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Men Need to Focus on Health Instead of Six-Packs

06/16/2015 12:53 EDT | Updated 06/16/2016 05:59 EDT
Shutterstock / Kiselev Andrey Valerevich

Men, it is our week to wake up! We are unhealthy, we have been denying it, and putting it off. Now is the time to stop, take notice, and make changes.

I urge you to read this, share it, and keep it somewhere close by so you don't forget in a week. This isn't your 2005 New Year Resolution that you have made again, each year for the past decade. This needs to be serious, and a full commitment.

Not a fad diet, supplement, or a promise to return to playing sports. This isn't a wait till tomorrow, do it next week, or I hate the gym moment. This is a wake up call, the data is in, and it's bad.

There was a study commissioned by the Canadian Men's Health Foundation to understand the economic impact of poor health choices among Canadian men. Notice it says choices, not something you have to accept.

Boys, this week is being called "Canadian Men's Health Week." If these numbers do not fill you with a deep desire to make some changes, I do not know what will.

No one is asking you to go to the gym, take yoga, or anything else. But we do need to move instead of sit still all day, eat some real food, and start taking care of the only thing that's really important. Our health. If you don't make changes, who will?

The value of health is immeasurable, your family gets more of your time. Your workplace sees you as productive and happy.

The economic burden is broken down as follows:

-Poor health among men costs Canada $36.9 billion a year (this exact figure is from 2013)

-Direct health care costs tax payers $11.9 billion

-The remaining $25.1 billion goes towards:

premature mortality ($14.0 billion)

short-term disability ($2.4 billion)

long-term disability ($8.6 billion)

Of these costs, $13.0 billion is attributable to smoking, $11.9 billion to excess weight, $7.6 billion to alcohol, and $4.4 billion to inactivity.

Smoking, excess weight, alcohol, and inactivity contribute to 40 different chronic conditions such as chronic lung disease and cancers of the head and neck.

Canadian men are more likely to die from heart disease and diabetes than women. They account for 82 per cent of alcohol-related death and 80 per cent of successful suicides. Nearly 70 per cent of Canadian men are overweight or considered technically obese. On average, men spend more than nine years of their life living what is considered an "unhealthy life," mostly related to health issues that are considered preventable.

If you need a starting point, talk with your doctor. Start with one person who can help you branch out and get support where you need. Online, your best resources are Canadian Diabetes Association, Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Half Your Plate.

This isn't about looks, or a six pack. Our inactivity, and food choices are killing us before our time. We are literally dying early from preventable issues and complications.

It is not the gym -- it is just being active, playing outside, enjoying the fresh air.

It's not a diet -- it's portion size and control of real food and not something we take out of a box.

It's not difficult -- we need this to get back to being fun.

During this week, stop, take a step back and commit to health with Don't Change Much. The changes we need to make are small and easy, it just takes committing to them.

Keep it simple, share the numbers, and let's inspire each other to health. Join the growing group of campaign ambassadors that includes Michael Buble, Trevor Linden, Simon Whitfield (all-time most decorated triathlete in Canada), Adam Kreek (Canadian Olympic rower), Rona Ambrose (Canada's Minister of Health). #MensHealthWeek @DontChangeMuch gets you in the conversation.

This is why I got into corporate wellness consulting, this is why I travel, write, and try to fill youtube and social media with positive health messages. We can easily turn this around. It's for health, our families, and for ourselves. I hope my passion for health comes across in this, and I hope...truly hope...if you read this far, you realize it's not the gym, it's not the six-pack, it's to enjoy a long healthy life. It's walks, hikes, and energy. It's passion for life that can't be explained. I've never regretted being healthy. I've climbed to the tops of mountains and enjoyed breathtaking views, I've traveled and hiked to lost temples and seen remarkable things. I've got stories to tell, and memories to share. That is all I want for anyone reading this far. Energy, passion, and health. The ability to go out and make memories.

Ask questions, make simple starting points. It really is more simple than you'd think.

By the way, the food is delicious on the healthy side, and easy!

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