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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Getting in Shape (To Get in Shape)

Robert Manni - Sunday, April 21, 2019

If you watch as many films as I do, you know that if a movie sucks during the first twenty minutes, it’s not going to improve. The same can be said for most important aspects and experiences of our lives life. You need to get things off on the right foot, and that means being prepared to nail the beginning...of anything. This also goes for fitness and wellness and diet. If you want to run a marathon, you’ll need to log two long, grueling twenty-mile practice runs prior to running the big race. And if you are smart, you don’t take on a major challenge until you’ve put down a solid, unbreakable foundation based on proper preparation. 

Whether it’s New Year’s or the first day of spring, people get that urge and inspiration to get into shape. It might be the New Year marking new beginnings or a precursor to upcoming bikini season. But too often aspiring athletes try to cram a six-month program into a few weeks and fail. They jump in with great enthusiasm, maybe going to the gym and getting crushed in a few hardcore spin or body sculpting classes before petering out. It’s often the case of trying to do too much in too little time. People get injured, discouraged, distracted and far too often give up before ever getting to the meat of their program.

They start out like the hare and speed ahead, but many soon realize it’s better to be the tortoise than the hare.  Fast starts are not necessarily effective unless you are prepared. But, to get prepared you need to get prepared to get prepared. Huh?

I mean you need to start slow and stay steady until you are in good enough shape to dial things up. But patience is a rare commodity, especially in the big city. Lots of us start a new workout program, go nuts for a week or two before finding a plethora of potential excuses to break the routine. Sometimes our bodies and minds are simply not ready for the trauma we put ourselves through. As a result we often get injured when going balls out before our bodies are ready for the pain. The truth is, the older we get and the longer breaks we take in maintaining a diet or fitness regimes, the rate of failure increases. And the more we fail, the longer and harder it gets to succeed. It’s a vicious cycle that many of us fall victim to, even people with the best of intentions.

Ever notice how many injuries occur during spring training and the pre-season? Even the best athletes can jump back into their training program too quickly and as a result experience a pulled hammy or another nagging, lingering injury. The key is to get and stay in shape, but often that’s easier said than done in our busy lives. So if you find yourself falling off your wellness program, take it easy on yourself when getting back in the saddle. That means starting slow and steady until you’re ready to take off and soar again.

There are ways of developing and sticking to a successful diet and fitness program without all the unnecessary drama and anxiety. I call it “getting into shape to get in shape”. You may ask, “WTF, Guy’s Guy?” Hold it right there, amigo. As always, there is a method to my madness. I have been able to maintain my fitness level, fighting weight while staying in relatively good shape for the past three decades using this concept effectively. Like anyone, there may be reasons that at times I might fall out of my usual workout routine and diet travel, job pressures, family and relationship issues, stress or just plain laziness. But, I always pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. I know what it takes to win. I take my time and rebuild my routines and programs up slowly. That means not going nuts for a few weeks, maybe injuring myself and giving up. Getting into top physical and mental shape takes time. Take it from your Guy’s Guy. If you have defined an achievable objective and play the long game, everything can work out just as you planned.

If you take the time to grow into your program, in a month to six weeks you will start feeling it, increasing your strength and endurance and getting into your zone. If you can do this, soon you’ll be working out like a demon and compounding your results. If you start out slow and steady and stay consistent, you can succeed. But you have to start somewhere, and be mindful about your approach. That’s where I come in and put together an easy-to-follow plan for “getting into shape to get in shape”.

Drum roll, please…

1. Step on the scale – People want to lose weight, but have a hard time stepping on and looking down to face the ugly truth. Checking in before getting started is highly recommended. It provides a level set and way to measure your progress. And no worries. The starting weight just a number that gives you an idea where you are and what will be necessary to reshape and lose those unwanted pounds. After you are done wincing at your poundage, determine how much weight you want to lose. Then step off the scale, take a deep breath and exhale. You’ve just completed step one of “getting into shape to get in shape”.

2. Have an objective – Maybe you want to lose twenty pounds or reduce a few inches around your waist or a dress size or two. You may want to thither your goal to a running time or activities hitting a spin class three times or working out five times a week. That’s fine. Simply decide what it is you want to accomplish and write it down. And make sure you give yourself enough time to achieve your goals. 

3. Develop a realistic plan of attack – You need a plan. Make your plan fit who you are and allow yourself adequate time to ramp up. Your plan needs to be realistic. You know your tendencies, so be honest with yourself. If you don’t like running in cold weather, don’t think you’ll hop out of bed at 5am when it’s sixteen degrees outside. Maybe you’re more suited to an indoor session on the elliptical trainer indoors where you can gradually increase your workout time. Or you may want to schedule a few sessions with a trainer to help you ramp up. Make sure your trainer is aware of your goals and you’re getting into shape to get in shape so he doesn’t crush you during the first few sessions. A good trainer will adapt to where you currently are in your training, even if it’s at the very beginning.

Before getting started review the plan and ask yourself if it feels right for you. Is it realistic to think you’re going to change long ingrained habits like curbing your drinking if you a like to or need to entertain for business. Club soda will only take you so far. Find a way to balance out the indulgence with your workout, fitness, and diet goals or it may drive you crazy to the point where you quit. Find a balance and keep things fun. Working out can be pleasure or torture. It’s up to you.

4. Start slow – This is the key to getting into shape to get in shape. You want to ramp up slow and steady so you don’t pull a muscle or get discouraged when the results are not obvious as quickly as you hoped. Play the long game, amigo. As long you are doing something, you are improving. Even if you have work pressures you can find time for yourself. Just don’t expect to get in shape overnight or in a few weeks. Real gains come slowly, but they last. Once you’ve been doing the program for a month or so and feeling in the zone, take it things a notch and then conquer this new level. Then up it goes again. Throughout the start up process do the little things to augment your workouts and diet. Take the stairs. Walk. Stretch. Meditate. Visualize. Do pushups in your apartment. Buy a chin up bar. Use it.

5. Be consistent – Like the tortoise, you want to maintain a steady pace. I read that it takes thirty-six days to create a habit. This makes sense. I began doing Dan Millman’s Peaceful Warrior Four Minute Workout over a year ago. It’s a series of fifteen movements designed to loosen up the skeletal system, unleash chi, and expand our flexibility. It works. I began the program doing the prescribed three reps for each movement for thirty-six days. Then I added and added as I felt myself getting stronger, leaner and more flexible. I only missed three days during the past year after coming down with a nasty flu. Now I complete between fifteen and twenty-five reps per movement, and I love it. I never consider missing a day unless I am physically unable to perform. This routine has become part of me and I have never felt better in my life. How many Boomers do you know that feel this way?

Final thoughts. Consider keeping a journal. It helps quantify your progress and provides a psychic reward when you review it and see your gains. Whatever happens, even if you fall off the wagon for a few days, don’t give up. If you do slip up, don’t make excuses. You’re only fooling yourself. Get back on the horse and start over if that’s what it takes. It’s the little things that make the difference between success and failure. So, buckle up, start slowly and have fun. You are creating a better version of you and that’s a good thing, amigo!

If you’re feeling me you’ll learn that my slow, but steady approach to fitness works. The most critical part of any workout and diet program comes at the beginning and you handle it correctly you can make and keep a major shift in your lifestyle. Start out slow and don’t overindulge before your body and mind are ready to enter the zone. Fitness, diet and wellness are never achieved through shortcuts. The most important time for anything in life is the beginning. And that’s why I suggest “getting into shape to get in shape”. 

The Process of Elimination Diet

Robert Manni - Monday, February 11, 2019


Want to lose weight, increase your energy, and end your cravings for crappy foods? Introducing: The Process of Elimination Diet.

If you’re like me, you love food, you love to eat, and you eat well. While we do our best to either lose or maintain our weight, we face temptations about our food choices every day. It all comes down to choices. When it’s time to eat, you pick this or that, and the ramifications can be game-changing. Successful dieting often comes down to making the right choices over and over again. There are so many ways to self-sabotage when trying to maintain your fighting weight that it becomes a never-ending battle.

After years of yo-yo dieting, I put this question to the test. Now, after successfully working my way through a year-long program, the answer is a resounding yes. It requires mindfulness and some discipline, but there is a method for eating clean, reducing cravings and ramping up your energy. I call it the Process of Elimination Diet.

After achieving short-term successes with a myriad of fad diets, working out consistently, and not eating meat for a decade, I still never got a real handle on managing my weight. Even though I spent years grinding out long runs and devoted countless hours on the elliptical trainer, I did not lose weight. In fact, during the second half of 2017, I was slowly but steadily gaining weight. As soon as I ended a diet, fast, cleanse or intermittent fasting, I’d gain the weight right back. I’d had enough and when I stepped on the scale that December and saw a higher number than I’d ever seen before, I told myself enough was enough. I decided to develop a fresh, new approach that did not require purchasing prepared special meals, fasting, monthly cleanses, or eating only at certain times during the day. I would develop a new program for weight management and test it on myself at the highest level. If it worked, I’d share it with the world.

For a 5’10 boomer, carrying a weight under 200 isn’t all that bad. But, as the person who began the Guy’s Guy movement¾where men and women can be at their best so everyone wins, “not bad” simply was not good enough. Another short-term diet plan would only yield short-term results. My program needed to deliver long-term results while shedding pounds, eliminating cravings, enhancing wellness, and inspiring permanent lifestyle changes driven by better food choices.

After a few days of mulling things around I recalled running into a former high school classmate. When we were teens, he was a chubby kid and I was a lean, trim athlete. But when we met twenty years later he was the one who was thin and I had packed on a few unwanted pounds. I said, “Steve, you look great. How did you lose all the weight?” He smiled and replied, “I stopped eating so much.” His words stuck with me. They made sense, but I knew there was more to discover.

Then it hit me. You can eat less, but without a lifestyle overhaul, that’s neither sustainable nor fun. There had to be a better way than Steve’s model. Eating, and eating well, comes down to making choices. At every meal you choose to consume this or that¾ the tuna or the lamb chops, the beer or the club soda, the bacon cheeseburger or the salad. Over time, the results of those choices¾both the bad and good—come to fruition and show up when you step on the scale. I asked myself, “What if I systematically eliminated my bad choices while still enjoying what I still ate? What if I made one less bad choice per week or month for a year?” Heck, over the course of fifty-two weeks or twelve months, I could eliminate fifty-two or a dozen bad choices. Spreading the program across a year avoids any shocks to the system that many of the familiar diet plans can produce. By refining the diet over the course of a year, you can achieve significant results, allow your body to steadily heal, and get a handle on your weight management and cravings. At least that was the idea t the outset.

I call it, The Process of Elimination Diet. Again, it’s pretty simple. Every week, or month, you eliminate one additional food from your diet for an entire year. You can also eliminate one food per week or month. You cut out one item from your diet at a time. For example, in January you give up ice cream. That means no ice cream for the entire year. That may not be easy, but you want long-term results so you need to make some sacrifices. In February, you give up something else for the year. Let’s say, bacon. Now, you can’t eat ice cream or bacon for the remainder of the year. They may taste good, but are they really good for you? When March rolls around you choose something else, and so on. By the end of the year you will have given up a dirty dozen of foods you know are not good for you, your waistline and your health. You make the choices you need to make that are right for you. If one month you give up chewing gum, you’re only kidding yourself. To succeed, you’ll need to commit yourself and make some tough choices. That’s it.

As the creator of the plan, I wanted to take the deep dive by ridding myself of one bad choice per week and track the results. At the end of fifty-two weeks, I would have eliminated fifty-two bad decisions from my diet. It would be no easy task, but someone had to try it to see if the damn thing worked. It was my responsibility to put myself through the most rigorous version of the program over the course of a year. When New Year’s Day rolled around, it was time to put things to the test. I needed to give up something every week of the year so at the end of fifty-two weeks, I’d have given up fifty-two foods.

On January 1st I stepped onto the scale and weighed in at one hundred and ninety-eight pounds. I wanted to hit the ground running so on January 1st I gave up alcohol. Yikes! This was a tough decision, but I mentally braced myself for this sacrifice during some binging over the last weeks of December. If this had been ten years ago, I may have started the program by giving up red meat and followed the next two weeks by eliminating pork, and poultry, but I hadn’t eaten meat for the past decade, so that was not an option. 

There was no magic to starting the program at the beginning of the year, but it made it easy to track and measure. I developed a chart with all the weeks and months lined up. Simple stuff, no frills. Then I put any remaining booze in my house into a cabinet above the refrigerator. The first week marked a perfect a time to detox after the holidays. Then I needed to come up with a new food to eliminate every week.

In terms of formulating a strategy for what to give up each week, I decided to follow my instincts, cravings and weekly consumption habits to determine what I had been consuming to make up for what I had given up. As soon as I gave up alcohol, which is filled with sugar, I began uncharacteristically replacing a sip of wine, vodka or tequila with a handful of organic chocolate chip cookies. This was my first A-Ha moment. My body was seeking a sugary substitute for the alcohol.

The following Sunday I gave up cookies. The next week I gave up all forms of candy. And so it went. Over the following weeks, I followed my gut to choose which food I’d eliminate next. I quickly fell into a pattern for making decisions and then staying the course. Every Sunday I decided what to give up, wrote it on my chart, and went about my business. Of course there would be a challenge during the week when avoiding the food I’d just given up, but by the time the weekend rolled around, I was already looking ahead to come up with a new item to eliminate from my diet. Part of the discipline was keeping things going week after week. Blazing new trails can be a lonely process where you don’t receive a lot of emotional support along the way. I wanted to tell a few people so it would put pressure on myself to succeed. Sharing helped me articulate how I was feeling and it kept me focused.

The results were slow, very slow at first. I did not see a dip in weight until a month went by, and even then, it was only three pounds. But by the time spring rolled around my weight was down seven pounds. I had more energy and my mind felt crystal clear, which I attributed to the elimination of so much sugar from my diet. The first six months were prominently focused on the elimination of sugary snacks. Week after week, I replaced one sugary craving with another.

Was I challenged? Sure. Who wants to sip a club soda with lime when the other people at your table in that outdoor cafe are kicking back with cold beers and margaritas on the rocks? But after the first few times I faced this, it became second nature. Six months into the program I was down twelve pounds and feeling great. There was no turning back.

I was running out of sugary foods to cut out and began eliminating foods with carbs, which turn into sugar, like bagels, muffins, chips, and rice. Rice was tough, especially if you like Chinese, Korean, Indian, and Mexican foods. But once I ate Chinese food without the rice, it was a revelation. I was no longer bloated after the meal and after doing this a few times I decided I would probably avoid rice into the future.

I dig salty snacks, but started cutting them out. As I did, my waistline shrank, my clothes fit better, and I felt great. I gave up spaghetti, one of my go-to foods, although I gave myself an out by still eating lasagna, ravioli, and other pastas. Was it cheating? Maybe a little, but I was exploring new territory so I gave myself some flexibility. By summer, I added more outdoor runs and swimming to my workouts. My metabolism was fired up and as a result, my weight suddenly dropped into the one hundred seventies.

In the past I’d given up booze a few times for five or six months of the year, but I had never faced a long hot summer without a cold alcoholic beverage. This was virgin territory, but by the time September rolled around I was galvanized. The biggest challenge I’d face during the last quarter of the year was coming up with a new food or beverage to give up every Sunday. My choices were all over the place— maple syrup, tortilla chips, cheese snacks, and finally pizza, which was a tough one to tackle.

I did not fall into the trap of counting the weeks remaining in the year until after Thanksgiving. Until I gave up meat a ten years ago, Thanksgiving had been my favorite holiday meal by far. I don’t like it as much now. By the time this year’s Thanksgiving rolled around, I had also eliminated forty-seven additional foods and beverages including many of the sweets and carbs we enjoy on Turkey Day. This year I looked at Thanksgiving as the final turn on this yearlong challenge. The end was in sight. I handled the holiday parties the same was as I did any other social situations I’d encountered throughout the year by sipping sparkling water. By now things had become routine. I checked the scale less frequently. My weight stabilized at one hundred seventy-five pounds in October. I’d lost twenty-three pounds since the beginning of the year and reached a plateau. My body refused to go any further at this time. But I looked good and felt great so I focused on making it through December unscathed. The holidays can be a test for maintaining weight but nothing could stop me now.

Over the final four weeks I eliminated yogurts with fruit, flavored coffee, cereal, and finally my beloved peanut butter. I had wanted to give up all pasta also, but my wife kept cooking it for my son, so I usually joined him by eating a small portion. Then she made a tray of vegetarian lasagna for my birthday in late December. I could wait until the new year to tackle giving up pasta. My birth date was a mixed blessing. I’d have to avoid eating birthday cake, which was weird, but my wife and I came up with a plan. After I counted off the days and the weeks since January, I would have completed my goal of giving up one food for fifty-two weeks by New Year’s Eve. I could end the program on New Year’s Eve and enjoy my birthday cake and anything else I wanted.

The final week following my birthday felt like the longest days of the year. By this time, I was burnt out on the program. On one hand I was elated at having completed something that I’m not sure anyone has ever done before, but I was also tired from having to mentally push aside so many foods I’d enjoyed eating for fifty-two weeks. Up until this final week I had taken each week in stride. Now I found myself checking the calendar and watching the clock. The time had come to cross the finish line with my arms raised. I weighed in on the morning of December 31 and once again landed on one hundred and seventy-five pounds. I did it!

My clothes felt looser and my body much more limber and lighter. I was so pleased with the results I considered extending the program during the following year. But, I was also mentally fatigued so I decided to give my body a break for the month of January before deciding on my next course of action. I wasn’t going to completely pig out because I had worked too hard, but I would see how I felt as I added some eliminated foods back into my diet.

On New Year’s Eve, we went all out and enjoyed a dinner of lobsters, champagne, and shots of tequila. The weirdest thing was that my taste buds had changed and the sparkling wine and tequila tasted different to me. I woke up with a hangover on New Year’s Day and hit the gym for a cardio workout to sweat out the booze and eliminate the calories from the rich foods I’d eaten. On the night of January 1st, I sipped white wine and fired down a shot of vodka. They both tasted weird to me. I also realized how clear my mind had become during the process of elimination. It was like a mental fog had lifted. I’d lost my cravings for foods my body had previously craved, which were mostly attributed to sugar (or hidden sugars). My waistline was trim and my eyes were clear. People said I looked good, regardless if they knew about my yearlong diet program or not. I had my annual checkup and the tests were impressive across the board. I had low blood sugar, low blood pressure, and had lost over twenty pounds. I felt less stiffness in my body, as if the inflammation that we all build up had dissipated. I knew I was on to something and was determined to make this program a lynchpin to my future wellness.

Over the course of the first two weeks of January I ate what I wanted, keeping mental notes on how different foods now tasted, how I felt after eating them, and what foods I would leave out of my diet going forward. In order for the Process of Elimination Diet to have long-term benefits, I needed a plan going forward. After all the work I put in the previous year, I did not want to throw it away by gorging on treats or simply returning to a diet that no longer suited my lifestyle.

It took me until mid-January to come up with a plan. When I created the POE program, I envisioned it as having three levels to suit different people and their different needs. As both creator and guinea pig, I took on the most rigorous version of the program by eliminating one item per week. Level One was comprised on eliminating one item per month. That meant giving up only twelve foods during the year. Level Two consisted of eliminating one food or beverage every two weeks for an aggregate of twenty-six items vanquished form your diet. Level Three, the master level that I had completed, consists of eliminating one item for fifty-two weeks.

My plan for year two was to take on Level One and eliminate twelve items over the course of the year. Since I had the experience and knowledge gleaned by completing the master level, I had a good sense as to what foods did not agree with me and accomplishing my long term goals of weight loss, maintaining the loss, and all around wellbeing. Even though I began Level One in mid-January, I would simply add two weeks to the end of the program to complete the task of eliminating twelve core items from my diet that year. After a week and a half of indulging in anything I wanted, I gained five pounds and was witnessing a regression of my behavior. I had kick off the new program by eliminating a food I did not need to eat. And the winner is…ice cream. I enjoy a dish or a cone now and then, but is it necessary to eat ice cream? So I drew up a new chart and scrawled ICE CREAM next to the month of January. And off we go… 

Taking a look back at the process, here are some the challenges I faced and a few surprises during the previous year.

  1. If you are into self-improvement and you enjoy challenging yourself, the program can be fun and rewarding. You might think, “How can eliminating a food or beverage you love every week bring a sense of joy?” I made it game and played it so coming up with a new food to eliminate by the end of each week became a fun task. For me to succeed, I had to make it a game. Yes, it’s crazy and not right for everyone, but if you have a spirit of adventure and self-discovery, and driven to achieve real results, this program can definitely be fun. The game necessitates your crafting your own personal strategy and long-term vision so you yield visible, energetic, and emotional results.
  2. You’ll be surprised how quickly you lose the cravings for the foods you’ve given up. I discovered that dropping a new food every week shortened the time for craving the food I’d already given up or eliminated during the current week. You only have seven days to fret about the food you gave up the past Sunday. By the time next weekend rolls around you’ll need to pick another food to eliminate, and immediately that becomes your focus for the next week. By Monday of each new week you’ve already forgotten the food you gave up the previous week, even though you won’t eat it for the remainder of the year. I love sipping top shelf tequila, a buttery Chardonnay, an organic IPA, or the occasional imported vodka chilled. So that’s why I made it my first category to eliminate. It had to make a statement to show I was serious, and I sure did.
  3. After a slow start, the pounds suddenly drop off and your body shape improves. Giving up alcohol made January an even colder month. But I’m glad I started the program with the biggest challenge. It kept my head in the game and made me determined not to slide. My strategy was to following my cravings. Most people replace one sweet craving with another. During the first week of January I found myself munching on chocolate chip cookies way, and I’m not a cookie guy. So, I gave up cookies the second week of January. The next week I gave up candy and the following week cake. That made January a tough month, but very productive. By the end of February, I had cleared lots of sugar from my diet and began noticing changes in how my body felt and looked. When I stepped on the scale in early February I had only dropped five pounds, but they were five important pounds that would not come back. These set the tone for success and faster weight losses over the next few months.
  4. Coming up with foods to eliminate was a task, but again, a fun one. As mentioned, I was determined to be the first person to go through the POE advanced program of giving up one food every week for a year. By the time Fridays rolled around, I’d already conquered my cravings for that week’s eliminated food and was thinking of something to give up the next week. Some weeks I had an idea about what to drop by Tuesday and in during other weeks it took me until Saturday night to come up with a food or drink to add to the list of no fly zone foods. During February I gave up pie, croissants, muffins, and cream cheese.  As the weeks flashed by I learned that some of the foods I dropped were easy to forget and others not as easy to erase from my mind.
  5. There are surprises along the way. I never realized that out of all the things I’d already given up, I’d miss eating cream cheese. But by August, I’d forgotten about cream cheese too. I learned that eliminating starches like rice and potatoes made a major difference in the size of my waistline and how much better I felt not being bloated after meals. Over the summer I began to realize that I’d probably not go back to eating some foods I’d given up. I’d have a sip of tequila or a glass of wine, and maybe a piece of dark chocolate, but for the vast majority of foods I eliminated my eating palette had definitely changed for the better.
  6. You’ll feel great. Since I was committed to not drinking for a year, it was a good time to work on myself inside too. I increased my meditative practices and invited more metaphysical authors and healers to join me on my GUY’S GUY RADIO podcast. I joined a spiritual enfoldment group that meets every week for a channeling session with a very loving group of Guides. All of this helped raise my frequency. My energy and frequency have not felt this light since I was a kid. And, my long runs along the boardwalk were exhilarating like they were over fifteen years ago when I trained and completed three marathons.
Following the completion of the Process of Elimination Diet I feel as good as I have felt in my entire life. I also reduced my media intake to a bare minimum and make it a point to love myself and forgive the people in my life who need forgiveness. I know this is related to the diet. Maybe the discipline required re-energized my passion for self-love, self-improvement, and raising my consciousness. My clothes fit better, I look fresher, I sleep like a baby and feel well-rested upon waking, and my energy is through the roof. I no longer craved alcohol, ice cream, chocolate, or sugar. The completion of my program has truly been an exercise of addition by subtraction.

                             THE PROCESS OF ELIMINATION DIET 2018

 January

1 – alcohol

2 – cookies

3 – candy

4 – cake

5 – pie

February

6 – croissants

7 – muffins

8 – cream cheese

9 – soda

 March

10 – ice cream

11 – potato chips

12 – white rice

13 – brown rice

April

14 – chocolate bars

15 – cream

16 – scones

17 – doughnuts

18 – added sugar

May

19 – honey

20 – chocolate nibs

21 – added butter

22 – ice cream on a stick

June

23 – frozen yogurt

24 – potato puffs

25 - rice pudding

26 - french fries

July

27 – spaghetti

28 – bagels

29 – Gatorade

30 – bubble gum

31 – pretzels

August

32 – onion rings

33 – fake bacon

34 - added bread

35 – English muffins

September

36 – added cheese

37 – flavored Super Coffee

38 – cheese nips

39 – maple syrup

October

40 – fake breakfast sausage

41 – tortilla chips

42 – pudding

43 – milk

44 – jam

November

45 – pizza

46 – egg nog

47 – granola

48 – fruit juice 

December

49 – flavored yogurt

50 – flavored coffee

51 – cereal

52 – peanut butter


The Guys' Guy's Process of Elimination™ Diet Plan (Part 2)

Robert Manni - Friday, July 20, 2018


Would your losing ten percent of your bodyweight in six months considered a successful diet program for you?

Six months is real time. This is not a short-term fix or a yo-yo diet where you lose fifteen pounds before slowly gaining every pound back and more. This is the Guys’ Guy’s Process of Elimination Diet Plan. It’s how I’ve steadily dropped eighteen pounds during the first half of 2018. The results have come slowly but steadily, and there are still six months to go. I’ve learned a lot by eliminating one item of food from my diet every week since the beginning of the year.

Let’s take a look back at the process, the challenges when giving up certain foods and some of the surprises I’ve encountered during the first half of the year.

  1. If you are into self-improvement and you enjoy challenging yourself, the POE is actually fun. You might ask, “Hey, Guy’s Guy, how can taking away a food you love every week bring any sense of joy?” Good question. Coming up with a new food to eliminate by the end of each week was a fun task for me. To succeed, I had to make this a game. Yes, it is a crazy game that is not for everyone, but if you have a spirit of adventure and self-discovery, and you like achieving real results that you feel inside and see in the mirror, it can definitely be fun. The game necessitates your deploying a personal strategy and long-term vision and can quickly yield visible, energetic, and emotional results.
  2. You’ll be surprised how quickly you lose your cravings for the foods you’ve given up. I discovered that dropping a new food every week shortened any cravings for the food I gave up the previous week. Why? Well, for one thing, you will only have seven days to fret about the food you gave up on Sunday. By the time the next weekend rolls around you’ll need to pick another food to eliminate and focus on that the next week. As a result, by the following Monday you will probably have forgotten the food you gave up the previous week, even though you will not be eating it for the remainder of the year. This may sound totally crazy, but it really works. For me, the key was dropping a true favorite the first week. That’s why I gave up alcohol for the entire year on January 1st. I’m a social drinker, and although I don’t pound the same way I did during my roaring twenties, I know enough about beer, wine and spirits to also know how important it is to drink only the good stuff and very little of the sweet stuff. I love sipping top shelf tequila, a buttery Chardonnay, an organic IPA, or the occasional imported vodka.
  3. After a slow start, the pounds suddenly drop off and your body shape improves. I must admit that suddenly giving up all alcohol made January an even colder month. But I am glad I started the program with my biggest challenge. It kept my head in the game and made me determined not to slide or simply throw in the cards by downing a few shots of tequila. I followed giving up alcohol by eliminating candy, another sweet. Most people replace one sweet craving with another. So, I gave up cookies the second week of January. I followed this by giving up candy and finally cake. That made January a tough month, but a very fruitful one. I had cleared my system of lots of sugar and began noticing changes in my body when I worked out or went for a long run. I felt lighter, and there was less stress on my joints, so I knew I was on the right track. When I stepped on the scale at the end of January I had only dropped five pounds, but they were five important pounds. These set the tone for my success and faster weight losses over the next few months.
  4. Coming up with foods to eliminate was a task, but again, a fun one. As mentioned, I was determined to be the first person to go through the POE advanced program of giving up one food every week for a year. By the time Fridays rolled around, I’d already conquered my cravings for that week’s drop and was thinking of something that felt right for the next and following weeks. Some weeks I had an idea by Tuesday. During other weeks, I took me until Saturday night to come up with the next item to wipe from my plate. I took it easy on myself during February, giving up pie, croissants, muffins, and cream cheese. Or so I thought. I soon learned that some of the foods I dropped were not as easy to erase as I’d predicted.
  5. There are surprises along the way. Of course, giving up all wine, spirits, and beer for a year has been trying at times, especially during the hot summer months when I witness friends drinking chilled margaritas in front of me. That sucks, but I remind myself about how disciplined I am, how great I’m doing, and how much better I feel having lost eighteen pounds. I also never realized that out of all the things I’ve already given up, I’d miss eating cream cheese as one of the tougher foods to drop. I also learned that eliminating rice and potatoes as starches in meals made a big difference in my waistline and how I felt after meals. I wasn’t sure if this would be the case, but I was clearly less bloated when I replaced rice or potatoes with salad. Another thing I learned is that I doubt I will be eating most of the foods I’ve given up in the future. Sure, I will have a sip of tequila or a glass of wine, and maybe some chocolate, but for the vast majority of foods I’ve eliminated it has been out of sight, out of mind. My eating palette has definitely changed for the better.
  6. You will feel great. Since I was committed to not drinking for a year, I thought it would also be a good time to work on myself. I upped my meditative practice and invited more metaphysical authors and healers to my GUY’S GUY RADIO podcast. I joined a spiritual enfoldment group that meets every week for a channeling session with a very loving group of Guides who enter our spiritual circle for ninety minutes. All of this has truly helped my development as a person. The first time I hit the beach this year I did the energy work I always do by the ocean and the results were amazing. My energy and frequency has not felt this light since I was a kid. And, my long runs along the boardwalk have been exhilarating like they were years ago when I trained for three marathons.

The bottom line is I feel great, in fact as good as I have ever felt. I’ve also reduced my media intake to a bare minimum and have made it a point to love myself and forgive all the people in my life who need forgiveness, if you know what I mean. I’m not sure if this is related to the diet, but maybe the discipline required has re-energized my passion for self-love and improvement. My clothes fit, I look fresher, I sleep better, and my energy is through the roof. And, I am not craving alcohol, ice cream, or chocolate. Tell me that isn’t not fun! And I still have close to six months to go. I’ll be back at the end of the year with my final results and I hope you will join me. In the meantime, I wonder what I’ll give up next week…

Here is the list of foods I’ve given up to date by week.

  1. Alcohol
  2. Cookies
  3. Candy
  4. Cake
  5. Pie
  6. Croissants
  7. Muffins
  8. Cream cheese
  9. Soda (except club soda or seltzer)
  10. Ice cream
  11. Potato chips
  12. White rice
  13. Brown rice
  14. Chocolate bars
  15. Cream/Half and half
  16. Scones
  17. Doughnuts
  18. Adding sugar to anything
  19. Honey
  20. Chocolate nibs for cooking
  21. Adding butter
  22. Ice cream products on a stick
  23. Frozen yogurt
  24. Potato puffs
  25. Rice pudding
  26. French fries
  27. Spaghetti
  28. Bagels

The Guys' Guy's Process of Elimination™ Diet Plan (Part 1)

Robert Manni - Friday, July 13, 2018


If you are like me, you love your food. But for indulgent diners, maintaining your fighting weight becomes a never-ending battle.

You like to eat, you eat well and you think you’re making good choices. And you work out, but the pounds continue creeping onto your waistline. What’s a Guy’s Guy or a Gal’s Gal supposed to do to stay trim in the face of our questionable food supply and the plethora of tasty, global cuisines invading our shores?

Anthony Bourdain may be gone, but his legacy of introducing Americans to the delights of world food and cultures lives on. With the sampling of new foods comes new cravings and opportunities to pack on pounds. Is it possible to enjoy life and eat well without ballooning into a Thanksgiving Day float when cruising along Central Park West? I’ve put this notion to the test and the answer is a resounding yes. But it requires some circumspection as to what enjoying life means to you and how you can find bliss without succumbing to the daily food cravings that flood our consciousness.

After achieving short-term successes with a myriad of yo-yo diets, and giving up meat a decade ago, I noticed I was still packing on the pounds. Even after factoring my dedication to fitness and all those long runs and hours on the elliptical trainer, when I stepped on the scales last December I saw an unfamiliar number of pounds and told myself enough was enough. Even with what I considered a reasonably healthy diet combined with hours of cardio, I kept gaining weight. Maybe you’ve been there, too. For a 5’10 Boomer, any weight under two hundred is not considered all that bad. But, I’m a Guy’s Guy. And as the person who began this movement¾where men and women can be at their best so everyone wins, “not bad” simply was not good enough.

I decided to develop a program, determined to create a fresh new diet regime that did not require purchasing prepared special meals, fasting, or monthly cleanses.

I knew that another short-term diet plan could only yield short-term results. And I know that the older you get the more challenging it is to peel off those pounds. That meant my program needed to deliver long-terms results that enhanced wellness and potentially inspired permanent lifestyle changes and resulting food choices. In other words, I wanted to build a diet plan that functioned as a stepping stone to a healthier lifestyle. I wanted to help men and women be at their best and win, Guy’s Guy style. After a few weeks of mulling this around, I had an epiphany. 

Eating, and eating well comes down to making choices.

At every meal you choose to consume this or that¾ the tuna or the lamb chops, the beer or the club soda, the bacon cheeseburger or the salad. Over time, the results of those choices¾the bad and good, come to fruition. I asked myself, “what if, a little at a time, I eliminated all my bad choices, or at least as many as possible while still enjoying what I was eating?” What if I eliminated one bad choice per week? Heck, over the course of a year, I could slowly but steadily delete more than fifty bad choices. Spreading out the program across a year would avoid the shock to the system of the familiar short-term diet “fixes” that produced short-term results through pain instead of persistence. I had an idea to potentially achieve significant long-term, life-changing results while allowing my body to slowly and steadily adjust to the changes from making better choices.

I call it The Guys’ Guy’s Process of Elimination Diet Plan. I’ve been doing it since the first week of January 2018. More about that later, but first; here’s how it works. Over the course of the year, you eliminate foods from your diet that you know are not good for you. The POE program has two levels¾monthly and advanced. Let’s begin with the monthly, which is doable for anyone with a little willpower and drive.

Add one new food to cut out from your diet every month.

For example, in January you give up ice cream. That means no ice cream for the entire year. Maybe that isn’t so easy, but you want long-term results. In February, you give up something else for the entire year. Let’s say, bacon. You can’t eat ice cream or bacon for the remainder of the year. When March rolls around you’ll need to choose something else, and so on. By the end of the year you will have given up a dirty dozen of foods you know intuitively are not good for you, your waistline and your health. You make the choices you need to make that are right for you. If you give up something like chewing gum, you’re only kidding yourself. You need to commit yourself emotionally and make those tough choices. That’s it.

I believed that over time, the process of eliminating a different “bad” food from your menu of choices would yield positive results beyond shedding a few pounds.

If you eliminate fattening, processed foods with empty calories and little nutrition you will lose weight. But more importantly, over the long haul, I believed that your slimmer body and positive self-image would also reduce its cravings for the non-healthy foods that caused both physical and emotional distress. You will feel and look better. My theory was that the end of twelve months you probably would not be as interested in digging into a bowl of chocolate swirl ice cream. At least that’s the theory.

To provide empirical evidence for my hypothesis, someone had to put this to test. That's where I came in. However, I wanted to raise the stakes—it needed to be done on a weekly basis. To prove my theory, I needed to complete the advanced program that entailed giving something new up every week of the year. By the end of those fifty-two long weeks, I will have given up fifty-two foods I crave, but know are probably not good for me. This could be a monumental challenge. I didn’t know, but I was determined to find out.

I’m past the halfway mark approaching twenty-eight weeks. And I can honestly report that the program is working exactly as I planned. I’ve lost weight through eliminating twenty-eight foods from my diet, and in almost every case, I have fewer cravings, and if things keeping going well, I am not planning on eating them again, or at least not with the same frequency, zeal and passion as in the past.

On January 1st I weighed 196 pounds. As mentioned, I work out regularly, so there has been no change in that area. I will continue to work out because it’s something I enjoy and believe will enhance the results of the program exponentially mostly because I have more energy and am slowly, but steadily shedding weight.

I started my weekly “advanced” POE diet program by eliminating alcohol on week one. Yikes! This was a tough decision, but I mentally braced myself for this sacrifice during the last weeks of December. As a result, I did consumed a bit of tequila and sparkling wine during those final days of 2017. There is no magic to starting the program at the beginning of the year, beyond it being a twelve-month commitment. Like all New Year’s resolutions, you start at the beginning, although most resolutions are left in the dust after a month or two.

And so it began. Let’s take a break here. I will continue next time with a list of the foods I’ve given up and the results of following the POE program to date. I’ll give you one hint. It’s been wild and worth it. Until next time, amigos…

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Supplementation

Robert Manni - Thursday, April 05, 2018


Are you taking more meds than supplements? If the answer is yes, you might consider flipping the script.

I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one of TV. I’m a Guy’s Guy and although I have had real health scares, I’ve learned how to take very good care of myself. Over the past two decades and particularly following two robotic surgeries on my kidneys, I’ve made it my business to research the hell out of taking charge of my health. One of the major learnings is the importance and power of a healthy diet and supplementation. Although it is best to meet our nutritional needs through eating the right foodsorganic whenever possibleit also important to augment specific needs and fill in our nutritional gaps with all-natural organic, raw supplements.

I won’t brag about how much energy I have or how healthy I feel, because I know anything can happen at any time. I thought I was healthy four years ago before my surgeries. Those surgeries sucked, but they were a wake up call. I got through them with flying colors and never looked back. My surgeon told me that my healthy lifestyle and fitness levels were positive factors in my quick recovery.

When I go for my annual check and MRI, I’m asked what meds I take. I tell the nurses I don’t take anything. They usually arch an eyebrow and ask me again because they don’t believe me. So, I tell them I take turmeric so they’ll have something to write down. Turmeric is an all-natural dietary supplement. That’s the kind of meds I take.

In the opinion of your Guy’s Guy, it’s important to consider mixing supplements into your dietary planif you even have one. Again, this is what I do. I’m not suggesting that my choices are necessarily right for you. Do your own research and make your choices. Some studies say supplements are a waste of money. But before taking that to the bank, consider the study and the source of funding for any studies concerning your health and diet. I’ll share what I’ve learned and what works for me. Then it’s up to you, amigo, to do what works best for you.

So let’s get to it. Here is my GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO SUPPLEMENTS

1. Raw One for Men – If I were limited to one supplement, this multivitamin would be my choice. These capsules are filled with organic fruit and vegetable blend featuring beets, broccoli, carrot, spinach, tomato, ginger root, red cabbage, tart cherry, Brussels sprouts, celery, probiotics and enzymes, and on and one. They also offer a women’s version. It’s a raw, whole food based dietary supplement that is easy to absorb and chock full of all the vitamins our bodies need including A, C, D, E, K, etc. There are other good brands out there, but I like this one. It covers it all for me and it’s raw. I take one a day.

2. Pure Turmeric (Curcumin with Black Pepper Extract) – Turmeric is a strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant supplement made from a root. The one I take is “standardized” for high potency and includes all-important black pepper to facilitate the body’s absorption. Studies suggest it is good for liver health, skin care, anti-oxidants, and depression. Do your research before making your choice of a brand and dosage. I take one 750mg capsule a day.

3. Vitamin C 1000mg – Ascorbic acid consumption is not to be overdone, and it is best when ingested through foods, but if you do not eat enough fruits and veggies, one 1000mg’s of organic vitamin C tablet is a solid choice. If I am on the go and do not have a morning shake with Camu Camu powder (raw powder with a mega-dose of natural vitamin C), then I take one of these.

4. Bromelain - Inflammation has been proven to be a primary cause of autoimmune diseases and general sickness. Wellness and nutritional experts recommend we eat foods and supplements that offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Bromelain is also considered helpful for joint health and arthritis. I take one tab a day.

5. Raw Vitamin D- Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin, and we all need a little sunshine. Nowadays, many people either stay out of the sun or cover themselves with sun block do to the Sun’s power ultraviolet rays. Many studies have shown that taking an all-natural vitamin D supplement helps insure we get enough of this mission critical vitamin. The Garden of Life raw version I like is made from a raw fruit and vegetable blend with high omega cracked-wall chlorella and probiotics. I take one 2,000 IU tablet per day.

6. Saw Palmetto Extract – This is for guys. It’s an all-natural herbal supplement that helps with male prostrate health by shrinking the prostate lining. That keeps the prostate in check because it grows slowly and over time can push against a man’s urinary track, forcing us dudes to pee during the night. I take one 320mg gel cap a day.

7. Cold Pressed Organic Flaxseed Oil – We all need omega 3. The most popular forms for supplementation consist of fish oil or flaxseed. I choose flaxseed because to me choosing the right fish oil can feel random. Flaxseed promotes heart health, healthy skin, hair and nails, while supporting the immune system. I take one gel cap a day.

8. Double Strength L-Arginine and Pine Bark Extract – The combination of these two supplements is good for guys. The combination of one pine bark and two L-arginine tablets helps increase blood flow, which is good for men’s sexual health and athletic performance. Better blood flowing, more oxygen, and better boing.

9. Probiotics – Probiotics aid the production of healthy gut bacteria. Studies show that 80% of Americans suffer from a Candida overgrowth of gut flora. Probiotics pour billions of healthy bacteria into our digestive tract that gobble up the Candida that can lead to autoimmune diseases. The gut has been proven to be our second brain so anything we do to keep it in top shape helps us stay healthy.

I take two types: Saccharomyces Boulardii + MOS – a high potency probiotic that supports intestinal tract and survives passage through the stomach and its acids. It features one strain.  Jarro- Dophilus is another brand that includes eight strains.  Do your research to find the right mix for you. I take one of each a day.

10. Mega Hydrate- These tablets or powder are designed to unlock the potential of water as the medium for nutrient replenishment and waste removal at the cellular level. This helps capture antioxidants that can die quickly. It comes in a compressed powder for hydration and antioxidants.

Although there are myriad of supplements to choose from, this is my take and selections. After years of research with my wife, I created this go-to list of supplements. I believe it suits my needs, you may find other options that work for you. Whatever you decide to do, choose organic, raw, natural supplements. They are the purest and contain raw fruit and vegetables as their foundation.

Things have changed, amigo. It is foolhardy to buy and consume only what they sell in boxes and cans down the aisles in supermarkets or at chain restaurants. These goods are marketed to maximize corporate profit at the lowest cost. There is nothing wrong with companies making money, but from my experience working for major food corporations, these companies only change what they offer when consumers demand it.

That’s why we are seeing more and more non-GMO, organic, and healthy versions of old standby products we’ve consumed since we were kids. But nutritionally speaking, we have a long, long way to go. So for now, I take supplements to ensure I get all the nutrients my body needs to keep it healthy and strong.

I’m here to help by sharing my experiences, but ultimately, it’s up to you to take care of yourself.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is Jalen Brunson, AP Men’s College Basketball Player of the Year. Why? I listened to him being interviewed the morning after Villanova won its second NCAA championship in three years. The reporter asked him if he would feast on Philly cheese steaks now the season was over. Brunson hesitated before saying, “I don’t know about that. I need to keep eating healthy.” Yeah, mon!

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Longevity

Robert Manni - Friday, October 06, 2017


I met up with an old friend last night for a couple of beers. We spent half the time watching the Yankees game and the other half discussing our surgeries. This is what happens when boomers age.

We’re all aging and in the toxic environment we live in, shit can happen to us at any time. That’s why we need to be mindful of our choices while we’re aging. Sometimes random bad things happen, like getting hit by a bus, but uncontrollable events aside, we can get a firm grip on how we live and our destiny. Think about the folks you know who are approaching, or are already over fifty. Some look amazing and some look like your parents. Part of this is due to genes, but a lot of it has to do with their lifestyle choices and how they relate to their mind, body and spirit.

I married at fifty and become a father a few years later. As a result I quickly became increasingly mindful about how I was taking care of myself. I want to enjoy as many years as possible with my wife, who is sixteen years younger than me, and my son. And, I have no doubt that I can accomplish this if I do my research and adjust my lifestyle choices going forward. But it’s never that simple. Shit happens. Since I married and became a dad, I’ve had two robotic surgeries on my kidneys and contracted pneumonia. The good news is I have been deemed all clear on the kidney front, and through a deep Ayurvedic medical protocol I also reduced my body’s toxicity by one hundred percent. That means the chances of a recurrence are now even more miniscule than what my western doctors told me. Because of my research and introduction to eastern Ayurvedic medicine I made some changes. Among other things, I take lots of supplements, and overall I’ve gotten into better alignment with my mind, body, spirit, and my truth. Of course I’ll need to stay consistent and remain on this positive lifestyle path, but the benefits so far have been substantial and I feel great. Regardless of my chronological age, I’m a happy, healthy guy.

So what have I learned about aging better that can I share with the world of Guy’s Guys to help them live their very best life? I’ve done my homework, experienced a lot, and even stared into the abyss, so I’m confident I can add value to you if you consider some of the tips in what I’m calling The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Longevity. Here they are in no particular order. Drum roll please…

1. Manage your anger – This is a tough one, especially for me. I’m not the kind of Guy’s Guy who suffers fools lightly. The advertising industry where I worked for decades is filled with very intelligent and creative people, but it can also be a snake pit filled unnecessarily selfish, ego-driven behavior. Many people who work in advertising spend way too much of their time plotting to get ahead at any expense. On the creative side, you’ve got lots of brilliant people who come up with some incredible ideas, and most of them are fun to work with. But as in any business, you’ve also got to work with some major asswipes who, due to their fear-based behavior, act like they are far more talented than they really are. And because the entire industry is predicated on the production and sale of actual products, it’s all too easy for people to fly off the handle when they get frustrated or angry. There’s a lot of stress, and over time it takes its toll. All of the uncertainty about losing an account, which always happens, makes it a highly stressful industry that can chew people up and spit them out quickly. That’s one of the reasons that advertising remains a young-skewing business.

I’ve always believed in focusing on helping clients position and sell their products. That’s it. I become president of one agency and my motto was that as long as the work gets done, there was no reason to sweat. If it sells it sells. If not, we all get canned. So fortunately I didn’t let the business age me too quickly. As my mother says, “this too shall pass” and no truer words were ever stated about the ad business. People come and go all the time so there is no reason to get too pissed off. When someone you work with or a client becomes impossible to deal with, remember that the worm can turn very quickly in this industry.

Taking the issue of anger beyond just work and the ad business, there are still constant challenges that quickly fill our daily anger quotient. In a city like New York, we experience the very best and worst of people almost every day. Since it’s such a fast-paced city, it’s easy to let our emotions get away from us. So when we’re stuck in a crowded subway car filled with manspreading, loud music, dancing kids doing Showtime, or simply rude behavior. It’s important not to let it get to you. If we snap, we may find ourselves in a conflict with a stranger that can turn out badly.

All of the stress from work and simply living in a big city accelerates our aging. So when the going gets shitty and people behave badly, we need to do our best to shake it off and keep moving. But, we can’t keep all our negative emotions bottled up inside. That’s just one more thing that shortens our lifespan. So we have to find ways of letting off steam.

I don’t like carrying around bitterness and anger. I am authentic, honest, and possess keen bullshit radar detection abilities. So people who know me usually pause before bullshitting or lying to me—they know I will call them on it. Is this the right technique for you? You have to find your own way of dealing with the nonsense so you don’t burn up inside. I know I have a temper, so I remain mindful of it at all times. Although I call bullshit, I fly off the hook less and less these days because I know that stress kills.

2. Get your rest – As we get older, we need more rest. Duh. But that’s cool because rest is a good thing, amigos. Over the past decade when possible, I’ve added naps to my daily routine and I’ve found them to be tremendously refreshing. I also try to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. It’s not that hard to do. If you hit the sack at midnight and get up at seven you’ve got your seven hours. Who needs to watch James Corden anyway? Yoga, tai chi, meditation, hypnosis, and reiki are also good practices that allow us to go inside and slow down our thinking, internal monkey chatter, and breathing. All these practices help to support longevity.

3. Hydrate - Ever wonder why many old people look so wrinkly? Studies have shown that eighty percent of Americans are dehydrated. Then compound that with an aging process that also dries us out when our internal liquids evaporate without proper replenishment. I keep a sixty-four ounce container of water on my table every day and make it my goal to finish it. When I do that, I feel great. I also filter the water with a Zero Water jug, take two to four Dr. Patrick Flanagan’s Mega Hydrate capsules, and add Crystal Energy drops for longevity. The capsules hydrate the cells and release hydrogen ions that chase down the millions of free radicals roaming in our bodies. The drops add to the PH level of the water, making it wetter, healthier, and more hydrating. Google Dr. Patrick Flanagan and you’ll get a real eye-opener of information on his under-the-radar anti-aging technology. The bottom line is hydration grows in importance as we age. Stay lubricated, amigos.

4. Reconfigure your diet – I know it’s not easy to become a vegan or go totally organic, but you will surely reap the benefits if you can align your diet to these tenants as much as possible. I’m a long-term pescatarian, but I consume less and less fish as the years go by and my body craves it less and less as a result. I also no longer eat sushi due to a concern about parasites. I’ve eliminated meat and as much dairy, fried foods, caffeine, and sugar as possible and have a lot more energy now. Dropping meat was the big one. I cut out beef, lamb, and pork while weaning myself off of poultry over two years. My body thanks me and I’ve never looked back. After years of eating fake bacon, sausage, etc., I’ve totally dismissed the possibility of consuming meat ever again. I know that does not work for everyone, but if you can eliminate meat and as much sugar and dairy as possible, you’ll feel a major difference within a few short weeks and will probably add a few years to a healthy life.

5. Don’t smoke, cut back on alcohol – I don’t think it’s necessary for me to go into why smoking is not conducive to aging in general. If you still feel a need to smoke weed for recreational purposes, source the cleanest product available if it’s legal in your state, and use a vape or a bong. And, imbibe in moderation. I still enjoy the occasional glass of wine, a craft beer, or a few sips of high-end tequila, but I know drinking alcohol is not a great habit and it certainly does nothing for your longevity. Yeah, yeah, we’ve all read the claims about some study claiming that a glass of red wine every day is great for you or about that crusty one hundred year old guy who claims drinking whiskey has been his key to longevity. But do you believe it? Your best path is to arm yourself with scientific facts and make your choices base on what feels right for you. Cheers.

6. Keep moving – Over the years, life takes its toll on our bodies and many of us break down from overuse or abuse. How many people do you know who are over fifty years old that are still pounding the pavement on long runs, or take classes at Barry’s Boot Camp? I’ve found that being consistent with my fitness, which means never really falling out of shape, has allowed me to continue enjoying some rigorous workouts and long runs into my fifties and beyond. Am I lucky? Yes. But I’ve also made some of my own luck by taking care of my body, mind and spirit over all these decades. I began doing push-ups every morning during my teens and I still pound out between fifty and seventy-five almost day. Am I bragging? Maybe a little bit, but so what? The point is that with a little luck we can keep rolling with the same fitness routines if we take care of our bodies during our twenties, thirties and forties.

7. Keep on the sunny side of life – You’ve got your anger under control, you’re eating well, getting your rest, meditating, hydrating, exercising, and not smoking, drinking or eating meat. Congratulations! I’m sure you’re feeling pretty darn good. But, the true catalyst to enhance and maximize the wellness factor in the aging process is maintaining a positive attitude. Of course this isn’t always easy in our highly dysfunctional culture. But it’s possible. And you can do it if you put in the effort. Start by adding meditation to your daily routine and periodically unplug from the Internet, the media, and the waves of toxic negativity that permeate our collective consciousness. Remember this. The only thing that truly matters is right now. You are alive. You are reading this post. You are doing a lot better than you give yourself credit for. Relax, amigo. It’s going to be okay. Play your cards right and you can live a long healthy life. Salud!

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is yogi Kazim Gurbuz who is 95 years old now and looks like a fifty-year old. He claims through proper nutrition and yoga practices we can live to 130. Maybe he’s right.  Would you settle for 100? I’ll see you there. 

What I've Learned Walking with Pneumonia

Robert Manni - Thursday, September 14, 2017


I was working on post about losing ten pounds in ten days naturally when I realized there was a problem.

I was finishing up my weekly eight-mile run when I tripped and fell headfirst on the boardwalk in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. This was unlike me. I rarely lose my balance, but it was the second time in a month that I fell down at the end of my run. I thought about it as I walked along the beach towards my cooling off dip in the ocean. For some reason today the water and breeze was cold. After my swim I did a little energy work while standing on the shoreline. I breathed slowly as I ran energy into my left hand, throughout my body and finally out my right hand into my crown. I felt chilled as I walked to my beach house, now recalling how my runs had been shorter than usual over the past month and how rare it was for me to trip and fall twice during that time. Something was wrong.

That afternoon the cough I had been experiencing over the past week became more persistent. And that night I felt cold as I hacked while propped up in bed like Doc Holliday. I woke up in the middle of the night cold, yet drenched in sweat and feeling awful. Yep, something was wrong. We stayed at the beach for one more day, but I felt like crap, experiencing more coughs, a hot forehead and loss of appetite. Over the past few weeks I’d begun cleaning up my diet and stopped drinking alcohol. I was steadily losing weight and assumed my body was going through machinations of a detoxification program. But, this was something more. I paid close attention to my body. It told me to get back to New York. So I did, but I was still not well. No matter how much I took it easy I maintained a fever, a now brutal and persistent cough that gave a vicious headache. It was so severe I felt like I was in the NFL concussion protocol. Whatever was happening to me was far more than a few side effects from a detox. I was sick and now I unsure if I could work my way through whatever it was that had taken hold of me.

When we returned to the city I spent the next few days climbing in and out of bed with the same, now escalating, symptoms. I foolishly maintained hope that I could regain my health this way, but my symptoms continued getting worse. Finally I contacted my doctor, but had to wait two endless days for an appointment. The afternoon I headed off to the doctor’s office I was a mess. I stumbled along the streets of Manhattan, couching and wheezing uncontrollably. After discussing the situation with my doctor, he checked me out, took my temperature (I had a fever) and ordered a chest x-ray. A few hours later to my surprise I found out that I had a case of walking pneumonia. WTF!

Thankfully, now I knew what I was facing. Armed with prescriptions for two antibiotics, I began taking the meds immediately. Pneumonia is a bacterial infection of the lungs. It’s not something that your body can easily seek and destroy. In this case meds were necessary. It’s been close to a week now since I was diagnosed and started the meds and each day I have experienced a major improvement. I did not stay in bed all day. I cut back on my schedule and did a modified version of my usual routine and activities at a slower pace. Nothing matters when you are really sick except getting well. It really puts your priorities in order. So, I had no booze, no exercise, no big meals, etc. I began sleeping better and after five days stopped waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat on cool damp sheets. I dialed things down and kept it simple and as a result am slowly, but steadily getting better. I’ll finish the meds in another few days and go for a follow up x-ray next month. Things are looking good so I thought I would share what I have learned from the experience, Guy’s Guy style.

1. Don’t be a hero - If you are like me and live a holistic lifestyle, you make good choices in your diet, and for your mental and spiritual well being. That keeps me healthy naturally and aids life extension. But, random things happen and you can get sick at any time. My surprise bout with walking pneumonia is a prime example of how no matter how well we take care of ourselves, shit can still happen. I live in a big dirty city and I take the filthy subway almost every day. Maybe some random person coughed in my direction or sneezed on the subway car handle I was holding. Airborne bacteria is everywhere in this dirty town. I was very healthy yet I contracted pneumonia.

While I was feeling like death that week I asked my guides for help and I got it. I realized I needed to see a doctor and get some good old western medicine and drugs. I waited too long, but eventually I came around and got checked out before thing got worse. Now I am on the mend. Regardless of my steadfast belief in prevention as the best defense against illness, I made the right decision to see the doctor and take the meds. There’s a reason that people died at thirty-five a hundred years ago.

 

2. Take time to heal – After I fell on the boardwalk for the second time I knew something was wrong. Upon circumspection it registered in my mind that my daily ritual of 75 push-ups, my runs and my cardio workouts had been tougher than usual during August. I chalked it up to age, but now I know it was something else. Once that reality kicked in, I shut down all physical activities until I get back to my usual robust health. I have been working out consistently for decades so the break will do me good. When I return to them hard work I will be recharged and I’ll take it slow until I reach my usual peak level of boomer fitness. One step at a time. amigo.

 

3. Consider the spiritual meaning of your illness - Believe it or not, there is a strong connection between your spiritual and emotional states and your health. The root of sickness transcends the physical body. Each time I’ve contracted a serious illness I’ve checked out a few websites and books that explain the connection between specific issues and their manifestations in the physical body.  Apparently pneumonia is a result of unresolved emotional issues and some underlying feelings of desperation. I have been working diligently to raise my frequency, and it is no easy task in our crazy world, especially since I’ve taken the leap and pointed my career in an entirely new direction after decades on the corporate track with well-paying jobs. I have a wife and a kid now too, so at times the pressure feels stifling. Nevertheless, I will persevere and create the life of service that I have chosen to experience.

 

4. Use your down time to make changes – I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick, I’m not that hungry. My usual daily intake consists of homemade soups and lots of water and organic tea. After a week of this diet, I hopped on the scale and had lost five pounds. Yay! I cut out junk, booze, pizza and ice cream and am sticking with fresh fruits, organic smoothies and maybe some fish or a light snack for dinner. Pretty soon I had lost twelve unwanted pounds. So, instead sitting back and taking it on the chin all day and night, I found a way to be creative and get something out of being sick. It’s not always easy when you fell like shit, but it can be done.

 

5. Ask for help. Show gratitude – The day after my diagnosis, I knew I had to acknowledge, thank and love my pneumonia before asking it to leave me. It might sound crazy, but love works better than engaging in battling an illness. Illnesses are signals from your body and spirit that something is wrong and it needs to be addressed.  I’m not suggesting that you allow an autoimmune illness eat away your body. What I am suggesting is to recognize that something is wrong, showing love for the illness (yes, I now it sounds crazy but it works), and then thank it and ask it to leave.

This is one of the most important lessons I have ever learned about health and it has always worked for me. And it’s a practice that ninety-nine percent of people ignore. We are trained to “fight” our enemies instead of loving and learning from them before releasing them. If you consider yourself spiritual or a follower of a major religion, love is a core component of their foundation, and that includes love for your enemy. It does not mean that you don’t defend yourself. No, it means you recognize the divinity in every person and everything your encounter in this life. Only then you can release it from your realm and send it back to God or the Universe or whatever you believe is out there. Love your sickness, look for the teaching, and ask it to leave.

Am I one hundred percent better now? Not yet, but I’m on a steady path back to health. I no longer have a fever, night sweats, chills, and that ceaseless hacking cough. And I am breathing a lot better. Who gets the opportunity to appreciate something as easy to overlook as breathing? I did, and now I’m more thankful than ever for each and every breath I take.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is yours truly. Looking beyond the fevers, chills, unbearable bouts of coughing, intense headaches, and shortness of breath, I’ve learned so much from my bout with walking pneumonia. I learned about my body, my faith and spiritual developmental needs, and how to blend an eastern-based preventive lifestyle with the technology of western medicine as necessary. I am on the fast track to recovery and thankfully my family has been supportive and thankfully they have remained healthy. Who would have thought I could learn so much from a random bout of pneumonia?

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Conquering Anxiety

Robert Manni - Thursday, July 13, 2017


Unless you’re entering an actual lion’s den, fear is a fleeting emotion created in the mind. But in these uncertain times of fear-based news and media, many folks live with an omnipresent feeling of anxiety.

Even the word “anxiety” sounds uncomfortable. Wikipedia defines it as an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behavior, like pacing back and forth, somatic complaints, and rumination. Shit, I feel nervous already. So how can we manage our nervous pangs and the feelings of dread that can creep into our consciousness? Let me tell you a story…

I recently had a bout with anxiety that had been triggered years ago when I was trapped alone in an office elevator for close to an hour. Before this occurred, I had never had any thoughts of discomfort about tight spaces. But after that incident, I realized that the mind could play tricks and allow fear to grab hold of our consciousness. In most cases, the old adage “there is nothing to fear except fear itself” rings true, but we all have triggers that cause mental and physical discomfort, and waves of anxiety. It might be a fear of heights, tight spaces, spiders, snakes, clowns, or situations like losing a job, money, or your lover. Today, your Guy’s Guy is drawing on his personal experiences and bouts of anxiety to serve up a few tips that may help you deal with that nasty stuff in your head. Here goes…

Ever since I was trapped alone in an elevator for close to an hour, my mind has played games on me when I’m faced with really tight spaces. Being a certified advanced clinical hypnotist, after the elevator incident, I made sure I practiced what I preached and got help from one of my teachers. It made a huge difference, but like all hypnosis, the patient needs to take an active role in overcoming his issues.

Although hypnosis wiped away most of the residual claustrophobia, I did a double take the first time I saw an MRI machine online. I was due for back-to-back robotic surgeries and needed MRI’s prior to and after both operations. After that, I would need annual MRI’s for the next five years. The first time I saw that tube on my computer I was hit with a wave of anxiety. Requiring two robotic surgeries on my kidneys was stressful enough without adding multiple stints in the MRI tube. None of this had ever been in my purview. My world had been turned upside down when I was diagnosed. I needed to get a grip on my mental, physical, and spiritual facilities, pronto.

I thought I had moved past any discomfort with tight spaces—I took the subway almost every day—but the thought of sliding into that tube was troubling. I was expecting to be in there for about five minutes, but I was wrong. The first time I was in the tube it would be for forty-five minutes.

Inside the tube, I laid with my eyes closed listening to the distant voice of the technician telling me to breathe in, hold my breath, and breathe out while disturbingly loud noises from the machine clanged through my head. It was awful and it was just the beginning. What could I do?

I looked inside myself and I asked for help. I had to get a handle on this quick and take charge of my emotions. So, after the first session, I reviewed the details of my entrance form and realized I had foolishly agreed to take part in a research study. I said, sure, without inquiring what this entailed, only to discover that my participation in the test required me to spend twice the amount of time in the tube. Even though I had checked the box for claustrophobia on my form, I let myself be convinced to be part of a study to help other patients.

So I called the test center, raised hell, and got out of the test. Based on my claustrophobia, they never should have asked me to participate in the first place. But, I learned that as a patient, you have to fully participate in the process and all of the decisions you make concerning your care. Fortunately, the next test was only twenty minutes. And I was better mentally prepared for the series of MRI’s that were in my immediate future.

How did I handle my anxiety? I asked myself what else I could do and then realized that I’d done my best. What I needed most at this juncture was to stay alert and trust the process. Six weeks and two robotic surgeries later, I set out to heal and learn from the experience. And I really did. I had faced the abyss, not even knowing the fate of my right kidney when I went under the anesthesia, and came out fine. What I learned from my fear and anxiety had ultimately made me stronger.

A year went by and I forgot about the MRI until about a month before it was time to slide back in the tube again. I was caught off guard by new pangs of anxiety, but this time I felt more prepared. I placed a call to the center and made sure I had been eliminated from the test study. But the day of the test, when I saw the tube, I took a step back. It looked way smaller than the tube used the previous year. I took a deep breath and slid in dutifully. I choose classical music for my earphones, kept my eyes closed, and repeated The Violet Flame Invocation— “ I am a being of violet fire. I am the purity God desires” as I listened to the tech’s directions. Although in my mind the tube felt tight, I was handling it okay until the machine malfunctioned. I didn’t know what was going on, but it felt like something wasn’t right. I called out to the technician, but no answer. Waves of anxiety poured enveloped me. I squeezed the ball they gave me to signal the techs to slide me out of the machine. At first, even that did not work. Then, finally I was moving.

Once out of the tube, I was told the machine had malfunctioned and I’d have to wait outside until another machine became available. WTF!? I sat waiting nervously in my gown and socks for the next half hour. I was totally off my game when they summoned me the second time. This time, the machine looked bigger. (Later I found out that it actually was.) I lay down, did my best to get into my zone, and got through it. Afterwards, I let out a sigh of relief and headed home. Fortunately my results were once again clear and I was free for another year.

Fast-forward to 2017. I had only three more MRI’s to go before shifting to an annual ultrasound. For some reason, about a month before my test, I began having anxiety about my upcoming procedure. I needed to get my shit together and get ahead of the game. I recalled what had occurred the prior two years and wondered what screw-ups and dread awaited me this time. I went through my mental checklist and made the necessary adjustments. This time I would wear boxer shorts because they were more comfortable in the tube. Check. I also got my blood test and results ahead of time. Check. Then, remembering what seemed to me to be varying sizes of the MRI tubes, I called the center and asked if I was scheduled for the larger tube I had the previous year, following the first tube’s malfunction. The administrator informed me that I was scheduled for the small tube again.

“What is wrong with these people?” I thought. After all, the previous year I had again checked the box for claustrophobia. I had assumed that people are mindful about their jobs. Nope. Finally management switched me to one of the big tubes. I knew which one to request in subsequent years. Check. The morning of the test I asked myself what the hell I was so concerned about. After all, there was really no way I could be harmed during the test. There were aides and technicians everywhere, and I had the signal ball to squeeze if I was freaking out and needed to come out of the tube for a break. Although I may have had reason for my mental anguish, I realized that my anxiety self-induced and all in my head. As soon as I got through to my subconscious, I was ready to go.

This time the test went as smooth as silk. I repeated my violet flame affirmation, but I also asked my guides and angels to be there with me. In fact, I could feel their presence and felt light and protected as a cool breeze from the machine blew up my boxer shorts. The twenty minutes flew by, and the results were all clear. I also picked up one more trick—instead of using the cumbersome headphones next time I’ll ask for the ear buds during the test because they’re lighter and less restricting. So now I know that, too.

Okay, this has been a long story, and thanks for hanging in there. The point is that there are ways to deal with anxiety. Want proof? Here I am, alive, healed, and stronger than ever. In fact, I’m running my usual 6.2-mile loop of Central Park in the same time as I did prior to my surgeries three years ago. I’m sure you will have your own challenges to face, but when you do, consider these steps to power through the situation and come up better than ever.

1. Be prepared – The more you learn about and know the practical aspects about what you’re facing, the less uncertainty there is and the better off you’ll be. Putting the randomness of human error aside, at least you’ll know you did what you could to address your fears and the scenarios you’re facing.

2. Ask what’s the worst that can happen? – If you’re really freaked out, take a few deep breaths, calm down and ask your higher self, what’s the worst scenario you might be facing. Then consider the best possible outcome. I’ll bet that the worst outcome is highly unlikely and in many cases not that probable, or that awful. Keeping a positive frame of mind helps create a positive outcome. When we think about only the bad stuff, that’s what happens. Manage your energy and your vibe. It matters.

3. Learn from your experience – Having a painful kidney stone, two robotic surgeries, and all the follow up procedures, including the dreaded MRI’s, has, in a crazy way, actually been a blessing. I am a different person now, and hopefully a stronger and better person. I’m not as fearful, and I now realize I have more power than I previously believed.

4. Ask for help – Despite the loneliness we all experience from time to time, we are not alone. Not only are we all connected, but we also have spiritual entities looking out for us. If you’re a believer, don’t be afraid to call on them.

5. Say WTF and go for it – After you have done your research, considered the possibilities, gotten your head together, and asked for help, the only thing left to do is to be like Nike and just do it. It’s called life, amigo, and we all have to face some shit. Believe me, adversity can make you stronger and more resilient. Believe in yourself.

This week’s GUY’S GUY OF THE WEEK is Daniel. You know, the guy from the Old Testament who had his faith tested when asked to enter the lion’s den. Now that’s major anxiety. But as he demonstrated, faith and love can conquer fear.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Slowing Down

Robert Manni - Thursday, May 11, 2017


Let’s face it. Modern life moves too damn quickly.

We work too hard and sleep too little. We get to bed too late and get up too early.  As soon as we enter the office, we’re slammed with deadlines and requests. Hey world, we need more time to handle all the shit you throw our way. When life moves too quickly and we don’t pump the brakes now and then, we head towards a breakdown. Heck, even a Guy’s Guy gets uptight when there’s too much to do and not enough time deal with everything on his plate. To keep our skills sharp, every so often we need a respite and some chill. That’s why I’m serving up The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Slowing Down, with ways to find refuge inside our hyper-paced world. Life is a gift. So let’s make it our business to get the job done and have enough time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Drum roll please…

1. Unplug – Between our phones, iPads, and laptops, we’re plugged in 24/7. Studies show that 80% of millennials sleep with their phones next to their bed. This is an unhealthy way to soak up poisoning radiation all night and prevent a good night’s sleep. While it’s true that we need to stay plugged in most of the time, it’s good to take a break every so often. I live in NYC, and unlike many folks I see, I don’t constantly wear ear buds while I’m on the go. I like to read on my phone, but the city itself provides more than enough stimulation. And frankly, isn’t one of the reasons we live in New York to take in the show that is the city itself? If I need to mentally check out while I’m in transit I read, repeat affirmations and mantras, or send blessings to my fellow travelers. Studies show that one person’s consciousness impacts a vast number of people. You really can make a difference. So, turn off that mind-scrambling video game, calm down, and stay present.

2. Get more sleep – I know it’s easier said than done, but finding even an extra hour for sleep can do wonders for your mind, body, and spirit. Sleep helps your body rejuvenate and also helps you lose weight. A quiet mind is also more apt to stoke creativity and solve problems. So try hitting the sack an hour earlier, without watching TV or bringing your phone into your bedroom for a few weeks. I’ll bet you’ll feel better in the morning.

3. Walk, take the stairs, run – If I’m within ten blocks of my destination and I have the time, I always walk. I love the city and walking provides great opportunities for people watching, clearing my head when I’m stressed out, and getting my metabolism flowing. I also recommend finding time for quick a walk after lunch. It helps digestion and can help put things into perspective when you’re having a tough day.  I’m a runner and to me there is no better mental getaway than a jaunt around the outer loop of Central Park or a boardwalk. I’ve managed to slow my mind down to the point that I break down complex issues and piece things back together including solving complex plot points for an entire novel.

4. Meditate – Regardless of how busy our lives get, it’s important to find a little time each day to get calm and centered. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, make it a habit to sit quietly and go inside. Just a few minutes will enhance your mental energy, empathy, and focus. I’ve been doing this for so long that I shut down even on a crowded subway. Meditating makes the city more tolerable and helps me think clearly and creatively.

5. Make time to eat – Like most Guy’s Guys, I love chowing down. But I also like to taste, chew, and savor my food. I know fast food is meant to be eaten fast. That’s why I don’t eat fast food. It’s made fast, it doesn’t satisfy or nurture my body, and there is really nothing there to savor. Therefore, I eschew fast food at lunch in favor of salads, green shakes, a wrap or a veggie burger. No matter how busy I am I do my best to push away from the computer and find a quiet respite for lunch so I can clear my thoughts and enjoy my food. Afterwards I usually take a few minutes to walk around before returning to my work. If you make it your business to slow down the pace of your day, you can make it work.

6. Don’t rush love – In today’s tech-driven dating world, singles are in a rush to see how many people they can date in a month, a week, or even a night. As a result, they often lose our perspective about why they are dating in the first place. I’ve found that investing some time in getting to know the person you’re dating before rushing into a relationship or into bed makes sense. Forget about obsessing over how quickly you can get a woman into the sack or even the three-date rule. If it’s meant to be, it will happen. All you need to do is pay attention, amigo. In her own way, she will let you know. And if you play your cards right, it might even be on the first date. This isn’t the Olympics. Just have fun and get to know her, take your time, and be present.

I could keep going and going, but my point is clear—modern life moves too fast and we need to slow down. And if you can slow down enough you’ll know how important it is to slow down. Yeah, I said that. See you next week.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Trailanga, a yogi who reportedly lived to the ripe old age of 280 by slowing his metabolism down through slowing down his breathing and other yoga practices. 

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Staying Sane

Robert Manni - Thursday, April 06, 2017


Can you recall a crazier time in our lives than right now? Probably not.

Between every excruciating day of chaos ushered in by our new president, global terror, rising health care costs, homelessness, weekend subway service in NYC, an endless winter, GMO’s infesting our food, drone-like jobs with longer hours and less pay, it’s a tough time to be alive. People are stressed out, tired, unfocused, hyper, and stretched to the human limits. This is not how things are supposed to be, amigos. I’m actually surprised our society hasn’t completely melted down.

More and more I read about disclosure and how our planet is on the verge of a major change for the better. But when you are under a constant assault of fear by the media and the powers that be, no one would blame you for feeling life is uninspiring and becoming a long, slow downward spiral.

What’s a Guy’s Guy to do? Lots. With the hope of contributing to your mental, physical and spiritual wellness, I’ve pulled together a punch list of ten things you can do when your world appears to have gone absolutely bonkers. I call it, The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Staying Sane. Here’s my list in no particular order.

Drum roll, please…

1. Breathe – That’s right. Breathe. When you are on edge, even the smallest slight can trigger you into overreacting and regretting things later. If your latest Facebook post puts you on the receiving end of the social media trolls or your boss is sabotaging you because you can do her job better than she can, don’t take the bait. Take a few slow breaths, hold, and release. Breathe and repeat. Try this slow breathing when riding the subway or the bus and within a few minutes your mind will calm down. It’s a good start.

2. Ease up on social media – I don’t know about you, but my feed features a polarizing gamut of spiritual articles and memes, sports and culture, and partisan political posts. After asking myself why do I care what my grammar schoolmates post about Trump, I began unfollowing, and at times unfriending and blocking those I found annoying. I feel better. It’s a start to regaining my sanity. I’ve found that endlessly scrolling Facebook and Twitter makes us anxious, like we’re all on pins and needles waiting for that post or tweet that’s going to make everything better in our lives. It’s making people crazy. Sure, I enjoy videos of the kitty that scared off the alligator and the kid with no arms who sank a 3-point shot. But there’s too much weird activity on Earth to keep up with while trying to be productive. So get a grip, amigo, holster that phone, and push away from your computer screen. Live your life offline.

3. Turn off the news – Whether it’s online or on your television, there’s an endless feed of news and propaganda spewed at us all day. Have you ever wondered why you see the same stories on most of the networks? It’s because a handful of organizations own the news outlets. They decide what stories are worthy and how long to pound them into our consciousness. Right now it’s all about Russia, Trump, the latest global terror strikes and other stories that instill fear. Those topics have legs, while other topics like fixing our environment and safeguarding our food supply are ignored. I’m not suggesting we turn a blind eye to what’s happening in the world, but we need to remind ourselves that there is an agenda. We’re served what they want to feed us. So it’s important to our mental health to consume news in moderate, manageable doses or else risk depression. After all, you still need to submit that updated Excel sheet with the Q3 projections by close of business tomorrow.

4. Get outside – Nothing brings me more sanity than getting out of my crib. When it’s cold and dreary, it’s tough to push yourself out the door. But, when you stay inside there are too many temptations to flip on the TV or laptop. A walk in the fresh air brings a new perspective and is very helpful for calming down.

5. Exercise – When the world seems to be going crazy, a workout or a run in the park provide a hard to beat mental, physical, and spiritual respite from all the stress. I prefer a long run to clear my head. Others like yoga or spin classes, stretching, cardio or free weights to decompress. Whatever you choose is fine. Like they say, just do it. Sex is a good exercise also.

6. Meditate – Meditation has many benefits. Besides relaxing and clearing the mind, meditation gives the physical body an opportunity to heal from the duress of modern life. And of course, it also allows us to get in touch with our inner consciousness and higher self. Even if you can only spare a few minutes a day, find time to meditate. You’ll see a difference in how you view the world.

7. Appreciate art – Thank God for artists. They reflect our world in so many ways while allowing our minds to process life through a fresh lens. It doesn’t matter if you are reading a novel, wandering through a museum, watching an indie film, or listening to jazz. Taking time to appreciate the arts always provides a needed mental break from the craziness and helps us see our world and plight with a different perspective.

8. Create something  Putting your focus into personal expression keeps the cray cray away. Writing, singing, painting, sewing, chanting, or even sculpting your body are wonderful outlets to let off steam and express how you feel about what’s gong on in the world and your personal experience. These all take a concentration and getting into a zone where you’re focused on building something instead of simply processing information. Creativity is a safe haven from a messed up world.

9. Engage with other people – Deep conversations with a friend, laughter, hugging it out, and sex are proven ways to de-stress and stay sane. And they’re usually fun.

10. Service – Extending oneself to others, even in small ways has a ripple effect. Doing good makes the world a better place, and a less crazy place. Sharing your knowledge, being a mentor, volunteering, or even giving accordion players a buck all helps make the world a better place.

These are just a few ways we can keep our sanity in an increasingly dysfunctional culture. The media and the powers that be want us to live in fear and see one another as separate. The truth is that underneath the surface everyone is connected and we have a lot of collective power. Stay positive and control your thoughts. You are not crazy.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is the Dalai Lama. Throughout his life he has managed to maintain wisdom, calm, and equilibrium in the face of the endless challenges that have been thrown his way.


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