Some say the “three highs” is an illness of affluence - the richer one gets, the greater risk one has. Well, could you still stay light-hearted if you’re told that you have the three highs after your body check? Or will you be overwhelmed, worrying that your strict diet would cut you off from plain rice forever?
We have invited Emily Li, AXA Chief Employee Benefits and Wellness Officer, to share with you how she dealt with the three highs and what she came across while changing her lifestyle. Be it a three-high patient, a marginal case or a regular folk, anyone who pursues the same healthy life as her will find her story inspiring and useful.
The middle-age dilemma – body check
The Thematic Household Survey Report No. 74 (2021) published by the Census and Statistics Department* shows that around one in every ten Hong Kong people had high blood sugar, and one in every ten adults had high blood pressure. The three highs are not uncommon these days.
Emily is one of the three-high patients. Initially, she mistook symptoms like headache and head tension as the results of work stress and didn’t pay much attention to them. Only after an extensive body check did she realise she had high blood pressure and blood sugar.
“It’s pretty normal for the middle-aged to worry about their health, and each check-up just comes with uneasiness. Even though I have a mild case and I didn’t feel it’s the end of the world, I was a bit down and worried that I would develop diabetes.”
Like many people, Emily used search engines for advice and studied three-highs information non-stop. “I kept searching online to console myself that my situation was not that bad. But in fact, I was procrastinating. After all, you just have to make changes to your lifestyle when your body acts up, like cutting back on your favourite food and doing more exercises. But being persistent is difficult.”
Medicine is not the best treatment
At last, Emily plucked up the courage to meet her doctor and looked for solutions. In general, doctors would suggest patients taking medicine to put the situation under control. Hers did it differently. “My doctor asked if I really wanted to start taking medicine forever. I was only in my mid 40s!” she recalled. Medication, she believed, was not the way out.
“Only taking medicine is also procrastination and not tackling the problem at the root. It’s meaningless to eat out recklessly and come home to take medicine. To control our blood pressure and blood sugar levels, we should start with changing our daily habits.”
Emily began combating the three highs by means of diet and exercise, as she remarks, “by now, all I can do is to keep the medication intake to the smallest possible amount and postpone the increase of dosage. By changing my lifestyle, I hope I can stop the problem before it gets serious.”
Keep a balanced lifestyle
Emily (wearing a light blue shirt in the photo below) admits that she loves eating rice. “It’s like I haven’t eaten anything if I don’t have rice for lunch. Now, I’ll have second thoughts even when ordering drinks, and go for sugar-free coffee and lemon tea. I can’t avoid business meals and eating out with my family, but I limit that to three times a week, and eat light at other times. In fact, you won’t lower your living standards if you keep everything in balance.”
She studied different diet plans, including the 16:8 intermittent fasting, and found that self-control matters most. “It’s really painful to go on a diet alone, as there are times when we become feeble-minded. Just imagine your friends savour every bite in front of you. Isn’t that a torture?”
Instead of eating healthily on your own, she suggests inviting family and friends to join in, to support and remind each other. “I may give in if some desserts caught my attention. But I would get back on track right away if I had someone next to me to stop me.”
Stay together, stay stronger
A healthy diet and regular exercises go hand in hand with improved levels of blood pressure and blood sugar. To this end, Emily formed an exercise group with her colleagues. “We go running or hiking every week, and since we share the same goal of improving our health, we enjoy it very much and won’t give up easily”, she added.
In the past, she was out of breath after walking up the stairs. Now, she hikes wearing a smile on her face just like her groupmates. Taking reference from their personal experience, she and her team have also come up with an all-round health plan to support three-high patients through dieting, exercising and regular check-ups.
“I do understand people will be at a loss the moment they are diagnosed with the three highs. But hiding it from the doctor is the last thing you want to do. You need to take action to make changes in your lifestyle. My experience tells me that seeking help from professionals is as important as self-discipline in pursuing health, simply because things work better when you have others!”
Change your lifestyle for better health
Staying healthy should be a daily practice and lifelong goal. To make sure we get there worry-free and are not combating alone, we need a team of experts to take care of every detail along the way.
This is why Emily and her team are promoting AXA's BeOnTrack which helps us set our personal health goals, and develop a lifestyle that benefits our whole life. It allows you to make appointments with professionals, including your family doctor, nutritionist and personal trainer, via the app Emma by AXA. Based on your physical condition and needs, they will customise a bespoke 365-day health solution to control your weight and levels of blood pressure and blood sugar, offering you continuous support to become a BetterMe.
Obesity and the three highs, as Emily always remarks them, are not something we should be over-worried about. As long as we stay determined and on track with our goal of a healthy lifestyle, changes will come and results will be visible.
The above content is reviewed by Ms Emily Li - Chief Employee Benefits and Wellness Officer of AXA Hong Kong and Macau.
Information and materials provided is general in nature and does not constitute medical or health advice from AXA Hong Kong and is on an “as is” and “as-available” basis without representation and/or warranty of any kind, either express or implied. While AXA Hong Kong has taken reasonable care in providing such information and materials, they are not specific to your investment objective, financial situation, health or medical conditions or particular needs. No warranty or responsibility is assumed by AXA Hong Kong and our related or holding companies regarding non-infringement, security, accuracy, completeness, adequacy, reasonableness, fitness for a purpose or free from computer viruses in connection with the information and materials provided. AXA Hong Kong and our related companies and holding companies do not accept any liability for any loss, damage, cost or other expense, whether wholly or partially, directly or indirectly, arising from any error, inaccuracy or omission of the information and materials to the extent that such liability is not excluded by law.
BeOnTrack is a lifestyle change programme helping you build healthy new routines that could last a lifetime. Accompanying every step along your health journey, our expert trio supports you with personalised health, nutrition and fitness advice, in conjunction with our digital health platform, enabling you to be a BetterMe with a better life!