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June 12, 2019

Guardrails: The secret sauce of sustainability

June is a 'tsunami of motivation' for men over 50 aspiring to live healthy

Men's Health 50-Plus Men
Senior Basketball 06122019 Flickr Creative Commons, CC by 2.0


In a recent Instagram message, I characterized June as a “tsunami of motivation” for men aspiring to live healthy, especially those over 50.

With graduations, weddings, the start of family vacation season, and of course, Father’s Day all in season, I suggested that this alignment of emotional inspiration can highlight a man’s most-valued relationships and help jump-start a healthy lifestyle. With a man’s “why” more outwardly visible and connected to his priorities, such triggers have the potential to drive new behaviors well beyond a vague New Year’s resolution.

So, whether you’ve been moved by these triggers or your commitment to start living healthy is a desire to look good this summer, what’s it going to take to keep on track, stay focused and stick with the program? How will you ensure that you eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and get at least 30 minutes or more of exercise 5 times per week? What’s the secret sauce of sustainability? In a word, guardrails.

MORE 50-PLUS MEN: Father’s Day is near: Seize the moment with (tough) love

The healthy-living men I studied utilize habits, routines and rituals – what I call their guardrails – to stay on course. Over time, they get into a positive rhythm which reinforces their practices. They feel good, look good and have more energy to pursue their social agenda; they have fun. Health and happiness converge fueling their commitment and sustaining their lifestyle.

What do these habits routines and rituals look like? It’s really up to you. As long as you’re able to meet the benchmarks for diet and exercise you can tailor a routine that fits your needs. You could be a morning person or perhaps, you’re better suited to team up with a spouse or friend. Whatever it takes. It’s about consistency and micromotivators, the core of the guardrails, that make all the difference. Here’s what I mean.


My alarm goes off at 4 a.m. (assuming I’ve hit the sack by no later than 9:30 p.m.). I shave, have a cup of coffee, check the headlines and take a look at the email from overnight. My wife is asleep so I’ve got the house to myself.

One of my big micromotivators is the 30 minutes or so each morning where I can enjoy that coffee, think about the day ahead and start my to-do list for the day (yes, I’m a chronic list maker). I love it. I feel prepared and ready to tackle the world. It’s then off to the gym which is less than 5 minutes away (a key factor). Now this routine has nothing directly to do with diet or exercise, it's an adjacency to the process of getting up and out to the gym, but it’s a huge micromotivator and guardrail for me, one that adds a positive dimension to what otherwise might be a real tedious process.


At the gym it's micromotivator number two. My exercise routine is just a little more palatable when I listen to the morning news, typically public radio but sometimes KYW. Clearly, I’m a news geek, but it works for me and gets me through what’s grown to about a 90-minute workout: weights and 15 minutes of treadmill cardio on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 30-minutes of cardio on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. There’s some form of abdominal work every day. Sunday is a flex day for either additional cardio or make-up for a day I missed.

Sound anal? I like to think of it as being in rhythm. Much like we label a baseball pitcher who is tossing a great game or a basketball player who is hitting his or her jump shots as being “in rhythm,” I see my routine as just that. It feels natural.


After the gym it's home to grab breakfast. Typically, it’s one-minute oatmeal with a little almond butter mixed in and occasionally some bananas or blueberries for good measure. It’s an installment on my daily dose of fruits and vegetables. Until recently, I was able to get a green drink (spinach, kale etc.) at a local coffee shop, however, the shop closed so I’m in the process of perfecting the art of making my own green drink to wash down the oatmeal. After breakfast it’s a quick shower and off to work.

Have the events in June got you inspired? Looking for the infrastructure to build a healthy lifestyle? Create your own guardrails, find your micromotivators and get into rhythm. It’s a cycle that will change your life.

Louis Bezich, senior vice president of strategic alliances at Cooper University Health Care, is author of "Crack The Code: 10 Proven Secrets that Motivate Healthy Behavior and Inspire Fulfillment in Men Over 50."

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