Story and photography by Roy Ramsay (unless otherwise noted)
I’m now approaching 50 and things are changing; my eyes, my hair, my strength and the list goes on. My hairline seems to be receding from the earth at the rate of one inch per year, but not even in a straight line — I could only be so lucky. I have a widow’s peak and at the aforementioned rate of ebb I’m going to be sporting a mohawk hairstyle in no time. While I may not be able to do much about my eyesight or hairline, I’ve been thinking that it’s time for me to take health and nutrition a bit more seriously. Ten years ago I remember saying to myself, “I have lots of time to eat healthier, get more sleep, get more exercise, etc.” I wonder how many of you have also said those things at one time or another in your life? Then something happens and you realize, “Wow I better pay closer attention to these things before I’m forced to.” If you’re already paying close attention to your health and you have that well in hand, I congratulate you. For the rest of us, we need to play a bit of catch up.
For landscape or wildlife photographers who get up before the sun and stay out later to catch activity just before and during sunset, we need to think about some special needs so that we can continue to enjoy our photography for many years to come. At certain times of the year we’re out shooting during regular meal times, or in the summer months we’re out very early and very late to catch these magic hour, magic light times. Our first instinct is to quickly grab anything easy to eat and be on our way. Sometimes this mentality results in very poor dietary decisions that eventually catch up to you if not kept in check. I speak from experience here, and am now taking steps to change my thinking and make better choices in terms of food, sleep and exercise during my busy life of running a magazine and being a working photographer at the same time. I know for me, if I could no longer photograph due to restrictions that would not allow me to get out, I would be devastated. So no time like the present to make some changes.
Yes the dreaded “b” word. Now before you turn to another part of the magazine, consider this. If we are to stay healthy enough to keep enjoying our photographic endeavours, we need to change the way we view our first meal of the day. I will share with you five poor choices, and what to change to improve your breakfast foods each day, especially on days you’re going on a sunrise shoot. It may be wise to take a bit of time before you go to bed the night before, or get up 30 minutes earlier to make these changes a reality. These tips were gathered from a great website called livestrong.com. I would encourage you to visit this site for more great health information.
Worst breakfast choices
1) No breakfast at all
According to livestrong.com and the medical community in general, this can lead to chronic health problems like heart disease and/or diabetes. Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day.
2) Flour-based breakfasts
Pancakes, waffles and muffins are a no-no. They taste awesome, but these choices provide no protein base in order to make you feel full. This may result in you eating more and putting more unwanted weight on. A better choice here is eggs. Eggs provide protein that give you energy and keep you feeling full longer. Another benefit to protein-packed foods is muscle maintenance or muscle building. Whether we like it or not, folks over 40, especially men, undergo something called muscle atrophy. That’s when we lose muscle naturally due to the aging process. Higher protein foods and good exercise can help slow that unwanted process down. Yay protein!
3) Egg sandwiches don’t count!
The egg served in a store-bought egg sandwich doesn’t contain enough protein to satiate. No, that doesn’t mean you should buy two. Instead consider making your own and put in two eggs and one strip of lean Canadian bacon on a whole-grain muffin. I have to say, the breakfast sandwich is a favourite of mine. Time to do it better.
4) Store smoothies
These can contain more calories than a Big Mac and fries, not to mention the sugar content that can amount to one soda. Make your own smoothie instead. This way you can control what goes into it.
5) Oreos? Um, no.
You know who you are.
Exercise and rest
Having good nutrition is just part of a well-balanced lifestyle. Exercise and rest are just as important to keep your body strong and working the way it should. When I say exercise, you don’t necessarily have to hit the gym hard, or for long periods; 20-30 minutes of moderate exercise each day can do a world of good. A bit of cardio one day, and strength training another day will keep you on the right track. Most moderate exercise can be done from your home, so a gym visit isn’t necessary. Don’t underestimate the need for rest either. A good solid eight hours is ideal, but many of us don’t get close to that much. With most outdoor photographers rising early and going to bed later, it means we need to fit in rest someplace else. A power nap (15 to 30 minutes) during the day can have a big benefit in keeping you sharp and on point. This can be easier achieved if you’re retired, but if you’re still a working stiff like me during the day, try grabbing your cat-nap during your lunch if you can. You’ll see it will make quite a difference in your concentration during the day. On days you’re not working and enjoying your photography, shoot your sunrise, have a nap when you get home, process some images, then maybe another nap before you head out for your sunset shoot. I’m pleasantly surprised at how good I feel and how alert I am after my power naps.
I leave you with one final question: What would you be doing if you couldn’t photograph? If you don’t like the answer, then your path is much clearer now.
See you out there!