For Dr. Jedidiah Ballard—ER physician, former Army Ranger and recent Bachelorette contestant—it’s clear that staying fit just comes naturally.
But the 2016 Ultimate Men’s Health Guy readily admits: “Many of us men don’t take care of our health. What happens is that most guys are active and healthy during high school and college because someone else—a coach, for example—is taking charge and ensuring we work out and do what we need to do. After college, that tends to just stop.”
So ladies, here’s our chance to be that coach—in a subtle, non-naggy way of course. After all, we want to keep the guys in our lives around for a long time, and keeping them healthy and fit has its pluses for us, too.
Want the inside scoop? We talked to Ballard to get the guy’s perspective on how to start.
Augusta University Health: So what do we do first?
Dr. Ballard: Especially if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s best to just clear the house of any junk food whatsoever. Most of us start the day strong, but when we come home tired from work, it’s too easy to grab those highly processed carbs. You have to go through the house and just throw it all out.
Augusta University Health: But wait, shouldn’t we have some snacks to manage hangry attacks?
Dr. Ballard: Sure, you should replace those crackers and chips with healthy options like carrots or celery sticks with peanut butter, string cheese, even sandwich meat. Almost anything is better than baked goods and processed foods.
Augusta University Health: I’m sure getting back into a workout is the next step.
Dr. Ballard: One of the main reasons Americans today are in much worse shape that we were 50 years ago is because we don’t do enough physical activity and our jobs are sedentary. You have to do some sort of active workout. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but doing anything is better than nothing. But make sure to start at a reasonable level. If you’re not doing anything now, jumping into a P90X workout is going to crush you. So dial it back and progress from there.
Augusta University Health: You mentioned more physical activity. Say my guy loves to do yard work. Does that count toward exercise?
Dr. Ballard: I’m sure the ladies would love it if the guys in their lives got fit fixing up the yard! It depends on how you do it, but if you’re mowing with a push mower for example, yes, that’s great, you’re burning calories. One-hundred-percent, if you’re doing any sort of manual labor, that’s going to make you strong. That’s how most of our grandparents did it.
Augusta University Health: What about personal training? Is that beneficial?
Dr. Ballard: It all depends on your guy. Some guys have never been around fitness, so that one-on-one coaching can be really helpful. And while guys don’t tend to do classes anywhere like women do, crossfit is a fun and interactive class that brings together both males and females. But the main thing is that people often get busy with work or kids, so help your partner block off that time in his schedule to work out. Give him that protected time, say three days a week, to go to the gym. Another thing is, if you’re fit and active, he’ll see that it’s important to you. You can do workouts together as well. And it’s a fact: Working out as a couple does help your relationship!
Augusta University Health: Switching gears a bit, let’s talk about health screenings. Guys are notorious for avoiding these visits to the doctor. What can the ladies in their lives do to help?
Dr. Ballard: So this is an instance where nagging is OK! Guys are absolutely terrible about getting health screenings. The problem is that so many people know someone who lived to be 100 and never went to the doctor. But on the flip side, there are also guys who got screened and had prostate cancer picked up when they were 45. When these kinds of diseases are found early enough, they’re very treatable. But if they go unnoticed for 10 years, they will literally kill you, especially since most of these cancers don’t have symptoms until they’re end-stage.
Augusta University Health: What about bad habits?
Dr. Ballard: It’s true, men are prone to excess. And bad habits like alcohol abuse or tobacco use can be hard things to quit. Kicking these habits has got to be a personal decision, but having those real talks with your partner can help him get there. For example, it’s a very proven thing that tobacco use leads to cancer, and quitting drastically decreases your risk. So tell your guy how important he is to you and how you want to keep him around, especially if you have children.
Augusta University Health: So here’s the big question: How can we help our guys get motivated to take charge of their own health?
Dr. Ballard: That is a little hard! Still, all people respond fairly well to a reward system. So say he hits the gym three times this week; set up some kind of reward, whatever that may be. It could be as simple as going out to the movies or a free weekend to go fishing. Also, women’s power is pretty strong, so using your female prowess can be very effective! Whatever motivation you use, just make sure that it’s positive.
Help the special man in your life man up and see a doc
To find a doctor or schedule an appointment at Augusta University Health, visit augustahealth.org, or call 706-721-2273 (CARE).