Are Men Dying From Being Macho?


"Macho, macho man
I gotta be a macho man"

-The Village People

I've spent my adult life in the structured settlement and financial business and follow actuarial science. A statistic that has held consistently true is that men die about five years sooner than women do.


A Salon article titled "Toxic masculinity is killing men: The roots of male trauma" sheds some light on the academic research being done on the topic. In short, it says what most guys have been taught since birth: When it comes to pain, suck it up.

Which means we don't get to the doctor for regular checkups. Which means we ignore chest pains until they become heart attacks. Which means we die too young.

I am the keynote speaker at the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America in May and recently became a member of their advisory board. A fantastic group with celebrities like Carnie Wilson taking part on the program. My two primary contacts, Founder and President Antonia Namnath and board member Laura Van Tuyl are tireless and passionate in their efforts as a support and education group for people who have had bariatric surgery. They raise money to help people who need weight loss surgery, but can't afford to pay for it.

Although I have written a book, Brand New Man: My Weight Loss Journey, about my weight loss surgery, 115-pound weight loss and embracing a healthy lifestyle, I've been on a weight loss journey for most of my life. And been one of the few men in the room while the journey happens.

I was in a Weight Watchers group with 65 women and I was the only man. The same dynamics held true when I did Zumba. Thus, it was not a surprise to find that 80 percent of people who get weight loss surgery are female and only 20 percent are men.

At the May conference, WLSFA is doing a reverse of a Teddy Pendergrass concert and hosting "WLS Bro Time," which is a panel discussion with only men invited. No women allowed. It is a recognition that men need to take advantage of weight loss surgery to increase the quality and length of their lives.

It is also addressing the elephant in the room: Many men don't think that weight loss surgery is cool. They consider the life-changing, but life-threating, major surgery to be the "easy way out."

As I think about my journey to becoming a Brand New Man, a lot of attention is paid to the fact that I embraced CrossFit, weightlifting and, at age 57, recently participated in the CrossFit Open.

Many think CrossFit is a macho thing to do. It really wasn't. After I had lost 100 pounds, I needed something challenging to push me and take advantage of my new lifestyle. I had already overcome a lot of hurdles and participated in physical activities before I walked in the door of the CrossFit box.


Going against the macho stereotype is that a good chunk of the participants at CrossFit Maximus in Lexington, Kentucky where I belong are female, including some of the best female CrossFit participants in the world. Not everyone competes at a world class level. Most are people like me, who just want to improve their exercise and lifestyle.

And live a long time.

It didn't take a huge amount of courage to get involved in CrossFit. What took all of my courage and to change the mindset of a lifetime was when I agreed to have weight loss surgery. It was the second surgery in my life and the first that I did on an elective basis.

Getting bariatric surgery was truly the macho thing to do. Putting myself in a position to die at a young age was the wimpy way out.

It's time that the men in our culture start embracing the medical tools available to help us live longer and healthier lives.

Then we will truly be macho men.

Don McNay, ChFC, MSFS, CLU, CSSC is a financial expert, journalist and author of eight best-selling books. His new book, Brand New Man: My Weight Loss Journey, released on Feb. 27.

McNay is one of the world's best known experts on structured settlements and how lottery winners handle their money. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky, and you can learn more about him at

McNay has a Masters Degree from Vanderbilt University and a second Masters Degree from the American College. He has four professional designations and is in the Eastern Kentucky University Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

McNay has been a Huffington Post contributor since 2008 and his insights have appeared in hundreds of publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Time Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Forbes and USA Today. He has appeared on television and radio programs around the world including CBS Morning News, CBS Evening News, ABC News Radio, AM Canada, CTV News and RAI Television in Italy.