I am not a healthy person.
As we discuss Men’s Health Month, I think it’s important that I start out by saying this because when I was approached to write this blog about men’s health, I thought to myself, “Y’all must be extremely desperate.”
Aside from allergies, asthma and elevated triglyceride levels, I’ve avoided a lot of major physical health-related problems. My family tree says that I’m up against heart disease issues.
My parents’ behavior toward health wasn’t the best role model for me growing up. I think I remember seeing my dad jog one time. He also seemed to have this ongoing pursuit of the easiest-to-get-away-with diet. He struggled, like I do, with keeping weight off and though he was never morbidly obese, managing his weight was always a battle.
Healthwise, my mom was a rockstar…and by that, I mean she treated her health about as seriously as Jimi Hendrix. Her drugs of choice were Virginia Slims™, Pepsi® and M&M’s®. I have no idea how she stayed under 120 pounds all her life (or how I managed to find the trademark and registered symbols in Microsoft Word, for that matter). My maternal grandmother didn’t know how to cook anything unless it was infused with grease or candy. Hence, my brother and I loved eating at grandma’s house. But have all of my health choices really been that bad? And if they are, how am I still alive at this age?
Before he passed away, my grandfather spent a lot of time lamenting the life skills of Generation X by saying things such as: “Kids these days don’t know how to change a tire or use proper penmanship.” So I spent a lot of time worrying about flat tires and accidentally becoming a doctor who had to write prescriptions for a living. But as I got older, I realized that my grandpa didn’t know how to switch out the RAM in his computer, research scholarly articles online, communicate effectively with his daughters or interpret abstract art. His definition of intellectual and emotional health was always pointed in a different direction than mine. And as I got older, I realized that I was okay with that. I realized I had simply taken a different path to self-improvement.
When I think about health, I often remind myself that what I’m most proud of are the behaviors of abstinence that helped me avoid a possibly much darker path in life:
- I’ve never smoked.
- In my entire life, I’ve had about five alcoholic drinks. These were spread out over a course of about 20 years. Each one of them tasted gross to me, but, hey, I tried.
- I don’t use illicit drugs.
I may have to accept the fact that I may continue life being overweight and repulsed by exercise. But I’m content knowing I’ve chosen a path that has been drug-free and free of consequences that may have accompanied them.
These are the personal health choices that have made me happy where I am, and I am proud of them.
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