A Father And Son Chat About Life, Nutrition
And A Journey Through Cancer
By Warren Heuston | 15th May 2017
In this month’s edition of #WhatGetsYouOutOfBed Project, our special guest is someone who instilled the importance of making good food choices very early in my life and someone who’s had more than their fair share of setbacks and challenges.
This month we talk to my Dad, based in New South Wales, Australia. Recently settled in his new house in the Upper Hunter, Warren tells what life is like after cancer and how food can be your best friend or the enemy.
“ISAAC NEWTON may have been the first person to describe gravity in 1867, but gravity isn’t the only thing that can pull you down. Stress, in all it’s forms, from bad luck to bad management; illness to catastrophes; relationships to conflict; stress is that invisible, insidious pariah that envelopes you at your weakest time. The same principle applies to unhealthy living and eating.
Survival doesn’t mean living until you’re ninety, it means living a QUALITY life at ninety, which involves being vigilant
As any soldier will tell you, three rules of engagement are “know your enemy! vigilance! and survival!“. These things need planning, for the present and for the future. There’s not much point being the fittest player in the team when you’re thirty, then resting on your laurels and being obese and arthritic when you’re sixty.
If you put petrol in a diesel motor, it won’t go because petrol is rubbish to a diesel. So with your body, you know the adage…rubbish in, rubbish out. Your body degenerates quickly enough naturally, it doesn’t need help from bad food (I think there should be another word for what we ingest that has no or little nutritional value, because “food” implies it’s nourishing). So, survival doesn’t mean living until you’re ninety, it means living a QUALITY life at ninety, which involves being vigilant.
Get into the habit of READING LABELS – they have a story to tell
Make yourself aware of good and bad foods. Understand things like additives and foods that have been tampered with like “lite” milk or anything “lite” for that matter. It’s just commercial speak for “I’ve been tampered with”. Get into the habit of READING LABELS – they have a story to tell.
Make shopping time a priority time, not a five minute rush.
Grocery shopping should be an important time. Time to be able to read labels and consider what you are buying. Ingredients lists are always in the smallest print font on the label for good reason; usually the manufacturer doesn’t want you to read the list. You can be fairly sure if the label says “added vitamins or minerals”, for instance, it’ll be because those things have been taken out in processing and are probably being replaced with chemically manufactured substitutes, which don’t do the job as well as the natural ones. It only takes a few more minutes. You don’t rush into a clothing store and grab the first thing you see; and aren’t your insides more important than your outsides? Prioritise your time.
Make time for regular physical activity
I was fairly active in my youth but from my mid-twenties to mid-thirties had a sedentary job and fell into the trap of not exercising or eating properly. I put on weight, had a pretty sizeable wine cellar and worked two jobs to “get ahead”. At thirty-six I instigated a major life change, moved to a new area, had a physically demanding business and ate well. But I worked myself into the ground and ended with a physical breakdown. Among other disasters, this led to misdiagnosed colo-rectal cancer. I was forty kilos (yes, four-zero!) when I sought a third medical opinion (there’s a lesson in this, too), and had surgery. I have reason to believe it was my healthy diet and God’s grace that enabled me to survive. The doctor who finally diagnosed the cancer calls me The Miracle Man. A year later, the cancer was back so there was further surgery. Then three years ago the cancer had moved into my pelvis, which meant twelve hours in surgery. The notable point about this surgery was that the doctor rearranged his busy schedule to get me in immediately because I was “in such good condition my chances of survival if attended to immediately were very good”. This was due entirely to my healthy lifestyle over many years.
Find your groove
I’m not fanatically vegan or even vegetarian, I just don’t eat rubbish food, though I do spoil myself occasionally with a sugary drink or the like (all things in moderation).
At seventy-two I’m not the guru of healthiness but I still ride my bike, walk and exercise regularly. The secret is to find the physical exercises you enjoy, be they the aforementioned or things like yoga, gardening, bushwalking; there are myriad alternatives, and commit yourself to regular exercise. Your body can survive almost anything if you look after it. I’m a survivor because I have worked at my health.”