Bernt: I plan to live as best as I can
Which lifestyle do you prefer, active or measured?
I am 77 years old now, and I have been an active person since I came to this world. I was a very restless young man and continued maintaining an active lifestyle, as far as my health allows me. Of course, every year, it becomes more challenging. I can’t do things I have been doing at 25. But I exercise with dumbbells every morning and do weight training; this is my old habit. I walk a lot. I have a dog, I found her in a dumpster when she was only 5 weeks old, and she had her ears and tail cut. We decided to take care of her, and now she is my best friend. We walk a lot. I also play boccia (an Italian ball game similar to bowling or petanque – translator’s note). I have played this game for a long time, and I am a captain of two first league teams. So, I don’t sit still.
Do you like traveling?
All my life I have been a passionate photographer. I’ve been shooting fashion and sports events everywhere. I tell you, I am unstoppable. I am so surprised my wife stands me. We are 39 years together now and I met so many beautiful women, but my wife still deeply loves me all these years.
Can you recognize that you are satisfied with your lifestyle today?
Of course. Can you imagine, I can get vitamin C from my own trees. I love this! The sun is shining every day. It’s been a bit chilly here, just +15C for 3-4 days in a row, and for this weather, we change t-shirts and shorts for long sleeves and pants. Today is +16C, not hot. But the clouds will part, and the weather clears by 2 p.m.
What do you think are the quality of life and lifespan associated? Is it critical to live long?
I have a funny story for you. A long time ago, when I was 20 years old, I shot in the very north of Norway. Gypsies camped not far from me, and I decided to visit them. An old gypsy lady was sitting on a van’s step, and she offered to tell me fortunes. I agreed. I took a few Norwegian kroner out of my pocket and held my hand to her. She said I would live long and not be a rich man, but I would have four kids, three daughters, and a son. “You will live over a hundred years,” she told me. It sounded funny, but I remember her words. And now I have three daughters and one son. Thirty years later, I’ve been shooting in Porto, in the North of Portugal. There was also a gypsy camp there, and I decided to take pictures of them. At the circus tent, a gypsy lady offered to tell my fortunes again. I entered the tent and gave her my palm. This gypsy was young; she said: “Wow, you will have a long life, you won’t be rich, but you will have three daughters and one son, you will live more than a hundred years.” Word by word! So I aim to live at least a hundred years.
What do you plan for the next 20 years?
I will continue living the way I live now, have a healthy and active lifestyle as far as I can at my age. My joints are not the same as they were when I was young; they need support. That is why I started to take Vitaliv’s Flex Repair. I think that nature-based medicine is our future and all these chemical pills are to be gone from our lives. I never take medicine. And yes, I plan to live the best I can, to do what I like, and support my family and friends so they would feel great. That is my plan.
How would you describe the advantages of your age?
Well, most mistakes are already made. I’ve poked my nose where I shouldn’t have so many times, but I don’t do that anymore. I fell into the trap several times, and now I know how to avoid it.
Do you like your age?
It’s odd enough, but yes. I am not afraid to celebrate another birthday. I feel happy, and I have a party, the next one is on the go! Do you know what I do every morning as I wake up? First thing, I go to the mirror and say: “Hello buddy, so, let’s go?” It boosts my mood, and many people would be happier if they started the day like this.
What would you spend a lot of money on?
On food. As for me, the food needs to be tasty. I like to cook; I prefer good quality ingredients. I would not eat preserved food, real meat, and fresh fish only. And a good bottle of wine, as here the wine is cheap and plentiful. Here you can buy good quality wine for 4 euro or even less. In Sweden, the wine would cost not less than 250 kronor.
Do you learn something new – language, technique, sport?
Yes, if you don’t learn anything new constantly, you will end up soon. It is essential; that is why I always try to educate myself. For instance, I am learning Spanish now, but progress is not so inspiring. Sometimes I am ashamed of my Spanish. At least I can explain myself, so I am not a total disaster here.
Do you prefer to spend your time with friends or family? How often do you communicate with friends and relatives?
We have a lot of friends, we often meet, cook and have dinner together. I like to cook, that is why friends want to come to my place. Everything is a lot cheaper here in Spain, fruits and vegetables are so fresh as they just have been picked. It is easy to get used to the good things. Sometimes I visit friends in Sweden, and I can’t stay calm in stores – how could you possibly pay 30 kronor for a seed-size avocado?
Do you think your diet is balanced?
I want to believe so, as I feel good. Of course, I won’t say that I am immortal because of it, but I have a healthy diet. I drink alcohol moderately, without any extreme. I can have a glass of wine with my dinner; sometimes, I have a bit of whisky. I eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables with fish or meat; I like chicken. Rabbit meat is also good, but you won’t find it everywhere here. However, fish and seafood cost nothing compared to prices in Sweden.
Do you think you get enough nutrients with food?
Yes, certainly. But of course, one always lacks some minerals or microelements; this is why we all need supplements.
Do you take supplements?
Yes, I take only Flex Repair. It is a supplement made to support joint health. I have been taking it for 4 weeks, and I like the result so far. Also, I would like to eat more blueberries to support my eyesight. I heard it is good for older people.
How often do you interact with your Swedish friends and family?
I have four kids; we keep in touch. I have been married for 39 years. We married when my wife was 19, and now she is 58; we had so much together, and everything is still so good between us. Our children visit us when they can as they all work and have relationships. But as soon as they have a few free days, they come to see their old men.
How much time do you spend on the internet and social media?
I use the internet daily; I write something new on Facebook every day. You can visit my page and find Bernt Johan; I can be pretty wild, so there are many exciting things. I even have my own blog called Viva Torre.
Is your social life active?
Of course, I have no problems with it. Here in Spain, people treat each other with more warmth. We Scandinavians also deeply care about each other. Still, here people care much for everyone to feel comfortable, and if someone disappears and doesn’t call, everyone tries to figure out why it happened.
What else do you do to make your life better?
Well, we could have talked about it if my life depended on many things. But it doesn’t; I am satisfied with what I have. I enjoy my life, actually. I don’t know what could be better. I hope I will be healthy till the end and have the opportunity to move.
We all sometimes feel sadness, boredom, gloom. What can make your mood better?
It’s funny, but when I feel sad – thank God, it happens rarely, but it does happen – I take my accordion and play an old waltz or something else from my favorites, and I feel much better. Nothing complex. Also, it helps me to be alone with myself because all the neighbors close their doors and windows. It is the best cure for the blues.
What other hobbies do you have? How do you like to spend your free time?
Oh, it is a difficult question. I still photograph a lot, so the best thing is to take a bus and go to the city with my camera. I live in a suburb, although it is pretty close to the center. I grab my camera or the drawing album and look for people I want to take pictures of or do sketches.
You said you like physical activities. Was it always so?
Yes. I am in good shape for my age, I can compare myself with some fifty-year-old men. I have always been fit as a fiddle as I have always done sports and had an active lifestyle. I carefully watch my numbers, and even if some of them don’t meet the norm, I still feel good. I used to say that nothing would strike me down.
What are you always happy to talk about?
I like to talk about health and wellbeing, how to feel good and care for yourself, about all opportunities one can use without ignoring any symptoms. There are pretty simple things you should keep in mind constantly. Stop for a moment, look at the sky and feel blessed with your life. Concentrate on positive things and live mindfully, not just go with a flow. We all live in constant stress, doing our best to do twice what is planned. I am so afraid of it. Stop, feel your breath, think about where you go and what for! Take a breath, hold it and release it. Everybody is so f..ing scared, sorry for the strong words. Nobody has time to think of themselves; everybody wants to be on top. I like to talk about this; I studied these issues of mental health and physical activities quite a lot, that is why I can discuss them with different people. I can make people think about it, and this is what I am interested in. I also follow politics. I am so pissed off that Sweden is falling apart because of a mediocre government. It is a very interesting subject, but I never discuss politics as I don’t want to argue with anybody. And I live in Spain. Here we have topics that are much more important than Swedish politics.
What would you write in a letter to yourself 20 years ago, if it was possible?
Twenty years ago, I was 57. Only God knows what I would write… “enjoy your life and try to be kind,” probably. People say I am an extremely kind person; that is what they like about me. They say I have a big heart, and I am delighted to hear that, as I do my best to be kind. Although when I am not in the mood, you better stay away.
What can you afford now that you couldn’t when you were young?
Now I have an opportunity not to work. And I feel so good about it. Today is a wonderful day, and it would be even better when the sun shows up. I have a hole in my pocket; my finances are not so good, my pension is tiny as I didn’t pay a lot of taxes when I was young. Bit money is not the most important thing in life. I have enough for a living. A few euros are left in my wallet even by the end of the month. So why should I complain?
What food do you prefer?
I can eat everything, but here in Spain, I eat more vegetables than in Sweden. First of all, because they are very good here. And they are also cheaper and more affordable. Cooking is my favorite thing to do. It is my real passion. I like to cook complex dishes to experiment. I always invited friends to try it, and no one died yet! They came again! A few days ago we had a festive dinner. Everyone said I have to run my restaurant after that, but I don’t want to. My home is my restaurant.
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