Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
November 3, 2016
A few years ago, a strange idea started sweeping the nation. It was a bit of a perfect idea for the time, for the filthy rugs known as beards were suddenly back in fashion thanks the advent of over the top hipsters and flannel wearing lumbersexuals (sorry people, supposed “manly” men did not bring this trend back, but the skinny nerds you all love to put down did). Anyway, for some bizarre reason or the other, the filth occupying recesses of the modern beard has suddenly come back, and of course people had to take advantage of this particular trend (as you can tell, I kind of hate beards…and no, it is not entirely based on the idea that I have trouble growing one but because they look kind of nasty). “Movember” reached kind of an apex last year, with women and men alike getting all crazy over the idea of men letting their facial scruff get out of control. There was another little trend from a competing organization that also promoted No-Shave November. Trouble is, most people really had no idea what it was about, for most of the people just used the term “it’s for men’s health” and then justified the fact they didn’t want to use their razor for a month. In case you didn’t know, Movember was an organization that is seeking to spread men’s health awareness at a global scale while the No-Shave November people tackle cancer from a web based format. Despite their noble causes, they both seemed to have fallen by the wayside in popularity and reach. Last year I kind of went off on the subject, which has pretty much molded my rather snarky and angry term of “men’s health.” I tend to lean in one direction for what I believe in, stating that men’s health is a bit of an oxymoron because our country and the countries of the western world need men to be in as bad of health as possible. Our premiums are way higher, our mortality is much lower and the societal pressures of being manly can affect our health in some pretty horrible ways. What I mean is some men will eat and drink and smoke excessively because that is considered okay, especially when the short lived “dad bod” movement hit the blogosphere. Then of course, all of these excesses will ultimately kill us later or force us to take drastic measures through pills, surgeries and extreme workout campaigns. I say the word “us” because I was the typical man, eating bad food, watching far too much television and putting off good health because I figured I could save myself much later with pills and potentially surgeries (provided I had a legitimate health insurance). Fortunately I pulled my head out of my gargantuan rear end and made the assertion that maybe I should make the change while I still have a fighting chance in my youth.
For anyone that reads this blog, you know all too well how hard it is for me. The old habits of my food addiction still come and go, with some days where I have to fight the desire to drink sodas and eat an entire bad of Doritos. Fortunately, the extremity of my ethical based eating regimen has allowed me to set up proper boundaries. I believe my food choices are extremely helpful for my addictive urges, because let’s face it, I still hold some of these things deep inside of me. Anyway, I have learned so much about addiction and fighting it over the last few years, for I feel I have made some major gains in regards to my life and my health. Yesterday I looked at some photos from a couple years ago, mainly from my sister’s wedding in 2014 (it was my younger twin sisters’ birthday yesterday!). Even though I lost a lot of weight, I was still shocked how heavy I looked and how out of shape I still was. Of course, 2014 was my yoyo year in regards to my weight, but it still illustrates the progress I have made the last couple years, especially in regards to getting rid of my awful goatee and me stopping the dyeing of my hair. So yes, I am making progress in regards to my health, even if I do not see it most of the time. I will say this, I used to watch sports so much that it often times aided in my food eating. I was thusly surprised that the former doormat of the Pac-12 football conference Washington St. had laid my alma mater—the University of Arizona—a beating that may result in some people getting fired. And they were ranked! That just goes to show how far behind I am in regards to sports. I was joking with a customer on the phone last week about the New York Giants and said I hope they win this week…not knowing they were on a bye week. I will say this, being ignorant in sports is a pretty good trade-off for my health.
Anyway, let’s get back on track with this whole Movember/No-Shave thing. Thanks to a rather contentious political season and some other ignoble distractions, hardly anyone is even talking about it. I know one guy online that raised some money to donate to a men’s health organization, but nothing beyond that. It’s like the world pretty much forgot that testicular cancer is not something is going away. I mean, was prostate cancer cured in the process as well? Oh well, pardon my cynicism on the subject, for this is something I have really become quite passionate about. I will not become one these idiots that call themselves “meninists” (get it, they are male feminists! but they speak for men instead! haha!) or the men that prescribe to the idea of “Men Going Their Own Way” (MGTOW) by snarkily blaming women and the feminized United States for the lack of true commitment to men’s health. I will blame this on men themselves, because let’s think about it guys…we try to paint ourselves as manly and such and what is manly about having to take pills that mess with our bowel movements and could damage our livers. While I will pitch some “shade” at corporate America for this problem, there has to be a pretty good equilibrium on the subject because neither side can be blamed for the mess that is men’s health in this country. The need to exploit poor health amongst men and the lack of desire to improve personal health are equally balanced on the scales. While the middle ground of inherited diseases and legitimate health problems do exist, the majority of all health problems come from the lack of taking care of oneself.
There will never be an easy solution to the problem of men’s health awareness, especially since so many of the most powerful men in the country typically look like the Michelin Man rather than Mr. Clean. I mean, you look at the physiques of these guys and it makes you wonder about the influence of their words but also their soft and misshapen guts. If the loudest and most popular and most powerful men don't have to look healthy and firm, then by golly it should work for me as well! I think that is why so many knuckleheads actually get all batted eyes when they think about Vladimir Putin, a true dictator in the sense, and go gaga when he publicly has topless photo shoots of himself doing supposedly manly things. I’m still waiting for that horrible calendar to be announced. Now I know, the cynicism is really being illustrated in this blog post, but I always talk real when this concerns my fellow men of the world. There is a reason why I am still doing this push-up challenge that people have kind of forgotten about, because men’s mental health is not something that goes away after 22 days. And I also believe the adding of push-ups for each day illustrates the mounting struggle that some men go through when they are suffering with mental health. Heck, a little survey came out a few days ago that illustrated the difficulty for men to come out and deal with their problems. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/nov/05/men-less-likely-to-get-help--mental-health The Mental Health Foundation did a survey of some 2,500 people with mental health issues, and the findings from this little study were still shocking. While the difference between men and women reaching out for help was not that huge (28% for men, 19% for women), the other startling fact that is most women will deal with a mental issue rather quickly. A third of all women tell others about their problems within a month of their perceived problem while men only only do this quarter of the time. More men will push back their pleas for help than women, indicating they may live with mental illness or post traumatic stress disorders for a much longer period of time. This particular stat makes a lot of sense, since men commit suicide at nearly four times the rate of women in the United States. This is a stat that stretches all across the western world.
Now I don’t want to be all doom and gloom on this subject. I have already devoted 1,500 words for that. The solution, the one that I will always push, is we need to stop being so damn stubborn. I will keep saying it and use a popular news station trope by repeating so many times that you will eventually believe it. The only difference of course is this a legitimate fact rather than a talking point eschewed for the “commentator’s” point of view. So I will just say this…when are we going to take this more seriously? I mean, when are we going to have a special month of the season when the NFL or the NBA do some kind of promotion for Men’s Health (of course, these “celebrations” are mostly money grabs for the pro leagues, who pocket the majority of the money). I think it would be pretty cool to see football players wear some color designated for men’s health, like maybe mustard yellow or something that would clash quite easily from the majority of the league. I’m leaning toward gold…I think that would be a pretty cool idea.
But more importantly, let’s take this Movember/No-Shave thing more seriously and take it to different levels rather than use a silly campaign. Far too many men still die of prostate cancer ever year. Far too many men die of heart disease and other illnesses that could be managed through good diet and exercise. I will always believe that pills and surgeries should not be our first back-up plan, but at worst a reminder. For some people, we have to work hard just to get an idea into some people’s heads. I heard one of the saddest stories while talking to a woman at work the other day. It was rather gut wrenching, and just listened rather than try to kick her off the line to help the next customer. For years she had tried to get her daughter off the track of alcoholism, with rehabs and interventions and the like. It reminded me of my own situation and my eating, where my parents gently ribbed me about my weight for years until they finally got real and put their own livelihoods on the line for me. While I have yo-yoed a couple times, I have never faltered in my commitment because I surrounded myself with good people and have the right kind of people on my social media platforms who not just into fitness but also into positivity and love (even if they do post a bad video from time to time showing animal cruelty).
While most are not really concerned about November this year, I will remember nonetheless. Maybe to gain some legitimacy it needs to have a national 5K or actually compel men to shave off their beards. Now I am sure that would cause some furor!
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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.
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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.
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