Mens Health Month: Never too busy to focus on wellness …

Posted: June 4, 2018 at 3:47 pm

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By Chris Lopez, Chief of Strategic Outreach and Engagement, Military Health System

Summertime, and the livin is easy or so the song goes. But for many men, summer is a difficult time of year to focus on fitness. Vacations and outdoor gatherings after work and on weekends can disrupt established routines not to mention ones best intentions to eat healthfully, exercise regularly, and get a good nights sleep.

For me, fitting in fitness is a year-round challenge. I travel a lot, not only for my job with the Defense Health Agency but also for my obligations as a lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve. Im also working on a masters degree in national security and strategic studies through a distance-learning program with the Naval War College; and my wife and I have three children ages 5, 3, and 1. Im constantly on the go, and I never know what I may find on the other side, in terms of a decent workout facility, available time, and healthful food options.

My physical fitness routine is to work out five or six days a week: three or four days of mainly cardio work, such as running 6 miles, and two days of strength training. I honor this schedule even when Im traveling. When I was in Poland in March for three weeks of reserve duty, the base gym wasnt available, so I found a gym within walking distance of the base and used it religiously.

When Im in town and parenting duties overrule a gym workout, Ill take the kids to a nearby park with a playground. I use the monkey bars to do pull-ups, and I run around the little path there about a hundred times to get 6 miles in. I just make sure I get my workout while spending time with the kids, and the bonus is that Im modeling the culture of being physically active.

Im a naturally big guy, and strength training is something Ive enjoyed since my high school and college football days. When it comes to healthful eating, though, Ill admit to having some trouble. One thing that makes it easier is to think about my dad. Although he was physically active, he had a heart attack when he was only 40, an age Im closing in on. That was 25 years ago, and Dads well today because he changed his diet. His health scare serves as my reminder for moderation and making good choices.

Also, my wife has been a huge influence. She introduced me to fish, not to mention portion control. Im not a big fan of fruit, but I love vegetables. A typical weekday breakfast is a veggie egg-white omelet with a side of bacon. For lunch, I usually go to the DHA cafeteria and buy soup and one or two servings of whatever hot vegetable is being offered.

When I traveled to Kentucky in May, I arrived at the hotel late and hungry. As tempted as I was to order Chinese food or a pizza, I wound up getting Uber Eats to deliver a McDonalds grilled chicken salad to my room.

Id still like to lose a few more pounds, but Im down about 10 pounds from what I weighed last year. I feel confident Ill continue my streak of scoring outstanding on the Navys physical readiness test. Most importantly, I feel good. When Im eating well and exercising regularly, Im more effective, more efficient, and just better all around. We reap what we sow.

With June marking Mens Health Month, Id like to encourage all men to take their health and wellness seriously. Make it a priority, no matter how too busy you think you might be. Keep in mind that God blessed you with one body, and no one else is going to take care of it for you.

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