Some exercise as hard as they work. Others don’t always manage.
After Prime Minister Keith Rowley’s recent cardiac issue and Planning Minister Camille Robinson-Regis’s surgery, some parliamentarians shared their health/fitness regimes.
There are new, younger members among them. But some MPs and senators on both PNM and UNC sides have or are managing health issues. Of PNM’s total 38 MPs and senators, approximately 19 are over age 50. Among UNC’s 25 MPs and senators, about ten are also over 50.
Rowley and UNC’s Rodney Charles are 72 this year. Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who also manages health issues, turns 69 in April.
‘Iron’ boss, karateka, marathonist
ATTORNEY GENERAL FARIS-AL-RAWI believes in the Renaissance Man concept—and pumping “iron”.
“At Presentation College we were indoctrinated in the concept of ‘all roundedness’, academia balanced spirituality, balanced with physical fitness, balanced with charitable work. All enveloped in family.
“For me, stress is an epic element of life, I’m conscious in political life we stand in a fast revolving door, merely passing through. Law is also a fast-paced, dramatic professional that constantly demands. Both professions plus the privilege of constituency representation and joy of a family means constant juggle to keep one’s head above water. Days are long, hard to schedule.”
His keys and antidote to an MPs life:
*Endorphin management: Accept you have to get physical activity as much as you need to eat or sleep.
*Know what you eat and how much. I highly recommend the free MyFitness app, an awesome way to see your food and drink literally in numbers.
*Internal training, cardio, weights three to four days weekly, best with a group anywhere, any way.
*Strength training, squats, pull-ups, heavyweights, “literally exhilarating!”
*Running when in the field, visiting communities and homes. “I learned every drain that needs repair.”
* Sleep. “It’s like a vacation for me, Can’t get enough. It’s the hardest part of the 17-hour day. But you don’t want to be that person who misses the PM’s 5 am call.”
*My kids have educated me on innovations and improvements that are healthy.
*Listen to your wife/spouse, it’s the key to happiness, therefore healthy.”
*Welcome the ambitions that escape me for now: meditation, learning to quiet the mind, breathing and learning to cut off.”
NATIONAL SECURITY MINISTER STUART YOUNG dislocated his shoulder in March 2020 when he misstepped and fell from a stage at a Penal function. But the injury that this Shotokan karate black belt holder sustained is last year’s news.
“I take my health seriously as I know I’m operating at a high stress and intense environment. I exercise daily. I’ve also refined my diet to a more healthy one, and I’ve also found that ignoring the noise of empty barrels helps tremendously.”
SENATOR LAUREL LEZAMA-LEE SING. “I used to run, swim, play football and was really good at aerobics. After having my three children, I took my health for granted and used the excuse of having had Cesarean sections to not exercise. I’m paying a heavy price for that now, struggling with some extra weight. Overall, definitely could be healthier.
” I’m almost 40, and I genuinely want to have as best a quality of life as possible. I have some allergies and sensitivities I must attend to. I had an incredible trainer/health coach, Dexter Simon (national bodybuilder), but I’ve not sufficiently prioritised my health or maintained good, consistent routine or eating practices. (Sorry Dexter.)
“I walk Lady Chancellor or the Savannah with my friend Melissa on weekends and sometimes ride my stationary bike. Some colleagues have encouraged me to adopt a healthier lifestyle. I think now is as best a time as any, I’m going on a personal health campaign, and inviting the national community to join me as we prioritise our health.”
AGRICULTURE MINISTER CLARENCE RAMBHARAT is preparing for the T&T International Marathon.
“I participate annually in the walking category over 26.2 miles. Rest, exercise and healthy eating are critical to meeting parliamentarians’ 24/7 demands plus since I’m on the road a lot.
“Most meals are home-cooked, high local content. I walk for exercise approximately 70 to 100 km weekly and normally go to the gym three times. It’s been infrequent with COVID restrictions. I drink about three litres of water a day and try to sleep for about six hours.”
EDUCATION MINISTER NYAN GADSBY-DOLLY exercises daily “…at nights, at home, using a variety of YouTube videos, generally walking and dance routines. I do 30 minutes a day, sometimes taking a break on weekends and I’m, also a careful eater.”
PUBLIC UTILITIES MINISTER MARVIN GONZALEZ is thankful he is in “great health and have no challenges.”
“I follow a strict dietary regime—stay away from all processed foods and alcoholic drinks containing sugar. I don’t drink anything containing sugar. Time allowing, I exercise and go on nature hikes. I enjoy walking my (Lopinot/Bon Air) constituency. I kill two birds with one stone—get to meet constituents and burn calories. Work is stressful but I find creative ways to manage.”
Opposition UNC—golf, running, swimming
OROPOUCHE EAST MP ROODAL MOONILAL who was much heavier than he is now, acknowledges the significant weight he carried. Now Moonilal is returning to his former exercise regime, particularly golf which he loves. He has played in Tobago, at the Millennium golf course and others. “Saturday I was also walking, doing light weight training, swimming and practising my golf swing, hitting 150 golf balls.”
SENATOR JEARLEAN JOHN’s figure and energy depict her healthy lifestyle, “I run Mt Hololo five times weekly, Lady Chancellor on weekends. Police presence at the latter is exemplary. We’re Tobagonians, growing up in Charlotteville we had no bikes, children learned to swim in the sea and run.
“My mother in her 80s thank God has little to no health issues and she cooks with coconut milk and eats butter. I eat what’s placed in front of me, but smaller portions. I don’t have a sweet tooth, even for beverages. Only water for me. My daughter gifted me with an insulated cup and I’d add water to a teabag, no sugar, no milk, boom!”
CARONI EAST MP DR RISHAD SEECHERAN an asthmatic is almost paranoid about COVID-19 dangers. “I take all precautions. Also exercise with weights, treadmill, and maintain immunity function with Vitamin C.”
NAPARIMA MP RODNEY CHARLES exercises every other day and swims a lot.
“The job’s very stressful, mostly due to great demands. It affects us psychologically. So all MPs must do check-ups, ensure a modicum of balance.
“It’s a thankless job. Endless criticism takes a toll after a while. But we signed on for it and must make the best. Though it would help if we had more resources. It’s hard to attend a funeral and cannot make a meaningful financial contribution, but I’m not seeking sympathy. My two PNM colleagues and I aren’t on the same sides but I understand the pressure they’re under and wish them well.”
SENATOR DAMIEN LYDER has adjusted eating habits to deal with a few extra pounds, “…fixed times, eliminating carbs and soft drinks, healthy snacks, more greens, and growing my own greens. I play football twice weekly and do brisk walking around my neighbourhood.”
OROPOUCHE WEST MP DAVE TANCOO is a vegetarian. He once weighed much more than he does now, “I know the need for taking care of myself. I enjoy assisting constituents. What’s stressful is Government’s continued failure to provide desperately needed services, my constituency continues to be victimised.
“This stresses me out. But I’m accustomed to long hours and personal sacrifice required in public service. I signed up knowing what I was getting into, time management and doing your duty.”