I spent childhood and early adulthood obese. This made me look, feel, and behave differently from the other boys and eventually men. I loved my sisters and my mother deeply, and felt distance from my father, who was physically present but emotionally distant. Even though I played with trucks, video games, watched wrestling, and played every sport, I lived my life rejecting masculinity in the world and myself. I saw toxic masculinity everywhere and I wanted no part of it.
This rejection kept me out of balance with myself, my family, my peers, my sense of discipline, my sexuality, and my soul. Between the rejection of masculinity, my negative body image, my fear of sexuality, and my disordered view of intimate relationships, I created a life of very little romantic or sexual fulfillment. And as a result, at 28, I married my second girlfriend out of fear and scarcity, even knowing that we were not a fit.
This relationship became a perfect stage for me to continuously play out my rejection of the masculine inside of me and maintain a distance from deeper parts of my being. We fought a lot. We had unsatisfying and infrequent sex. We never became aligned with domestic or financial responsibilities. And we generally created a swirl of chaos that we both unwillingly fed upon. She also rejected the masculine of the world and made a statement to the universe that she didn’t need men by assuming more of the masculine roles in the relationship. I responded with deep insecurity and paranoia. I responded by feeling out of place and rejected.
We didn’t last long and every day I am grateful for that.
Near the end of the relationship, I had become passionate about food and cooking, which resulted in me losing 100 lbs. Then after the split, once the initial cloud of sadness and disillusion had passed, something powerful came over me. An optimism I had never felt before. A knowing that this “failure” had opened the door for me to learn to be in relationship with women in an empowered way had exploded within me.
I began my quest, which I thought was going to teach me how to “be better with women”. I explored powerful work on my relationship to the feminine to create a more confident romantic and sexual presence. And in the end, I accomplished that. But what I thought was my ultimate goal turned out to merely be the icing on the cake. What I discovered during my quest was that, for me to get what I most desired, I needed to reclaim the masculine within me.
I had to heal my relationship to my body, my sexual desire, my sexual ability, and cultivate my masculine edge. This included work on my mission, purpose, and values. I stepped into consistent movement and exercise, I grew my authentic social leadership, and I fortified my ability to hold boundaries in all parts of my life. My nurtured ability to trust and connect with other men was vital in this transformation. I did the deep work to align with a healthy version of masculinity, one that is so out of the norm in my culture.
This reclamation was a huge step in healing my relationship to food, body, weight, and eating. The union allowed me to operate with a sense of harmony that disempowered my use of food to fill the hole in my soul that was voided by my rejection of the masculine. I learned to acknowledge my self-worth in a way profound way. I lost another 60 lbs. in the first year of my reclaiming the sacred masculine. It is one of the key ingredients in the recipe that has allowed me to keep 160 lbs. of fat off of my body for years.
After growing up obese, at age 25 Joe Bernstein was 340 lbs, disempowered, and certain he could never change.
Through a series of lifestyle changes Joe slowly lost 150+ lbs without ever dieting.
Having kept it off for several years, Joe committed his life to helping others navigate their relationship with food, body, and weight.
In his practice Joe helps men, women, and teens live a more inspired and empowered life. His approach leverages growing from the inside to enable shrinking on the outside. Joe helps his clients understand that losing weight is about more than food and exercise.
Having walked the path of weight loss and profound personal exploration and growth, he co-creates a pathway to sustainable change in mind and body.
All of us have armor that we created to keep ourselves safe. Joe helps you Drop the Armor and step into health, happiness, and personal power.