How I Stay Fit: Mack Daddy

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Samantha Grice

In addition to writing the hilarious Mack Daddy column for this site, Toronto-based writer, David Eddie, contributes an advice column to The Globe and Mail, is the author of books (Chump Change and Housebroken), a shopaholic, father to three boys and husband to a star television reporter (Ms. Daddy) who dashes around the city in a suit and high heels while he sits at home in jeans and sneakers and cooks dinner. Eddie is no mini-driving, tan pants-wearing dad, though, he is Mack Daddy.

Q: You wrote in your blog at the end of 2007, that some of your health-related goals for 2008 included losing a few pounds and quitting your couple-a-day cig habit along with your several-a-night, quadruple vodka on the rocks habit (well, cutting it back to two quadruple-vodkas before dinner and then eventually cutting those back to doubles.) You also mentioned going to the doctor for a checkup and perhaps changing your sedentary ways. How did that go?

A: Well, the bad news is: the 2-smokes-a-day routine has persisted, I’m afraid, despite dramatic objections from my youngest, who’s like King Lear on the heath vis-a-vis smoking, sometimes in front of guests. “Why, Dad, why why why? I don’t want a Dad who’s gonna DIE!” I’m hoping the minor amount I smoke won’t kill me, though of course the kid has a point and it’s heart-wrenching when he comes across an empty pack of whatever; so maybe I will give it up again.

My pre-dinner cocktails have indeed shrunk, though I still believe there’s nothing like a serious drink at the end of a long, hard day. And wine with dinner is non-negotiable. Without wine, dinner is just food.

I never did go to that doctor’s appointment. Life is so busy, and I’m a typical male in this regard, I’m afraid: unless it’s a sucking chest wound, or my arm has been sheared off by a rogue circular saw, I figure I’m “fine” and don’t see the point in burning 2-3 hrs at the doc’s.

However, I am aware my father beat prostate cancer, which gets so many men, by catching it early, by getting on it and staying on it and being a little paranoid about it, so in 2009-or 2010 at the latest-I plan to go in for “the shocker” (aka “digital rectal exam”-the one the doc puts a rubber glove on for) and other tests.
The good news: see below.

Q: Do you get any regular exercise?

I now go to the gym every day. Part of my inspiration derived from Barack Obama. If he can find time to go three times a week, with everything on his plate, I can too. I started with that goal in mind, three times a week, but it’s such an excellent stress-buster and endorphin-releaser that now I go every evening. That’s how I would sell it to anyone reluctant to go: in terms of its immediate, on-the-spot benefits. I go in all jangly and with my eyes sort of burning and come out relaxed and refreshed, feeling like a million bucks (and with all those endorphins pinging around that first cocktail gives one wings.) The long-term benefits are just icing on the cake.

And I really have no excuse. It’s embarrassing to admit, because I should have been going on a daily basis long before now but I, Mack Daddy, confess that I live across the street from a gym. I could easily throw a stone from my front porch and hit it. So there you go. My lack of a gym routine for all these years is a little shocking. But as Jimmy Connors, the great tennis player, once said: “Do not look upon a period of inactivity as a failure. Rather, treat it as a challenge and try to get on track as soon as possible.” This has become my motto.

But back to Barack. He is inspiring in so many ways, in so many more important ways, obviously. But I have him to thank for getting back to the gym, so he’s already affected my life for the better. Thanks a bunch, Barack! Good luck with everything! If anyone can handle it, you can!

Q: Would you say you eat with proper nutrition in mind?

A: Well, I am in love with food and also the family chef. Food is one of my passions: I watch numerous shows on the food channel, read cookbooks like novels (i.e. from one end to the other), and every day wake up rubbing my hands together, thinking: “What shall we have for dinner tonight?” That is, generally, my first thought of the day. But it’s not nutrition in the sense people normally use the word-i.e. counting calories, carbs, administering food almost as a form of medicine-that I’m after, it’s flavour, baby; but one of the side-benefits of being into food is that what you eat tends to be pretty well-balanced and nutritious. For example, I get most of my meat from a local farmer who raises all his animals on grass. Grass-fed meat is delicious, that’s my main interest in it-once you’ve had grass-fed you can’t go back to grain-fed-but it has to be better to go straight to the farmer and cut out the middleman. To know the guy who raises the meat you eat and chat with him about it. Since I cook so much, in our household we don’t eat very much takeout/prepared/processed food, all high in sodium and so forth, so our diet probably isn’t too bad.

But-well, my wife likes a big, fat, well-marbled piece of steak better than anything in the world; me, I love a crispy piece of buttermilk-soaked, deep-fried chicken with some collard greens on the side, good old-fashioned southern soul-food. And we get busy like anyone else and order a pizza. Also, I love Chinese food, and love to go out for a good Chinese meal on my birthday and so forth. But mostly it’s all home-cooked, baby, which has got to be good news for the collective health of everyone in the Daddy household.

Q: What challenges impede your road to a fitter body?

A: Time, stress, inclination, deadlines, boredom. Making excuses… I try to go to the gym every day no matter what, but sometimes I just don’t feel like it, the whole enterprise seems moronic and empty-headed. On these occasions, I find, bringing an interesting book and doing a little light exercise on the “recumbent cycle” is just the ticket. Then you feel like you’re multi-tasking by “breaking a mental sweat as well,” as Ben Stiller’s character says in the movie Dodgeball.

This notion of multi-tasking is the only thing that gets Ms. Daddy out there, incidentally. She goes on a “dog jog” every morning. The dog gets a walk, she gets a workout; otherwise, within the context of a busy, three-kids, two-career, multiple-pet lifestyle, she wouldn’t feel like she could afford the time.

But as the saying goes: “If you can’t find time for health, you’ll have to find time for illness.”

Q: Do you have any health goals for 2009?

A: Stay at the gym longer, and work harder, once I get there. Become even more Obama-like in 2009, i.e. svelte, slim, and statesmanlike; and make it all look easy, look good, and look like you’re having fun, while you’re doing it. And never forget: the best exercise your heart can get is by showing a little love to those around you.

Mack D.

Dear Readers, please share with us your plans for staying fit. Or tell us about the challenges you face in an effort to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Category: Fitness
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