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Review: Buck Up – the Real Bloke’s Guide to Getting Healthy and Living Longer

Filed under: Men's Health — JohnPotter @ 6:20 pm Thu 4th October 2012

Last night Felicity and I attended a function at the Millenium Centre to celebrate the launch of a new book for men by Buck Shelford and Dr Grant Schofield.

Buck Up book cover

Since ending his career as All Black captain, Shelford has beaten cancer and shed 25 kilos of excess weight. He tells his personal story in the hope that it will inspire others to follow his example. One comment he made in his introduction that has stayed in my mind is that in many Ngapui areas up north there are dozens of widows in their 40s and 50s.

Schofield is Professor of Public Health at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Director of the Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition. In his spare time he competes in triathlons and Iron-mans and suchlike, so he practices what he preaches. He is also an excellent researcher, according to the official MENZ adviser on medical matters (AKA the wife).

He gave what I thought to be a very important piece of advice to dads: make sure your sons learn about risk assessment and consequences by climbing trees when they’re 8 rather than driving a Subaru at 18!

The book is split into four sections which give a pretty good overview of the basic message:

  • Get fit – run and/or exercise regularly
  • Eat well – protein and vegetables, not sugar and fat
  • Get tough – develop resilience – get up again and again, despite the setbacks
  • See your doctor for regular check-ups

At first I found it a little confusing to know which of the two authors I was reading, until I figured out that Buck’s contribution is in sans-serif font. I was interested to learn about his attitude to life, and if this book does nothing else than influence a bunch of other Maori men to change their behaviour then it will have been a worthwhile exercise. There are lots of inspiring whakatoki (proverbs), which I enjoyed.

I was shocked to read the top 5 killers of Maori men: heart disease, suicide, lung cancer, motor vehicle accident, and diabetes. I learned a few other interesting bits and pieces, but generally the book confirmed what I’ve already discovered in my own life. I “bucked up” myself a few years back.

I was disappointed there was not more on the issue of suicide, given the statistics above. This isn’t in any way a political book though; it’s focused on practical solutions men can use to improve their lives.

Professor Grant Schofield

Professor Grant Schofield launches Buck Up

Some of the scientific medical information contributed by Schofield is quite detailed and more suited for an educated reader rather than the general public, in my opinion.

I think the addition of a “Key Points” page at the end of each section would have been useful for men who find the entire book a bit daunting. I suspect many of the men who most need this advice are likely to find it hard going.

On the other hand, I think it should be required reading for anyone working with NZ men, and it will make a useful resource to back up and inspire education efforts. I recommend it for any men keen to learn more about their health, diet, or athletic performance.

I suspect a fair few women who have a man that they love will also buy this book.


  1. I was under the impression based on previous statistics that male suicide was still predominately European and wasn’t expecting that to change – I had originally attributed the disparity to cultural differences – so I am surprised to see the change but regrettably it could be the ahead of heart disease and that wouldn’t make an ounce of difference, we have years when suicide has been the leading cause of death in some age brackets of European men and it has never attracted any significant level of interest, the attitude seems to be; it is just a consequence of the way we live these days. I see an interesting dichotomy here between the health message (couldn’t agree more – changed my diet and lost 8 kgs recently myself) and the obvious rising despair of Māori men which to me isn’t conceivably going to bring about a decrease in the number of Māori widows. I don’t want to appear to be knocking the effort but I have to ask how effective is the health message in isolation – probably not a lot when there is a rising level of despair – so does it then become a case of we did something but it didn’t work. It will be interesting to hear the reaction of the Māori community to see if they treat this issue any differently now that Māori men share similar suicide mortality to European men.

    Comment by Down Under — Fri 5th October 2012 @ 11:11 am

  2. Today 5 October 2012 a Soldier holed up in a house and at some point shot himself. The same article also points suggest a recent relationship break up.

    Comment by Gwahir — Fri 5th October 2012 @ 9:40 pm

  3. Thanks for the article John Potter …Here a link that Felicity and you,plus Hans Laven could find very interesting

    Growing a Pair: The De-Feminization of Men!
    By: William Wong, ND, PhD, Member World Sports Medicine Hall of Fame.

    Kind regards to all, free at long last from Feminist N.Z

    Comment by johndutchie — Sat 6th October 2012 @ 7:02 am

  4. The last time the earth had this many girly men around was at the end of the Western Roman Empire. That’s the main reason why the Western Empire fell to the robust and manly barbarians!

    This to me was where the article went seriously off course. The suggestion being that the more manly Barbarians conquered the having grown girly weak Romans. The Barbarians inherited what they found in the power vacuum at the eventual collapse of the Roman Empire – it fell over, it wasn’t even pushed let alone defeated.
    What this overlooks is the parallels between the social structure and decline of Rome and our own modern day society. Although the decline of that empire took centuries rather than in our case decades these parallels are more significant than estrogenic poisoning.

    One of the major contributing factors in the decline of the empire was the father-son relationship but it is not explained that way in a historical context. When (if I can borrow the biblical reference) those captains of business in the heart of the city became overloaded with capital they looked to invest in rural areas and food production – diversion for an easy buck. They looked for the cheapest labour to do the job which undermined the transfer of skills amongst the male based labour force.
    These skills weren’t just manual skills but learned and remembered information which was important especially to grain production. Wheat in particular is very susceptible to disease and the harvested return (the yield) will vary considerably by the way it is managed. Growing empire, declining food supply, unwanted labour. This is not the only isolated contributing factor but the end result was to affect the city as well, and the unwanted labour would collect its daily bread from the dole.

    The troublesome and unwanted labour formed the basis of the crusades to feed the city. In essence the crusade perpetuated a system that was already failing at home and had to eventually fail itself, which it did. That is a fairly simplistic review but if you take the time to read Roman history you can see how important the family structure was to both the rise of Rome and the fall of Rome.
    I presented this point of view in a University paper at Auckland a few years back and as you can imagine it was not well received – actually I was told in no uncertain terms that what I had written was a load of rubbish but then a University is not an institution of learning once it stops thinking and teaches the beliefs of the libby-feminazi religion.

    Comment by Down Under — Sat 6th October 2012 @ 9:29 am

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