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I have spent more hours than I care to consider trying to understand the dichotomy of both loving yourself and being unsatisfied with where you are. It seems like those two attitudes can either work together or in opposition to one another, and the latter appears to be more common.

Both learning to care for myself and trying to improve were key in helping me find myself after my 15-year marriage ended, and it has been an ongoing journey of trying to develop these skills in the six years since. The potential friction between the two didn’t become apparent to me until recently.

While I was first just doing what I felt I had to do without thinking much about it, I began to notice a lot of others who seemed stuck in a state of self-pity – and denial to boot. They talked like they had no hope for anything ever getting better in their lives and they were powerless to get what they felt would make them happy. People in this mindset, what I’ve come to call “change state 0”, have the challenge of requiring a lot of tools and gentle alterations to their current patterns, but just like being a noob in the gym, huge changes can come relatively quickly with enough humility and dedication.

But as time goes on changes become more difficult, and worse still, there is a hidden dark side of change which is something that I didn’t even see in myself until after the fact. Understanding the difference happened when I looked at two of my relationships.

In relationship one, my girlfriend would often get visibly excited when she saw a ‘roided out guy on stage or screen. I found myself wanting to feel the kind of admiration she was giving them. Ironically she was a self-proclaimed feminist who aggressively hated the sexualization of women, but I digress. Wanting to change because of feelings of inadequacy — even though I didn’t recognize it as such at the time — may still have long term benefits, but it also leads to a state of constant dissatisfaction with yourself at a deep level, which is not a particularly enjoyable state to be in. This is “change state 1”.

That relationship ended for unrelated reasons, and I’m grateful it did because of how oblivious I was. I was so distraught about the relationship ending that I spoke with a psychologist who laid things out to me in a way that I came to the conclusion that there was actually a lot of ways that this girl had unfair expectations of me that I had been blinded to.

Shortly after I met someone who was outwardly everything I wanted, beautiful, funny, affectionate, compassionate. While these attributes were amazing, she also had another trait that I hadn’t counted on, which is that she accepted me for the way I was; she made me feel desired. I still wanted to be my best, but this time is was because I felt that I had value and wanted to increase that value. In this state – “change state 2” – you love yourself so much that you want to continually improve is a far more fulfilling place to be, and from what I can tell it doesn’t have an expiration date.

It’s unfortunate to me that outside influences affected my state of mind so dramatically, and concerning that I was either ignorant of it or somehow turning a blind eye to it. It goes to show the importance of trying to see yourself objectively as thoroughly as possible. Sometimes we talk ourselves into the worst possible decisions and speaking with a professional is sometimes the best way to realize it. Short of that we have to do our best to watch and catch ourselves as well as to be careful about who we let into our social circle.

I generally consider myself to be above getting offended. In fact I often get offended by how easily people are offended these days. But when something does upset me it does so with tremendous force, so I wanted to look into why this might be.

While considering the things that upset me the most, I realized that generally these things are linked to our personal identity.

For example, I found myself getting quite upset about the idea of encouraging young boys to dress and act like girls. There are a lot of these types of things going on – attempts to tear down social norms regarding gender. So in the face of being called various names, I asked myself why the attacks on masculinity upset me so much, and what deeper personal values I feel they are directly attacking.

Compounding the problem is that people don’t tend to help this internal process so instead of helping you determine why you feel your identity is under attack, they instead tend to accuse you of being hateful or a bigot – which generally leads to a rebellious pushback and a hearty “fuck you”.

While considering why putting little boys in dresses was so upsetting to me, I tried earnestly to determine specifically what it was that bothered me by it. If you’ve read some of my other recent blogs you know that I feel that masculinity is under attack in numerous ways, so that certainly played a part. But realizing that wasn’t enough, I further asked myself why the societal attack on traditional masculinity was upsetting to me?

As I asked myself this question, my mind shifted towards my children, and to my love for them. For my desire for them to have strong male and female role models. At this point I began to see that these feelings were coming from a place of compassion but were manifesting as defensive anger.

Still, I wanted to dig deeper and ask myself why I felt children need a strong male and female role model. This one was a lot harder for me to unpack, but part of the answer was in the very questions that brought me to this point… the fact that I dread the idea of my children growing up to be the kind of judgemental, mean-spirited people who would attack others simply for having differing beliefs. As it turns out, freedom of belief is of high importance to me. I want my children to respect others, and I equally want them to freely embrace their uniqueness and personal qualities rather than feeling ashamed of them – just as I have had to stand resiliently against the feelings that my desire to be a gentleman has come under fire.

Beyond my own children I feel a deep sadness for other children who grow up without learning how to be thoughtful and proud. The idea of having strong male and female role models seemed to me to be the best recipe for this, and parents failing to do this have failed the innocent. It is was beginning to become clear to me where this passionate response came from.

Of course the more I learned about these hidden values, the more they became unclear. For example, my children have not had a particularly strong female role model in their lives, but they still make me proud. Equally, there have been millions of people with good, traditional parental role models who have turned into despicable human beings. So the self-evaluation must continue.

Coming back to the original question – why are we offended… it seems to me that when the things we care most about come under fire we become defensive and the outside world tends to look down on that because they are unable to see beyond the external manifestation. That is impossible to change, but what we can change is how we look at others.

For example, this idea that was offensive to me came from someone who had deep-seeded values of their own, so the second – and perhaps more important part of these times is to do the same exercise for the other person – namely ask questions.

It’s not always possible or practical to ask them directly but we can always ponder the questions. If done honestly you will almost always find that their point of view which was so utterly offensive, also came from a good place.

Speaking of good places, I have to go to the bathroom now.

After writing my post about things women seem to want in a man I read a book called Open Her by Karen Brody. This was an amazing call to men to embrace their masculinity in a positive way which flies in the face of the current movement which seems to be eradicating masculinity.

Karen lists seven archetypes that can be used in combination or individually. I wish there was more content like this available because it was an amazing read and I encourage anyone interested in embracing your masculinity to read this.

I don’t want to step on her toes here although I will share a few tips that I picked up…

Perhaps the most straightforward thing is that a man’s job is to be a protector. She wants to feel safe and protected with you. This means defending her honour when needed and with your physicality messaging that you will protect her (and potential offspring) at all cost.

Similarly, there is great strength in being decisive and leading her. That doesn’t mean you don’t listen to what she wants, but it means you always have a plan and are comfortable taking charge of situations.

Another aspect of strength has to do with rejection. If your lady rejects your advances it may be for a number of reasons and you must learn to not take it personally an not sulk. Doing this makes you look weak and potentially even perverse.

So far all of these have been about strength, but there is another side of the coming and that is tenderness. She wants to feel loved, wanted and understood. Karen gives a number of ways to work on this in her book, but suffice it to say you may need to make a conscious effort to message that to her. I was specifically struck by the statement in the book that says (I’m paraphrasing) you must let her know every day that you choose her.

If you’ve read my other book reviews you know I’m hard to impress, yet this one is a definite winner!

I’ve asked a few people this question and I’m most cases I’m either attacked or shrugged off. Apparently it’s frowned upon to acknowledge that male identities have come under attack and need to be upheld and protected. And since some asshats might complain that means taking a stance against women – let me assure you that it doesn’t. Quite the opposite. Protecting what it means to be a man also means demanding respect for women – up until the point where they are making men out to be the enemy.

My previous stance on “toxic masculinity” was basically that it doesn’t exist. My position has changed a little bit after reading a fantastic book called “open her” by Karen Brody. Her book talks about how to embrace aspects of your masculinity in order to have the kind of sexual relationship you want with your partner.

However she does make a point of saying that abusing these aspects in order to manipulate women is possible albeit unethical. I think this type of behaviour might be suitable for the classification of “toxic” although I would still suggest that better descriptors would be to call men like this what they are: bullies, assholes, liars, manipulators etc. My point is that masculinity itself is not the issue.

Masculinity is a GOOD thing and for me it includes some of the very things that women both claim to desire and loathe these days – case and point: holding a door open for a lady is being called “benevolent sexism”. Bullshit. You can’t have it both ways, and I choose to accept my role as a man even though it is clearly under fire.

I’ve been meaning to review “12 rules for life” for quite some time, but now that I’ve had the opportunity to meet Jordan Peterson and see his live lecture perhaps the time is right.

First a little background… I was introduced to the world of Dr. Peterson a couple of years ago by a friend as we were having a discussion about various ailments of our society including poverty and the “entitlement” mindset that has crept into our culture among other things. My initial interest in Peterson was his discussions of how mythological stories have found their way into culture (or maybe vise versa) so I watched several of his lectures on archetypes and film analysis which I found to be fascinating. Shortly thereafter I saw his videos where he was being attacked by people who were angry that he refused to use “compelled speech”, the fallout of this was that he was called all sorts of horrific things, all for the sake of wanting to be the master of his own language choices. It immediately made him an ally in my mind.

Within mere weeks of this his book was released followed by the infamous Cathy Newman interview, which I had optimistically hoped would bring an end to the stupid attacks he was facing, but just like bullies of childhood, when they are defeated they don’t stay down, they keep coming with more anger because of their defeat.

The so-called virtuous left don’t like thinking of themselves as bullies, but how else can you describe those who would force you to do what they want?

As an aside, I had an epiphany recently that helped me understand what might be happening. Left-leaning people tend to be driven more by compassion than reason. This is theoretically a good feature, and one that society definitely needs. However, media outlets take advantage of this by twisting stories in a way that plays off of left-leaning people’s irrational emotions. Little wonder we’re in the state we are with irresponsible reporting of this sort.

Anyway, Dr. Peterson spoke mere blocks from where I used to live in Ottawa and it was a unique experience. His shows of this type are not scripted, rather he picks a topic that is prevalent in his book and speaks about his thoughts on it, on as many levels as possible. Because of the nature of this type of speech it is fascinating to see him try to organize the vast and broad ideas about a given subject into something that is interesting and applicable. The topic he chose to speak on for us was: Responsibility.

I’ve heard this concept appear in many of his writings and interviews, but I could never have predicted where he took it. He spoke of a dream he had years ago and is still trying to interpret, in which he was posed like the Virtruvian Man in a transparent box that was suspended in the air. In front of him we’re several small boxes, each with a serpent’s tail and it was up to him to decide which of the tails to grab and pull out of the box (I’m going off of memory so hopefully I have this right). He followed this abstract image with discussions of a few things including the idea of “potential”. He noted that potential is something that only humans worry about, and that it is something that hasn’t yet happened, meaning that we as a species not only worry about everything that has happened or is happening in our lives, but we also worry about things that haven’t even occurred. However potential can be an important measuring stick for our expectations of others and the choices they make.

In true Jordan Peterson style, he went off in many directions, including the proposition that all that is good is derived through truth, and that the definition of love might be characterized – at least in part – as those we “see”.

If I understood him right, I think the point he was trying to drive home was that we are all responsible for our actions whether we like it or not, it is the decision to acknowledge that we are responsible that separates those who have happiness and those who do not.

I truly hope these lectures are being recorded in their entirety because there are many pearls of wisdom to be found, although sifting through the complex language to find them is often challenging… then again, that might be the very aspect that makes it perfect to revisit.

Here’s the video review: https://youtu.be/nHWonDTuODY

I saw a feed come up in a couple of my social media’s advertising a book giveaway for something called “Muscle: The Stupid Simple Solution To Building Rock Hard Muscle While Eating Like A King And Dominating Your Life”

That’s one fucking title!

Anyway, I’ll be honest, when I watched the video I was like… “this little dude is gonna teach me how to build muscle?” But I looked into his bio and he seemed to be somewhat legit – at least as far as understanding muscle building science.

The add led to a page that made the claim that his publisher gave him 1000 copies of the book to give away, you just pay the shipping.

Here’s a couple screen captures of his page:

I filled out the form, and it turned out the shipping would cost $15, which seemed a bit steep, so I went to Amazon and found the book with free shipping for $20. There were also several shining reviews of the book.

I decided to spend the extra few bucks pick it up through amazon prime, that way if it sucked I wouldn’t be on his email list.

It was when I got the notification from amazon that it would take over a week to ship that I got suspicious. I decided to find out who his “publishers” are and it turned out my suspicion was correct… it is himself.

Now, I have absolutely nothing against self-publishing. Writing is a tough gig and getting published in a dying industry is no simple task. What I DO have a problem with is deceptive marketing (see Vince Del Monte).

Having used createspace myself for a few projects I realized that he is not giving these books away for free at all. This $15 price tag is not the shipping price alone, but actually the cost that createspace charges to print the books on demand. This also explained why it would take so long for me to get the book.

So once I realized he was being sneaky about the so-called publishers, I began to second guess the slew of five star reviews as well.

However… I really wanted to give the material a fair shot. After all, if it is so important to him to get this material out to people that he would go to these unethical lengths there is hopefully something of great value in it.

While waiting for the book to arrive I reached out to Jason to ask him about this publishing company claim, but no response from either the email address listed on his website or any of the social media adds.

Once the book arrived I really liked the visual layout, I dove right in. Chapter 1 was titled “How I gained 27 lbs of muscle in 7 months”, a promising title. However nowhere in the chapter does he explain HOW he supposedly gained this muscle just THAT he gained it. So not off to a great start.

In Chapter 2, he begins to fill in the gaps, but basically says the answer to HOW he gained that mass is by being a lifting newb. I began to get worried that his big “secret” is: “be a newb”.

Chapter 3 is basically a rundown of what some consider the “ideal” physique. Again no practical information.

I’m not gonna go over each chapter, but suffice it to say that by the end of part 1, I had absolutely no idea what he was claiming was the “stupid simple solution”.

Part 2 made me none the wiser, he did reference Brad Shoenfield’s mechanisms of hypertrophy, but if that’s what you’re looking for, Brad’s Max Muscle is the book to get.

By the end of the book I felt no better educated and I still have no idea what he thinks is the “secret” to building muscle aside from being a training newb.

So aside from the fact that it’s slimy marketing at work, the book itself is a waste of money. Just don’t.

Every time I cut I find new challenges… this time is no different and it took my friend Nate pointing out some ideas that helped me re-calibrate my plan.

My struggle is primarily that I’m losing weight but my belly fat looks worse than ever. So the plan of attack is to focus on adrenal repair via cutting out caffeine and adaptogens as well as trying to reduce my stress in a few ways including having a little food in my stomach pre-workout.

As far as training, my approach has been to do a method I’ve not done for years which is full-body training, 3 days a week with cardio days in between. The idea with this is to model my training after Steve Reeves, who built a ridiculous body before steroids were as prevalent as they are now. The big difference is that I’m supper-setting movements to increase the metabolic effect.