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In Conversation: Broadcaster Jay Reeve on Men's Health

Little changes can and do lead to big results, and the first thing we can do is talk about it.

That’s why this Men’s Health Month, we’re highlighting the importance of looking after your body and mind with the help of some friends.

This week we talk to Jay Reeve. You may recognise the cheeky grin that belongs to one of New Zealand’s most popular and irreverent multi-media broadcasters. Originally a teacher from Tauranga Boys’ College with a history hosting radio and MTV, you can now find Jay on The Rock Drive show, and as one of the co-founders behind Pals. He is also a passionate and life-long advocate for men’s health. We spoke to Jay about his solutions-focused and multi-pronged approach to supporting mental health.

What does men’s health mean to you?

It means a lot to me. It’s a relatively new term to most men’s vocab, and it is a relatively new mindset for the medical fraternity. It’s a positive change for a group that hasn’t had a lot of effort put into it historically. It is a change of conversation, a change in how we view our bodies, and in improving all aspects of the body – from mental, respiratory, cardiovascular, physiology, genetics, biohacking, to stress response – and figuring out how to maximise this magical thing that we have the use of, on this magical rock that is hurtling through space.

How significant is mental health to you?

Everything stems from mental health in my opinion. It’s hard to have a healthy body without a healthy mind. Healthy relationships with people and products all come from sound mental health. It does fluctuate, like any health continuum. Some days will be better than others, some weeks, some months and some years. We are getting a better understanding of how to wrestle back some of the automatic controls we are born with. I am loving learning about how to get the best out of my mental health, and how to fortify it against the bumps on the road of life.

For those feeling overwhelmed or distressed, or for those dealing with a sense of hopelessness or addiction, it can be hard to know where to find support. Tell us about your involvement with Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support (MHAPS).

I have been a ‘Mo-Bro’ since I was 17, and have seen the changes Movember has made to the landscape of men’s health in general. They offer solutions as opposed to pointing out problems, which seems to be the norm. I don't think there is a person alive that isn't aware of the fact that men’s health needs attention, and Movember is still the biggest fundraiser and facilitator of men’s health initiatives in New Zealand for Kiwi men.

I also read a lot and listen to podcasts that resonate with how I operate. ‘Atomic Habits’, ‘Tribes’, ‘Outliers’ and ‘Belonging’ are all great reads I often go back to. It gives you a greater understanding of why we do what we do – well it did for me anyway. Rachel Service is a great speaker, and now has a book out also. She is the Happiness Concierge and we get her on our radio show frequently.

As a father, how important is it to make men’s health something your boys grow up with?

I have never thought about it more than since the arrival of our boys. Role modelling teaches them how to be resilient and move their bodies, how to try, fail, laugh and cry; how to be strong, and be vulnerable; how to let them know they are loved, to be part of something bigger than themselves, and that they are a pen to write their own chapter in life. And above all else, how to breathe.

Finding motivation is key to staying on track with our health goals. How do you stay engaged?

2022 has been an interesting one for me. I said it was to be a year of ‘change and challenge’. By this I mean to change my habits, create more good, extinguish some of the bad, and also explore the use of my body before it begins to fail me. I signed up to Fight for Life so I could test myself and learn something new.

We created an annual ‘Attitude at Altitude’ weekend with two close friends to lean into the things that made us uncomfortable. We are all great at bending for three days on the piss, but it’s a lot harder to sit and have open conversations about what troubles you, where you are failing in life and how to overcome these things.

I will hopefully run out onto the field again for an upcoming Rugby League game for Movember with some of my idols in the sport, and train for a magical Indo surf trip to celebrate being around for 40 years.

What are your top tips to decrease stress?

1: Breeeeeeeathe. It sounds faaaarken stupid, but up until a few years ago I didn’t know how to. Nigel Beach changed the way I operate drastically after we met at a Wim Hof Breathing course he ran. He works with all the top level athletes across the globe, and is a wealth of knowledge. I do this breathing exercise every morning without fail. I also sauna as often as I can, and get into cold water at least twice a week. I use this to rinse my adrenal systems, and it has completely reset my body.

2: Sleeeeeep. Once again sounds stupid, but something so simple makes such a big difference. It is the biggest fuel/recovery you give your body daily, so why not make it the best? Mouth taping, and earthing your body through grounding mats sounds crazy, but also makes a huge difference.

3: Be in control of the controllables. What you eat, what you drink, who you hang out with, who you follow on social media... ‘Great in, great out’.

Last but not least, what’s your favourite Two Islands product and why?

I have just come off 3 months of antibiotics that have nuked my gut biome, so Happy Gut is building me back up, and I can feel the energy levels rising with it. Move Me is my latest daily go-to. I have a pretty strict training regime, and the carcass isn't what it used to be. I’m a massive fan of using our natural resources to assist in repair and support of my joints, most of which have been dislocated at some stage in my life.


Catch Jay on The Rock Drive radio show: https://www.therock.net.nz/home/shows/rock-drive.html

Discover Mental Health Advocacy and Peer Support (MHAPS): https://mentalhealth.org.nz/groups/group/mhaps-mental-health-advocacy-and-peer-support

Fight For Life takes place July 21st at Eventfinda Stadium, Auckland, and will raise funds for the mental health and suicide prevention charity, I Am Hope, founded by Mike King.