Health

You often hear things like, "If you've got your health you've got everything."

While it's good advice to take care of your health as much as possible, however, this platitude can lead to some extreme disappointment and frustration.

It can have you bank everything on physical strength and prowess -- with the real possibility that you might get injured or sick at some point. It can have you feeling bad about yourself as your physical abilities are less than they once were.

It can also have you chasing health as a priority above character and relationships.

So, health is important, but it isn't as important as your spiritual health, character and relationships. It may be more important than everything other than those, but that's getting too deep for this blog.

What you don't want to do is sacrifice your health without consciously knowing that you are trading something very valuable. You may decide to "play hurt" under certain circumstances, but you need to be aware that you are making this choice.

Some injuries and illnesses are easy to recover from. Others may be very costly and take a long time. Just be aware that not taking care of yourself will have consequences -- and make intelligent choices about whether you should sacrifice some aspect of your health for the thing you are pursuing.

If you need specific advice about your health, you should go to trusted sources. Don't get your health advice from people who don't know what they are doing or who don't have your best interest in mind. Try these resources that are focused specifically on young men, for example: 

Website: www.youngmenshealthsite.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ymhealth

Blog: www.teenspeak.org

You can also look things up at https://www.webmd.com/ and https://www.nih.gov/health-information. Don't experiment with yourself, however!  Go to your doctor to get specific advice for your specific situation -- and don't wait until your condition is extreme. Be willing to invest in yourself before the situation is out of control.

COVID-19

As a younger man, the odds of you dying from this are very low. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm

Nevertheless, you need to be aware of this and get to a doctor ASAP if you have the symptoms. If you have a doctor who prescribes "go home and rest", it's time to get another doctor. It doesn't matter how much this will cost -- just do it.

In the meantime, drink lots of water and get lots of rest. This site isn't where you should be getting medical advice on this disease.

Even if you aren't at high risk of death, you should try to avoid this disease until there are great therapeutics (cures) and effective vaccines. Don't get talked into getting any disease that medical science doesn't have great cures for!

For you, then, social distance, wash hands, wear a mask when in close indoor proximity, use UV light wands, and don't hang around people who have the disease.

For others, wear a mask, social distance, wash hands, don't come to work or school if you feel sick, use UV wands to sterilize. This is essentially the same list as above. 

Drugs

Don't do them.

Don't trust anyone with a random "magic bean" pill that is supposed to help you study better, get out of depression, improve your sports performance, improve your sexual performance, or just make you happy.

It used to be bad, but now there is the killer drug fentanyl (https://www.camh.ca/-/media/files/guides-and-publications/straight-talk-fentanyl.pdf). People who couldn't pass 3rd grade math are mixing the proportions of this deadly chemical into home brew pills. Too much and you die.

Have you ever seen someone who used Meth? https://www.rehabs.com/explore/meth-before-and-after-drugs/infographic.php You don't want to be one of these people. The people who make and sell these drugs don't care about you at all.

Even with the mild drugs, like marijuana, do you really know what's in them? Do you really know how you will act or what you will do if you take them? Look at how people make fun of those who are "stoned" and you should quickly be able to figure out why "friends" might want you to take these.

Hooked on drugs is a physical problem. It also becomes a financial problem. Unless you have an endless supply of the drugs and the money, it "owns you". People who would never agree to being a slave will sign themselves up to being a slave to drugs.

If you have a friend who does drugs, stay away! Get him/her professional help and get different friends. They will want you to join them with drug use.

Drug users will need your money and may even start to steal from you to pay for the next hit. If they owe money, their suppliers may visit you or your family -- sometimes with guns. If you are their roommate in an apartment (in college, for example), they will pay their dealers instead of their portion of the rent.

Sports

Don't injure yourself during practice -- and be alert to protecting yourself as well. Practice isn't the game. You need to put full effort in, but it doesn't do anyone any good to get hurt during the week and not be able to play on "Friday night".

You may want to "prove yourself" in a time trial, but getting shin splints so you can't run in a meet isn't helpful. Practice hard -- very hard. Don't injure yourself in the process.

If you are feeling dizzy or your pulse rate is racing, take a break. Cool off. Drink some water. Get the trainer and, possibly, call the doctor. Do this despite peer pressure or pressure from a coach. Let your parents know.

Don't use performance-enhancing drugs. They will hurt your health long-term. It may eliminate you (or your entire team) from competition (maybe even the Olympics). They may want all of your titles and trophies back. Your wins will have an asterisk. It's cheating.

Eat well -- and start this when you are young and growing. Give yourself a chance if you want to be successful in sports. You may not like certain foods, but you need to eat them.

Take vitamins when you are young in case you are missing something in the food you are eating.

Drink lots of water. This will enhance your performance. It will keep you from getting so many cramps. It will also keep you more alert during the school day so your grades will be better and keep you from getting disqualified from participation.

Exercise to build your baseline strength, speed, hops, flexibility, etc. If you make this investment in yourself, it will provide an edge that others don't have.

Practice more than others. Push yourself skill-wise. Be very aware that the skills that made you #1 in 6th grade are not going to make you #1 in 8th grade -- and so on. The athlete who "settles" on skills he had in early years, instead of building on them, will soon be passed over. 

When you practice, practice under "game conditions" -- mentally and focus. Don't expect to shoot 5 of 10 3-pointers in practice and 5 of 10 in a game. Practice at 9 of 10 in practice. 10 straight free throws in practice will give you the confidence (and skill) you need in a game.

Find a sport (or position within a sport) that fits your natural abilities and physical make-up. Why work at a disadvantage to others more suited for a specific sport? There are so many sports and so many positions within the sports! Pick a few that you are a good match for. 

Find good coaches. Find ones that will help you vs. judge or humiliate you. Find ones that know their business. Find ones who can help you get to the next level. Find ones that have your interest in mind -- not theirs. Beware of "pros" who are getting paid to tell you how good you are.

Have a backup sport. Despite the focus on one sport these days, this is something that helps the coaches -- not you. Cross-training is highly regarded for development by all physical education professionals, but high schoolers are often boxed into one sport. You may find that you have a "gift" in that other sport and you will probably find that your performance in the "main" sport will be enhanced.

Have a backup career plan. If you get injured or finally don't make the next level, you need another great purpose to jump to -- another passion. Even if your athletic career is very successful, those other skills will probably keep you from losing all of your money and becoming a victim.

Cramps

Speaking of sports...

Cramps are often a big problem for young men. Here are a few hints on how to avoid them:

Drink lots of water -- before and during the competition. Some people actually think you are "tougher" if you don't need any water. This is ridiculous!!!

If you get a cramp in your legs, immediately use every muscle you have in your leg to pull your foot up toward your face -- keeping your leg completely straight. Catch this the instant you feel the cramp coming. You can even do this while swimming. It's easy to do in bed. It's easy to do when sitting on the gym floor or field.

Many will tell you to put weight on your legs -- as much as possible. This can help, but self-pulling the foot/ankle up, as hard as possible, will do much better.

You can try similar moves with your wrist for arms cramps, but the leg/ankle/foot move described above for leg cramps really works.

Drink pickle juice. Keep a jar in your gear bag.

Shoot mustard into your mouth with a squirt bottle. Mustard is inexpensive and you don't have to worry about refrigeration very much.

Longer term, make sure you are often practicing at an intensity similar to the game or meet. Don't expect your body to somehow know how to adapt to an intensity 2X that of anything experienced regularly in practice.

 Sex

There is a separate article on this. Hopefully, you find it useful.