Health is a large encompassing term. Do you eat healthy? Are you health conscious –meaning do you choose good foods for your body? Do you exercise? Do you practice a healthy lifestyle? In today’s society I feel as though most of us living in America are fairly educated about practicing healthy living. As to what we do with that, it is a completely different story.
I started making significant changes to my life after the birth of my 4th child. I was close to 300 pounds, when I look back at pictures of myself it disgusts me how badly I let myself go. While my wife ate for two during 4 pregnancies I did the same, yet I didn’t do anything to shed those baby pounds, in fact I was left with a large reminder of what I had done to myself. This included breathing problems and looking like the stay puffed man.
My battle with weight started when I was a junior in high school. Until then I had been a thin kid, I was active, ate what I wanted and never once had to worry about my weight. Suddenly I started gaining weight and couldn’t understand it. Instead of being smart I began using food as a way to make myself feel better. Maybe that sounds strange coming from a man, but it’s what I did. I don’t know what it was about this particular year, as more horrific events had happened earlier. Somehow this year a dramatic shift in my metabolism occurred. Throughout the next 12 or so years I continued to eat food to comfort myself when I was stressed out. If I was depressed or worried, food was always there to soothe me.
When I was growing up, it wasn’t a big deal if a man was fat or had a belly on him, it was accepted as ok. Today we as men know the health risks involved in being overweight. I see more and more of my guy friends who are just as concerned about their appearance, size and health as women have been in the past. Many guys I know who are over 30 years of age make it a habit to watch what they eat, exercise regularly and do all that they can to stay in shape and keep up a healthy lifestyle.
Closing in on 300 pounds I made the decision I was not about to go past a size 40 pants or larger than an XL shirts. I joined a weight loss program and got down to 225. I was back down to size 36 pants and was able to wear a size L in shirts, something I hadn’t done since high school. I was very happy, felt good about myself, and in doing so boosted my ego. I was able to stay down below 230 for almost a year.
I haven’t stayed at that weight in fact I gained about 25 pounds back. A couple of years ago I began experiencing chest pains, having difficulty breathing and was having difficulty recovering when I got sick. The chest pains scared me the most. I am not a fan of going to the doctor and so I continued to put it off until finally I was scared that I was going to have a heart attack. I set up an appointment, had an EKG and thankfully nothing was wrong. It certainly was another sign I needed to continue doing more.
Shortly after that appointment I took a look at my life and realized I don’t take very good care of myself. I go and go and push myself until I am worn out and I am not any good to anyone. I made the decision I needed to take time off of work on a regular basis, do things I enjoyed doing. Getting up early in the morning, going for a walk, spending time with God, praying and taking time out to just relax and unwind. Not just sitting at my desk all day, moving and exercising when I can, taking a break going outside and getting some fresh air. Drinking lots of water and getting a good amount of sleep.
This was extremely helpful later that summer when I was at the men’s retreat at church. The climb took about an hour and was constant switchbacks. The picture at the top of this post is what I led the group of men up. I was the 3rd person to the top. There were guys in their 20’s who appeared to be in better shape I was and yet my personal success was making it up long before they had. Getting to the top and seeing the view made this incredibly difficult climb worth it.
As a real authentic man I believe we need to practice a healthy lifestyle. We need to listen to our bodies; they are talking to us and telling us things. We can’t party like a rock star when were 40. We can’t live by the motto “Eat and drink for tomorrow we die” because tomorrow you may just drop dead. We need to exercise our minds and bodies. It can be as simple as walking or taking the stairs, move your body and keeping it moving. We need to keep our minds fresh and alert, rest and take time out.
As men we tend to literally carry the weight of the world on our back, which doesn’t help. My advice is to reduce as many things as you can that bring you down. Laugh and have fun, hang out with friends, sit back and relax. If you need to blow off steam, go some place and do that, find someone to talk to. Go for a walk, pray, meditate, but rid your life of stress in all ways possible.
My other nugget of advice – drink lots and lots of water. Most people are dehydrated and don’t even know it. Hydrate yourself, drink water it helps with weight loss and the more you drink the better you joints, muscles and skin will be. In all of this when I say we, I mostly mean myself, but its serious stuff men need to think about.
I want to live to be 100. If you want to live a long time and really impact your kids and the world around you, seriously look at your health from a holistic approach, take some time out and focus on what’s most important, the answer is you. Do you see even small things you can do to take better care of yourself, start today and make them habits that will last the rest of your life. Remember your living for more than just yourself.
How’s your health? In what areas do you need to let go of things?