Monday, October 3, 2011

Find Your "Real Age" - A Way to Truly Reverse Aging

We know we live in an ageist society. Media is run amok with anti-aging nutrients, practices, herbs, self-help gurus of all types. For me, however, I have learned of an actual way to reverse your age. To do this, you first have to find your "RealAge" and get it in line with your actual, chronological  age.

Are you familiar with the concept of RealAge? This concept is an eye opener. I encourage you before reading any further to visit the web page for Dr. Mehmet Oz at www.realage.com.

What the Real Age test does is calculate, based upon a variety of health and lifestyle factors, your actual age controlled for your own rating of your general physical health and lifestyle. So, if you are 63 and have a "Real Age" of 48 -- then you are doing very well and likely look, feel and act much younger than your chronological age. However, if you are 48 and, after you enter all the data (the test takes about 20 minutes -- be honest!!) have a Real Age -- adjusted for your health and lifestyle of 63, changes need to be made to reverse this direction. The good news is that most of these changes factors are reversible. 

Using the system and algorithms provided on the website, your RealAge is calculated taking into account basic demographic factors: family health, your ethnicity, height and weight. You will need to have information concerning your heart rate and blood pressure. It may be a good idea to have a physical first before you take the Real Age test. Over twenty minutes, you will find this comprehensive assessment of your Real Age takes into account not only your physical health and medical condition, but your emotional health and lifestyle (they even ask about driving habits -- are you a tailgater?). Finally, information is requested regarding your diet, shopping habits, eating habits, and lastly your fitness activities and ways in which you cope with stress.

The first time I took this, my RealAge was about 14 years older than I actually was. I was very honest and the result was quite depressing and disappointing. What did I expect? I had not taken care of myself. The good news was that once I modified my diet to incorporate much more balance, vegetables and, of course, exercised with cardio and weight training for 30 - 45 minutes just four days a week, and I took the Real Age test again. This time: My Real Age was just a year older than my actual age. It was astounding to me how, while I believed that I had to make wholesale changes in my life and that there was no way I could do so to get my "ages" reversed, but basic simple changes that my doctor ordered anyway was able to add thirteen year to my life -- in just six weeks.

Now, of course, the battle is for balance and consistency. Once you get the ages reversed and get your RealAge in line with your actual age, you have maintain it. This is a major lifestyle change and a gift that you can give to yourself that is not at all selfish, because it is also a gift to those who love and care about you and ensures that you will likely be around longer to enjoy their presence in your life.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Rescuing Our Selves from the Legacy of Male Depression

The title of this post comes from an excellent book by Terrence Real, MSW who wrote a sensitive, informative, and excellent bestseller in 1997 called "I Don't Want to Talk About It." You can buy the book from Amazon. The nugget that follows some from a portion of the book called "Crossing the Wasteland: Healing Ourselves (p. 269)."

"Jeffrey and I are like Dante and Virgil, standing together and at a critical juncture in healing the depressed man's relationship to himself -- the moment when he decides to stop his flight and face his own condition."

Real calls this a "hero's journey." This typology should not seem novel if you are familiar with the work of Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, or Sam Keen. For men, our "journey" from what some may call the "hell" (Dante's Inferno") of midlife and depression involves three steps:

1.  Addictive Defenses Must Cease. For us men, this can be work, food, exercise, achievement, gaming, gambling -- any thing we use to distract us from the inner emotional stillness -- and often loneliness -- we find when we turn inward to face our selves. This is not an easy task because society often rewards men who "appear" successful if they are productive, achieving, earning income, supporting a family. Addiction is an external form of self-esteem regulation.

2.  Dysfunctional Patterns in Relationship Must Stop: For must of us, when we think of relationships we think of our, spouse, lover, partner, girlfriend. It is the other love object in our lives. A person. However, relationship can be our selves in connection with ANY object outside ourselves: career, sex, food, sports, television, Internet -- anything we turn to that distracts us from out relationship with our self. Of course, this requires insight into our lives as men and when they started coming off the track.

3.  Trauma We May Have Buried Need to Re-Emerge: For most of us, this is a complex emotional matter that is intricate, often deeply buried under layers of defenses from shame and anger, and requires the assistance and support of a therapist skilled in addressing these issues that are "andro-centric" -- that is, they are uniquely particular to men in our culture.

Terrence Real likens "addiction" to our defenses to a "self-esteem dialysis machine."  He also offers the brilliant observation that "outwardly accomplished men, running from inward emptiness, often reap ever greater rewards from the culture, the more out of touch they become. The more they acquire, the bigger their deals, the more society reinforces their performance based self-esteem." He suggests that men and their addiction to societally prescribed roles and behavior for successful men leads to the construction of the false self that protects us from getting in touch with deeper and powerful affects and emotion that were cut off either due to trauma, abuse, faulty masculine role modeling.

The end result" many men at midlife find themselves feeling empty, angry, lonely, alienated from themselves. The crisis of depression often comes from the reality that those things we turn to that help us tamp down and "protect us" from these potent feelings -- in a sense our real and disowned self -- no longer, and worse, begin to turn on us and imprison us,. threatening to wall our selves off from others in the external world who can enrich us for the remainder of our life.

If any of what appears here has struck you in some way as reflective of your experience, I strongly encourage your to seek professional help in counseling and psychotherapy. It might be very useful for you to locate someone skilled at working with men and their unique life difficulties. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Most of us men are familiar with the "Serenity Prayer" adapted from the theologian Reinhold Neibuhr: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Of course, being "granted" the wisdom to know the difference is the most difficult and crucial aspect of this teaching. However, here are five things we cannot change adapted from David Richo, PhD, (a personal psychospiritual guru for me) to help us men along our journey into our "manhood." These five "noble truths" deal with impermanence of all things, being where you are, accepting those things we cannot change, embracing the unavoidability of suffering, and the duality of human nature.

Some good stuff here that will hint of some rudimentary elements of Buddhism --

1.   Everything change and ends (the permanence of impermanence)
2.   Things to not always go according to plan (the paradox and illusion of control)
3.   Life is not always fair (the beauty of honest and authentic acceptance)
4.   Pain is part of life (the inevitablity of suffering)
5.   People are not loving and loyal all the time (the many faces of human nature)

For more, I heartily encourage all men to seek out David Richo's work

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Relationship is an Active Verb -- Five Habits for Men

Okay guys, we all know men in relationships and who have been married or otherwise partnered for 30, 40, and even 50 years. The men in the relationships appear genuinely content. Happy even. How do they do it? Is there a secret? Did they find their "soul mate"? Here are five keys taken from research:

1.   Keep up with the changes in your relationship: The author Lillian Hellman was once reported to state: "People change and forget to tell each other." When it comes to marriage, that can be risky. The most successful couples take note of each other's changes and do not assume their partner is the same person they were when they married, even if some things haven't changed. Men who are active in relationships take the time to learn their partner's goals, dreams and future plans.

2.   Fight fairly:  Shocker: happy couples have disagreements and argue. But in a mature relationship, power isn't defined by winning or getting our way. This is something with which men may have difficulty. After all, we are socialized to achieve, win, score, etc. However, "power" comes from knowing how to discuss differences fully and honestly. Make arguments and disagreements about the issue and do not demean your partner. If at the end you do not feel heard and more connected to your spouse or partner than you did before you started, you're not building a more loving relationship. Successful couples disagree at times, but in the end, they have learned to understand and respect the differences they may have with their spouse or partner.

3.  Keep Adding New Logs to The Fire":  Research on satisfaction in marriage and relationship show couples bond more closely when they do new, different and enriching activities. How many of us have been seen couples at a restaurant who are not making eye contact, talking with each other, and do not seem engaged in this activity? They seem disconnected, still and alient to each other. Do not get stuck in the same ruts. Challenge each other to take a class together, take part in couples counseling, join a social group, get involved in community activities or a business venture. You have to add logs to the fire if you expect it to continue burning. By helping your spouse or partner to create a healthier lifestyle, any kind of new, enjoyable pursuit can make you feel younger, more connected and invigorate the love you have for your spouse or partner.

4.  Aging is Unavoidable -- Accept it: In good relationships, partners accept the vulnerability comes with the aging and time. Men should seek to take care of their spouse or partner and, in a balanced and healthy relationship, expect the same in return from their spouse or partner. Share your thoughts and fears about what you believe may lie ahead, share your commitment to and your belief in your spouse or partner that you will be there for them no matter what happens. Mature adults who face the future as true companions and even "soul mates" in this manner, can forge an amazing relationship.

5.  Stay in "Touch" with Each OtherOkay guys, here it is: demonstrations of affection and attraction never go out of style — and good news, neither does sex (more on that further on down the road). Older couples who still touch, kiss, snuggle and, yes, create an erotic environment often have the total relationship. Granted, things change: Illness, medication and life crises might get in the way of the kind of passionate romance you had 40 years ago. However, the happiest and most emotionally connected couples are those who have found a way to accept and work with the physical and emotional obstacles and maintain a physically satisfying and sensual relationship. It's an essential component to keeping your relationship alive and strong.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Are Male Boomers Prepared for Retirement? In Denial? What's Retirement?

In a recent piece on the NPR website (http://www.npr.org/) it was reported that most baby boomers say they're planning on an active and healthy retirement, according to a new poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. And, in a switch from earlier years, more than two-thirds recognize the threat of long-term care expenses to their financial futures.

But some experts worry that when it comes to their health, boomers are still woefully unprepared — or worse, in denial.

"The mismatch between how people think the next 10 to 15 years is going to go and what current retirees experience is something that's very consistent," says Jeff Goldsmith, a health care futurist and author of The Long Baby Boom: An Optimistic Vision for a Graying Generation, a book about aging baby boomers. "There is no question that one distinguishing feature of our generation is this extraordinary, almost genetic optimism. And the poll results look to me like a lot of that optimism was drawn from a deep well of self-delusion."

Read the whole story here: http://www.npr.org/2011/09/28/140853479/boomers-delusion-about-health-in-retirement