June is Men’s Health Month (I told you it was coming up, guys), and since I live in a house with men in various stages of life—one husband and three sons—it is a subject near and dear to my heart. Knowing I play a role in their health, I’d like to see some shifts in the lessons we teach men about being their best selves.
No more tough guy. Of course, anyone seeking a life partner wants them to be strong and self-assured. However, I would argue that this can end up causing more problems than necessary when it comes to men’s health.
From a young age, we tell males to be tough and not show weakness. They hear things like: Don’t cry. Toughen up. Take it like a man. But emotions aren’t gender-based. Men experience the same full gamut as women, and bottling them up can have a real impact on your physical and mental health.
It’s time we help men of all ages understand that there is a time and a place for every emotion, and learning to deal with them in a constructive way is essential. It’s okay if the end of the movie Field of Dreams sends tears rolling down your cheeks. (Come to think of it, if it doesn’t, I don’t want to know.) Be tough when the situation calls for it. But, let your tender side show, too. You’ll be healthier for it.
Cooking is sexy. Who doesn’t love to have someone else cook for them? And when it ends up being someone you have the potential to spend the rest of your days with… Hubba, Hubba! Am I right, people?!
Now, I’m not talking about throwing a frozen pizza in the oven and not burning it; nutritious meals are what we’re aiming for here. Seek out a mentor or pick up a book like Men in Kitchens: A Good Day to Dine Hard, and practice making everything from a basic vinaigrette to BBQ chicken sandwiches. Once you’ve built up some confidence, explore your new-found sense of flavors and make your own creations.
Psst, you’ll score extra points if you also learn how to bake a couple of things—nobody wants to make their own birthday treat. A batch of these flourless brownies or Chef Phyllis’ Perfectly Simple Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread would be a great start.
Ignorance is not bliss. Please don’t read this as me saying men are ignorant, because I’m not. What I am saying is that, in my experience, men tend to be less informed about their health, believing all is well if you don’t bring attention to it.
For example, my hubby never would have gone to a chiropractor if I hadn’t vehemently encouraged him to do so. Rather, he would still be dealing with shoulder pain that plagued him for several years, thinking it was normal. Three visits to the chiropractor made him realize it wasn’t something he was going to have to live with for the rest of his life. Now, he rarely misses the opportunity for an adjustment.
Of course, this isn’t a life-threatening health concern; however, it certainly impacts how he lives his daily life. Our bodies are constantly sending us signals about what needs to be handled. Some signals are for fairly basic needs (e.g. thirst and hunger), and some more complex (like shortness of breath or numbness in your fingers and toes).
Shifting from a mindset of ignoring these signals to getting curious about them can have a real impact on your health. An easy-to-read resource for satisfying your curiosities is Health is Simple, Disease is Complicated, by Dr. James Forleo, DC. You don’t have to read it from front to back to send ignorance packing.
So, men, why not take some time during your Health Month to think about the health lessons you feel are important? And women, consider some ideas to pass along to the men in your life.