness Challenge. We’ve asked experts and health enthusiasts how they can help Filipinos change their perspective on prioritizing their health and wellness.

Working abroad presents unique challenges for Filipinos, with varying work hours, unpredictable weather, and the emotional strain of being far from home, putting the physical and mental well-being of OFWs at risk. As OFWs, we leave our families behind in pursuit of better opportunities to support our loved ones. However, it is crucial for us to prioritize our health and well-being while navigating the challenges of living abroad. As the saying goes, “Di tayo pwedeng magkasakit. Katawan natin ang ating puhunan sa pagtatrabaho” (We can’t afford to get sick. Our bodies are our capital for work).

In line with the UAE government’s initiatives to promote a healthier lifestyle among its citizens and residents, The Filipino Times is here to guide you on how to actively participate and make your well-being a priority.

Just last week, the Dubai municipality launched its annual 30×30 fitness challenge. This month-long event celebrates health, fitness, and overall well-being, urging participants to dedicate 30 minutes to exercise every day for 30 days. This initiative, led by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, aims to inspire individuals to adopt a fitness-centered mindset and lead active, healthy lives.

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai

“Dubai is a city that recognizes the importance of physical, mental, and social well-being, continually striving to offer opportunities for an active lifestyle to everyone. All it takes for you to succeed is a steadfast commitment to enjoy 30 minutes of activity for 30 days. I challenge each and every one of you to embrace your fitness journey and make a positive change in your life. Together, let’s make the UAE the most active country in the world.” – His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai

Challenge accepted?

Dr. Daffodils G. Guevarra, a dedicated General Practitioner and the Branch Manager of Prime Medical Center Reef Mall Branch in Dubai, has made it her personal mission to champion health and fitness for her patients. Having undergone a remarkable fitness transformation herself, she now inspires her patients to recognize the current state of their health and lifestyle and understand that positive change is within reach.

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Before and after photos of the fitness transformation of Dr. Daffodils Guevarra

“Over the years, I have noted an increase in the number of patients having lifestyle diseases – hypertension, diabetes, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), and different kinds of cancers. Clearly, these are the health effects of years and years of poor food choices, lack of regular exercise, smoking, stress. While Filipinos have started to become more active in sports and physical activities here in the UAE, we still have a long way to go in terms of adopting healthier eating habits,” said Dr. Guevarra in an interview with The Filipino Times.

Dr. Guevarra emphasized that these lifestyle diseases are preventable and accepting the challenge of sticking to the basics or foundation of living a healthy life is the start to bringing back a healthier version of you.

“We can reduce our risks of acquiring these diseases by living healthier lives – Cutting down on carbs and sugar from meals, getting adequate good-quality sleep everyday (7-9 hours per day for adults), engaging in regular exercise at least 4 times a week. Smokers should really try to stop smoking at the earliest, and for those who are overweight, weight loss is highly recommended. Also, having your annual wellness checkup with your doctor is good, as your doctor can have you tested, and your medical issues can be addressed at the soonest possible time,” she added.

Don’t wait until it’s too late

For Glenn Patrick O. Lance, an OFW based in Dubai, the turning point in his health journey came when he received a hypertension diagnosis and realized his vulnerability to illness in 2019.

“I had no idea I already had hypertension. Soon, I realized the importance of returning to a fitness routine. Every day, I combined exercise with proper nutrition,” Lance revealed.

He worked diligently to maintain a healthy lifestyle, eventually achieving a physique that even allowed him to participate in a bodybuilding competition. Among his personal fitness strategies are prioritizing sufficient sleep, avoiding junk food, and eliminating vices.

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Glenn Patrick O. Lance, Dubai-based OFW; We freight Logistics

“My advice to fellow OFWs is to limit their vices like drinking and smoking. I’ve come to realize that the consequences of these habits catch up with you as you age, and it’s only then that we fully comprehend the impact,” Lance stressed.

Lance also underscored the importance of mindful dietary choices and cultivating the right mindset as essential components of embracing wellness.

“For us OFWs, work is a constant part of our lives. Personally, I draw strength from my faith in the Lord. That’s why we should pray for protection, good health, and provision. Additionally, avoid negativity and stress, as anger and stress can affect us as we age due to changes in our hormones. Our emotional well-being is impacted by this. Be spiritually grounded and don’t rush things,” Lance advised.

Unlearn and unlock your healthier version

According to UAE-based Life Coach Wandalyn Tan-Calupig, the path to a healthier self begins with a shift in perspective, particularly when it comes to our relationship with food. She emphasizes the importance of understanding our beliefs and their impact on our physical health.

In her practice, she often encounters individuals, including herself, who harbor feelings of guilt and apprehension even before indulging in a treat. Tan-Calupig advocates for a change in mindset, urging individuals to replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations regarding their metabolism and the body’s ability to metabolize what they consume.

“It’s really not only about what you eat, but it’s about the thought about what you eat that makes you fat. If you believe that eating that small chocolate will make you gain weight, it will. So, you have to be careful about the thoughts that you need as you eat the food,” said Tan-Calupig.

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Wandalyn Tan-Calupig, UAE-based Life Coach

Moreover, Tan-Calupig’s approach extends to stress management, as she believes that stress often leads to unhealthy eating habits: “Remember, a lot of our stress eating is because of the stress that we face every day.”

To address this, she equips her clients with mind tools and techniques, such as journaling and meditation, to manage stress effectively: “My clients have understood other ways to manage the stress, be it journaling, meditation, and many other mind tools and techniques that can immediately help them do something other than stress eating to manage their health.”

For those on a journey to wellness, Tan-Calupig reminds us that building healthy habits takes time: “Generally it will take 90 days or more for people to build the habit and disrupt it.”

She underscores the importance of making a conscious decision and consistently taking action to bring about positive change: “So reversing obesity (or being unhealthy in general) is, number one, a decision, and it’s also about taking consistent action to make it happen.”

In the end, the journey to a healthier version of oneself is all about unlearning old beliefs and adopting a more positive and nurturing mindset. Now, you decide, are you ready to make that happen?

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Justin Aguilar

Justin is a Senior Assistant Editor and Content Producer at The Filipino Times. She was a TV News Reporter for ABS-CBN News, where she covered news stories and reports for TV and radio programs such as ANC, TV Patrol World, Umagang Kay Ganda, Bandila, and DZMM Teleradyo. She enjoys capturing people’s hearts by highlighting the excellence of Filipinos in her stories and bringing the latest updates to both OFWs and global readers of The Filipino Times. Want to share your story? Reach Justin on Facebook: www.facebook.com/justinaguilar.nerona or send your story at: [email protected]

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