Watch your Food — Happiness of Zillions-Dollars-Worth-Machine — The Human Body

By Rana Sohail Ahmad

Hey Hans, are you certain you’re 82 years old?” Farooq asked between heavy breaths, his panting evident as he posed the question to Hans. Hans turned back and grinned, forging ahead on the rugged pathway toward the ultimate destination of our trek.

During our memorable 8-hour trekking expedition booked through Airbnb in Obstalden, Switzerland, I and Farooq were delighted to cross paths with Hans Anderson. He was a traveler, explorer, and adventurer who had previously worked for Ferrari in Maranello, where the company’s headquarters and main manufacturing facility are located, just approximately twenty minutes away from his home in Bologna, Italy. Despite his advanced age, he consistently led the way during our trekking adventures, while Farooq, in his twenties, consistently bringing up the rear in our group. Upon reaching the ultimate destination, our tour guide Anna thoughtfully arranged steaming coffee in a flask. Despite the chilly air at the summit, the sight of the serene lake, the lush green valley, and the Alpine mountains in the backdrop took our breath away. The stunning beauty of the scenery magically dispelled all our fatigue. Savouring the moment, we delighted in our coffee, all while Anna informed us that we had thirty minutes before our descent journey would commence.

“Hans, I’m curious, how do you manage to stay so fit and healthy in your eighties? I couldn’t keep up with you despite being much younger.” Farooq inquired with a hint of concern.

“Farooq, perhaps it’s because your body isn’t Happy,” Hans responded calmly. “Your Body Mass Index (BMI) appears to be on the higher side, meaning your weight is proportionally more than it should be for your height.

   Without delving into extensive medical tests, your BMI suggests that your body might not be as content as it could be. Let me draw an analogy to illustrate: imagine two cars of the same model and brand—one is clean and well-maintained, while the other is dirty and greasy. At a glance, without inspecting their engines, you’d likely assume that the dirty car might perform less efficiently than the clean one, right? Carrying any extra weight constantly can make your life more challenging in various ways. Consider the Tour de France cycling event, where managers and cyclists invest thousands of dollars to shave off tenths of grams from their bikes, all in pursuit of the slightest advantage for winning.” Hans paused, taking a sip of coffee before elaborating further. 

“Hans, I work in IT services with an incredibly stressful job environment, filled with the pressure of creativity and tight deadlines. I struggle to find time for exercise, and sometimes, I can’t even manage to eat properly; I often resort to ordering from fast-food chains just to save time. You’re fortunate to be retired and able to prioritise your health with exercise and mindful eating,” Farooq responded with a note of distress in his voice.

“I used to work for Ferrari as the manager of Formula One events. You cannot imagine the stress and pressure we had in our lives all across the year. It’s not just about time and stress; it’s about priorities. Okay, tell me, Farooq, what is the most expensive piece of equipment you use in your office for your job?” Hans asked gently.

Farooq replied thoughtfully, “Hmm, we have IBM’s Enterprise server in our office. The exact price is known by our Head Office, but I believe it’s not less than half a million USD. Personally, I use an Apple MacBook Pro 15, which cost me more than 2500 USD.”

“What if I told you that you are utilising another machine for your job, worth zillions of U.S. dollars—far more costly than your IBM server and MacBook combined? It is your own body. This extraordinary machine is not just a tool for work but also serves your pleasure, leisure, family time, and those moments of personal rejuvenation.

    While our company Ferrari sells cars worth millions, with the 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO reaching a reported $70 million in 2018, only one function of your body is priceless, surpassing even the valuation of Ferrari. Consider the simple act of blinking your eyes, if someone loses this ability, no factory on earth can replicate a machine that blinks an eye; even if one were willing to pay $100 million in advance, it’s an irreplaceable function. Just as you meticulously care for your $2,500 MacBook to prevent physical damage, viruses, or malfunctioning, employing only Apple’s hardware and software while following their guidelines, isn’t your own body, worth far more, deserving of the same, if not greater, care? I told you it is all about the priority and understanding the actual worth of your body.”

“Picture yourself as the owner of a Ferrari 812 Superfast, a vehicle worth half a million USD. Now, imagine if I offered you a free supply of inferior quality fuel—would you use it for your car?” Hans sought to illustrate his point in detail.

   “Would you willingly take your Ferrari on bumpy roads? And, when it comes to maintenance, would you excuse yourself for not finding the time to take your car to the service center for essential oil changes and other maintenance, as outlined in the Ferrari manual? I am confident that you wouldn’t use the excuse of a lack of time, even if you owned a car worth just 10,000 USD.”

Each one of us, including Farooq, wore a smile. We were all now fully engaged, attentively listening to the insightful discourse by Hans.

“You all are very young, actively building your careers for the sake of your current and future economic well-being. However, I want to emphasise that by neglecting your health, you jeopardise not only your personal current and future economies but your family’s financial situation, your company’s growth, and, on a larger scale, your national economic prosperity.

    It’s not just about the longevity of life; it’s about leading a healthy and happier life, regardless of the number of years you live. While you can’t change your DNA, neglecting your diet and lifestyle may lead to relying on pills or undergoing surgery at some point. The economic and psychological impact of having a chronically ill family member can have far-reaching consequences for the entire family. Isn’t it?”

Hans, you have motivated me to start walk or gym sessions daily once I am back. However I cannot change my food habits, I just love pizza and burgers.” Farooq exclaimed, enthused by Hans’ words.

“Farooq, it’s crucial for you to consider changing your food habits,” I interjected in the conversation. “It’s similar to joining a Health Regime where, like becoming citizen of a country, you commit to abiding by all the bylaws outlined in the constitution of this regime. This involves maintaining a balanced diet, incorporating daily exercise, ensuring good sleep, and managing stress effectively. What are your thoughts on this, Hans?”

“Absolutely, I like the term Health regime, well said, Sohail.

   We have to enter into the Health Regime by taking an oath to adhere to all the bylaws and standard operating procedures (SOP) of the human body as outlined in the manual,” affirmed Hans with smile. 

“Balanced diet is so very important for your body even if you take extreme care of all other matters. Let’s take the analogy of Car again.

  Even if you meticulously maintain your car with the manufacturer’s service center and follow the manual, using inferior quality fuel can significantly impact the engine’s lifespan and fuel efficiency. In the same way, consuming an imbalanced or poor-quality diet can affect the overall health and efficiency of our bodies. It’s essential to provide our bodies with the appropriate “fuel” in the form of a balanced and nutritious diet for optimal well-being. You must provide the right fuel according to the engine’s requirements, not based on personal preferences or favouritism.

   Just as you wouldn’t use Benzina Super Gasoline in a diesel engine vehicle simply because you like it.”

Much like the importance of fuel quality, the quantity of fuel is equally critical. If the calibration of the electronic fuel injection system in your car is inaccurate, leading to an excess supply of fuel in grams per second, it can result in reduced fuel efficiency, increased emissions, the accumulation of carbon deposits, and a compromised engine lifespan.” Hans being Car enthusiast once again tried to explain things from the perspective of car’s engine.  “The only solution for such a car condition is to use the appropriate fuel in the exact quantity; otherwise, you’ll keep visiting the mechanic without a permanent solution.

   Similarly, our food should be balanced and appropriate according to the body’s requirements, with its quantity accurately aligned with the necessary calories. Poor quality or excessive amounts of food lead to the surplus accumulation of fat, overworking the pancreas and liver, and causing mitochondrial dysfunction. This, in turn, can contribute to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, cancer, and chronic illnesses that doctors may struggle to treat. The fundamental remedy in such cases is to watch and regulate your food intake carefully.”

“Hans, now the conversation is getting a bit technical, let’s make it simple.” Anna intervened, “My Nepalese Zen teacher told me once that our body is like a temple where our true self resides as a master. Therefore, we should keep our place of worship clean and tidy for the sake of our Master.”

“Thank you so much, Hans, for providing such clear explanations, bringing to life what we’ve read in books with your insightful analogies,” expressed Farooq, feeling genuinely grateful. “I’ve gathered from our discussion that balance is the key ingredient for the happiness of the body. It involves a balanced diet with the right amount of food—neither too little nor too much—striking a balance between work and rest, ensuring good sleep, and maintaining an active lifestyle with an appropriate amount of exercise. A healthy and happy body sets the stage for success in the various chapters of life, be it in career, family, society, or me-time.”

“Alright, everyone, time to move. We need to head back to our town before sunset,” Anna announced, standing up as we began collecting our coffee cups. “After today’s discussion, I’m inspired to start watching my food, and I encourage you all to please watch your steps on the way back, as the descent is a bit steep.”

With a collective laugh, we embarked on our journey back to town, enjoying the camaraderie and the lessons shared during our trekking expedition. PAK DESTINY

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