Hit­ting the big 4-0

With the new year upon us, our colum­nist bids adieu — re­luc­tantly — to his 30s.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - STYLE -

THIS be­ing De­cem­ber 4, we’re less than a month away from the new year; se­ri­ously, where did the time go? And 2014 is when I’ll be hit­ting the big 4-0. (Shud­der, silent scream.)

Like most peo­ple in their late 30s, this past year has been a gi­gan­tic wake-up call, where health – and mor­tal­ity – is con­cerned.

A re­cent ar­ti­cle in Bri­tish news­pa­per The Daily Mail in­di­cated that be­ing struck by a pre-40 health wake-up call is not un­com­mon.

A sur­vey of 2,000 Bri­tons aged 25 and over found that three quar­ters of them make se­ri­ous life­style changes, such as eat­ing a health­ier diet and ex­er­cis­ing more when they start to feel old at age 39.

“Re­searchers found the ap­proach to the big 4-0 is the point when peo­ple re­ally start to worry about the long-term health im­pli­ca­tions of the bad habits and poor di­ets they en­joyed ear­lier in life,” said the pa­per.

“Three quar­ters are so con­cerned they have gone on to make se­ri­ous life­style changes such as giv­ing up smok­ing or al­co­hol, ex­er­cis­ing more, eat­ing a health­ier diet and even quit­ting their job.”

The “Top 10 Wake Up Calls” listed were: 1) Start­ing to feel old 2) A mi­nor health scare 3) Reach­ing a mile­stone birth­day 4) A se­ri­ous health scare 5) A friend fall­ing ill due to their life­style 6) The death of a friend or rel­a­tive 7) Be­ing told off by a doc­tor 8) Watch­ing some­thing on TV 9) Read­ing an ar­ti­cle in a news­pa­per 10) Re­search on the In­ter­net Go­ing down that list, I sub­con­sciously ticked ALL of the items. (Shud­der, loud scream.)

In re­gard to No 6, three peo­ple that I know passed away within the span of one week re­cently. It was a very sad week, need­less to say.

A fort­night ago, I cov­ered the demise of Datuk Zang Toi’s dad for our news pages. In talk­ing to the de­signer, I could re­late to his grief as I lost my fa­ther a year ago.

Zang was in Sin­ga­pore at­tend­ing a con­fer­ence when he got the bad news. He said the 45-minute flight to Kuala Lumpur felt like the long­est hour of his life. I com­pletely un­der­stood what he meant as I had to rush back to Pe­nang af­ter get­ting the phone call from my sob­bing sis­ter that dad had died.

In fact, I would say that his sud­den death last Novem­ber roused my aware­ness that time is so pre­cious. My mum is of ut­most pri­or­ity to me now; I con­stantly worry about how she’d cope af­ter los­ing her spouse of four decades.

To en­sure that I am around to take care of her, I need to be in tip-top shape.

I have cut down on al­co­hol (boo-hoo) and am try­ing (“try­ing” be­ing the op­er­a­tive word) to watch what I eat. But be­ing from Pe­nang, I love my hawker food; some­times the greasier, the bet­ter.

Of late, I have been go­ing back to the gym, and en­gaged the ser­vices of a per­sonal trainer. Once, while work­ing out, I com­plained to him that my left kneecap was mak­ing a funny, squeaky noise.

“Is it some­thing to be wor­ried about?” I in­quired timidly. He looked at me straight in the eyes, and replied: “No lah, Wil­liam, that’s just one of the signs of age­ing.” Grrr.

Just last week, a group of teenagers came into our of­fice to so­licit do­na­tions for a char­i­ta­ble cause.

My col­league In­dra – who’s still youth­ful-look­ing – ex­pressed her hor­ror when not one, but two, of the teens called her “aunty”.

“I al­ready do­nated money,” I quickly said to one of the girls in the group. “Don’t call me un­cle!” Her cheeky re­tort was: “Yes, un­cle.” Grrr.

When I first joined The Star in 1994, I was a wee 20-yearold lad and was con­sid­ered the “baby” amongst my col­leagues. Now when I go for work events, I no­tice in­creas­ingly younger re­porters, most of whom I do not know. Where have all my peers gone?

Friends have been kind and say I look younger than my age (which I at­tribute to good genes). A cou­ple of them are al­ready plan­ning a birth­day bash in July to usher in my fab­u­lous forties.

But, as much as I’m look­ing for­ward to an ex­cuse to party with my bud­dies, I do not look for­ward to bid­ding adieu to my thir­ties.

And un­til I find that elu­sive foun­tain of youth, don’t call me un­cle, OK?

Though Wil­liam finds com­fort in the oft-re­peated mantra that 40 is the new 20, he does won­der who said it. Send your feed­back to star2@thes­tar.com.my.

Spring into ac­tion: a re­cent sur­vey of 2,000 bri­tons aged 25 and over found that three quar­ters of them make se­ri­ous life­style changes, such as ex­er­cis­ing more when they start to feel old at age 39. — aFP

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