Chris Wilkinson, right, is inspired by Hank Andresen, a senior who has turned his health around. (Chris Wilkinson photo)

Chris Wilkinson, right, is inspired by Hank Andresen, a senior who has turned his health around. (Chris Wilkinson photo)

Chris Wilkinson column: Get healthy with Hank – local senior inspires better health

Hank unintentionally got into some unhealthy habits

By Chris Wilkinson

Everyone has a great story. An inspiring story. And life experiences are the source of these great stories! So many seniors I get to speak with have the most amazing stories.

Hank is one of these people.

Hank was new to the Cowichan Valley just prior to the pandemic. Rough start. However, he’s now 84 and up to some big things! When Hank first arrived in Cowichan and the pandemic restrictions hit, he wasn’t one for sitting around with nothing to do. He wanted to inspire others who were feeling the effects of isolation and depression. Hank started emailing everyone he had emails for a song every morning and every evening. He called it Hank’s Radio Station. But while Hank was busy playing disc jockey via email, he had started to neglect his health. He was inactive and taking in way too many calories. Hank unintentionally got into some unhealthy habits. Habits that didn’t serve him well. He gained a lot of weight and was soon 50 lbs overweight. It got to the point where Hank’s belly entered a room a few seconds before the rest of him!

Hank hit a breaking point. He was feeling so unhealthy and his energy was low. Then unfortunately Hank was hospitalized with such intense abdominal pain he couldn’t even move. It was that moment for Hank where he had to decide about his future. This was the turning point. He decided his health must change! He committed to himself that he must change. So, at 83 years young Hank embarked on a new challenge. A challenge to save his own life.

After recovering from hospitalization, Hank ended up at the local Active Body fitness centre. He walked on the treadmill every day – for 1 km – taking breaks as he needed to. As Hank progressed, he increased his speed on the treadmill. Hank could feel that his body was liking it.

Hank then discovered some of the resistance training machines. He immediately enjoyed how his body felt lifting some light weights and this gave him even more momentum! He started doing some exercises at home too — not because he had to — because he wanted to! He worked at it and persisted even through the days when it felt tough.

In seven months, Hank had lost 50 lbs! His belly was nearly gone and he had boatloads more energy. He was walking on the treadmill for longer periods and working with weights he never could have imagined only several weeks earlier.

I happened to witness Hank’s transformation from up close, as I go to the same fitness centre as Hank. Hank is a star at our gym! He is so committed to his fitness he doesn’t miss a day. Hank has changed his self-image. His identity. The way he sees himself. When one shifts their identity, habits follow alongside. Hank has shared that he is so proud that he has gained his self-respect back. And that is so powerful.

And that’s not nearly the end of Hank’s inspiring story. As a matter of fact, it’s only the beginning!

As Hank’s accomplishment is such an inspiring one, and because Hank is a man of integrity who wants to encourage others, he has written a book about his journey back to healthy Hank! Not only that – his book is now published! It is entitled, Get Healthy With Hank. And it is available at Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/get-Healthy-Hank-Fitness-Happiness/dp/1778228208

Hank’s book is a wonderful chronicle of his journey. From where he started – including a few benchmarks of his medical status he shares to underscore how bad things were — to where he is now. And he continues to make notable improvements still. Also included in Hank’s book is a background about his life story, how he improved his nutrition and sleep quality alongside his fitness, and his home-based program. He believes if everyone focuses on three key elements — a fitness centre program, a home program, and good nutrition — they will achieve fitness, better health, and happiness! He has coined the powerful connection between these three elements “Hank’s Bermuda Triangle”.

My copy of Get Healthy With Hank has just arrived from Amazon.

Hank believes in his journey and story so deeply that he is using his new platform to get out in the community and share his experience with others. As a matter of fact, Hank joined me on stage at my presentation to the Seniors Expo recently and spoke for a few minutes to our audience about his accomplishments and book — all with the intention to inspire others to join him on his health-infusing journey. He has also reached out to all the TV stations he can think of, including a station in Las Vegas, where he’ll be visiting later this month for a tournament for the card game, Skat.

A stirring story like Hank’s is meant to be shared. Hank, you are a man of action!

With such impressive results, it’s hard to believe that just over six months ago Hank was an unhealthy, overweight, and inactive person with little purpose to drive his energy and engagement. Now, just a short while later, he is full of life and joie de vivre! Hank enjoys sailing, reading, classical music and ballroom dancing. When asked how his much-improved fitness has impacted his hobbies Hank simply said, “Before I could only dance to once song and then have to rest. Now I can dance all night!”

Hank has a newfound lease on life and so much excitement for sharing his story and inspiring others to be healthier and happier. He confided to me that he feels so blessed that he got his health and happiness back. And he also shared that he got his self-respect back in the process. He said to me recently, “I like myself again.”

Hank included a quote in his book that he learned from his Commander in the Navy in 1956. Primus inter pares. It translates to ‘first amongst equals’. Hank, my friend, you are indeed first amongst equals.

Chris Wilkinson is the Co-Owner for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit www.NurseNextDoor.com or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email Chris.Wilkinson@NurseNextDoor.com

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