When you are busy running a couple of businesses and you also are married with three energetic children under 10 years of age it is easy for us to become dependent on caffeine or just collapse on the couch when you get home. Being a health expert over the last 20 years I am continually amazed by well-meaning health professionals’ onerous and out-dated health recommendations given that we are meant to fit in to our crammed lives. It’s as if they think that we don’t have any other committments in our day. Some of the most sensible health advice has come from one of the most energetic people I know… my five year old son Daniel…
But first let’s review some of the must-do health recommendations from health professionals…
To maintain our health, energy and vitality we are meant to:
- Sleep for a minimum of eight hours every day (they obviously don’t have kids!)
- Have nine serves of fresh, organic, vine-ripened fruits and vegetables every day. (Do french fries count as potato?)
- Do thirty minutes of exercise every day
- Put some time aside for relaxation and reflection every day. (If only there was the time)
- You have to drink at least eight glasses of water a day (eight must be physicians favourite number)
- Some people say you need to eliminate all fats from your diet. Others say no you must get rid of sugars and carbs. Aren’t you meant to have high carbs and low protein? Or is it high protein and low carbs? High fat or fat free? Seriously, apart from sex and money, nutrition and diets must be the most lied about subject in the world!
- Now you can’t use your mobile phone (it causes cancer), you can’t drink out of plastic bottles (cancer as well), you can’t spend too much time in the sun (you guessed it…cancer again)
With such an endless list of to-do’s, maintaining your health and vitality can be exhausting and not to mention confusing. As a health professional, I choose only to listen from experts in the health field that practice what they preach. If they are stronger, fitter, healthier than me I will readily get advice from them.
For this reason I chose to pick the brain of one of the most energetic people I know… my son Daniel. I remember when Daniel was five years old, Daniel and I spent the weekend in Brisbane staying with his grandparents where we had a ‘Daniel Day’. The rules of this day were simple…we do whatever Daniel wants to do.
It started with me waking to a smiling face about six inches from my nose. It was 6am and Daniel was already dressed and ready to go. He had a football in his hand. “Can we play footy now Dad?” he said like an enthusiastic puppy waiting to go for a walk.
“Sure mate.” I replied. “After all it is Daniel Day.”
“Woo hoo” he exclaimed giving me one of his Crocodile Hunter impersonations.
I have to say, his enthusiasm was infectious. We worked up quite a sweat kicking the football around for a half an hour. Then it was time to play with Lego and we built our own Star Wars speeder bikes and Millennium Falcon and throw bits of Lego at each other to simulate shooting. After packing that up, it was time for breakfast. Some oats mixed with fruit, almonds and yogurt was delicious and filling.
After nourishing the brain it was time to exercise the brain as we took great delight in pulling apart a broken DVD player with Grandpa. As quickly as it started, Daniel decided that he had had enough and wanted to go with me to the movies. The local Megaplex was in a large shopping mall only five minutes away.
Before going to the movies we needed snacks. I left it up to Daniel to decide. It is interesting exercise to discover what your child will eat if left to their own devices. He wanted an ice drink made from fresh fruit as opposed to any soft drinks. As we walked past a snack bar Daniel thought we needed some lollies. He bought a lollypop, some large M&Ms;, some yoghurt covered strawberries and some soya crisps.
We went in to watch The Spiderwick Chronicles. An excellent movie. However as we were watching it we found that the movie was too scary for a 5 year old boy so we left half way into the movie. What happened next highlighted one of the energy boosting differences between adults and children….
As we walked out of the movie, rather than use up energy by complaining about the movie or the waste of money, Daniel just said “Dad this is just the best day ever.” He was just happy to spend time with his Dad. My eyes went foggy with tears of absolute pride and joy as I too learnt to be grateful for this special moment. We adults can definitely learn to be more grateful for the simple things around us too.
One saying I have been sharing with our kids is “When you are good, good things happen.” As we walked down the mall to go to our car a good thing happened. Outside of a video game retailer were four storm troopers involved with the store promotion. Daniel’s eyes nearly popped out of his head in delight. After a few photos with them Daniel wanted to go to the city for lunch and then for a swim in a giant swimming pool and man-made beach on the banks of the Brisbane river.
After the swim and lunch (Daniel had a fruit salad) we were on the way to the museum, Daniel changed his mind and wanted to go and play with his cousins. While there we learnt about a great evening show put on by the local observatory. We raced back to Grandmas house and had a small bowl of pasta and then spent an hour at the observatory.
It was after 7.30 pm when we returned home and put Daniel to bed. As I sat down that evening I was still bursting with energy. We crammed about a week worth of activities into a single day. We did not follow all of the Surgeon-General’s recommendations for good health yet I had more energy than I had for months.
From my day of observing my 5 year old son, I have come to the conclusion that the secret ingredient to boundless energy is simple…It is to have more fun in your life.