As a tribute to father’s day this year I thought I would share some of the great life lessons learned from my dad about how stay healthy and youthful. Both Bruce and I can definitely attribute a strong influence about how to maintain good health from our truly amazing father. At the age of almost 83 our dad cycles 25km three times per week in addition to longer group rides throughout the summer, engages in a regular weight training regime, and daily cardiovascular exercise.
Healthy dietary practices are also part of the daily routine. Although he does have his sweet indulgences I think the key to my father’s health is his attitude towards food and life in general. I can honestly say that I have never seen my father overeat or eat in a mindless manner. All his meals are eaten at the dining room table with complete focus on enjoying his food. My parents have even decided to have vegetarian only days 2-3 times per week and are incorporating more foods like quinoa, flaxseeds, coconut sugar, and a wider range of fruits and vegetables.
A healthy attitude about life is a key lesson I have learned from my father. No matter what the situation my father always maintains a positive perspective. He may worry about the small things like leaving the light on outside and locking the door but when it comes to the big picture even significant life stressors don’t seem to affect him in a way that brings him down or manifests on a physical level. My father is always open to change and interested in improving his health, at an age when most people just give up on improving he is striving for even more excellence. Anytime I have recommended a dietary change or supplement he takes it on full force and commits to following the protocol. Only a few months ago himself and my mum were inquiring about doing a cleanse, I can’t even get most people my own age to commit to a cleanse!
A weekday in the life of dad looks something like this:
5am – wake up, start a pot of coffee for himself and my mother, read the paper and prepare breakfast for the grandchildren when they are dropped off before school
8:30am – help my mum prepare the boys for school and shuttle them, along with the other neighborhood kids they look after, to school
9am – breakfast and supplements, 1 apple and bran cereal
10am-1pm – help mum with errands around the house and helping with mum’s in home neighborhood daycare, daily exercise routine (cycling, weight training routine, etc.)
1pm – lunch, usually some type of sandwich on whole rye bread or leftovers from last night’s dinner
2pm – afternoon nap
2:30pm – pick up first round of kids from school
3:30pm – pick up second round of kids from school
afternoon – online keeping up with cricket news around the world, emails, other world news, snack cheese and crackers or fruit
6-7pm – dinner, usually rice or legumes, with chicken or fish, green salad, and sometimes frozen yogurt, ice cream, or a piece of chocolate for desert
evening – watching Iron Chef, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, America’s Got Talent, CSI, or movie of the week with my mum, watching sporting events (without mum)
9-10pm – supplements and off to bed for a good night’s rest
Weekends are very similar except more time is spent relaxing in the morning, a more elaborate breakfast such as toast and eggs is on the menu, followed by errands and grocery shopping with mum, then laundry, cleaning, and outdoor chores while mum prepares dinner. Afternoon relaxation watching sporting events on tv and napping are also part of the routine. Weekend dinners will sometimes be a splurge of pizza or chinese food but always eaten in moderation and enjoyed fully.
The key to my father’s health is the joy in his routine. Although sometimes having a house full of kids during the week can be challenging I think this is one of the things that keeps him active and youthful. A combination of a consistent routine, daily activity, dedicated exercise time, daily naps and regular sleep habits, mental stimulation, and mindful eating are the key to my father’s longevity. What I have learned from his approach is that It’s more about how you view your life. Sometimes it’s not always about what you eat, how much you exercise, and taking the right supplement but it is always about how you perceive your own personal health habits. If you feel good about what your doing and are continually expanding on all levels no matter what age and enjoy life in a mindful way you will see the benefit. Just this past Christmas I observed him dancing to calypso Christmas music while doing the dishes, now that is the ultimate expression of fully enjoying every moment. Taking an ordinary task and making it an extraordinary moment of joy is something my dad has mastered.
I should also mention that my dad is a cancer survivor having healed from prostate cancer at the age of 62 and seems to be getting healthier as the years pass. Since that time he has had a few minor health problems but instead of looking at them as his body deteriorating he has used these challenges to improve even more and keep the momentum of change moving in a forward direction.
My father is one of the best reminders of how to live beyond your physical age, all these lessons I take with me always in my daily life.