I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Derek Simnett, a talented plant-based nutritionist specialising in sports and lifestyle mentoring.

Based in the stunning coastal region of Vancouver, British Columbia, Derek is a positive force for change in the lives of his clients – from individuals, to athletes and community groups. He leads an incredibly active lifestyle and oozes an infectious energy for life.

I wanted to understand more about his deeper connection to life and discover what motivates him to keep getting out there and doing things. Here’s what he said!

You have a real energy for life. Where does that come from?

As a kid I was always really enthusiastic. I was one of those ‘watch me, watch me’ kids. I’ve always been that way. My parents encouraged me to explore and to try new things, so from a young age I gained this sense of wonder that I’ve kept going in my adult years.

I like to look at things and say: “Wow, that is amazing! How did that get there? How did that happen?”

Once, I remember when I was a kid, I was in science class looking at a beaker through the light because I was interested in how the light reflected. And my teacher said to me: “Small minds, small thrills.” I told my mum and she was really offended by it, but it never bothered me because I knew it was entertaining and I was learning from it.

So I’ve always had that curiosity. For things big and small. But whenever I catch myself looking at light refracting off a window, and being in awe of the rainbow, I remember what my teacher said and I enjoy it for a little bit longer!

What’s your view on what life’s all about?

This is a grand question that requires an answer bigger than I feel I can give! But I feel that love and connectedness are some of the biggest parts of life and what make you feel like you’re whole.

They give you that warm feeling when you are around someone you love or when you feel so connected to nature that you can feel every bit of your body pulsing and vibrating. That is what I think life is all about, it’s for those moments.

I love your active lifestyle. What makes you get out there and do things?

Knowing that every time I get back, I never regret going outside and doing something. That’s what always gets me out there. I always know it’ll be an adventure. Something unexpected and amazing will happen.

And I will always come back and appreciate that moment. I’ll never regret it. I never come back from being outside on a hike or in the wilderness and say: “Man, I wish I hadn’t gone out today.” I don’t think I’ve ever said that in my life. So, any time it crosses my mind that I should get outside, it’s probably a good decision.

If you’re struggling to get out, just know that putting on your shoes before you get out of the door is the absolute hardest part – that’s more than half of it done because you’re already committed.

Every time I get back, I never regret going outside and doing something.

You’re outdoorsy too. How would you describe your relationship with nature?

Nature is like a good old friend. It’s always there for me, it listens, inspires me, humbles me and no matter where I move or where I am, it can always be found. It just feels good to be in nature. There’s a certain grounding and humbling feeling you get from it.

For me, there’s nothing better than being on top of a mountain and looking down on the forest. There’s something magical about it. You can see all the adventure that’s ahead of you. There’s tons to explore and the possibilities are endless.

I read a book by Tom Brown Jr about the connection with nature and the energy that moves through all of us. He talked about going into nature and just sitting and being really quiet and still, and to listen to the forest come alive. And once I read that book I tried doing it and I was blown away by how noisy and wild the forest is.

When you actually take the time to sit down, breathe, close your eyes and become one with that area, it sounds like a jungle. It’s pretty amazing.

 

How does being vegan fit in with that?

When I became vegan, I started realising that we are all connected and all beings just want love and life and to be with their families. It definitely helped me connect with nature and feel more connected, but it was a whole awakening when that shift happened. I became aware of my body, my breathing, and the relationships with people around me.

If you do it with love, then you're on the right path.

Now for a lighter question, what’s your favourite time of day and season?

I like this one! Because my favourite time of day is morning and my favourite season is summer, but summer mornings aren’t my favourite! I love summer evenings.

Mornings are amazing because I’ve structured my life where I can get up early and enjoy a few hours of my day before I have to do any work. Mornings for me have always been a time where I have lots of energy. And if you can get a lot done in the morning then you can enjoy the rest of the day. I’m not naturally a morning person but passion follows action, so now I like getting up early.

And in the Pacific Northwest there are only two seasons – summer and rain – so of course I’m going to pick summer!

 

When are you at your happiest?

When I’m exploring.

Exploring a new piece of nature, a forest, a mountain, a lake, or a river. I love it for the excitement, the wonder, the curiosity and the sheer awe of beauty. But excitement is the biggest feeling. I always say that whenever I’ve explored something for the first time – and I’ve even shouted it out before – “I will never experience this again for the first time!” I think it’s a really special thing when you experience a place for the first time. It’ll never have that same grandeur again.

And finally, what’s one piece of wisdom that you’d most like to share?

With whatever you’re doing, ask yourself if you’re doing it with love. If you are then you are on the right path. It’s a moral compass and a practice that I like to use and it’s pretty amazing how it’ll help most situations. And not just love for others, but love for yourself too.

 

Want to find out more?

If you are interested in Derek’s work and how he can support you in living a happier, healthier life, visit www.simnettnutrition.com.