and ultimately results in a typical early year boon for personal trainers and gyms. Now I guess I could be a little jealous, merely from the angle that I really can’t grow a beard. The same Mexican and Native American genes that flow in my bloodstream, cursing me with early gray hair growth, have also made it virtually impossible to grow any semblance of facial scruff. The really bad part is the fact I can’t grow long sideburns, which was a horrible feeling considering I hate trying to maintain even sideburns on a face that is kin of crooked. Since my ears are a little off, I just can’t get those buggers looking quite right! And on the other side of the coin, my sideburns differ in thickness as well, making it equally frustrating when I try to trim them. I guess I shouldn’t be too angry, for at least I don’t have to worry about an excessively hairy body, the kind of condition where I have hair on my freaking shoulders and knuckles! Now of course, if I wanted to, I could still participate in the fun by growing a mustache, but alas, there is a reason why I have only a goatee, because my upper lip hasn’t changed in thickness since I started growing facial hair some 23 years ago. Heck, it takes a good two weeks just to grow a decent goatee out!
Anyway, the whole Movember movement has apparently raised 559 million to create awareness for male testicular cancer and prostate cancer, which are two of the most embarrassing to deal with ailments for men. Men tend to put off testing due to the rather personal nature of the testing procedures, because let’s face it, who wants some strange man fingering their anus and touching their testicles? Heck, I’m no different in that respect, considering I hated doing the hernia “cough” test back in the day when I had to get physicals for school sports. But let’s face it men, we have to buck up! If women can deal with mammograms and regular visits to the gynecologist, then we can learn to deal with our set of doctors! But in all seriousness, I also tend to have a bit of a criticism about the movement. While the main focus is quite noble--for who would wish cancer on anyone--it kind of misses one problem that seems to fall on all men. Our health in general is something that needs to be talked about, not just potential problems that are either preventable or have a lower risk factor.
As usual, I’m going to go into my typical cyclical rant about life in these United States. American Capitalism is dependent on overweight people and people with poor impulse control. If anything, a lot of the health marketing for powerful drugs is directly marketed for men and are heavily reliant on men who are too stubborn to look at their health over the longterm. Besides all of the obvious male “passion” commercials we see and supposed low testosterone problems, high blood pressure pill sales are geared toward men as well as a never ending supply of strong pain relievers for the everyday working man. Men’s health seems to revolve around the idea that you screwed up too damn much, and therefore, you must take this pill that will make you drowsy, produce anal leakage and lactating nipples while also disturbing your sleep and eating habits (which then you will need more pills to fix). But of course, you have to do all the things that make you a “man,” so it’s okay if you are forced to shell out hundreds of dollars on these pills. Now I can get pretty sexist about the hidden truth, for our country seems obsessed with keeping women in good health (with the exception of sexual health, which conservatives think is just a license to be sluts, which it isn’t), but not so much when it comes to the male gender. If anything, insurance companies need men to stay unhealthy and reckless. Drug companies need men to keep eating poor diets so they are forced to buy their fly-by-night products or non-FDA approved supplements that cost 40 bucks a bottle. Now of course, these sort of master plans are also geared toward women, but the underlying reason always comes down to maintaining outward beauty for the benefit of men. (yeah, I went there!) Heck, Viagra has given up on the whole “Even though you are older and flaccid, you can still satisfy your wife” motif within their commercials to some sexy vixen saying “Take this pill and you will have me!”
Now before you start accusing me of being some “Red Pill” double agent, hear me out. It’s frustrating being a vegan male, especially since no one else listens to you when it comes to health. While I still look a little pudgy, I’m still in the best shape of my life. But it is also frustrating when I tell people how I lost 125 pounds and then they complain “Well, I couldn’t do that.” “Of course you can do it!” is what I would tell them. At bare minimum, just start replacing more of your food with greens. That’s always a good place to start. But more importantly, I just want to be a part of a generation of men that actually gives a damn about their health and is willing to take the preventative measures so we don’t end up a bunch of pill popping cash registers. If anything, the biggest lesson I have learned during my two and half year journey with Parsons Training is to not ignore my body for the sake of ego. There has been many instances in my time working out with Jon that I wasn’t always 100 percent healthy, but I was stubborn and would do stupid things, pulling back only when I was unable to do. I would run after doing heavy leg days, and sometimes I would run an exorbitant distance that had no real rhyme or reason. But now I seem more capable of taking care of my body. Twice I suffered major ear infections over the last couple years, and while it took two instances for me to finally be more reactive when I saw the early symptoms, at least I know it is time to take some Flonase and stock up on my Dayquil in order to avoid the searing pain in my ear and be able to eat actual food when the infection started overtaking my mouth. There has been many instances where I might have worked a forearm too hard or my shoulder might be a little tighter than normal. I’m quick to tell Jon what is the problem beforehand instead of waiting a long time to tell him. Heck, telling him about my sore achilles last year was kind of a strange moment for me, especially since I would have just sucked it up in the past. The same could be said about my sore knee, which Jon figured might be due to over stretching before I went running. So I eased up on the stretching and sure enough, it got better. Another moment of growth for me was when I had a rather huge, numb epidermoid cyst growing on my back, and instead of waiting around for it to become puss filled and ultimately turn into a gross YouTube video, I dealt with it right away and got some antibacterial medications while it was still in it’s early stages. It was gone within a week with just a tiny amount of puss. If anything, it forced me to change my shower habits and force myself to do a better job at washing my back. No way in hell was I going to let the problem get to the point where someone would have to open up the cyst with a scalpel. I have a hard enough time seeing people put needles into my body, I can only imagine the freak out I would have with a sharp knife in my back!
Anyway, enough about my disgusting body! One of the bigger problems that men run into in regards to their health is typically they wait to get married before they even start making basic trips to the doctor. Much of the time it is result of having a family that compels them to be a little more open about going to the doctor. http://www.10tv.com/content/stories/2014/06/12/cbs-married-men-healthier.html The numbers don’t lie gentleman, for research even indicates that just because you have a girlfriend or a live-in girlfriend, doesn't mean you are healthier than single guys like myself. If anything, the psychological attachment between two people in a fully bonded marriage seems to have a profound affect on men’s health. One of the better pieces of advice I ever heard was “If you’re wife is unhappy, then you’re unhappy.” I had to take the philosopher’s word on it, especially since football analyst Terry Bradshaw had been through two divorces and finally got it right. In my opinion, there should be an underlying caveat to this whole Movember thing….don’t wait to get married to start worrying about your health. Old-timey sociological prejudices aside, I would rather see a message more akin to this sentiment than anything else.
If anything, this web page provided a pretty good primer for men in regards to what they need to look out for and have checked on as they get older. http://www.today.com/health/movember-heres-why-you-need-drag-him-doctor-1D80266384 I have plenty of stories in regards to my own health that would make some people wonder what was wrong with me. Twice I am sure I have broken bones in my body but didn’t want to go to the doctor because it was barely bothering me (a hurt my ankle in high school and I hurt my arm a little over a year ago, but didn’t go to a doctor because it didn’t really affect my weight lifting). But I have to start looking at the future, because even though I am a lot healthier than I was before, I still haven’t seen a doctor to really get a number on some of my blood measurements. I’m pretty sure my blood pressure and blood sugar are at optimum levels, but who really knows. I guess I will have to wait until I get a steady job again to start taking care of this stuff (if I ever get my car back!). So here is something I would like to propose the Movember crowd. Adjust the message just a tiny bit and make November a month about focusing on general health for men. I know, it is difficult to admit to people that you have a sore shoulder or your lower back is bothering you or you have a cough that just doesn’t want to go away. But sometimes it is about looking at the long game. I assume I would still be in a lot more pain if I didn’t start seeing a chiropractor regularly. To hear the pressure crack in my neck after being just a week away is astounding, and made me believe the true source of all the headaches I suffered through for years would have been solved if I was just willing to spend 20 bucks a week on an adjustment (BTW, shout out to Midvale Chiropractic!). So gentleman, not just for the sake of your family but for the sake of yourselves, start taking better care of yourselves. That starts with the food you eat and ends with some occasional medical maintenance. If anything, it will hopefully reduce your need for pills and “miracle cures” in the future.
About Parsons Training
Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
About Our Blog
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.