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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Process of Elimination Diet

Robert Manni - Monday, February 11, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

                             THE PROCESS OF ELIMINATION DIET 2018

 January

1 – alcohol

2 – cookies

3 – candy

4 – cake

5 – pie

February

6 – croissants

7 – muffins

8 – cream cheese

9 – soda

 March

10 – ice cream

11 – potato chips

12 – white rice

13 – brown rice

April

14 – chocolate bars

15 – cream

16 – scones

17 – doughnuts

18 – added sugar

May

19 – honey

20 – chocolate nibs

21 – added butter

22 – ice cream on a stick

June

23 – frozen yogurt

24 – potato puffs

25 - rice pudding

26 - french fries

July

27 – spaghetti

28 – bagels

29 – Gatorade

30 – bubble gum

31 – pretzels

August

32 – onion rings

33 – fake bacon

34 - added bread

35 – English muffins

September

36 – added cheese

37 – flavored Super Coffee

38 – cheese nips

39 – maple syrup

October

40 – fake breakfast sausage

41 – tortilla chips

42 – pudding

43 – milk

44 – jam

November

45 – pizza

46 – egg nog

47 – granola

48 – fruit juice 

December

49 – flavored yogurt

50 – flavored coffee

51 – cereal

52 – peanut butter


Valentines Day: The Holiday About Love that Everyone Hates

Robert Manni - Friday, February 09, 2018


No, I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I dread it.

I’d like to have a chat with good old St. Valentine. He may be a saint, but he’s got some explaining to do. The myth behind the man is as confounding as the commercial celebration of romantic love that sprang from his legend. What happened to this guy? Was he beaten to death with clubs, beheaded after restoring sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer, or was he just a romantic legend created by Chaucer? Until the twentieth century, the tales surrounding this man had been spun more times than a soggy gym towel in the dryer. Eventually people figured out ways to make money and the real myth was born that we know today. Corporations that produce syrupy greeting cards, milk chocolate hearts, and jewelry saw the dollar signs and lovingly embraced Saint’s “brand”.  And since it’s a holiday, we are subjected to price gouging at restaurants and florists. In my informal survey the majority of men and women I spoke to conjured up emotions far from loving when they saw February 14th and a big red heart on their calendars.

What’s the word that comes to mind when men and women think of Valentine’s Day? 

Pressure. If you're single, Valentine’s Day reminds you that you are currently not on the invitation list to life’s love-in, which only makes you feel lonely and less than saintly. If you’re in a relationship, you have to step up your game and deliver the goods—big time. Women still dig flowers and chocolates, and receiving them unexpectedly… on any other day. And women love jewelry, but on February 14th it has to sparkle and be made of diamonds or gold.

Guys love seeing their woman dolled up in red lingerie, but consider this before making the purchase. Is that outfit for her or for the dude who buys it on Valentine’s Day? Tiptoeing around Victoria’s Secret and sifting through teddies, garters and thongs can be uncomfortable. A lot of guys are unsure as to what size she wears and they do not want to make a mistake.  You’ve seen them wandering around Victoria’s Secret checking out other women’s boobs while trying to figure out if they’re the same size as his girlfriend. It’s nerve-racking. Trust me - a man gets no kicks from discussing his lady’s cup size with the sales girl.

So how do guys get through this annual ordeal?

I have no clear answer. And, dialing up my own personal pressure cooker, my wife’s birthday is February 12th. I’m totally screwed. But there’s hope for some, even those not in a relationship. Some experts say that February 14th is the best night for single ladies to get lucky. That is, if they can rally their squad and muster up the juice for a manhunt. So, if you are a single guy, get your butt to the bars. And when you get there, keep your eyes off the hoops game playing on the big screen and open for those ladies on the lookout for some fresh man-meat.

If you’re a guy in a relationship, you’ve still got time to come up with something cool. Consider buying her a well-deserved pampering session at a top shelf spa. Or, maybe offer to cook her a romantic dinner. If you’re a woman, bust out the deep red lipstick and push up bra ensemble and rock his world. Trust me. That’s all he wants. As for me, I might end up cleaning the bathroom before taking my wife to her favorite restaurant. Then I’ll wish for February 15th.

This week’s GUY’S GUY of the WEEK is Saint Valentine. He was an interesting guy and a saint. It’s not his fault that his life’s work was high jacked by commerciality.

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Halloween

Robert Manni - Friday, October 27, 2017


For one day every year anyone can dress up and apply a bad spray-on tan like Donald Trump or wear a Kim Jong Un mask and knock on stranger’s doors carrying a little basket while asking for candy. And no one gets shot.

Sounds crazy when you think about it. That’s because Halloween is one kooky and crazy American holiday. On this day straight men can get dolled up like Katy Perry and a shy woman can dress like a dominatrix and no one bats an eye. Add copious amounts of alcohol and a big parade like in NYC, and you’ve got the making of a real party. On Halloween, America really cuts loose and goes for it.

All of this freedom to masquerade can be as intoxicating as the punch served at the parties taking place across the country on Halloween or the Saturday night before October 31st.  But, when you mix sexy devil costumes with alcohol, things can go very right or very wrong. With this in mind, whether you’re single, married, or a parent supervising your kids I offer you a few Guy’s Guy tricks and treats to get you through this special day in fine form while also staying out of jail. 

Here is my GUYS’ GUY’S GUIDE TO HALLOWEEN.

1. Don’t wear your costume to work – You might think your Guy’s Guy recco is too boring and stiff, but there is a big difference between attending a party in monster costume and walking the halls of an insurance company dressed in Spiderman tights. Sure, you will get some laughs, but in the office, they will be directed at you rather than with you. So unless your boss throws down a directive that everyone on her team must dress up, don’t do it. And if you are pressured to play along, don’t do the spray-on tan and orange hair like you-know-who. That or other politically charged costumes can be polarizing. Who wants a Halloween costume to ruin their career?

2. Be original, but don’t dress like a tampon - Remember, when others zig, Guy’s Guys zag. That goes for the ladies, too. You want to avoid costume concepts that are too gross or too obvious, like DT. For example, if you want to get political outside the office, instead of dressing up like Trump, go as hybrid of Jeff Sessions and Granny Clampett. Now that’s original, and you’ll get some laughs. You might not get laid, but you will get laughs.

3. Don’t drink too much – There are few things more disgusting than watching someone dressed like a zombie barfing on the sidewalk at 2am. That’s too scary, amigo. And if you want to get cuffed by that hot blonde in the cop’s uniform, you don’t want her to slap them on you because you’re too smashed. Have fun, have a few drinks, but know when to day when. Having the spins while you’re dressed like the Mummy is not a lot of fun. And that reminds me—make sure you can slip out of that costume easily if the opportunity arises.

4. Stay aware of your surroundings – Right after college I attended a Halloween party in Palisades Park, NJ. I dressed up as samurai warrior, complete with a real sword given to me by one of my dad’s business associates and eye makeup that made this Caucasian look…Japanese. No, I was not politically correct, but this was before everyone got so sensitive. And I did not know the party was in a predominantly Asian neighborhood. I knocked on the door of what I thought was the party, but was the wrong apartment. An older Asian lady answered the door, took one look at me and started screaming and waving her arms as I backed down the hallway. The point is, know where you are. If you are a good-looking straight guy, don’t dress up like a hot woman and go to gay bar even if your gay friends think you’re cool. You might end up in the arms of a hairy guy wearing a leather vest and chaps that wants to break you in, if you get my drift. 

5. Consider giving something healthy to the neighborhood kids – Fortunately, nowadays you can buy organic versions of almost anything, including cookies and candies. I realize this is a more expensive and can be a pain in the butt, but it’s worth a thought, especially when you look into those kids’ bags and all you see are the mini bags of M&M’s and other sugar-laden “treats”. MILF’s will love you for it, also, even if you’re already taken.

6. If you’re dating, consider couple-themed costumes – Brainstorming a costume theme with your date can be a great creative bonding exercise, especially if you can rock a cool couple’s concept that brings out the best in both of you. I’m not going to get specific and suggest the old standby cowboy and cowgirl outfits or Mr. and Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s Island, but you get the idea. Have fun with it and she’ll love you for being a good sport.

It’s Halloween and you want to cut loose and go nuts. By all means, do just that. But keep in mind a few of your Guys’ Guy’s tricks if you want to get some of those special treats from your lady.

This week’s GUYS’ GUYS of the WEEK are all the moms and dads who take the time to help make Halloween a really fun experience for their kids. That includes finding out what the kid wants to be on Halloween and also putting together an interesting costume no matter how crazy the kid’s idea may be. And hang on to your carrots because my son rejected the policeman’s outfit he received for his birthday. He’s decided that he wants to go as a bunny rabbit. Mom, help me!

Valentines Day: The Holiday About Love that Everyone Hates

Robert Manni - Friday, February 10, 2017

I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I dread it, and I’d like to have a chat with St. Valentine. He may be a saint, but he’s got a lot of explaining to do.  The myth behind the man is as confounding as the commercial celebration of romantic love that sprang from his legend. Was he beaten to death with clubs, beheaded after restoring sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer, or was he a romantic legend created by Chaucer? Until the twentieth century, the tales surrounding this enigmatic man had been spun more times than a soggy towel around the dryer.  Then a slew of corporations that produce syrupy greeting cards, milk chocolate hearts, or jewelry saw the dollar signs and lovingly embraced his “brand”.  And since it’s a holiday, we are now treated to price gouging at restaurants and florists. In my informal survey the majority of men and women I spoke to conjured up emotions far from loving when they saw February 14th and that big red heart on their calendars.

What’s the one word that comes to mind when men and women think of Valentine’s Day?  

Pressure. If you're single, Valentine’s Day reminds you very clearly that you are currently not on the invitation list to life’s love-in, making you feel less than saintly. If you’re in a relationship, then you have to step up your game and deliver the goods—big time. Women love flowers and chocolates, and like receiving them unexpectedly… on any other day. And although she’s digs jewelry, on February 14th it must be diamonds or gold, and it better sparkle. All men love seeing their woman dolled up in new lingerie, but if her outfit is really for him, who buys it for Valentine’s Day? Tiptoeing around Victoria’s Secret and sifting through teddies, garters and thongs can be unsettling. And he probably forgot what size she wears and does not want to make a mistake.  You’ve seen guys wandering around the store checking out other women’s boobs trying to figure out if they could be the same size as his girlfriend’s. And trust me - a man gets no kicks from discussing his lady’s cup size with the sales girl. Pressure.

So how do we get through this annual ordeal?

I have no clear answer. And to ratchet up my own personal helping of pressure, my wife’s birthday is on February 12th. I’m totally screwed. Okay, breathe. There’s hope. Some experts say that February 14th is the best night for single ladies to get lucky. That is, if they can rally the troops and muster up the moxie for a manhunt. So, if you are a single guy, get your butt out there.  And when you hit the bars, keep your eyes focused on those ladies on the lookout for some man-meat and off the hockey game playing on the big screen. If you’re a man in a relationship, you’ve still got time to come up with something fresh. Buy her some well-deserved pampering at a top shelf spa or offer to cook her a romantic dinner.  If you’re a woman, bust out the deep red lipstick and push up bra ensemble and rock his world. Trust me. That’s all he wants. K.I.S.S., as they say. Keep it simple, stupid! As for me, I might end up caulking the bathroom tile before taking her out to her favorite raw food restaurant.  But, I’ll do that on her birthday. Then I’ll wish for February 15th.

Five Resolutions You Should Stick to This Year

Robert Manni - Thursday, January 07, 2016


Sadly, by this time in January, many people have already failed at their New Year’s resolutions.

After all, making changes in our behavior is challenging, especially when we bite off more than we can chew. I’ve given up drinking a few times and have lasted three, four and even five months, but denial is tough. Making positive changes is no easier. Fortunately each New Year, month, week, even day is a new opportunity for a fresh start. With that in my mind, your Guy’s Guy offers you a handful of resolutions to make your life and this world a better place. You don't need a new year to start fresh.

1. Less tech, more active living.

We live in an age where technology keeps changing at an exceedingly rapid pace. To succeed in the conscious world, we need to know how to master our phones, apps, and social media or we’ll be viewed like Grandma trying to “turn on the Internet” to Google a cookie recipe. But tech can lead us to more passive lives. We’re watching instead of doing. We’re staring at the LED screen instead of reading and nurturing our imaginations. We’re texting instead of conversing. We’re focusing our attention on video games instead of playing ball in the park. We’re becoming wimps. If we could be mindful about our overreliance on tech and choose more activities that exercise our body, mind and spirit, we’ll be making great strides as a culture.

2. Spend more time in nature.

Every time I step into Central Park the energy changes. There is something special about being outdoors that grounds my spirit with the Earth’s energy. Unless there is a torrential downpour, I always take my young son outside for a walk. And I notice that my son and the toddlers that I frequently see at the playground have less anxiety on their faces than some of the tykes I see on the subway staring at video screens and eating potato chips. With all our creature comforts it’s easy to sit indoors and keep life at arm’s length. But that’s no way to live—step outside whenever you can. Fresh air and nature rejuvenate our spirits.

3. Don’t judge. Accept people as they are.

This one took me a long time. My internal critic has a razor sharp wit and working in advertising exposed me to too many judgments about people and ideas. But I learned, and as usual I learned the hard way. Over the years, I did not build as many relationships as I could have and I dismissed a lot of people who I thought were jackasses. I guess I’m not that different than anyone else in that regard, but I realize now that it’s not my job to have other people see the world through my personal lens. Trying to change people is tedious and frustrating because we cannot see what lurks inside them or what has led them to their behaviors, decisions or perspectives. I know now it’s more productive to work on myself. When we focus on bettering ourselves, we raise our frequency and shed light on the others we come in contact with. Basically, it’s leading by example.

4. Be grateful.

This time last year, I had receiving a medical “diagnosis of opportunity” earlier last year, spent six months in and out of hospitals, doctor’s offices and medical procedures, and had ten puncture scars across my abdomen. It was a tough experience, but I’m thankful. Yes, I’m really, really thankful. My faith was strong, my medical teams were talented and capable, and my body was responsive. And now I am well. The few times I began feeling sorry for myself, I’d invariably learn about a friend or colleague in a far more precarious situation. Each day I awaken with gratitude for my many blessings and good health. Try it for a week.

5. Watch what you eat.

Let’s face it; our food supply has changed. Every day we learn more about the tricks and deceptions of food labeling, the horrible treatment of factory farmed animals and the potential long-term effects of eating processed foods and GMO ingredients. If the food industry has nothing to hide, why don’t they want all the ingredients labeled in clear language? People are sick of their games and also getting sick from the food they consume. Obesity and gastric-related illnesses have become prevalent in a culture that lives too passively and consumes mostly processed food. If you want to stay healthy, eat organic as much as possible and always be mindful of what you consume. It’s probably the most important decision you’ll make each day in regards to your health.

This New Year’s Day you can resolve to quit smoking, hit the gym three times a week or cut out sweets, but you don’t have to wait until the start of a new year to make a better life for yourself. If you treat yourself with respect and love, you’ll be more successful in improving your life than experiencing that week of agony during the first week of January each year.

This week’s—make that this year’s—Guys’ Guys and women, are the wonderful people who have supported my Guy’s Guy brand and the content I crunch out with a goal of making our world a better place. My best wishes to you today, tomorrow, and throughout this coming year!

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Holiday Parties

Robert Manni - Friday, December 18, 2015


The holidays. They're the best of times and the worst of times.

Whether it’s working like mad to finish up year-end work projects or trying to come up with a gift idea for Uncle Jerry, for many, stress reigns supreme at this time of year. But doesn’t that defeat the concept of celebrating with your colleagues and loved ones? Guy’s Guys take things one step at a time and do our best to savor the fun from mid-November through the New Year. Whether you're single or married, if you’re invited to your partner’s family or friend’s home, there are ways of easing the pain. Same goes for finessing those tricky business parties where it’s too easy to get sloppy after loading up on the free booze.

Over the years, your Guy’s Guy has made his share of mistakes during the holidays, so please accept these tips as lessons from one who has learned the hard way. In no particular order, here are my Guy’s Guys tips for handling the holidays.

Arrive On Time.

"On time" means within a half hour or so of when you are expected. If you're meeting your new partner’s family for the first time at Thanksgiving, you don’t want to be standing around in the kitchen while a frenzy of cooking is taking place around you. And you don’t want to plop down in the living room glued to the Lions-Packers game while others arrive and wonder who the guy is that is eating all the chips and salsa. If it’s a corporate party, if you show up too early it’s too easy to get a head start on the cocktails. In an hour or two, this can backfire. Keep the thirty-minute rule in mind when planning your arrival and you should be okay.

Manage Your Intake of Alcohol.

We’ve all seen chumps who drank too much at the holiday party while the head of HR stood by taking mental notes. That can be tough if you work in advertising where I’ve seen tray after tray of shots attacked by a thirsty mob. It all depends on your company’s culture. If you are buzzed and see the crowd thinning out, grab your coat and leave. It’s that simple if you want to protect your professional reputation.

When it comes to visiting your partner’s family or friends, same rule. Watch your drinking, eat moderately and leave with the others, especially or when you’ve had too much wine and have had your fill of your partner’s drunken uncle that insists Obama is from Kenya or something equally polarizing. You don’t want to get into a heated argument at this time. You’re a guest and it’s just not worth it.

Bring Something for the Host.

Of course this refers to gatherings of friends and families, not the company party. It’s hard to go wrong bringing a bottle of wine at the holidays unless you are entering an alcohol-free household. If that’s the case, dessert (cookies, cup cakes, pie) or a homemade appetizer is always welcomed. Unless you're asked, avoid bringing entrees. That’s the host’s domain.

Make Small Talk.

 For me, the perfect Thanksgiving used to be a quick greeting, three hours of non-stop eating and drinking before watching the Dallas Cowboys and falling asleep on the couch. As a single guy with all married relatives, I got pretty good at this over the years. In my family, no one asks how I am doing anyway. Might as well put on the feedbag while listening to everyone else’s problems. I’d ask a question or two between bites, but that’s it. Now that I’m married and have an infant child, we’re more integrated and the attention is on the baby. That said, I learned (slowly) to focus on the others and their lives. It takes away the burden of thinking about myself and gives me insights into how they see the world.

Know When To Go Home.

I’ve stated clear warnings about making your exit if you drink too much at a gathering. But, even if you're stone cold sober, there is a proper time to move on. First, do something to help the host clean up; even it is carrying a few plates into the kitchen. Enjoy your coffee, try those cookies your niece brought, and be mindful of when people are leaving. If you’re at your parent’s house, of course you can hang around, but if you are visiting someone else’s home for the first time, you do not want to overstay your welcome. Just pay attention and you’ll be fine. Drive defensively while driving home to catch the fourth quarter of the game.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week are all the travelers that brave the stress of trains, planes and automobiles to visit their loved ones over the holidays.


Will you manage the holidays this year or will they manage you?

Image courtesy of Klock Entertainment

The Guys' Guy's Guide to Holiday Hacks

Robert Manni - Thursday, December 10, 2015


Let’s face it; our culture has sucked the fun out of the holidays. Between our bowing to political correct greetings, decorations on display in October, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, tipping everyone from the dental hygienist to the dude who bags your groceries, and those omnipresent holiday musical playlists, this time of year can be tough. How can we deal with the calamity without turning into a Grinch?

Take heart, amigos. There is a bright side to this holiday story. Your Guy’s Guy is stuffing your digital stocking with his helpful hints to give you a firm handle on the season before it can rise up and devour your soul. And it makes no difference which holiday you celebrate. Everyone needs a strategy and flawless execution to help make the holiday season joyful

So, here is my not-so-secret Santa gift — The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Holiday Hacks.

1. Plan early and often.
This critical first step requires only a modest investment of your energy, but pays off handsomely in dollars and hours saved by the time Santa squeezes his big butt down your chimney. December flies by at the speed of a reindeer on PED’s, so it’s important to plan in advance. A good first step is to begin a mental checklist in September and October of things to consider for the upcoming season. In fact, it’s never too early to plan or be on the lookout for things you’ll need once we enter the season to be jolly. My wife buys wrapping paper whenever she sees a pattern or material she likes, regardless of the time of year. Sounds crazy, but it saves her time in December.

For the rest of us, the best way to get started is by asking a few key questions. Where will I be celebrating and with what people? Who do I want to (and need to) exchange presents with? How much can I (and do I) want to spend? Mull this over during your commute, on the treadmill or even when showering. Then, grab your iPhone, jot down a few notes and let them it sit. Subconsciously, you’re laying the groundwork for a successful plan and execution. Over the coming days, you’ll come up with things you omitted and revise your checklist, and that’s good. Soon you should have your game plan mentally mapped out and documented. Although it’s just a guideline, you’re getting off on the right foot start.

2. Do your research online and offline.
There are plethora of digital apps for price comparisons and tools to find the best deals and best times to buy. A quick walk through a few selected retailers before Thanksgiving can also give you a good idea as to what items are hot and in ample supply. For instance, UNIQLO is the king of lightweight down jackets and vests, so you know they will be a few mega-sales during December/Christmas. The point is, if you are mindful and invest a few minutes into research both online and offline for ideas and deals, I assure you that you will spark some ideas and score bargains. Gone are the days of frantically marching through big box retailers the week before Christmas.

3. Consider themes.
After compiling your list of the peeps you want to buy presents for and your budget, consider a common theme for the bulk of these gifts. By the time December rolls around and we’re on the clock, buying one theme that fits all actually levels the playing field and prevents hassles about who got what because everyone's getting something similar. Hey, I’m just being practical here.

Let’s say you need to buy gifts for a bunch of kids. Unless there has been a special request or there's something you specifically wanted to give one of your nieces or nephews, themes save a lot of time. My nephews live for the Dallas Cowboys so last year I bought them both Cowboys caps and shirts and they were happy campers. This year I decided on polar tech across the board, including gifts for siblings and cousins, etc. I’ll drizzle a few more tasty items on top if I see something I like for someone. Of course you will want to be more selective for the people that are closet to you. And the spirit needs to come from a place where there is joy in giving.

3. Booze – Who doesn’t like a select bottle of wine, tequila or rum? If your loved ones indulge, they are probably putting out the full assortment of beer, wine and spirits throughout the holidays. Although it’s not an exciting gift, a nice bottle of wine or spirits comes in handy, for guests or even for (Gasp), regifting. Hey, we all do it and booze is perfect for passing along holiday cheer.

4. Tips and gift cards – You can find tipping guidelines online for everyone from your hairdresser to your doormen. But really, just give an amount that feels right. When time is running out or you’re not sure what to give someone, you can’t go wrong with gift cards. You can find them for everything, if you can’t come up with an idea; all of the credit card companies offer gift cards.

I realize it’s already getting late, and that not all of this is news to many of you. My goal, as a Guy’s Guy, is to help you in whatever way possible, to be at your best during the holiday season. It’s a time for giving, but also a time filled with stress. Have a safe, healthy holiday season and remember the true meaning of all these holidays is bringing loved ones and mankind together in peace.

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week are the retailers who did not open on Thanksgiving.

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.


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