League of Fat Bastards

The ‘Cigar League’ – An Interview with Adam Levine, LOFB’s Founder

September 26, 2023
What inspired you to form The LOFB?

Pretty easy … it’s a combination of my two passions in life – cigars and supporting men’s mental health. I also love challenging the norms, and so with people looking to cigars as just a pastime, I saw it as a unique opportunity to provide an avenue for men to use the camaraderie and friendship surrounding cigars as a means of opening communication channels in a relaxed and chilled environment. So I decided to create a movement of men focussed on supporting other men in managing their mental health that just happened to be based on a unifying interests in cigars … pretty simple really.

What got you first interested in Cigars?

I started back in 1995 when I arrived in London. My wife and I lived in a very famous street in Piccadilly called Jermyn St… look it up! There was and remains a very famous cigar store – JJ Fox – it was the heyday for Cubans… the Partagas Series D4, the Cohiba Robusto’s, the R&J Churchills, the Monte No2… OMG… there was something intoxicating about the feel and the aromas of cigars even before they were sampled. I loved walking into the store, I loved the whole process of selecting them, of caring for them, to then engage in a ritual of relaxation and delight when I clipped the end off and engulfed myself in the unravelling delights of the cigar!

Have you ever experienced mental health challenges?

Is the Pope Catholic?… it’s such a ridiculous question why even bother to ask it …. Yes, of course. Aside from the normal stress-induced outbursts, feeling down or anxious at certain times in my life, I did indeed suffer a particular mental health issue a few years ago resulting from a crescendo of stressful situations all at once. I was very emotional. I was just so exhausted and so tired and couldn’t see the sunshine for all the fog around me. I needed to find a away to lift my head above the clouds.

So have you healed? How did you get help?

To be honest it’s an ongoing process. For me CBT didn’t work. Medical assistance definitely did (hence why we are a no alcohol League). Slow gentle exercise was and remains wonderful. But the best thing for me to be honest is what my doctor said very early on – give back to yourself, be selfish, love yourself. And for me that was easy… I loved taking the time to sit (summer or winter with a fire), or spending time getting the environment right with an espresso coffee or fresh sparkling water and indulge in the ritual of cutting, lighting and enjoying one of my very favourite cigars. It gave and gives me 1-2 hours of peace, of slowing down, of me time, of collecting my thoughts or chatting with a friend or two when we would get together during COVID over zoom and just chat… For me it is seriously soulful and uplifting… it makes me feel happy and that’s a great thing!!

What would you share with other men who are experiencing poor mental health?

I have five insights on my experiences which might be helpful to others This is by no means advice to others, it’s just what worked for me:

  1. Don’t hide from it… admit it! Be honest and truthful with yourself and the ones you love… if you feel pressure, if you feel stress, if you feel overwhelmed, speak up. If you don’t own, it if you don’t say it out loud, you will never heal.
  2. Real Men Cry… let’s be honest. If you are hurting, it’s natural to cry. Babies cry (male and female), but men are incorrectly conditioned as they grow up not to cry – to be tough. Bullshit!! The hardest thing in the world to do as a man is to show vulnerability and cry – it’s humanising at its most basic level.
  3. Declutter – to be able to heal you need to simplify your life. I had lots of things going on in my life at the time of my breakdown… and I needed to switch many of them off. I simplified my life in basic ways… wore the same type of t-shirt and jeans every day, got rid of old clothes, I started taking Ubers so I didn’t have to stress with traffic or parking or petrol etc. Write notes of “to dos”… don’t hold them in your head… so many ways to clear your mind!
  4. Be kind to yourself – put yourself first. Be selfish, it’s OK… do something that makes you feel good and brings a smile to your face. Sit in the sun, walk around the park, enjoy a cigar, play with the dogs, listen to music, read, enjoy a cigar, go for a drive, call a friend, have coffee with a friend, enjoy a cigar….
  5. Become part of community – one of the most amazing things when you become part of a community that shares common interests and issues is that it so-o-o quickly normalizes your own problems… hey, so I’m not the only one suffering from this? Yeah, I tried x medication but I found Y or Z to be much better for me. Yes, my child also has this or that and it stresses me out… wow, and you’re just like me… a great bloke, a good partner, an honest hard working fella who loves a joke, loves his family and enjoys cigars… wow, maybe I am not alone in this and I can get through this by opening up with my mates.