Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why calories in versus calories out doesn't work


I click baited you here.  I admit it.  I'm not sorry.  

I'm even going to put a chicken breast pic in the preview so that it looks totally legit.  But keep reading.

To lose weight, you have to essentially move more and eat less. You have to have an energy deficit.  That's the end of the discussion. It really is. right?  It's all thermodynamics and energy in versus out and blah blah blah blah blah.

That's all it is, right?

Right?

Wrong.

If we lived in a vacuum, like a bunch of rats in test tubes and this could all be compartmentalized, then all of that would be correct. But we don't. There's something called the human condition - dealing with people and their life, their history, and their experiences that outweigh all of this drivel. If you don't understand that, then you don't know shit. I don't care how many studies you can cite or how many letters come after your name.

Losing weight is about calories in versus calories out.  Keeping it off, or maintaining the body composition you worked hard for, is an entirely different subject.

Knowledge has no power without application -

A few days ago someone said to me "you know more about relationships and all of that garbage than anyone I know. How to create healthy romantic relationships and whatnot. So why so many fuck ups in your own life?"

"Because my application sucks."

"Well, at least you're honest."

That's the truth. I could blame other people or circumstances without acknowledging my own involvement but I don't. I know my strong areas and my weak ones. My own application can at times, suck nuts. There it is. Now you know. And G.I. Joe told me knowing was half the battle.

But there's the other half. The more important half. Really, it's the only half that matters.  The application of what you know.  And existing within that half, is the applicable ability on a consistent basis.  That's what sustainability is.

Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is the metaphorical baseball in your hand. Application is your ability to throw a strike with it.  And just like learning how to throw strikes consistently, we have to practice the application of our knowledge on a consistent basis if we want to increase our chances for desired outcomes.  And that can't happen if we don't understand why it is we have trouble applying what it is we already know.

The flow chart goes likes this...

Knowledge -> application -> application applied consistently enough = change

You know how to lose weight. Yes, you. Yes you do. Yes...you do.

You put less food on your fork that goes into your mouth. You walk a little further today than you did yesterday.   You repeat this each day until you arrive at your goal.

Everyone knows these things. Everyone!

You know how to create a better relationship. You really do. No, I swear you do.  In no particular order...

1.  You spend some time understanding the needs of your partner, and they do the same for you. 

2.  You make each other a priority. 

3.  You learn how to listen to each other earnestly, and sincerely.  

4.  You don't cheat when you've told him or her that you're in a committed relationship. 

5.  You say "I'm sorry, what do I need to do to make this right?" when you screw up, then actually do what is required.   

6.  You let some arguments go, because you realize there's no real "winning" when you hurt one another.

8.  You don't keep a scoreboard of wrongs.

9.  You forgive each other.

10.  You turn inwards to each other's bids.

11.  You make sweet love as often as possible.

Ok, so the list for cultivating an amazing relationship is longer than "eat more, move less" but that's because there's two people involved, and creating an amazing relationship is infinitely more complex than losing weight.

But it's still not really that difficult to know what the right thing(s) to do is/are.  

The knowledge is not in some book that's locked away 10 floors under the Vatican in a room that only Nicolas Cage can unlock with a key made out of a dinosaur bones. Despite all of the articles and books I've written on the various forms of training and dietary witchcraft, the knowledge is quite simple.

1. Lift some weights.
2. Eat less.
3. Walk around a lot.
4. Repeat those three things for a long time and you'll look better.

So why can't people just do that? Why can't people just eat less, lift some weights, and move more? Why can't people just get into a calorie deficit, or create an amazing relationship with someone they say they love? Why can't some people, who claim they want a physical life change, do this on a consistent basis?

Because they are people.

And people have stories. And experiences and baggage.  People don't live in test labs under controlled conditions where they are fed and exercised like mice and life doesn't happen.  They live in the real world where what they would like to be able to do, is often circumvented by painful experiences they haven't resolved yet. 

"It's because they are weak and undisciplined."  

Says the meathead who can't hold down a steady job because, "gym life".

Look, being able to eat chicken and broccoli six times a day and hit the gym twice before 6 P.M. doesn't make you some mental and emotional superhero from the town of Disciplineville.  Plenty of people I've known that can do this day in and day out are about as emotionally robust and evolved as a toddler in every other facet of their life.  People tend to be incredibly disciplined in certain areas of their life, and very undisciplined in others.

here's that chicken breast pic I was telling you about earlier


Discipline is not salad dressing.  It's not something we can slather all over every part of our life in equal degrees.  We generally have a few select areas of our life that we can be consistently disciplined in.  The rest of it often gets thrown together with whatever mental and emotional energy we have leftover after we're done doing what deem to be most important.

We tend to be very disciplined in areas that we feel the greatest amount of reward from.  Even if the reward is temporary and brings about negative consequences with on a consistent basis.

People don't fail in diet adherence because they are "weak minded".   People succumb to unhealthy coping mechanisms like binge eating because it offers a retreat from confronting the fragmented parts of their life that carries a lot of emotional pain and reminders.

10-freaking-miles -

I am fond of the saying "if you walk ten miles deep into the woods, you have to walk ten miles out."  I am fond of saying it because someone wrote it to me on social media once, and I liked it and have used it a few times.  So whoever did that, you're awesome.  Brofist.

In order to even begin the walk back out, we often have to come to an understanding of why we made the walk in. Why we didn't stop at mile four, or seven.

"But why ten miles, Paul?"

Hey it's my stolen metaphor and it only goes ten miles. That's what we're working with here, so don't ask "well why not five hundred miles like The Proclaimers song?"

Because they ended up walking a thousand miles because it was five hundred MORE.





Back to that later.......

Years ago, I remember this bodybuilder who talked about how this fat kid wrote him a letter telling of how he dreamed everyday of being jacked, but lived in this state of despair because he had always been fat.  He wrote how he really wanted to go to the gym, but the thought of it brought about a great deal of anxiety so then he'd eat a whole loaf of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drink a gallon of chocolate milk to soothe that anxiety.

Luckily, the bodybuilder gave the kid some great advice.  He told him to start by just eating half a loaf of PBnJ, and to switch to 2% milk.  Certainly, he cut his calories down, but he did so in a way that was mentally and emotionally manageable.   He didn't tell him "get your fat ass to the gym, and eat egg whites and oatmeal."  Does this even seem logical?  It doesn't take a Sigmund Freud to figure out that the answer to this poor kid's desire to be jacked wasn't a training program or a special diet.

You don't deal with the diet first.  You deal with the person.     

Telling the girl who is an emotional eater that finds solace and comfort in food in the middle of a depression that she "needs to eat less and move more" and "just shove some chicken and salad down your throat" is some real Einstein shit. Thanks for that newsflash from the city. Your people solving skills are exemplary.  She might need to deal with the underlying issues related to the depression that cause her to seek comfort foods first.  She might have to talk about the pain she had in growing up where she was bullied by other girls or ostracized for any number of reasons that girls do that to one another.

She might have to talk about how eating was the one thing that made all the pain go away temporarily because it was one of the few things she could control in her life, when everything else felt completely out of her control.  She might have to talk about how she had this great big empty inside of her, and that it felt better to eat and feel something...anything...other than the pain that existed because of that emptiness.  She might have to talk about how the shame she felt in sneaking food because she didn't want to be ridiculed for "eating more", and that the ridicule also made her eat more.

Or she may have to talk about how she eventually just accepted her obesity, and lost her identity in it.  That she ceased being "Nancy" or "Jane" or "Alice".  That she became "the fat girl".   Or even worse, THAT fat girl.

And you know where we continue to exist as adults if we don't confront all the demons that laid the framework for the fragmented parts of who we are? 

In that fat kids mind.

In that bullied kids mind.

In that abused kids mind.

In that abandoned kids mind.

I was the skinny kid who lost his best friend in a motorcycle accident when he was 13.  Who suffered at the hands of some violent events that no kid should ever have to endure.  Who experienced being abandoned and saw the effects of substance abuse in people he loved and cared about.

My coping mechanism was the gym.  I desired to build as much muscle and strength as possible because having that exterior gave me something to hide behind.  It was my comfort food.  I was lucky that it wasn't drugs, or alcohol, or food (well, food was in there but only as a means to an end).  And over time, I was able to let go of the need for that exterior armor, and I started confronting all of the awful shit I had gone through that manifested in the way of shit decisions in my life.

In essence, people have to get their soul healthy first.  Before they can center themselves enough to get their body healthy. They have to have the discipline to heal their mind, to be strong enough to overcome the fears and pain that engulfed them when they were young.  Confronting those fears takes an infinitely greater degree of courage than eating some chicken breast and bench pressing.

Some will say it's not a coaches job to fix people. I don't disagree, but I also don't fully agree.

I can't fix anyone. I can barely fix myself half the time. And when I do fix myself, I often break the shit I just fixed from the day before. Now I'm exhausted. And most likely have hurt someone else's feelings in the process as well. Now I need to fix myself and make amends.  And I only have so much salad dressing to go around.

But we can't help someone if we don't understand the reasons for their ten mile walk. We can't help ourselves unless we do the same.  The changes we need to make in our lives are often inspired by how shitty we feel.  The paradox there is that the fear and pain of change keeps us from changing what makes us feel so shitty to begin with.

Changing your body, for a great many people, isn't about chicken breasts and contractions in the gym.  It's about flexing your emotions through the pain so that eventually you're strong enough to not need something anymore.  And when you realize you don't have a need for something in your life, then it no longer has any power over you.

And that is everything. Not just dieting. Not just the training.  That is everything when it comes to being unbroken.  Not calories in versus calories out.  But exhaling the bad shit, and inhaling the good.


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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ketones and body composition improvement


Well, here we are again.  Keto diets have made their way back around to incredible popularity and are all the rage once again.

For those not in the know, keto diets are not new, and bacon isn't the new black.  Keto diets have been around since before Twinkies were invented.  That's not entirely a joke.  Twinkies were invented in 1930, and keto diets were being used to treat epilepsy back in the 1920's.

Wait a minute...is it possible that Continental Baking Company  invented twinkies as the evil villains weapon in order to thwart the Mayo Clinic from stopping epileptic seizures? 

Keto's ultimate nemesis 


Patient - "I can't eat that, I'm keto.  Keto has stopped my seizures."

Continental Baking Company Dastardly Villain shoves twinkie into patient's mouth.

Patient - "Oh good God, what is that?????"

Continental Baking Company Dastardly Villain - "You like it, yes?"

Patient - "It's heavenly!"

Continental Baking Company Dastardly Villain - "You want more?"

Patient - "Yes I want more.  It's definitely worth a seizure!"

I bet this happened.

Anyways, keto diets are not new, and aren't even new for people trying to shed fat, or potentially use it as a way to improve body composition.  Lots of bodybuilders used keto diets to get shredded for the stage back in the day, and there's been a bit of a resurgence in that lately as well.

Let me state unequivocally here, I don't keto.  And there's a huge misconception that keto diets hold some kind of advantage over other "types" of diets that are sound in nutritional approach when it comes to achieving better body composition.  But that's not the case.

It is generally believed that because of the way endogenous (inside the body) ketones are created that it means fat oxidation is higher in keto or low carb diets.  And technically this is true.  But people need to understand how to interpret this correctly in order to understand it.

If you're eating high fat and low carb, then eventually there's a metabolic shift so that your body becomes more efficient at using fat for energy.  If you throw carbs back in, guess what happens?  You start using glucose for energy again because it's easier to access as fuel for the body.

"AH HAH!  See, you just wrote that eating fat burns fat!"

Yes, but it is due to a lack of carbohydrates being available.  To simplify this even more....

3,500 calories high fat/low carb = the body is using the fats as the main fuel source

3,500 calories higher carb/lower fat = the body is using glucose as the main fuel source

3,500 calories is still 3,500 calories.  (yes, food selection does matter as well).

I'm oversimplifying this but that's the high level overview.

If you stop and think about that, you'll realize that it's carbs that dictate the fuel selection source for the body.  In the absence of carbs, the body will have a metabolic fuel shift to fat.  When carbs are thrown back in, it will have a metabolic fuel shift to glucose again.

I'm not going to drill down into a million areas here because that's not the focus of this article.  I could even make the case due to the fact that fat has the lowest thermic digestion rate of all three macros, that the higher fat diet burns fewer calories each day than the higher carb diet, and that the higher carb diet contains food higher on the satiation index, but that would be a lot of typing that my fingers have no desire to engage in.

I don't have anything against keto diets at all.  I don't think most of the smart people in-the-know do either.  I think it's the misinformation about keto diets that get under their skin.  You cannot just go eating 10,000 calories a day of bacon and butter and be in some blistering state of fat loss "because keto".  I'm sorry, energy in vs energy out is still going to dictate your degree of fat loss or fat gain.

But some people do love eating keto, and can and have achieved magnificent improvements in body comp using keto, because they found it to be a sustainable paradigm of eating for them.  And sustainability in any sound nutritional plan is really the most important aspect.  If you cannot stick with a particular diet or eating lifestyle, then no matter how amazing it looks on paper or in research, it's not going to do you a lot of good.

"How do I fit twinkies into that paradigm, Paul?"

"IIFYM."

"Thank you!"

With that said, enter exogenous ketones.  I've written several other pieces on them and the anecdotal evidence I've seen with them has been very promising on a number of levels.  The main one being their ability to improve body composition.  And I define an improvement in body composition as the ability to gain or retain muscle while fat loss occurs.  I mean, at the most basic level that's what most everyone who is training to improve their physique is after, right?

More muscle, less fat.

This is what gives women real curves.  More muscle, less fat.  The kind you find on women that squat, deadlift, lunge, and pay attention to the quality of food that they fill their plate with.

More muscle, less fat is what gives doods rock hard abs and big shoulders.  You've never seen a single romance novel where a guy rocking a 40" waist and man boobs was holding the damsel in ovulation distress.  Because guys with beer guts and man boobs don't put women into ovulation distress.  Women want to read a story about how she peeled the shirt off of his muscular torso in the kitchen while they danced on rose pedals, and then took her to pound town.  That's what women want to read about.  Not about how they watched NASCAR while pounding a greasy bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Where was I?  Oh yeah, improving body composition.  I got hot and bothered there for a minute.

The three things I've really settled for improvement in body composition are a high degree of fat oxidation - which is obtained by being in an energy deficit either through diet, training, or a combination of both (usually the latter).  A high degree of muscle retention or muscle gain.  Muscle retention is what those who have already put in the time building muscle will be seeking, while noobs can actually put on some muscle even while using a hypocaloric diet, or in an energy deficit due to the new stimulus the body is adapting to through lifting weights.

Sound nutrition that is sustainable over a long period of time that creates an energy deficit + weight training + some cardio = the body you're after. 


lift weights, do cardio, drink your ketones, eat all the protein


The last is an improvement in insulin sensitivity.  The reason why this is important is because insulin is your storage hormone, and because it also has exceptionally powerful anti-catabolic properties.  Insulin blunts or reduces muscle protein breakdown.  And if you want to hold on to muscle and keep excess fat storage to a minimum, then it's important to improve insulin sensitivity.

So let's get to it...

Fat oxidation -

Regardless of what type of diet you settle on, in order to burn more fat, you're going to have to be in a calorie deficit.  Let me be clear about something here that you may not know.  Exercise does not burn a lot of calories.  It really doesn't.  You can use the Google machine if you like to go find this out.

In comparative fashion, doing an hour of walking (all depending on how fast you walk, how much you weigh, how much muscle you have or don't have) can be undone rather easily by a few Krispy Kremes.  Trying to achieve a high degree of energy loss (fat loss) through exercise is a great way to get really tired, make yourself super hungry (making it harder to stick to ANY diet), and deplete your motivation.

So lemme make this easy for you.

You lift weights to build muscle.  You do some cardio for your heart, and as a supplemental form of creating energy debt.  Remember, supplemental.  Don't believe for a minute that your hour of (insert type of exercise here) is going to burn enough calories to offset even a single calorie dense meal.

The people who believe they can out train a bad diet usually find that they can't do that for very long before the Continental Baking Company Dastardly Villain shows up, and they are smashing through boxes of Twinkie's faster than Sherman went through Atlanta.

So delicious.

So let's say that you pick out the diet that fits "you".  Keto, Paleo, Southbeach, IIFYM, whatever.  You know (yes YOU KNOW NOW) that you have to be in a calorie deficit with your diet in order to shed that blubber.

One of the biggest keys in finding sustainability with any eating plan is the satiation factor.  If you're hungry all the time, then it becomes harder and harder to sustain an energy deficit with the diet because of binge eating or "falling off the wagon".

The key to this suppressing your hunger hormone, ghrelin.

This actually does lead me back into talking about ketones.

If there is one advantage that keto diets have over other diets when it comes to fat loss, it's that they do a better job of suppressing the ghrelin hormone, so that you have a higher degree of satiation.

Well, as you'd sort of expect, exogenous ketones do the same thing.  As this study points out...


==================================================

Results

KE consumption increased blood BHB levels from 0.2 to 3.3 mM after 60 minutes. DEXT consumption increased plasma glucose levels between 30 and 60 minutes. Postprandial plasma insulin, ghrelin, GLP-1, and PYY levels were significantly lower 2 to 4 hours after KE consumption, compared with DEXT consumption. Temporally related to the observed suppression of ghrelin, reported hunger and desire to eat were also significantly suppressed 1.5 hours after consumption of KE, compared with consumption of DEXT.

Conclusions

Increased blood ketone levels may directly suppress appetite, as KE drinks lowered plasma ghrelin levels, perceived hunger, and desire to eat.

==================================================
If you find the biggest culprit in your desire to shed bodyfat is that you are an emotional eater, or have trouble dealing with hunger, then using exogenous ketones offers a massive benefit in that regard.

But that's not all.  There's more.

While this study showed an reduction of power output in cyclists who used ketones, it did show that fat oxidation was higher in those that used ketones prior to exercising.


Total fat oxidation was greater in the ketone versus control (p = 0.05). Average time-trial power output was ∼7% lower (-16 W, p = 0.029) in the ketone condition. Ingestion of ketone salts prior to exercise increases fat oxidation during steady-state exercise but impairs high-intensity exercise performance.

My thoughts about the reduction in power output is that I think we need to work to find the proper dose-response ratio over a number of studies to get clearer picture here.  Because there have been other studies that showed an increase in performance, and there's also a ton of anecdotal testimonies where athletes did improve their performance with them.  Nevertheless, if we're talking fat oxidation/ fat-loss, then using ketones prior to steady state type exercise offers an advantage in that area.


Muscle sparing/retention -

I gots no study for this one, but over the last two years, everything I've hypothesized about with my own reading and work with exogenous ketones has come to fruition.  So I believe this will eventually pan out.  Just a second there to toot my own horn.

Ok, I'm done.

This one should make sense if you follow along.

If you're using a low carb approach to achieve your energy deficit, and are trying to retain muscle, (you should be, duh) one of the issues is that due to low glucose stores, your body will end up creating glucose from protein through something called gluconeogenesis.  This is where you end up robbing Peter to pay Paul, more or less.

What we've seen with exogenous ketones is that there is a reduction in glucose oxidation (using glucose for fuel) while an alternative energy substrate is present (the ketones) and that the ingestion of them (the ketones, again) induces hyperketonemia, which is an elevation of ketone bodies in the blood and body.  Wait...that sounds like ketosis....without a keto diet.

Reduction in glucose oxidation...elevation in ketone bodies in the blood.  Mmmmm that sounds an awful lot like being in ketosis.

Knowing that, what I believe is this - if you're using a low carb approach to find your caloric deficit, and weight training to retain muscle, then the use of ketones will spare muscle protein because the body won't be tapping into it to convert it to glucose.  That's my theory and I'm sticking to it.


Insulin sensitivity -

This is an area where the use of ketones ends up offering a benefit as a side effect of something else.

That sentence makes so much sense, I know.  But bear with me.  I'm actually going to make this quite simple.

BHB reduces inflammation.  I've covered that before, but here, here, here.

Our findings suggest that the anti-inflammatory effects of caloric restriction or ketogenic diets may be linked to BHB-mediated inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome.

These findings demonstrate that BHB exerts antidepressant-like effects, possibly by inhibiting NLRP3-induced neuro-inflammation in the hippocampus, and that BHB may be a novel therapeutic candidate for the treatment of stress-related mood disorders.

Now that we've established that BHB serves as an anti-inflammatory agent, let's understand how chronic inflammation effects insulin sensitivity.  

First off, losing fat in general should decrease chronic inflammation in the body, and decreasing excess adipose tissue should improve your insulin sensitivity.  Weight training also improves your insulin sensitivity as well.  

But reducing chronic inflammation will not only improve your quality of health, it should also improve your insulin sensitivity as well.  

Also, linky dinky........

"If we can block or disarm this macrophage inflammatory pathway in humans, we could interrupt the cascade that leads to insulin resistance and diabetes," said Olefsky.

If you want to use the Google machine you can find a metric butt ton of information connecting the dots of chronic inflammation to a key factor in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.  

Now let me be clear........

This doesn't mean you can drink ketones and expect miracles.  If you're not reducing the amount of Omega-6 coming in and increase your Omega-3 and also lifting weights and doing some conditioning, it's fool hearty to believe that simply ingesting ketones is going to magically fix your problems.  They won't.  But they can play a major role in accelerating the reduction of chronic inflammation in the body, they can improve the degree of fat oxidation during steady state exercise, and they can suppress the appetite, making it easier to stay in your caloric deficit.  All things that will lead to a significant improvement in body composition, and land you on the cover of a romance novel.  

Ok, probably not.  You're not that good looking.  But looking better naked tends to make you and anyone seeing you naked much happier.  


Try them at https://liftrunbang.shopketo.com/



Monday, October 30, 2017

Necessity vs luxury in relationships


If you've ever seen those social experiment videos with the dudes who approach women and ask them out, only to be spurned, then show up later in a lambo and have her drop draws on the spot, then the term "gold digger" probably comes to mind. 

I can't argue against that.  Not if we're going to judge women superficially on a single factor.  One in which in fact is hard wired into them, whether you like it or not.  And that is, security.  It's a trait that women will seek out in a man, more often than not, because physiologically women are wired to seek providers. 

I don't want to paint this as something as simple as a caveman era DNA issue, where women subconsciously seek out a man simply based on whether or not he can provide a lambo, because providing is more intricately layered than that.  Which I will get to. 

Genetically and environmentally, we tend to gravitate towards specific people to "mate with".  There's a reason why certain people are almost universally accepted as being attractive (it's due to facial symmetry), and why lean and ripped male bodies often appeal to women more than a "dad bod" (let's stop kidding ourselves here) and why that 0.7 hip to waist ratio constantly scores highest on the men's scale of dimes.  It's all about procreation and what makes us want to go into baby making mode with someone. 



Women certainly understand the value, pun intended, in a dude driving a lambo compared to a dude driving a 1979 Gremlin.  The car is merely a representation of security.  Not from an all encompassing standpoint, but it does serve as a representation of it.  Especially for women who might not be as financially capable as they would like to be.  That or they dated the 79 Gremlin guy at one point and realized that the height of romance with that dude was slamming pancakes and ham at the Waffle House on a Saturday night. 

Not that slamming pancakes and ham at the Waffle House can't be a good time.  Certainly it can.  But she might want the ceiling raised a bit in regards to life experiences with her significant other.  And again this is all related to social and physiological wiring in which we find someone sexable.  And most of the time, women find men more sexable if they represent security, and can provide at a level that is greater than their own at a myriad of levels.  This doesn't mean money makes you sexy.  It can make you sexier, or at least appear so due to the fact that having money will increase the depth of your dating pool.  But I don't see droves of women lining up outside of Bill Gates house throwing panties over his possibly diamond studded fence trying to get his attention.  And since you don't have Bill Gates money, you can relax a little bit.  The point of "money" is that you can pay the bills.  The mortgage.  That you can provide, and not be a burden or deadbeat.  It's simply a single unit of measure in security. 

If men are hunters, and women are nurturers, then women look for men who can bring home the meat.  Yes, that's low hanging fruit right there in terms of jokes, but allow me to explain that wasn't necessarily sexually laced innuendo. 

Survival, in ancient times (which would be the 1970's if you ask my kids) meant that men who had the ability to be great hunters, and bring home the meat, meant they were capable, and obviously had a higher social value.  It showed physical and mental capability.  It meant he could provide.  The food he killed and brought home was the representation of his ability to provide and create an environment that was conducive to mate in.  Ain't no one got time or energy for getting sexed up while they are starving.  Not to mention that the chances of survival for the woman and her offspring are much higher with a man who can physically protect her, and also provide for her, and the children. 

Lambo guy is the dude hauling in the bison with his bare hands with blood covering his face, looking like William Wallace after slaying some scurvy ridden Brits, while 79 Gremlin boy is bringing home some wilted lettuce. 

Physically, women usually want a man they feel could whip some ass in a situation where she needs to be protected.  If ol' boy is hiding behind her when the need for meeting violence with violence arises, she might be a tab bit perturbed.  I will say that I've met some women who I wouldn't want to meet in a dark ally if Aunt Flow happened to be in town that week.  But I digress......

Financially, maybe she doesn't need a man driving a lambo (ok let's clear this up, you don't NEED a man in a lambo, but it's an awfully big bonus) but she is most definitely looking for someone  physically and financially capable. 

"Capable of what?"

You understand what capable means, don't play semantic games here. 

Emotionally...well that becomes incredibly complex because of different attachment theories, and there's a reason why therapists are trying to help men break through the Matrix style coding that is "woman".  But at some level, the male has to be able to appeal to her emotional needs as well.  After all, women are far more emotionally wired creatures than men.  They process emotionally based situations far differently than men, and those emotions tend to transcend across every landscape of their life, where men tend to compartmentalize each situation separately. 

This is why men tend to offer up solutions to a problem, compartmentalizing the issue into a broke/fix solution, which often enrages the woman because she really just wants him to listen and be present in the moment with her.  He gets frustrated because he doesn't understand why she's all pissed off now because he told her how to fix something.  She leaves the room and he turns on Sportscenter.  In a round about way, he fixed his own issue by getting her out of the room and nagging him about her problems that she never really wanted a solution for to begin with. 

I jest, but it's kinda true. 

If guys want a real solution when this arises, what the woman really wanted was for you to just listen to her, be present in her struggle with her, and allow her to come to her own problem/resolution (which she's already done before she ever brought this up to you) process but to feel as though you have emotionally supported her in that process. 

But Sportscenter, tho.......

Anyway, what all of that boils down to is her also feeling emotionally protected and tended to.

There's a theme here that keeps occurring and you should be able to spot it fairly easily. 

1.  Protect - physically and emotionally.  That means her in both occasions.  Protect her from harm, and guard her heart by not doing things that betray her trust, or trigger awfulness from prior relationships.

2.  Provide - financially, to some degree.  Past the Waffle House pancakes and ham, I mean.  Have something better than the 79 Gremlin. 

Most all of the things that women will seek out, due to their physiological wiring, can be traced back to those two factors. 

So why is it that we hear this phrase and see meme after meme about how there are no good men left for women to choose from? 

Well, again, I'm going to take a stab at it that due to the environmental and social factor that comes into play about mate selection, that the world we live in today, has caused a lot of women AND MEN (lest I get labeled a sexist here) to lose sight of what is necessity, and what is luxury.   And often times, the ones that find themselves in relationships that peter out over time and find themselves left "wanting" is because they ended up selecting a person based far too much on what appeals to luxury, while minimizing the necessities. 

Mathematically, it flat out cannot be true that there are no "good women" or "good men" out there available to cultivate a relationship with.   

Separating luxury from necessity - 

If you've ever had a talk with someone who is single, and has been single for a significant period of time, but has done a lot of dating, they will often tell you the reason they haven't found the "right person" (insert eye roll at this point) is because "I'm really picky, and I'm not going to settle." 

Perhaps dear reader, you've uttered this phrase. 

So what defines settling?  That's really something the person has to be aware of, and what really falls under the realm of necessity in a mate, or if they are putting too much emphasis on what really are luxuries in one. 

For some guys, "breathing" is the one necessity they seek out in a woman.  That's going to be the running joke here so we will get it out of the way early.  Men are actually a bit more complex than that, despite the fact that society tries to paint us as being these incredibly simple skirt chasing knuckle dragging simpletons.  And because men also need fulfillment on a myriad of levels, this is why eventually, men too end up finding that one woman they will commit to, and feel as though they can't be without.  That woman will haven no doubt who she is, because he will go to the ends of the Earth to let her know, she's the one he wants.  If your "man" is not doing that, then you're not the one.  I can promise you that.  The guy that's waiting three days to text you?  He's not that into you.  Remember, men are hunters.  And when it comes to finding his woman, he's looking for someone to bring bison home to.  Not the lettuce. 

You're welcome? 

It's possible I just shattered some hopes and dreams.  I love to deliver the good news.  Sometimes a harsh dose of reality is what's needed though. 

But for the people who constantly chirp about how no one is measuring up and how they won't settle, well no one is asking for you to settle, however what is it that you believe you're settling for?  Most happy people end up with someone they believe are equivalent to their own sense of self worth. 

That's actually the reason why you see the guy in the lambo dating the super hot chick who most often, tends to have more going for her than being really good looking.  Though that is sometimes the case, the guy in the lambo, if he earned it, most often has a pretty high sense of self worth and is going to be attracted to a woman that will have the same.  At least if we're talking about an on going relationship here, and excluding douchebags such as Dan Bilzarian. 

Everything has to start with some semblance of chemistry and physical attraction then.  I mean, that's all you have to go on at first.  Women of course, are wired a bit differently in that way than men.  Men are very visually wired and tend to seek out women based on appearance in the initial stages.  Make no mistake, a man will only stay in a relationship with said hottie if she is also meeting his other needs as well.  And despite the type casting of male shallowness that goes on, men do have needs outside of a sammich making hottie that allows him to watch the game.  They will vary from man to man, of course, but men have emotional needs as well.  And yes, that's probably a news flash from the city for some of you, but men do like snuggling on the couch and being told how handsome we are from women we don't call "Mom".  In fact, I can tell you this...your man (if you currently have one) will become what it is you speak about him.  Tell a man how awesome he is, how amazing he is, and speak empowerment and confidence into him, and he will embody those things.  Tell me what a sack of crap he is, and you'll find a man drinking at the bar on Friday staring at other women's rear ends. 

Don't like that?  Then change what you speak into your man, and about your man.   

Women on the other hand, well they can be a bit more pliable in regards to looks.  As long as she doesn't find a man completely repulsive physically, and she doesn't friend zone the living hell out of him, if he can get her emotions interested in him then he's got a shot.  It's why we often see dudes that look like they lost all 12 rounds in a boxing match with a pterodactyl on trenbolone, dating incredibly attractive women that are just all about ol' boy. 

"This man..." she proceeds to write on social media, underneath a picture of him wearing that dog shit ugly sweater she bought him (that he hates but wears for her) making the heart hands.  You know what I'm talking about. 

Because he's appealing to the things we went over above.  He's providing.  Emotionally in some way, he's providing for her in a way that is fulfilling.  He probably doesn't drive a 79 Gremlin either.   

So back out of this rabbit hole, and back to the main point - since everyone is so picky and women refuse to settle, what is it outside of chemistry and being physically attracted to a man that women are having trouble with in regards to "finding a good man"? 

I mean, if we're accepting that women are more emotionally in tune with who they are, and what they need, then what are the characteristics that make a man, a good man?  Or make a man good at being a good man.  Because there is a difference.  One requires a penis.  The other requires that and some virtues to go along with it.

Let's pretend said man has his crap together, i.e. has a good job, takes care of himself physically and isn't out doing competitive beer bong challenges with his college friends on the weekend...what are the necessities required for a man to be..."good"?   And what are the luxuries? 

I could make a list.  Things like honesty, loyalty, kindness, ambition, and courage.  I think this is a good list.  I can understand a woman saying these are necessities.  And anything that falls outside of this list, most likely, might fall under the list of luxuries.  Him not being a meth addict or alcoholic could be deal breakers, unless you too enjoy some fine midwest methamphetamine or binge drinking on the daily.  But again, that comes back to being attracted to someone of equal value.  And equal value tends to encompass those kinds of things.  We gravitate not only to those that share the same beliefs as us, but live fairly equal lifestyles, and also reaffirm what it is we believe about ourselves (but that's an entirely different subject all together).

It's really up to the individual to determine what it is they view as necessities and what are truly luxuries in a person.  Then eliminate people as they don't meet the necessities required to be in a committed relationship with. 

The luxuries are the cherries on top.  The icing on the cupcake.  The cream filling inside the glazed doughnut, when the glazed was really just as equally delicious.  But you tossed out the glazed doughnut because it wasn't cream filled, and you threw away the cupcake that didn't have icing, and whatever it was that was supposed to have cherries on top of it, well you tossed that too. 

But lots of times, there are good women and men walking around who refuse to commit again because they were indeed all of the necessities, and even to a large degree, the luxuries.  And they found themselves being all of those things, or to the very best they were capable of, only to find the other person wasn't willing to meet them halfway in their efforts, or be the necessities themselves.

Tragically enough, I think there are plenty of good men and women out there who have just closed off all the roads that lead to their heart because they just became exhausted at some point in giving to someone, only to find themselves left empty over and over again.  Exhausted at the litany of excuses that were constantly laid before them as to why someone "just couldn't".  Can't never could.  And people do what it is they really want to do; what's important to them. 

1.  Priorities
2.  Level of effort
3.  Number 2 will tell you all you need to know about number 1 

Being all the necessities, and even the luxuries won't ever be enough for the person who was never supposed to fit into the cracked spaces of who you are.  Not because you're not worthy.  But due to their own inability to understand or appreciate your worth, and lack the ability to offer up those same virtues. 

Someone can only give back the very thing they are in possession of.  No one can give you a lambo if they don't have one to spare.  And no one can reciprocate love, honesty, sincerity, and devotion if they don't contain those things in their gift giving mechanism.  You could be the most infallible creature ever placed on God's green Earth.  Do you think you're going to be able to create a dynamic of harmony with anything less than the other infallible person that doesn't actually exist?  Probably not.  You're flawed.  So is everyone else.  And there is no "right person".  There's only a bunch of wrong people out there to choose from.  So what it really takes is a deep breath in which you inhale the fact that you're looking for the right wrong person.  The person you're attracted to, but has the list of necessities required to cultivate a relationship that can bloom.  Anything on top of that is a luxury. 

So before you remark that there are no good men or women out there, ask yourself first if you are one.  Are you the very things you are seeking in a person?  Because we tend to attract the people who will affirm what it is we believe about ourselves.  Our selection process tends to be a reflection of where our heart is in that moment in time, but also reinforces the framework of the belief system we have about ourselves. 

If you consistently find yourself opening up people who disappoint you in who they are, then be honest enough to ask if you're seeking necessities, or luxuries.  And be introspective enough to know if you're able to give the very things you keep saying you want to receive. 

I'm too picky.......


In essence, be the lambo and you'll find your fellow lambo companion.  Your ride or die partner. 

Be a 79 Gremlin and well, you know the Waffle House drill. 



Monday, May 1, 2017

Please stop loving yourself "just as you are"


Most of us remember significant firsts.  

First love, first day of school, first fight we got into, first time we got our heart broken, the usual run of the mill life stuff.  Sometimes we even remember our lasts.  Last time we saw a loved one alive that passed away, the last day at a particular job, graduation day, the last time we got drunk and woke up in a urine filled ally with a homeless man rummaging through our pockets for spare change.  Stuff like that.  Run of the mill.  

I don't know how many days of football practice I've had in my life, but I remember my first and last.

My last wasn't significant other than I knew I didn't desire to chase that dragon anymore.  I would love to say I retired, but since that day I've checked the mail for my checks and not a single one has arrived.  

My first day of practice however, was far more significant.  

I was ten years old and scared out of my mind.  I had already been in plenty of school yard scraps by that age, but duking it out with another G.I. Joe enthusiast was quite different than strapping on way-too-big shoulder pads and an even way-too-bigger helmet, and smashing into other waddlers.  That's what it looks like at that age with those giant shoulder pads and helmet on, right?  You kind of waddle around, unsure of where to run or what to do.  Not unlike being at the front of the crowd during a black Friday sale.  Face smashed up against the sliding glass doors, just waiting for them to open so you can dash inside and run around frantically trying to find that television that will now be on sale for ten dollars less than it was just hours ago.  

Where was I?  Oh yeah, first day of football practice.

So there I am, totally confused at every drill, scared out of my mind.  And there's these Magnum P.I. wannabe mustachioed men wearing daisy duke style jogging shorts, standing around yelling at everyone.  Blowing their whistles at what seems like ambiguous moments throughout the day.  

"I'm just getting up to full speed, coach!  Wait, what?  Stop?  Ok.  Now you're yelling at me and I have no idea why."

Thoughts that go through every married guys head while he's trying to make a baby with his wife.

But I digress.

The final drill for the day was something called bull in the ring.  There's one kid in the middle of this circle of other kids surrounding him.  Every kid in the circle has a number.  When Magnum P.I. calls a number, whatever kid is assigned that number runs at ol' boy in the middle and they smash their wee little bodies into each other.  

My number gets called a few times.  In my mind, when it gets called, I'm running so fast that if I had been beside Usain Bolt I would have pulled his flesh right off his body with my blinding speed.  When I hit the other wee little dude who was in the middle, in my mind, I was crashing into him like that comet out of that horrible movie Deep Impact.  I'm causing tidal waves of death from Mississippi all the way to New York in these collisions.  

But not really.  

Apparently, I wasn't running very fast at all.  And also, my hitting was apparently less than the magnitude of 70,000 tons of TNT.  I looked it up.  That was apparently the force for the comet in Deep Impact that Frodo Baggins was able to outrun on a really shitty motorcycle.

So dumb...

After a few of my less than stellar collisions, I felt something pulling on my jersey.  It was a non-mustachioed man, who was not wearing daisy duke jogger shorts.  He didn't have a whistle to confuse me with, either.

Oh, it was dad.  

He pulled me off to the side and said to me "if you don't start hitting harder I'm going to take you off this field, put your ass in the car, and drive you home."

The scared shitless ten year old inside me thought this actually sounded like a very good idea in that moment.  So I agreed with him that he should just take me home.  But I probably sounded more like a scorned woman at the time, because I started my retort to him with a "fine".

You know what I'm talking about.

"Fine, just take me home."

Something a husband has probably heard from his wife during a night out at a romantic restaurant  overlooking the city during a seven course meal, where things went from awesome to awry in less than thirty seconds, and he could not figure out how.

But I wasn't having a seven course meal.  I wasn't overlooking a beautiful city from the 40th floor either.

Clearly, however, I was acting like a little bitch.  And like a little bitch I got in the car and pouted.  Dad drove off in front of everyone, and the whole team had stopped the drill to watch this scene unfold.  We didn't make it home however.  

Dad pulled off to the side of the road, to have one of those after school TV special type talks with me.  You know the one.  Some big life lesson is about to go down.  The dad, or older father figure type who has been consistently rejected despite his efforts to just show the wayward kid that he cares about his well being and what he's doing with his life.  That one.

"Listen son..." as most genuine dad speeches start off with.

"I just want you to be the best player you can be.  Go out there and give it your best effort."

That was it.  I know, after this already long write up that that speech seems very anti-climatic.  There was no one dying of cancer to go out and play hard for.  There wasn't some golden scene of glory that was going to fill up the screen in my after school special because I decided to actually try to the best of my ability.  

In modern day speak, this is what dad said.....

"Son, you suck.  You play like a little bitch.  Man up."

Are you triggered?  I read a couple of years ago that telling young dudes to "man up" was bad in some way.  I got triggered that day.  For sure, that happened.

"Take me back to the field."

Also in modern day speech..."release the Kraken."

Dad smiled that crappy overacted Bill Paxton style smile and drove me back.  I got back in the line up, and I remember seeing red.  Ok no I'm not exaggerating this time.  I was mad as hell.  When my number got called, I decided it was indeed time to ring the bell.  Namely, my own.  As I actually did run as fast as I could, and did slam into the other plastic plated toddler really, really, hard.  Well, as hard as a ten year old can.  

Shut up, Dad


Anyone who has ever been involved in contact sports where you take blows to the head, knows what the black lightening is.  That "flash" where it's black, but you get that white flash in it?  You know the one.  The one you eventually come to love after enough brain trauma has occured.

Well I got that.  Not sure if the other kid did, but I knew then by contrast, that indeed prior to this I had not been running very fast or hitting very hard.  

Dad's after-school special speech had paid off.  I carried that moment with me until the last practice I ever had.  

"Man up.  Stop being a little bitch.  Your best probably isn't as good as you think it is."

Probably not the title you're going to see headlining an article at elitedaily, or any other such horrifically similar internet soapbox that carries article after article about how loving yourself "just as you are" is so vitally important.

And it is.  I think you should love who you are, exactly as you are....if you have zero desire to improve anything in your life.  

If my dad had been an elitedaily reader, he probably waits until after practice is over to hand me a coconut water and tell me what a "good job" I had done.  Totally enabling my lackluster effort and sense of paralyzing fear.  

"Love that effort out there, son.  Good work.  Drink this coconut water.  Hydration is important."

But this was late summer in Mississippi.  There was no coconut water, and my dad was born in 41, had 19 brothers and sisters, walked up hill to school both ways, worked in the fields all day after said walk, and later served in the 'Nam.  

In other words, that coconut water speech wasn't happening because my dad?  Well, he was a man.  

And he treated me like a man.  Wanted me to compete to the best of my ability, and wasn't making excuses for my fear, and lack of effort.

He didn't tell me to love myself "just as you are son.  You're my only son, and whatever effort you give is good enough.  You'll get better in time.  Just hang in there, kiddo."

No he impressed upon me that the here and now mattered, and that it presented a time to get better.  To not be satisfied with my poor effort, and that if it meant him embarrassing me in front of my teammates to get the best out of me, then that was happenin'.

"Well, all kids are different, and some respond better to..."

Blah blah blah.  

I don't believe that the hammer should be the only tool used to in order to drive someone to strive for better.  But the elimination of it is just as wrong as pulling it out for every occasion.  My dad was all accolades when I deserved it.  When I didn't, out came the "son, you really kinda suck" speech.

Show me a kid that is consistently coddled and never has foot broke off in ass, and I will show you a kid that consistently under performs in everything they do unless they are naturally driven on their own.  Some kids do have that, but even those kids, I've found, are receptive to tough love and hard, but fair, criticism.  Most kids, however, will skate by with doing the bare minimum effort if the bare minimum effort is what you've taught them is good enough.

And those kids, the coddled ones, the Coconut Water drinking after practice where they didn't break a sweat kids, become adults.  And they preach this coddled message that lacks any bite about self awareness, self improvement, self discipline, and the very fact that loving yourself, "just as you are", is not really loving yourself at all.  It is indeed a form of apathy.  And what's the opposite of love?  It's not hate.  It's apathy.  And apathy is the very thing that stunts personal growth, and makes someone shrink in the face of hard decisions and criticism.  Apathy is the very thing that will encapsulate your life in a world of mediocrity,  misguided self appreciation, and an unhealthy level of acceptance about who you are.

In the serenity prayer, we ask for God to help us accept what we cannot change, but also to give us the courage to change the things we can.  

Not, "God, I don't need to change anything because I accept the conditions in which I totes have control over."

"Did you just say a prayer to me using the word "totes?"  Ok, it's Sodom and Gomorrah time for these kids." -- God's answer to your totes prayer.

"The Lord God is totes fed up!"


There's a segment in society, and its very clear message is that we all are special, yet at the same time somehow equal.  Completely deserving of things we don't have to work for.  

I quit coaching football because of this.  We're back full circle to me being in fourth grade here.

Back then, I had to earn the right to get on the field.  The kids with no hand eye coordination that couldn't catch a cold or hit the broad side of a barn with a bass fiddle didn't get playing time.  Fat Johnny or Skinny Samuel weren't shunned because of how they looked.  They didn't see playing time because either they sucked, and couldn't play, or because they were cowards who shrunk in the face of adversity.

There, I'm not sugar coating it.  

No, it wasn't Normandy, but as young men our initiation into manhood, or adulthood in general, often does start by cutting our teeth through physical conflict.  And this most certainly established a pecking order, both on the field and off it.  It separates the wheat from the chaff, as they say.  

I remember years later when I played both quarterback and middle linebacker that I had flowers delivered to the the prettiest girl in the school, as she was named homecoming queen.  Had I not been the signal caller for the offense and defense and been respected by my peers, then I simply established very early that I was totes a creepy stalker child.  

Yeah, I just used totes again.  And that whole last paragraph read like it was written by Uncle Rico or Al Bundy.  I actually had a point in there so let me make it.  I could send her flowers without it being creepy as hell because of the position I had earned with my team, and peers.  I know, it's nuts to have certain perks like that due to earning something, but sometimes that happens in life.

So where was I?  Oh yes...

So I quit coaching because I was forced to play kids that reduced our odds of winning, because the school created a mandate that all kids got equal playing time.  Now you think about that for a minute and what that does to desire, passion, and motivation.  How does that set kids up for success when they are coddled and led to believe that effort is unimportant in the process of earning something?

Then they are set free to adult in life.  And grow up to believe in this warped ideology about what they deserve.  

"You deserve a good man/woman."

"You deserve a good job."

"You deserve $15 an hour to dip those potatoes into a bucket of oil."

"You deserve free college.  Let someone else pick up the tab."

"You deserve to be on that field because it's shaming you to let you sit on the sidelines while the other kids that worked really hard get all the playing time."

At what point were they told that the only thing you deserve, is what you can work to obtain, and work to keep?  

I'm not advising you hate yourself.  But you can hate your efforts, or lack-thereof.  

You can wake up and hate how you feel because you're 50 pounds overweight.  You can understand that you have the power to change it, and somehow find the "courage" (I know, it's hard) not to eat 42 tacos that day, or rationalize how you earned food like a trained dog because you did 30 minutes on the stair stepper the day before.

You can change your whole life with one decision if you want to.  But in order to do that, you have to care enough about your life to not become apathetic to it, or the situation you are in.

The net is overrun with articles about what you deserve, how to change your life into the "one you always dreamed of".  And then often times, these same internet publications tell you "just love yo self like you are."

You want a new life?  Does it suck?  Care enough to change the one you have.  Find the courage to make that one decision. 

You want a new body?  Does your physique suck?  Care enough to change the one you have.  Stop being slothful and make better food choices. Stop reading articles about beauty at all sizes.

You want more money?  Bank account sucks?  Get a second job, or get educated in a field  that offers better pay, or sell all your cats on e-bay, cat-lady.  Maybe if you did that, you'd get a date.

Any form of self improvement does not come with self love.  It comes with an overwhelming desire for self change.  Which will come with an eventual acceptance that a lot of work and adversity will present itself to you.  That's good, I like that.

It does not always come with self hate.  But it can be encased inside of the dislike or disdain for what currently exists.  Change or improvement in any fashion certainly will not come if you drown yourself in an ocean of apathy all the while calling it self love.

There's a difference in being the best, and giving your best.  Something I too have impressed upon my girls at everything meaningful they will do in life.  There's too many factors out of their control that may keep them from the best at something they want to do, but it's 100% within their control to be the very best they are capable of.

Maybe the reason why your life sucks, is because your efforts sucks.  

Maybe you should stop being a little bitch and man up if that's the case.

If that triggered you then then I suspect it's the case.

Thanks, Dad.


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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The beginning of the end, and new beginnings - Part 2



There's nothing I detest more than people constantly posting their break up drama for everyone to see. We know why you do it.  Because you need all those "friends" (real or not) to comment about how
bad they feel for you, and how the other person is a piece of trash, and you deserve better, and how the right person will come along, and this and that, and I could go on forever with all the canned cliches that will be offered up.

"Girl, you deserve better than that."

"Dude, she sucks.  Just go bang her friends."

Phrases you're probably not going to hear from educated people who actually work to help those through difficult phases in their life in regards to heartache.  Also, and let's just be honest, there's often not any words that are going to just lift the pain and give you instant clarity in regards to moving forwards in your life once you're single again.  Generally, you pour out to friends because you often just need an ear during the worst of times so you can vent about all the pain and anguish and confusion you're dealing with.

Friends can often be your worst enemies during these times to be honest.  Or let me clarify, friends that aren't honest with you about your own problems.  Your own baggage.  Your own repetitive cycles that keep manifesting in your life that leave you saying "there's no good men/women out there!" without ever considering that right now, maybe you're not the good man, or the good woman.

Great friends are the ones that know you well enough to point out the issues you keep creating.  And have the courage to tell you the things you really need to hear, and not want to hear.  Bad friends are the ones that keep telling you about all the things you deserve, and ignore all the flaws you need to fix or at least become aware of, that serve as the root cause in all the failed relationships you keep having.

Good friends aren't going to tell you how you deserve much better than him, if "him" looks just like the last 4 guys you dated in regards to how he treated you.  They are going to tell you that there is clearly something wrong in  your selection process that needs to be addressed.  That you are the common denominator in choosing these same types of men.

Good friends aren't going to tell you to "go bang her friends" because that's seeded in a form of revenge.  And as the saying goes "anytime you set out on a course of revenge, make sure you dig two graves."

I can't tell you how many times I've talked to people who have told me about all of the bad decisions they made after loss...after heartache.  And how much they regretted those choices.  Letting your emotions rule you completely during this time is like covering a gaping would with filthy bandages.  It only makes the wound fester and takes far longer to heal.  Unhealthy coping mechanisms are what we use delay the inevitable.  That is, coming to grips with what we lost, the choices we made that caused said loss, and then the recovery that has to take place in coming to grips with all of that.

In all honesty, even true friends often give bad advice during these times, so maybe I'm not being fair.  The reason they usually do so is because they know you're in pain.  They know about your loss.  But sitting down across from someone you know is in pain, and telling them that a lot of it was self inflicted isn't a conversation most friends have the courage to do.  But they know about your issues.  I mean the ones that you played a part in creating your own mess.

Trust me, they know them.  Because they most likely talk about them to other friends, then tell you to your face "you just need the right person."

Good friends who know you well enough also aren't going to tell you to keep trying to salvage a relationship that has been vaporized.  You don't take a car that has been totaled to the shop and ask them to fix it.  You understand the vehicle is no longer worth saving, and you purchase a new one.

All romantic relationships get fender benders.  Things that are fixable.  And some romantic relationships get totaled, and people refuse to acknowledge that it's done and that no amount of work could really make it driveable again.  I can't tell you how many couples I know that are in totaled relationships that refuse to acknowledge that the scrapyard is the only proper place for said relationship to go.

"You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away, know when to run." -- Kenny Rogers 

After my divorce, I knew I was screwed up.  My closest friends were there for me, but they also didn't enable me continuing down destructive paths that were leading me straight into hell.  They told me I was screwed up.  And I'm glad they told me that, because it's what I needed to hear.

I had devolved from the man I had been for a very long time, into someone I didn't recognize anymore.  And I knew that.  I knew I had strayed from so many of the principles that I had built my entire life around.

And each and every one of them told me the same thing.  That I had to make choices to change things.  That it was on me.  Which is also what my therapist told me.  Which is what any good therapist is going to tell you.  A good therapist isn't going to ask you "how does that make you feel?"

More than likely, you already told them how you feel.  The question that should be asked is...

"what are you going to do about it?"  

Do you even need a therapist for that?  Once I accepted all of the things I had control over, and let go of the things I didn't, I realized I had an enormous amount of power and capability in my life.  And most people truly, I believe, are afraid of that power.  Because then the onus is completely up to them to "fix" whatever it is that ails them.  And there's a lot of people that love to squat down into suffering and not move, because of how hard change can be.

But change, no matter how painful, is a lot less painful than being emotionally isometric and not doing a damn thing to get out of the mess you've made of your life.

Think about it; when you have this great big emotional crisis in  your life that you can't or won't properly address, every other problem that comes along feels ten times larger than it really is.

Don't read past that and not let that really sink in.

People talk about how problems come in bunches, but for the most part, we usually have all of the little problems going on, that roll off of us like water off a duck's back.  However, when there is a huge emotional cyst in our life that we won't pop, then suddenly all of our problems loom much larger than they normally would.  Everything feels "heavy".  Everything is a crisis.  Because underneath it all is this groundswell that we refuse to address.


Fix that big problem, and the little issues tend to take care of themselves.  Or let me say, at least we have the emotional strength available to us now, after addressing the big problem, so that the little problems become "little problems" again.

Since I've spent a lot of time owning that I did so many things wrong that caused my problems, I can also say with all honesty, I did a lot of things right in the aftermath of my separation and divorce.

Namely, I spent time alone.  Even after the former Mrs. Carter and I came to the conclusion that we wouldn't be reconciling, but that we weren't ready to divorce yet.  I didn't go out and date.  I spent those months working on restoring myself.  Identifying where I lost my way, why I made certain decisions, and what needed to change in my life in order to grow into the man I wanted to be.

Someone told me during this time, "the path a lot of men end up finding they walk when they go through this is that, they lose who they were for a while, then come out on the other side a better version of the man they were before all of this happened."

I knew that's what I wanted to get out of all of this.  I didn't want to continue sinking into the emotional abyss that had consumed my life, and left me in a place where I would lie in bed some nights and cry until my whole body hurt because I was ashamed of what I had let my life spiral into.

I knew for me, I needed to put my energy and efforts into myself and into the people whose lives mattered the most.  And you know who that was?

Me.

Let me be clear about something here that really annoys me.  If you want to fix your life, you have to be selfish enough to fix yourself first.  I've written many times about how on a plane, they tell you in the case of an emergency that  you need to put your oxygen mask on first before putting it on your child or someone who can't take care of themselves.  It's called healthy selfishness.  You can't be good for anyone until you are introspective enough to understand your own problems, and then take steps towards fixing them.

You should see a pattern developing here if you piece it all together.

I didn't band aid my problems with unhealthy coping mechanisms.  I didn't have friends enabling my previous bad choices.  I owned my part in how my life had become unraveled.  I worked on taking steps towards becoming the man I really wanted to be.  And that required me putting myself first for a while, so that way I could be the best version of myself in order for that to transcend into the lives of those I loved.

If you wanted my recipe for how I got my life back on track, I'd say those were the ingredients.

But there was something else that happened in all of this that manifested in my thinking....

My struggles didn't have to define me.

I know far too many people who cling to victimization and allow all the bad shit that has happened to them define who they are.  We can make poor choices and grow from them.  Or we can let them define us and our life because we sit down into those choices and say "this is who I am." instead of saying "that is who I was, and those were the choices I made, but it doesn't wholly define me."

I also wasn't going to let other people define who I was, because I can tell you this.  When you let other people define you, especially the people who want you to live in a way they think you should be living, they will always make you smaller than you are.  Those people will define you by your mistakes, and by your poor choices, and leverage that against you emotionally to manipulate your life so that your future choices are based on making them happy.



My dad tried to do this to me.  He called me and told me I was a fool for allowing my marriage to slip away.  He tried to shame me into going back into it.  I wasn't having it.  I knew that I couldn't be happy in that relationship anymore, and that we were not going to create the model of a marriage that I would want my kids to be in.  I knew I couldn't make her happy, and she knew she couldn't do the same for me.  No one was going to shame me into a life I didn't want anymore.  If you ever want to know the true definition of selfishness, it was written by Oscar Wilde....

“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live. And unselfishness is letting other people's lives alone, not interfering with them. Selfishness always aims at creating around it an absolute uniformity of type. Unselfishness recognizes infinite variety of type as a delightful thing, accepts it, acquiesces in it, enjoys it. It is not selfish to think for oneself. A man who does not think for himself does not think at all. It is grossly selfish to require of one's neighbor that he should think in the same way, and hold the same opinions. Why should he? If he can think, he will probably think differently. If he cannot think, it is monstrous to require thought of any kind from him. A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.”

It wasn't selfish to want to move forwards into a new life.  Into one where I could make choices to invite happiness back in.  To allow healing to take place.

It was healthy.  And I couldn't be the man I wanted to be if I wasn't healthy, and happy.  Single, married, whatever your relationship status may be, it all has to start there.  If I was ever to be good for someone again, I had to be able to bring a healthy and happy Paul to the table.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The beginning of the end, and new beginnings - Part 1


I've debated on sharing this for quite some time.  For a myriad of reasons.

My personal life has been one that, for the most part, I've kept off of social media.

I made one post about my divorce.  In which I tried to be as transparent as possible but also making sure to respect my former wife, kids, family, and friends who all knew in details of how things arrived at that place.  I've said many times, my private life is private.  That word private is in there for a reason.

But since that post, I've gotten I don't know how many messages asking how me and the former Mrs. Carter ended up in the place we are now.  Where we have a great friendship, and co-parent about as well as I think any two couple could.  Or people who were going through a similar crisis, and just wanted some words of wisdom about what my thoughts about their situation was.

Divorce can be a hard place to arrive at.  The finality of it all.  But it can also be a liberating one.  I remember leaving the lawyers office after our final visit feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders.  There was closure.  A chapter in my life I could finally turn the page on.  And my future was now this blank canvas that I could paint with any types of shapes and colors that I wanted to paint it with.  That can be scary for some people.  Or as it was for me, it can feel very freeing.

I only had one person tell me "congratulations!" when I told them about my divorce.  She too had divorced and also hated when people said "I'm so sorry" about it.  Louis CK had the same take.

"It's a stupid thing to say."

The whole "I'm sorry" bit.

Yes, it is.  It's stupid.  Or let me say, I think it is.

Because, and to borrow from him....no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.  None.  Not one.

"If two people got married, and they had a really good thing, and then got divorced, that would be really sad.  But that has literally happened zero times."  

So just for your own insight here, when someone tells you they got divorced, just say congratulations.  Or simply ask "so what's on the horizon?"  But at least try to avoid saying "I'm so sorry".  Even if they feel broken up about the split, you can ease the pain a bit by helping them to realize that as an adult, they have a future in front of them that is probably not shackled to a romantic relationship that wasn't worth being in anymore.  They have choices.  They have control.  People have to learn to embrace those things post divorce, and take steps towards moving on with life.  As a great friend told me "you're not starting over, you're just getting on with life."

But that's not the social norm.  Saying "congratulations" about divorce, I mean.

And I know there's probably quite a few people reading this that don't agree with me.  And that's ok.  Because you know what?   You'll never walk a single mile in my shoes, and you'll never pay a single bill of mine, or carry any burden I will ever have to bear.  I also know what a lot of people are probably thinking as well.

"No, it's sad because of what it puts the kids through if they are involved."

And I have an answer for that as well.

You shouldn't save a marriage, or stay in one, for the kids.

Two people staying together for "the sake of the kids" and creating a model of a relationship they see everyday, that isn't filled with love, passion, enjoyment, togetherness, and harmony.  That's what sad.

Those are the traits kids should be seeing day in and day out, along with how to resolve conflict, which will happen in every marriage, in a way that helps the relationship to grow and prosper that they too can learn from.

It's better for kids to exist inside of a model where two people are split, but co-parent effectively in a loving manner, than for them to exist inside of a home where to people co-exist but don't share intimacy and a deep seeded love for each other.  Couples living as roommates that split bills?  You can find one of those on Craigslist.  That's not a marriage.

A loveless relationship without passion and excitement is a tomb.  It's where souls go to die before our physical body does.

I wonder how many people surrender their happiness to a life of misery in those relationships?  For their kids of course, I mean.  Because splitting means there will be emotional trauma, pain, long and unpleasant talks about why mommy and daddy aren't together anymore.  That shit is not fun.  And many people avoid all of those things because it's painful.  It's painful for them to have to watch their kids try to understand the complex natures of these relationships and the emotions involved in them.

But you know what else causes trauma and damage?  The kind that is not easily undone either.

Keeping the kids in a loveless home where two people sleep in a bed together (or maybe he's on the couch some nights), talk about finances, and do shit together...with the kid(s) of course...but there's no real joy in it all for them as a couple, is tragic.  And you're fooling yourself and lying to yourself daily if you don't think the kid(s) don't know that.

We don't give kids enough credit, even at young ages, for really understanding the lack of love and intimacy shared between their parents.  They may not can express it or articulate it in grown up words when they are young, but they certainly can, and will, when they are older.  The recognize it.  They feel it.  Trust me, they know mommy and daddy don't hug, kiss, and snuggle on the couch together.  They see disconnect and apathy.  They are fully aware of it.

"We don't yell, or argue in front of our kids."

Take yourself back to your childhood for a minute.  You didn't always understand what your parents may have been arguing about, or the complexity of what they were hashing through.  But you did understand emotions.  You did understand love or anger or bitterness.  Even at a young age.  You did understand rejection and apathy and rejection and a wide array of emotions that we as adults like to pretend kids don't grasp.

They don't grasp the depths or the complexity of the situations that caused us to arrive there.  But they understand what the emotional destination looks like.

And this is how people lie to themselves.  Kids end up enduring the emotional alienation that exists in the paradigm of the relationship shared between their parents.  What's the opposite of love?   It's not hate.  It's apathy.  If kids can feel love between two people, do you really believe they can't feel apathy as well?   Damage doesn't have to be loud.  It does't always exist in the form of furious words or physical abuse.  It can and does exist in the the vacuum that is known as the absence of love and disowned romance.  That's the tomb.

And kids are sponges.

Give them anger, and they will soak that up, and wring it out in their future relationships.  But show them nothingness, and they will suffer through repeated failed relationships in their future because you'll be the one responsible for having left their sponge empty.  How are they to shower someone with genuine affection, love, and sincerity when you never genuinely showed them what that meant at a truly authentic level with your significant other?

I give my former wife all the credit in the world for being an incredibly courageous and strong woman, for having the knowledge and strength to know we were no longer showing our kids what a great marriage looked like anymore.  So she walked.

And she always give me credit for working my ass over in the years after that, to make amends to her and working hard to co-parent with her in a way that ended up creating a new and wonderful friendship between the two of us.  A co-parenting relationship we've been able to watch our kids thrive and flourish in.

After our divorce was final, I actually took her out to dinner at this really nice restaurant and we toasted to all the years that were great, not so great, and to our future together to be the best parents we could be for our kids and to a new friendship.  Our kids still see love between us.  Not discontent or anger or resentment.  They got to watch what letting go of resentment looks like.  And in retrospect, I also realized  we've given our kids a model that when or if their relationship is no longer serving them or growing them, or isn't fulfilling, that there should be a time when letting go of it will serve them the greatest.  

All romantic relationships aren't worth saving.  That includes marriages.  And certainly, there comes a point where you should be introspective enough to recognize that while relationships take work, they shouldn't BE work.  I had a psychologist tell me that people have to learn what to "fix" in their relationships. And they often don't understand that "fixing" a relationship, sometimes means ending it.  For your health, your significant others health, and the health and well being if there are kids involved.  That most people do not understand that kids growing up in a home that is devoid of love between their parents is horrifically damaging.



We were smart enough to know that it's better to split for all the right reasons, than to stay together for all the wrong ones.

Falling on a sword and being a martyr in a romantic relationship is a benefit to no one.  Not even your kids.  There is absolutely nothing heroic about it.  I don't care what your therapist, friends, or the dude behind the counter at Quick Trip tells you.

No one ever fixed a problem in their life by waiting around.  Reactive people are the ones that end up with mountains of stress in their life because they are constantly having to duck and dodge all the shit that is being hurled at them.  If you've ever watched boxing, you'll know the guy eating all the fists to the face is the one standing still, and not bobbing weaving.  The problems in life aren't a lot different.  If you're just standing in one spot, expect to eat a lot of punches.  

Proactive people have stress too.  But proactive people understand that usually there's one major underlying issue that has to be resolved, that has a domino effect in their life that transcends into resolving other minor problems.  The proactive boxer responds to stimulus by making a choice to try and avoid getting hit, while answering back with his own fists.

Staying in a relationship or marriage for no other reason than the other person is the mother or father of your child is is faulty logic.  It's failure.  Plain and simple.  And one that is going to leave you with a very fragmented legacy because one day your children will be adults.  And most likely, unbeknownst to you, they may be in a conversation with friends, or even with their significant other where they utter a sentence, or sentences, that if you knew about, could break you.

"I knew my mom and dad never really loved each other."

"They only stayed together for us."

I read from a Christian author that, the greatest gift we can give our kids is a marriage that radiates love and passion and desire that is undeniable to them.  Because that's the representation of what Christ gave to us.  Whether you are a person of faith or not, I think that's a hard concept to disagree with.  And if those things aren't there, then something else has to be existing in place of them.  And those things will be what they take from you to carry on into their own romantic lives as adults.  You get to be at least partially responsible for the model they create in their future romantic adventures.

"Paul, this whole thing sounds like it's very pro-divorce".

I'm not pro-divorce.  I'm pro-awesome marriage.  And I'm fully aware that it can't be awesome 100% of the time.  But if you can't meet the 80/20 rule then something is amiss.  80% of the time, it should be awesome.  Everyone should be able to put up with 20% of bullshit, or times where things suck.

I'm pro-working on things to make it better.  But you can't get blood from a turnip.  And you should reach a point where you know that what's going to serve you best after you've exhausted your emotional and mental resources, is to walk away and work on that new blank canvas.

So what happens after all of this?   What was my aftermath?

I was single again.

No I really was.  Apparently that's what happened after my divorce decree arrived in my e-mail.  It didn't tell me "hey Paul, you're single."  I kinda figured out that it went without saying.

So there I was...........single again.  With more baggage than LAX at Christmas time that I had to figure out what to do with.

Part 2 later.........


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