It’s Manly Monday! This month, I talk about joining CrossFit and how it’s been a vital outlet for my intense emotions as well as an equalizer of masculinity among other men. Unlike my gym workouts from high school days past . . .

What makes you feel less or more of a man? How do you counteract this “less than” feeling?

  • Hi Tom,
    Really enjoyed this week’s Manly Monday post. This one in particular caught my attention not only because I have been considering CrossFit as well after having been involved in bodybuilding for a couple years, but also because I think I struggle to a certain extent to feel secure in my masculinity as well particularly when it comes to fitness. I really appreciate that you were able to maintain an optomistic perspective by celebrating that you made it to your workouts and continuing to focus on the improvements you are making rather than falling into the self-deprecating trap of self-comparison and feeling less than. The small victories that are achieved each and every day are the ones that count and help you ultimately achieve whatever goals you have. That is something that I need to take to heart and this post helped bring me one step closer to doing so. Very inspirational as always. Keep up the great work.

    • Awesome thoughts, James. Those small victories really do add up and point to greater victories. I’ve noticed this pattern the last few months, gaining confidence in workouts and with my body, gaining greater confidence to reach out to people, join new groups, get out of myself, etc. I’d encourage anyone feeling sluggish, lethargic, or hopeless to try something like CrossFit (if not CrossFit itself!). Taking care of your body, pushing it, making it stronger can be such a catalyst to greater things holistically.

  • Hey Tom, thanks for sharing your thoughts here. The whole idea of being “less than” is at the very core of my struggles with homosexuality and masculinity so this resonated with me.
    I’ve had to remember time and time again, through life coaching and counseling and through my walk with Jesus, that I am enough. Loved enough for Jesus to die for me, man enough to be part of the world of men and masculinity, and good enough – that I have inherent worth as an individual and as a human being created in the image of God.
    I had to wonder as I listen to this, just how much of my shame and my lustful tendencies and my addictions are tied to the idea of feeling disconnected or not enough when it comes to masculinity. And, if I practiced radical self acceptance, how would that help me heal from the shame and compulsive behaviors I struggle with?
    Lots of good stuff here to think on. Glad you’ve found CrossFit and hope it continues to give you what you need.

    • I feel you and I are very similar in our struggles, Bradley. You’re definitely not alone as a fellow “less than.” Speaking for myself, I know a ton, if not all, of my sexual struggles stem from my masculine ones. Staying connected is so vital. To one another, to God, to my body, all of it. It’s so easy to “check out” as I drown in my emotions. Need to stay vigilant about all these avenues of connection.
      Prayers and love for you, brother. Thanks for reaching out.

  • Although I don’t have the money to join a gym, I do walk a lot and things like that. However, I have found that no matter what I do, I will never be that rugged, masculine guy I’m afraid. My interests and hobbies don’t fit well in the culture here in the south and my skinny self will never be that physically strong. While I will never be able to hit the high notes like Dimash Kudaibergen (have you heard of him – he can sing six octaves) I can almost sing soprano myself!
    A verse that always encourages me is “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.” No matter what others think, in the end…it is what my heavenly Father says that means the most. Thank you.

    • The key is always finding a way to be comfortable in your skin, regardless of your shape or skillsets. If it means joining a gym, then awesome! If it means singing, that’s amazing. I’ve always been jealous of folks who can sing really well. But in the meantime I’ll keep running and CrossFitting and smiling a little wider each time I look in the mirror.

  • I can recommend the camaraderie of cycling groups, which are mainly men. They’ll be welcoming, encouraging, and give you tips on how to get faster – and you’ll feel “one of the guys”. You’ll get fitter, feel more alive, get stronger and faster. Then you start competing against them – all improving your self-masculine perception and self-esteem.
    Perhaps running, triathlon, rowing, and other sporting groups also do this, but I like cycling. In road cycling when you’re new you can ride just as fast at the back of a bunch and get the huge aerodynamic advantage, then as you get better you can move towards the front, so it has built-in supports, while still feeling part of “the group”.

  • Hello Tom, I think is it is universally excepted that a primary character of a “MAN” is to protect, defend and help those who are wounded or weaker than themselves. I am curious, not that you will do this or even should but if you went to the most mescaline, macho looking man at your Crossfit class and asked him if he would have enough courage to reveal his most hidden struggles and weaknesses to thousands of stranger, so that he might help, comfort and encourage them in their struggles. I bet most would say: “NO”. I know a skinny kid from Pennsylvania unwillingly transported past the Mason Dixon line who did. Who’s more “MANLY”?

    • Thanks so much, Bob. I’ve grown self-aware enough over the years to realize that not all the “manly men” I envy are so in touch with their emotions, their hurts, and their devastations to the point of even sharing with others. I feel quite manly in that respect, and I appreciate it when others affirm that manliness in me. Thanks again, brother.

  • Thomas Mark Zuniga

    I'm a storyteller and story-liver in Asheville, North Carolina – the Jewel of the Blue Ridge. I'm YOB's cofounder and editor, and I also host our bimonthly podcast. I've written a couple books, including a memoir in 2013 where I first came out to the world. Once upon another universe I anonymously blogged about my faith and sexuality under the Xanga username, "twoBeckonings." I'm an INFJ, an Enneagram 4w5, and my spirit animal is the buffalo. My favorite place in the world is the one where coffee and vulnerability meet.

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