This is a bit of a valedictory for Guyside. After 54 happy posts here on FlashFree, we’re at the end of the road. Asking guys to contribute to a site about menopause was a bit of a courageous and audacious move, which fits this blog’s major-domo Liz Scherer quite well.
And as the writer of most of these posts, I am glad she asked me, and addicted enough to doing this that I’ll be continuing the Guyside tradition on another site, while the archives will always be available here, with my posts, as well as the other Guyside contributors Danny Brown and Rich Becker.
Want to know more?
Listen to this Skype conversation between Liz and I. Happy and Healthy New Year, and stay tuned for more!
Image: CC-licenced by Flickr user Mark RamsayRead More
I’ve been keeping an eye on my blood pressure these days. With a family history of hypertension, it just makes sense. And so far, my results are good. A while ago, I stopped at a local pharmacy and used their automated machine and saw a couple of readings heading into the high range. But more accurate readings have put it further down in the normal range, so that’s good.
But when I looked at my profile for hypertension risk factors, I was struck that there wasn’t a great deal I could do. The major risk factors for hypertension, according to the Mayo Clinic, are:
- Age. (Hypertension is more common in men around 45 or so, and becomes more common in women around 65)
- Race. (High blood pressure is particularly common among blacks)
- Family history.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Not being physically active.
- Using tobacco.
- Too much salt (sodium) in your diet.
- Too little potassium in your diet.
- Too little vitamin D in your diet.
- Drinking too much alcohol.
I do pretty well on most of these. But of the ones I can control, the one about sodium sticks out. As a man and a lover of food that I KNOW is bad for me, I know that I can be the author of my own hypertensive misfortune. Burgers, fries, onion rings, chicken wings — it would be foolish to pretend they don’t have a lot of sodium in there. But there are a ton of foods out there that you wouldn’t expect to have high sodium levels.
We often have pizzas on naan bread for a quick and easy weekday meal. On top, prosciutto, pears, brie, and basil. I knew the prosciutto would be high in sodium — after all, it’s a cured meat. But the naan bread itself has a surprising amount of sodium. Between those two ingredients, one naan pizza is likely delivering more than half my daily allowance of sodium.
Chicken breasts can be injected with brine during processing, increasing their sodium content drastically. A slice of process cheese might have 20% of your daily allowance of sodium!
If you have french fries, you expect them to be salty. But if you add a tablespoon or two of ketchup, you’re looking at 400 mg of sodium just in that!
And none of this counts restaurant or takeout food, which can be extremely high in sodium. You can see just how easy it would be to end up with more than your roughly 2,500 mg of sodium per day:
- 350 mg: a bowl of Raisin Bran.
- 870 mg: a bagel and cream cheese
- 1220 mg breakfast
- 1600 mg: 100 grams of deli ham on white bread with mustard.
- 1600 mg lunch
- 393 mg: baked chicken breast
- 418 mg: baked potato
- 460 mg: cup of canned peas
- 1271 mg supper
- 744 mg: 1/2 cup of salsa
- 420 mg: 24 tortilla chips
- 1164 mg snack
That’s a whopping 5255 mg of sodium, more than twice the recommended amount in a day, without a single shake of your salt shaker, without eating out, and with lots of things that seem healthy at first glance. (Sodium figures from the Fat Secret website)
You can’t change your age, your race, or your family history of hypertension. But if you start to track things like sodium, you do see where you can help prevent hypertension, or if you have it, improve it without resorting to drugs. And that’s a good thing.
(Pretzel photo is a CC-licenced image from Flickr user Jenn Durfey)Read More
From my perch in Canada, the decision in Ferguson felt like a tragedy, or perhaps a series of tragedies.
First and foremost among those tragedies is the death of a young man. In a better world, Michael Brown would still be alive.
Next among the tragedies of this case is the loss of yet more faith in the US court system by the African-American community. If people can’t feel that their judicial system will treat them fairly, then eventually some will find extrajudicial means to mete out justice as they see fit. For us, in the relatively wealthy parts of the Western world, that is a tragedy.
Yoga. How hard can that be, right? Just a bunch women accessorizing and lying around on mats, right?
Uh-uh. As I type this, my large thigh muscles are complaining, and my abdominal muscles are providing harmony vocals. All this after an “ambitious” session of Kundalini yoga on Monday. As in so many instances, my pain is my fault, for two reasons:
- I have had a fairly indolent fall, with not nearly the same level of activity — yoga or otherwise — that I might expect normally.
- Being reasonably competitive and interested in seeing what others were doing in the class, I wanted to show that I wasn’t some Kundalini newbie. So I pushed myself.
And here I sit, waiting for my muscles to stop being mad at me.
Time was that such foolhardiness on my part wouldn’t have been NEARLY as big a deal. Gluttony, sudden spurts of exercise, alcoholic overindulgence, nights with very little sleep — it all was part of the game, and I (or at least I think) was able to perform quite fine under all sorts of self-imposed constraints. Now, it’s a different story. I can have late nights, but there will be a price to pay. The days of 80-chicken-wing sprees accompanied by pitchers of beer? Gone. And as my yoga experience has shown me (not for the first time), I need to gauge my level of effort when exercising and prepare for recovery time.
And it’s not just me. Science says so. An article in the Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science states baldly that “The recommended dose of exercise should do no more than leave the participant pleasantly tired on the following day. Recovery processes proceed slowly, and vigorous training should thus be pursued on alternate days.” And a Harvard Men’s Health Watch article points out (too late for me this time) that it’s best to “Work yourself back into shape gradually after a layoff, particularly after illness or injury.”
This week, I brought my bike in from the garage to set it up for winter training. If I have learned one thing from Monday’s yoga class, it’s that while I can do stuff, I can do stuff better if I do it with an eye to gently bringing myself up to speed, rather than exploding out of the gate.
And the benefits of physical activity are so great and diverse that there’s no argument against moving a bit more. Now, can someone pass the Ben-Gay?
Photo: cc-licenced image from Flickr user Jamie Ramos.Read More
I’m not a father. It’s not gonna happen. It’s not a question of “waiting for the right woman” — I found her over 20 years ago, and that’s that — or of some unfortunate biological malfunction. When my partner and I were together a while, we started to talk about children, and we decided together that we would not have any. And quite a number of years ago, we took permanent steps to ensure that we weren’t going to have children.
First off, there’s the sensitivities that any man sometimes feels about being around kids. You find yourself, at times, in strange situations. A few years ago, friends — let’s call them Dick and Jane — separated. My partner and I were at Jane’s house for dinner, and their daughter “Kate” asked if we could go to her track meet the next day. I could, so I showed up at a school field the next morning, wandering around looking for Kate or Jane. I saw Kate first, and she ran over to hug me, and as she competed, I took some pictures. Then I realized that I was just a random guy with no “real” ties to this event, taking pictures of children. And I also realized that she needed the support of people there rooting for her, and I was proud to do it.
Oh yes. Corrupts.
Up here in Canada, people of a certain age and persuasion have been bathed in utter sordidness for the last week, as one of the stories I wrote about last week — that of national radio host Jian Ghomeshi — has gotten worse, and worse, and then worse again.
To recap: Ghomeshi was the host of a nationally-broadcast show on CBC Radio (and on 180 or so NPR stations in the US), a regular contributor to the CBC’s national TV newscast, and a host of a number of high-profile cultural events. He was the personification of an organization seeking a younger, hipper demographic. About a week ago, it was suddenly announced that he was taking an indefinite leave. The immediate assumption was that he was taking time to deal with his father’s recent death.
But by Sunday, he’d written a 1600-word Facebook post that said he was fired, and fired because of revelations of his private sexual behaviour (what he described as being “adventurous in the bedroom”) made by a jilted ex-girlfriend. By now, he’s been the subject of allegations of both workplace sexual harassment and of assaultive behaviour with women in his life, some of whom remain anonymous and some of whom have gone public. His career is in tatters, he’s gone to ground, a Toronto police investigation is underway, his former employer has launched a major inquiry, and a national conversation has begun, thanks to the Twitter hashtag #beenrapedneverreported.
So this is about power. If the allegations against Ghomeshi are true, it seems clear that his power as a media personality allowed him to behave in a reprehensible way with little fear of being “called out” for it. In fact, one producer on his radio show who reported harassing behaviour was allegedly told “he’ll never change, so what can you do to make the workplace less toxic?” by the show’s executive producer.
So here’s the thing. If you are a man who is abusive of women, a sexual harasser, not much I will say here will resonate. But I’ll simply say STOP. Stop what you’re doing. But if you’re not, if you’re horrified by the thought that women are dry-humped in the workplace, that a male colleague would whisper in a female colleague’s ear “I want to hate-f*** you,” etc.: then you’re with me. We need to stop tolerating this in our fellow men. We need to be the sunlight that disinfects the places we work and live to ensure that EVERYone can work and live without fear of assault; we need to be willing to make noise.
If there’s something that this whole tawdry story has taught — or can teach — men, it’s that THIS IS NOT JUST A WOMEN’S PROBLEM. And as I edge toward being a “senior” person in contexts, I’ve realized that while whatever power I possess can corrupt, it can also disinfect, if I have the courage to use it. Who’s with me?