Written By: Tim Leeming
This is a shout out to all the lads out there. All the fellas trying to keep themselves in half-decent knick while still holding down a job and making a living! Extra kudos goes to the dads supporting their little ones and families. You all know how hard it is to maintain healthy habits and keep yourselves well when the realities of adulthood are constantly knocking on the door to your time and resources. With you all in mind, this article is here to offer a glimpse of healthful light; to provide you with some simple, easy and (most importantly) applicable pointers for taking control of the shape you’re in.
This one seems too simple to be helpful. The fact is though, so many of us opt for exercise modalities that we don’t actually enjoy. Sure, it might be a convenience thing that the gym is near the office, but I’d suggest that most people lift weights in the gym or go running just because it’s what everyone else is doing; it’s “the done thing”. Don’t just run because everyone else runs! If you thoroughly despise the thought of having to squeeze that run in at lunchtime, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons and it’s not sustainable. If your mindset isn’t healthy, the activity is limited in its healthiness.
Instead, take the time to find something you enjoy. It might be a social tennis competition or touch rugby team in the summer. Maybe it’s a swimming squad for two mornings a week or a casual indoor soccer or cricket team. It’s so important to choose something that you can get excited about doing; the psychosocial aspect of exercise has been overlooked for too long. If you do decide that running is your thing, then apply the same concept. Train in a way that you enjoy, or towards an event you’re actually excited to do. If you hate running on the pavement, then enter a trail event and train off-road!
Dabble in something new or different
In particular, practices of yoga and pilates are growing exponentially in popularity among men. There’s now yoga classes available that are catered specifically for men which include more strength-based movements. I highly recommend the inclusion of at least one of these mobility-based workouts per week. Why? Because use it or lose it. Much of the physical decline of our current population is due to an inability to move our whole body the way it is meant to move. Going for a run barely stimulates the outer ranges of motion of the hip, knee and ankle joints, let alone the upper body. Sitting at your desk for the rest of the day then provides more of a counter-contribution. The addition of an exercise that is totally out of the ordinary for you – one which promotes longevity and balance – is an easy justification for the health-conscious lad.
Eat more fat
Want longer lasting energy? Improved mental clarity? Protection against diabetes and pre-morbid cardiovascular conditions? Weight loss? Then eat more healthy fats, and less of those processed carbs.
Where to get these healthy fats? Eggs, avocados, nuts, seeds, pasture-raised meats, extra virgin olive and coconut oils. These should become staples in your diet if you wish for any of the above.
The catch is that you can’t keep eating processed carbohydrates and sugars if you up your fat intake. That’s when things get dangerous. So, begin to minimise and avoid the packaged foods, the breads and pastries, hot chips, baked goods and lollies.
Think about your booze
Everyone knows that too much grog is not good for you. Everyone also knows that a wee tipple here and there is a cornerstone of kiwi culture. We are social beings and we enjoy our social lubricant. All I ask is that you think about your booze.
First of all, how much are you drinking? Could you cut it down at all? If you’re having a few every night, perhaps you could introduce an alcohol-free night or just work on cutting back by one drink per occasion. Are you drinking just because you feel like you have to lead the charge or keep up with your friends or workmates? It can be hard to not get involved when you’re usually ‘that guy’ at a drinking session. Can you take up a new sport or hobby that gives you an excuse not to drink and something else to focus on or train for? Why not get your workmates and friends involved too so they have to cut down on the booze too. Another great motivator is to look at the amount of money you are spending during each drinking session and add this up over the course of the month and year. I know this is the last thing you want to do after a big night but sometimes you need to face reality! Creating a saving goal can also be a great excuse to cut down on drinking sessions if you feel like these are getting out of control.
Secondly, what exactly are you drinking? Beer is very carbohydrate heavy but it’s also high in gluten which has its own array of adverse health effects (even for those of us who aren’t “gluten sensitive”). If you’re a big beer drinker, try switching to cider to reduce gluten exposure. Even better, sip on a red wine and the antioxidant effects that come with it. Better again, go one-for-one with soda water to flush out and keep a clear head.
Have less milk in your coffee
The milk in your coffee is contributing to your intake of the processed carbohydrates that we mentioned above. If you’re having two or three milky coffees a day, that’s a whole lot of processed stuff going in! Try to opt for coffees with less milk or no milk. A macchiato is better than a latte, and a long black is best. Try it – at least just for one of those coffees per day to start with.