Whether you’re a husband, father, boyfriend, or living the bachelor life, there are people in your life who count on you. So why count yourself out? A recent survey found that 75% of men will put off going to the doctor when showing signs of illness.1 We can do better than that.
Fortunately, one of the perks of being alive in 2020 is having the latest tools and resources to help us track our health, find a reputable healthcare provider, and optimize our productivity and weight-loss strategies. No more excuses.
We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to take better care of ourselves. Here are four ways guys can take charge of their health and help improve their chances of living the good life.
Find a doctor faster
According to the American Heart Association, the number one reason men don’t see their doctor is … they don’t have one.2 Finding a good doctor can seem overwhelming: Do they take my insurance? Are they in a convenient location? Do they get good reviews from patients? Fortunately, Zocdoc makes it easy to find doctors that meet your criteria. Just enter the type of doctor you need, your zip code, and your insurance provider, and you’ll be able to browse doctors, read patient reviews, and book appointments online.
No insurance? Startup Stride Health takes the pain out of an insurance plan that may be suitable for you. After filling out a short questionnaire about yourself and your health needs, you’ll receive a personalized health plan recommendation and be able to purchase it on the spot. The process takes just five minutes, proving that taking care of yourself doesn’t need to take all day.
Know your numbers
You’ve had your blood pressure and cholesterol checked before, but there are many other risk factors that could lead to heart disease, diabetes, and poor overall health that can be discovered with a simple blood test. Unfortunately, the costs of individual blood tests can range from the price of a fast food combo to upwards of $1,000.3
Thanks to innovation in the field, keeping tabs on what’s going on inside your body is becoming cheaper and directly accessible to consumers. Companies like WellnessFx let you purchase a package of tests for the price of what one test typically would cost if ordered through your doctor. Depending on the package you choose, you’ll gain insight into your cholesterol, inflammation, fasting glucose, thyroid, kidney, hormone, and vitamin levels.
After having your blood drawn at a lab near you, your results are loaded onto your private profile. If you order additional packages in the future, you’ll be able to see how your blood markers change over time and evaluate how your lifestyle changes are impacting your health.
Maximize your energy and output
Given the constant stream of demands at your attention, managing your energy can be more important than managing your time. All of the productivity hacks and apps in the world aren’t going to make your life better if you’re too drained to do your most important work. Consider these areas of focus from Helen West, Registered Dietician.4
- Get more sleep: It’s easy to push this time to the back burner when things get busy, but sleep is essential to performing your best. Aim for around seven hours each night.
- Destress: Mounting stress can take a toll on physical and mental health. Take a walk during the workday, get some sunlight, and consider meditation to reduce anxiety.
- Move more: If you often feel exhausted, prioritizing regular exercise like brisk walking or cycling could help boost energy levels.
- Hydrate: Dehydration can affect your brain function, mood, and energy levels. Ensure you’re getting enough H20 throughout the day and listen to your thirst, especially during exercise.
- Be social: If you’re feeling worn out and in low spirits, it can be helpful to get out socializing with friends and build some meaningful connections.
Make diet changes with the most impact
In 2009, Dr. Peter Attia was a surgeon and a competitive cyclist and swimmer. He also was clinically overweight and insulin-resistant despite exercising three to four hours per day and eating a high-carb, low-fat diet. By reversing his diet to a higher-fat, low-carb diet, he was able to lose weight and reduce his body fat.
Now a clinician with a small private practice, Attia works with clients to help them improve their chances of living longer. Based on his personal and professional experience, he recommends five ways (in order of importance) to lose weight and improve health:
1. Reduce – and ideally eliminate – sugar from your diet. This guideline specifically refers to sucrose (table sugar) and high-fructose corn syrup. Beware of “fat-free” and “low-fat” foods, as manufacturers typically add sugar to compensate for the fat they take out.
2. Eat complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates typically have more fiber and are less likely to stimulate a hormonal response. Complex carbohydrate examples include broccoli and other non-starchy vegetables, or yams and sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.
3. Limit your fruit consumption, and avoid dried fruit and fruit juice completely. Fruit is touted as an important part of a “balanced diet.” While it has vitamins and fiber, it also tends to be high in sugar. As noted in Step 1, reducing sugar intake is crucial to losing weight, so fruit on the higher glycemic end of the spectrum (bananas, mangos, pineapple) should appear sparingly in your diet. If you’re craving fruit, steer toward berries, which are lower in sugar.
4. Reduce your overall carbohydrate intake to a serving per day . This is especially true if you haven’t met your weight-loss goals.
5. Increase your fat intake as you follow each step. It’s counterintuitive, Attia concedes, but fat provides calories and nutrients in place of the carbohydrates you’ve reduced, without spiking your insulin levels. That’s important when you’re trying to lose weight. Get fats from a variety of sources, including omega-3-rich sources like pastured eggs and wild, fatty fish, aged cheese, nuts, avocados, and olive and coconut oil.
Things to Consider:
- Schedule that doctor’s appointment
- Take breaks during your workday. Note how you feel and what you got done.
- Focus on one of Dr. Attia’s five recommendations for losing weight for the next 30 days.
Transamerica is not afflicted with Stride Health, Inc and WellnessFx. This information is provided as informational purposes only.
1 “2019 Men’s Health Survey,” Gillette/Movember Foundation, 2019
2 "The Top 10 Reasons Men Put Off Doctor Visits," American Heart Association, 2019
3 "They Want It to Be a Secret: How a Common Blood Test Can Cost $11 or Almost $1,000," The New York Times, 2019
4 “9 Natural Ways to Boost Energy Levels,” Helen West on behalf of HealthLine.com, 2017