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When are you going to lose that gut? How do I know you’ve got one? That’s a no-brainer: Two-thirds of Americans are overweight, so probability is on my side. Maybe you had a six-pack five, 10 or 15 years ago, but those days are a fading memory. Career, school, family, lack of exercise, fast food restaurants, aging, stress, lagging hormones and yo-yo dieting make it difficult to be the lean hard-body you were in high school. Now you have a one-pack instead of a six-pack. If you look like a bodybuilder or fitness model, then you exercise intensely, watch what you eat and have good genes that blessed you with a nice body. Most guys aren’t so lucky. Don’t envy hard-bodied men with nice abs – join them. Stop procrastinating and do something about it. Follow the program described in this article and in a few months you’ll have a firmer, leaner midsection.

Abdominal Fat Can Kill You

Every guy wants a firm, cut midsection, but usually for the wrong reasons. Too much abdominal fat can kill you! One fat cell looks like another under a microscope, but all fat cells are not created equal. Men tend to store fat in their abdomens, giving them an apple shape. Women store it their legs, hips and butt, which gives them a pear shape. The male “beer gut” is more damaging to health than the female “fat butt” because it’s linked to a group of health problems scientists call the metabolic syndrome – high blood pressure, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and blood-clotting abnormalities.

Abdominal fat consists of cavity fat (fat surrounding the internal organs) and subcutaneous fat (fat lying just under the skin that hangs over your belt). Ab cavity fat is dangerous because it’s easily mobilized and can flood the liver and blood with dangerous fat. Cutting ab fat helps fight the metabolic syndrome and reduces the risk of heart attack, cancer and stroke. It also boosts energy level and sexual performance.

While men usually have more ab fat than women, genetics and age are also important. Big guts run in families, but you don’t have to be a slave to your genes. You can lose abdominal fat if you’re willing to change your diet and exercise. Men increase ab fat as they age. After age 20, fat weight increases by 17 percent per decade and waist size increases by 2 percent per decade. Creeping waistlines are not inevitable – fight them with a lifelong program of exercise, counting calories and reducing saturated fat and simple sugar intake.

Falling levels of growth hormone, testosterone, thyroid hormones and IGF-1 also contribute to abdominal fat. Exercise, healthy diet, stress management and not smoking can help prevent hormone deterioration – to a point. Many aging men successfully use growth hormone and testosterone supplements to compensate for falling hormone levels and to lose body fat. This can be extremely expensive and isn’t recommended by many health experts. Nevertheless, prescriptions for supplementary hormone replacement for men have increased by 300 percent in the past five years.

Your risk of heart disease and stroke is higher if your waist is more than 40 inches and it increases substantially above 45 inches. Scientists also use waist-to-hip ratio as an indicator of excessive abdominal fat, but that’s less useful than waist circumference. Most guys want to have waists well below the danger point so they can be healthy and look good.

Fighting Ab Fat

Remember that good abs are made in the kitchen – and a healthy diet is the foundation of any exercise program, whether you want to have a six-pack and a ripped and lean body, or add muscle. Follow a sensible diet, such as the Mediterranean diet. This diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats (beef, chicken, and fish), olive oil and red wine. Minimize high-sugar drinks, simple sugars, desserts and saturated fats. Try to keep your caloric intake less than 2,000 calories per day. Moderation is the key keep portions small and avoid junk foods. You must exercise intensely, so avoid low-carbohydrate diets such as the Atkins diet. Your body metabolizes mainly carbohydrates whenever you exercise more intensely than 65 percent of maximum effort.

Positive energy balance – taking in more calories in the diet than you expend through metabolism and exercise – is the major cause of increased fat. Unfortunately, getting rid of fat is more complicated than just cutting back on calories and exercising. You have trouble losing abdominal fat because your metabolism won’t let you.

The body tries to maintain a constant weight (called the weight set-point) by slowing metabolism as you lose weight. Most people who lose weight lose muscle mass as well as fat. Muscle burns a lot of calories; the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism. As you lose muscle, you burn fewer calories. Also, as you lose weight, the body releases chemicals and sends signals from the nervous system that increase appetite and slow metabolism further.

Late night television infomercials promise that doing exercises on ab machines reduces abdominal fat – a method called spot reducing. The classic way to get a flat, firm abdomen was always to do hundreds of sit-ups. The idea of spot reducing made sense: If you have a fat gut, work the gut muscles to get rid of it. While doing ab exercises will do little to get rid of abdominal fat, burning plenty of calories through exercise will. Several recent studies show that people who exercised intensely tended to lose most of the fat from the abdominal cavity and the fat covering the abdominal muscles (subcutaneous fat).

The Killer Abs Workout fights abdominal fat and improves the appearance of your abdominal muscles by giving you set abdominal exercises to strengthen and define the appearance of your midsection. As discussed, muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate. Also, muscle pushes against the fat near your skin and makes it look smoother, thereby improving the appearance. Exercise, particularly intense exercise, burns a lot of calories. Exercise for 60 to 90 minutes a day and you’ll lose fat faster than you ever thought possible. Finally, the addition of exercise will increase the tone of your nervous system so you burn calories at a faster rate all day and all night long.

 

Killer Abs Workout

The Killer Abs Workout attacks abdominal fat by 1) burning plenty of calories; 2) increasing muscle mass; 3) increasing 24-hour metabolism; and 4) creating negative caloric balance through diet. This program works. Stick with it and you will eliminate abdominal fat or cut down on its severity.

This program is based on the results of electromyography (EMG) studies – a powerful technique that shows how muscles are activated during exercise. Do this program three or four days per week. The Killer Abs Workout consists of:

• Roman Chair Leg Raises (2 sets of 20 reps)

• Hanging Leg Raises (2 sets of 10 reps)

• Bicycle Maneuver (2 sets of 20 reps)

• Vertical Crunch (2 sets of 10 reps)

• Reverse Crunch (on a bench) (2 sets of 10 reps)

• Exercise Ball Crunch (2 sets of 20 reps)

• Side-Bridges (hold for 2 sets of 30 seconds on each side)

Roman Chair Leg Raises

Grip the handles, place your forearms on the supports and stabilize your back on the pad of the Roman chair. Hold your body upright with your legs dangling below. Lift your knees in toward your chest, then return them slowly to the starting position.

Hanging Leg Raises

Hang from a pull-up bar. Lift your knees in front of you until your thighs are parallel with the floor; hold the position; then slowly lower your legs to the starting position.

Bicycle Exercise

Lie flat on the floor on your lower back with your hands beside your head. Bring your knees toward your chest to about a 45-degree angle and make a bicycle pedaling motion with your legs, touching your left elbow to your right knee, then your right elbow to your left knee.

Vertical Crunch

Lie on your back and put your legs up in the air with knees fully extended (bend knees slightly if this position is uncomfortable). Place your hands loosely at ear level and curl your upper body by contracting the rectus abdominis muscle – the long, flat muscle that dominates the front of your torso. Return slowly to the starting position.

Reverse Crunch on a Bench

Lie on a bench and stabilize your body by grabbing the bench above your head. Lift your legs so your feet are pointed at the ceiling and bend your knees slightly. Contract your lower abdominal muscles and lift your tailbone off the bench by pushing your feet slightly toward the ceiling and pushing your lower back into the bench. Return to the starting position.

Cable Crunches With Rope Attachment

Do this exercise either standing or on your knees. Grasp the rope in each hand and pull down the cable until your hands touch the top of your head. Bend forward slowly and do a crunch. Return to the starting position.

Crunches on Exercise Ball

Lie on your back on the ball until your thighs and torso are parallel with the floor. Cross your arms over your chest and contract your abdominal muscles, raising your torso to no more than 45 degrees. Increase the stress on your oblique muscles by moving your feet closer together. Note: EMG shows that this exercise works the abs best on an exercise ball, but it can also be done on the floor.

Side-Bridges

This is not a well-known exercise. However, EMG studies show it strengthens the obliques and helps stabilize the spine. Lie on your side and support your body between your forearm and feet. As you increase fitness, move your non-support arm across your body as you hold the side-bridge. Do this exercise on your left and your right side and try to hold your spine straight – don’t let it sag during the exercise.

Cardio

Do some form of cardio exercise for 60 to 90 minutes, three to five times a week. Weight-bearing exercises such as running, power walking, treadmill running, StairMaster and elliptical training are best for losing fat. Start with five to 10 minutes of exercise and build up until you can exercise continuously for 60-90 minutes without stopping. Also, increase the intensity of exercise until you can exercise at 70 percent of maximum effort or harder during your workout. If you are exercising to maximum capacity, you can burn at least 700 calories during each cardio workout and help tip your metabolism toward fat loss.

Interval Training

Interval training includes intense exercises such as sprinting or cycling interrupted by periods of rest or light exercise. Interval training will increase your metabolism so you continue to burn calories at a higher level for 24 to 48 hours after the workout is over. Long-term weight control studies show that people who train intensely tend to lose more weight than those who exercise slowly. Run, ride a bike, or exercise on a gym aerobics machine (stair-climber, elliptical trainer, ski machine, etc.) for one minute at 90 to 100 percent of maximum, followed by two to three minutes of rest. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Closer Look: the Abdominal Muscles

The abdomen, unlike the arms and legs, depends largely on muscles rather than bones for support. Also, many people store fat around their middles, which makes it difficult to show off well-toned muscles. You won’t have that six-pack look if your abdominal muscles are covered in fat, no matter how fit and “cut” your abs. If your muscles are strong and conditioned, you’ll have a better-looking midsection even if you have some abdominal fat. Your stronger muscles will act as a girdle to hold in your midsection.

Four muscles make up the abs: the rectus abdominis; internal obliques (two muscles; one on each side); external obliques (two muscles); and transversus abdominis (also called transversalis). These muscles allow you to bend forward at the waist, rotate the trunk and bend to the side. All the abdominal muscles help stabilize the spine, which tends to prevent back pain.

Rectus femoris: This is the muscle everyone sees. It runs down the length of the abdomen, from the lower part of your chest to the top of your pelvis. The rectus flexes the trunk. This movement causes the spine to bend forward. The rectus also tilts the pelvis backward, making it important in maintaining a normal low back curve and preventing back pain. You use it when you do crunches or pelvic tilts.

The shape of the rectus abdominis is a source of confusion for many people trying to develop it. While the six-pack shape of the muscle suggests a series of muscles that can be developed separately, it’s actually one large muscle. Four strips of connective tissue called tendinous incriptions divide it. These structures help reinforce the muscle and protect it from rupture during vigorous movements. The linea alba is another connective tissue structure that runs down the center of the muscle. It also helps protect the muscle and gives it that six-pack shape we all want. When activated, the entire muscle contracts, so it’s extremely difficult to work only its upper or lower part.

Internal and external obliques: You use these muscles to rotate and flex the trunk and bend to the side. These muscles are critical for weight transfer movements, such as hitting a baseball or tennis ball, throwing a discus, javelin or softball, or punching a heavy bag.

The internal and external obliques form the sides of your abdomen. You use these muscles to twist and bend your trunk. They are critical in most sports and help give your body a “T” shape. Develop the obliques by twisting during crunches and doing twists and side-bending exercises.

The quadratus lumborum is a deep muscle (one on each side) that works with the obliques to help stabilize the spine and bend the trunk to the side. Building this muscle through exercises such as side-bridges is critical to overall strength of the abdominal (core) muscles and prevention of back pain.

Transversus abdominis: This muscle stabilizes the trunk and compresses your internal organs when you stand, lift, sneeze, cough or laugh. It’s an underappreciated muscle. Anytime you lift a weight or do any whole-body movement, the transversus abdominis steps in to stabilize your midsection. You develop this muscle anytime you do large muscle lifts, such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses. You can also work this muscle by tensing your abdominal muscles isometrically.

 

References:

1. Brooks G, Fahey T, and Baldwin K. Exercise Physiology: Human Bioenergetics and its Applications. New York: McGraw Hill, 2005. (4rd edition, in press)

2. Brooks GA, and Mercier J. The balance of carbohydrate and lipid utilization during exercise: the crossover concept (brief review). J Appl Physiol, 80: 2253-2261, 1994.

3. Fahey, TD Basic Weight Training for Men and Women. New York: McGraw Hill, 2004 (5th edition).

4. McGill SM Low Back Disorders. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2002.

5. Suzuki J, R Tanaka, Yan S, Chen R, Macklem PT and Kayser B. Assessment of abdominal muscle contractility, strength, and fatigue. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 159: 1052-1060, 1999.

6. Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, and Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism, 43: 814-818, 1994.

7. Vera-Garcia FJ, Grenier SG and McGill SM. Abdominal muscle response during curl-ups on both stable and labile surfaces. Phys Ther, 80: 564-569, 2000.

8. Wajchenberg, BLO. Subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue: their relation to the metabolic syndrome. Endocrin Rev, 21: 697-738, 2000.

The post Killer Abs Workout appeared first on FitnessRX for Men.

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By: Thomas Fahey, Ed.D.
Title: Killer Abs Workout
Sourced From: www.fitnessrxformen.com/training/killer-abs-workout/
Published Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2021 16:25:11 +0000

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Mens Health

How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life

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Photo by spiritvisionstudios / Unsplash.com

“Human beings are creatures of belonging which we achieve through three marriages. First, through relationship with other people and other things (particularly and very personally, to one other person in relationship or marriage); second, through work; and third, through an understanding of what it means to be themselves.” David Whyte, The Three Marriages: Reimaging Work, Self and Relationship.

For more than fifty years I have helped people achieve success in all three kinds of relationships. Like many I married young. My wife and I were together for ten years and had two children before our marriage broke up. After a time of pain and healing, I fell in love again, and remarried. Looking back, I can see that one was a rebound relationship and it too ended.

Endings are painful for everyone, but when you’re a marriage and family counselor who makes his living helping fix relationships, it is not only painful, but shameful as well. I talk about it on my website, MenAlive.com in an introductory video, “Confessions of a Twice-Divorced Marriage Counselor.” Fortunately, I got my own help, worked through unhealed trauma from my past, and learned what it truly takes to have a successful marriage. My wife, Carlin, and I have been happily married for forty-four years.

            We all want a life that is happy and joyful, but how to achieve success is not often clear and easy.

“If you have to make one life choice, right now, to set yourself on the path to future health and happiness, what would it be?”

This question was asked by two world-renowned social scientists, Robert Waldinger, MD and Marc Schulz, PhD.

Dr. Waldinger is professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Harvard Study on Adult Development. Dr. Schultz is the associate director. The Harvard Study is the longest scientific study of happiness ever conducted. It began in 1938 and offers the most scientifically supported guidance for achieving a great life.

The latest findings are reported in Waldinger’s and Schulz’s book, The Good Life: Lessons From The World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness. In a 2007 survey, millennials were asked about their most important life goals. Seventy-six percent said that becoming rich was their number one goal. Fifty percent said a major goal was to become famous. More than a decade later, after millennials had spent more time as adults, similar questions were asked again. Fame was now lower on the list, but top goals again included things like making money, having a successful career, and becoming debt-free.

            What does the data from thousands of interviews over eighty-six years tell us? If we want a great life what is the one thing that is more important than others? The answer can be stated in three simple words: Create Good Relationships.

“In fact, good relationships are significant enough that if we had to take all eighty-six years of the Harvard Study,”

say Drs. Waldinger and Schulz,

“and boil it down to a single principle for living, one life investment that is supported by similar findings across a wide variety of other studies, it would be this:

Good Relationships keep us healthier and happier. Period.”

The Three Marriages We Must Embrace to Have a Successful Life

            In his book The Three Marriages: Reimaging Work, Self and Relationship, David Whyte says,

“Despite our use of the word “marriage” only for a committed relationship between two people, “in reality everyone is committed consciously or unconsciously to three marriages.”

            Whyte goes on to say,

“There is that first marriage, the one we usually mean, to another; that second marriage, which can so often seem like a burden, to work or vocation; and that third and most likely hidden marriage to a core conversation inside ourselves. We can call these three separate commitments marriages because at their core they are usually lifelong commitments and, as I wish to illustrate, they involve vows made either consciously or unconsciously.”

For most of my life I tried to find a balance between my work life and my love life. The truth is that I was much better at work than I was at love. It is not surprising. I had my first job when I was seven years old. My father had left when I was five, committed to a mental hospital after taking an overdose of sleeping pills because he had become increasingly stressed and depressed because he couldn’t make a living to support my mother and me.

With my father gone, my mother had to find work outside the home. We had little money beyond what was needed for the essentials, so I learned early to work for anything I truly wanted. I got good at work, but like many who grew up without a father and mother at home, what I learned about having a healthy and happy married life was minimal and I was too busy hustling for my next job success to have time to wonder about what it meant to get to know my true self.

For too many of us we feel like we are going up and down on a teeter-totter with our work and love lives competing for our attention while our personhood often gets neglected and forgotten. David Whyte offers us all a great service when he suggests this basic reality:

“Each of those marriages, is at its heart, nonnegotiable. We should give up the attempt to balance one against another, of, for instance, taking away from work to give more time to a partner, or vice versa, and start thinking of each marriage conversing with, questioning, or emboldening the other two.”

            With the framework of the three marriages, we can ask ourselves where we might need improvement. Here’s a little scale I find useful.

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How would you rate yourself in all five areas? I feel successful in all five areas, but it has been a lifelong process of healing and learning. I still have a way to go yet, like all of us. My score was 24. How about yours?

Bringing It All Together

For me, I have come to see achieving success at the three marriages as a true hero’s journey, one that lasts a lifetime. My wife, Carlin, is part Native American. In our area, there are several women who weave beautiful baskets made out of local materials that grow in nature. A well-known basket weaver described a well-made basket as a metaphor for creating a great life.

            Here’s how she describes the process.

“Our life is a basket woven from many different strands, each essential for a strong container. Each part of our life is one strand in this basket.It’s impossible to weave multiple strands at the same time; we need to attend to the strand that requires our attention without losing awareness of the others. Every strand will get our attention—just not all at the same time. I know I give attention to where I am most needed, knowing that I will then move on to the next demand. The basket holds my life as I strengthen individual strands. I’m no longer on a teeter-totter—I am weaving my life into something whole and lovely.”

When I reflect on my own life, there are times when I must focus on my wife, Carlin, knowing that there are other parts of my life that will require my attention at another time. At other times, one of our five children or seventeen grandchildren all for my attention. Yet, I can’t ever forget my work and my commitment to my calling. Running through all these “strands of my basket” is my commitment to my deepest self, getting to know who I really am and learning to love the man I am with all my flaws as well as my gifts.

I have written about how I have integrated these strands in the books I have written. If you are interested in learning about me and my work, I recommend, Inside Out: Becoming My Own Man, 12 Rules for Good Men, and Long Live Men: The Moonshot Mission to Heal Men, Close the Lifespan Gap, and Offer Hope for Humanity.

If you want to learn more about me and my relationship life, I recommend The Enlightened Marriage: The 5 Transformative Stages of Relationship and Why the Best is Still to Come, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound, and Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: Overcoming Romantic and Sexual Addictions.

If you would like to take one of my on-line courses, I recommend:

Navigating the 5 Stages of Love.

Healing the Irritable Male Syndrome.

Healing the Family Father Wound.

If you would like to join our mission to improve the lives of men and their families, I recommend:

The Moonshot for Mankind and Humanity.

If you would like to do individual or couple counseling with me, drop me a note at Jed@MenAlive.com and put “Counseling” in the subject line. I will send you the information. If you would like to receive my free weekly newsletter with updates and new articles, you can sign up here.

The post How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: How to Become Successful at the Three Essential Marriages for Achieving a Great Life
Sourced From: menalive.com/how-to-become-successful-at-the-three-essential-marriages/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-to-become-successful-at-the-three-essential-marriages
Published Date: Thu, 11 Apr 2024 20:02:04 +0000

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Mens Health

The Japanese 3X3 Interval Walking Workout

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Japanese Interval Walking 3 1 jpg

The overarching principle of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is that the harder you do an exercise, the more physiological benefits you accrue; thus, by incorporating intervals of higher intensity efforts in your workouts, you can get more fitness bang for your buck in less time. 

When we think about HIIT, we tend to think about going absolutely nuts on a fan bike or doing all-out sprints.

But as Dr. Martin Gibala explained on the AoM podcast, while high-intensity training rises above the level of the moderate, it doesn’t require a complete max out of your heart rate, nor is it limited to certain exercise modalities.

You can do interval training by pedaling like a madman on a bike, but you can also do it with a less strenuous approach. 

Enter Interval Walking Training (IWT), which originated in Japan.

This 3X3 walking workout is simple: you do 3 minutes of low-intensity walking (40% of peak aerobic capacity for walking — a little faster than a stroll), followed by 3 minutes of high-intensity walking (70%+ of peak aerobic capacity for walking). You repeat these interval sets at least 5 times, and do this 30-minute workout 4 times a week.

Your heart rate during the high-intensity intervals will vary according to your fitness level and age. One 68-year-old who participated in an IWT-based study had his heart rate go up to about 130 beats per minute during the fast intervals, so you’re moving at a good clip.

Even though IWT is highly accessible, studies that have been done on it show that it produces significant health benefits. People who did Interval Walking Training 4X a week for 3 months experienced significantly more improvement in their blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, leg strength, and aerobic capacity than those who did continuous, moderate-intensity walking. 

Hiroshi Nose, who developed Interval Walking Training, reports that among those who do IWT, “Physical fitness — maximal aerobic power and thigh muscle strength — increased by about 20 percent which is sure to make you feel about 10 years younger than before training, [and] symptoms of lifestyle-related diseases (hypertension, hyperglycemia, and obesity) decreased by about 20 percent.” IWT walkers enjoyed mental health benefits as well: depression scores dropped by half.

Walking in general is already one of the very best forms of exercise you can do, and IWT just helps you take its benefits up a notch. Hiroshi has used Interval Walking Training to get thousands of elderly Japanese citizens into shape, and it’s a great form of exercise if you’re in the older decades of life. But it’s also good if you’re just beginning your fitness journey and looking to get off the couch and start doing more physical activity. Even if you’re already a regular exerciser who’s in good shape, IWT is a nice way to mix up your usual neighborhood strolls while enhancing your health even further. 

For more HIIT protocols, from the accessible to the challenging, listen to this episode of the AoM podcast:

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By: Brett & Kate McKay
Title: The Japanese 3X3 Interval Walking Workout
Sourced From: www.artofmanliness.com/health-fitness/fitness/the-japanese-3×3-interval-walking-workout/
Published Date: Tue, 09 Apr 2024 17:35:28 +0000

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Mens Health

The Miracle of Men, Women, and Couples: Allowing Our Vulnerabilities to Bring Us Together

a couple of miracles

a couple of miracles 1

It isn’t easy being a man in today’s world. The same is true for being a woman. Finding the right partner and creating a joyful, long-lasting, marriage is truly a miracle. In their book. In their book, A Couple of Miracles: One Couple, More Than a Few Miracles, Joyce and Barry Vissell share their life journey. Joyce, a nurse/psychotherapist and Barry doctor/psychiatrist, offer wisdom for men, women, and couples who are wanting to find the secrets for a long and successful life, career, and marriage.

I have known Joyce and Barry for many years. My wife, Carlin, and I attended a couple’s retreat with them to celebrate our tenth anniversary. Our forty-four-year marriage has been enriched by our time with Joyce and Barry.

Joyce and Barry have been a couple since 1964, have raised three children, written ten books, and helped countless people in their workshops and counseling practice. They can be reached at SharedHeart.org. I recently did a podcast interview with Barry and we explored their work, the new book, Barry’s work with men, Joyce’s work with women, and their joint work with couples.

I recently attended a men’s retreat with Barry and seventeen other men from around the country. It was a unique and wonderful experience that I recommend to all men. From the very beginning Barry invited us all to be vulnerable and share the real challenges we were facing in our lives. He started by sharing his own, things that most of us hide, even from ourselves.

“We need to let our partners see us more deeply,”

said Barry.

“We need to feel and express our feelings. Men sometimes feel hurt or afraid, but we’re often taught to keep it well hidden.”

Barry went on to share some of the real problems that he and Joyce have experienced in their own lives. As others shared, hearts opened, tears were shed. We talked about our hopes and dreams and our losses and betrayals.

I shared my experiences, having been married twice before, and the shame I felt being “a twice-divorced marriage and family counselor.” I talked about my forty-four-year marriage to my wife, Carlin, and my fear and anguish at the thought of losing her.

Barry shared his own fears of what he would do if Joyce died. Other men opened up about broken promises and broken marriages. Several men had recently dealt with relationships that had recently ended and shared their pain and anger.

 “Outwardly, we often present a strong, competent image,”

said Barry.

“Showing our human frailty to our loved ones gives them a very wonderful gift of love. When we feel sad, instead of covering it up with activity, we can share it with a loved one. Instead of jumping into an angry posture every time we feel hurt, the vulnerable and courageous approach is to reveal the hurt feelings directly, without anger or resentment.”

Barry acknowledged that many of us were in relationship with strong, competent, women. He encouraged us to also recognize “the little girl” that lives inside each of the women in our lives.

When I returned home after the end of the retreat, I shared what Barry had said about “the little girl” within. Carlin wept with recognition.

“I’ve spent my whole life taking care of others,”

Carlin said.

“I haven’t done a very good job taking care of the little girl inside me.

I held her and let her little girl be vulnerable, as she has so often held me as I let the little boy in me reveal his worries, fears, and pain. I used to think that it was manly to suffer in silence, to be forever strong for others. But I now know that our vulnerability is our real superpower.

I have been somewhat obsessed with life and death for a long time now. When I was five years old my father took an overdose of sleeping pills when he became increasingly depressed because he couldn’t support his family doing the work he loved. Though he didn’t die, our lives were never the same. I grew up wondering what happened to my father and when it would happen to me. For most of my life I blocked out the terror of my childhood.

I grew up like many males, denying my own vulnerability, and imagined that if I were smart enough and successful enough I could outrun my fears and furies. At various times I acted like I was the lone wolf, top dog, alpha male, lone ranger, superman. I didn’t trust others, particularly other guys, who I felt I needed to compete against in order to get women, money, power, and glory I craved.

That changed for me when I joined my first men’s group in 1979. Carlin has said on many occasions that the reason she believes we have had a successful forty-four-year marriage is because I’ve been in a men’s group for forty-five years. Our group continues to meet, though three of our members have died. I’m now the eldest member of the group as I recently celebrated my 80th birthday.

Carlin has also been in several women’s groups which give her the love and support that only women can give. We also have been in a mixed group, we call “The Village Circle” where men and women can learn to love and support each other.

Joyce and Barry have had a similar path and offer counseling, retreats, and much more. You can get their latest information at SharedHeart.org. The world needs more miracles. We need each other and the world needs each of us to be the best men and women we can be.

We live in challenging times. Vaclav Havel, Czech statesman, author, poet, playwright and dissident, offers an important truth about the times in which we live.

“I think there are good reasons for suggesting that the modern age has ended. Today, many things indicate that we are going through a transitional period, when it seems that something is on the way out and something else is painfully being born. It is as if something were crumbling, decaying, and exhausting itself, while something else, still indistinct, were arising from the rubble.”

In a recent article, “Men and Relationships,” Barry says,

“Over the years of working with men and their relationships, not to mention my own 59-year relationship with Joyce, I have seen some central issues emerge.”

He goes on to enumerate eight areas that are particularly important. Number eight is “Reach Out More to Other Men.”

Barry says,

“Many men tend to isolate themselves from meaningful relationships with other men. I have observed that many men are nearly starved for father/brother love. Because of our fear of this need, we have pushed away half the population of the earth. Practice vulnerability with other men, and you will find it becomes even easier to be vulnerable with your partner. Deepening your friendship with a man leads to deepening your friendship with yourself. And this allows you to become more accessible to your partner.”

Barry and Joyce practice what they recommend to others. Both Carlin and I have benefitted from their wisdom over the years. You will too. You can visit Barry and Joyce here.

If you appreciate articles like these, come visit me, Jed Diamond, here.

The post The Miracle of Men, Women, and Couples: Allowing Our Vulnerabilities to Bring Us Together appeared first on MenAlive.

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By: Jed Diamond
Title: The Miracle of Men, Women, and Couples: Allowing Our Vulnerabilities to Bring Us Together
Sourced From: menalive.com/the-miracle-of-men-women-and-couples/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-miracle-of-men-women-and-couples
Published Date: Sat, 06 Apr 2024 02:32:57 +0000

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