Helping men build healthy lifestyles

Throughout November, men around the world tossed the razor aside for men's health and cancer awareness.

But even though No Shave November has come to an end, that does not mean the awareness has too. Starting healthy habits now can have a big impact on your future.

“When I was diagnosed, it was a complete shock and I couldn't believe it,” said Don Grocki, a prostate cancer survivor. “And I didn't want to talk to anybody about it.”

Finding out that you have cancer can be a scary and confusing time.

“I didn't even want to talk to my children,” Grocki said. “I didn't want to talk to anybody because I didn't know what to say or what to do.”

But by making healthy choices, it doesn't have to be that way.

“We're also about survivorship,” said oncology dietitian June Brandner. “Once you finish treatment, we want to get you on a good path for good health.”

Recent studies show that one in two men will develop prostate cancer after the age of 70, which can lead men to wonder if there is any hope.

“The thing is men don't ask for directions and they don't want to talk about their prostate cancer you know,” Brandner said.

Some cancer survivors, including Grocki, have found that you do not have to go through this tough time alone. The doctors and staff at Memorial Regional Cancer Center in South Bend have come up with some great tactics to help in the ongoing struggle against cancer.

“Our goal isn't necessarily to get you ready for a marathon in the next month,” said restoration fitness specialist Sarah Strefling. “It's just to get you back to where you can do your everyday activities and feeling energized and focused.”

Strefling works with cancer patients and survivors on an individual level to help build back strength lost when patients undergo treatment.

“There's studies that just show that going through chemo and radiation there's different side effects with their strength and endurance definitely fatigue so all those we kind of just try to offset them,” she said.

And as a cohesive group, patients know they have others by their side.

“The camaraderie for the group is just so encouraging to see, and i think that that helps a lot of them get through this time in their life, even if it's not that intense workout they are used to,” said Strefling.

As an oncology dietitian, June Brandner is able to work one on one with individuals to create a healthy nutrition plan.

“A lot of times when I talk to men, they may snack or may eat sweets at the morning break and then have one big meal,” said Brandner. “So I think that's a big concept to have three meal plans a day.”

Now eating just three meals a day is only the start. It is what you include in those meals that makes the difference.

“Of course men, and everyone, like sausage and bratwurst and hot dogs and ham and things of those sorts and large portions of it,” admitted Brandner. “So we want to try there to kind of get them to a different kind of meat, like white meat or chicken or turkey without the skin, and maybe some backed or grilled fish. And for vegetables and fruits, often half a cup is a serving for a vegetable or fruit, something like this.”

And when planning a meal, take the “my plate” approach.

“In that concept, we want half the plate to be vegetables and fruits, and a small amount of lean meat,” she said.

Also, if you are ever unsure about how to make these healthy choices, help is right around the corner.

Brandner mentioned that a good resource for a nutrition plan is your dietitian.

You can also visit the American Institute for Cancer Research website. We have a link on the Big Red Bar.

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