Let’s call him John Doe. John is a real patient and this is a real case history; however, this scenario could apply to any man. John came in about eight months ago for a “wellness check-up.” His affect made it clear that he really didn’t want to be there. His mind was on the golf course, or worse yet, on his overwhelmingly stressful job. It was an act of love that his wife made him come in, mentally kicking and screaming the entire way. It was also an act of reciprocal love that he consented to make the journey. After all, what was the big deal? A few extra pounds around the middle is just a part of growing older. OK, he was getting a bit more irritable, but it was certainly the job that was making him so fatigued. He figured that his mild erectile dysfunction was probably due to stress.
Of course it worried him a bit that he had heart disease in the family, and he was starting to accumulate quite a few risk factors himself. As it turned out his “wellness check up- up” revealed that he wasn’t so well after all. In fact he was careening down the road to ruin with a faint vision of an imminent crash in sight in the form of diabetes, heart attack, and/ or stroke. Until we got his labs back, we didn’t fully appreciate how dire things really were.
His triglycerides were through the roof. His cholesterols were elevated with lots of the bad kind. The good kind was barely to be found. His C-reactive protein, a sensitive measure of inflammation and an excellent predictor of heart disease, was also sky high. His testosterone was i n the basement. His vitamin D was tanked with serious implications for his immune function and cardiac function. We tested his overall nutritional function and found numerous other deficiencies. If all this was n’t bad enough, his blood sugar was elevated and he met the criteria for metabolic syndrome, a complex metabolic condition which portends heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Fortunately, the labs got his attention when his wife and I had failed. They painted an undeniable picture of pending catastrophe. Life had a bullet with his name on it, heading straight for his heart. He realized that he was at a cross roads in his life. The age old cardinal sins of gluttony and sloth, along with the modern day curse of unrelenting stress were taking its toll. It also didn’t help that he was an unwitting victim of the modern American diet (MAD diet) and ubiquitous environmental toxins. John Doe realized that he had a choice, as most of us do. He could continue on the same path destined to result in misery and premature death, or he could turn his life around and travel down the path of wellness and vibrant living.
The first and most important step in this process is the mindful realization of the problem. Instead, the insidious slippery slope of illness stealthily stalks us day by day. Most of us never see it coming until the heart attack hits us. Men in particular live in a perpetual state of denial. Oh, we might pump a bit of iron to keep the biceps firm, and we might take some Viagra to keep other things firm, but the light bulb of wellness often does not illuminate until it is too late. Fortunately for John Doe, he got it!
The next important step is Intention. That is, intention to make a change. This step is never easy. It means altering a lifetime of bad habits. Habits that we got away with for
so many years i n our youth, but which then come back to haunt us. Fortunately for John Doe, he clearly saw the light and headed toward it full steam ahead. He started an exercise program, heavy on the cardio. He went on a serious diet appropriate for his condition. We corrected his underlying metabolic and hormonal deficiencies. He started a targeted supplementation plan to correct his nutritional deficiencies, and to provide therapeutic relief from some of his conditions. It was an amazing transformation.
When John arrived back in the office for his follow up visit, I could hardly believe my eyes. He had lost more than 20 pounds, as well as four inches from his waist. He was looking fit and trim and full of energy. He announced that he was feeling fantastic. We sat down to go over his labs and i n every instance there was remarkable improvement. His bad cholesterols were significantly down, and his good cholesterols were up. His markers of inflammation were dramatically improved. His metabolic syndrome had gone away. His vitamin levels were robust. In summary, John Doe was like a new man. He felt better than he had felt for years.
As we dedicate this edition of Natural Awakenings to men, I hope that all men will take hope from Joh n Doe. Just as John Doe turned his illness into wellness and will reap a longer more vibrant life, so too everyman holds within him the potential for greater wellness. We have been given precious gifts of mind, body, and spirit. To reach our full potential, we must nourish and grow these gifts with mindful attention.
Take note of the path that you are on. Are you at a crossroad? With steadfast intention, day by day, and step by step, begin your journey down the path of wellness. You and your loved ones will reap immeasurable and priceless rewards for the rest of your life.
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This article is meant to educate. It is not intended to diagnose or treat. Anyone with a problem related to the issue discussed in this article should consult a qualified health care provider.