Man up to your health

Men's health

Dear gentleman,

As a fellow man, I can attest that our most important piece of machinery is our own body; it’s not our bank balance or list of achievements. But when it comes to us blokes caring for ourselves, we are usually not that good at it. We often take the “she’ll be right” attitude. However, that just isn’t working. Something clearly has to give.

Now, I admit that I’ve been guilty of the “she’ll be right” attitude too. I recently had some chest pain and acted like it was no big deal. 31-year-old blokes don’t get chest pain, or so I thought. It was only after nagging from my partner that I sought medical advice. In the end, it was simply a twinged muscle, but in hindsight, I’m glad I sought some professional advice to put my mind (and hers) at ease. You might say that I bit the bullet and manned up to it. 

Here’s the deal: four men die every hour from conditions that are largely preventable. Geez!

So, let’s have a chat about our health. It’s a topic we guys tend to shy away from, but it’s time we put it back in the spotlight.

The evidence shows that more men die from heart disease and stroke than women. According to the National Heart Foundation, 153 Australian men suffer a heart attack every single day. That’s an astonishing statistic! Not to mention the high rates of developing other nasties like cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease and mental health problems. In fact, one in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime.

When was the last time you visited your GP for a medical check-up? I bet you took your car to the mechanic for its scheduled service. You don’t typically “wait and see” whether that oil leak will just resolve itself. Yet, we don’t have a maintenance schedule for our own bodies to ensure that we are in proper working order. Far too often we wait until it’s too late or until the damage has already been done. Perhaps that ought to change. Actually, it definitely needs to change.

As a dietitian, I see a large number of fellas who come to see me for dietary guidance once they’ve been diagnosed with something, be it diabetes or high cholesterol or after a heart attack. Very few men come through my door to discuss disease prevention. It’s mind-boggling. I know I can offer people so much more if they come to see me earlier.

Perhaps the barriers to change are that it’s all just too hard or maybe it’s just that the lackadaisical approach of “everything will be fine” sets in. Perhaps it’s the air of invincibility that we blokes have or the “it won’t happen to me” mindset. Either way, we need to do more to preserve both our mental and physical wellbeing. Our lives literally depend on it. I hate to break it to you fellas, but it can happen to you, and if you don’t make changes now you may become one of those statistics I mentioned earlier… I never said this was going to be an easy read. The nice guy approach in this instance will not hold muster. Take this as the kick up the backside you need to finally take stock of what is truly important.    

So what do I suggest you do? You could start by seeing your GP to get that check-up; or have the blood test you’ve been putting off; or see the dentist to get that niggling tooth pain looked at it, or visit the physiotherapist about that annoying back pain, or come and see me to tweak your diet if the scales are creeping up; or better yet, just come and see me to discuss dietary ways to keep you nice and healthy. Now that’s a novel thought.

Gentlemen, don’t become another statistic. Buck the trend. See yourself as an important piece of machinery that needs to get checked out every now and then to make sure that everything is in proper working order. You really are no different to that other piece of machinery that lives in your garage – the one that you take for regular servicing and take such good care of.   

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