It’s a fact: Guys are less likely to administer self-exams, eat healthy food, take their vitamins, ask for emotional support, and wear sunscreen. The price of their lack of self-care may be a high one. Real men take care of themselves!
The average male may be hastening his own demise by drinking and driving, having unsafe sex, or succumbing to suicide as a result of depression. The main reason? Men don’t want to be seen as wimps.
In our society boys often are told from a young age “don’t be a crybaby” and “take it like a man,” and many have been ostracized for showing vulnerability. When a boy crosses over into manhood, societal expectations don’t suddenly shift. If anything, there seems to be more pressure on men to “suck it up” with maturity.
If you’re a man, improving your odds of living a long and healthy life includes letting go of the harmful idea that the body is indestructible. I’ll let you in on a little secret, real me take care of themselves.
Here’s a look at some of the greatest threats to men’s health.
There are many kinds of heart disease, all of which can lead to serious or even fatal complications if left unaddressed. The American Heart Association estimates that one-third of adult men have some form of cardiovascular disease.
The majority of heart disease occurs when the arteries—which carry blood away from the heart—become obstructed. Vascular health affects circulation all over the body, not just in and around the heart.
An early sign of heart disease may be erectile dysfunction, although not having erectile issues doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Other symptoms of cardiovascular disease can include shortness of breath, pain, or weakness in the limbs, upper abdomen, or back.
Lifestyle factors such as eating habits play a huge role in determining the risk of heart disease and may prevent or even reverse the condition.
Cholesterol levels—a potential marker for heart disease—can be affected dramatically by diet. Cholesterol is found in all foods that come from animals: fish, eggs, cheese, and other dairy products, as well as red meat.
Simply choosing lean cuts of meat—or eating poultry—won’t get you off the hook. The cholesterol is mainly in the lean portion, and chicken contains as much cholesterol as beef. If eating meat is important to you, make it a point to thoughtfully manage how much and how often you consume it. Not only do real men take care of themselves they pay attention to what they eat, too!
Prostate cancer is the most commonly occurring non-skin cancer in men in the United States.
As men get older, many experience enlargement of their prostate, sometimes causing painful urinary problems. But prostate ailments are not inevitable. Like so many other physical conditions, food choices can affect prostate health. High intakes of dairy products appear to increase the risk for prostate cancer, while selenium-rich foods such as sunflower and sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, garlic, and onions are beneficial to prostate health.
Because having a father or brother with prostate cancer increases a man’s risk of developing the disease, it’s important to share your family history with your care provider.
Increased body weight heightens the likelihood of developing several types of cancer, and other lifestyle choices also have an impact. For example, alcohol consumption boosts risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, liver, and colon. Meat—especially when it is grilled—is linked to increased risk of cancers of the colon and rectum, prostate, kidney, and pancreas. On the flip side, the fiber and phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, helps reduce overall cancer risk. Real men take care of themselves and eat fruit and veggies, too!
Also be aware of environmental risk factors such as radiation from cellular technology. If you carry your phone in a pants pocket—near your reproductive organs, kidney, colon, etc.—you may want to reconsider.
An estimated six million men suffer from depressive disorders annually. Clinical depression—in both sexes—can cause sadness and a loss of interest in normal activities. Depression in men may also cause them to become withdrawn or to feel irritable, aggressive, or hostile. Those suffering from depression may suffer from headaches, backaches, or sleep problems that do not respond to normal treatment. Another symptom of depression in men is engaging in risky activities such as driving too fast, abusing drugs, or gambling.
Depression is common and treatable. Remember that what works for one person may not work for another, so consider various approaches. Professional guidance such as talk therapy can help. Therapy—by itself or in conjunction with other treatment methods—can give you tools to treat depression and the skills to prevent it from coming back.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts, call for emergency medical help or go to the nearest emergency room.
Unintentional injuries—including car accidents, drowning, traumatic brain injuries, and fireworks-related mishaps—are a top cause of death among men.
To stay safe, use common sense. Wear your seat belt. Follow the speed limit. Don’t drive or operate machinery under the influence of alcohol or any other substances. Use a lifejacket. Have someone hold the ladder.
Real Men Take Care of Themselves
Small steps can go a long way toward a longer, healthier life.
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Engage in some type of physical activity every day
- Eat a diet of mostly whole, non-processed foods
- Monitor essential numbers like blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar
- Get routine medical care and physical examinations
- Perform routine home testicle exams
- Stay mentally active
- Maintain close relationships and seek support from a circle of friends
that at any given moment we are all at a Fork in the Road. Sometimes the metaphorical intersection is a big decision: Do I get a divorce or try to work it out? Climb the corporate ladder or strike out solo? Downsize and go condo or stay and make the repairs? But the other, “smaller” choices you make are important too: stuff like what exercise works best for your lifestyle, or what to do about your insomnia or what you can do when you simply feel “stuck.”
As a midlife courage coach, I get to the root of what’s “weighing you down,” and it’s not always just about diet. I stand with my clients as they make the important decisions in life or grapple with big questions like “What am I here for?” I’m good at helping people realize that the things that seem daunting and nearly hopeless are where the growth and joy come from.
I have had several careers including working at a university right out of graduate school. After that I owned a successful advertising agency for 25 years. And when that no longer made my heart sing, I became a healthy living coach. Along the way I’ve studied nutrition, received my raw vegan chef certification, been a television show host, and have been on a spiritual and personal development path that spills over into my work. I live a varied and interesting life in an art deco home in Des Moines, Iowa with my cat Lotus.
You need me when you…
Need help figuring what you really want to do…and support so you have the courage to actually do it
Want to eat better, sleep better, have more vitality and the energy to sail through your day
Long to “get your groove back” and get out of that rut
Are open to exploring your own unique gifts, so you have the perfect blueprint to live with ease and confidence
Simply feel like you’ve taken care of everyone else for too damn long and now it’s YOUR turn