“Cholesterol level dangerously high”

“You are at risk of a heart attack”

I was a walking time bomb ready to explode anytime because of my failing health.

I have hit rock bottom.

Fellow toastmasters, ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon:

I heard those lines after my annual medical exam. I was suddenly struck by the realization that I might die young. In fact I was dying slowly. It hit me hard.

I suddenly remembered my father.  Gone at the age of 45, exactly a month after hearing those lines from his doctor. We were devastated financially and emotionally. I’m nearing that age… the nightmare of dying young hit me hard.

In my desire to have a healthy body, I went through 3 attempts:

  • I joined a dragon boat team. The discipline of waking up early and rowing passionately at the Manila Bay came to a sudden stop when a flesh-eating bacteria got into a tiny cut in my leg. I was hospitalized for 5 days and spent P110,000.
  • I did juicing. It was working for some time but my mind was bombarded with thoughts of delicious food which my body was craving to take. On my third day, I splurged on a hefty serving of steak and mashed potatoes.
  • I attempted running. I would run every day until I felt a searing pain from my back down to my left knee. I ended up having slipped disks. It took weeks for me to recover.

Three attempts…three failures…They all hit me hard.

I was on the verge of giving up and let nature takes its course. I needed a rope to hang on, to get me back… Suddenly my eyes drifted to the pictures of the two most important people in my life.

  • Yuni- my 12 year old daughter. I want to provide the best for her and be with her as she goes thru her journey in life.  And should the right time come… walk her down the aisle and enjoy the company of my grandchildren.
  • Wanna- my life partner. We have been through life’s ups and downs. We knew how it was to be left by our fathers and saw how our mothers raised family as single parents.  I want to be with her until we grow old and grey…to experience life’s challenges and surprises together. I want to serve her, make her happy and love her…. forever.
  • Jake- yes I want to live my life to the fullest. I want to actualize my sense of purpose in helping others be the best they can be.  I want to provide for my loved ones and let them experience the things they have not experienced in the past.  I want to continue being amazed by what life is bringing me.

“Overweight”, “Cholesterol high” “At risk of a heart attack”.  These words shook me with such fear that I know I will not stop until I know I’ve done all I can to shift to be a healthy me – a life ensuring that I can be around longer.

Fellow toastmasters, in a world full of choices, let us always connect to our core being in consciously making and acting on decisions that really matter.  Be it in our health, in our career, in our relationship, let us be guided by our life vision and mission.

So where am I now?

I’m a work in progress. Regular exercises, right food and making each time count.

Fellow toastmasters, has anything hit you so hard that your world seemed to have fallen apart? Has anything hit you just as hard that your very life was threatened?

Don’t let it crush or devour you. Take a long honest look at what’s hitting you. Listen, act and do something before it destroys you. After all, whatever life throws at us, we can always hit back.

Contest chair.

Note: This speech was the one I delivered during the 2016 Division A Contest in the International Speech Category (where I ranked first runner-up). Thanks to my TM mentors for their continuous support and feedback –   Edith Garde, DTM; Ida Sih, DTM; Lavi Penaverde, ACG; and Mylene Bass, CC. Original Title was “HIT”.