Of all the success stories surrounding Canadian Men’s Health Week, the transformation of Alan Scholes may best highlight what the fifth-annual event is all about.
After injuring his knee five years ago, the armoured car driver started spending more and more time off his feet. He put on weight, and his drive to get out of his Kelowna home started slipping away. “Because my hours are all over the map, trying to stay healthy isn’t the easiest thing in the world,” he explains. “And injuring my knee made everything harder.”
The hardest thing of all, however, was watching his three children go on with their lives without him. “I’d just drop the kids off at whatever they were doing” — Alan’s son, for instance, is a rep soccer player — “and just sit in the car and watch them, or play on my phone. I wouldn’t feel up to doing anything with them.”
Alan knew he needed to make changes “to be part of my kids’ lives, and to be around for as long as possible. That won’t happen if you don’t live a healthy life.”
That’s when he turned to Hat Trick, a free 12-week program based in Prospera Place, the home of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. Every Thursday for 90 minutes, Alan and a crew of other local men learned how to improve their health and overall well-being by making small, realistic changes in their lives. “We were all there for the same reasons: We like food, we’re overweight, and we weren’t doing much about it. I really liked that I could talk to anybody and nobody judged me, and we all pushed ourselves to get a little further ahead.”
Canadian Men’s Health Foundation president Wayne Hartrick met Alan while checking out a Hat Trick session, and encouraged him to share his experience. The foundation’s Don’t Change Much website proved to be the ideal forum for this, with Alan’s three biggest lifestyle changes — eating healthier snacks, extra walking and doing squats in front of the TV — resonating with regular guys across the country and inspiring many to join DCM’s League of Fairly Healthy Men.
Since then, Alan has added several healthy-living habits highlighted by Don’t Change Much:
- Instead of always drinking pop Alan now sticks to water. “Every once in awhile I have juice, but I put a quarter of juice in the glass and the rest is water. Read the ingredients: there’s a lot of sugar in pre-packaged drinks!”
- Alan has turned his home into a gym of sorts by carrying wrist weights up and down the stairs. “I do it while doing chores or just rattling around the place. Go up and down the stairs a bunch of times, and pretty soon it becomes a workout.” Add this to his new squats routine, which Alan describes as “just standing up in front of the TV, lowering your butt so it barely touches the chair, and standing up again,” and this next habit falls right into place.
- Alan’s new appreciation for walking still takes him around the sports fields his kids play on. But it has evolved into something more. Now, time off with the family is about hiking, walking, biking and other active pursuits. “Before it was about going somewhere I didn’t have to do anything,” Alan recalls. “Now, I enjoy being active, especially with my family.”
Indeed, that final change stands out for Alan. “I’m glad my kids are turning into an active bunch, and it’s nice to think I might play role in that. Hopefully it all trickles down the line.”
Photography by Royce Sihlis Photography