LGH doctor taking part in Clifford Craig's Run & Walk For Your Heart

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE: LGH director of medicine Dr Alasdair MacDonald today and, inset, with his wife Karen in 2014. Main Picture: Neil Richardson

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE: LGH director of medicine Dr Alasdair MacDonald today and, inset, with his wife Karen in 2014. Main Picture: Neil Richardson

A few years ago, Dr Alasdair MacDonald found himself eating and drinking too much to escape the frustrations in his life and work.

The Launceston General Hospital director of medicine’s weight had always fluctuated, but when he got to 30 kilograms heavier than he is today, he realised he needed to do something about it.

“I was finding I was eating and probably drinking more than I should, and I was doing it to escape the frustrations rather than just for pleasure,” he said.

“I had a late midlife crisis type thing where I thought I needed to take control.”

Now, the 55-year-old is preparing to participate in the Clifford Craig Foundation’s Run & Walk For Your Heart in Launceston next Sunday with his daughter Anna.

“She’s fit and a gym enthusiast and has always been very sporty and athletic so I expect to see her disappear into the distance and I’ll trot along behind.”

When Dr MacDonald decided to change his lifestyle a few years back, he increased his exercise, watched what he ate, cut down on his portion sizes, and stopped drinking alcohol at home, limiting that to social occasions.

“I spent quite a chunk of my life with the, ‘do as I say, not as I do’, type of advice to patients and wasn’t necessarily setting a good example.

“So it was about being in the right mind-space and deciding the time had come and having a moment where I thought, ‘I’m not letting the frustrations of the world cause me to eat and drink too much and not exercise enough. I’m not letting them impact on my lifestyle’. 

“Much of it’s in the head, not in the legs or stomach. It was changing my approach to the way in which I looked at my health.”

Dr MacDonald has a family history of vascular disease, so part of his decision to change his lifestyle was to “be sensible” about that.

“I have my blood pressure treated and I exercise and diet in order to manage the other aspects.”

He’s now about three-quarters of the way to his fitness and weight goals.

“Because it’s been done very slowly over a long period of time, I would hope I can sustain those lifestyle changes after doing them for this long and maintain a reasonably healthy weight range going into the future.”

Dr MacDonald said if people wanted to make the same lifestyle changes he made, the first thing they needed to do was decide to make it happen.

“You’ve got to make up your mind to do it.

“You’ve got to realise that it’s about living a healthy lifestyle and there’s not an end point. How you change needs to be in a way you know you can sustain long-term.”

Dr MacDonald walks to and from work everyday unless it’s “absolutely bucketing down”.

When he travels, he makes sure he walks or runs in the mornings.

“This last year or so, as my weight went down to a point where my knees are okay for me to run, I’ve taken up running again. It’s been a gradual thing.

“I don’t think you can go on a diet and then expect you can go back to the lifestyle that put the weight on, so it’s been about making the changes and knowing they’re changes for life - not just changes to lose weight and then return to overeating and drinking too much.”

Run & Walk For Your Heart is on Sunday October 1 at UTAS Stadium.

The kids 800-metre starts at 9.30am, and the five-kilometre starts at 10am.

Free health checks will be provided at our healthy lifestyle station on the day.