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The True Measure of a Man

What makes a healthy man, or, to rephrase the question, what makes a man healthy? Must he be sensitive, muscular and a good provider? How significant is his IQ or his biological age? Does a man’s health depend on his level of fitness, the size of his wallet or his cholesterol ratio? What of his understanding of people and the world, and his ability to achieve his goals?

Health, defined simply as a state or condition, is relative. But relative to what? What we need is a standard. A standard based on the science of biological medicine and the philosophy of naturopathy. It must respect the multi-dimensional nature of our being. Beyond blood, flesh and bones, it is imperative to evaluate a man’s spiritual well-being, his emotional health, and especially, his self-esteem. From the perspective of true health and healing, these components are critical.

We need a practical model designed for real people. The standard must be high, but not impossible to achieve. It must be taught to our children so it becomes engrained in our daily thoughts. Adults should receive an incentive for its achievement. Health is a personal issue, but it is also a social affair and a huge financial concern to ruling governments and medicare.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes health as something more than the absence of disease. "It is complete physical, mental and social well-being". That’s a good start. When we are healthy, we live in biological harmony. Homeostasis (defined as balance or equilibrium) is maintained with minimal effort, our indulgent tendencies do not exceed our control, and we are in tune with our external environment. Health is the presence of function…optimum function. Dysfunction indicates dis-ease.

Question. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of health? Is it energy, vitality, incredible strength and power? What of a man’s ability to procreate? Surely that component must rise above all else. Without the transfer of DNA through reproduction, there is no progeny, no continuance of our species. How healthy is the passenger pigeon? One way to measure a man's health is whether or not he can respond and function sexually (if necessary or desired), in other words, can he get and maintain an erection to facilitate the penetration required, and provide an ejaculate which contains the density and quality of sperm necessary to "get the job done". A surprising number of young to middle aged men cannot due this.

Real Lasting Health

Health begins with our disposition towards life. Attitude of mind is the core essence of who and what we are, and, perhaps more importantly, what we will become. A healthy man is a product of a healthy mind. Our mind-set literally dictates our destiny. It orchestrates our drive, our motivation and our actions. We are made or unmade by ourselves. How we think influences our character, our condition and our circumstances. It is the fuel for the fire, the cause of all effects. I for one, am far more impressed by a man's character (kindness, wisdom, compassion, integrity & nobility) and behavior than his income or material status.

When your mind is well, your life testifies to the fact. A healthy lifestyle is not a fluke. It is calculated with precision and constructed with foresight. Its sole object is the preservation and development of mind, body and spirit. This is the greatest challenge of our lives. While we are here, we must off-set the catabolic and destructive forces of stress, gravity and oxidation, by securing our defenses from within. This is achieved through the intelligent application of a balanced and health-focused lifestyle, which is driven by positive emotions and self-discipline.

A healthy man is a good judge. He is physically fit, but he is also in good mental and emotional condition. His decisions reflect his true character. He asks the two-fold question, "What impact will my actions have, both now and in the future, on my own personal health and…perhaps most importantly, how will my actions affect the health and welfare of others around me"? If this initial question was considered by every man, and if optimizing total health was his primary objective, this world would be a much safer and kinder place. First we learn the Golden Rule "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", but as we evolve, we also learn to apply what I call the Platinum Rule, which is "Do unto others what they would want done unto them". Not everyone would enjoy what you yourself would like; therefore, if you really want to go the extra mile, you can spend time finding out what your neighbor likes (even if you don't) and then do that.

Exercise - Not An Option

Controlled exercise, and in particular resistance training (weight training) combined with aerobic activity, helps compensate for sedentary living. You cannot buy health. Inactivity is our greatest threat to health, because it kills the mind. It stagnates the brain and poisons the body. This is not some obscure, philosophical concept. It is science and medical fact. Those who are the fittest, live the longest and suffer with the least amount of disease. In the natural world, it is the weak and damaged who die first.

Fitness is not a passing trend. It is a logical approach to life extension and personal health care. Sports and exercise are not only fun (and they must be fun or else the true meaning of sport is lost), but they also offer a reliable way to stave off many of the effects commonly assumed to be inevitable with aging. The best way to reduce our national debt, is to get everyone in shape. Our # 1 deficit in Canada is money spent on health care, which is more accurately described as a "disease management business". We spend billions of dollars 'fixing' people and spend almost nothing in comparison in education, that is, education focused specifically on teaching what humans require and must do to be well and remain free of chronic infection, pain, depression, disease and damage. It's called PREVENTION!

Evans and Rosenberg of the Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging at Tufts University, Boston, have identified several determinants of health which decline as we age. These include lean body mass, resting metabolism, aerobic capacity, insulin sensitivity, bone density and body temperature. Body fatness, blood fats and blood pressure tend to increase with time. All are favorably affected by exercise (regardless of chronological age), especially when combined with natural whole organic foods, and performance products such as creatine monohydrate, whey protein and supplemental antioxidants.

For example, as people age, their ability to regulate the level of sugar in their blood generally declines. Blood sugar concentration and insulin resistance increases, and by age 70, one in four adults is at risk of developing adult-onset, non-insulin-dependent diabetes (type II). This decline in blood sugar tolerance with aging is related to weight gain and physical inactivity (not aging). A behavior pattern of choice fashioned with disregard to the future.

As muscle mass decreases and body fat increases with age, the tissues need more insulin to do the same amount of work. Regular exercise increases the efficiency of insulin metabolism. As the sensitivity of insulin receptors on the surface of the cell improves, the body’s ability to produce energy and synthesize more muscle improves. Thus, normal blood sugar levels are maintained, which protects the arteries, vital organs and endocrine glands from damage.

To be effective, exercise must become part of your daily routine. Like eating, working and brushing your teeth, it is something you do because you need to do it (not necessarily because you want to or like it, for instance,  do you really like flossing your teeth?). Your Fitness-For-Life program should emphasize the development of muscle endurance and strength, heart and lung capacity and joint flexibility. One hour per day, five days a week will achieve this end. Each workout should include a light warm-up, 20 minutes of resistance training (one body-part), some abdominal or lower back work, 20 minutes of aerobics and 5-10 minutes of stretching.

There you go. Simple, effective and very practical. For best results, especially for fat-loss, train early in the morning and drink a protein shake (whey peptides) with carbs and creatine just after training. This will 1) help prevent workout absenteeism 2) increase your metabolic rate throughout the day and 3) supply your body with important nutrients essential for growth and recovery. As a general standard, you can add 1/2 gram of protein per kilogram of your total weight, 1 gram of carbohydrate per kg of your total weight, 2-6 grams of creatine monohydrate, 5 grams of glutamine and 1 T. of The Sport Oil in your post-workout shake.

Whole Food

Organic, whole food provides the elements from which our cells and chromosomes are fashioned. Whole food remains unchanged from soil to shelf, it is defined as food found in its natural form with nothing added or taken away. Food is nourishment. It may be derived from either plants or animals, both are organic and suitable for human consumption (provided you are selective and prepare what you select correctly). Humans are omnivorous creatures and throughout the world, I have seen people eat virtually anything they can catch or gather.

The real key lies in the quality and in the freshness of the food. How food is prepared and /or cooked greatly determines its nourishing potential also. The object is to preserve as much micronutrient value as possible, and to consume a food base which supplies the biochemical demands of your body. Your food choices must be compatible to your blood type, your ethnic origin, your training objectives and your body composition goals. I’ve seen many people elevate philosophy or religion over biology, and it has ruined both their health and their ability to perform. This approach defies logic.

Sometimes people get hung up on extremes. Many are confused about nutrition. For insight and balance, I highly recommend "Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine" by Dr. Ronald Schmid, which is one of the texts I use as a reference in my home study sports nutrition course "Introduction to Sports Nutrition 101". This is a good review of several well-known diets, and a convincing presentation based on history, anthropology and clinical experience. As a naturopathic physician and advocate of exercise, Schmid supports an omnivorous approach to nutrition, claiming that at least some fish or other animal-source food of a certain quality is needed in the diet to support optimal health.

Dietary Supplements

Don’t rely on whole foods alone. Supermarket produce often looks better than it really is. I know our ancestors ate only natural foods, but theirs was a different world. They hunted, fished and farmed as a way of life. Technology has changed the planet and the rules of the game, so be aware and play to win. Besides, the human race has never had a perfect diet. We don’t even know what a perfect diet is! The science of nutrition is by no means exact and is in a state of evolution.

Since day one, life has always been a struggle to survive. Eat or be eaten. Kill or be killed. Survival of the fittest. Hell, we just discovered vitamins this century! No one knows exactly what amount of what nutrient is required, and individual response can vary 10, 20 and 100 fold to the same program. Sure, we can prevent scurvy, rickets, pellagra and beriberi, but what about heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. At best, we have established reasonable guidelines which most people aren’t even aware of.

We do however know enough about supplements right now to make a difference. Sufficient knowledge has been assembled, and science is on our side. Forget the politics. When’s the last time you saw a healthy looking Bureaucrat? In most cases from what I've seen, our leaders look like death warmed over. Imagine the stress they bear every day. Theirs' is not a life of balance and harmony, you can see their stress around their eyes and in their faces. The simple addition of just a few basic antioxidants can reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and disability. Take them religiously and don’t wait for the policy makers to condone their use. Its your constitutional right to choose now! Make them a daily routine.

Start with vitamin C. I tend to be more liberal, so add at least 1000mg to each of three meals. Linus Pauling took 18,000mg daily. He and Dr. Matthias Rath, a German cardiologist, developed one of the best cardiovascular treatment protocols known, emphasizing vitamin C, L-carnitine, magnesium, COQ10 and the amino acids lysine and proline. For more information read "Eradicating Heart Disease". I use 12-15,000mg of calcium ascorbate daily (powder form of buffered vitamin C), mixed in fresh juice and protein shakes. In the morning combine 400-1200mg d-alpha tocopherol (vitamin E) with 15-30mg of a mixed carotene complex.

Throughout the day with several meals, take a good mineral supplement. Add extra zinc, magnesium or selenium if required. Zinc is to a man what iron is to a woman. A man must learn how to take care of his prostate. Go easy on the beer, and incorporate things like saw palmetto, flax (linseed) oil, panax ginseng and fresh raw bee pollen. Chemically treated tobacco and alcohol can destroy you. They are legal to consume, yet they are thousands of times more destructive to individuals, family's and society, than cocaine or heroin by statistical comparison. One must differentiate between drug 'use' and drug 'abuse' as well as use science instead of religion or morality as a reference in their application.

Some of us will benefit greatly with extra B-complex, or higher doses of niacin (B-3), pantothenic acid (B-5) and B-12. My personal package always includes chromium picolinate, glutamine, HMB, creatine monohydrate, glucosamine sulfate, grape seed extract, salmon oil, whey protein, etc… Consider hormonal therapy. DHEA and melatonin are safe when applied judiciously.


So, are you a healthy guy? Do you look good and feel alive and vital? Do you cope well under stress? Do you know your biological age and what that even means? Are you strong, resistant to infection and highly functional? Do you struggle with money problems, addiction to sugar or drugs or mistreat your partner or children? Health is a state of mind, and if we claim our mind to be healthy, then our physical body should demonstrate that reality as evidence. Our actions will be conducive to bettering our health, because all action is preceded by thought. The application of good nutrition and healthy living is only a symptom of healthy thinking.

Change of diet and exercise will not help a man who will not change his thoughts. When a man makes his thoughts pure, he no longer desires impure food or finds satisfaction in a lifestyle centered in indolence without purpose. He doesn’t want to harm anyone, because he values his own life and the life of his children and family. He wants to change, grow and evolve upward and onward, because he knows it’s the right thing to do. He demonstrates no prejudice or criticism towards anyone because of sexual preference, age, gender, ethnic origin, color of skin or economic status, because he knows these are personal issues and irrelevant. What truly matters is a man's conduct and character, and these aspects of human behavior and constitution are not exclusive or related to any one single religion, creed or color. A Man of Health recognizes the beauty of life and seeks to find and understand that place which brings fulfillment, peace of mind and contentment. 

Examine your life and follow the goodness in your heart. It will help you discover 'truth' and this will help you identify your hidden treasure. And remember what the ancients of the past learned by the same self-examination. They said that of all the known virtue's, the four greatest in life were justice, wisdom, temperance and courage, and that courage was the greatest of all, because without courage, a man cannot overcome his own fear (s), which is believed to be the opposite of love, and the ultimate origin of cause of all that interferes with health and virtue. 

Cory and his son Michael James Holly (1997)