Breakout Session: The Psychology of Men’s Health – How Dads are Flipping the Script

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Welcome to the Dad 2.014 Summit Live Blog, presented courtesy of Microsoft Surface 2. This is the live-blog session for: The Psychology of Men’s Health.

The panel will be led by: Chris Lopez (@fitandbusydad). The panel includes Anthony DeBenedet (@rowdydad), Tara Gidus (@dietdivatara), Chris Lopez (@fitandbusydad), Dai Manuel (@daimanuel), Sally Spencer-Thomas (@sspencerthomas).

Tara is the team nutritionist for the Orlando Magic basketball team and Run Disney. She is a single parent of two young children.

Dai is father 2 girls, 8 and 10. He was once morbidly obese  between age of 9 to 14, and is now a fitness expert.

Sally is a psychologist with three sons. She lost her brother to suicide. He had bipolar disorder. Partner with the Surveys show men don’t get help for mental health issues because they are reluctant to ask for help as opposed to not able to get it because of socioeconomical reasons, for example.

Anthony is a certified GI doctor. Wrote “Art of Rough Housing” about engaging your children in physical activity.

Tara: Childhood obesity has tripled in recent years. Need to start at home. Portion control is a major issue. Favors “eat light, eat often” – just like babies do, rather than eating and eating until we are stuffed. If you can do anything as a parent: Teach kids NOT to clean their plate. Eat from small plates (salad plates as opposed to dinner plates) as research shows you tend to eat less from a smaller plate.

Dai: We are heroes to our children. Act like a hero when it comes to nutrition. Don’t be an enabler of your children’s bad eating habits – overfeeding, bad caloric choices, lack of nutrition. It starts with us making better decisions and living an active lifestyle.

Anthony: How is anti-obesity messaging affecting the obesity problem. Some studies show overemphasis on anti-obesity can lead to increase eating disorder problems. Don’t give an overly intense message: “I can’t eat this because I will become fat. I can’t a bite, etc.” Teach moderation.

Sally: Watch out for vicious cycle of stress eating. Eating is a pleasure and an art and a social time that we should experience.

Tara: Food is meant to be enjoyed. It’s the frequency of eating “bad” foods that is the problem not the foods themselves. Parents should avoid body image put downs of  themselves (moms butt is fat, etc.) because it sets bad example and negative image.

John La Puma – doctor in audience. Food is fuel but it is pleasure. Don’t drink your calories, use 6-inch plates, sit down when you eat. Obesity at 5 is a predictor of obesity later in life, so start good habits early.

Tara: Chair, table, plate method. Sit on a chair at the table with your food in a bowl and decide whether you still want to eat it. No eating ice cream out of the container in front of TV or freezer.

Tara: I think we have an inborn metabolism and we are able to make the best of it. It may be harder to get to a certain weight but it is possible. Or you’ll just have to learn to love it as you are.

Anthony: Study shows most people have very similar metabolic rates. Weight loss is more of a mindset. Weight loss is about what you eat; exercise is about maintaining that weight.

Did you know the Dad 2.014 Summit Live Blog is presented courtesy of Microsoft Surface 2? Did you know the human head weighs 8 pounds? The Microsoft Surface 2 weighs less than a 1.5 pounds and picks up WiFi. Can your head?

Sally: Men need support groups – purposefulness and community help maintain mental health. Study shows women with 6 or more children have lowest suicide rate – probably b/c of their built-in community(of children). People need other people to help stay sane. Calling friends, volunteering, jobs, etc all help.

Anthony: Value of physical contact is valuable. Huge health benefits to hugging, handshake, touch. Oxytocin is the chemical released – it gives us empathic feelings. Genuine hug releases oxytocin for 45 minutes while sex only does for 3 minutes. Oxytocin helps counteract cortisone, the stress hormone.

Tara: Make it known to your social circle that you are trying to life healthy: don’t peer pressure me to help me reach my goal. Ask for others support for you – social  accountability … be specific – don’t tempt me with this food, don’t harass me if I don’t eat bad food with you.

Dai: Find a support group you can relate to and help you with your lifestyle reset whether IRL or thru social media – Facebook group, exercise group, etc. Social media is here to stay so take advantage of it to help you. The engagement helps hold you accountability, gives you encouragement to meet goals and stay on path.

Anthony: Even if you exercise for a period every day, if all else you do during that day is sedentary it negates the benefit. Find ways to incorporate movement into all your activities when you can.

Chris: I grew my blog community by writing about my fitness journey. Write about becoming the example you want to set for others – blog to your own audience.

Kay (audience member): exercised 365 days a year, posted about it constantly to be held accountable, lost 45 pounds. Supporting each other made difference. Ask each other that good question that will make us want to change for the better. For him, it was his daughter telling him she wanting him to be healthy so he could be around as long as possible.

Chris: Get into good habits so you don’t have to think about.

Anthony: Sometime breaking away does good, though.

Habit forming strategy – spotting… place a new habit next to one already established in your routine. Don’t goals that are too big and overwhelm us – set microquotas or you’ll fall to “aw, screw it” syndrome.

Incorporate small acts of spontaneity in you life to break routine: brush teeth with other hand, sit at different place at the table, etc. Helps maintain mental health and helps keep us open new experiences in our lives. Being open to new experiences benefits health – good experiences release dopamine, the happiness hormone.

Tara: You don’t have to be overly strict with diet. That’s why many diets fail. People starve self all day, then binge; feel can’t every have a cookie, then have one and figure they’ve already blown diet, might as well have whole box of cookies.

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Tara: Most successful dieters: eat breakfast every day, monitor their eating/exercise habits – keep journal, weigh self each day, track how much they eat. Journaling keeps you accountable to yourself.

Sally: Some level of self-monitoring helps, just don’t make it too daunting.

Stress-management. Find places in our life that overlap: Can we exercise with our kids – we benefit, they benefit from exercise and seeing us set a good example.

“Checking out” doesn’t always work for stress management.

Chris: Working out too much also isn’t good – body sees this as excessing stress. Find “parasympathetic” activity. Yoga, walking, exercising both sides of brain. These counter stress.

Anthony: Laughing, humor is good for you. Even “fake laughing” can help your body relieve stress.

That’s all. Thanks!