Tue | Jan 21, 2020

My Healthy Day

Published:Friday | December 6, 2019 | 12:15 AM
Stephen Davidson, head of marketing and public relations at Jamaica Cultural Development Commission.
Stephen Davidson, head of marketing and public relations at Jamaica Cultural Development Commission.

This week, we continue with the final part of ‘My Healthy Day’, as we hear from Stephen Davidson (Head of Marketing and PR at JCDC) and Yoni Epstein (Founding Chairman & CEO of itelbpo).

Stephen Davidson, head of marketing and public relations at Jamaica Cultural Development Commission

How did your interest in fitness and health first develop?

I think it first developed through the influence of my friends. They were running 5ks and some of the other road races. Also, years before that, I used to play tennis. I don’t think I had a regular routine, but back in college overseas, I used to play tennis; that was my main physical activity. When I moved back to Jamaica, I started running 5ks with my friends; we formed a running group, and we started entering the 5ks.

When I worked at Victoria Mutual, I would organise our team for the Sigma Run. Usually, I would just walk, and one day, the senior vice-president said to me, “You walking?” and I responded, “Yeah, what is wrong with walking?” Then I decided to try running, and since then, I’ve been running with the running club, and I’ve been more consistent and entered all the 5ks. Last year, I think I did about fourteen 5ks.

Does the running group have a name?

We call ourselves ‘Fitness Minus 2’ because there are about 10 of us, and there are always two persons copping out.

What’s your favourite way to exercise?

Tennis is definitely my favourite way to exercise because it works every part of you, and I’m having fun at the same time. With running, you get to see people that you know and run with them, but tennis is definitely my number one.

What’s the toughest event or workout that you have ever done?

Probably one of these Jamaica Moves 5ks. You really have to get a good night’s rest to prepare for the morning, and sometimes I don’t necessarily do that, so when I don’t prepare my body for the run, it can be gruelling, but now, I’m getting into the groove of it. This is probably my seventh one for the year, so I think it’s getting easier. Once you rest and prepare the night before, you will be up and running.

What’s your favourite artiste or song to listen to while you’re running?

Definitely gospel music. I listen to CeCe Winans, Jonathan Butler, and Kirk Franklin – upbeat music to get you going and moving. Sometimes I think maybe I’m too relaxed when I’m running with the music, but its good company along the way, and it takes me through.

What is your approach to nutrition and meals?

In terms of meals, I try to make it balanced. Some of my diet habits started from Lent. If you can go 40 days without it, that means you can adjust your lifestyle.

Also, because of the Jamaica Moves campaign, I’ve definitely cut down on sugary drinks and have a lot more water, and if I drink any juice, it’s freshly blended.

It was a hard adjustment because I used to not be able to have a meal without a drink. I used to think having it with water tasted so bad, but I’ve had to adjust myself; it comes naturally now to drink mostly water. I’ve also cut out fast food as best as possible. I eat very limited rice, and I eat more ground provisions and vegetables.

What do you eat on a typical day?

For breakfast, I’ll have an egg sandwich. For lunch, I’ll have three pieces of ground provisions, for example, one dumpling, sweet potato, banana, and meat – not fried chicken. For dinner, I’ll have chicken chop suey, which has the vegetables, and, definitely, of course, raw vegetables have to be in there, and water.

What’s your favourite healthy meal or snack?

A bagel egg and cheese sandwich. I’ll have that anytime.

How do you feel that your active, healthy lifestyle has helped you in your career?

I think I’m definitely more alert and more relaxed. My job is very stressful, and it takes a lot out of me. I work long hours, about 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Twice a week, I play tennis and the other days, I jog.

What would you say to someone who believes that he/she is too busy to make their health and fitness a priority?

Health and fitness is your life, so you can never be too busy. All you need is a half hour to one hour of a workout, so either early in the morning or after work, or you try to sneak it in your lunchtime. Gyms are open 24/7. There are certain complexes that have a walking/running trail, so there’s really no excuse. It is extremely important.

You have to be healthy and alive to be busy, so you can’t be busy if you’re dead.

What’s beating us is non-communicable disease and our lifestyle – we sit down all day, we drive to work, we sit down, we go to meetings, we take the elevator, we’re in our corner office, we drive to get home, we sit on the couch, and then we go to sleep. So we’re hardly standing, we’re hardly moving, but we have to make time.

Yoni Epstein, founding chairman and CEO of itelbpo

How did your interest in fitness and health first develop?

I had a condition called atrial fibrillation, which is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure, and other heart-related complications. The doctor said I needed to lose weight and change my lifestyle, so I got a nutritionist and started exercising. That was about 10 years ago and one of the main drivers.

Cardio or strength training?

I usually just run, but this summer, I joined a boot camp a couple of days a week for strength training.

What is your favourite exercise?

In MoBay, there’s nothing like a Saturday-morning run. We meet at Doctor’s Cave Beach at 5:30 a.m., we run through the airport, over ‘Top Road’, into Freeport, and back to Doctor’s Cave.

And your least favourite exercise?

To run when you don’t want to run.

Do you have any mental tricks that you use when you just don’t feel like working out?

Sometimes you just can’t, and again, I believe in moderation, so if you’ve had some rough days and you’re tired, take a day off; it’s not the end of the world. Other days, you just have to tell yourself it’s only 30 minutes and you’ll feel better after.

What’s your favourite song or musical artiste to work out to?

I like house or electronic music, for example, Avicii.

What role do your family and friends play in helping you maintain an active healthy lifestyle?

My group of friends and I all run together, unconsciously helping each other. We have a running group in Montego Bay called MoBay Movers. It’s about 70 of us, so typically, we run three to four times weekly, and on Saturdays, we do a longer run. If we’re training for a particular event, then we train more often. For example, I’ll be doing the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January 2020, so after this summer, I’ll start upping my runs to train for that event.

What would you say to someone who believes that he/she is too busy to make their health and fitness a priority?

You’re purposely shortening your lifespan. If you don’t take care of your body, your body won’t take care of you. Work and making money is great, but having all of that won’t preserve your health. The more that you can take care of your body in your younger years, the more it can take care of you when you’re older. Whether morning, noon, or night, take a half hour. Half hour is not a lot of time when there are 24 hours in a day.

What is your approach to nutrition?

I would say I take a more moderate approach. When I was working with the nutritionist, her style was moderation – you could eat anything but in moderation. I probably cheat a little bit more than I used to then, but I feel like if you’re exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then when you feel that urge, you’re allowed to indulge a little.

What’s one thing that the nutritionist taught you that has stuck with you?

Moderation, eating regularly, and having snacks in between meals. Also, having a lighter dinner with no or low carbs at night.

Can you tell us more about your typical daily meals?

For breakfast, I’ll have hard-boiled eggs and toast. Lunch will generally be a protein, carbs, and vegetables, and for dinner, protein and vegetables. I like beef tenderloin and jerk pork, but it’s how you prepare it – with little oil and salt.

How do you feel that your active, healthy lifestyle has helped you in your career?

It keeps your mind clear. Some people do meditation, some do yoga, but I like to go for a run by myself with my music.