Rather than become attentive to their health in their twenties or thirties, they charge on; full-speed, carefree, and reckless.
I recently underwent one of my routine health exams. The fact that I have now reached the middle age chapter of my life, I make it a point to get two check ups: one at the beginning of the year, and another toward the end of the year. I was pleased to learn that everything is in good standing. My body is functioning well. I have no life crippling diseases. My weight is good. The lungs and other vital signs are strong, with the exception of mild blood pressure (which is genetic in my case, but under control with medication), my health is solid. I was grateful to hear this.
A little over a decade ago, I had gotten careless with my health and eating habits and as a result I had ballooned to over 300 lbs on a 5’7 frame. I was at serious risk for a number of problems. To put it bluntly, I was unhealthy. My doctor at the time, after he had diagnosed me, did not sugarcoat anything. Without mincing words he said,
“You are going to have some SERIOUS problems in the next 7-10 years if you do not change your current lifestyle.”
I will admit that I was taken aback to upon hearing such a blunt prognosis. The words hit me like a hammer. Nonetheless, in hindsight, it was one of the best things that happened to me. It was the news that I needed to hear. I was in my late thirties at the time and over the past decade, I have made it a priority to become more health conscious. Almost immediately I changed my dietary habits, stepped up my physical activity, hit the gym EVERYDAY (including Sunday), became friends with treadmills and elliptical machines, participated in high intensity fitness classes – cardio kickboxing, zumba, werq, step challenge, water aerobics, (I will get to hot power yoga before long), outdoor power walking, etc… And yes, I changed my diet! As time progressed, I dropped over 90lbs. The same doctor (since retired) was ecstatic. In fact, he told me “I am so proud of you!” I thanked him. I was also proud of myself. Over the past few years, I have fluctuated up and down between 10-12 lbs but have largely managed to keep my weight under control.
I am sure that my situation was not exclusive and that is one thing that a number of other men can identify with. The fact is that when guys are younger we think we are going to live for eternity. Nothing will stop us. We feel we are largely invincible. I was one of those men.
As a result, when many men hit their middle-age or later years, they get into a pattern of reactive care. By this, I mean rather than become attentive to their health in their twenties or thirties by curbing or at least modifying excessive behavior, they charge on, full-speed with carefree and reckless behavior well into their mid to late thirties or much later. Then all of a sudden, one day they wake up and realizes that they have dreadfully abused their bodies through poor diet, drugs, alcohol, reckless sex etc… and by this time for some, it has become too late to make a U-turn. Diabetes, liver disorders, cholesterol, alcoholism, sexually transmitted diseases (in some cases, deadly ones), double, triple or quadruple bypass surgery— these are just some of the issues they are forced to confront in their later years.
Women, on the contrary, are far more likely to engage in preventative health practices. They are considerably more likely go to the doctor for routine checkups. Women are the leaders in health care in this country. Moreover, they are likely to keep abreast of new breakthroughs in the health field. In fact, the overwhelming amount of health care decisions are driven by women. To use the funny quote: “A man can have a foot growing through his stomach and he still will not go to the doctor.” Sad to say in some case, this is true. The reasons that so many men have an aversion to addressing their health are varied and up for debate. Though, reasons aside, here are some of the things that men can do to combat such a problem:
Live healthy and responsibly:
Practice Good Hygiene
Keeping your ears, teeth, & hair clean; getting regular eye exams; and keeping your body clean in general; these should all be given. Doing these will make you more appealing to others around you and prevent potential problems down the road. As you age, such habits and behavior will be even more crucial.
Maintain Good Friendships
Most studies, past, recent, and present, agree with the fact that men who have strong, solid friendships are more likely to be happier and healthier than men who are loners. This is particularly true for men in middle age. If you are a man who has trouble making friends consider joining a church, synagogue, temple, rotary club, gym, or undertake some intellectual pursuits etc… Doing so will keep your mind and/ or body active/ robust, and you are less likely to feel angry, isolated, and frustrated.
Find Ways to Relax
Whether it be fishing, cooking, sports, debating, video games, social clubs etc…Engage in activities that make you happy. Doing so will relieve a lot of the tension and stress that can potentially occupy your life.
The fact is, that a sound mind and body are intertwined and are not mutually exclusive. Each element depends on the other and it is crucial that we as men utilize them both in an effort to live happy, healthy and fulfilling lives by taking care of and doing the best we can for our bodies. We owe it to our wives, children, girlfriends, partners, significant others, as well as ourselves.
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