Wednesday March 6, 2013
Fitting role model
By SHEELA CHANDRAN
At 75, Datuk Dr Hashim Abdul Wahab inspires young and old alike with his healthy attitude.
DATUK Dr Hashim Abdul Wahab may be 75, but he keeps an exercise regime that may leave some of us gasping for breath. For starters, he jogs 6km thrice a week, swims 700m to 1km twice a week, and cycles between 30km and 60km every week.
The former director-general of the Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB) is a firm believer of the principle: Health is wealth. And he works hard to stay fit and is careful with his diet.
“I may be 75 but I have the heart of a 28-year-old (laughs). It is important to exercise. It doesn’t need to be anything difficult or too strenuous. Start slow and build up stamina. When I was in my early 20s, I played squash and did a lot of running. I perfected my swimming stokes at 50 years old and went on to participate in the 1998 Sabah International Triathlon at 60. It is never too late to pick up a new sport or activity,” says the fit-as-a-fiddle retiree, who was one of the torchbearers at the Beijing 2008 Olympics Torch Relay in Kuala Lumpur in 2008.
While Hashim’s stamina and endurance can put many to shame, his glowing complexion is also the envy of many who marvel at his youthfulness.
The trim grandfather of three believes his age-defying secret lies in a concoction of freshly prepared juices made from organic produce from his garden. Every morning, he gulps down a drink of blended star fruit flowers. To complement his diet, his wife Datin Kamariah Mohd Saad prepares a herbal tea which she brews daily using a leafy plant, pecah beling (Strobilanthes crispus), which is said to have anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties.
“Plants have many medicinal benefits. Noni fruit helps reduce high blood pressure and diabetes, while lemon grass works wonders for flatulence, irregular bowel movement and is a mild diuretic. Clinical data shows that turmeric helps aid hypertension and has anti-inflammatory effects,” explains Hashim, whose vast knowledge of plants and their benefits can be attributed to his years at the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi). His last position there was as deputy director-general (Commodity Research) before being transferred to MCB.
Hashim now runs Agreenetts Consultants, an agricultural consulting firm, from his home.
With such vast experience in the agricultural field, it is no surprise that Hashim is a strong advocate of eating green vegetables and herbs, which boost the immune system.
“Staying healthy lessens the probability of being a burden to others. Everyone should have a philosophy in life. My goal is to be a role model to my grandchildren and expose them to the outdoors,” says Hashim, who has three grandchildren, aged between seven and 16.
Aside from exercise, Hashim keeps himself busy with community activities. He is president of Persatuan Pesara Mardi, fellow and council member of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, committee member of the Malay-Polynesian World Organisation, and president of Persatuan Tok Din and Tok Piah Malaysia (a family organisation).
Hashim is also a bookworm, spending close to four hours a day reading books and the daily newspapers. His spacious and neatly organised library houses over 5,000 books with a wide range of topics, from health and fitness to economics and sustainable development.
“I have benefited most from reading. I have gained so much knowledge concerning exercise, food, herbs and spirituality,” says the friendly septuagenarian who, during his career at Mardi and MCB, had a string of publications encompassing agriculture and the cocoa industry. In 2005, he added another feather in his cap when he received the Langkawi Award for his contribution to nature education and tree planting programmes in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
To date, Hashim has written six books, including Adventure Journeys In Sabah (2001) and In Search Of Happiness (2009). He continues his passion for writing in his blog (drhashimjofhappiness.blogspot.com) which covers topics such as friendship, travels, balanced living, happiness and longevity, and book reviews.
“The blog allows me to share whatever little experiences I have accumulated over the years,” says Hashim.
When he isn’t tied down with work commitments or blogging, Hashim likes to globe-trot. In the last five years, the avid traveller has backpacked in Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand, with his friends.
“My travels have enabled me to soak in the culture and history, and enjoy the food and beautiful landscape of these Asian countries. This year, I’m planning to go to Kazakhstan and the Polynesian Islands of Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and Tuvalu,” says Hashim, who is also an avid mountain-climber and diver.