Masculinity and Body Dysmorphia

Not too long ago, I reviewed a book by Lewis Howes titled The Mask of Masculinity.  This book was a look into the different masks men wear to hide themselves and give the impression of their idea of masculinity. It is a great read for both men and women, and it is a book I look forward to reading again, as it truly spoke to me.

Growing up, I was relentlessly picked on for being smaller or skinnier than everyone else. Even to this day, people comment on how skinny I am and how “lucky” I am that I can eat whatever I want  and never seem to gain weight. What they do not understand, is that for me, this is not a compliment. I struggle with this, just as someone who struggles to actually lose weight constantly feels every time they look in a mirror or step on  a scale.  After years and years of being picked on, never being able to gain weight, and personally thing sin my life, the last couple years it all came crashing down on me.

I was a high school and collegiate swimmer and was always in great shape. Sure I was skinny, but I was fit. Now I am a father of two and I workout most days of the week, but I do not feel the same. I SEE that when I step on the scale I am near the ideal weight I always wanted. But when I look in the mirror, I have trouble seeing what I am supposed to see. My arms are skinny, my tummy looks like pudge and I just do not like the overall look and form. Because I grew up playing sports and the athletic kids were always the popular ones, I somewhere along the way combined them together and now I struggle with untying my masculinity to strength, physique and athleticism. I often fight the urge to cry when I see myself in the mirror, and just hope that somebody notices how hard I have been working in the gym, or provides a genuine compliment that lifts me up.

I think it is strange for many people to think of body dysmorphia in this way, as for most, it is an issue with trying to lose weight and always seeing themselves as overweight. But the truth is, the ectomorphs (such as myself) struggle with this too. We struggle with how we look. We struggle with our masculinity. We just simply struggle with all aspects of weight gain, loss and muscle.

So the real question is: why am I sharing this. Where is this pointless narrative going and what does it have to do with who I am as a person and bettering myself. Well for one, as one of my daily struggles, I want to share with others that men struggle with this too. And not just overweight people, but skinny people too. Also, I am hoping to inspire others to work their system and find the truth in it all. I know that my masculinity is not tied to this (as hard as that is for me to believe), but more than anything I do not want my kids to feel the same way. My daughter is 6 and my son is 4 and I want them to always have a positive image of themselves and not let others get to them. I want to show them that even if lacking muscles, I am strong in my heart and strong in my head, and hope to lead by example for them too.

Do you or someone you know struggle with body images, or have a story similar to mine? I would love to hear how toy work on this and steps you take to keep a positive mind. Feel free to share below and help to inspire others who are struggling and want to better themselves too.

Have a great day!

Book Review: The Mask of Masculinity

A couple years ago, I started listening to a Podcast titled “The School of Greatness.” I discussed this podcast in one of my previous Book Review posts, as the talent behind that podcast, also wrote a book of the same name. The podcast itself was fantastic as it provided motivation to myself to better myself and find my best me. As I struggled on my journey to find happiness, the podcast and book itself helped guide me and for that, I feel I will always be grateful to Lewis Howes.

Through listening to his podcasts and following his stories on Instagram, I learned a lot about a new book he was working on, that explored men and their problems with masculinity. To be honest, at first I wrote it off. I was picked on a lot as a child and a teen, but felt I ultimately got  over most of it. However, with everything I have been dealing with in the past year, a lot of the problems resurfaced, and through therapy, it was determined that a lot of this landed in the realm of masculinity.

It got to a point I was asking my wife to give me compliments because I felt so low. I am a male, battling body dysmorphia and feeling very un-masculine and I am struggling with it. So with these issues coming to the surface, I decided to read the book. Having now finished the book, I could not be any happier with my decision to do so. The book explores the different types of “masks” we wear as men, by relying on humor, or stoicism. The mask we wears as athletes, husbands, fathers and sons. Each chapter I felt myself finding little things about myself I never realized was an issue. From what you think of when someone asks you to describe a “man,” to how you perceive yourself.

When I was in High School and college I was a competitive swimmer and spent a majority of my time working out and from that was always in shape and had unrealistic ideals of what I should look like. Being around certain people and wanting to be around them has given me the wrong idea of what a “man” is and how those though processes are damaging to not only myself, but my children as well.

As the father of both a son and daughter, I feel it is my duty to better myself to teach them both what a real man is. A real man is not a body builder or a bearded grizzly man that can fix anything that breaks. Not every man can fix a car, or every plumbing issues. Not every man an bench press more than their weight or sleep with every woman he meets. Men come in all shapes and sizes and what is most important is that a real man is a father to his children and a husband to his wife (or husband). A real man treats other people with respect and leads by example. I want my kids to know how a man should act. If my children end up with a man as adults, then I hope that man treats them right, the way I show them by treating my wife. If they have kids, I hope they know how a man should treat his children.

Now a lot of this sounds obvious, but I would not be surprised at how many men know this but still struggle with the various masks that “masculinity” makes us wear. Every man is battling something to overcome. For me, this book was a beacon that helped show me the way to practice what I believed and to be a real “man.”

If anyone is interested in reading this book, I would strongly recommend checking it out on Amazon, or in your nearest book store. This book is also NOT just for men, as women can benefit fromt his as well, especially those that support or want to support their man and help him through all of this as well. Lewis does a great job at the end of every chapter highlighting ways to overcome the various masks and how the women in our lives can assist us as well.

Have you read this book or perhaps “School of Greatness?” If so, please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Or perhaps there is another book similar to this you recommend? I would love to hear about it! Also, please be sure to check out Lewis on Social Media (he is very active on Instagram.)

Please subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

New Year, New Me and New Goals

Here we are on January 19th, and I am just getting around to my first post of the year. I am sure by now all the real bloggers have shared their New Year posts, listing out all of their goals and resolutions for the year. And just as I predicted in one of my very first blog posts, I have already fallen off the wagon a bit and have been slow to post. The truth is, things are going much better in my life and I have not felt the need to “release” as much. I have noticed that the happier I am, the less time I spend on my computer or phone, the less time I spend on Social Media and in turn, the less time I seem to have to write here. Not that unhappiness causes me to do any of those things, I just seem to… seem to… I dunno, just seem to be more content in the moment.

However, just because things are going well in my life, doesn’t mean I can just sit back and relax and let it ride. No, I still have SO MUCH WORK to do (on myself). And I am not one that likes to set New Years Resolutions, so I do not. What I DO like to do is examine my life and take a look at what has been working for me and what is not and then focus on improving myself in those areas.

I know that at the beginning of 2017, my marriage was on the rocks and by the end of the year things were going really well. I want to continue working with my fe to improve our communication and our relationship.

I do enjoy writing these blog posts sometimes, so I hope to write more. I am not going to set a limit of “X posts” per week, but instead hope to share my life and journey with you. I am reading a new book now I will share with you shortly, as well as another “letter to myself.” I hope to also provide updates of what I am learning in therapy and how my therapist is helping me be a better person.

With that, I plan to continue going to therapy and learning more about myself and doing what I can to improve myself as a person, a husband and a father.

Lastly, I want to continue my journey to a new career. I took a few prerequisite classes this last year to prepare for school, but I have decided to push starting school back one more year. I am not afraid and it is not that I am uncertain. On the contrary, as every day goes by I want that career more and more (I am leaning heavily towards a Sports Psychologist or Family Therapist), but timing is a fickle bitch. Over the holidays and this last week we discovered mold in our house (that our insurance will not cover) and I got into a car accident (I am fine) which will raise my insurance premiums. My wife and I are planning a trip to Costa Rica (our 10 year anniversary is this year and after our last year, we simply deserve it) and there is a lot of stuff we want/need to do to our house. SO by putting school off, we can make sure that not only are we more in a financially stable place, but it gives us a bit more time to work on our marriage and really strengthen it to where it belongs.

I am looking forward to 2018 and sharing my journey and hopefully inspiring you along the way. Please share some of your goals for 2018 and life moving forward, as I would love to hear them!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Letter to Myself: 14 Years Old

Not too long ago, I wrote an article here that contained a letter to a younger version of myself. The writing of it was quite therapeutic and in that moment I decided I was going to do this a couple times, targeting various ages and turning points in my life. The first post in this series was when I was 8 years old. I had just moved to California, leaving a lot of my family and close friends behind. In the year I moved to California I went to 2 different schools and lived in 2 houses, forcing myself to make new friends all around, a few of which I am still friend with today.

Deciding on the next age range to write about was not easy, as the next 5 years of my life were difficult, as they are for anyone. I made it through Elementary school with headgear and neck-gear, braces and retainers. I then got into Middle School, had my Bar Mitzvah and overall just had a hard time fitting in. Because of this, I decided to write to my 14 year old self. One year removed from my Bar Mitzvah and the end of my Middle School life in 8th grade and the start of High School and a new direction that would change my life.

Hello 14 year old me,

Life has been interesting these last few years, hasn’t it? As I write to you from your future, I know how difficult things were for you. To say you went through an awkward phase would be selling it short. But, who isn’t going through an awkward phase right now? You started off with a big growth spurt, taller than all of your friends, but then it seemed everyone else went through puberty before you… but don’t worry, you will get there.

Now that you are 14, life is really going to change for you. 8th grade will be fun. You will rule the school and be on top. You will also be on the basketball team, and although you will not play much, the coach will reward you for your heart and effort. Never lose that (seriously). If I could give you any advice, I would really say to pay attention to your school work, especially on the foreign languages. I know its not easy, but you will truly appreciate being able to speak another language later in life.

Aside from working hard in school, keep a good head on your shoulder. Sure this year you will be the king of the school in 8th grade, but next year it is off to high school where you will be the bottom of the barrel. High School will be an interesting time for you as you will hang out with the wrong crowd. Not that you get into trouble, but you actually think you are cooler than you actually are, and the people you try to hang out with, will often wonder why you are with them. You will give up all sports this year and focus primarily on swimming, which will be a huge decision. But these other swimmers are your friends and where you should be spending your time. They are all great students and they are your true friends. High School will be much better and enjoyable if you know your friends and your place from the start.

Continue to work hard, both in school and in the pool. You do not know it yet, but you are starting to set a lot in motion for your life. Your work ethic and attention to detail starts now, otherwise you will be working double time for the rest of your life. College will be easier if you learn more in High School. Have a little fun, too while you are at it. But school needs to come first, and then swimming. Know who your friends are and try to enjoy yourself. Understand what you want out of life, not what others want from you. This will go a long way to making you happier.

Talk you you again in a few years,
34 year old me (you)

Understanding who you are is a part of growing up, and if we had all only listened to our parents at that age and believed them, life would be so much easier. Obviously, I probably wouldnt have changed much, considering I am where I am in life thanks to all of this. However, if I knew then what I know now, and could still end up with my current situations, I think that would be the perfect situation, don’t you?

What would you say to yourself if you could go back to that age and have a conversation, or write a letter. As I started off this post saying, thinking about this is quite therapeutic and it allows me to explore feelings I had then and look back on how that all helped to shape me. I encourage you to do the same!

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Keeping Busy and Growing a Mustache

I know, I know, it has been a long time (again) since I last posted. I really am not good at this… haha… but hey, I warned you!

If you have actually been wondering where I have been, the truth is, life has just been busy. Work has been fairly busy as usual and the kids have also kept me busy. School has been a lot of fun but it has also been quite busy. I am holding around 100% in BOTH of my classes and actually have a final in my Personality Psych class this week. Because of the finals and classes, lots of studying is being done as well.

Outside of work, school and my kids, I truly do not have a legitimate excuse for not updating this, other than a touch of writers block, a touch of laziness and a whole lot of mustache growing. Yes, you read that correct, I am working on my MOVEMBER Mustache.

My family is not blessed with facial hair growing genes, so unfortunately, my mustache is sort of ‘pervy’ looking, but it draws attention and I guess that is the whole point of Movember. if you are not familiar with Movember, for the month of November, Men grow their mustaches to help raise awareness for Men’s Health issues such as Prostate and Testicular cancer. I myself lost an uncle to Prostate cancer a few years back and continue to fight on his behalf.

I normally do not like to go around and ask for money, however this cause is VERY dear to my heart and I would not be growing this ridiculous looking mustache if I truly did not believe.

I am not asking for much, I would honestly be happy if all you were able to donate was $5. Every little bit helps and I want to stand up and fight for all the men in our lives.

Please feel free to share your stories below or share my link with anyone you know.

Letter to Myself: 8 Years Old

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post asking if your 10 year old self would be happy. I got a lot of great feedback from that post and ever since I have written it, it has had me thinking about. Thinking about my life, where I was as a 10 year old and how my views on life has changed. Because of that post, I have been inspired to start a new series of articles based on letters to younger versions of myself. My goal is to choose 3-4 ages when I went through something crucial and it was a big life moment. I want to provide words of advice to myself; ideas that would improve my life if I was able to do it all again. I should preface this with I love my life (for the most part) and things are going well. But if I could have everything I have now, which a few minor tweaks to improve upon, what would those be?

Hey 8 year old me,

How is it going? You hanging in there alright? Life has been pretty rough this last year hasn’t it? Last year you moved from Tuscon, where all of your cousins lived (including your best friend/cousin) and everything you have ever known, for a small suburb outside of San Francisco. Your family rented a house last year and you finished off your 1st grade year at a new school. You are now in 2nd grade and yet again, at a new school. You have also recently gone to the orthodontist for your major overbite and now walk around with headgear…. its been rough.

I know it is cliche, but guess what: things are gonna get better. Your best friend across the street will one day be in your wedding. The house you live in now, your parents will not sell for another 20 years! You will not only grow up in this town, but you are going to thrive… for the most part.

Kid, its not a secret that you are a bit odd and awkward, but you know what, that is ok. It is a part of who you are and nobody should ever change that about you. I hope you understand that the way you are is not a problem. You have great character and you are a funny kid. Don’t worry about anyone else and what they say or think. be you. Do you. Know who your friends are, and do not worry about being the “cool” kid or the “popular” kid. Those guys do not really want to be your friend, and that is ok. This will be an ongoing lesson for you in life, but trust me: be yourself.

Anyway, continue to learn, and have fun in life: it goes way too fast. I will talk to you again in about 5 years.

Best, 33 year old you.

 

I know it is a little cheesy and other people have done this as well, but I have to admit, it is a bit liberating to write a letter to a younger version of myself. To be honest, I cannot wait to write another one!

In the comments below, feel free to share something you would tell an 8 year old version of yourself. Or write your own blog post and be sure to link to it below, and I will be sure to check it out!!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Book Review: Bigger, Leaner, Stronger

To continue my summer of self improvement, I was able to read another book this summer, just before my vacation. The second book I read (after the School of Greatness) was titled ‘Bigger, Leaner, Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body’ by Michael Matthews. I actually had a few reasons for reading so much this summer. The first reasons was there was not a whole lot on tv. Second, I wanted to start getting my mind ready for school. Third, I truly want to start improving my life as much as I can in different areas. And finally, I had a Google coupon for some cheaper books, and figured I would pick a few that stood out to me (one of which is the book I am reviewing now).

Growing up , I was always very active, playing with friends, running in the street, or playing sports. As I got into High School I focused on swimming as my only sport and did everything I could to better myself. That sort of mentality has always stuck with me, especially when it comes to being in shape and taking care of myself. Overall I am in fairly good shape, with the exception of being more on the thinner side. I have always been slim… almost as if it was a curse. For the life of me, I have always had a problem gaining weight (I know some of you wish you had this problem, but for me, it is frustrating, as just like overweight people, I have body issues as well). I eat and eat and work out and never seem to be able to change my look, and that is where this book comes in,

I had recently heard about this book as it helps to debunk a lot of myths we believe about weightlifting, and it helps to focus in on what you are trying to do, and without wasting time. I have tried different workout routines, followed advice from trainer and professionals alike, and never am able to stick to a routine that has shown me results. But for some reason, I feel this time will be different. I have recently started working out following this routine and have already felt a difference in my strength. The best part about this book too is he not only tells you the science behind everything, but explains why certain things will work and others do not. From there he actually provides you not only a workout plan that fits your schedule, but he also provides you a nutritional spreadsheet too to help you maximize your gains.

At the end of the day, for me it gives me a new reason to be excited about going to the gym as well as a way to focus on my lifting and eating habits, and hope to start feeling better about myself here soon.

If you are interested in reading this book, you can check it out here.

If you want to follow Michael Matthews, you can find his Instagram here (his other social media links are on his website), and his website here.

Have you check out this book before, or have another workout read that is worth exploring? Please share your findings and results below!

Please subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Behind Every Man: Finding My Motivation and Drive to Make This Career Change

We have all probably heard the saying before that “Behind every great man, is a great woman.” This saying essentially says that every man is held up by a woman in his life, whether it is his mom, girlfriend or wife. While I do not think it is entirely accurate, in my situation I cannot help but to feel this is correct.

For the last 11+ years, I have been working in Tech/Business. My very first job was an entry level contract position at Google and I have been working my way up the corporate ladder (at various companies) since then. I started at Google right out of college and found it to be very exciting while I was there. However, even during this time, there was a part of me that was not happy. Not satisfied. I found an email I had written to my Dad a month or so after I left Google expressing my unhappiness in the corporate world. At the time I looked into going back to school as well as joining the Fire Academy. However I have outstanding injuries from my career as a collegiate swimmer and figured I would not pass a physical. I also discussed this with my then fiance (now wife) and she was very understanding and at the time encouraged me to do something I enjoyed. I looked into some options at the time, but as I have discussed in other blog posts, I felt stuck. I was engaged to be married to the woman of my dreams and all I wanted in life was to make her happy, support her and give her everything I felt she deserved. At this time, I decided the best option for me was to stick it out in the corporate world, find a job I enjoyed and make my money.

For years I bounced around between jobs, focusing on what parts I enjoyed, and trying to “fix” the areas that made me unhappy, After 11 years of this, I have found that overall, this line of work just isn’t for me. I had to find my passion. This is where the title of this blog post comes in. For me, my motivation and my change came from my wife.

A few years ago, my wife started a side business making hair accessories for kids. it started out slow, but as it grew I could see her excitement with it. Over time we discusses what she wanted out of this and what she wanted to do. At the time, she told me her goal was to build the company up enough that she no longer had to work her day to day job, could potentially get enough people to help run the company, that she could spend more time at home with the kids. As her business grew, I enjoyed very much helping her, build the business and achieve her dreams. I worked harder to find a better job for myself so that I could help support her and to help her quit her day to day and go with this full time. Near the end of 2015, we realized how closer we were. But we also needed more space. My wife’s business was taking up a good portion of our house, and with our growing family we needed more space. I was thinking about leaving my job then to do what I am doing now, but we needed the money to buy a bigger house and to help her expand. Last year we not only were able to buy a new house, but my wife was able to quit her job and do her side business full time! The drive and motivation she has shown over the last few years to get something she wanted, gave me the motivation to escape my unhappiness in the corporate world, and to do what I needed to find that occupational pleasure I was missing (which was ultimately spreading negativity to the rest of my life).

I have discussed this at length with my wife as well, and have her full support in going back to school and that we will be able to make it work. And while there are some other unforeseen circumstances that have come into this, and she has been on the fence for some time whether or not she made the right decision, I feel that had she not made this move, she may have always regretted.  I cannot thank her enough for her support and her leading by example.

Everyone finds motivation in different places in their life. Some have a friend or family member. Others loo up to those trailblazers and leaders of their field of interest. Where do you find your motivation? What is your inspiration. Feel free to share your thoughts and comments below!

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

Is 10 Year Old You Happy?

At some point in our lives, we have likely had this question asked of us, or had this conversation with someone. And I was recently reminded of this while watching TV, and Indeed.com had a commercial asking us this very question: Would your 10 year old self, be happy with what you have become today?

In a sense, this is sort of where I have been going with my current life choices and decisions: I am unhappy with what I am doing so I am setting out to explore and do something that brings me joy.  In all fairness, when I was 10 years old I had aspirations of being a pro baseball or basketball player, and not a firefighter, or a teacher or even a therapist. But the point of it, was I wanted to do something that made me happy (and also make me famous and have a lot of money).  And perhaps that is a topic for another time, in that I was so focused on that, and my views changed to just be the money or the fame, that I followed whatever path i thought would make me money and money would make me happy.

In a sense, my 10 year old self would be happy with where I am: Nice house, beautiful wife, 2 kids, 2 cars, a steady job, food on the table and money to travel and enjoy life with. What 10 year old me may not understand, is that while have all of those things in nice, its not everything. I mean do not get me wrong, my wife and kids are everything to me, and if I did not have their support I wouldn’t think of leaving my job. I would do anything for their happiness, and that has always been my #1 priority.

I can probably safely say that 10 year old me is indifferent. He is happy that I have found a great family and own a nice home. He may be mad I wasn’t able to pitch a World Series no-hitter or take a pass from Steph Curry to drain the game winning 3 over LeBron James, But I think he would understand. I think he may be confused as to why I would be going back to school to follow a passion like that, because 10 year old me loved money. But my hope is 10 year old me would understand, and ultimately be happy, because 33 (almost 34) year old me was going to be happy.

What about you? Is your 10 year old self happy? Share your thoughts below and let me know if you are happy!

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.

 

Why Am I Doing This – Part 2

For just about a month now, I have been chronicling my journey as I start making changes in my life, and ultimately start my career over. As I stated here, I am hoping to inspire those along the way who are also dealing with similar issues who might find help with this. But at the same time, I still find myself questions exactly why I am doing this.

I question this for a few reasons. For starters, I do not generally enjoy writing. I actually feel it is somewhat of a chore. That is also probably why I am not very good at it. Sure some of the info I am sharing may be helpful, but my style, my thought process: its all wrong. I am sure my grammar is not exactly correct either. But, lets be honest, does that matter? I am not planning to win a Pulitzer or any other award for this. I am just trying to share some of my thoughts on my journey to bettering myself and hopefully others as well.

Aside from not being that good at writing, I feel this is more or less reading like a journal. I guess you can say another reason I am doing this, is that it is for me. My thoughts are so jumbled these days that this is an outlet for me to write and get some of those feelings out. As you read these post you may notice the topics from post to post jump around and seem as if there is no rhyme or reason for them. And the truth is, that is because they are. As it stands right now, I am writing from the heart almost every time I write: what is top of mind and where my head is at. And since I dislike writing, it makes sense that I am not going to to write out an outline, or re-write anything. What you see is what you get I guess.

And just like that, another blog post that likely doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But this is me. This is my journey

Feel free to share some of your writing tips and your process below.

Please feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Instagram. I hope to chronicle my journey in school and connect with like minded people. People who want to learn and grow and help others along the way.Not a good writer