It’s Never Too Late and you are Never too Old to become better

Never Too Late and you are Never too Old to become better

Glenn Caldwell


           Glenn Caldwell
           Vice President, Sales
           NAL Insurance


I recently came across a video that the Heart and Stroke Foundation created a few years ago titled, “Make Health Last”. On a split screen imagine it shows how the last 10 years of an older gentleman’s life could look. The question: “Will you grow old with vitality, or get old with disease?”  On the left, the man was active, vibrant and healthy; he laces up his running shoes for an early morning walk, a bike ride and a game of tag with his grandchild.  On the right, the same man was sick, hospitalized, and being fed by his wife.

This commercial really hit home with me as we were anxiously waiting to hear the results of my brother-in-law Bret’s quadruple by-pass surgery.

Stats suggest that the average Canadian male lives to 79 years old. We started the Healthy Trucker wellness program about 6 years ago when we heard the stat that the average lifespan of a long haul truck driver in the USA was only 61; the main cause for this horrific difference comes down to the sedentary lifestyle they live.  Drivers that sit for long periods of time have the same risk of heart attack and stroke as someone that smokes.

But it’s not just truck drivers that sit for long periods of time.  Many of us in the office sit for just as long, and I spend over ½ of my week in my vehicle travelling the roads, meeting with fleet owners to review their O/O insurance needs.

So what am I doing to keep from being one of the average statistics?

While I know I don’t get enough sleep, I do my best to watch what I eat and try to exercise at 3-4 times a week, although I sometimes find myself dreading my workouts I ALWAYS feel better after I push myself to do them.

Last year I was at the gym, when I noticed an older gentleman shuffling from machine to machine. Although he didn’t seem to be in a hurry, he had a look of determination on his face that I will never forget as he meticulously pushed the weights on the machine next to me. I could tell by the white hair and worn skin that he was getting up there in years, so I asked him his age.

“I’ll be 97 in a few months.” he replied.

Doug Celebrates his 97th birthday at the gym“97?” I repeated, stunned.

He smiled and informed me he’d tried to keep in shape most of his life but decided to join the gym when he was 94 as he was having difficulty, “putting the canoe in the water,” one of his favourite hobbies.  We talked for about 5 minutes and found out that he was a retired Dr. that came to workout 3x a week with his neighbour.

A few days later I bumped into him at the gym again.  I went up to say hello and was extremely impressed that he called me by name.  I’m over 40 years younger, yet I have such a hard time with names.

I told him I was intrigued by his story and would be thrilled if he agreed to let me interview him for an article I was writing. He agreed, and what I learned was incredible…

Dr. Douglas Bocking Graduated from The University of Western Ontario in 1943 with a degree in medicine.  He accepted a three year position at Montreal General Hospital as an intern and eventually became their resident in medicine.

In 1952 he opened a consulting practice in internal medicine and rheumatic disease in London, Ontario where he later accepted a position as a professor at the Faculty of Medicine at Western. Dr. Bocking was promoted to Dean of the Faculty in 1965 where he was best known for his professional and patient manner.

Its Never Too Late and you are Never too Old to become betterDoug (as he asked me to call him) was married to his best friend Vivian who was the love of his life for 66 years before she passed away in May 2011.  They have 6 kids, all of which have very successful careers, 18 grandkids and 19 great grandkids.

He still lives alone in their condo and tries to keep up a healthy diet.  Breakfast is generally made up of ½ a grapefruit, cereal and some toast.  Lunch usually consists of a sandwich and apple.  I smiled when he said, “You know what they say about an apple a day?” “Watch your weight and get plenty of sleep too,” he continued.  He tries to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

His secret to a happy life? “Have something you look forward to doing every day,” he said.   Doug enjoys going to the theatre, playing bridge, doing Sudoku puzzles, and he is an avid reader.  He also likes to travel with friends.

Before starting his workout routine he hired a trainer to show him how to properly use the machines.

I must say, since talking to Doug that day I find myself complaining very little about going to the gym. Sure, there are times that I would rather hit the snooze button, but I can honestly say that I always feel better when I push myself to go.   No more excuses…

No one really knows how much time we have left but all of us in a way are one day closer to death, as morbid as it may sound. My brother-in-law’s surgery and the Heart & Stroke commercial were both eye openers, but bumping into Dr. Bocking was a game changer for me.

How many of us go through life saying that we “should” do something different?   Statements like “I should watch what I eat…I should drink more water… I should drink less alcohol…  I should eat more veggies or I should exercise more”.

It’s a proven fact that if we write our goals down and tell someone about them (to keep us more accountable), that we have a much greater chance of achieving them. However, just writing them down doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to achieve them.   You still need to take action and actually do the sit ups to make a difference.

Let’s say one of your goals is to do 25 sit ups a day for 30 days.  You write down your goal and tell your spouse or a friend about what you want to accomplish to hold you accountable.  You’ve spent hours researching proper technique and form and even take the time to visualize yourself doing sit ups.  Even though you have done all the right things to help you achieve your success, none of it will actually matter if you don’t follow though and actually drop down and do the sit ups.  Isn’t that true?

Here’s my no more excuse question for you: What changes can you make to your lifestyle today (not tomorrow) that will give you a better chance of thriving at the age of 97,  just like Dr. Bocking?