Dec 20, 2022

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Scot: Today, we reflect. You're really killing the mood when you laugh. Who was that?

Troy: It was Mitch.

Mitch: I'm sorry. You're just so serious. Oh my god.

Troy: That wasn't me.

Scot: Killing me.

Troy: Scot is really trying. Come on, Mitch.

Mitch: I know.

Troy: Scot is trying really hard.

Scot: I'm going to say it again. Today, we reflect. Each of us is going to come up with our top three episodes from 2022. It's a best of the best and maybe a good place to start if you're listening to the "Who Cares About Men's Health" podcast for the first time. Maybe we're going to talk about an episode you missed, and we will make you want to go back and check it out.

This is "Who Cares About Men's Health," offering information, inspiration, and a different interpretation of men's health. My name is Scot Singpiel. My favorite episodes are the ones where I talk about me. I also bring the BS to the show. Countering my BS with his MD, it's Dr. Troy Madsen.

Troy: Hey, Scot. We've had so many great episodes it was tough to choose from, but it was fun to think about.

Scot: And Mitch Sears. We had a lot of episodes about him this year.

Troy: We did.

Mitch: Yeah, not my favorite ones. But we did a lot this year too, so I'm really excited to revisit a couple of these.

Scot: Good. Was this hard for anybody else, picking out specific episodes that you were going to name your favorite, or that were the most meaningful for you this year?

For me, it was a little difficult because I think for me it was more of the entirety of the year, and all the information and everything that triggered my thinking. Some of this stuff I can't put back to one episode. It might have been a couple episodes that helped lead me to someplace that I was at. Anybody else have a hard time, or no? Troy?

Troy: I didn't. I just specifically looked for episodes where I thought, "This changed something I do." Like, I can point to a specific change. And it was surprisingly easy. So it was fun to go back and see what has changed as a result of guests we've had.

Scot: How about you, Mitch?

Mitch: Actually, no. There are episodes in the past year that I listen to again. I revisit to kind of get one perspective or another again, and remind myself of one idea or another. No, I just picked the three that I play over and over again.

Scot: That's awesome. All right. Here we go. Our top three episodes. Each one of us is going to come up with three episodes. I'll go ahead and start with Episode 103, "How Emotional Availability Can Improve Your Life."

Mitch: Oh, with Kirtly Jones? Sure.

Troy: I did not pick that one, but I almost did.

Scot: Did you? All right.

Troy: Almost did.

Scot: So, for me, that episode was good. And again, it kind of brought some thoughts that I've had in my mind together and helped me on this journey. First of all, to start to pay attention to my emotions and acknowledge them as real. There's more than anger, and there's more than nervousness.

Mitch: There's a whole wheel.

Scot: And understand that it's okay to have these emotions and it's okay to acknowledge them and it's okay to feel them, and it doesn't make you any less a man or any weaker.

And also, we all experience these emotions differently. We all handle these emotions differently depending on who we are. And there's no shame in that. It all has to do with our background and how we've experienced them before and what tools we were given by our parents and other people in our lives.

And the thing that really changed it for me, though, was in my interactions now, and this was a suggestion by Dr. Jones, I don't tell the person how they're feeling. "Oh, you seem angry." I'm curious. "I noticed something is a little off today. Do you want to tell me about it? Is there anything I can do to help?"

So just opening myself up to asking somebody about how they're doing without assigning to it and then asking them to define what it is and asking permission if they want to talk about it has been a kind of a game changer in some of my relationships. I feel a lot more confident when I can ask that question as opposed to what I used to do, was ignore it.

Mitch: Sure.

Scot: Just ignore it, right? Because it's scary. It's scary to ask those questions, because what if it's about you?

Mitch: Oh, no.

Scot: What if it's an emotion you're uncomfortable with? And I think a lot of us guys can be uncomfortable with other people's emotions.

Troy: Right. Yeah, like you said, the anger piece of it was really interesting because she pointed out anger is often a manifestation of deeper emotions. And the challenge for us is identifying what those deeper emotions are leading to anger. Yeah, I agree, that was a game changer.

Scot: So we can actually do something about it.

Troy: Yeah.

Scot: All right. Favorite episodes. Troy, you are number two.

Troy: So my favorite episodes, I'm going to go with Kirtly Parker Jones as well. And I'm going to start with the obvious one for me, and that was "Tips For Expecting Dads."

Mitch: Oh, sure.

Troy: Episode 109. I mean, how could I not go with that? It was just basically an episode for me, which I really appreciated. She gave such great advice. And it was as we were moving toward the third trimester that we had that episode, so a lot of things she talked about I thought about through the third trimester, a lot of things as we were there in the hospital awaiting the birth of our child, and as our baby was born. My mind went back to that episode quite often. So she was very insightful. Great advice. Really appreciated it.

Scot: What was it that that episode helped? Can you give us a specific example?

Troy: I think, again, it kind of got back to the emotional availability piece that we talked about in the other episode, but also there were specifics about what to expect in terms of the pregnancy itself that I found very helpful.

But also just that general theme of, number one, being emotionally available, and number two, being willing to experience and express those emotions myself. We talked about, "How are you going to feel when your baby's born? What if you feel like crying? Are you going to be okay with that?" And I was okay with that. I did. I wasn't sobbing.

Scot: Oh, no.

Troy: Of course not. My eyes might have teared up a little bit. And we talked, too, about kind of putting aside the doctor piece and just being there and just being a dad, and that's what I tried to do. I mean, I was tempted to go into doctor mode there and overthink everything and watch everything that's happening and get nervous, but I was like, "Hey, I'm just here. I'm just a dad." And it was nice to do that.

Scot: Just enjoy the moment. If somebody is not a doctor and they don't have that kind of baggage, just really just try to be in the moment and enjoy it.

Troy: Yeah, exactly.

Mitch: Troy, do you think you would've had that same approach to the entire experience had you not had a moment to talk with Kirtly Jones?

Troy: I think I might've approached it a little more clinically, like I said. So it was nice to have that, just to have my mind go back to that and have that as a reminder to myself, like, "Hey, we've talked about this. I'm ready for this. I don't want to go into this and be a doctor here." Not trying to bark out orders, but just trying to be there to . . . I didn't want to overthink things. I think that's kind of what it came down to. So it was nice just to be there, just be a husband, be a dad, and just enjoy the moment.

Scot: All right. Mitch, your favorite episode?

Mitch: So the first one we're going with Episode 106, "Robb Has a Heart Attack." And what I really liked about this one was not only did it feature a friend who's become a role model and a real supportive character in my own health journey . . . I mean, we chit-chat about . . . I've never had before a friend who's like, "Hey, just got back from the doctor and this is what happened." It's like, "Oh, wow. Great. Like, thanks for sharing that." There's this really interesting back and forth that happens.

But more importantly, talking through the episode, health is something to be grateful for, right? Health is something that is not necessarily guaranteed even if you're the healthiest guy, kind of like Robb was. He was extremely healthy and he still got hit with this very intense heart attack, right?

And the line that has always stuck out to me . . . Right now I'm back in physical therapy because I've hurt my ankle again, and any time I'm getting frustrated with my workouts, with that kind of stuff, etc., the quote that he said was, "Even in my workouts, they're less 'I have to go to the gym' and more 'I get to go to the gym' or 'I get to go for a walk.'"

And I just love that takeaway in the conversation that we had. It's just this idea that health is not some gold star that you get for working really, really hard. It is something that you are . . . There is a certain amount of luck and it's a privilege. It's something to enjoy when you have it. And that is something that I really, really appreciated.

Troy: Yeah, and it really hit home to me when you talked about getting on the treadmill after the heart attack.

Scot: Oh, yeah.

Troy: And how he kind of teared up just the fact that he was on a treadmill and exercising. It was just so meaningful to him. That was really cool to hear that.

Mitch: Oh, yeah. And compare that to Mitch of like years ago where I'm on a treadmill hating every single minute of it.

Troy: Exactly.

Mitch: And then it's like, "Oh, man. Yeah, I get to do this."

Scot: Cool. All right. Round number two. Each one of us has three episodes from 2022 that we liked, and this is round number two. Mine kind of dovetails into yours. Mine is Episode 120, which we just did not too long ago, "Just a Bunch of Dudes Being Grateful."

Mitch: Yeah.

Scot: Was that on your list, Troy?

Troy: It was a great one. It's not, but that was a great one.

Scot: Yeah. And it is just a mindset that I get to exercise, that gratefulness mindset that "This is something I can do and it's something that I enjoy," not "It's something I have to do."

How fun was it on that episode hearing what other people were grateful for? It was fun to do, and it was fun to listen to, and just all of us talking about the things we were grateful for, it was infectious. And I felt good after doing that episode, right?

Troy: It was fun.

Scot: And it made me think about power. How we talk about things and the way we frame things is really super powerful. And we talk about how you can set up your own gratitude practice, and I've done so. I was doing it before that. But it's just really cool when you go out and you start recognizing more and more things in your life that you're grateful for.

I'm grateful that I live a half mile away from this park that I can spend time with my dog in. It's a great place to play Frisbee. I never would've thought of that before I was doing my gratitude journal, but it makes me smile every time I'm walking there, and I get to spend some time with him, right? So that's pretty awesome.

It was so much of a fun episode hearing other people and talking about it. I don't know how I'm going to do this, but I might start throwing this topic of gratefulness, like "What are you grateful for?" into conversations with friends. And like I said, I don't know how, but once you start doing it, it is a little infectious and it's fun.

Troy: Yeah, that was a fun one. I loved just having everyone on there, just so many people from the past years that we've talked to. It was just, number one, fun to bring them all together in one place, but like you said, really fun to hear their perspective on gratitude and the things they are grateful for.

Mitch: Yeah, it was really cool.

Scot: All right. Troy, your number two?

Troy: Okay. Number two for me, Episode 113, "Anxiety - The Hidden Tiger of the Mind."

Mitch: Oh, man.

Troy: Scott Langenecker. Was that on your list too, Mitch?

Mitch: It's on my list too. It's okay. We can talk about it.

Troy: I won't steal your thunder because it's on . . . Yeah, we can talk about it together because that's your next one too. I think, for me, he just had so many good insights into anxiety and what leads to anxiety and ways to address it.

I've mentioned it before, but anxiety is one of those things, one of those emotions in my life that I'm trying as much as I can to reduce it. And I've talked about it before. I've sometimes even leaned on anxiety as a motivator, and I don't want to do that. And so it was so good to hear his perspective on how you can reduce anxiety.

Number one, how do you identify it, which is super important when you're feeling anxious. Number two, how do you reduce it? And so I think it kind of relates to other episodes we've had as well talking about anxiety. But I think that one really got down to the crux of the issue and coping strategies and ways to hopefully try to reduce anxiety in your life, which I found very helpful.

Mitch: Yeah. So Episode 113, this is on my list too. There was something about understanding why we have it, right? There was something that I really appreciated that Dr. Langenecker brought in where it was just like, "This helped cavemen survive. There's a reason all of us have it in one way or another."

And so as someone who has struggled for most of their life with anxiety, to have that kind of perspective of, "This isn't a pathology. This isn't 'you're sick.' This isn't 'you have a problem with you.' It's just everyone has it. How do we experience it? How do we manage it?"

I actually incorporated clips from this episode into my lecturing I do at the community college, and we did a whole section on speech anxiety. They had to give a speech in front of the class and a bunch of people were very, very nervous to do it. And we talked about anxiety, what it is, what causes it, how we feel it, how we can trick it, how we can breathe and manage it. Man, oh, man, just to see them respond, to give them that kind of perspective and understanding was extraordinarily satisfying.

Troy: That's cool. That's really cool you incorporated it. I love that you actually took clips from that. I mean, there's so much that you could just re-listen to and quote from what he said.

Mitch: And that's just it. I wish I had had this perspective younger. I wish I had had this perspective earlier in my life being like, "Hey, worrying about stuff or feeling these types of sensations does not mean that there's something wrong with you. It's just something that happens and it's something that is there to help protect us. And if we can understand it, we can have a better relationship with our own mental health," which is way cool.

Scot: It was on my list as well for the reasons . . .

Troy: No way.

Scot: Yeah, for the reasons you . . .

Troy: Well, that makes it easy.

Scot: Yeah, it does, right? We'll wrap this thing up here in short form.

For all the reasons that you both said. I know that, Mitch, you've struggled with anxiety. And for some that struggle with a higher form, more anxiety than others, you might have to get some sort of other medical attention. It's not just necessarily something you can manage on your own.

Mitch: Yeah, anxiety disorders.

Scot: Right. So I don't want to oversimplify it because I know that it's been a lot more severe for you. But for me, also understanding that this had a purpose and then in our modern world, when we get anxious about things to an extent where it kind of makes us not want to act, it's just our warning system that's kind of gone wrong, right?

And knowing that and being able to go, "All right. Let's just really take a look at this situation. Is this threatening to me?" and being able to work through that and figure out if it is or not, that made me feel a lot better.

And just knowing that it's just natural. It's just like if you go swimming, you're going to get water in your nose, right? If you do certain things in your life, you should have some anxiety and it's not necessarily a bad thing. It just happens. And it might be because you want to do really well. So how do you manage it so you can continue to do the thing you want to do really, really well?

One of the things Dr. Langenecker had talked about, I don't know if you remember, is that your ability to handle that might change as you get older, and that's okay.

He told a story about firefighters. That's a very physically and emotionally demanding job, and being able to deal with that can change over time. I'd imagine, Troy, you could speak to this as well. There are not a lot of old firefighters, right? And there's a reason for that. And it's okay. Just like we physically aren't able to do the same things we used to do, sometimes mentally we can't. You have to change.

Troy: Yeah, that was great. Very insightful. Like both of you said, I love that he said, "We all experience this. You're not abnormal because you experience it." So I think that's a great takeaway.

Mitch: And just to echo what you were saying, Scot, as someone who has kind of dealt with anxiety disorders in the past and stuff, it doesn't belittle it in any way, shape, or form. It just makes me think of it differently, right? Why am I medicated? Well, it's because my system is too hyper-tuned. It's not that I'm sick. It's not that I'm broken. It's just I have a very sensitive system, and that's so much of a better approach to thinking about it than, "I'm broken, I'm wrong, I'm oversensitive."

Troy: It's like Spidey-Sense almost. Your Spidey-Sense is a little too strong.

Troy: That's right.

Scot: It's telling you things are dangerous when they're not. All right. Troy, what's your number three?

Troy: Okay, number three. We're going to jump back all the way to January of this past year, and it is Mitch "Project 50."

Mitch: Oh, no. That's the one you chose?

Troy: That's the one I chose and I'm going to tell you why. Like we talked about then, the whole Project 50 I found, I just couldn't put that much time in. But the thing I loved about it was that idea of working on a new talent every day.

Mitch: Oh, sure.

Troy: That was really cool. And so I went back actually to an old talent. I talked about piano playing, but I will say that episode stuck with me. In March, I purchased a trumpet.

Mitch: What?

Troy: I purchased a trumpet.

Mitch: Are we starting a ska band?

Troy: We're starting a ska band. I played the trumpet in junior high school and dropped it after that. Never really played it again. Never picked it up. I don't even know where my old trumpet is, but I said, "I'm going to get a trumpet and I'm going to learn to play this thing again." And at this point, I play the trumpet just about every day.

Mitch: Oh, that's awesome.

Troy: Granted, I don't think Laura is thrilled about that.

Scot: Or the new baby.

Troy: She actually likes it. She kind of likes it. At least she acts like she likes it. She seems to enjoy the trumpet. I don't know that the neighbors love it. But I play the trumpet every day now and I really enjoy it. So that piece of it stuck with me, and I've stuck with that since then.

Scot: What songs do you play?

Troy: I've just got this book of popular songs. A lot of them are '60s songs and stuff, and so I just play through that. I've picked out the songs in that that are easy enough that I can play it on the trumpet and just kind of cycle through it. I'll play two or three songs a day and just pick it up, and it's just fun to pick it up and play it. It's cool.

Scot: That must make you happy.

Troy: It is. It's fun, yeah.

Mitch: I just find it so interesting because just a month or two after that episode, we had the "Mitch fails the Project 50." I don't remember what we called it. But it's so fascinating because we tried the Project 50 Challenge. You rolled your eyes at some of the requirements. I could not keep up with a lot of stuff. But that hour of no phone, I still do it to this day, that morning startup, whatever, the reading non-fiction to educate myself every day. Even if something doesn't quite work, 100% of it, at least try it out. We're just figuring out what works for us, right?

Troy: That's what I thought was cool about it. You can try it or you can modify it and do it, and then after you're done, "This is what I liked. This is what I took from it." That's kind of how I approached it. So that was the thing for me, was the talent piece. And it sounds like for you, the no phone thing and all that. Yeah, I thought it was cool.

Scot: You can find one gold nugget in each episode. It's worth it. That's what I like to say. Mitch, what is your third?

Mitch: So my third is one that I actually have favorited on my Spotify playlist and everything. And it is Episode 104, "Letter From your Past Self."

Scot: What?

Mitch: I know.

Scot: You both rolled your eyes at me when I brought that up.

Mitch: And I will continue to roll my eyes publicly every time you bring it up. But today I just want . . . There is something about . . . And I think the gratitude episode is going to be right in there with it. But as someone who struggles with mental health, as someone who is constantly working on it, I cannot tell you how much being able to go back and hear positive words being spoken aloud of both to myself, from myself, to things that you said to yourself.

If I'm in a funk, I will just play that episode. And there's something about just going through that practice and hearing other men be positive with one another. It gets me out of my funk, and I love that.

And I think the gratitude episode is going to be that same way. It's something that I don't think we do too often. We joke about things, we don't treat ourselves very seriously, etc., and just to know that we could do that and to hear those types of words, I come to it a lot.

Scot: So being kind to yourself. That was one of the rules, that you had to be kind to yourself or . . . I can't remember. That's the part of it you really like, is saying nice things about yourself.

Mitch: Well, it sounds oddly simplifying. But we spend so much of our time being so negative and hard on ourselves, to be able to have an authentic appreciation for yourself is very powerful.

Scot: And hearing Troy also do the same thing was good for you. That came off wrong, Troy. I mean, you're laughing, but we liked listening to other men talk about gratitude. It's nice to hear other men talk about themselves positively or being kind to themselves.

Troy: Oh, I thought you were joking because I didn't get my letter. I timed mine for a year from when I wrote it, so I didn't have a lot to say.

But your letter, I thought, was very insightful and really profound in so many ways. I thought it was really cool to listen to. And I wish I could write a letter as well written and insightful as yours was. That was a fun episode.

Scot: All right. And before we go, I want to just throw one last thing in from my perspective. I've really enjoyed, Mitch, the "

Mitch: It's Complicated" series that we've done with your health journey. Just hearing you go through this health journey as you've kind of been trying to uncover what it is that has been giving you issues throughout your life has just been so motivational and so informative. And the fact that you're sticking with it, it just is . . .

I've really enjoyed that, so thank you for being brave enough to talk about all of those things, which is really . . . I think if anybody gets the award, the bravery award on this podcast, it's Mitch. Troy and I, I think, are still a little guarded, right?

Troy: Yeah, without question.

Mitch: Someone has got to say it. I'm sorry. We don't have these conversations and I wish that there was one other person out there talking about this kind of stuff. So I'm going to talk about mine.

Scot: And I love that you do that.

Troy: No, it really is. I think it's helped so many people and I appreciate your insights and your experience. I draw a lot from what you've gone through and what you've talked about, and I think it's helped me open up a little bit more too. So I appreciate that.

Scot: And it's what this podcast is about. It's about men opening up, talking about their health, talking about their concerns, the things that stress them out or the things that they're happy about, or proud about, or grateful for. We don't have these conversations enough. So hopefully this podcast gives you some tools and gives you some inspiration to want to have those conversations in your life as well. And if not, just maybe listening to these has been helpful as well.

Gentlemen, as always, it's been a great 2022. I look for forward to new episodes in 2023. We'll do this at the end of 2023 and see where we're at. I bet you it's going to be in a different cool place.

Thank you for listening, and thank you for caring about men's health.


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