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Wellness Wednesday: How To Rethink Masculinity and Be Healthy

In honor of Men’s Health Month, I wanted to write a bit about “Men’s Health”. Having no idea where to start, I simply turned to Google.

Do something for me: Google “Men’s Health”. I’ll wait. Now, what did you see? Undoubtedly, the first thing that pops up is Men’s Health Magazine. Take a look at the image below, a screenshot taken from their website:

Screenshot of Men's Health web site.

Things that popped out at me from this, their current homepage: 1) Being super-ripped is an awesome way to be, bro! 2) A healthy body is a ripped body, bro!

Okay, so I added “bro” bit because I thought it was funny, but here’s my point: aren’t these all incredibly superficial goals? And why is this front page on a “Men’s Health” website?

For men, what it means to be healthy sometimes gets lost in the protein-shake and get-ripped craze of our modern society. We are in an unprecedented age of hyper-masculinity and muscle-bound super heroes. Think about it: Captain America, Thor, 300, Batman, Spartacus, and many others feature some of the biggest and most extreme action heroes we have ever seen. Thanks to advances in sports medicine and nutrition, we now have star athletes who are stronger, faster, bigger, and better than ever before.

So I ask again: For men, what’s healthy?

According to a Today/AOL Body Image Survey released just this past February, 53%, that’s right, over half of men surveyed said that they felt unsure about their appearance at least once a week. To add to that, 41% of men said they worry that people judge their appearance. So guys, if you’ve ever caught yourself having these thoughts, you’re DEFINITELY not alone.

But for some men, feeling poorly about themselves goes beyond what’s normal and can become problematic.

According to this article, are facing unprecedented levels of men seeking treatment for body-dysmorphia, which causes men to become obsessed with building muscle and perfecting perceived flaws, which are not obvious to others.

If you or a friend notices that you’re so preoccupied with your body and appearance that it negatively impacts your social life, dietary habits, other major aspects of your daily life, or you just want an objective opinion without the threat of judgment, you can talk to someone at Counseling and Psychological Services, found in the Campus Health Building at UNC.

So, what can you do to improve your self-image? First, start looking inward. Try to be aware when you’re getting caught up in comparing yourself to others. Know that most people don’t have that perfectly chiseled body. Also, try to accept where you are today with your body and even if you aren’t where you want to be. If you don’t currently have a workout schedule, there are many benefits to regular exercise, not just physically but psychologically as well.

But, remember, guys, though your goal of being optimally healthy and fit is a great one, try not to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate when you see the idolized images of some “yoked up” dudes online, in the movies, on TV, or in a magazine. These images don’t reflect the real world and is an impractical goal for most of us to achieve.

If you take nothing else away from this article, know that you’re really not alone in this, and if you seek out help, it never means that you’re weak or are less of a man. You might even inspire someone else to do the same.

If you are interested in exploring masculinity further, check out the UNC Men’s Project.

–Written by Dennis Carmody and Michael Goodling

Dennis Carmody is an MPH candidate in the Health Behavior department at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. He is currently enjoying his summer practicum with the great folks at UNC Student Wellness.


This post is written by Campus Health and Student Wellness staff, not by Campus Rec Staff.

Fitness & Nutrition Roundup: A Nutritionist’s Favorite Foods, New Cardio Routines & More!

13 Myths That May Be Messing with Your Workout – One day you read that you need to fuel your body before a workout and the next day you read that you burn the most fat on an empty stomach.  Well, which is it?  FitSugar breaks down fitness truths and lies so that you’ll be exercising efficiently and in a healthy way.

6 Foods This Nutritionist Eats Every Day – Want to know what registered dieticians are regularly eating?  Read this article from Health and you’ll learn what foods will give you the wide spectrum of nutrients your body needs.  Here’s a preview – dark chocolate!

5 Muscle-Building Exercises You’ve Never Tried – If you’ve been doing the same number of the same weight squats, bench presses and lunges for the past year, it’s probably time to switch up your routine.  Check out these great strength training moves from Men’s Health.  You’ll work every muscle in a new way.

5 New Ways to Do Cardio – Are you bored of the same old cardio routine?  If you’re one who counts down the minutes til you can hop off the treadmill, check out this article from Self.  Five new 30 minute cardio workouts are provided that’ll keep things exciting and keep you from getting bored.

The Best Fitness Magazines You Should Be Reading!

Sure, Tar Heel Tone Up is a great way to get health and fitness information, but you may be searching for further resources.  Maybe you’re looking to learn more about weight lifting, you need an easy meal plan to follow or you need something good to read to keep your attention for an hour on the elliptical.  I’ve put a list of the greatest health and fitness magazines.  Overall, they’re fairly cheap but have great information!  For most (if not all), you can subscribe to the old-fashioned, paper version, an iPad version or you can simply peruse around the website.

To my knowledge, there aren’t too many health and fitness magazines for both guys and gals.  So I’ve divided it up into two categories!  Feel free to comment with other magazines you may read!

Women’s Magazines – These magazines are great. Most of them are completely focused on health and fitness, while some, like Women’s Health and Shape also include articles on beauty products, etc. Open any of these and you’ll almost always find some sort of meal plan that’ll help you out if you’re trying to figure out easy, healthy meals to cook up. Also, there is usually a strength training routine. The routines change month to month, keeping your muscles guessing, allowing for continuous results. If you’re unsure on how to put together a fitness routine or a meal plan, be sure to search around on these websites/subscribe to a couple!

Men’s Magazines – While I’ve never flipped through an entire fitness magazine written for men, I do search around some on the websites while finding articles for News Roundups. These are similar to the women’s magazines, where both strength training tips and meal plans are provided. They provide a lot of great information on all health and fitness related topics, referring to the latest scientific research. Searching around on these websites or reading through one of the magazines will help you stay focused on your health goals by providing nutrition advice and recommendations for your fitness routine.

Fitness & Nutrition Roundup: The Truth About Energy Drinks, Tips to Train for a Race and more!

The Truth About Energy Drinks: With finals coming up, students are guzzling down coffee and other energy drinks. Fitbie has the health information on these drinks and whether they are doing your body more harm or good.

How to Recycle Old Fitness Gear: You may be exercising so often that your clothes and shoes are getting raggedy. Fitness tells you how to donate, recycle or reuse your worn down fitness apparel.

Top 25 Marathon Training Tips: The Boston Marathon has just passed and more marathons are coming up before the summer heat hits. Shape has tips from three experts to help you whether you’re just beginning to train or you’ve been running marathons for years.

Junk Food that’s Good for You: You might think that chocolate and beef jerky are “off-limits” items when trying to eat more nutritiously. Men’s Health explains why these foods, along with some other  “junk foods,” can be healthy. Read to find out why!

Fitness & Nutrition Roundup: Eating Healthy While Traveling, The Disturbing Side Effects of Soda & more!

7 Tips to Eat Healthy While Traveling: Spring Break is just around the corner, but you shouldn’t throw away all your hard work during that one week. Built Lean has seven tips so you can eat nutritiously while still enjoying yourself on vacation.

Firm up Fast with 10 Busy-Girl Buffers: It’s time for midterms once again and you may find yourself short on time. Self has a quick but effective workout to sculpt your body, specifically for women!

9 Disturbing Side Effects of Soda: We all know that soda is full of sugar and can pack on some pounds, but what else does it do to our bodies? Rodale lists nine side effects of soda which may convince you to kick your daily dose of cola.

The Best New Exercises for Every Part of a Man’s Body: If you’re trying to get past a plateau, speed up fat loss or simply try something new, Men’s Health has a new workout for you. With these moves, you can sculpt each muscle in an entirely new way.

Fitness & Nutrition Roundup: How to Set (and Keep!) Your New Year’s Resolutions

5 Healthy Resolutions for Women: Not sure of what goals you should set this year? Well, WebMD lists five challenging, but manageable, resolutions perfect for women! Men, don’t hesitate to give these a shot either!

The Science Behind Keeping Your Resolution: Men’s Health offers three tips to make your resolutions a success. Follow their advice and you’ll keep right on track this year.

Five Celebrity New Year’s Health and Fitness Resolutions: A Female’s Perspective: Check out these five celebrity women who have made their own New Year’s resolutions on Yahoo. Their goals include catching more zzz’s and drinking more water daily. Let them be an inspiration for your own resolutions!

Best Diet Apps for New Year’s Resolutions: If you’ve got a smartphone or iPad, you can get a little help to stick with your weight loss resolutions. This video from CNBC demonstrates the best diet apps for 2012.

Fitness & Nutrition Roundup: Inexpensive Healthy Foods, Celebrity Trainers’ Advice & More

12 Ways to Eat Healthy for $1: Does the thought of possible tuition hikes have you planning your next meal off the dollar menu at McDonalds? Think again. EatingWell Magazine lists over 10 healthy foods that are each under a buck!

Celebrity Trainers’ All-time Best Workout Advice: If you’re curious about how celebs like Cameron Diaz and Halle Berry get their great bodies, check out this link from Glamour. A handful of celebrity trainers have revealed their words of wisdom for getting toned like those on the red carpet.

Gain a Pound of Muscle Every Week: Bulking up isn’t always easy and takes time and commitment. Men’s Health has eating and exercise tips to gain muscle the healthy way.

Want to Train Better? Just Train Faster:  Want to know the key to exercising like a pro-athlete? Work out faster. The Post Game goes into the science behind this method and gives details on its benefits.

Fitness & Nutrition Roundup: Busting Out of Your Workout Rut, Hot New Foods & More

21 Ways to Bust out of Your Workout Rut: Some days are a little harder than others to find the motivation for a good workout. Women’s Health shares over 20 energizing tips so you can get the most out of your gym time!

Inside Scoop: Hot New Foods: Food Network lists seven new products at the grocery store that are healthy and tasty! Be sure to grab some of these items to add a little excitement to your usual meals.

3 Ways Breakfast Can Help You Lose Weight: We’ve all heard it’s the most important meal of the day. Need another reason to eat breakfast? FitSugar tells us how it can help you lose weight.

To Run Farther, Hit the Weights: Men’s Health describes a study that found weight lifting can help you run farther. So be sure to hit the weight room, not just the treadmill!

Fitness & Nutrition Roundup: The Benefits of Interval Training, Muscle-Building Moves & More!

Heart Rate Guidelines for Exercise: Have you ever been holding the handles on one of the cardio machines and wondered why the screen is flashing 165 at you? Livestrong has provided basic heart rate information so you can learn what that number means and what numbers you should be aiming for while working out.

The Complete Guide to Interval Training: This chart from Greatist shows how to maximize your fat loss through interval training. It discusses everything from the basics to the top three leading interval programs!

Top 10 Make or Break Diet Moments: Fitness Magazine has listed 10 times that many of us struggle to make the nutritious decision, like before bedtime (2 a.m. BSkis delivery, anyone?). Follow these easy tips and you’ll be prepared next time junk food is calling your name.

15 New Muscle Builders: In order to continue seeing results and building muscle, workouts need some variety. Men’s Health has provided some tweaks for your routine so that each muscle group can be challenged in a new way!