The Manly-Man Complex

Being in private practice in a wellness clinic, I hear some great one liner excuses from patients and clients.  I was taking care of a woman and I asked her about her husband, whom I knew had been suffering from some ailments directly related to his life-style.  He’s 25 lbs over weight, sits a computer all day, and suffers from weekly migraines, to name a few.  She confirmed that he is getting worse and complaining more but ‘is sucking it up because he’s a manly-man.’

I looked at this woman very puzzled and asked her what that means, being a ‘manly man?’  She said, “You know, one of those ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ type guys.  Again, I looked ever more puzzled and a little offended, knowing I do not fit her description of a ‘manly-man.’

“Lady, you just told me he’s over weight, his blood pressure is creeping up every 6 months and he’s having weekly migraine headaches?  What’s his definition of broken?”  “Dr. Kurt, you know I have tried to get him in here to get and stay well but he won’t listen to me.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across this scenario with patients over the years.  The ‘manly-man’ is too tough to admit he’s broken and ask for help.  We guys get stereo-typed about not asking for directions but when it comes to taking care of ourselves, it’s ridiculous.

In fact, in the biology kingdom, ‘manly-man’ would be on the endangered species list.  ‘Manly-man’ has the highest rate of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, arthritis, impotence, and depression ever recorded in the history of ‘manly-man.’  But is the problem with ‘manly-man’ in his genes (the DNA kind, not the Wrangler kind)?  Or is the problem in the ‘manly-man’ ego?

“Dr. Kurt, I’m beginning to think you are using a pen name and this article is actually written by a woman.  Stop throwing us under the bus, you sound like our wives!”  Dude, the bus has driven over you about 20 times, get out of the coma and realize you are broken.

As a man and a future father, there’s nothing more important than the well-being of my wife and future kids and I would sacrifice myself for those people.  But my family value will never match up with my actions if I am not taking care of myself.  If I can’t manage myself, I can’t manage the family.  For all you ‘manly-man’ types, providing for your family is the greatest sense of self you can achieve on a daily basis.

So over the course of my articles I’m going to NOT give you tips on what to do.  Honestly, I won’t be saying anything that hasn’t already been said.  What I hope to provide is a change in your mindset and belief system to make your changes long lasting.

That first mindset has to begin with a different set of assumptions.  I know, I know, what do you get when you assume?  The result of the assumption is correct only when you are assuming wrong.  So I need to teach you to assume correctly.

The correct assumption is that you are healthy and you just need to get healthier.  When you go to a regular medical doctor, they will assume you are sick.  That assumption is false and therefore the assumer becomes the long-eared creature in addition to you for believing that false premise.  Let me give you an example.

Imagine you are hiking and stop to take a rest.  Actually, never mind, you are a ‘manly-man’ and a ‘manly-man’ does not rest.   Imagine you are sprinting up the side of a mountain barefoot and you stop to write your name in the snow using your ‘manly-man’ golden, liquid, high-lighter.

Out from behind the bush pops a sabre tooth tiger.  Under most circumstances with any normal person, your body will go into a fight or flight response.  Since you are a ‘manly-man,’ it’s just the fight response.  You face the tiger head on.  In order for your body to fight, your ‘manly-man’ instincts take over and you feel like you are turning into Lou Ferrigno.

Immediately there is an adrenaline rush, which increases your blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate.  Because your body needs so much energy to fight, your blood sugar and blood lipids rise up and your cells tell insulin, “not me, not now.”  For the first time in your ‘manly-man’ life, you aren’t thinking about sex, so your body intelligently shuts down reproduction functions.

You brain shuts down the memory component (no need to remember the grocery list) so you can have greater sense and dexterity when placing the tiger in the fish-hook-half-nelson.  This tiger has no chance and because you’re so confident in victory yet need every ounce of energy to win, you shut down your metabolically expensive immune system for the duration of the fight.

Not only have you survived the attack but you have also defeated the lone sabre tooth tiger left in the 21st century. You celebrate your victory by scalping the tiger and robbing it of its man-hood by giving it a bikini wax.  While sprinting back down the mountain, you are recognized as you are wearing the tiger’s ears and main as a headdress.

Now, go back and read over those physiological changes that occur during a time of stress such as being stuck in traffic, a recent fight with your wife, or another losing season of your favorite sports team.  Place those changes in a day after day, chronic time period and try to enter into your doctor’s office and have them assume you are healthy.  If you presented with high blood pressure, pulse, and respiration, they will inform you that you are a heart attack waiting to happen.  With your blood sugar and lipids high, as well as insulin resistance, you are diagnosed with diabetes.  Finally, a decrease immune system means you are setting your ‘manly-man’ body up for cancer, especially in the ‘manly-man’ parts.

In the time you successfully defeated the tiger, your internal ‘manly-man’ saved your life by inducing physiology conducive to the top 3 causes of death in the USA, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  In the short-term, those changes saved your life.  Instead of fighting tigers, you are in a daily battle with work, taxes, bills, relationships, and traffic, not to mention under moving and over eating.  Those life saving adaptive responses for fighting a tiger are now becoming life-threatening.  The worst part of the situation is that you are a ‘manly-man’ that thinks the problems will just go away or you cover them up with toxic chemicals.

Remember to assume you are healthy and just need to get healthier.  But instead of running to your medical advisor, who will assume you are sick, stop and analyze WHY you are experiencing the ailments you may have or are developing.  Look at your environment.  Look at your ‘potential sabre tooth tigers.’

Assume your environment is the cause, not your ‘manly-man’ genes.  In the example above, your genes are only responding to the environment for which they have been exposed.

By taking a drug to suppress your ‘manly-man’ intelligence of adaptation, you are doing nothing more than setting yourself up to be a ‘wimpy-man’ who cannot adapt.

Health is a choice and health is YOUR choice.  My job is to help you ask the right questions and help you make correct assumptions.  Your conclusion from those questions and assumptions is your decision.  Most importantly, those decisions will dictate your capacity and capability of providing for your family or future family.

Don’t be an ‘if-it-ain’t-broke-manly-man.’  Be a ‘manly-man’ that understands that the best time to fix something is before it’s broken.

Image credit: Andrzej Pobiedziński

8 thoughts on “The Manly-Man Complex

  1. Dr Kurt –

    well stated article – you make many many good points

    I just havent heard it referred to as a “golden highlighter” though LOL –

    I look forward to seeing you here again


  2. Dr. Kurt has changed our family, by living as an example of health, and by his willingness to honestly help others get healthy. Thanks for the great article- keep ’em coming!

  3. Dr. Kurt shared a great message about 3 years ago on why anti-depressants are bad. I was on them and after hearing that message, I realized with the help of divine intervention that I needed to stop NOW. So I did. One year later, I became a client of Dr. Kurt and he has created a positive influence in my family how to live a healthy and active life. Through this life change, we have seen what the big picture is and how many people have no idea what is really going on. In our microwave, it isn’t my fault society, we ask the wrong questions. Whether or not the questions to the questions are right or wrong become irrelevant because the questions are wrong.

    This article is so true because our society expects men to beat all the Sabre Tooth Tigers except this isn’t a week long journey with 10 minutes of fight for flight but a journey we face potentially several times a day with hours of the same fight or flight responses.

    Thanks for this great article Dr. Kurt. Next time someone gives me a hard time on teaching my son to write his name with his gold liquid highlighter, I will remind them it is the manly thing to do. As a manly-man, I don’t have to stop and ask for directions. GPS technology was created by a man because it solved that problem.

  4. As the wife of a bonafide “manly-man”, I look forward to having him read this article. Thanks Dr. Kurt for sharing your insights. I look forward to reading more from you.

  5. Dr. Kurt is the quintessential spokesperson for the wellness lifestyle. As a former chiropractic college roommate of his I can attest firsthand to his legitimacy as an expert in this field. Practitioners like him will help shift the antiquated “health” dogma that has made this country the sickest in the world. It should alarm everyone that although the human genome has not changed significantly throughout time the disturbing exponential increase in chronic diseases must be caused by something else, and that something is our contemporary lifestyle. Clearly what we have been doing does not work and we must educate ourselves about a true wellness model for that is the only proactive remedy that exists. Dr. Kurt continues to be a strong advocate for everything that is wellness and we can all learn from his approach. If you don’t believe me, just spend some time talking with him and you will see he truly is a “manly-man.”

  6. What a great article Dr. Kurt! It’s true that many of us don’t ask the right questions. We have idolized our comfort so much that experiencing the slightest bit of “uncomfortable” is out of the question thus our symptoms get treated and never causes. Don’t stop here though because some manly men will blame environment and feel like that’s just the way it is and can do nothing to change that when I have bills to pay and a family to support. Can’t wait to read more!

  7. Light hearted and enjoyable while addressing a serious topic. I enjoyed your perspective and look forward to reading more of your thoughts. Keep up the good work!

  8. Good article. I just hope manly-men read articles. 😉

    By the way, you had me laughing out loud…golden highlighter…Bah-ha-ha-ha!

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