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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

NYC vs. SoCal - Part 2 (The Subtle Differences)

Robert Manni - Monday, August 25, 2014

This isn’t your usual comparison between LA and NYC. We’re not talking movie stars and masters of the universe or beach bunnies and fashionistas or the Yankees and Dodgers. Those comparisons been covered quite well by numerous insightful writers and bloggers. This post targets those under the radar differences in how people live on both coasts. For context, my in-laws are in Temecula, ninety minutes southeast of LA and I visit them every summer. So through my Jersey-bred Guy’s Guy lens, I’ve spent the last week studying the day-to-day nuances of the people and the area. Here are my findings on the nuances between the two coasts. 

Oil and Water

In most cases, these two liquids don’t mix. But in SoCal they’re fundamental resources that drive the economy and lives of the vast population of this sprawling state. The highways are jammed with gas guzzling vehicles at all hours across the myriad highways woven through the mountains, plains, cities and beachfronts. For the most part, the vast terrain is stained brown and parched except where developments have been built and landscaped. All the foliage needs constant hydration to counteract the impact of an ever-blazing sun. Without oil for transportation and water for hydration, this state is cooked. Back East, we don’t see the importance of these resources in the same way. We have the option of mass transportation. And, the ravages from flooding far outweigh the infrequent dry spells. In SoCal, drought is the norm. There have been rumblings about privatizing the water supply since. If the water supple continues to dwindle, watch these closely.

Old vs. New 

In SoCal, you constantly see land being cleared and vast, new developments being built. In New York, it’s all about gentrification and the re-re invention of neighborhoods throughout the boroughs. What was once a ghetto is now a million-dollar listing. In New York, old becomes new. In SoCal, everything is new except those off the beaten path, barren and forgotten small towns in the valleys that look like they were built in the seventies.

The Ubiquitous Taco

In Manhattan, if an establishment serves decent tacos, it gets a write up in the coolest city-centric blogs and publications, lauding its creativity and authenticity. In SoCal, there is a Mom and Pop taco shop or chain store situated on every other street corner. And most of them still beat the pants off any Mexican food you can find in the Big Apple.  The inverse is true for pizza and bagels. They’re great in NYC and for the most part still fall short in SoCal. Go figure.

Health Foods

Advantage SoCal. Chains like Sprouts and Roots are light years ahead of Whole Foods and the small health food stores permeating the city. The produce is fresher, bigger, tastier and far less expensive. I bought a gluten-free tuna wrap the other day for three dollars. I did a double take on my way to the register, thinking the sandwich dude had messed up. But, no, the cost was one-third of what I pay in NYC or Jersey. In fact, all the food in SoCal is way cheaper than in New York. But with the exception of mahi-mahi, the seafood in SoCal is in no way comparable in quality or taste to what we get on the East Coast. Go figure.

Stores and Service

Let’s face it. Everyone in New York who works in retail hates their job and most of them let you know it. Who hasn’t dealt with the grumbling, grunting retail employee whose idea of friendliness is a curt “no problem” when you ask for a bag to carry your groceries? In SoCal the vibe is looser, sometimes to the point of absurdity. Yesterday the check out guy at Ralph’s in Temecula looked at my San Diego Padres baseball cap and exclaimed, “Cool hat!” I wondered if he was talking to me. After all, the Padres are the local team. Does anyone say this when you wear your Yankees cap in New York? The other night I ran into Albertsons to buy ice. The check out guy looked at my paper coffee cup and said, “Ah, having a late night cup of Joe?” People just don’t say things like that to you in New York. As innocuous as this comment is, it would feel intrusive.

Another example of the differences—my wife and stopped by a local Coffee Grind at 9:15pm for a decaf lattes. The Place closes at 9:30. We’d had not been there in a year. However, the owner told us we looked familiar. Then he gave us one half dozen doughnuts that he was planning on tossing. And they were really good. A bonus example: I called Sports Authority to find out the stores hours. The place was closed. Yet, someone answered the phone. “Sports Authority. Hi, this is Eric.” Never happen in a New York minute. I chalk all of this up to the fact that unlike in the hectic grind of New York City, people in SoCal have more time to be friendly. Another cool thing. The supermarkets sell wine and booze and most have banks under the same roof. And for some crazy reason, despite the non-stop, scorching sun and baking heat, the tanning salons do quiet well out here. Go figure.

Parking

In New York, pedestrians usually seek out the sunny side of the street. In SoCal, drivers keep their eyes peeled to find a spot in the shade. What the heck do you call those silver and black mats drivers prop up against their windshield to block out the sun? Go figure.

Proximity

In SoCal you can hop in the car and be in the mountains, the beach, golf or gambling within an hour. Technically you can also do this in New York, but the Catskills are not six thousand feet high, as far as I know.  And my beloved Jersey Shore is not Malibu. And the number of accessible and affordable golf courses in SoCal dwarfs New York. And all the Indian Reservations in SoCal are less seedy than Atlantic City or the dumps in Queens.

Sounds like your Guy’s Guy is contemplating a move west. Maybe. But despite all of its crabbiness and dirt, there really is no place like New York. There is a passion that permeates the air, the energy and everyone you meet in the five boroughs. Hell, even the guy flipping pizza on Carmine Street dough has attitude, gravitas and a few stories to tell. I’m an East Coast guy through and through, but I do love the So Cal lifestyle and with each trip out west I find more to enjoy about it, despite things that seem weird to a New Yorker. Go figure.

Is your vibe East Coast or West Coast?

This week’s Guys’ Guys of the Week are all the people who love New York and SoCal and find the joy wherever they’re at.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Hypnosis: Part 1

Robert Manni - Thursday, August 14, 2014


Guy’s Guys enjoy learning new things and adding to their game. Hypnosis is actually a very old, and to many, a very odd thing, but it will help you with your game. 

Hypnosis or hypnotherapy has been one of the most wonderful gifts of my life. In fact, when I tell people I’m a certified advanced clinical master hypnotist, they often look at me apprehensively, as if I might put them under a spell. This outmoded thinking couldn't be further from the truth. Hypnosis is a positive, spiritual practice with a foundation grounded in love, not exploitation.

And with this in mind, dear friends, I humbly offer my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Hypnosis: Part 1. In this post we’ll explore hypnosis fundamentals, while clearing up the usual misunderstandings people have about the practice. A few weeks from now Part 2 will drill down into hypnosis techniques that help people help themselves. And, that’s what hypnosis is all abouthelping men and women be at their best. Sounds like it fits right into a Guys' Guy's world, doesn’t it?

What is Hypnosis?

According to Wikipedia and the 2004 version of the Encyclopedia Britannica, hypnosis is a psychological state with physiological attributes superficially resembling sleep and marked by an individual's level of awareness other than the ordinary conscious state. I’m already falling asleep already. For all intents and purposes, hypnosis is a holistic art that access the subconscious mind to address and reprogram specific mental and emotional issues. Think of it as fixing or patching your personal, subconscious software. It’s that simple. We operate using both our conscious and subconscious minds. The conscious mind deals with our daily taskslike picking up the dry cleaning, tuning out those annoying subway dancers, and digesting the most up-to-date stats from ESPN's Sportscenter.

How Does Hypnosis Work?

Although we are born “perfect”, our subconscious inscribes everything we do and experience, including our human functions. For instance, we don’t think about breathing. We just breathe. That’s our subconscious mind at work. Same with sleeping or farting—they’re wired into our subconscious. The subconscious is also vulnerable to suggestion and because of this, it’s also way more powerful than our conscious mind. Basically, we tell or suggest to our subconscious what to do and how to feel. It always behaves as directed and that can be dangerous.

In hypnotherapy, invariably, the client brings the hypnotist both the problem and the solution. The hypnotist doesn’t “do” anything to the client except relax him and get to the bottom of the issues. A good hypnotist helps a client access the information so the client can help him or herself.

Give Me An Example.

Here’s how life can get sticky and how hypnosis can help. Let’s say a client, John, has an unfounded fear of the water. A good hypnotist would help John relax by guiding him into a deep meditation. Then he and John will access John’s subconscious mind and communicate with it to clearly identify the trigger for the issue and then suggest a thought process and affirmations that reframe the issue in a positive way. In this case, the hypnotist would regress John through various stages of his life. Together they would uncover the trigger for his fear of water. 

Maybe when little Johnny was two years old he drifted too deep in the pool and panicked. He called for his Mommy, but she had a few too many cocktails and was flirting with Carlos, the hunky cabana boy, instead of paying attention to her son. Eventually, little Johnny was pulled to safety, but the experience left him with a subconscious fear of the water. In this case the hypnotist helped John identify this trigger, isolate it and reframe it so John can file it away and move on with his life. This particular technique works for just about anything that has a trigger, provided that the client relaxes and does the work. If John won’t relax and is not buying into the process, he will not lose his fear of water, With the help of his hypnotist he can revisit and address the trigger, and give his subconscious new instructions about water that eliminate his fears.

Misconceptions

Let’s get a few things straight. You can’t be hypnotized unless you want to be hypnotized. And, no, you won’t cluck like a chicken, unless you want to cluck like a chicken. The stage hypnotists you see on television represent an offshoot of the practice. They are entertainers and at times frowned upon by the hypnosis community. When stage hypnotists work with people, the process begins with their pouring through a large number of audience members and winnowing down the group until they find people who are exhibitionists or like being manipulated on stage. It’s who they are, so they are not doing anything out of character. With this in mind, a hypnotist cannot force anyone to exhibit behaviors outside of their nature and moral boundaries. So you don’t have to worry about a hypnotist turning you into a psycho killer… unless that is your true nature and desire.

What Can Hypnosis “Cure”?

As previously stated, hypnosis doesn’t really cure anything. It does however work with your subconscious mind so you can “cure” yourself of a variety of behaviors and ways of thinking. The “big three’ issues that hypnotists work with are clients 1. becoming non-smokers 2. sleeping better 3. managing their weight. Notice these were all framed in positive terms. That said, the overriding client issue I’ve personally encountered is low self-esteem. The good news is that hypnosis can help a person reconfigure their feelings about self worth.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I again stress that the goal of all hypnotherapy is helping people live better lives. There is a huge spiritual component to the work that comes from a place of love for mankind. Hypnotists don’t prescribe drugs and are careful not to overstep their boundaries.

A good hypnotist helps clients identify and address their issue while also teaching them self-hypnosis so they can work on themselves on their own. And, isn’t it about time we all took some responsibility for our personal well being and did the work required to make a difference?

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is Dr. Joseph Murphy, author of the book, “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind”. This book is a simple, straightforward introduction to hypnosis and a practical guide for self-hypnosis.

Do you think you understand hypnosis?

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Time Management

Robert Manni - Monday, August 11, 2014


There’s been a lot said about time.

It waits for no one. It plays no favorites. It’s all about the “now”.  Everything can change in a blink of an eye. All these statements are true. That’s why it is important to grasp the concept of time and master the art of timing to help manage our lives. So, in the spirit of knowing when to hold em’ and knowing when to fold em’, I give you my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Time Management. Tick, tock, tick tock…

Work: We live in a me, me, me culture where people ironically spend a disproportionate amount of their valuable time at work. And unless you’re a government employee, gone are the days of sticking with one company and scoring a pension that carries you through your golden years. Instead it’s a scramble to get ahead, acquire the things you want, and find the time to enjoy them.

That’s why it’s important to clock your time while charting your career. Here are a few things to keep in mind. First, you only live once, so find a line work that you like, knowing that every company is different. It may be necessary to jump around a few times before finding a corporate culture that suits you. Also, keep in mind that the journey is as important as the rewards for your efforts. And, with all due respect to hard work, it’s equally important to work smart and throw in with the right people, particularly those you can learn from.

Timing your moves is critical to managing your career. Stagnation is the kiss of death for today’s employee. Too many people fall into complacency and a “comfort zone” where they stay too long in a mediocre job. This can end badly for the worker. You see it happen all the time. Stay loose and keep moving, whether it means adding to your skill set or switching jobs. We need to be open to new opportunities and take a few risks early in our careers. That’s how the game is played these days.

And, for God’s sake, enjoy the ride. Find work that provides a sense of satisfaction on a daily basis. That means serving others in some way while building a reputation on integrity, regardless of how other people may play the game. You will look back and be glad you did things the right way. And hitch your star with the winning brands and teams whenever you can.  Maintaining relationships are critical to your career. Also, keep track of the health of your company, and your status and perceived value as an employee. Be prepared to walk away without looking back, if that’s what is feeling best for you. Tick, tick, tick…

Love: This is another area in life where many times people get comfortable in their current situation, even if it not a place that serves them well. How many times have we heard from friends who tell us how their boyfriend or girlfriend is making them unhappy? Yet, they stick with these toxic relationships. I made the mistake of staying in a live-in relationship well beyond its expiration date. We were both good people, but the thrill was gone. We lived separate lives for an extra year or so before the whole thing fell apart. We can’t go back in time, but it was a mistake and we both paid the price…in time lost during our prime years. Do whatever you can to make your relationships work. But if deep down you know that it’s not happening, then move on, regardless the initial pain. In the long run you will both heave a sigh of relief. Tick tick, tick…

Life: We only go around in this incarnation once, and as the years pass time speeds up. So it’s important that we keep a grip on the steering wheel at all times. That does not mean that you need to live an expected cookie cutter existence where you get married and have two point five kids by the age of twenty-five. People nowadays spend more years living single and on their own. There is no right or wrong way to play it. It’s whatever works for you. But, these life-stage decisions come with a price of time. I stayed single for many years before getting married and becoming an “older” parent. My priorities changed quickly and I face a distinct set of challenges due to my decisions with respect to time. Finding satisfying work, maintaining my health, and spending as much time as possible with my little family now take precedent. This is a big change and it’s not easy or something I’d recommend for everyone. It works for me, but evolving my habits and lifestyle has not been a cakewalk.  That said, here we are. I made the decisions so I own them. Tick tick, tick…

The key to managing time wisely is paying attention and maintaining an awareness of what that little voice inside is telling you during your journey. It’s that simple.

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week are Yi Xing and Liang Lingzan, who are credited with inventing the modern clock in China in AD725. Thanks, guys! 

Is it Better Dating Only One Person at a Time?

Robert Manni - Thursday, July 31, 2014


Can you have too much of a good thing?


When it comes to dating, the answer is maybe. Between speed dating, Tinder, Match.com, texting, sexting, Google, Instagram, Facebook and selfies there are an innumerable number of potential partners at your fingertips in the time it takes to hit send.
I was dating at rate of three or four times a week. Online, offline, it didn’t matter how I met women. It was a numbers game with everyone being disposable, including me. I must admit, connecting with all those women and having sex on a regular basis with a new partner was great, but my wad of cash grew thin and at a certain point endless dating got old. I yearned for a lover who could be my best friend.

To succeed at the dating game, we need to be comfortable with who we are and know what kind of partner we want. And that usually necessitates engaging in lots of casually dating. I can tell you as a certainty that guys like variety, and this may be why so many men defer getting married. Most women I know say they being in a relationship. However most of the women I’ve met online were dating multiple guys. When everyone involved is dating a half dozen other people, things can get complicated. With this in mind, I humbly offer my perspective on the benefits of dating only one person at time.

After a few years of dating, dating and dating, I met a really nice woman. We went out a few times and enjoyed each other’s company. We hit the sack and things seemed pretty cool. I assumed she was seeing other guys, so I continued power-dating. Then I found out that she was only dating me. One day she checked my online profile and asked why I was still active. I gave her a vague answer that kept the door ajar for my continuing to date other people. She dumped me. That’s when it hit me. She was showing respect and giving our relationship a fair shot, while I was chasing other women all over the place. Like so many others, I wanted to have my cake and eat it too.

I licked my wounds, moved on. Then it happened again. I connected with a nice woman, stayed active online and got busted. Then it happened a third time. That’s when I realized that it was time to reconsider my approach. From that point on though, I only saw one woman at a time. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly things either ended or came together. I’m not preaching that this is the only path to true love, but dating one person at a time worked for me. Within a few months my decision to focus on only one person at a time rewarded me with the companionship I yearned for and the sexual variety I craved…all with one woman! Go figure.

Are you better off dating one person at a time?

How to Lose 30 Pounds Naturally (And Keep it Off) - Part 2

Robert Manni - Friday, July 25, 2014


What you learn is as important as what you do. That’s a Guy’s Guy credo.

Last week I wrote about how I lost 30 pounds over the past six months, naturally. Since losing those 30 pounds, I’ve peeled off yet another five pounds through a combination of diet, exercise and healthy living, and I’ve never felt better. Although my last post took readers on a quick sojourn through my first six months of the year, I never summarized the program template or share what I learned from the process.

Guy’s Guys don’t tell others what to do, so this program is for your consideration only. Consult your doctor before starting any diet, blah, blah, blah. This plan is flexible, customizable and designed for results, not misery. No diet plan works if it feels like drudgery. And ultimately you know what works best for you. This is what worked for me.

THE PROGRAM

Week One – Limit diet to juicing organic carrots, kale, beets, dandelion, apples, lemon rind, ginger, spinach, and any other vegetables. That’s it. Begin cardio- elliptical, running, always taking the stairs, and getting lots of fresh air. Visualize yourself at your best weight and how you will feel. Use affirmations throughout the day. Be mindful of any negative thoughts. Hydrate constantly. Get lots of sleep. Relax.

Weeks Two Through Month Three – You can start eating solid foods, but eliminate meat, soda, ice cream, cake, pie, candy, chocolate, sweet desserts, alcohol, and caffeine. You can have fruit smoothies, but use water instead of fruit juice. I continued juicing five mornings per week and ate lots of veggies and legumes. Eat small meals throughout the day instead of pigging out at night, which is my weakness.

Ramp up your cardio. Hydrate with lemon water throughout the day. De-caf tea or coffee are acceptable, but use Stevia. Limit carbs. Continue affirmations, visualizations, positive thoughts and get lots of rest. Limit watching television, especially the news. Weigh in once a week.

Month Four – Continue the program. Add an occasional glass of wine or beer. Treat yourself to dessert or a slice of pizza now and then. Weigh in weekly. If you level off or experience weight gains, which is normal, eliminate the pizza, desserts and alcohol. Keep hydrating and continue with cardio.

Months Five and Six – Continue program and eliminate gluten, sugar, salt, processed foods and alcohol. Increase cardio. Weigh in twice a week. The pounds will fall off.

That’s it in a nutshell. It’s healthy and easy if you’re focused enough to get through the first few weeks. Seeing positive results helps. 

WHAT I LEARNED:

1. We really are what we eat. Garbage in results in building a vessel which functions like a barge filled with trash. Eating clean food makes a difference.  Our internal systems function smoothly, our body looks better, our energy level soars and our minds are clear. What’s not to like? Okay, you had to give up cheeseburgers and buffalo wings, and they do taste good, but that brings me to my next point.

2. It gets harder as we age. For Guy’s Guys who like to roll with the good life, the fun ultimately plants its flag in the abdominal area. And it does not plan on leaving, so you have to stick to your own program and out-will the fat. The longer you wait, the harder it gets to lose that unwanted, expanding paunch. And it’s not healthy. As I stated last week, do you know any obese old people?

3. Patience and perseverance pay off. Once you fasten your belt one notch tighter, sticking to the program gets easier. Results spur us on. Congratulate yourself and keep going.

4. The enemies of weight management and good health are sugar, carbs, gluten, salt, GMO’s and processed foods. I’m not going to serve up all the empirical data that’s available online. I realize it’s next to impossible to completely eliminate all of these culprits from you diet. But, you can certainly limit them by being mindful of what you put into your mouth, which brings up my final point.

5. It boils down to choice. This is where we began the discussion last week. Life, and eating in particular, is a series of choices. If you do your best to choose healthy foods, your body will thank you. Of course there are other circumstances when it comes to health and disease, but health, or a lack of it, starts in the mind and manifests in the gut. Think about it next time you are hankering for a side of bacon.

Do you have a handle on managing your weight and well being?

This week’s Guys Guy of the Week is Bill Clinton.  Say what you want about his politics or character, but when facing serious health and heart-related issues, he embraced a vegan diet. He lost weight, looks terrific and has given himself a better chance for long-term good health.

How to Lose 30 Pounds Naturally (And Keep it Off) - Part 1

Robert Manni - Friday, July 18, 2014


Life boils down to a series of decisions.

For Guy’s Guys, it’s no different—each day we’re faced with a number of choices. What we eat and what we elect to put into our mouths impacts our health, looks and waistline. Of course, lifestyle also plays a major role in managing our weight. As the years pass, the choices become more important because our metabolism slows down. If we don’t get a handle on our weight and fitness, well...  Have you seen a lot of fat old people? You get the drift. As we age, weight management becomes a slippery slope, and when we factor in a glut of processed foods and GMOs we’re faced with, we can get in deep doo-doo quickly. My choice was to take action and mark the results.

I hope our guy and gal readers relate to my sojourn and I sincerely hope it provides encouragement for achieving their own personal goals. Part 1 focuses on how I lost the weight. Part 2 chronicles my learning, because without achieving knowledge about yourself, you’re likely to fall back into the same patterns that packed those unwanted pounds on in the first place.

It all started when I stepped onto the scale late last year. I could not believe what I saw. I’d broken through the 200lb barrier for the first time in my life. I have not been “thin” since my college days, but over the years I’ve have stayed in decent shape. But I was mortified when I saw that big two on the scale. Having run three marathons and consistently banged out sets of between fifty and eighty pushups almost every day since my teens, I had never let my weight or level of fitness slip beyond my reach. But that was then.

A few factors must be noted.  Last year I became a new dad and decided to take a left turn on my career and go all in on my Guy’s Guy brand. Talk about stress! Adding to the pressure, I’ve always been a nervous eater. When I get uptight, I munch. I’m sure many readers feel me on that. Bottom lineI had a paunch and needed a plan. So I gave myself six months to lose serious weight and keep it off. Here’s how I did it.

A Vision. The Plan

I knew that to succeed I needed a clear idea of what success would look like, a solid plan, and time to execute it properly. I wanted this to be a fun challenge where positive choices would be their own reward. Although there would be sacrifices, I did not want to constantly punish myself and hear that little voice in my head barking, “I can’t have this. I can’t have that”. That was critical. After hemming and hawing about what was realistic, I decided on dropping thirty pounds over six months. I’d kick off the program with a big move to lose ten pounds and continue in phases of dropping three to five pounds or so every few weeks. I’d maintain the loss for at least a week before adding additional action to ladder down. No crash and burn diet aids, shredders or fat burners were allowed. This was going to be old school.

The Critical First Two Weeks.

I kicked off the program on January 1st by drinking only organic juice for a week. All I consumed was the liquid from organic vegetables and apples. The juicer extracted the fiber and pulp and I drank my meals. I also jumped on the elliptical trainer for an hour followed by a few sets of free weights four times a week. This helped fuel my metabolism. But the down side was that I was always hungry. Like a lot of guys, I’m not huge on veggies and salads, so a diet of carrots, celery, beets, ginger, kale and spinach juice was a major adjustment. Where were my beloved peanut butter, fish tacos, and tequila? Grrr. When I hopped on the scale on January 4th, I had already dropped a four pounds. That made a difference. What did I want¾ mandarin orange vodka or a trim waist? Tough question, but I held my resolve and got through that challenging first week. I was rewarded when I hit the scale on January 8th. I had dropped eight pounds. I considered a quick return to my past eating habits, but that little voice reminded me that I’d pack the weight back on faster than I’d lost it. This was a watershed moment.  I needed to launch the second stage immediately. I read Dr Oz’s quick weight loss plan and modified it so I could stay focused, while getting a little relief. I kept juicing in the morning, but added black beans and rice, grilled fish dinners with a big organic salad. I avoided booze, ice cream, chocolate, dessert, cookies and candy. I was pleasantly surprised when at the end of week two I had dropped fourteen pounds.

The First Four Months.

From January through March I maintained a somewhat strict diet and my cardio workouts. Although I was still juicing for breakfast Monday through Friday, I went back to eating fish tacos and the occasional slice of wheat pizza. I did not eat meat (haven’t for six years), booze, or caffeine. I did slip back into an occasional tab of dark chocolate, an organic cookie, decaf coffee with whipped cream for dessert though.  Once the weather broke, I took to the streets and ran the six-mile loop around Central Park at least once a week. It’s a hilly track that never seems to get any easier. By April 1st I had lost twenty pounds and was holding steady. I felt great, slept like a baby and was fitting into all of the clothes that had become too tight for me in the early stages of the winter. On April 15th I had my first glass of wine and drank in moderation for the next few weeks. But I think this prevented me from getting to the next level. Just as an aside, I did not view what I was doing as a sacrifice. I was having fun learning about my body and habits. I really did not feel that I was missing anything by eliminating so many foods that are really not nutritious. I was rethinking my relationship with food and I liked it better.

Breaking Through.

My weight was down twenty pounds, but it had leveled off. I bounced between a loss of eighteen and twenty pounds for the next month. I still felt great, but I had reached a plateau. No matter what I did, the weight would not come off. I needed to take the program to the next level. So I stepped up my workouts, hitting the gym or road five times a week. But what truly ignited the third stage of the program was cutting carbs, gluten, sweets and salt. I eliminated pizza, bread, added salt, processed foods, sweets, and alcohol. By mid-June I was down twenty-eight pounds and feeling wonderful. By July 4th, I had hit my goal of losing thirty pounds. Two weeks later I’m holding steady at thirty while anticipating that I will whittle away any residual abdominal fat over the remainder of the summer. Again, I feel fantastic and have more energy than ever. The last time I ran the park I finished the loop ten minutes faster than I did during the spring. In fact, my times are the same as they were twenty years ago.

I can’t speak for anyone else when it comes to weight management, and I’m hoping this does not come across as boastful. But, it’s comforting to know that we all have the internal capacity to change and reach our goals if we focus and do the work. There really are no shortcuts in life and if you do things the right way, it feels a lot better when you succeed. Next week I’ll address the learning I picked up over the past six months.

Are you ready to get a handle on your weight and fitness?

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week are all the guys and gals on “The Biggest Loser”. It’s easy to dismiss these folks, but you have to give them credit for going for it. Let’s wish them well.

 

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Vacation

Robert Manni - Thursday, July 10, 2014


It’s defined as a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually for rest, recreation or travel. But vacations can be stressful.

If you want to know who is ultimately responsible for any vacation-related tension, take a look in the mirror. So nowadays people have a hard time enjoying themselves during their precious week off. Back in the day, we’d accrue an annual vacation and actually use the allotted days. But with all the tech and connectivity in our lives, at times it feels like there is no escape. How many times have you or one of your colleagues taken more than a week off at a time or used up all of your vacation time? Not very often. Whether you’re headed to Brazil for the World Cup, the Jersey Shore, or a quiet staycation in the city, you need to plan your invaluable time off wisely. Enter, Guy’s Guy, with a few pointers for making the most of your time off this summer and beyond.

1. Level Set at Work – Face it. No one cares about your new pair of chartreuse board shorts or your upcoming week off in Belmar, New Jersey with your crew. All they care about is that your work gets done without it being dumped it on their lap when you’re out of the office. You still have your cell, iPad or laptop so they can and will find you. That’s why it’s important to sew up all the loose ends on your projects the week prior to your departure. I suggest leaving your boss and colleagues a project status that includes next steps that if necessary can be addressed in your absence. If not, they will email, text or call you. If you are so paranoid that you think you’ll be fired the day you return to the office, you have no one to blame but yourself. Cover your ass and then let go.

2. Unplug – My brother had a great idea when a group of couples vacationed together to Anguilla. After we were settled in, had a quick swim and cracked open that first bottle of rum, he placed a bowl in the center of the dining room table and dropped his wristwatch into it. We all followed and it worked as a reminder that in terms of time, all that mattered that week was either the sun was out or the Caribbean night was lit up with stars. It was a great step for detaching from the grind. Listening to the local reggae station on the jeep radio was about as techie as we got that week, and it made for a great trip. I know that it’s challenging to break the FB, Instagram and email addiction, but if you can do it, you will be a happy camper.

3. Explore – Since you are supposedly off the grid for a week, consider going local and trying some new things. This could include water skiing, snorkeling, drinking the local beer or rum, or just checking out a different type of cuisine than you eat at home— and not a chain, even if the local Mickey D’s offers a specialty burger featuring local flavors and toppings. No chains!

4. Take Stock – Congrats! You made it halfway through another year. While sipping that Planter’s Punch poolside, take a deep breath and think about the good things in your life and how you are probably better off than eighty percent of the people in this crazy world. Think about your dreams and aspirations, and what you’re doing to manifest them. For starters, if you are healthy, you’re way ahead of the game.

5. Read – They don’t call them beach reads for nothing. Summer travel and reading go hand in hand. You can read on the plane, on the beach, on a deck with a cocktail, or in your room. Reading nurtures the mind and it’s a great way to mentally escape and let your imagination take over. If you’re looking for a fun, frothy summer read about love, sex, power and money, consider my first novel, THE GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO LOVE.

Are you ready to rock your vacation?

This week’s Guys’ Guys and Gals of the Week are all the fellas and ladies who leave their problems at the office when they check out for their week off.

Ten Reasons to Love Central Park

Robert Manni - Monday, July 07, 2014


Although it sits smack in the center of Manhattan, many times we're too busy to take notice of one of the greatest parks in the world.

Some people have referred to it as the lungs of the city. For me, it’s been a great place to tap into my inner peace, nature, fitness, and family fun. I really love Central Park. When I moved into New York in the 80’s, Central Park was in many ways a scrub-filled wasteland and dangerous territory to traverse after dark. But thanks to the unflagging efforts of the Central Park Conservatory, things have changed for the better. Although we all have our favorite places inside this great urban oasis, I humbly offer up ten great things that make up my Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Central Park.

1. The Running Paths: Whether you are a weekend warrior or a marathoner, Central Park provides runners with a top shelf training ground. The six-mile outer loop is scenic and challenging with its non-stop rolling hills. There are innumerable cutoffs built into the loop that allow runners to chart shorter courses and avoid the hills. You can’t get lost and you can’t go wrong. Just stay in the running lanes and avoid the bikers who also frequent their lanes inside of the loop.

During business trips and vacations I do my best to find time for a run. It’s a great way to reset the body clock and check out the local terrain. I can honestly say that Central Park offers the premier running experience of any location I’ve run in the world. That includes waterfronts and roadways everywhere from Chicago to Sydney, South Beach, Santa Monica, Honolulu and Jalisco, Mexico. Nothings beats Central Park.

2. The Playgrounds: Now that I am the parent of a toddler, I pay attention to the myriad of playgrounds sprinkled throughout the park. In fact, there are twenty-one playgrounds filled with swings, sprinklers, and things for kids to climb on. The upkeep is top notch and they continually upgrade the facilities. Beyond the official playgrounds there are acres of land where you can let your little ones run free and explore nature. My son loves the park.

3. The Obelisk: Cleopatra’s Needle is 3,500 years old, seventy feet tall and weighs 220 tons. It was brought here over a century ago and sits a top Graywacke Knoll on the park’s east side at 81st Street behind the Museum of Modern Art. It’s covered in hieroglyphic text inscribed in its native Egypt from the time of Thutmosis. Although scaffolding now covers the obelisk as it goes under a sorely needed $500,000 refurbishment, most New Yorkers are unaware of this magnificent structure and its history. Just the story of how it was shipped across the Atlantic and then schlepped it to Central Park is amazing.

4. The Pool: Situated just off of 103rd and Central Park West is one of the park’s most pristine and quiet sanctuaries. Birds, waterfowl and turtles inhabit a crystal clear body of water surrounded by a walking path that is thankfully closed to bicycles. Like most New York celebrities, none of the creatures that live near the pool seem are bothered by the attention of the passersby's.  The moment you step off of CPW onto the path, you can feel the energy change. It doesn't feel like you are in a city, much less NYC. I have pushed my son’s stroller along the path around the pool in all four seasons and it's always serene and visually stunning.

5. The Ball Fields: Guy's Guys love sports, games and Central Park. Central Park houses twenty-six official baseball and softball fields, not including the open space where you can kick a soccer ball, toss a football, or play an ad hoc game of badminton. And there are thirty tennis courts available in the Central Park Tennis Club. So whatever is your preferred sport, I’m sure you can find a place to play it.

6. North Woods: One of the park’s three woodlands (the others are The Ramble and Hallett Nature Sanctuary), the North Woods offers visitors a feeling of hiking through the Adirondacks. That was what they had in mind. Nicely done. This is considered the most remote and woodsy section of the park and also one of the top ten locations for bird watching in the nation. Located just north of the 100-103 Street entrances by The Pool, you enter through the Glen Span Arch and are on your way to The Ravine featuring wildlife and rough terrain you can walk via a system of paths and bridges.

7. The Water: Besides The Pool there are at least half a dozen other significant bodies of water in Central Park including the Harlem Meer- northeastern corner, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir- East Side, Turtle Pond- below the Great Lawn, The Pond- southeastern corner, Conservatory- east seventies, Lasker Pool- near Harlem Meer and used for swimming and hockey, The Lake- west seventies, and The Boathouse which connects with The Lake. So take your pick. You can always find a nice place to enjoy water in any area of the park.

8. The Upkeep: With over 1.317 square miles of land and water, the park could easily fall into a state of ill repair. But, fortunately the opposite is happening. The park’s upkeep keeps getting better. With teams of landscapers constantly canvassing and sprucing up the grounds, you also rarely see any litter. Hats off to the Conservatory.

9. The Events: Whether its Shakespeare, Summer Stage, yoga, Pilates, taekwondo, concerts, movies, and architecture walking tour, or a Swedish puppet show Central Park has an event for everybody. And most of them are free. Just check out their web site www.centralpark.org for constantly updated info.

10. The Zoo: Rebuilt by the Wildlife Conservation Society in 1984, the Zoo and the Children’s Zoo have always been anchor attractions for the park. Study any kid watching the sea lions during feeding time and you’ll see what I mean. Whether you are part of a stroller parade or just waltzing by, the zoos are enchanting. More importantly they serve as reminders of the importance of man’s connection to the animal world.

Are you taking advantage of Central Park?


This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week, for the second time, is Frederick Law Olmsted who designed Central Park along with some of the great parks in Chicago, Boston, Milwaukee, Montreal, Detroit, Louisville, Rochester, and many other cites.  

The Guys' Guy's 5 Natural Tips for Healthy Living

Robert Manni - Thursday, June 26, 2014


Like taking care of a classic Mustang convertible, your body needs proper care and maintenance to keep it running smoothly.

Although at times this Guy’s Guy has put his body through hell, I’ve also be mindful to always maintain a semblance of fitness and healthy habits to balance out the damage. These include sports, sleep, diet, intellectual stimulation, meditation and a healthy sex life. Overall I’m pleased with how these decisions have impacted my wellbeing.  

As we age, we face new choices concerning how we live. I must admit, giving up meat six years ago was not fun. After a few weeks, I got sick for a few weeks due to my body working overtime to detox itself. As the toxins were releasing from my cells, my immune system struggled as it worked overtime to keep up with the poison floating through my bloodstream. I craved bacon cheeseburgers, porterhouse steaks and my beloved veal parmesan. Then, after a few weeks I forgot about the meat and began feeling energized and clear-headed. My carnivorous cravings have since diminished and it’s been smooth sailing ever since.

But a Guy’s Guy doesn’t stand on circumstance, so this year I decided to kick things up a notch. The results have been outstanding, so I hope that you will consider a few of these tips. There are many studies that back up the claims, but I'm not going to do a deep dive on any of them. Instead, I urge you to conduct your own research before deciding if these products are right for you. Here are my five easy tips for healthy living.

1. Oil Pulling: It’s getting popular, so you may have read about this.

This is an ancient Ayurvedic practice that is believed to remove toxins and plaque from your oral cavity. In addition, many feel that the benefits are not regulated to the mouth and throat. The elimination of migraines, eczema, toxins and inflammation are but a few of the other benefit claims. There have been scientific studies to back this up. I can honestly state that my teeth are whiter and the inflammation I was experiencing in my elbow for over a year has gone away since I became a puller. Here is how it works.

First, buy organic pressed coconut oil. Take a tablespoon of it on an empty stomach and swish it around your mouth and between your teeth. Do this for twenty minutes, and then spit into the garbage. Gargle with salt water and brush your teeth. That’s it.  Hey, what do you have to lose? Plaque, gingivitis and halitosis, that's what.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar: This is a product of fermentation, so unfortunately it tastes like vinegar.

The main ingredient is acetic acid. Drinking a teaspoon with water on an empty stomach helps set your alkaline PH balance for the day. And it helps neutralize internal inflammation that causes many illnesses. ACV has been cited as a great way to detox your insides, get rid of Candida (caused by too much sugar in the diet), and cleanse the lymphatic system by eliminating mucous. Better yet, it’s been hailed as a way to break down and eliminate tummy fat. Again, do your research before you start drinking this with water as a tonic three times a day. Even cut with honey, it doesn't taste great. But it will kill bad bacteria inside the gut, and that’s where most health problems begin.

3. Lemon: If you can’t handle drinking ACV, consider starting each day with an organic lemon squeezed into warm water.

This is an easy one and it tastes pretty good. Like ACV, the benefits include balancing your internal PH level. Additionally, it flushes out toxins, aids digestion and nourishes brain and nerve cells. It also protects your insides from the growth of unwanted pathogenic bacteria that can cause a variety of infections and diseases.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide: It costs about a buck yet delivers amazing benefits.

Believe it or not your body produces small amounts of this stuff to act as a first line of defense against toxins, harmful bacteria, parasites, viruses and yeast. Although you don’t drink it, there are many ways to use hydrogen peroxide. One of the best is gargling for about ten minutes. It helps eliminate canker sores while whitening your teeth. Since it's anti-viral, anti-fungal and antibacterial, it treats pathogens that cause many problems. Another amazingly effective use is mixing it as a 50/50 solution with water and spraying it on your feet. This kills yucky foot fungus. Again, there’s myriad of other uses.

5. No Caffeine: You’re tired and need a pick me up.

So you chug-a-lug a few coffees and you’re now soaring. And because caffeine stays in your system for up to twelve hours, by the time you hit the sack you’re still wired and can’t sleep. So after tossing and turning all night, the next morning you need a big mug of coffee to get you started, and so the cycle continues. I never tried decaf until this year, but it tastes the same. I've gone this entire year without caffeine, and now I’m relaxed and sleep like a baby. Try it. It really works, and after a few weeks you will not miss the java. I switched to rooibos tea, which tastes pretty good and is chock full of antioxidants and other health benefits.

I realize that changing life-long habits can be challenging, but in my case the sacrifices were minor compared to the benefits. I’m at the top of my game and plan on adding to my regime. A Guy’s Guy is never too old to learn new tricks.

Are you open to changing a few habits and behaviors that no longer serve you?

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is all the people who conducted research and promoted the many natural ways for aiding our health and well being.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to When Guys Get Together

Robert Manni - Friday, June 20, 2014


When the boys get together and hoist a few cold ones, they discuss almost everything under the sun… except their relationships.

As guys congregate, the general topics of conversation are work, money, toys, sports, politics and jokes all around. Is this a bad thing? Let’s discuss. Here are the things men usually discuss when they get together with their best buds.

First round of drinks: Career and Money

Men like to share their business success with their friends. In general, men want their friends to get ahead, but they want to succeed on a bigger scale. There's an unspoken, healthy competition between guys. A lot of guys keep score and measure their lives by who has the biggest job, bank account, house, or hottest wife or girlfriend. Is this America? Is this capitalism? No worries. This is human nature in the alpha kingdom. Men understand this.

Let’s say one guy has recently been overlooked for a promotion. He probably won’t tell his friends because he thinks of it as a fail. So, when one of the other guys at the bar announces he’s landed a huge new job, the first guy is happy for his buddy, but also asking himself, “what’s wrong with me?” That’s how men roll and I'm sure women react the same way to a certain extent.

Fortunately, over time, a Guy’s Guy’s priorities change. They realize that their relationships, family, health, and friends are what make the difference in the quality of their lives. But that’s for another column.

Second round: Toys, Sports, and Politics

We don’t need to spend much time on this. Men love to crow about their cars, vacations, golf clubs and wine collection. They all have their favorite teams and their favored politicians. While the games drone on in the background, the guys argue endlessly about the Red Sox, Yankees, Obama, the Tea Party, or which club they used on the par three at Winged Foot. Of course nothing changes until the next game, golf match, or election.

Round three: Women and Relationships

Even if a guy is having relationship issues, he’s not going to share them with his boys. Whenever I overhear two or more women having drinks, the subject of men invariably comes up. Women seem comfortable discussing personal stuff and emotionally tinged issues with their girlfriends, all the way down to joking or bragging about a man’s size and performance. But regardless of things being good or bad in a relationship, guys don’t share the details, and especially not with a group of friends.  Here’s why.

Let’s say a guy is dating a woman who's dynamite in bed. There's no way that he wants the other guys to know this; you never know what they think of her. And we all know that men sometimes poach another guy’s partner (it happens). If the woman he’s dating is bringing him down and he’s not sure what to do, he won’t tell his friends. That’s a fail. So when it comes to finding an objective voice to discuss a relationship issue, it’s not that easy being a guy. Guys will never discuss their relationships in a group unless one guy announces something major like he’s gotten engaged or his wife is having a baby.

Round Four: The Details

If a guy has come to a major decisionmaybe breaking up or divorcing, he’ll probably pull a close buddy aside and spills the beans. He’s not looking for advice. He is looking for support for his decision and to be heard by a trusted friend. The other guy knows this, so he actively listens and does his best to be supportive. If he thinks his friend is using his left-brain to address a right-brain issue or if he’s making a tragic error, the friend will weigh in with a few pointed questions. Again, this is a one-on one private conversation, not group bar talk.

Closing Time

So you see that being a guy can be a lonely experience. In the male culture we don’t often talk about our feelings or relationships. And we rarely discuss what we are thinking with other men before we make our decisions. Even when it comes to relationships, men make their choices independently and then tell their friends. Is this a good thing? I’ll let you decide. One way you can help men out is by being available to any guy who seeks you out with a problem that he wants to discuss. This means you’re a trusted, special person to this guy, and that’s a good thing.

So next time you see a bunch of guys hanging at the bar, they are probably talking about their careers, toys, sports, diversionsanything but their relationships.

Our Guy's Guy of the Week is your neighborhood barkeep, who hears all the chatter from the other side of the bar and focuses on his task at hand while keeping his point of view to himself.

So, do you know what that group of guys across the bar is talking about?    


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