(Editor’s note: Throughout the month of June, Navy Medicine is celebrating Men’s Health Month by urging our male Sailors, Marines, civilians and family members to “Get Healthy Like a Man.” Paul Ross, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery deputy public affairs officer, will be blogging about living healthy during the month.)
By Paul Ross, deputy public affairs officer, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
As I close out Men’s Health Month and my goal to “Get Healthy Like A Man,” I’ve tried to focus on becoming an overall healthier person. I’ve eaten a diet full of fresh foods and cut out all the junk. I’ve worked out regularly and feel stronger and fit. I’m down nine pounds and conquered (sort of) the PRT, and although I did not accomplish all of my goals, I made progress toward eventually achieving them.
I’ve learned that planning for your goals is as important as setting them. I’ve learned that getting healthy is hard work and requires changing your ways — not for a month — but for your lifetime. But adjusting your lifestyle isn’t as hard as it seems when you break it down into a manageable routine.
As I made my transition to a healthy lifestyle, I also focused on what a man should be. I’m not thinking just in terms of being healthy enough to walk up a flight of stairs without an oxygen tank. I’m not talking about manliness in terms of bare-knuckle boxing a bear or scaling Mount Kilimanjaro. I’m talking about the real definition of a man.
Sure there are some criteria that automatically make me a man such as the Y chromosome and a propensity to leave toilet seats up.
But what truly makes a man? Is it the lessons my father taught me? My favorite one from childhood was, “Don’t start fights … finish them.” It wasn’t that my dad was telling me to beat people up. His words were telling me to be strong and not let people walk all over me – a lesson I’ve employed throughout my life.
So in between the push-ups, the running, the eating healthy and the blog writing, I tried to take stock of what being a man really means. Here’s the advice I’m giving myself:
- Be a role model. For your children, for the next generation, for your siblings, friends and society. Remember that you represent the Navy. Do it with class and do it with pride.
- Work out. It keeps your body healthy and your mind clear. Find the way that’s right for you and keep a routine. But balance it with the rest of your priorities.
- Don’t be afraid to look foolish. Life’s too short not to run around like a maniac at the park because your three-year-old wants you to chase him. Turn that baseball cap backwards, tighten up those New Balance laces, and run around like you’re a kid again.
- Let go of anger. Everyone gets angry at times, but yelling because of traffic or letting stress eat you up inside is no way to live. Find the joy in the world, because there’s plenty of it out there.
- Be confident, not cocky.
- A firm handshake and a warm smile go a long way.
- Always look for ways to improve. Find a new hobby. Make something with your bare hands. Read a classic novel. Take a calligraphy class (okay this might not be the manliest suggestion) … but you get the point. You can always be better.
- Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure just means you tried. If you don’t try, you’ll never find success.
- Know when to speak. But more importantly, when to listen.
- Find happiness. Being a man isn’t about being selfish and making you happy. It’s about being content because you’ve made those who depend on you happy. It’s about not letting these people down, whether it’s your family, friends, or co-workers.
While my list is not the end-all, be-all guide to being a man, they are rules I’ve developed to strive to live by in my life. That doesn’t mean they’ll work for you, but I’m going to try and follow them because I believe they’ll work for me. As far as this having a tie to my Men’s Health Month goals, being happy and maintaining sound mental health is as important, if not more so, than physical fitness.
There are many aspects of my list that I still have to improve upon and many health goals that I want to achieve. But having a guide for what makes you the type of man you want to be is important. Men’s Health Month comes along for 30 days once a year. But we are still men the other 335 days on the calendar.
As I bid farewell to Men’s Health Month, I encourage all the men reading this to get healthy – mentally and physically. But more importantly, to be the type of men who make people proud.
Thanks for reading.
(Attention all women readers: Remember we will be doing a similar campaign in October, which is Women’s Health Month.)
Blog #5: Get Healthy Like A Man: Fitness Test Redemption – sort of
Blog #4: Get Healthy Like A Man: Overcoming Obstacles
Blog #3: Get Healthy Like A Man: Goals
Blog #2: Get Healthy Like A Man: Fitness test Failure
Blog #1: Get Healthy Like A Man