Let’s Talk About Men’s Health

November 15, 2019

Image via Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

Nina Zorfass, IIN Content Editor

The current state of the wellness world

I’m a woman, and I work in health and wellness, surrounded mostly by women.

I’ve curated my own world of wellness, where I’ve immersed myself in practices that are best suited for my body, such as taking certain supplements and medications as well as eating in a way that suits my body’s needs. As a woman in wellness, I follow certain people on social media, who identify as women, who create content that resonates with me.

Why does it matter that I’m a woman? I wanted to approach this topic with care, as I very much realize that the field of health and wellness tends to be considered “feminine,” which immediately creates a separation between those who identify as female and those who do not, which in our gendered society essentially separates men and women. This isn’t inherently “bad,” but this apparent separation exposes the void that is the lack of health and wellness resources for those who do not fit within the mainstream wellness audience.

We all create our unique life experience – regardless of gender – choosing what we consume, what makes us feel good, and what resonates most. Part of this also includes actively filtering what doesn’t resonate with us, but this becomes difficult when we feel misrepresented in the marketplace altogether, bombarded with images of bodies that don’t look like ours and potentially never will.

My hope is that this is the beginning of a larger conversation around making health more approachable and inclusive. Everyone deserves to feel like the best version of themselves, and to achieve that, we need to close the wellness-resource gap that currently exists.

Why it’s important to speak on men’s health regularly, and not just this month

For this dedicated post on men’s health, I interviewed several of our male graduates, asking them the following questions:

  1. What health concerns or issues do you feel aren’t spoken about or written about enough as they relate to men’s health? 
  2. Is there anything you think the IIN community should know as it relates to men’s health?

I was expecting answers along the lines of bringing attention to certain diseases that impact men specifically, such as prostate and testicular cancer. The Movember Foundation is doing incredible work to bring awareness not only to cancer rates among men but mental health and suicide prevention as well. What I heard from each IIN graduate was more focused on this mental health aspect of men’s health and how there isn’t a strong enough conversation around these issues.

As you’ll read below, there are two overarching themes: 1) there needs to be more resources for supporting and improving mental health for men; and 2) there’s a misconception that men don’t have the same needs and desires as women when it comes to looking and feeling great, and the way these needs and desires are communicated or marketed miss the mark for many men.

Because the response to writing about this topic was so positive, we’re turning this into a monthly series. Each month, we’ll highlight an important subject as it relates to men’s health, featuring our very own graduates across the IIN social channels.

Men’s health from IIN graduates’ perspectives

Michael DeSanti, Class of 2011, and Pablo Garcia, Class of 2010
Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches and founders of The Vital Guide, giving men the opportunity to reclaim their health and live an optimized life

Q: What health concerns or issues do you feel aren’t spoken about or written about enough as they relate to men’s health? 
A: We focus a bit more on the primary food aspect of health and well-being. Having said that, proper nutrition is always key to maintaining healthy self-ecosystems, so the secondary food will always be important as well. The following areas of concern come up most often with our male clients:

  • Stress relief
  • Using food and alcohol in excess
  • Time management and planning health into their day
  • Low energy cycles due to overworking and lack of prioritizing
  • Loneliness and isolation
  • Low libido or lack of intimacy
  • Prioritizing work/career to the detriment of family connections
  • Low self-esteem
  • Expressing oneself in a productive/healthy way
  • Dealing with addiction
  • What it means to be a man in today’s world

Q: Is there anything you think the IIN community should know as it relates to men’s health?
A: As two men who went through IIN’s Health Coach Training Program, we understand and have experienced the void in the wellness space around men’s health. We want those who are going through the program, especially men, to know that they’re not alone and there is a lot of room for them to both coach and be coached in this field.

Furthermore, we want to emphasize that the issues we listed above aren’t just specific to men, but for many reasons, men don’t feel spoken to when they try to find information about resolving any/all these issues. We work to provide a safe space for men to explore their health concerns and live their lives to the fullest. We achieve this through in-person retreats where men (and also women!) can explore paths to wellness alongside like-minded people and us, their coaches. Although our practice stemmed from the desire to help men navigate their health, we found that many women were also interested in our coaching methods, so our practice has become inclusive in the process. 

Learn more about Michael and Pablo: The Vital Guide, Instagram @thevitalguide

Jon Fischer, Class of 2015, Integrative Nutrition staff member since 2016
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and founder of BK Health Coach, coaching men in the LGBT community to embrace their bodies and achieve wellness in an authentic way

Q: What health concerns or issues do you feel aren’t spoken about or written about enough as they relate to men’s health?
A: I coach within a specific niche: men with larger bodies in the LGBT community. As my practice has grown, I’ve seen the following issues come up most often:

  • Body image
  • Sustainable weight loss
  • Intimacy and human connection
  • Sexuality
  • Binge drinking
  • Stress and anxiety management
  • Authentic ways to move your body
  • Mindful eating
  • Smarter goal setting
  • Sleep quality 

Q: Is there anything you think the IIN community should know as it relates to men’s health?
A: I think there’s a general assumption that men don’t want to hire a Health Coach or invest in their health. I had even internalized this assumption when I first started coaching. Once I learned to dismantle that limiting belief using the tools from my IIN education, I signed my first male client who I worked with remotely. My confidence grew with the results he saw within months. From there, I began to work almost exclusively with male clients and grew a sustainable practice that has become extremely rewarding.

From my coaching, I've come to learn what’s seemingly obvious: Men want to avoid lifestyle diseases and want to feel good in their bodies, so there’s a huge need for coaches who market toward men and specialize in men’s health issues. I think men of all ages, backgrounds, and body types need to see themselves in what’s marketed in the wellness space, not just men who are extremely fit.

The longer I work within this demographic, the more issues I see the need to address – from body image to intimacy issues. Over the last few years, I’ve launched a men’s wellness group in NYC that I’m planning to turn into a nonprofit. My group hosts yoga for bigger bodies, cuddle pile events, meditation, laughter yoga, and more.

Learn more about Jon: BK Health Coach, Instagram @coach.cub

Hugh Simson, Class of 2016
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, bestselling author, speaker, and lawyer

Q: What health concerns or issues do you feel aren’t spoken about or written about enough as they relate to men’s health?
A: What I have found in my years coaching a target audience of men ages 30–42, corporate dads, married, with kids under eight, is they all have no work/life balance. There seems to be a lot of work/life balance resources geared toward women (the mother) because there’s the belief that they are the only ones who need to make that choice, but there’s no conversation about the same work/life balance for the father.

I’ve found that these guys want all the [financial] success, so they can set themselves and their families up for life, but they want it now, and as a result, they end up working so much that their health and relationships suffer.

Furthermore, self-love for women is an accepted thing, but self-love for men...well, it’s harder to get men to buy into the whole idea of this, e.g., gratitude, meditation, yoga, journaling, etc., but they need it so much.

Q: Is there anything you think the IIN community should know as it relates to men’s health?
A: I'm a huge advocate of reframing self-love for men, in the guise of “ruling your routine,” which is the name of the book I ended up writing after taking IIN’s Launch Your Dream Book Course. I think in general learning to meet your audience/clients where they are is imperative, and in my own coaching experience, reframing/rebranding popular wellness concepts can be wildly successful.

In my eyes, ruling your routine is not about knowing every single self-development strategy, but rather identifying those principles that will have the biggest impact on your life. You only need a handful of awesome habits to improve your life, understand them, and apply them daily for improved relationships with your friends, family, partner, and yourself:

  • Get up a little earlier than usual; don't sleep in.
  • Don't check your phone.
  • Meditate.
  • Stretch.
  • Journal.
  • Read.
  • Exercise.

Learn more about Hugh: Hugh Simson, Instagram @hughsimson

Sah D’Simone, Class of 2016
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, meditation teacher, bestselling author, and transformational speaker

Q: What health concerns or issues do you feel aren’t spoken about or written about enough as they relate to men’s health?
A: Through my years of coaching, speaking, and working with a variety of clients (both corporate and not), I've focused my work on the following health issues that tend to come up a lot with my clients:

  • Emotional eating, eating disorders, and disordered eating
  • Stigma around mental health concerns
  • Addiction

For men, there’s a severe lack of resources around eating disorders, disordered eating, and emotional eating, especially because most of these resources are written for women. It’s incredibly disheartening because anyone can experience issues with food, and there needs to be more support for men who feel isolated in their experience.

Q: Is there anything you think the IIN community should know as it relates to men’s health? 
A: IIN opened so many doors for me to help my clients heal. The primary food aspect of my education has been the most impactful as I’m able to encourage my clients to think about these things – their spirituality, their relationships – as it relates to their suffering and reframe it to improve their mental health.

All my work with men has centered around improving mental health, and the biggest things that I encourage them to prioritize are understanding that: 1) you are worthy and that worthiness is unconditional; 2) your happiness will not come from external sources, but from within when you do the work; and 3) all these external sources you may rely on for happiness or for fulfillment truly do not nourish or replenish you; it’s only when you accept that you are enough and you already have what you need to heal, that true health is achieved.

Learn more about Sah: Sah D’Simone, Instagram @sahdsimone

Next steps to continue bringing awareness to men’s health

We’re so inspired by our graduates who are not only doing the work to create the resources lacking in this area but also being advocates and creating the safe space men need to improve their health and transform their lives.

Our Health Coach Training Program has played a pivotal role in giving these coaches the tools they need to guide their clients’ transformations. Our innovative curriculum focuses on two concepts – primary food and bio-individuality – that transcend gender and help empower people to look within to help resolve their health issues. Ready to learn more? Check out our Curriculum Guide to get started.

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