It’s that time of year, again.
Father’s Day is right around the corner, and children everywhere, young and old, are scampering off to find the perfect gift to honor their dad. Some will lean toward tradition with a new tie, some will usher a mischievous grin and chuckle with a gift that summons an inside joke, while others will pull at the heartstrings with a gesture that is emotional and sentimental. With all this thought and love wrapped around fathers in June, it’s no wonder that June is also Men’s Health Month.
Statistics Do Not Favor Men
Men’s Health Month aims to raise awareness for men’s health and spotlights the importance of healthy decisions, such as exercising and eating healthy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “men in the United States, on average, die 5 years earlier than women and die at higher rates from nine of the top 10 leading causes of death.” These statistics are not meant to create visions of the Grim Reaper. On the contrary, these statistics are meant to inspire men to take control of their health and by doing so, their present and future.
Although it may be easier to give age and/or life circumstances the blame for deteriorating health, it’s not helpful. The sooner one realizes it’s never too late to take their health seriously, the sooner their health improves. In a world that seems dedicated to creating bad habits and treating the consequences of those bad habits, be committed to living your best life by creating your best health. After all, health isn’t something that purely exists; it is strengthened or deteriorated by the decisions one makes every single day.
Take Control of Your Health & Your Life
Healthline offers the following advice for men:
- Visit your doctor- Schedule and keep yearly checkups
- Eat natural foods- Limit processed sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, artificial additives, & calories
- Get moving- Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise, every week
- “Heart disease is the leading cause of death among American men. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to prevent heart disease and keep your ticker strong. It can also help you improve and maintain your overall physical and mental well health.”
- Maintain a healthy waist- Strive for a waistline below 40 inches.
- According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a waist measuring more than 40 inches “raises your risk of obesity-related diseases. For example, men with large waists are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.”
- Get your vitamins- Eat a well-balanced diet of vitamin and mineral-rich foods and consider multivitamins such as EMPowerplus.
- Break unhealthy habits- Curb smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and recreational or habitual drug use, this includes anabolic steroids used to increase muscle mass.
- Protect your skin
- Get your prostate checked
- Check for colorectal (colon) cancer
Start the Conversation
Talking about health with a loved one can be extremely difficult. No one wants to hurt anyone’s feelings. No one wants to make someone feel judged. But there’s truth in the popular phrase “love you to death.” Sometimes when we don’t talk about what needs to be talked about most, such as poor health, we become an enabler… we become part of the very cycle that is deteriorating those we love most from the inside out.
But there is something that can be more excruciating than talking to a loved one about your concern for their well-being and that’s having a conversation with yourself. No one wants to admit that their life is void of health habits and that their body has only seen fruits and vegetables if salsa and Welch’s fruit snacks count.
To admit that your poor health is less about age and old sports injuries than it is your love of fast food and late-night snacking is brutal. But it shouldn’t be. The moment the rose-colored glasses slip off and you see the connection between your daily decisions and your health, the sooner you can adopt healthier decisions. Those rose-colored glasses slipping off should be a reason to celebrate, not a reason to beat yourself up for a past you cannot change.
Men’s Health Month isn’t a feel-good, irrelevant-to-life made up holiday like National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, although I am a fan of that day. Men’s Health Month is about inspiring men to show their children that health is always worth fighting for and working toward. Grandchildren need their grandpa. Children need their father. Wives need their husbands. Communities need wisdom and perspective.
It’s Not Just You Who Suffers
Being healthy is not about your exterior presence; it’s about living and thriving. As Dr. Wayne Scott Anderson said, “30% of heart attacks worldwide are caused by poor diet, due in part to an overindulgence of two foods: fried and salty. Cut down; base your meals around heart-healthy fruits and veggies.” What is heartbreaking about Dr. Anderson’s words is that he’s saying 30% of heart attacks are avoidable… that they didn’t need to happen… that those children and grandchildren who had to suffer through the pain and sometimes the loss of their loved one due to their loved one’s heart attack didn’t need to suffer.
June may technically be Men’s Health Month, but every month is an opportunity for men, and all individuals, to create health and move further from illness, not closer to it. There’s a difference between truly living your life and merely surviving it, and understanding this makes all the difference.
Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach