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
April 20, 2017
During the last blog I wrote, I expressed my own trepidation about my body, my aging process and why my life seems stuck at the moment. These are all misgivings that can thoroughly jump around in your mind, making you sick and full of dread. I know at my age I am doing fairly okay in the health department, not so much in the wealth department though. And let’s face it, no matter what the hippies of the world say and no matter what money experts tell you, wealth is wealth. Now I can believe my better health is good for me, but clearly I have to be living a life that allows me to take advantage of that health rather than just give me the tools for being able to work longer into my life. Let’s face it, I really have no desire to work deep into my 70s. I really have no desire to do that sort of thing like many other men I have seen do. So naturally, I try to live a simple life and try to seek out other opportunities when I get the chance. Right now, the changes are not coming in very quickly, but they are manifesting into some other avenues. I’m doing yoga, which I used to believe was just a way for dudes to try and pick up women (thank you for poisoning my mind Hollywood!). I’m also trying this crazy thing called food restriction, which is forcing me to actually limit the amount of food I eat on a daily basis. Now of course, this had really led to a strange revelation for me…that really hate eating. I look at it in a negative light these days, and the hard part is battling my body when it starts screaming for additional snacks. I gave in a little bit the previous night, eating some pumpkin seeds as opposed going to the store and getting two tins of Pik Nik sticks and devouring them whole, because seriously, that was on my mind all evening. I look at my body and realize that eating has done very little for me, for it has been nothing but an addiction that has made my body nearly impossible to remold despite all the time and effort I have put into it. I guess I shouldn’t be so negative about it, but I at least have be truthful.
So here I am again, going on my “Men’s health” kick that often times will make people shrug and shake their head in disbelief. I know, the idea of men’s health is a rather silly one, not because it is not important but because we are just not suppose to prevent it….at least that is my theory. Men are merely supposed to deal with their issues, so that is why Big Pharma loves unhealthy men so they can keep filling their coffers with pain meds and other medications due to the fact the pain medications will most likely wreck your body in the long run and therefore force you to take different meds to fix the damage caused by the other meds. So in a lot of ways, this is why I am always talking about the subject. It is not just because I have seen so much change for me in my life, but the thing that always gets to me is the number of excuses. Trust me, there is always an excuse for us guys, for the subject of male health is something that can easily be forgiven with a couple simple words like “I have obligations” or “its not that big of deal.” If anything, the Reagan-era work model pretty much shaped the modern man today, convincing him that work and work and work is all you need. I mean, not even Gordon Gecko would take a lunch break because he viewed it as some sort of weakness. Either way, the explosion of men centric health news always centers around the risks and the medicinal treatments. You get one sentence in general…work out more and eat less. Okay, so you finally take in that advice, but then again what if you end up like me…completely frozen in time it seems?
Anyway, as I work on getting my fitness on, I always have to look around and see what is trending in the typical men’s health forum. When you look for the common things that will effect men, you always get the usual gang of suspects. http://gulfnews.com/guides/life/health/5-most-common-yet-ignored-men-s-health-conditions-1.2000914 Now like so many other articles I have researched over the years, Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and prostate diseases are always the top dogs when it comes to our well being. Lately—much like what the article is indicating—infertility and lung cancer are becoming more common. Now infertility could stem from testicular problems as well as impotence, so don’t go jumping conclusions on that one. And while you might think smoking is the backbone of lung cancer, you have to consider the other factors of pollution that might affect men with lung cancer. Needless to say, these are always the biggest threats to a man’s health, especially when you consider the cardiovascular diseases, which kill somewhere in the neighborhood of 321,000 men per year. I did find it funny that so many of the solutions are just the blanket statements of “exercise, ease up on the beer and get better sleep.” When you talk about men’s health, these are always the prime examples of society’s rather tunnel vision view of the male psyche. We often times overlook so many other things because they bring out a discomfort in most men. We’re just not allowed to talk about this sort of stuff.
In my inevitable search for new health issues when it comes to men, I actually try to find some legitimately new concerns about the modern male. Unlike the last blog, which was slightly inspired by a horribly sexist article, there is something that is sweeping the news services lately. One of the biggest health afflictions for men might be the idea of loneliness. https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2017/03/09/the-biggest-threat-facing-middle-age-men-isn-smoking-obesity-loneliness/k6saC9FnnHQCUbf5mJ8okL/story.html Now whenever something new comes around, everyone comes to the top of the soap box and tries to make everyone know they said it first. Loneliness can certainly make it difficult for men when it comes to the mental state, and this is a result of the man many men are expected to act within society at large. Of course, the main culprit stems from the forced masculinity complex that is often placed on young men and boys from the onset of birth. Often times emotions can be suppressed and made narrowly focused when men are taught to only find reaction in things that excite them or make them angry. Needless to say, this lack of expressive ability is creating a lonely complex within men as they get older. Some try to make up the excuse that outside forces like being a father or work gets in the way, but in reality it seems to stem largely from a stunted view of emotional well being. https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/male-loneliness-megasahd/ Needless to say, most men seem to fall into this trap because as we get older and have more obligations, the idea of merely spending time to hang out and do something physically active becomes harder to organize. This seems to be the central build-up with the problem. Men aren’t expected to really hang out or talk to each other. They are expected to do stuff together like lift weights, “creep” the local clubs, play a few rounds of golf and occupy each other while the significant others mingle in the kitchen or the porch at the barbecue, making passive aggressive comments about the hosting male’s grilling ability and grill in general. I’ll admit, I kind of all under this trap myself, for I often have to force myself to have any interactions with some of my male friends. It’s been ages since I have even talked to some of them because my life is often chalked full of stuff. And then my job does present an interesting problem…I’m on the phone so much trying to deal with other people that the sanctity of being alone is now even more powerful and addictive to me unlike the past, where I had ample amounts of time alone and talking to people was a joy. If anything, my job is making it tough on me to even want to reach out and talk to others. And even though I never actually meet any of the people I talk to, I still feel crowded and overwhelmed on a regular basis.
Now I know the macho men in the audience are scoffing and thinking, “How can loneliness be all that bad for you?” Like I just mentioned, it can’t be all that bad due to my job. Trust me, talking to a whole bunch of people during the day and fixing the problems on their accounts can get old. So yes, there is some times that can be healthy where I don’t have to talk and listen to people for eight hours a day. But what will happen one day when I have a different job and things change? We already have some good ideas what extreme loneliness can do to us in the form of solitary confinement in prison. http://www.newsweek.com/2017/04/28/solitary-confinement-prisoners-behave-badly-screws-brains-585541.html While this is an extreme example, the symptoms can still be applied over someone in the general populace. The agitation, the numbness and the outbursts of anger can be seen all throughout the country, especially when the news agencies are quick to point out the newest gun violence perpetrator was a lone wolf and not indicative of the population. Of course, this is not always the case, but isolation can create a large swath of mental states. The issue that can really take place in this situation is the fact that poor mental health can lead to poor physical health. One thing that loneliness and isolation can cause is lethargy and lack of initiative…which I will admit were two things used to affect me back when I was severely overweight. Whether or not this was a result of feelings of isolation or not, the two things can definitely go hand in hand like a walk in the park between two lovers. Right now, I often times believe my struggles with my weight are occurring due to the fact I have hit a plateau with the weight loss. It was so easy when the body was losing weight weight and I could eat anything I wanted. Nowadays I’m trying to reduce and maintain a high level to train my body into utilizing my fat stores more.
Anyway, lets get down to some of the bigger problems associated with loneliness. While I have touched on the agitation and the mental distress it might cause, it can also cause other issues like depression, high blood pressure and even affect the way a person sleeps. But probably the worst thing that could happen to an isolated person is yet to be fully understood, for studies have indicated that loneliness can cause a person to be less able to fight off infections and other diseases. http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/lonely-peoples-white-blood-cells-less-suited-to-fighting-infection-study-says-a6745631.html While researchers have yet to find the key reason why this happens, a strange psycho somatic relationship with the body and the leucocytes and the monocytes. Leucocytes essentially her the body fight off infections and maintain the overall health while the monocytes are more associated with inflammation within the body. When a person feels and is more isolated from a group of people, the body starts producing more of the monocytes within the body, making it easier for the the said person to become sick. Now the link install be studied in excess, but this would certainly correlate with the idea of men getting sick late in their lives while also struggling establish good friendships beyond the guys you go for a trail run with.
Now this is just one aspect of male health that is truly being looked at. Good health and eating habits will always be the key to happier life. But all other social aspects of health cannot be ignored. From the physical, to the mental to the social, we as men have to maintain a good balance between all of these things. Frankly, it is getting harder these days due to media perceptions and hard line perceptions and masculinity, and I am so far not a victim of these perceptions. But it is always good to have an idea of what to look out for, even if the truth appears ugly and uncomfortable.
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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.
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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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