Thursday, May 9, 2019

Healthy Habits: Missing Link in Your Diet?

It’s not what you’re eating that’s killing you—it’s what you’re not eating. According to a new study, a lack of healthy foods in our diets is causing more deaths worldwide than smoking.  Health advocate Louis Bezich will be the first to tell you a healthy diet is hard to maintain—especially for older men—but he’s developed a tangible plan to make it happen.
“The existing approaches to men’s health have failed,” says Bezich. “It’s time to take a different approach—one that reaches far upstream from the diet and exercise fads that dominate our culture for a model grounded in the most powerful of all motivations.”

I had a chance to interview him to learn more.

Why are women often instrumental in men's health?
Three reasons. First, women set the bar for healthy behavior. Whether preventative medical visits, health insurance, or willingness to see a doctor, women perform better than men across a number of health measures. As a gender, they have mobilized extremely well to raise awareness on major health issues; think the Susan B. Komen Foundation for breast cancer. Second, they are the managers of household health. They are the one who schedule doctor’s appointments, get prescriptions filled, and insure that a man gets his screenings. Third, in my approach to men’s health which is anchored in motivation as a prerequisite for sustained healthy behavior and social factors as the strongest source of inspiration for men, women are a key partner in the planning and execution of a socially-based motivational platform. Working with men, women can help design a robust social calendar reinforcing men’s most valued relationships that will give them the “why” they need to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Beyond the motivation, women can also serve as participants in a man’s diet and exercise program, a tactic that has proven successful in the men I’ve studied. Healthy men take walks with their wives and enjoy healthy meals together. Finally, women can provide support and encouragement. Healthy behavior is not easy and women can be extremely influential without being controlling and evoking a negative response. In the healthy men I’ve interviewed, an engaged woman is often at the heart of their strategy.

What impact can baby boomers have on people's health?
Baby boomers have the opportunity to change culture. They defined social change in the 60’s and 70’s, transforming the way America thinks about, war and the environment. With only 3% of all Americans, men and women of all ages, living healthy and 70% classified at overweight or obese, our nation is at an alarming crossroads. With so much on the line and the potential to pass on our poor health habits to the next generation, Boomers have the motivation to help themselves and future generations by advocating for a new culture of health. Their ability to show how central health is to our most precious relationships in life and spread this message far and wide can cause healthy behavior to be the norm rather than the exception. I believe that the Boomers have one last cultural change in them.

What are some major health challenges that have cropped up in recent years and how can we overcome them as a society?
With diet and exercise resources more prominent and accessible than ever before, the state of American health is disturbing. Americans spend more on health care that any other industrialized country in the world by far, yet the state of our health is middle-of-the-pack. We fight disease with sophisticated equipment and we’re discovering medicines that do incredible things. Despite this, when it comes to the one factor that has the most impact on our health—our behavior—we fail miserably (see points above). That’s why I’ve proposed a radical new approach to health, one that focuses on motivation for behavioral change as a prerequisite to the gym memberships, diet fads and exercise equipment that are constantly in our faces. As a society we need to promote a new culture of health, one that is anchored in a cognitive alignment between our most valued relationships and aspirations in life-our spouse, children, grandchildren, careers, travels, retirement—and our behavior. Healthy living men understand that health is a means to an end and the endgame are these relationships. If leveraged effectively and collectively as a society we can create a culture in this nation that will reverse these alarming trends, reduce health care costs and bring a whole new level of recognition for the power of social and emotional relationships. We’ve changed behavior in the past with a comprehensive concerted effort. Smoking has decreased dramatically, seatbelt use is a way of life, and something as mundane as recycling—once thought of as an impossible change in day-to-day behavior-- is ingrained in our culture. We can do the same for our health. It's literally a matter of life or death. 

LOUIS BEZICH, author of Crack the Code: 10 Proven Secrets that Motivate Healthy Behavior and Inspire Fulfillment in Men Over 50, is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Alliances with Cooper University Heath Care. As a passionate men’s health advocate, he uses his devotion to health and fitness to motivate men over 50 to establish their own healthy lifestyles. 

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