Editorial: Running on Diesel

Trent Ernst, Editor

Sometime in the last few years, I’ve hit that age.

You know the age. Well, you know the age if you’ve hit it, that is. It’s the age that, after years of everything working properly, things are starting to break down, body-wise.

I used to make fun of friends, who were basically the same age as me, who had to squint at things to read. While I’ve needed glasses since a child, I’ve never had any troubles with reading. Indeed, I used to read multiple books a week, if not a day, when I was younger. The fact that I now need a special pair of reading glasses in order to make out the words on the page when not holding the book at arm’s length is depressing.

I mocked (I am so ashamed) friends who walked around like old guys because their back was sore, and made fun of the lack of hair on their head.

While I still have a lot of hair, it has somehow begin to go more grey than brown. And, while I’ve never been built like Sly Stalone (or even, sadly, Jack Black), I’ve always held the misguided opinion that I’m not unhealthy. Strap a backpack on me and I can hike for days. And given the choice, I would bike most everywhere I went. I just do these activities at my own pace. I’ll never win a race, but that’s because I don’t like competitions. I do this out of sheer enjoyment.

However, mountain biking in the winter is difficult, and while I walk to and from work nearly every day, my activity level in winter is way down over summer.

And over the last few years, I’ve started to notice that the other side of things is starting to catch up with me. You know what I’m talking about. There are two parts to any successful lifestyle: exercise and nutrition. It’s the latter that is my downfall.

Despite being married to someone with a degree in dietetics, I haven’t given a lot of thought to what I’ve been eating. At least, not until lately, as it seems that the age-old weight creep is starting to catch up with me. Most people tend to gain a couple pounds a year. Me? I got out to an early head start and maintained my lead for years and years, not gaining, but not losing, either.

But again, that’s been changing over the last few years, especially over the winter when my activity levels are lower.

So when I get an email from the Dieticians of Canada saying that March is nutrition month, well, I start to feel a bit…guilty. A bit unhealthy. A bit like I’ve been lying to myself about my shape (more pear than V).

Just as I’ve never been interested in competitive sports, I’ve never been interested in competitive eating. Diets were just not that interesting. But now that I’m that age, I have been thinking about starting to maybe look at thinking about changing how and what I eat. (Yes, I’m nothing if not decisive.)

A few (okay, a number) of years ago, my father-in-law and I were cycling the Kettle Valley Railway. We were in Princton, stopping to pick up some supplies and have supper. Dad was talking to a local senior while I was off doing something else. Later, dad told me about his conversation. “That your son?” The old man had asked.” “Son-in-law,” said dad. “He’s a big fellow,” said the old fellow. “He look’s like he’d run on diesel.”

Trouble is, as everyone ages, that engine doesn’t burn quite as much diesel, and begins storing it. And yes, I know, I’ve never really been what you could call svelte, but I’ve never really worried about it.

Now, I’m starting to. It’s so easy in the society we live to eat fast food. To eat things for their convenience instead of for their nutritional value. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. So, since it is Nutrition Month in Canada, I invite you to join me over at www.healthycanadians.gc.ca/eatwell, where you’ll find shopping tips, nutritional advice, and some good old fashioned encouragement to eat healthy, even when, like me, you don’t really have time to.