Tuesday, May 31, 2011
In the best of all possible worlds
Where love N’ life twirls
Is a space beyond this place
Where haste and waste
And contradictions contradict
And everything left behind tries to fit
Because opposites just sit
I often wonder, that’s it?
They often say ‘perfection’ is not an accident
But was ‘perfection’ HIS intent?
I in my mind
Search the recesses to find…
To vent and invent
That ‘perfection’ and HE are[n’t] in consent
But to prevent any mis-spent discontent
HIS life/death is NOT a little theater event!
And insurmountably miserable
What can be worse than worse?
Except the tears we don’t shed.
Then NOTHING else matters
Just smatters and tatters
That to some THEY don’t matter
Just a matter of lack
A tactless tact
Shatters me to tatters
And that's a matter of fact
For in the home of the departed
In all the wonder of words
That cut as deep as knives
That flies beyond the beyond
This poem speaking for the dead mouths
And now departed
Taking a home on the range
They are in the home of the departed
And our memories are just bartered
And yet I ask,
Who will shed a tear?
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
At last! We’ve finally made it to the last day of the 30 Days to a Better Man Challenge. It’s been a tough 30 days. Hopefully, the tasks we came up with helped you stretch, grow, and become a better man. Today’s final task will both complete this process and reward your efforts during the past month. Today’s challenge is to get an old fashioned straight razor shave from a barber.
It’s relaxing. The straight razor shave is the facial for manly men. The experience is definitely a treat. There’s nothing like a hot towel on your face or the manly fragrance of shaving cream to sap the stress right out of your body. The few times I’ve gotten a straight razor shave, I’ve fallen asleep because it’s so darn relaxing.
It’s manly. When you get a straight razor shave, you can almost feel the testosterone increasing in your body. It feels cool to be taking part in a ritual that thousands of men from history experienced. Plus, in a world where women are pretty much doing everything men are, a straight razor shave is one of the few activities that is still completely and exclusively male.
It’s dangerous. At least it feels that way. There’s nothing like letting another man hold a razor sharp piece of metal to your neck to remind you that you’re alive.
What to Expect from a Straight Razor Shave
Cost. The barbershops that I’ve been to charge $20 for a straight razor shave. Some places will be more and some places may be less. But $20 seems to be the going rate.
The process. The two places I’ve gotten a straight razor shave had a pretty similar process. Here’s how it typically goes. You’ll sit in a cool barber chair, and the barber will tilt it back. He’ll start off putting a nice hot towel around your face to soften up your whiskers. After the first hot towel, some barbers rub cleanser on your face to open up the pores and to make sure your face is nice and clean for a good shave. After that, another hot towel.
Next, they might put some conditioner on your whiskers to soften them up, followed by another hot towel.
Now it’s on to the shaving cream. Most barbers have their own secret recipe for shaving cream that has been passed down for generations. The shaving cream will come from a heated dispenser. It feels really nice on your face.
They’ll then take the razor to your face. Because of health codes, most barbers use disposable straight edge razors as opposed to traditional straight razors. Some men would argue that you’ll notice the difference. Honestly, I haven’t.
After a first pass with the razor, you’ll get another hot towel. Shaving cream is reapplied, and another pass is made.
When the barber is done removing your beard, he’ll give you a cold damp towel to close your pores and then splash on some manly smelling aftershave.
Bada bing! You just got a straight razor shave. You’ll walk out of the barbershop feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, and uber-manly.
Today’s Task: Get a Straight Razor Shave
Today’s task is to get a straight razor shave. Not all barbers do them. So you’ll have to call around to find one that does.
For our bearded brethren, have a professional trim and clean your beard up. I hear some barbers have some nice shampoos designed specifically for beards that smell particularly manly.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Fear can be a good thing. It’s a biological instinct that prevents us from doing stupid things that might kill us. For example, fear kicks in with good reason when we see a slithering snake or look over the edge of a cliff.
Unfortunately, fear is not always rational and not always healthy. Thus, our heart races when we’re getting on a plane but not when we’re driving, even though we have a far greater chance of dying while behind the wheel. And while fear works to prevent us from physical pain, it can also hold us back from the chance at both the pain of a crushed ego and the exhilaration of victory and success.
Fear is irrational. No one can ever be fully rational in their choices and behavior. But every man should strive to live with reason and ration as his guide. Fear is a primal instinct, not a function of higher brain faculties. When we logically think through our fears, we often find that they have no real rational basis.
Fear is cowardly. We often try to frame our fears in ways that soothe our egos. We say that we’re being prudent or cautious. We say that we haven’t tried simply because it’s not important to us. We say that we’re just a little nervous. But if you want to start overcoming your fears, it’s helpful to call a spade a spade. Don’t say, “I’m not doing this because I’m nervous,” say, “I’m not doing this because I’m a coward.” This is not meant to be harsh; I actually find it quite helpful to frame my internal debate this way. Because who wants to be a coward? A man seeks to be brave and courageous.
Fear robs you of your integrity. Integrity means behaving in a way wholly congruous with your beliefs and values. But when we want to do something and we believe it’s the right thing to do, but we fail to do it because of fear, we violate our core values. Living true to your principles will always involve a healthy measure of overcoming your fears.
Fear pushes you from the driver’s seat. A man is a captain of his own destiny. He makes the choices and chooses the roads that lead him to his goals. A man ruled by fear abdicates his captainship to his fear. He gives his fear the steering wheel. Who is the master of your life, you or your fears?
Fear leaves regrets. A man does not dwell on the past. He learns from it, but never lets it hinder him. Yet if you allow fear to keep you from seizing opportunities that come your way, you will inevitably look back, kick yourself, and wonder why the heck you let fear have its way with you.
Fear slows our personal growth. A man should always be striving to improve himself, to be a little better than he was the day before. But there is no growth without risk.
How to Overcome Our Fears
“Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.” ~ Brendan Francis
We need not live our lives captive to our fears and insecurities. You can, through your will, become the master of your fears.
Change your perspective on fear. Is the pain you experience while working out a negative thing? Or is it just the feeling of your body getting stronger? Fear is only a negative thing if you believe that it is. You can choose to think about it simply as the “pain” your body experiences as your character develops and expands. There is very little growth where there is no pain and work.
Instead of seeing the tackling of our fears as nerve-racking, see it as an adventure. An adventure is anything that takes you out of your comfort zone and into unexplored territory. It can be as grand as an African safari or as basic as talking to a stranger. Conquering a fear, big or small, can be downright thrilling. Every man should try to scare himself a little every day.
Change your perspective on risk. The root of our fear is our fear of trying something and crashing and burning. What if I get rejected? What if I fail? These are short-term risk assessments. Yes, there is a chance that you will fall on your face. And if you don’t take the risk, you’re guaranteed not to face failure.
But in making such a calculation, you are leaving out the long-term risk, a risk that’s far riskier than any short term blow to your ego. The long term risk is this: The risk of never amounting to anything. The risk of living a completely mediocre life. The risk of looking back in 10, 20, or 30 years and feeling your stomach turn with regret.
When I was a kid and was afraid to do something, whether it was slide down the water slide backwards or ride a huge roller coaster, I would ask myself this question: “Which choice are you going to regret more? Doing this thing and being scared for a few minutes or not doing it and missing out on the experience and always wondering what it would have been like?” Even my ten year old brain knew the answer.
Remember, when you skip an opportunity because you’re afraid, you’ll never get that moment back. Never.
Finally, we often fear failure and rejection because it hurts to think that we’re not as suave or talented as we had supposed. This is a blow to the ego. But when we don’t act on our fears, we send a message to ourselves that we are in fact cowardly, and this subconsciously wears away our sense of self and will stick with us far after the sting of any failed enterprise has passed.
Maybe it’s time you updated your criteria for risk assessment.
Act courageous. Teddy Roosevelt overcame his fears by acting as if he were not afraid. Do the same.
“There were all kinds of things of which I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to “mean” horses and gun-fighters; but by acting as if I was not afraid I gradually ceased to afraid.”
Think about the great men of history. Our own personal fears and challenges can seem overwhelming and insurmountable. But with the proper perspective, they can seem rightfully manageable. The next time you you feel paralyzed by a fear, think of the courageous men of the past. Think of Edmund Hillary ascending Mt. Everest, the Freedom Riders meeting a crowd of angry Klansmen, the astronauts sitting in Apollo 13. You’ll soon think, “Dammit! And here I am unable to make this flippin’ phone call!”
Kill the fear with logic. As we mentioned above, fear is not a rational thing. The solution is thus to kill it with logic. The best way to do this is to ask yourself this question: “If I do this, what is the worst that can happen?”
What’s the worst that could happen if you asked someone out and they said no? You didn’t have a date then, you don’t have a date now. Nothing has changed.
What’s the worst that could happen if you apply for a job and don’t get it? You didn’t have the job before, you don’t have the job now. Nothing has changed.
What’s the worst that can happen if I give a speech at the conference and bomb? No one will ever tell you, and you’ll never know you were bad.
And so on and so on. With almost any scenario the worst that could happen might be temporarily unpleasant, but is infinitely manageable.
Memorize this quote. We’ve already talked about the power of having memorized quotes at your ready disposable. One of the best passages to memorize and recite to yourself when you’re afraid is this one from Theodore Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
There’s no need to feel the fear, just do it. A lot of self-help gurus recommend that you fully feel the fear and go ahead and tackle it anyway. I disagree. Giving the fear wholesale residency in your body is just going to make you get all tense and freaked out. What I find works is acknowledging the fear, but then immediately going for it, even before your brain has time to dwell on what you’re about to do. Just put your brain on cruise control. Check out a little bit and start down a path you can’t return from. Dial that number. Walk into that office. Once you’re in the mix, you’re forced to carry on, and you’ll find that you do indeed have the strength to pull it off.
The men of Easy Company signed up to be paratroopers with only the faintest idea of what jumping out of an airplane entailed. As they donned their packs and climbed into the hull of the plan on their first training flight, some of the men were feeling the fear big time. Others chose not to think about it. When the green light went off, they lined up, stepped to the door and jumped.
Just do it.
Today’s Task: Conquer a Fear
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.” -Helen Keller
Pick a fear you’ve had for some time. Something you need to do, something you want to do, but you’ve been continually putting off. We think we stay safe by playing it small, but our unconquered fears sit like a weight on our shoulders. They’re there when you wake up and when you go to bed. They keep whispering in your ear that today is the day to go for it, and you keep ignoring the call. The weight of your unconquered fears builds slowly, almost imperceptibly, but it grows each and every day, slowing down your progress and cluttering your mind.
Ask that girl out that you’ve liked for a very long time. Tell your best friend how you really feel about her. Break-up with your girlfriend that you stopped having feelings for months ago. Ask for that raise you deserve. Confess your mistake to your friend or boss. Ask your brother for forgiveness.
Perhaps there are some 30 Days tasks that you haven’t done yet because you’ve been afraid to. Today is the day that the excuses and procrastination absolutely must end.
"Missing You" is a song by Brandy, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, and Tamia, recorded for the soundtrack of the 1996motion picture Set It Off. Written andy produced by Gordon Chambers and Barry Eastmond, it was released as a single in August 1996 (see 1996 in music). The collaboration peaked at number 2 in New Zealand and number 25 on the U.S.Billboard Hot 100, making it Tamia's chart debut. In 1997, "Missing You" was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category "Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group".
I posted this song for the family and friends of Maurice Murrell. I hope that they get to the day where their sadness actually creates space for them to begin the healing process.
I posted this song for the family and friends of Maurice Murrell. I hope that they get to the day where their sadness actually creates space for them to begin the healing process.
Friday, May 27, 2011
We previously discussed the idea that every man should strive to be a romantic lover, and how the date is one of a man’s best tools for wooing a gentleman/lady. A man’s other major tool in the romance department is the love letter. As long as love (and writing utensils) has existed, so has the love letter. It has been the go to way for millions of men throughout history to confess or reiterate their feelings of love for another.
It’s not always easy to express our feelings to our significant others. We’d rather show our love through actions. We feel that our love for someone is manifestly obvious, because after all, don’t we vacuum the house, and mow the lawn, and make them their favorite pancakes every Sunday morning? Our actions show that we’re faithful and true, and to us it feels like this should be enough.
But it’s hard to not only find the right words to express how we feel about someone, but to also make it flow and sound real purity. It’s especially difficult when you’re sitting down with someone and trying to remember exactly what you wanted to say. Enter the love the letter.
Writing a fantastically romantic love letter can be a challenge, but that’s what you signed up for with this 30 Days project. So let’s get started.
Why Write a Love Letter
Love letters were definitely more popular in the past when soldiers were off fighting the Big One and men left on trips that took them away from their love for months or even years at a time. With the rise of modern means of communication, love letters, and letters generally, have fallen into disfavor.
But as we talked about in our letter writing post, letters have special properties that no modern form of communication can duplicate. It’s something tangible that we touch and hold and then pass to another to touch and hold. And they are preserved and cherished in a way that text messages or email never will be.
The love letters you give your boyfriend or girlfriend are testaments in the history of your love. They constitute a record of your relationship that he/she will hold onto for the rest of their lives (unless of course you break his/her heart and then the letters will give him/her the satisfaction of having something to burn or line the bird cage with).
Your love doesn’t have to be far away for you to write a letter to him/her. A love letter is appropriate even when you’re sleeping alongside your special someone every night. It’s a chance to express your feelings in a more ardent way than you do on a day to day basis.
A man/woman cannot hear too many times that’s she beautiful and that you love her. They’ll never get sick of it. They want to know that you still feel the same way as you did when you first met, heck, the same way you felt last Monday. When the John Edwardses and Mark Sanfords of the world dominate the news, a lady can be forgiven for wanting regular reassurance that you’re not about to go traipsing off to Argentina to cavort with your Latin lover.
How to Write a Love Letter
If you’re particularly in touch with your feelings and a great writer, then love letters may come easily to you. In that case, just sit down with pen and paper and let it rip. If you’re someone who has problems formulating a romantic love letter, we offer the following tips to guide the process.
1. Start off by stating the purpose of your letter. You want your love to know right away that this is a love letter and not a note to give her the brush off or to voice some kind of displeasure with the relationship. Begin with something like, “I was thinking today about how very much I love you, and how I really don’t tell you that enough. So I wanted to sit down and let you know how totally in love with you I really am.”
2. Recall a romantic memory. What’s special about couplehood is that the two of you have a shared history, a history that is unique to you and your love. Thus the best way to start a love letter is to refer to a shared memory; this conjures up feelings of your history together and scores you points for remembering details of your past. For example, begin by saying, “I still remember clearly the moment when you walked into Rob’s party, wearing that stunning red dress. You were smiling ear to ear and absolutely lit up the room. I knew immediately that I had to meet you. I went to the bathroom to try to summon up my courage and think of what to say. But it was no use; I was totally tongue tied when I approached you. I was smitten from the very start.”
3. Now transition to a section about the things you love about her. Move from your memory to the present with a line like, “And here we are more than a decade later, and you still leave me weak in the knees.”
4. Tell her all the things you love about her. Before you write this section, make a list on a separate sheet of paper of all the things you that you love about your significant other. Think about her physical characteristics, her personality, her character, and all the wonderful things she does for you. Then, turn the things you listed into sentences. “I truly think you are the most beautiful women in the world. I love the feeling of your legs intertwined with mine and the smell of your hair and skin. Your smile lifts my spirits on even my worst days. I love your laugh and your ability to find humor in every situation. I’m so grateful for everything you do for me, from your delicious dinners to your magnificent backrubs.”
5. Tell her how your life has changed since meeting her. “You truly complete me. These last few years have been the happiest of my life. I can’t tell you how lucky I feel to always have my best friend by my side.”
6. Reaffirm your love and commitment. “I will always love you, no matter what happens, through thick and thin. I will be absolutely true and faithful to you forever.”
7. End with a line that sums up your love. “I can’t wait to grow old with you.” “My love for you will never end.” “You are my best friend and soul mate and I will love you until the end of our lives.”
It’s okay to err on the side of cheesiness. The most important rule is to be completely authentic. Write only those things that you truly feel. This will prevent the letter from seeming over the top or incongruous with your personality and relationship.
If you need some inspiration before you start writing, read this letter and watch this video that we originally posted in our article about “How to Write a Love Letter Like a Soldier.” The letter was written in 1861 by Sullivan Ballou to his wife Sarah, a week before the Battle of Bull Run:
July the 14th, 1861Washington D.C.My very dear Sarah:The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days-perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.Our movement may be one of a few days duration and full of pleasure-and it may be one of severe conflict and death to me. Not my will, but thine O God, be done. If it is necessary that I should fall on the battlefield for my country, I am ready. I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing-perfectly willing-to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.But, my dear wife, when I know that with my own joys I lay down nearly all of yours, and replace them in this life with cares and sorrows-when, after having eaten for long years the bitter fruit of orphanage myself, I must offer it as their only sustenance to my dear little children-is it weak or dishonorable, while the banner of my purpose floats calmly and proudly in the breeze, that my unbounded love for you, my darling wife and children, should struggle in fierce, though useless, contest with my love of country?I cannot describe to you my feelings on this calm summer night, when two thousand men are sleeping around me, many of them enjoying the last, perhaps, before that of death-and I, suspicious that Death is creeping behind me with his fatal dart, am communing with God, my country, and thee.I have sought most closely and diligently, and often in my breast, for a wrong motive in thus hazarding the happiness of those I loved and I could not find one. A pure love of my country and of the principles have often advocated before the people and “the name of honor that I love more than I fear death” have called upon me, and I have obeyed.Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield.The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us. I have, I know, but few and small claims upon Divine Providence, but something whispers to me-perhaps it is the wafted prayer of my little Edgar-that I shall return to my loved ones unharmed. If I do not, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, and when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name.Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have often been! How gladly would I wash out with my tears every little spot upon your happiness, and struggle with all the misfortune of this world, to shield you and my children from harm. But I cannot. I must watch you from the spirit land and hover near you, while you buffet the storms with your precious little freight, and wait with sad patience till we meet to part no more.But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night-amidst your happiest scenes and gloomiest hours-always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by.Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.As for my little boys, they will grow as I have done, and never know a father’s love and care. Little Willie is too young to remember me long, and my blue-eyed Edgar will keep my frolics with him among the dimmest memories of his childhood. Sarah, I have unlimited confidence in your maternal care and your development of their characters. Tell my two mothers his and hers I call God’s blessing upon them. O Sarah, I wait for you there! Come to me, and lead thither my children.Sullivan
Thursday, May 26, 2011
1 in 4 American adults did not read a single book last year. Those who did read books were usually women and older folk. This doesn’t bode well for younger men. It’s not that younger men aren’t reading. They’re probably reading plenty on blogs or on their Tweetdeck. But reading snippets from blogs and websites is a completely different experience than reading a good old fashioned book. With a book you can get completely immersed in a story and suck out the marrow of good ideas. With the internet, you tend to just get blips of information at a time. It’s never enough to gain the kind of immersive experience and broad picture that a whole book gives you.
Today, we’re going to turn the page (so to speak) on the dearth of men not reading books. But before we begin, let’s just quickly review some of the benefits of reading.
Of course, the greatest benefit of reading is simply the pleasure that it gives you. Reading is an unmatchable pastime for relaxing and wiling away some time. Besides being thoroughly enjoyable, it has even more benefits:
Improves your writing. The ability to write well is a skill that will set you apart from your peers. Of course, if you want to become a skilled writer, you must practice writing. But in addition to writing, reading the words of great authors can also help you improve. As you read, you’ll begin to notice patterns and sentence formations that work well. If you’re constantly reading quality writing, it’s hard for some of it not to rub off on your own writing.
Provides fodder for conversation. Some of the best conversations begin with the simple question, “Read any good books lately?”You don’t want your answer to be, “Uhhhhh, no. But dude, have you checked out Keyboard Cat?” By reading good books, you build yourself a storehouse of conversation topics that are engaging and interesting.
Improves concentration and focus. With the internet and its millions of mindless distractions, concentrating and focusing on a single task has become more and more difficult. If you feel like you’ve become particularly distraction prone, reading a book could be just the prescription you need. Unlike blog posts and magazine articles that can be read in a matter of minutes, reading a book requires extended periods of concentration and focus. You’re not surfing around, feeding your brain an endless supply of new stimulation. It’s just you and the text. If you set aside time to read a book every day, you’ll start to notice a strengthening of your attention span.
Increases creativity. A creative person doesn’t just create new ideas out of thin air. He takes already existing ideas and cross pollinates them to create something entirely new. By exposing yourself to different ideas in the pages of books, you create a breeding ground in your mind for new ideas to grow.
Makes you a better man. Do you want to be a better man? Then read the biographies of great men. The lives of great men contain numerous lessons that are just as applicable to us today. I feel I’ve gotten more out of reading a biography of a hero of mine than I have with any so-called self-improvement book. With a biography, you can see concrete principles of manliness in action instead of just reading abstract advice. If you’re looking for a biography that will really inspire, I suggest The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. (Big surprise, huh?)
Broadens your perspective. No matter how far and wide you travel and how many interesting people you meet, you can never have the breadth of experiences contained within the world’s great books. Through reading, you can experience what’s it’s like to grow up fatherless, sail along with barbarous pirates, fly a plane in World War II, and climb Mt. Everest, all without leaving your armchair. Books help you gain greater insight and empathy than could be mined from your personal life alone.
Today’s Task: Start a Book
Start a book. Any book. Pick one of your favorite novels from high school or college. Choose a book that you’ve been forever meaning to read and have been continually putting off. Pick a book from the Essential Men’s Library or our list of great fictional adventure books and go to the library to check it out. Once you’ve selected your book, we’re going harness our inner third grader and D.E.A.R it up. You know. Drop Everything And Read. Read for at least 30 minutes today. Your brain and soul will thank you later.
This blog entry is about those men that we met and started a world wind ‘sex relationship’ with. I know many of you smile as I do because in thinking about my brushes with the men in my past, I sit and remember how our ‘sex relationship’ took off. It started with some nice teasing, he is just my type and the mutual attraction was instantaneous. The bedroom is soon filled with cries of ecstasy and refreshing honesty (so I thought).
After a while the passion dies (and it will) you find yourself dealing with a man that wants more than sex. And suddenly, without even realizing it, you got a dreaded psycho-homo on your hands. He starts showing up announced, calling friends to find out who you are ‘dating’ (ok f&cking) in order to scare them off, he even follows you to places he know you hang. How do you deal with such a man? Share your INTERESTING stories with the blogoverse.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
During the 30 Days to a Better Man project, we’ve been doing a lot exercises for our mind and character, but it’s equally important to exercise our bodies. A man’s health is his most important asset. If you suffer from chronic health problems, it can take a toll on your job, on your bank account, on your family, and on your psyche. And being out of shape and unhealthy saps one’s manly confidence and spirit. Unfortunately, for the past few decades, the fitness level of men, particularly American men, has been going down hill. With cars replacing walking as the primary mode of transportation and desk jobs replacing manual labor, men have become more and more sedentary.
There may have been a time when you were in pretty good shape. Maybe it was in high school or college. But since then, you’ve gotten a job, a mortgage, a wife, and 2.5 kids. But in your mind’s eye, you still think you’re the guy who could bench press 300 lbs and run the 40 yard dash in 4.5 seconds. You might be a bit softer, but overall you feel good. But the mind can play tricks on you. Slowly through the years the body adjusts itself to a less active lifestyle. The change happens so gradually, that you don’t even notice it. That is until you try to lift a big bag of dirt for your garden or play a pick-up game of basketball. And you’re hit with the realization that you’re not the strapping lad you once were.
While humbling moments like the ones mentioned above can give you somewhat of an idea of your fitness level, an actual fitness test can do a better job because numbers don’t lie. So today we’re going to give ourselves a gut check by taking a physical fitness test. And not just any physical fitness test. We’re taking the U.S. Marine Corps Fitness Test.
How to Perform the Marine Corps Fitness Test
The Marine Corps Fitness tests consists of three exercises: pull-ups, crunches, and a 3.0 mile run. The events are “designed to test the strength and stamina of the upper body, midsection, and lower body, as well as the efficiency of the cardiovascular system.”((MCPFTBCP Sec. 2000(1)))
All the exercises are to be performed in “one single session, not to exceed two hours.”((MCPFTBCP Sec. 2100(2))) Since it’s just you who’s doing the test and not an entire squadron of Marines, it should take you about an hour.
Find yourself a pull-up bar. If you don’t have one, just go to a park and use the monkey bars. They’re perfect for pull-ups. I also highly recommend investing in the Iron Gym Pull-Up Bar. It’s one of the best and most useful things I ever bought. And you’ll be able to use it at home once the fitness test is done to keep improving your strength.
To begin the test, grab the bar, both palms facing either forward or towards you. I would do it palms facing towards you. It’s easier that way.
The correct starting position begins with your arms fully extended beneath the bar and your feet off the ground.
One rep consists of raising the body with the arms until the chin is above the bar and then lowering your body until your arms are fully extended. The object of this test is to measure your performance from a dead hang position. Thus, whipping, leg kicking, or leg kipping are not allowed and pull-ups using these assistance methods do not count.
You don’t have a time limit to perform your pull-ups, but as soon as you let go, the test is over.
The ab crunch test has a two minute limit. Perform as many crunches as you can in two minutes.
Cross your arms across your chest or rib cage with no gap existing between the arms and chest/rib cage. Both arms must remain in constant contact with the chest/rib cage throughout the exercise. A single repetition consists of raising your upper body from the starting position until both forearms or elbows simultaneously touch the thighs, and then returning to the starting position with the shoulder blades touching the ground.
Your butt must remain in constant contact with the ground.
You can have a buddy hold your legs or feet, at or below the knees. If you don’t have a buddy, place your feet under a couch or some other sturdy object.
3.0 Mile Run
Mark out a 3 mile course. One way of doing this is to reset your car’s trip odometer and drive a flat course in your neighborhood to mark out the 3 miles. Another idea is to go to a high school or college track. It’s flat, clear of any obstacles, and it’s measured out for you. Four times around the track is one mile. So for three miles, you’ll have to run around it twelve times.
Time yourself with a stopwatch to see how fast you can run 3.o miles. Run as fast as you can.
Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test Scoring
Each Marine is given a numeric score based on his performance in each event. Based on the total points of the three events, a Marine will be assigned to a physical fitness test class. First class being the highest and third class being the lowest. In order to get the highest possible score on the test you’d have to perform 20 pull-ups, do 100 crunches in 2 minutes, and run 3 miles in 18:00 minutes. Below are a series of charts that shows how scoring and class are determined:
|Class||Age 17-26||Age 27-39||Age 40-45||Age 46+|
Minimum Fitness Requirements
The Department of the Navy has established minimum fitness requirements for all Marines depending on their age to ensure that they’re ready for combat. Most of us probably won’t see action in Afghanistan, but if you can meet the fitness requirements for these tests, you’ll know that you have the physical condition to take on most of life’s challenges. The minimum requirements below would give a soldier enough points to meet a class three standard.
After you establish your base, start working on improving through regular exercise. Take the test again in a month to see how much you’ve improved. Try making it a goal to score a perfect 300 on the test.
Today’s Task: Take the Marine Corps Fitness Test
Take an hour after work today and do the Marine Corps Fitness Test. No matter what kind of shape you’re in, it will help you know how fit you are, give you a benchmark to base future progression and regression on, and grant you either some motivation to improve or a sense of satisfaction that you’re ready for action.