Self-care has definitely become part of the common vernacular as of late. Considering the current global climate and our new normal of lock down, shelter-in-place , and quarantines, it’s no surprise that self-care has become such a hot topic. Originally, when I set out to do this post, it was meant to be a review of my favorite things and an “it’s ok for men to have a skin care routine,” article; one to make those not quite secure enough in their masculinity to feel OK about having a product drawer that would make YouTube skin care influencers swoon/quiver. I mean, hell, my beard care product collection alone dwarfs what my wife has for her own scare care regiment.
However, now it’s turned into a little more than that. I mean don’t get me wrong, I’m still going to subject you to my vanity routine, but on top of that we will explore mental health and what its meant to me, physical health, and self-improvement. Now, self-improvement is a loaded term. It means different things to different people.
For me it’s taking one step everyday to being less of a sack of shit and becoming a sack of shit can make a proper fucking cup of coffee…YES! Making coffee that doesn’t taste like shit is part of self-care, or at least it fucking should be. Also, bourbon…bourbon is also part of self-care. Unless you’re on the wagon, in which case we commend and support your sobriety and refer back to making coffee that doesn’t taste like shit.
In the face of everything we are experiencing in the world at the moment, perhaps a bigger self-care matter could be discussed? In an effort to build off Grant’s article on the mental health benefits of routine, you can consider this “Tristan’s Easy-to-Follow Series on Wellbeing,” and if you’re not interested, that’s cool, but for those who are, let’s explore part one of this series of articles.
Self-Care: Time to Step Outside ” The Man Box”
Before we can go any further, we need to get down to the first order of business. It’s time to step out of fucking “MAN BOX.” For a long time, men between the ages of 18-30 had a bone to pick with anything they viewed as not “masculine.” The man box is a social construct forced upon us, at an early age, either through obsolete parenting styles or our peer groups, that tells us how to act like a man. “Be tough. Don’t Cry. Don’t do that, it’s for girls. Man up.” You get my point.
So, how does this obsolete construct limit self-care? During the era of the man box, the only self-care man would routinely adhere to was yearly check-ups in which he had his cholesterol checked and a finger shoved up his ass to check his prostate. Self-care has evolved beyond “turn your head and cough.”
So, What is Self-Care, Really?
Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is not feminine. Self-care is necessary! For some men, the image of self-care is mud masks, bubble baths, and bottles of rose, the perception of which is probably loosely tied to their girlfriend’s self-care routines. If I told you I hadn’t taken apart of any of those things, either individually or in combination, I’d be a fucking liar. In reality, self-care really is anything you do that makes your physical, mental, and spiritual self feel good.
Self-care starts when you find things that renew your soul and rejuvenate your engagement in life. Along with treating yourself, self-care can and should involve a healthy dose of personal challenge and growth in order to reach a goal that is meaningful to you.
In part 1 of this 3 part series we are going to explore the main aspects of physical self-care: Diet, Exercise and Grooming.
Self-Care Part 1: Physical (its more than being really, really ridiculously good looking):
Disclaimer: Neither Tim Ferris nor I are not dietitians. You should always consult a doctor when making major dietary changes. With regards to my 5yr old. He has a rare genetic disorder that requires us not to eat garbage food.
For some men self-care is purely physical. Grant, my co-author, is a muscled up gym rat and his diet largely flies in the face of my own. However, he eats sensibly, focuses on macros (WTF is a macro?) and lifts like a body builder, because, as previously stated, he’s a muscled up gym rat. Actually, it’s because he has a degenerative spine-disorder and core stability is critical to his ability to wake up in pain so terrible that his spine slides out of his anus.
For me, I have a strict training routine that allows me to run obstacle courses and keep fit. In both scenarios and it’s exercising and eating well and that’s it. No magic pills, just hard work and dietary discipline. If you were looking for a “six weeks to abs from your sofa,” type thing, this ain’t it, brotha!
While being able to run from zombies (hell, it feels like apocalyptic times at the moment, so for levity’s sake, goddamn zombie references) and not having a heart attack in the processes is a good thing, there is a third aspect of physical self-care and that’s how you treat your body, your hair and skin. I believe the correct fucking term is, “grooming.” Just because we dress rugged doesn’t mean looking like Sasquatch is a requirement. You know the saying, “if you look good you feel good,” so, this is what I do to feel good.
Self-Care, The Diet:
In the book, “The Subtitle Art of Not Giving a Fuck,” by Mark Manson, he sums up not giving a fuck as, “What are you willing to suffer for.” Needless to say, eating healthy is definitely a practice in self-imposed suffering, as is going to the gym and working out. It’s a goddamn choice you have to make everyday, so if you make it routine and double down on discipline, it will save you brain power and grief (see paradox of choice).
So how does diet relate to self-care, well that seems pretty obvious, no? I think it’s safe to say that now, more than ever, it is important to un-fuck your diet and eat healthy. It’s easy to get lazy, stay at home binge Netflix garbage and vegetate ( I refuse to say chill); but how are you going to feel when you finally remove yourself from your government imposed hibernation?
This leads me to my first book recommendation, “The 4 hour body by Tim Ferris.” This book is a fantastic exploration into health and wellbeing. More importantly, it’s an insight into suffering for wellbeing. “But Tristan didn’t you just say that Self-Care about feeling good?!?” I did but if you recall I also said that self care also required a healthy dose of personal challenge. The reward of self care comes from the challenge of it as well. There’s no magic bullet, results take time and effort.
What can I do to improve my self-care through diet?
Well according to Tim Ferris and my 5yr old’s six pack, your self-care diet could look something like this:
- Avoid “white” starchy carbs. These are all the delicious trouble foods, like pasta, bread, rice (brown, white, etc.), tortillas, potatoes (cries quietly), cereal, corn, and all fried foods with breading. Multi-grain versions are out, too.
- Eat the same few meals again and again. Do this for breakfast and lunch, because you are probably already doing this. Split your plate into three sections: Protein, legumes, and vegetables. Anything else either complicates the diet or adds unnecessary sugar. Eating the same thing every day sucks hence the suffering to feel better.
- Don’t drink calories. This is the silent killer of most diets. You never count what you’re ingesting in the form of liquids. Water, coffee (learn to make good fucking coffee), tea, zero-calorie drinks sweetened with stevia. This should be enough for any human being.
- Don’t eat fruit. Fruit = fructose = higher triglyceride synthesis = faster fat storage. It isn’t a requirement to have a “balanced” diet.
- Go nuts one day a week. Known as “Faturday,” establish one day in the week where all of these rules fly out the window. Keep a list throughout the week of foods you’ve been craving, then get ‘em all knocked out on your cheat day.
Self-care, The Work Out:
The Self-care diet example above will take care of about 60-70% of what you want to achieve. The workout below will do the rest:
75 kettlebell swings (or more in one set)
10 mitotic crunches
10 cat vomits
3×5 as a superset – incline dumbbell bench press & bent over row
2×6 drag curls
75 kettlebell swings (or more in one set)
10 mitotic crunches
10 cat vomits
So, while you’re filling out your food order on Amazon Prime, you might as well order a 35-40 pound kettle bell while you at it. Also, a jump rope isn’t the worst idea, as it is easy stationary cardio, and with stay-at-home orders in place…where are you fuckin’ going…nowhere…right? Right…don’t fuck this up for the rest of us!
This workout is only an example; you can see it only takes three days and could easily be knocked out before your ankle biters wake up, or, as a great way to destress at the end of the day when their slap-happy asses are in bed. Kettle bells would be useful, but if you are in a no equipment situation, load a backpack with power tools and towels and let ‘er rip. Find what works for you and if you want more examples of workouts, there’s always the internet.
Self-Care, The Grooming Bit:
Research has shown that skin concerns or disorders can seriously affect self-image, relationships, and performance. Which is why we are talking about it. Also, it just feels really fucking good. It’s never too late to develop a skin care routine and it doesn’t have to be complex. Mine is…sorry.
Like a lot of men, I neglected to take care of my skin for years. Biggest fucking organ in the human body…neglected to shit. That changed when I had a scare with skin cancer and my dermatologist had a come to Jesus moment with me. She broke it down into 3 simple categories for me:
CLEANSE, REPAIR, & MOISTURIZE/PROTECT, Bitch.
Cleanse: Stop washing with body wash. In many cases its detergent, which strips away the natural oils in your skin. Over the past decade these soap-like body washes have dominated the industry and are filled chemicals you can’t even pronounce. Also, it’s important to treat your face differently than you do the rest of your body. You should have a separate face cleaner than the one you use on your body, your face needs different things than your balls; not all skin was create equal, but it is all equally important. Basically, ditch your body wash for natural bar soap. I am personally a big fan of DUKE CANNON’s Buffalo Trace bar soap. No got dang explanation needed. Wash your face once a day, preferably at night, with a face cleanser and only wash your face with water in the mornings. If you wash too often you will dry out your skin and damage it. Sounds complicated…it’s not.
Repair: Throughout the day our skin takes a real beating. Where it’s from the elements, air pollution, cigarette smoke, or UV rays. The exposures cause oxidative stress. So a good serum with antioxidants, like vitamin C, will help reduce the damage. Or you can, and hear me out, EMBRACE THE FACE MASK. You know, that thing your girlfriend, or mother, wears at night that makes them look like serial killers? Well they make those for men, too.
I recommend you check out Skin Buddy. Skin buddy designed their face mask specifically for men with beards. They are cut into two pieces: the top cut to follow the contour of your beard and the bottom hooks around your ears. If you have a beard the lower part can be used on your neck. These masks are also great at relieving razor burn as well. Put one on at night, once a week, and it will do wonders.
Moisturize/Protect: Sunscreen isn’t just for the beach anymore. Incidental sun exposure, like the time you spend walking to the train or sipping a beer on the patio after work, adds up and causes skin damage. Just like with soaps you want to make sure you use something separate for your face and body. For your face, use something light that has a greasy feel, an SPF 15-30, and for your body an SPF 50. If you have exposed TATTOOS, you can seriously fight fading if you protect those investments with regular application of sunscreen. Also, don’t neglect your lips, those can get burnt, too. AS far as body moisturizers go, don’t overcomplicate things. Pick something that doesn’t make you feel like a greek salad and apply that shit daily.
Beard Care: Your beard is like a cross between keep keeping the hair on your head and your face clean.
Rules for caring for your beard are simple:
1: Wash your beard once every 2-3 days
2: Use both a beard specific shampoo and conditioner
3: Repair and protect your beard with a beard oil or beard balm
4: Never blow dry your beard. It will dry out both your skin and your beard.
Ive had a beard for over 10yrs. I actually grew it on the suggestion of my dermatologist. Shaving fucking hurts. Having a beard is natural sun screen and your beard hair gives those oils your skin makes a place to go. For all my beard needs I recommend anything by Zeus Beard. Their product’s are great quality, aren’t overly expensive and they have my favorite scent of all time, Spiced Maple, it smells like drunk breakfast. You know the smell maple syrup and spiced rum.
Wrap it the Fuck up, Tristan.
You’re right, I’m sorry, and if you are still with me, thank you. I am passionate about these topics and I feel like a little pampering could go a long way for mental health in these trying times. My promise for the next installment? I will keep it to three main points and drop some easy tips for mental self-care! Stay Raw!
Stay connected and follow the story!