Curious as to what I’ve been up to over the past while? As I’ve transitioned from athlete to businessman, I’ve been involved with many different projects and companies, from the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation to Fantan Group, to Kicker, Velofix, and CIBC’s Team Next. Morgan Campbell from the Toronto Star interviewed me on life after competitive sport, and you can check out the video here.
OTTAWA – Olympic medalist Simon Whitfield and Hockey legend Trevor Linden are helping the new Canadian Men’s Health Foundation (CMHF) let men know they don’t need to change much to feel better and live healthier.
CMHF officially launched today on Parliament Hill with senior federal and provincial government officials, national health organizations, sports celebrities and leaders from corporate Canada in attendance.
“Guys have a lot on their plates with careers and families, and not a lot of time.” says four-time Olympian Simon Whitfield, “We want to give them information they can understand and use. Small changes that will help them step up and stay with us.”
CMHF unveiled its national awareness campaign encouraging men to change—but not too much. The campaign inspires men to make small, healthy lifestyle changes that will have a big impact on their lives. The campaign’s website—www.DontChangeMuch.ca—is populated with simple, healthy lifestyle tips and messages from CMHF’s National Champions: Trevor Linden, Simon Whitfield, Alain Vigneault, Shea Emry, Adam Kreek, Ned Bell and Jim Hughson.
“Every year too many Canadian men go missing from our daily lives not because they die, but because they have become very unhealthy or sick,” says Trevor Linden, President, Hockey Operations, Vancouver Canucks. “We want men to know they can change that by making small changes now.”
CMHF is pilot testing You Check, the world’s first health awareness tool built specifically for men. Sponsored in part by Sun Life Financial, You Check takes 10 minutes, is free, anonymous and 100% confidential. You Check is unique because it assesses seven different diseases to provide a customized report and lifestyle advice to help men establish healthy habits.
CMHF also unveiled plans for the first ever Canadian Men’s Health Week (CMHW). From June 9th to 15th—Father’s Day—CMHF will partner with the Canadian Medical Association, the Dietitians of Canada, and the Canadian Mental Health Association to raise awareness of men’s health. Simon Whitfield will launch the Stand Up Paddle for Men’s Health, powered by Duracell, that same week.
Dr. Larry Goldenberg, CMHF Founder and Chairman of the Board, has been working towards this day for five years. “Canada and its families would be a better place if more men lived more active and healthier lives,” says Goldenberg. “CMHF will create a new social movement that will serve to motivate men with health information and lifestyle programs in a way they can truly hear, absorb and act on. In time, men’s attention to health will become second nature, like seatbelts.”
The Don’t Change Much campaign focuses on five core areas to improve men’s health: Nutrition, Activity, Sleep, Mental Health and Smoking & Drinking.
Joining Dr. Goldenberg for the official launch was the founder of the Men’s Health Caucus MP Dr. Colin Carrie and representatives from Sun Life Financial – a National Sponsor of CMHF.
“We can’t do this on our own,” says CMHF President Wayne Hartrick. “We need to trigger the involvement of organizations across the country—from community centres to health care organizations and NGOs—to start this conversation with men.”
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Find more details about the Stand Up for Men’s Health paddle at Don’t Change Much.
Victoria – Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development, Coralee Oakes, announced today the appointment of new members to the BC Games Society Board of Directors including Olympians Simon Whitfield (Triathlon) and Dave Calder (Rowing), as well as Provincial Sport Organization leader Rochelle Winterton of Vancouver, and Terrace based marketing and communications expert Sarah Zimmerman.
“These individuals bring a wealth of skill and experience to the table and I know that the BC Games Society—not to mention B.C.’s young emerging athletes—will benefit from their efforts,” said Minister Oakes. “Serving as a board member takes time and dedication, and I want to thank all of these talented people for making the commitment to our sport community.”
Simon Whitfield and Dave Calder have been synonymous with elite sport in Canada. Both have had tremendous international success and won Olympic medals in their respective sports but, they have also translated that success into important leadership roles in sport and philanthropic endeavours.
“It is an honour to join the board of the BC Games Society and be part of an organization that provides such a valuable experience for our young athletes and has helped launch the careers of many of my fellow Olympians and Paralympians,” said Whitfield.
Rochelle Winterton is the Executive Director for the BC Lacrosse Association and a proven leader in the amateur sport sector. She is joined by marketing and communications professional Sarah Zimmerman of Terrace who was previously a Director for the 2010 BC Winter Games held in her community.
Byron McCorkell, City of Kamloops Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, has served on the board since 2011 and now moves into the role of Chair replacing outgoing Chair, Cathy Priestner Allinger. Also named to the board is Chris Graham who will sit as an ex-officio representative of the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.
“The members of this board have extensive expertise which will help guide the BC Games Society and ensure the organization continues to be a leader in sport and community development,” said Kelly Mann, President and CEO of the BC Games Society.
The BC Games Society is the leadership organization that guides the BC Winter and BC Summer Games and prepares Team BC for national multi-sport Games. The Ministerial appointed 13-member board is responsible for setting policy and direction to ensure the objectives of the Society are met.
Find the release and further details on the BC Games website.
As I sat relaxed with a coffee in hand watching all of the amazing winter athletes at this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, it brought back memories of my career as competitor. Having competed in four Games myself, I know how much work goes into getting there – that ultimate goal of standing on a podium representing your country. It’s one of the hardest things to do, both physically and mentally, and when it’s over – no matter where you placed – there is an interesting comedown. Something you’ve been working toward for so long is now passed and the question is, now what?
I have recently joined the advisory board of Power To Be, a not-for-profit organization which provides outdoor, adventure-based programs designed for youth and families in need of support. Based in Victoria and Vancouver, the organization is celebrating 15 years of inspiring connections with nature and getting kids and families outdoors. I’m really looking forward to working with an organization with a mandate that fits so well with my outlook on health and wellness, and you can’t ask for a more beautiful location to run programs than the West Coast!
You can find out more about Power To Be and the programs they offer here.
I came across this post today on Facebook from the highly esteemed filmmaker/author/activist, Michael Moore, and it struck a chord. He’s got an interesting outlook on fitness and body image. Quite simply, it’s a great read about feeling good about yourself…
[EXCERPT FROM FACEBOOK] I am now in Week 42 of my walks. Each day, 30 minutes, that’s it. Thousands of you have joined me since that Sunday night on March 18 when, as a joke, I said I was going for a walk. I had read that morning in the paper that there were now more people in the U.S. on anti-depressants than those who go to the movies. I tweeted out that maybe that’s the problem — perhaps if people got out and went to the movies more they might feel better. This unleashed a lively conversation about mood-aletering drugs, the lousy movies these days in theaters, the rip-off prices for 3D films, etc. Finally, someone wrote: “Sometimes I think what I need is just a brisk walk.” I tweeted, “Hey, there’s an idea! I’m putting my shoes on right now.” I went out and came back home after 30 minutes — and a few hundred of you had amazingly joined me where you live.
I’ve been told that men shouldn’t take selfies, but in this case I’m calling for an exception. In the shot I’m smiling, clinging to my paddleboard, submerged up to my armpits in the ocean. The water temperature of Oak Bay in Victoria is around 8 degrees Celcius, the wind is blowing at 25 knots and I still can’t get it out of my head that I need to get out and paddle around the pilot light in the Bains Channel. It’s just something that has to be done – and I snapped a photo that is equal parts proof that I’m doing it and reminder that this is my kind of therapy.
2013 has been an interesting year and as it comes to a close, I thought it would be fun to sit down with a friend to talk about all that has transpired. Part journalist, part lifestyle writer, all buddy, Adrien Sala is the founder of The Gentleman’s Kitchen and columnist with CBC. He asked the questions. I answered. It was fun.
Adrien Sala: So you “retired” recently. Have you booked a cruise ship holiday yet? I hear the buffets are amazing – stay away from the shrimp cocktail though.
Simon Whitfield: No cruise ships for me, I would go stir-crazy. And you’ll never find me sitting around watching endless sitcoms and playing golf. Retiring from Olympic sport just means turning the page to the next chapter.
Kidding aside, what caused the decision to move away from competing?
It was time. My passion for racing triathlons was waning and I have too much respect for the commitment that it takes to compete at the highest level. Triathlon is all encompassing and for me it was an obsession. So I decided it was time to move on to something else, the next challenge. Now I’m focusing on building a professional business career in sport through Fantan.
How has that transition been? I’ve heard moving from a professional sports career into other areas can been tough.
So much has changed in my life since the Olympics that moving on from my professional racing career just got pulled into the tornado. I really didn’t have the energy or the luxury to focus on it. Having a desk, office co-workers, and a list of expectations unrelated to lap times and power watts couldn’t be more different, but I’m enjoying the challenges. For some reason I enjoy being in over my head, and I’m adapting. Fantan is a great place to work. The change is amazing and I think I’m getting the hang of it.
That’s so different from what you’ve done in the past. Do you ever find yourself plotting an escape from a meeting so you can get outside and do something active? If so, any tips for the rest of us? And no, bomb threats are not an option.
All the time. I stare out the window a lot. I need to be outside working out, exploring, adventuring… I thrive on doing the work, whether it’s alone or head to head. I love to compete and drive, drive, drive, which made me a difficult guy to train with because I kept score at all times.
I really like to eat, drink and be merry through strange times in my life. What are you doing to remain sane in the face of such an interesting transition?
Indulge, eh? I’ve had to cut back. When I was training 30hrs a week I didn’t have to pay as much attention to the number of calories going in although I was always conscious of the quality. I work out about 7 hours per week, and my caloric intake reflects that. Pints of Hoyne Pilsner not included.
What has been the most surprising/challenging thing about moving into a new career?
It’s challenging to have a less structured list of expectations. Sport was simple like that: prepare, prepare, prepare. The goal was always the same—to hear the anthem—after that it was a matter of trusting coaches and getting down to the business of chopping wood, carrying water, doing work. Life at Fantan is less defined. I run the Sports Division where we develop innovative sports concepts, from ocean festivals to indoor stadium triathlons. I’m an entrepreneur involved in numerous businesses at the same time. Thankfully I work with an incredible group of “get shit done” people who are both perfectionists and very patient with me.
So I think you know that I run a website called CookingToGetLaid, which is about men putting in more effort when doing something nice for women. I’m sure you’ve got other focuses, but now that you’re not competing do you have time to get into cooking? Are you a good cook–and do you have a go-to dish?
Cooking to keep the romance in your relationship sounds interesting. I’m learning. It’s a process. I make some pretty simple mistakes cooking; I’m missing the fundamentals but the effort is there and I try to be creative. Putting strawberries on lamb shank was a disaster, but I make a mean avocado salad and have a very nice kitchen, so I’m getting there.
It’s clear that the past year and a bit have been really interesting, if not hard work. What excites you about 2014, both professionally and personally?
We’re working on some great projects at Fantan. I really do enjoy it there. We’ve got an ocean festival in the works, we run design sessions for collaborative solution-finding with clients, Friday dance parties at the office—dubstep—which I usually win, but who’s keeping score? (I am.) Beyond that I’ll be heading to some SUP (standup paddle board) races this year. I can’t get enough of that sport. Having bought a 14-foot Naish ocean racer, I’m in for some score keeping on the SUP circuit, and fully anticipating getting absolutely destroyed by the waterman.
If there has been one major takeaway from the move into retirement and onto other things, what do you think that would be? Have you got any advice for other athletes—or anyone really—about making such big lifestyle changes?
Work toward a plan. Make a plan, find collaborators, and reward their work. Think ahead, set clear goals and work toward them. Also, it’s important to find balance. I stay sane by paddle boarding and exercising and hanging out with my girls. I can’t get enough!
Speaking of retirement… I think I’ll retire to Tofino one day where my grown up little girls can come find their dad exploring, SUP surfing, fishing, still trying to learn guitar, and chasing adventures. Until then, I’m happy to be in over my head at Fantan with daily escapes to Discovery Island on my paddleboard, or to the gym with the boys for what ever pick up sport is keeping score. I’m super excited about the next year and the fun things we’ve got coming.
“I enjoy the process and preparation. I’m motivated because I feel very privileged to be able to express myself through sport, to call something I love to do a job. Focusing on Ironman distance races, starting with Half-Ironmans, is simply a way to express hard work that I really enjoy.”
Check out the rest of the interview over at livinghealthe.com.