What would you do to gain another 12 years of life? That’s a dozen more years of doing all the things you love, of being with all the people you love, of popping bubble wrap, of “accidentally” dipping bacon in peanut butter…you get the idea. Before you answer that question, however, you should know this: According to recent research, there are five easy things any guy can do to achieve this goal.
By using lifestyle questionnaires and medical records from 123,000 American volunteers, Harvard University researchers identified five behaviours that together contribute to longer life expectancy:
Following a healthy diet
Controlling body weight
Doing regular exercise
Drinking alcohol in moderation
Compared with volunteers who did none of these things, men who adhered to all five saw their life expectancy at age 50 jump by 12 years, from 76 to 88. The five-behaviours crew was also 65% less likely to die of cancer and 82% less likely to die of heart disease.
New ebook drives the point home
The Harvard findings reflect the health picture painted by the new “Where Do You Stand?” ebook from the Canadian Men’s Health Foundation. This unique guide is designed to give you a simple but clear picture of your health by comparing your unhealthy behaviours to those of other Canadian men. Those unhealthy behaviours — smoking, poor sleep, inactivity, alcohol consumption and unhealthy eating — are pretty much the flipside of the healthy behaviours covered in the Harvard study.
The takeaway here: Boarding the healthy train is literally a life-saver! Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place for tips on how to live longer and feel better through easy changes to your daily routine. So why wait? Let’s get the train rolling RIGHT NOW:
Follow a healthy diet with food swaps
The Harvard study defined a healthy diet as being rich in items such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains, and low in red meat, saturated fats and sugar. So how do you get there? Simple: By swapping unhealthy foods for ones that will help you gain those extra years. For example:
Whole-grain bread instead of white bread: Unlike nutrient-stripped white bread, whole-grain bread is packed with bran and germ, which contain vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein, and fiber.
Fish instead of beef: Lean red meat can be good for you, but wild salmon, wild tuna, sardines and anchovies, for example, are packed with healthy omega-3s and light on other fats.
Salad instead of fries: Swap out the usual fatty french fries that come with your restaurant main dish for a fresh, crunchy salad. A side of fries contains about 300 calories and 20 grams of fat, while a side chef salad with vinaigrette dressing has a third the calories, nearly a tenth the fat, and is packed with vitamins and fibre.
Control body weight by drinking more water
Having a body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 25 was the Harvard standard. Your BMI is your weight in kilograms, divided by your height in metres, then divided again by your height. Make is easy – calculate your BMI, use this handy BMI calculator.
Since you’re not getting any taller, the only way to bring your BMI down is to shed some pounds. The aforementioned food swaps will help with that, of course, and here’s another easy weight-loss tip: Drink more water!
Knocking back five tall glasses each day is a simple, easy, no-cost way to lose weight. Drinking water fills up your stomach, which makes you feel less hungry. At the same time, your body actually burns calories to process the water you drink. Because water has zero calories, you’re getting something for nothing.
Studies have also shown that drinking water reduces our intake of sugary soda pop. So that’s another smart, easy swap: Water instead of pop!
Get regular exercise by walking more
The study defined regular exercise as getting at least 30 minutes of it a day. As with your diet, this can be easily achieved by working more walking into your day. For instance:
Walk your kids to school instead of driving: It’ll set a good example for the brood, do them some good as well, and give you all some extra time together.
Walk to work from a more distant parking lot: And if it’s a cheaper lot, you win again!
Use the stairs instead of the elevator: Hoofing it up stairs burns a third more calories than regular walking.
According the Harvard study, “moderation” means having no more than two servings of alcohol a day. If that sounds like a tall order, these hacks can help:
Use different glasses: Studies have shown that people pour less wine into narrow glasses than wide ones, which in turn reduces the rate of consumption, and that leaving a glass on the table instead of holding it yields a smaller pour. Likewise, straight-sided beer glasses with measurement markings slow down the rate at which we drink.
Glasses half full: Again, studies have shown that filling glasses only halfway up results in significant reductions in booze intake.
Steer clear of boozy situations: Parties or nights on the town lead to drinking. Controlling the environment — say, by inviting friends to your home for dinner — can lead to less alcohol consumption.
Stop equating fun with alcohol: Make a list of activities you enjoy that don’t have to involve booze — playing sports, gardening, photography, getting it on, the list goes on — and slot them in at those times when you’re likely to be tempted to drink.
Quit smoking with QuitNowMen.ca
This one’s pretty black-and-white: If you smoke, it can shorten your life. While tobacco use is at record lows, it’s still a major contributor to guy problems ranging from erectile dysfunction to more serious health risks, like stroke, heart disease and all kinds of cancers. If you’re thinking of quitting, check out QuitNowMen.ca to learn how to control triggers, cravings, and curb the effects of withdrawal.
Do you have a clear picture of your health? See how your health compares to other Canadian men.
Talk about a spelling-bee nightmare! “Tsah-see-key” is how tzatziki is pronounced, and that’s tricky enough. But the Greek dip’s spelling is even trickier: T-Z-A-T-Z-I-K-I. A zed right after a tee? Twice!?! Now you know why “It’s all Greek to me” means that something is incomprehensible!
As hard as it is to say and spell, this refreshingly tangy and creamy blend of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and herbs is easy to enjoy with sliced veggies, chicken kebabs and much more. (Keep reading to learn how tzatziki is made — it’s super-easy BTW — as well as for some tasty dipping options.)
Beyond deliciousness, tzatziki has a LOT going for it.
This is good news because there are many pros of eating protein. The essential nutrient is great for your skin, hair, bones and heart, it builds muscle, and it provides a longer-lasting energy source than sugary or starchy foods.
More healthy highlights
Tzatziki made from low-fat Greek yogurt checks a lot of other healthy boxes. That two-tablespoon serving contains around 50 calories and 1.7 grams of fat, which is much less than ranch dressing and other creamy dips. There are around 50 milligrams of bone-strengthening calcium in there too, along with zero cholesterol, which is good news for your blood pressure and heart health.
How to make tzatziki
Can you buy tzatziki sauce? You bet: Most supermarkets sell it. That said, mixing up your own tzatziki can be done in just four quick-and-easy steps:
Step 1: Dollup a cup of low-fat Greek yogurt into a bowl.
Step 2: Peel half a large cucumber, dice it up, and dump it in there.
Step 3: Add the juice of one lemon, a minced garlic clove, some chopped dill or mint, and a dash of salt and pepper to the mix.
Step 4: Stir well…and start dipping!
You’ve got your delicious dip, now you need something to dunk! You can’t go wrong with sliced red and green peppers, carrots, celery, broccoli and other dippable veggies, as well as these go-to options:
Cheddar Crunch Sticks: This crowd-pleasing dipper is one of the nutritious and easy-to-make snacks in the new “8 Delicious Recipes for a Healthier Game Day” ebook. Download it for free now!
Jamaican Grilled Chicken Kebabs: Cool and creamy tzatziki complements the jalapeno-fuelled spiciness of this BBQ favourite.
Turkey burgers: You’ll love leftovers even more when you spread tzatziki on these juicy burgers.
Kolokithokeftedes: Yes, these zucchini fritters are great for dipping. Plus, now you know a Greek word that’s harder to spell than tzatziki!
Want to make a full spread of crowd-pleasing game day food? Get the free handy booklet.
Download “8 Delicious Recipes for a Healthier Game Day” ebook right now.
It has long been said that “real men don’t ask for directions,” but only recently has it been shown that this behaviour hits guys hard in the wallet.
According to a 2010 study by British insurance company Sheilas’ Wheels, one quarter of guys avoid asking for directions for at least 30 minutes, with one in 10 refusing to ask for help at all. All this driving around while lost wastes a lot of gasoline — 444 kilometres worth of it each year on average — which reportedly adds up to more than $3,350 over a guy’s lifetime.
Just think: If we would just let go of male expectations and ask for a little help from passers-by, we would save some serious time and cash.
Not asking for help hurts
This brings us to an interesting question: WHY don’t men ask for directions? Research reveals that it may have to do with the way society teaches us not to seek help or show weakness. A set of 2015 studies, for instance, found that when men asked for help at work they were seen as less competent and confident. The same perceptions did not apply to women.
Of course, when we DO ask for help, it’s usually so we can be better at whatever we’re doing, from using heavy machinery or computers to getting from A to B. So NOT asking for help costs us by preventing improvement. This, in turn, holds us back from promotions, salary increases and job satisfaction. It also isolates guys who may be having trouble at home or outside of work, and shows how gender roles affect mental health. Never reaching out to others also causes stress and pressure to build up, which in turn can result in aggressive and self-destructive behaviour.
All that said, refusing to ask for help is just the tip of the missed-opportunities iceberg.
The benefits of being a “good guy”
Do you want to be seen and remembered as generous and agreeable, or as cold, boastful and argumentative? Beyond the happiness and relationship benefits of being a good guy, it can also make you better at your job. But again, society conditions us to take the low road.
Take modesty: On one hand, a recent study shows that modesty makes better leaders. On the other, men who were more humble in expressing their qualifications were evaluated as less likeable and weaker than modest women. In the hiring process, meanwhile, men who were more humble were seen by employers as lower in competence and less desirable to hire, compared with modest women.
Then there’s empathy, which means being open to the feelings, thoughts and attitudes of other people. Like modesty, displaying empathy has been shown to be an important leadership trait, yet men don’t seem to be given the same credit for it as women. A recent study found that empathetic female leaders were seen as being less likely to face career problems than empathetic men.
You do you, and the rest will follow
If none of this sounds fair, there are two pieces of good news: One, these societal injustices aren’t your fault; and two, no one is forcing you to go along with them. Be the good guy you want to be and see what happens. Will gender roles ever change? They will if guys like you are part of that change. Chances are you’ll be healthier, happier, and maybe even richer, as a result.
Are you trying to get a handle on your health? If so, we’ve got your back!
Download the free “Men’s Maintenance Guide” ebook right now.
Once driven to avoid failure, Doug Brown uses everyday achievements to stay motivated these days
Doug Brown knows all about chaos. On any given workday the retired CFL legend might be prepping for a radio interview while rushing between Winnipeg hospitals as a medical rep for an orthopaedic instrumentation company. The deadline for his newspaper sports column was 15 minutes ago, and just to cap it all off he has a brand-new baby daughter at home.
“Sometimes daily life is a lot like a football game,” the seven-time all-star defensive lineman says. “Everything happening around you is intense and fast.”
Not every guy can relate to the rush of sacking a pro quarterback, but all of us know the feeling of fighting an uphill battle, or biting off more than we can chew.
The key to getting through these challenging situations, Doug says, is not to hide from them or fear them. “Lose yourself in the moment, embrace it, and you’ll come out the other end feeling a sense of accomplishment.”
The power of validation
Doug didn’t always feel this way. During his football career, he says, he was motivated as much by fear and insecurity as anything else. “I was profoundly affected by things in my life where I felt like I failed. This shaped how I approached everything else. If you want to avoid something, you’ll do anything to make sure it doesn’t occur. For me, that something was failure, and having a fear of failure is a highly motivating force.”
When he tried out for the NFL after university, he continues, “my main motivator was to not be the first person cut at tryouts. I was consumed with not living up to expectations, my own and those of others.”
Even after four years in the NFL and 11 more in Canada, Doug says he was “driven to prove people wrong when they said that my game was dropping off.”
In pro football, as in everyday life, validation was the antidote to Doug’s fear and insecurity. Winning games, winning awards, winning fans — “this positive feedback helped turn my fear into confidence,” Doug says.
After a Hall of Fame career, Doug retired from the CFL in 2011. What happened then? Did his sense of validation disappear?
Playing to his strengths
“In pro football, if you have ability and you train as hard as you can, achievement and validation follows naturally,” Doug says. “But when you retire, it becomes harder. When you’ve finished what you think you’re best at, what’s next? It’s easy to let fear creep back in.”
Doug didn’t let this happen. As an outside-the-box thinker with the gift of the gab, he focused on his interests and skills outside football. He tried his hand at journalism and broadcasting, and was rewarded with his own radio show and regular newspaper column. “Success is sustaining,” he says. “You never know how you’ll do until you try.”
At the same time, he adds, “You have to pick your battles. It doesn’t matter how afraid of failure I am, if I want to be an astronaut that’s not going to happen. You have to have an understanding of where your abilities lie.”
Variety and the little things
“Being involved in lots of different things also really helps,” he adds. “Now I feel a sense of accomplishment when I have a good broadcast, or write a good column, or simply get through a chaotic day. It’s also about the little things, like rocking my daughter to sleep.”
Doug’s fear of failure “has only ever been in my head, and now that’s where I often find validation.”
Beat stress by doing what you love
One way Doug deals with the stress of his chaotic days is by spending time in the great outdoors around his adopted hometown of Winnipeg. He credits teammate Tom Canada — “the ultimate adventurer outdoor guy” — for introducing him to the natural wonders of Manitoba.
Spending time in the open air, after all, will help anyone feel revitalized and energized by reducing tension, frustration, and the feeling of being overwhelmed.
“Working to find your place in life is important, but some things find you,” Doug says. “The key is being open to letting it happen.”
If you don’t take sugar in your coffee, you know how sweet it tastes when you accidentally sip a double-double. If you do take sugar, you can probably tell when too much is added. Can I have some coffee with my sugar please? Yuck!
Now, imagine what that coffee would taste like if you scooped not one, not two, but TEN teaspoons of sugar into it. It would be undrinkable, right? Thing is, that’s the same amount of sugar you consume when you knock back just a single can of pop.
Those 30-something grams of the sweet stuff account for nearly all your recommended daily intake of sugar, and going over this amount on a regular basis can make you gain weight, send your blood pressure soaring, and increase your chances of contracting type 2 diabetes, among other health risks. That’s what pop does to your body, and that’s why pop is bad for you.
When you spoil yourself with a juicy hamburger or pint of beer, both have at last some nutritional value. With pop, you get nothing but nasty, empty calories that damage your health.
So, to recap, there are many good reasons to stop drinking pop and no good ‘reasons to keep drinking it — other than the sweet taste, that is. And that can be a problem.
Why is it hard to stop drinking pop?
Sugary drinks can be addictive because you are hard-wired to crave them. Our primate ancestors thrived on sugar-rich fruit, studies show, and evolved to favour riper, sweeter fruit because it has a higher sugar content than unripe fruit. Millions of years later, humanity’s sweet tooth has led to foods and beverages that, like pop, allow us to to consume heaps of sugar whenever we want it.
It doesn’t help that fun, flashy commercials for soda are everywhere, or that pop is the default beverage of fast-food meals. It’s a hard habit to break, no doubt, but with the hacks listed here you can drop pop like the bad habit it is.
Find a replacement
Switching to diet pop is always an option — it’s certainly healthier that the full-sugar stuff — but studies show that artificial sweeteners can also lead to weight gain, fat buildup and Type 2 Diabetes. So instead of trying to side-step the sweetness, focus on the other things you like about pop.
If it’s the fizz you crave, soda water does the trick. Buy it at the supermarket, or make it yourself with one of those inexpensive home-carbonation machines. They’re quick, convenient and easy to use. Need a flavour kick? Add a squirt of lemon, lime or orange juice, or get creative with some fresh mint, cinnamon, sliced cucumber or strawberries. That’s how to make pop without sugar. Another option: Stir in a few drops of maple syrup. Natural sweetness and Canadian patriotism, together at last!
Revamp your routine
Swap in your replacement beverage of choice whenever you’d normally drink sugary pop. Do you drink pop with lunch at work? Soda water with lemon goes great with a sandwich. Do you tend to combat afternoon drowsiness with cola? Some fizz with fresh mint will perk you up just as well if not better!
If you’re stuck with pop as your only option — at the movies, for instance — don’t be discouraged. Treating yourself to a pop now and then isn’t a big deal. The key is to break the regular habit of drinking it.
See through the marketing
Every time you see a pop commercial showing beautiful people playing in the sun, picture a coffee cup. Then picture 10 heaping spoons of sugar being dumped into it. That’s the side of soda the pop producers don’t want you to see. Why? Because it is so blatantly unhealthy! Keep this in mind, and pop marketing will lose its power over you.
Are you trying to get a handle on your health? If so, we’ve got your back!
Download the free “Men’s Maintenance Guide” ebook right now.