Veteran journalist, Anthony “Tony” Deyal says he is in the best shape of his life. Despite some major medical setbacks last year, Deyal who will turn 72 in August is on the mend.
While most people fear growing old, Deyal has taken ageing in stride. In fact, he has taken steps to make sure he has the best quality of life possible.
There is an old saying that your health is your wealth, and changing how you invest in your body is essential to enjoying a long life.
Despite the increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases, when it comes to taking care of your health, unfortunately many people often do not make it a priority.
In his quest to help others towards a healthier lifestyle, Deyal says, it is never too late to start working towards a better and healthier you.
He said, “I had started putting on weight from about March 2016 and my blood pressure went up to the point that it reached 181 without my being aware of it. High Blood Pressure (HBP) is known as the silent killer or stealth killer since you really have no huge symptoms to warn you.
“I was not taking any medication for years, not even a baby aspirin in the mornings. However, I had to start in late March this year at the age of 71. About three days after starting the medication and suffering from a virus, I collapsed in the bathroom and fainted several times, ending up in St Clair Medical. An X-ray showed I had a hairline fracture of my skull in the sinus area. An echocardiogram revealed that my heart is in near-perfect condition and that a blocked artery diagnosed in 2004 had cleared. I did not have diabetes or glaucoma. The doctor was not sure what caused me to collapse since my blood pressure was good at the time,
“When I came out of hospital, I continued with the blood pressure medication and found it too strong so I went to a specialist who said I was grossly overweight, and I should put in a gastric sleeve. He was quite insistent. The cost started at $60,000 but could reach about $200,000. More, when I read about the dangers,” he said.
Keeping a healthy diet
Following the saying “in for a penny, in for a pound”, Deyal decided to roll with the punches, and no matter what life threw at him, he decided to fight but would do it his way.
He said, “I decided that since I was a sportsman from my youth and was at my fittest as an adult when I was at Boston University doing a Fulbright fellowship in 1991-1992, I would go back to the gym. I started on May 23, two months ago. It’s now around seven weeks since I resumed. Within that seven weeks I’ve kept on a relatively healthy diet but getting the needed additional protein by having a skim milk and no-fat yogurt shake after training. With the training my appetite also decreased, I have also been drinking a lot of water.”
Deyal admits, it was not easy starting a fitness regime. At times he felt fatigued and quite weak.
He said, “I had problems doing a seated bench-press of 130 lbs and a leg press of 270 lbs. I expected that because as you get older you lose 30-40 per cent of your strength.”
Deyal has made fitness and eating healthy a priority, and the results are showing.
He said, “What I did not expect, and what has happened is that I now can do a seated bench press of 250 pounds and several reps of 190 lbs. I now leg press 1,200 lbs and believe I can do 1,300, more than six times my bodyweight. I am not sure what has caused this except my anger at the doctor and my determination.”
Dechon Durity is one of the trainers at the gym Deyal attends.
Durity says Deyal has shown great improvement from where he started, and for a man in his 70s, he is quite fit and has a lot of strength.
From 2006-2008, Deyal was the corporate secretary of the West Indies Cricket Board. He served from 2003 -2006 as a Public Education and Outreach specialist for the World Bank/Caricom twelve-country Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change (MACC) Project based in Belize but covering the English-speaking Caribbean. He also served as the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) Media/Communications advisor for the Caribbean in the Department of Health Promotion and Protection from 1994-1998.
Deyal’s media career has spanned over several decades. Between 1974 and 1981 he was a television producer, Public Relations Division, Office of the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago. He served as Public Relations Manager, Caroni (1975) Limited from 1981-1990. He also held the position of Chief Information Officer, Government of Trinidad and Tobago in 1991.
Tony Deyal has been a columnist with the Trinidad Express for the past 24 years, also writing a column in the Business Express.
Apart from this newspaper, he was written for the Kaieteur News of Guyana and the Jamaica Gleaner.
Today, Deyal says he enjoys life and stays active. “My exercise every day starts with doing 2 and a half miles in 30 minutes on the treadmill. I don’t run, I walk fast, because I prefer low-impact to high-impact exercises. Then I alternate upper body with lower body: Monday, Wednesday, Friday — upper and Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday lower. Sunday is now my rest day. I concentrate on strength building — five sets of five reps each with the highest weight in the middle or third rep. I also do a special lifting or pushing a weight that is 80 per cent of my maximum in that exercise once every 30 seconds until I get tired. You do that twice a week and find your maximum increases. It worked for me in the bench and leg press exercises. I end my routine with ten minutes of cool down — five minutes on the rower and five to ten on the elliptical walker — they help me stretch.
He said, “My regime is simple, eat healthy but taking in carbs like whole grain bread as part of my diet. I no longer eat any fatty meats – we (my wife and I) stick to chicken (no skin) and seafood, lots of garlic in everything except cake and ice-cream, and three or four small meals instead of huge meals.”
Deyal has no idea what the future holds for him but is contemplating starting a group for the elderly called HOP (Hope for Older People).