Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Health’

Clear your head by cleaning your house

April 25, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Health, Psychology No Comments →

Migraine illustration by Dave Cutler

I spent all of Sunday in bed with a migraine, and on Monday my head still felt like an egg in danger of cracking, but I managed to go to the bank then to lunch, to buy the week’s supply of cat food, and to record my Trippies voice-overs despite bizarre misunderstandings with two Uber drivers, neither of them could find Glorietta 1—the mall where the airconditioning is as feeble as the dying exhalations of a consumptive mouse—and one of whom attempted to drive to Legaspi Village by way of Alabang. Some of the confusion was due to curious instructions from Waze, which would not have been an issue if the drivers were familiar with the Makati business district, and which were probably due to the faint, faint, disappearing internet connection on their phones. When I got home I tried to take a nap to preempt another headache, but I felt like my apartment was closing in on me like the garbage chute in Star Wars: A New Hope. I was suffocating in stuff. I needed space, air, blankness.

Back-to-work links: Jerusalem cats, the Pope’s laundry, Salter, trashy movies, old book smells, and Prince’s death anniversary

April 17, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Books, Cats, Health, Music No Comments →

Holy Cats! Jerusalem’s strays and their unsung guardian


Which is the real killer: fat, sugar, or both?

March 31, 2017 By: jessicazafra Category: Current Events, Health 6 Comments →

Read Is Fat Killing You, or is Sugar?

Recently a friend of mine was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Usually I do not care about blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, or whatnot, and will eat whatever I want, but this news freaked me out. I’m old, so this shit now affects me. I’ve given up white rice, soda (sob) and those bottled iced teas, which are just sugared water anyway. And I try to eat sensibly, which turns out to be a challenge for people who live on delivery and take-out.

My prescription for everything is still 8-9 hours of sleep a day, and avoiding stress. I quit writing columns because wringing 800 words out of every thought was becoming stressful. (After 20 years of column-writing, I’ve said everything I have to say at least thrice.) Freedom! Being able to watch a movie without reviewing it in my head! Just being!

Also, I’ve edited my newsfeeds because I do not need to hear of developments as they happen. The pronouncements of idiots get enough attention without having mine as well. There’s a difference between staying informed and drowning in breaking news. And a difference between news and stuff that gets spewed for the sake of spewing. Silence creates space for deep thought, and that freaks people out.

Are you drowning? Let me know if you need help editing your life.

If you lack sleep, you overeat.

November 11, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Health 1 Comment →

Karsten Moran for the NYTimes

Not enough sleep last night? You may overeat today.

That’s the conclusion of investigators after reviewing data on 172 participants in 11 sleep studies. The study designs varied, but tested people after a night of restricted sleep, usually about four hours, and then after a night of normal rest.

The next day, participants were offered a breakfast buffet or scheduled meals later in the day. The scientists tracked calorie intake and energy expenditure.

Read it in the legacy media.

So if I didn’t sleep soundly every night I’d weigh 500 pounds.

Long weekend links: Social media creates angry partisans, how to tell if you’re a jerk, and what earwax is for

October 30, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Health, Language, Psychology, Technology No Comments →

Are You A Jerk? (with attempts at definitions of jerk and asshole)

Illustration from Nautilus by Jackie Ferrentino

The scientifically recognized personality categories closest to “jerk” are the “dark triad” of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathic personality. Narcissists regard themselves as more important than the people around them, which jerks also implicitly or explicitly do. And yet narcissism is not quite jerkitude, since it also involves a desire to be the center of attention, a desire that jerks don’t always have. Machiavellian personalities tend to treat people as tools they can exploit for their own ends, which jerks also do. And yet this too is not quite jerkitude, since Machivellianism involves self-conscious cynicism, while jerks can often be ignorant of their self-serving tendencies. People with psychopathic personalities are selfish and callous, as is the jerk, but they also incline toward impulsive risk-taking, while jerks can be calculating and risk-averse.

Another related concept is the concept of the asshole, as explored recently by the philosopher Aaron James of the University of California, Irvine. On James’s theory, assholes are people who allow themselves to enjoy special advantages over others out of an entrenched sense of entitlement. Although this is closely related to jerkitude, again it’s not quite the same thing. One can be a jerk through arrogant and insulting behavior even if one helps oneself to no special advantages.


I had a pain in my knee so I went to a chiropractor.

May 25, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Health 3 Comments →


I’ve had a pain in my right knee for several weeks. I strained it because I thought I was invincible. Like many people who get injured I figured the pain would go away eventually, but after a couple of months I became concerned. Walking is my main physical exercise—taking long walks jogs the brain so it produces stories, and when I’m writing I pace a lot. The stiff knee was getting in the way of my writing.

A friend recommended that I consult Dr Bodhise, a chiropractor. He assists the Artists Welfare project, and his patients include dancers with Ballet Philippines. If there’s anyone with an intimate knowledge of bodily pain, it’s ballet dancers. Also, I’ve always been curious about chiropractors—they figure in so many New York novels and movies. So I made an appointment.

Dr. Paul Brown Bodhise studied at La Salle University in Philadelphia and the New York Chiropractic College. He is a Vietnam veteran who first visited the Philippines in 1973. He was standing on a street corner in Angeles when a bus whizzed by him and two girls yelled, “Hey, soul brother!” After he left the air force he studied alternative medicine. When he retired he decided to move to Asia, and remembering the soul sisters he came here.

Before the treatment, he asked me to watch a video about the natural healing therapies he practises. He combines chiropractic and naturopathic techniques and herbology. The treatment addresses the immediate pain, and figures out the root causes of the pain. Among the common causes are poor diet, too much salt and/or sugar, stress and adrenal reactions. Adrenaline enabled the fight or flight response of early humans who had to deal with large predators. It increases blood flow, breathing, carbohydrate metabolism. Today the probability of running into a hungry direwolf on Edsa is low, but our adrenaline gets going anyway when we get into a bad traffic jam or read provocative comments on Facebook. So the body reacts in a disproportionately big way, and it wreaks havoc on our systems.


On to the treatment. First, ultrasound therapy for the stiff knee. “I’m not gonna crack your bones,” Dr Bodhise told me. He asked me how I injured myself and explained that even before the incident, my knee was already vulnerable due to wear and tear. He massaged the knee and put pressure on the uncomfortable area. The point, he said, was to encourage the muscles and bones to fix themselves.

Then he applied his neuromuscular reintegration technique, essentially a deep tissue massage and traction, to realign the skeletal frame. This harmonizes the nervous system and the muscular system, he explained, to restore their normal function. He pointed out the areas on my back, elbow, and the base of my neck that were misaligned and could cause future discomfort. The therapy usually takes 30 – 45 minutes.

Afterwards my knee was better and my stride was closer to normal. It was still stiff, but I no longer felt like one leg was shorter than the other. What I like about the treatment is that Dr Bodhise doesn’t just write a prescription for the pain. He looks into the causes, advises you on how to prevent illness, and advocates a holistic approach to good health. For more information, visit

Next week I’ll tell you how my knee feels. In the meantime I’m taking my sister to this chiropractor because she has two PhDs in stress.

Dr. Paul Bodhise’s clinic is on the second floor of Seibu Tower, 6th Avenue corner 24th Street, Bonifacio Global City. Call or text 0908 449 7673 to make an appointment. The consultation fee is Php2000.