Tag Archives: health

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Like millions of other Americans, I watched the Super Bowl halftime show last week.

I tuned in specifically to watch Lady Gaga, who I had seen twice in concert. I think she is extraordinarily talented, energetic and gives everything for her audience.

I thought she delivered a stunning halftime show.

Replete with a Peter Pan-like entrance, a dance troupe that seamlessly blended in and with a spectacular fireworks backdrop, the performance I thought deserved nothing but praise.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a story that critics were taking shots at Lady Gaga for her “gut” or her “belly.” (The criticism came after she had several costume changes, some that revealed her midriff.)

One example from Twitter: “Tried to enjoy @ladygaga’s performance, was distracted by the flab on her stomach swinging around.”
Are you kidding me?! She is in fantastic shape and burned more calories in that turbo-charged performance than I do in five workouts.

For crying out loud, I know guys who would do anything to have her flat stomach.

Where do people (mostly men it appeared) get off engaging in that kind of body shaming?

I am sure the men who cast those stones were just the very picture of Adonis themselves and not some middle-aged dudes who are paunchy in the poochie and could stand to shed 20 pounds.

Lady Gaga, who has been a champion of all stripes and walks of humanity and has advanced the cause of the LGBT community, graciously responded on Instagram: “I heard my body is a topic of conversation so I wanted to say I’m proud of my body and you should be proud of yours too. No matter who you are or what you do.”

This episode speaks to a larger issue my wife brings to my attention repeatedly: the double standard that exists for men and women, and especially for actresses and female celebrities.

Men can be sought in roles well into their 60s or 70s no matter how craggy their faces or saggy their guts.

Somehow Hollywood and society are more forgiving of that than actresses who have the temerity (gasp!) to get older.

My wife contends that many actresses somewhere around their 30s are no longer cast in starring roles after they have been judged to no longer be pretty and young.

The late Carrie Fisher endured similar criticisms when she appeared in “The Force Awakens.”

Her response is worth repeating:  “Please stop debating about whether or not I have aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings. My BODY hasn’t aged as well as I have.”

This attitude extends beyond celebrities to everyday people, in which we judge others by their physical appearances.

Maybe I have a heightened sensitivity to this because I had severe acne as a teenager that defied medical treatment for years and I was judged harshly as a result. I’d like to think we’ve come a long way as a culture in 40 years.

It’s time to look beyond the surface of the skin and find a connection with the person inside.

Shame on the body-shamers.

Weighing in on the AMR Fitness Challenge

Note: About Men Radio member Richard Rodriguez wrote this a month ago as we prepared our AMR Fitness Challenge. We’re encouraging all men to do what they can to get themselves in better shape. Here is Rich’s first installment:

It is July 1st and I have determined this to be the start of my entry into the AMR Fitness Challenge:  Six months, lose 30 pounds and start regular exercise.

I am using the Lose It app to track my calories and exercise.

I ended my old job, which I had used as an excuse and crutch for my lack of exercise and healthy habits for the past two years.

When I had lost my job at the end of 2011, I used that time at home to be healthier and actually walked regularly and monitored my calories with the Lose It app.

I lost weight, felt better and even ran my first and only 5K.

Then I thankfully went back to work but my healthy ways went out the window.

I was driving four hours a day, gone all day, under stress at the job, and by the time I got home I was exhausted and defeated.

I didn’t want to do anything.

I probably gained 20-30 pounds and erased all the progress I made before.

I began a new job on July 5th with a shorter commute, and will have more time for my family and for taking care of myself and becoming more healthy.

I took a painful picture this morning and weighed in. I hope to begin a transformation and have a great improvement by the end of 2016.

Rich AMR

With the help and encouragement of the AMR crew, I hope all of us can reach our goals.

 

No More Excuses, It’s Time to Get Healthy

Longtime listeners of the podcast know that getting the entire AMR Posse to reach a consensus on anything is quite the achievement so this episode may come as a shock.

Father John, Coach Silvio, SuperDad, Mele Mel along with yours truly, El Kaiser, have unanimously agreed that getting healthy should be our top priority for the rest of the year.

The ravages of middle-age and busy lives have taken their toll but to paraphrase the manliest-man of all, our lord and savior Popeye:

We can’t stands no more!

The challenge to get into shape by 2017 has officially been thrown down and we will document our progress—or lack thereof—with regular posts on the blog at aboutmenradio.com.

Take a listen to what is motivating us and please send us your tips on how best to reach our goals or, better yet, join us in our quest for health.

It won’t be easy but you know the journey will be snarky good fun.

Read more blog posts at www.aboutmenradio.com and at http://aboutmenradio.net

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AboutMenRadio and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aboutmenradio

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Talking Men’s Health

In this latest episode of About Men Radio shenanigans, Pedro and Chris talk about men’s health —  no, not the magazine —  but what it takes for men our age to be of sound bodies. (Forget about our minds, those are shot!)

Partly the discussion was spurred on by recent medical procedures we both endured (read: colonoscopies) and the order by Chris’s doctor to drop 15 pounds.

That, in turn, led to a conversation about…well, never mind. Just give it all a listen and then tell your friends about it.

The AMR crew will soon have a big announcement about a project we’re working on, so you will have to stay tuned for future episodes!

Getting a Little Bit Fit With My FitBit

I got a FitBit for Father’s Day, so I am hoping to get a bit fit.

For the six of you who have not heard of this electronic geegaw, it is the latest example of better living through technology.

It straps to your wrist, and like a watch, it will display the time, but it also tracks your heart rate, number of steps you take, stairs you climb, calories burned and miles walked.

My younger son was so in love with his FitBit and I was equally impressed, so I asked for one for Father’s Day.

What I have found so far is that as a middle-aged guy, it is yet another way for me to discover how I don’t measure up.

Fitness experts recommend you walk at least 10,000 steps a day. If I break about 6,000, that is a good day.

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My first time breaking 10,000 steps! Hurray!

As someone who spends four-plus hours in the car five days a week, getting to that goal would be a challenge, unless of course I drove a Fred Flintstone-type car where you pedal furiously with your feet to get started.

But I am finding that I am making adjustments in light of the FitBit. For instance, today I walked an extra block out of my way just so I could rack up extra steps toward my total.

I also make it a point to take the stairs instead of an escalator when I have the option. With its attractive graphics, FitBit gives me encouragement for climbing more flights of stairs.

The one feature I am fascinated with — and at the same time a bit creeped out by — is the one that tells me how much I have slept.

FitBit is like Santa Claus that way: It knows when you are sleeping. If it starts telling me whether I have been naughty or nice, it’s coming off my wrist.

I have also been using an app called MyFitnessPal in which you track what you are eating, total calories consumed and your exercise.

You set a weight loss goal and it gives you an ideal daily caloric intake based on your height, weight and time you have set to lose the weight.

You enter your food and it keeps diligent track of your progress.

This too has been unnerving and eye-opening.

You mean my medium hot Dunkin’ Donuts coffee with milk and sugar is 112 calories?

Fine.

Out goes the sugar. Milk only from now on with my coffee. A net savings of 77 calories. I feel thinner already.

What I have discovered is that calories are a lot like time and money: Once you have consumed them, there is no getting them back so it is important to be judicious

FitBit and MyFitnessPal are merely tools to help keep me on track toward a healthy, balanced me. Of course, they are no substitute for sensible eating, exercise and a good night’s sleep.

But if FitBit wanted to be really helpful, it could give me a low dose of electric current, like a cattle prod, every time I reach for a cookie.

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Related links:

Battle of the Bulge: The Struggle to Eat Right and Exercise

About Exercise: Never Too Old To Bring It

A New Me

Celebrating 14 Years of My ‘Exercise Sobriety’

 

Celebrating 14 Years of My ‘Exercise Sobriety’

Today marks my birthday but more important than that, it is year 14 of my “exercise sobriety.”

At About Men Radio, we’ve touched on health, fitness, exercise and eating right in any number of podcasts and blog posts.

Pedro and I talked about our exercise routines and eating right in podcasts here and here.

And I discussed my training for the Warrior Dash extreme race. (Unfortunately my work schedule kept me from competing but there is always next year!)

I also recounted my excitement about meeting and working out with exercise guru and man crush Tony Horton and explained how it’s never too late to burn off the goo.

Getting the right amount of rest, eating as close to healthy as you can and exercising take on a whole new level of importance when you reach, ahem, a certain age.

I know I’ve told this story before, but I want to repeat here today, partly to reinforce the lesson to myself after 14 years, but also to tell my brethren (and sistren) that it is NEVER too late to get started.

I was 37, woefully out of shape, stressed to the max and eating like a maniac.

My routine was a doughnut and coffee at 3 p.m., which would send my sugar levels spiking and then crashing, taking my energy levels with it.

Late nights featured chocolate dipped in peanut butter with a Kahlua-and-milk chaser, topped off with maybe five or six hours of sleep each night.

Rinse and repeat.

My fiancée at the time bought me a pair of push-up bars, a VHS exercise tape and a sit-up bar. They sat off in the corner for many, many months.

She never nagged me or even said a word about the equipment but I knew they were there.

My epiphany came after a dinner of three (or was it four?) slices of pizza followed by truly yummy Italian pastries from one of the local bakeries.

I am still not sure what happened, but something clicked (or snapped) and on my 37th birthday, I popped in the boot camp exercise VHS tape.

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I had to quit after about 15 minutes.

I was winded and frustrated that I could not keep up. But I tried it the next day. And the next and the next and the next.

By the end of the week, I was getting through the entire 30-minute video.

Over time, I began biking, lifting weights, running and doing other forms of cardio. I dropped 40 pounds, about half of which, over time, I’ve put back on.

But that does not discourage me.

For about the last seven years, I’ve been doing P90x workouts with my man Tony Horton. He’s a good coach and I find him inspiring.

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Do I fall short of my goals? Hell yes. Am I ready to grace the cover of “Men’s Health” magazine? Hell no!

But I’m averaging four to five days a week of exercise, and I keep just showing up and that’s more than half the battle.

If you’re looking to make changes in your life, start with small steps.

You will be amazed at the strides you will make.

Take it from someone who’s been there.

If I can do it, so can you.

Drop me a line at amr@aboutmenradio.com and tell me about how you’re coping. We can swap ideas and give a little support to each other.

Read more blog posts at www.aboutmenradio.com and at http://aboutmenradio.net

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How I Dealt with My Depression

“Are you feeling depressed?” the nurse asked.

She was taking my vitals before the doctor came into the examination room and was working her way through a checklist of questions. This one happened to be about a check-up from the neck up.

Well, as a matter of fact, funny you should ask, I told her.

Her simple question was like a key turning in a lock and opening a door.

For a few months leading up to that visit for my annual physical, I had been feeling overwhelmed by work, frightened — nay, panicked — over my future employment and overall just not feeling much happiness.

This was January 2014 and the Christmas holidays that had just concluded were shrouded in a heavy curtain of gray for me.

What followed was a series of questions from the doctor. Now, as part of their routine for check-ups, the office was including a screening for depression.

So glad they did.

The doctor, who wanted me to follow up with her in a few months, was adamant that I go see a professional for help. So I did.

Here’s the thing about depression: It sneaks up on you like the onset of a bad cold but before you know it, you have pneumonia.

You convince yourself you’re just tired. Or stressed. Or not eating right.

And certainly all of those are symptoms of an underlying problem and can contribute to the bigger issue, but at some point, you reach a tipping point where you are trying to climb out of a well, the sides of which are coated with slippery moss.

Much was written about depression following the heart-breaking suicide of one of my beloved comedians and actors, Robin Williams. One of the best pieces I read was by a former colleague at the Pocono Record.

Here is what Howard Frank said in a column:

“The pain from depression is like the grief of first learning you’ve lost someone close to you. There’s shock, horror, confusion, and inconsolable sadness.

Now, imagine waking up with that grief every morning as if it were fresh news. Then imagine reliving the news all day. Go to sleep, and it’s Groundhog Day.”

It’s an apt description. And one that I fear is all too commonly experienced by many, including people close to me.

The problem with men (OK, just ONE of many problems with us guys) is that when it comes to our own care, we think we can just tough it out. (“It’s just a flesh wound!”) 

For issues that are not manifestly physical (such as our mental health), well there’s all kinds of excuses we can make for ignoring them.

In the end, I did see a counselor — for about eight months. Yes, it cost me time and money, but in the long run, it did me good.

And if someone as stubborn and reluctant as me can do it, what about you?

I am an Older Dad and That’s Okay

What follows is the tale of my inspiring, gripping, and emotional journey from fretful Older Dad to just plain old Dad. The subtitle should read “How I stopped Worrying and Started Being There for my Kids”

Okay, the story isn’t really all that gripping, and it isn’t very emotional either, but I do indulge in way more “prosaic introspection” than the author of this Wall Street Journal article—despite what the reader comments claim.

That being said, I believe my adventures in middle-age parenting might just lean towards the inspiring side.

I fall squarely into the “Older Dad” category having waited until the chronological age of 42 to make my wife large with child. I was, again chronologically, 46 years old when my spouse informed me I should start getting those diaper changing muscles loosened up again.

By the way, I stress “chronological” because if you ask any of my ex-wives or former girlfriends, they’ll argue that emotionally and intellectually I’ve yet to make it past my awkward teen years.

But never mind all that, let’s get back to the inspirational.

My guess is that there’s at least a full 15-year age difference between me and most of the other dads at the neighborhood playground. It doesn’t bother me much anymore but it was a constant concern when my daughter was a toddler.

There was more than a little self-consciousness about being a graybeard among all the young bucks and I was convinced all eyes were on the old geezer as he watched after his rambunctious daughter.

Maybe all those youthful poppas with their youth and their youthfulness secretly hoped I wouldn’t fall down and break a hip. I imagined they fervently wished to be spared the awkwardness of having to explain to their little ones why that old man was being carted away by the FDNY.

More and more, I found myself parking my butt on a bench and shooing my little girl away, insisting that she play with her new toddler friends.

It killed me every time my shmoopee hid her obvious disappointment and shuffled off to find a new playmate. My beautiful little daughter didn’t see a middle-aged man struggling with his insecurities, all she wanted to do was hang out with her poppa.

The transformation into a hesitant putz that worried about what others would think was complete. Where was the confident and ballsy Bronx kid who insisted on playing by his own rules?

Thankfully, that kid showed up again just when I needed him most.

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It was a huge disservice to me and to my daughter. By creating imaginary slights and not experiencing the total joy of daddyhood with my baby girl while she still thought her grumpy old dad was the coolest guy in the world, I was losing out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I got my ass off that park bench and started playing with my sweet little Miss. I wore the pink boas and the princess crowns. I attended the pretend tea parties and unfailingly extended my pinky. I ran after her and paid little attention to how foolish or how silly I may have looked. I was a goofy dad and it was a blast.

Turns out those young fathers I was so concerned about could not have cared less.

The decision to wait until I was mature enough to raise a family was the right one. Oats were sown and challenges were undertaken and ya-ya’s were gotten out. That could not, and would not, have happened if there were mouths to feed at home in my younger days.

That’s not to say I don’t suffer the occasional flash of panic when the realization sets in that I’ll be close to 70 years old when my kids are in college. I’m keeping myself healthy and fiscally responsible for their future so there’s no use wasting time on worrying about things I can’t control.

What I can control is how much quality time I spend with them. I listen to their stories, tell them a few of my own, and act the fool.

When it’s my turn to kick it, I’ll kick it hard and with full-confidence knowing that I did all I could for my family.

Well, this was my inspirational story. The story of a family man with two young kids who is past the half-century mark, has no regrets, and will never suffer from the “what ifs”. He just took awhile to get there.

As the old neighborhood saying goes: I ain’t even sorry about it.

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The Night I Nearly Died

Us men, we are invincible, right?

Maybe it’s “machismo” or just stupidity.

I don’t have time for my own well-being, right?

Some years ago, I discovered the answer to that question and in the process, faced my mortality.

It’s ironic that the night this started, I was attending the funeral of a family man who had died before his time.

It began with a bad stomachache that I attributed to lunch but when I got home it just got worse.

I was up all night puking. I was on the bathroom floor, delirious from pain but never did I once say to my wife that maybe – just maybe – I should go to the ER.

Finally I was able to sleep and when I woke up, I felt a little better. I saw my wife off to work and got the kids off to school.

Meanwhile, the pain had settled into my lower abdomen, on the right side.

Damnit! This was probably appendicitis. I called in sick to work and called my wife and told her that I would drive myself to the hospital.

No problem. I got this.

Why should I bother anyone and inconvenience them? I was feeling better and the hospital was only a few minutes away.

The doctor checked and he agreed with my diagnosis and sent me for a CT scan for confirmation.

I eventually got wheeled into the OR and when I woke up in recovery, the nurse told me that my appendix had actually burst.

With much difficulty, I made my way into the bathroom. I leaned on the sink and looked in the mirror and saw someone I hardly recognized.

Who the hell was this guy with the pale face, sunken eyes and look of death?

This was me and this was serious.

With a burst appendix, I could’ve died. It probably burst right on the floor of the bathroom that night, which is why I felt better.

But all that time that I wasted refusing to admit I needed help, those toxins were leaking into my gut and setting me up for an internal infection that could have done me in no matter what the doctor did.

I spent the next two-plus weeks in the hospital, always with a fever and constant IV antibiotics.

I don’t think I ever realized how grave my situation was.

To this day I have downplayed the whole thing.

Maybe I’m still lying to myself because it scares the shit outta me that I flirted with death.

I missed my kids performing in the school talent show and I missed some of my son’s baseball games. In truth, though, I came close to not seeing them grow up at all.

At the hospital, I convinced the doctor that I could go home and take my own temp every day, take my meds and come back if I was not feeling well.

I just wanted to go home.

I should have stayed in the hospital.

Better yet, they should’ve just shot me.

Two weeks later, I felt a weight in my lower abdomen, so I went back for another CT scan.

The doctor said he would need to drain the abscesses from the infection caused by the burst appendix. He explained he was going to go in through my anus — using both hands and a syringe — to drain the fluid.

Nice. I should have at least gotten dinner and a movie first.

Still, the procedure was successful.

After all of this, I was not the same person. It took most of a year to really get back to normal.

I still don’t think I realized how close a brush with death this was.

Thank goodness for antibiotics and for my doctor for violating me with that syringe.

I’m glad I’m still here to talk about it.

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AMR 04: Do You Even Lift, Bro?

It’s a very simple equation: If you want to stay in shape you need to eat less and be more active. This week the About Men Posse discuss what motivates them to exercise…and what doesn’t.