A Coach’s Thoughts On Obesity Medications

Over the last couple of years, you’ve likely heard about the popularity and increase in use of obesity medications.

While the medications themselves are not new and variations have been around for decades, some names are coming up with greater frequency due to how effective they are and in who is getting access to them.

As one might imagine, everyone has an opinion (including myself) and I wanted to compile some thoughts here as a way to approach their usage from the most considerate and respectful place possible.

Allow me to start here with a bit of background on myself. I own a brick and mortar personal training facility where I’ve worked with individuals of all body types for the last 14 years. I also am an online nutrition coach where the last year and a half has given me the greatest exposure to clients who take these medications.

Here is something I’d like to pose to all of the coaches who may be reading this article. I’d like you to think about every person who you’ve worked with who came to you for fat loss and was either A) unsuccessful at losing fat or B) losing fat and keeping it off.

I know that’s a loaded statement.

Sadly, there are coaches in this industry who think that an individual’s ability to be successful at fat loss is due to lack of motivation and/or lack of willpower. The kind part of me thinks that they just need to spend a bit more time working with a greater variety of people so they can develop more understanding and empathy to change their minds.

The not so kind part of me thinks that maybe they’re just assholes. (I might be right on both accounts).

The fact is, even I can admit that clients have come to me for fat loss and have been unsuccessful with their goals and that could be for a host of reasons: 1) They didn’t resonate with my approaches 2) They had too many competing interests for their goals 3) They just “weren’t ready”, etc.

Many coaches start in this field because of their own fat loss transformation story.

Take Joe Trainer who identifies as being the “chubby kid” who was bullied in high school and college, got sick of the insults and shaming, found the gym, lost XXX pounds, looks fit as can be, and wants to bring everyone else to the Promised Land because discipline, hard work, motivation and persistence got him to the body he wanted.

That’s not my story and while there is certainly nothing wrong with discipline, hard work, motivation and persistence, what Joe Trainer conveniently forgets to share with people is that while he was working on having the body of Adonis he was young, he was single, he was only responsible for a car payment and he had no kids.

Joe Trainer also likes to forget that there is a significant genetic/biological component to an individual being overweight and while, yes, some people can grit their teeth and grind their way to the body of their desire, MANY people will NOT be able to take this approach.

As my friend and mentor, Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, has told me (paraphrased): In a perfect world, all it would take is a diet and exercise intervention and everyone would get their desired results. We don’t live in that world.

As a coach, I might (and do with frequency) come across an individual who struggles with depression. While I know that there can be mood-lifting benefits to a healthy diet and that exercise can be tremendously beneficial for mental health, I would NEVER tell someone to give up their Prozac because superfoods and kettlebells can cure their depression. All of these interventions can play nicely together to allow someone to live their best life.

Of note, many people pursuing fat loss elect to have bariatric surgery. What is not commonly discussed is that a significant portion of those individuals regain weight even after the tremendous success of that surgery. And why is that? Well, the surgery may have decreased the size of their stomach but it didn’t change the brain.

And what drives the decisions for what we eat and don’t eat and whether we decide to move or not move? The brain.

Which is why, even with the initial success of the bariatric surgery, many patients also look to obesity medications to help them keep the weight off.

At it’s simplest function, obesity medications help reduce hunger. They do more than that, of course, but this is the way I’d like you to think about it.

As a coach, I’ve had clients swear to me as the day is long that they are consuming XXXX amount of calories religiously and they can’t lose fat. Now, I may know that there is no way they can defy the laws of physics but I’m also not going to run around calling people liars either. That’s not good business (or good peopling).

It’s my job to understand if and where underreporting is happening and to try my best to help clients get the right energy deficit to see results.

The medications, essentially, force the deficit.

So, what are the downsides? There are potentially several. Cost, availability, side effects like nausea or dizziness, and the consideration that many people may have to stay on the medications indefinitely (albeit at smaller doses).

The sad fact is, in the U.S., medications of many varieties are terribly expensive. My mother has Type I diabetes and insulin shots certainly aren’t cheap. Perhaps some of these things will change over time as more options become available but right now, if insurance does not cover the cost of obesity medications, it could be cost prohibitive.

The other problem is that many people who do have discretionary income are able to pay for the medications out of pocket simply to lose some vanity weight. That demand shortens the supply for those who actually NEED the medication.

The other concern is that, with dramatic fat loss, comes the potential for dramatic muscle loss as well. This, of course, is not good. If you currently take these medications, please start (or keep) lifting weights. Your body will thank you.

And this is where I think many coaches need to realize their place in the discussion.

Just because someone elects to take an obesity medication doesn’t mean they don’t need to learn healthier lifestyle habits, the importance of resistance training, the importance of a high(er) step count, having productive coping skills, or how to make nutritious food choices.

Remember: the medications force the deficit. Everything else that matters for improving one’s health still may need support and interventions.

Unfortunately, many coaches view obesity medications as a threat to their income. It isn’t. It’s a complement (just like an antidepressant).

The other thing to note is that these medications will not ever go away. They will increase in efficacy and availability and likely with fewer negative side effects. The sooner we (as a collective whole) can respect their place in the discussion, the sooner we can embrace our client’s needs to utilize them.

This article is not meant to diagnose or replace the advice of your physician. If you believe you are or could be a candidate for obesity medications, please consult with a general practitioner for more information.

(Photo courtesy of Diana Polekhina)

Considerations For Your Calorie Deficit

Last week, I was speaking with a client who is currently trying to lose fat.

Their goal is to drop about 50 pounds with no particular timeline.

When we started looking at the plan to reach the goal, my client said they were currently consuming about 2000 calories a day.

That sparked a conversation that I wanted to share with you today.

In efforts to keep some anonymity to the discussion, I’ll give you what I believe is pertinent.

The client currently weighs about 250 pounds and wants to reach 200 pounds.

In my estimation (and we’ll dive into more in a moment), 2000 calories is somewhat aggressive but not unreasonably so.

If you’re on a fat loss journey, here are some points I’d love for you to consider.

We used my client’s current information: age, gender, height, weight and an estimation of daily activity to grab a couple of numbers.

For simplicity’s sake, I used the Harris-Benedict equation, which, like all calorie calculators, has margins of error but it gave us a place to start from.

I toggled between two different activity levels, one of which assumed that my client did not burn as many calories as we would hope and one where they would burn a bit more.

That gave us a range of approximately 2600-2900 for maintaining their current body weight.

As a reminder, all calorie calculators are estimates only and what we burn in a day is not static but dynamic.

I asked my client to split the difference and we’d use approximately 2750 as a day’s maintenance.

That means that their proposed 2000 calories per day would be about a 27% deficit.

There is a school of thought that the more conservative you can keep a deficit (let’s say 10%), the more a client can be adherent to a plan. Yes, it may mean that progress comes more slowly but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In this case, a 10% deficit would put my client at just under 2500 calories a day.

While 20% (or more) will potentially get the scale to drop faster, it may be too aggressive OR too difficult to stick with long term.

One way to sort that is to look at a calendar week and see how many days you could actually adhere to the more aggressive deficit.

As I posed to my client, let’s say that they are able to hit 2000 calories Monday through Thursday. By time Friday rolls around, they’re tired, stressed from a long week of work and ready to unwind with some social time with friends and family.

What happens then?

Normally, there’s an uptick in calories.

I call this a “spike”. It’s neither good nor bad, it simply is.

The first thing to acknowledge (without judgement) is: How big is the spike?

Let’s say it’s 3400.

One type of dieter may look at the spike, regret their choices and decide to let the rest of the weekend go to pot as well. So, Saturday might be 3200 calories and Sunday might be 3100 calories while the dieter tells themselves: I’ll get back to my plan on Monday.

This dieter might also decide to step on the scale on Monday and see that not only is the number not going down, it’s potentially higher than it was the previous Monday. That starts the week off on a discouraging note.

Allow me to pivot.

Another type of dieter may look at the same spike and say: What’s done is done and I’m going to get right back to my plan on Saturday.

They don’t give themselves too much leeway and they don’t allow the snowball to happen.

Suffice to say, the second type of dieter has a greater potential for success.

However, there’s another way to look at this.

There is the chance that the initial 2000 calories, while not unreasonable, may simply be too aggressive for this client to consistently work with.

Remember that our proposed maintenance was 2750, so, in theory, anything below 2750, done consistently, will result in fat loss.

A client may want to downshift to 2300, 2400, or 2500 (for conversation’s sake) and this may keep them from spiking as high as the example above.

Keep in mind, that your personal approach to a deficit is not only reflective of your body’s current needs but also, psychologically and socially what you can tolerate.

Some people have low stress lives and others do not.

Some people have great sleep patterns and others do not.

Some people train with high intensity and some are completely sedentary.

Some clients menstruate monthly, some clients no longer have periods, and some clients (men) do not have periods. (Cycles or the absence of can affect hunger, sleep and cravings, all of which can affect dietary adherence).

I estimated that my client had about 120-140 pounds of lean muscle. I did not do any body measurements, I just estimated based on working with other clients with similar build and goals. I used this reference point as a place to set a protein range, so my client could aim for 120-140 grams of protein per day. They don’t have to be perfect and it’s not the end of the world if they fall below 120 or overshoot 140. It’s just a guide.

Generally speaking, protein tends to be a fairly satiating macronutrient so many dieters are encouraged to keep protein intake on the higher end to reduce feelings of hunger. This does tend to work better if the protein is coming from whole food sources as opposed to liquids.

In addition, I encouraged my client to keep their fiber intake high to also help with feelings of fullness. Typically, you’ll want to vary your fiber sources and have options from fibrous fruits and vegetables to whole grains and some nuts and seeds.

I try my best to encourage a “Choose Your Own Adventure” approach to dieting for those who are in a good mental space to make it work.

-Have a good awareness of your current maintenance calories.

-Find a deficit that supports your lifestyle including your work activity, your recovery, and your style of training (hopefully some combination of resistance training and cardiovascular activity).

-Consistently hitting a high daily step count can be more advantageous than high intensity training. It’s easy to recover from, has less potential for injury and is less likely to raise your hunger signals.

-Remember that a potential drawback to aggressive deficits is that your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) levels can drop even without your awareness. This can have a negative impact on how many calories you burn in a day.

-If possible, take your time with fat loss. Nearly every one I know wants to lose unwanted fat immediately. Learn to listen to what your body is telling you. Sometimes, fast fat loss can be effective and possible with little negative consequence. Other times, the slower, more methodical approach is better. For more of my thoughts on fat loss approaches, you can read more HERE.

(Photo courtesy of Charles DeLuvio)

Lose Fat Now

If your weight isn’t budging, let’s look at ten areas you could put your focus into to see a drop.

1-Dine out less: It’s not impossible to lose fat when you dine out, but it is difficult. Consider that the average restaurant entrée is approximately 1100-1200 calories. This does not factor in any appetizers, alcohol, or dessert. You can find lower calorie options going through a fast food window but not everyone is judicious when it comes to staying low calorie at the drive-thru. If you need to see a change in the scale, consider making a big reduction in dining out or being very strategic with your restaurant options. Skip the appetizer, alcohol and dessert for better effectiveness.

2-Drink at home: If you imbibe, do so at home. It is easier to manage quantity, it is more economical, and you are potentially less susceptible to the social cues of having more than one (just because everyone else is having another). Alcohol can impair your judgement when it comes to extra calories in the way of food. Consider reducing or removing alcohol from the diet if you’re not currently seeing fat loss success.

3-Swap the sweeteners: If you use sugar for desserts, coffee, tea, etc. look at zero calorie substitutes that still give you an element of sweetness without the additional calories. My mother has Type I diabetes and she experimented with several different brands of Stevia to find one she truly enjoyed. She now uses this to sweeten her iced tea at no caloric cost. Everyone’s taste buds are different so you may not like Stevia or may need to try a different brand but other alternatives exist as well.

4-Reduce (not eliminate) carbohydrates: This isn’t advisable if you have an active lifestyle but for those who are more sedentary, look at areas in the diet where you can reduce carbohydrate intake. Carbs hold water and this can have an effect on what the scale says. Of note, this is one of the reasons why many people see such a dramatic drop on the scale when they go from their typical diet to a low-carb variety. It may not qualify as true fat loss, but it may be weight loss and some people report a reduction in bloating when they make reductions to carbohydrates. Even if your estimation is that you currently consume 60% carbs in your day, a reduction down to 40% can not only be what it takes to put you in an energy deficit for the day but can contribute to that initial drop in water weight.

5-Walk more: It’s not sexy, it’s not intense, and it’s not fast, however, walking is easy to do, easy to recover from and is less likely to raise your hunger. Take your dog for a walk, walk with a loved one, walk while you listen to a podcast/music or walk on your treadmill while you watch a streaming show.

6-Assume your app is wrong: Calorie calculators are estimates only and if you find that you’re hitting your goals on your app and your weight isn’t budging, assume that the calorie estimate on the app is incorrect. You can aim for 10% less and see if that moves the scale in the appropriate direction.

7-Assume you’re underreporting: If the calories in your app are estimated correctly, and you are hitting the numbers but you are not losing weight, assume that there is a user error. This could be from picking an incorrect option for your tracking, it could be from using an eyeball measurement or there could be an error on the food label (this does happen). Food scales and, to some degree, measuring cups and spoons can be your friend in this situation. Try measuring more (or more accurately) and see if this changes the outcomes.

8-Hormones matter but they don’t trump total energy intake: Hormones can influence how much or how little you eat. Some of this is genetic, some of it is environmental and some of it is influenced by food quality and diet composition. For instance, perimenopause and menopause can affect women’s hormones, which can, in turn, affect hunger signals. This can make it more difficult to adhere to a calorie deficit but you can’t escape the deficit for fat loss.

9-Develop non-food coping skills: There’s nothing wrong with you if you use food as a way to cope with emotions. However, you may need more than just food or you may need something to substitute in place of food so that it isn’t your only (or your favorite) coping mechanism. Find a hobby or an activity that can occupy your mind which is less likely to stimulate your hunger. Sometimes, we just need a distraction because our previous pattern was to eat when we are bored, sad, happy, or stressed.

10-Use an approach of adding instead of subtracting: It can be a subtle shift but rather than thinking of ways to “cut back”, think of ways that you can strategically swap. Adding in more fibrous vegetables can potentially reduce other areas of the diet like lowering fats or reducing starchy carbs (potatoes, rice, pasta). There is nothing wrong with the latter but if you need to change the scale, certain swaps can work in your favor. When you take an approach of: adding more water intake, adding more fibrous vegetables, etc. you may be reducing other areas in the diet which can work favorably for fat loss.

Lastly, fat loss is not recommended for all people at all times. If you have a history of an eating disorder or believe that you struggle with disordered eating behavior, please consider utilizing the help of a therapist who specializes in that area. Healing your relationship with food is more important than the next crash diet.

(Photo courtesy of Priscilla Du Preez)

Not Playing By The Rules: The Recap

This is Day 30 in my 30-day blogging journey.

The origins of this journey can be found on Day 1.

Confession: I didn’t play by the rules.

If I had followed Seth Godin’s advice to the “T”, I would have spent 30 days profiling 30 of my favorite businesses and finding a way to improve some aspect of their business. I also would have turned comments off on the posts.

However, as I got started, I just didn’t feel called to do that.

I embraced the routine and some days flowed better than others.

What I found was that I did want to highlight businesses that I love, but I also wanted to take to task some business practices or philosophies that I struggled with.

True to Godin’s wish, it did help me look at my business through a different light and different lens.

As a consumer, I realized that I have always and will always cherish a personal touch.

As a consumer, I like to feel special from time to time (just not all the time).

I like having access to things that others may not, so having some degree of exclusivity can be nice.

Being able to recognize the work of authors, musicians, and fellow business owners was a pleasant change for me.

Those who follow my normal work know that much of what I write is focused around nutrition and coaching.

So, this journey allowed me to spread my wings a bit and write about things that might not normally make the cut for the website.

I was also happy to recognize the work of my coaches, my mother, and my business as we celebrated our 14th anniversary during this writing experiment.

It will be a refreshing change to reclaim some of my time that I’ve been spending over the last several weeks in writing to focus on continuing education and, if I’m being honest, start putting in more work on Book 3.

If there were a lesson I’d love for you to take from my 30-day experiment, it might be this: Find something that you can commit your energy to for 30 days.

Maybe it’s to focus on increasing your step count.

Or it’s being intent on hitting a minimum amount of water intake each day.

Maybe you’re going to ensure that you hit 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

Or you’re going to make your sleep schedule consistent (waking and rising).

Maybe it’s a gratitude journal or gratitude practice.

Or maybe you’re going to spend each day unfollowing toxic social media influences from your feed.

Whatever it is, commit to it.

For 30 days, do that thing and do it with conviction.

Yes, you may have to make a compromise on other things in your life. It certainly wasn’t “easy” for me to write a blog every single day but that was the commitment I made to myself.

I didn’t do it for monetary gain.

I did it to expand my mind, my thoughts, my purpose in writing, how I view my business, and because I felt the challenge held value.

Of course, whatever you decide, perhaps you bend the rules a bit. I remained firm on the timeline but flexible with the content and approach.

Remember, it’s YOUR path. Some rules you follow, and some rules you bend.

Thank you for reading. I’ll resume my normal weekly output next week.

(Photo courtesy of Mark Duffel)

Follow The Butterfly

This is Day 29 in my 30-day blogging journey.

If you don’t know the backstory, check out Day 1.

I’ve been a fan of the bourbon releases coming from Blue Run Spirits since they started in 2020. Many of their releases have been limited offerings although they do have some bottles that can be purchased year-round.

As of now, Blue Run Spirits cannot be purchased in the state of Ohio where I’m located, so I’ve had to resort to online purchasing to acquire them.

Along the way, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with CEO Mike Montgomery and he took time out of his incredibly busy schedule to chat with me.

This is the first interview type blog I’ve done during this particular writing journey.

For those who may or may not know, can you tell me the origins of starting Blue Run Spirits (BRS)?

I was running my own public affairs company where I helped Fortune 500s and tech startups navigate turbulent public policy challenges. It was a good business, but largely unfulfilling and I had this insatiable entrepreneurial itch that I couldn’t figure out how to scratch. The idea that I was pouring my heart and soul – and most creative ideas – into other people’s companies, yet was disposable after the issue was solved was a problem that, well, needed solving. People say that it’s great to have your own business, and it is, but with a consulting firm the number of “bosses” I had equaled the number of clients on my roster. It was time for a change. Then, one day, Jesse McKnight called me and said someone wanted to sell him some barrels of bourbon, and “what should we do?” I thought about it and answered, “nothing.” It didn’t present as a real opportunity – a sustainable business opportunity. I’m a bourbon drinker, but never thought it would be possible to launch a company in the space given the barriers to entry. But I couldn’t get the idea out of my head despite saying no. A few weeks later I called Jesse and asked if he could get more than a few barrels, and if so are they any good. I told him that I’d be into it if we could approach this in a completely new way that eschewed much of the typical American whiskey playbook and embraced a new, more exciting path that would resonate with a much larger audience that more closely mirrored what is a diversifying consumer. And away we went….

While it’s not always advisable to judge a book by its cover, BRS boasts one of the nicest looking bottles on the market and having some variety to the brand’s butterfly doesn’t hurt either. What inspired the direction for both the shape of the bottle and the iconic butterfly?

Complete credit to Devon McKinney for the bottle and butterfly. The idea that we could present a new unique approach to bourbon inspired his work. The butterfly evokes a metamorphosis, or evolution, of the industry. He had the vision and he deserves to be recognized for the iconic packaging he created. 

Those who don’t follow bourbon may not realize this but anyone looking to make a name in the bourbon industry essentially has two options: make their own distillate or source a distillate from other places. Why did you choose the latter and what’s been the guiding force behind flavor profiles and the geographic source of what ultimately goes into a bottle?

Initially, when we first started, sourced barrels were plentiful and of the highest quality. So we sourced as many barrels as Jim Rutledge (of Four Roses fame) signed off on. We also started distilling our own barrels as we wanted to continue to put the Rutledge magic into our barrels. We’ve taken a hybrid approach where we’ll source and distill. We also announced plans for our own distillery as the sourcing market has become extremely expensive and the supply just isn’t what it used to be. 

In the short time that BRS has been on the market, you’ve gained some very impressive reviews. Many of your bottles were very limited in supply. If there was any BRS product that’s readily available which you think everyone needs to try at least once, what would it be?

I encourage people to try our High Rye bourbon. It was distilled by Jim Rutledge and it is, as far as I’m concerned, a dreamy pour. We are also releasing Reflection II this summer and infatuated with it already. 

Last but not least, you do something that I’ve continued to praise you for and I’m not the only person who recognizes this accomplishment. When someone orders a bottle from BRS on the website, they’ll also receive a hand-written note of gratitude directly from you. How on earth do you keep up with the demand to be able to send those out and why did you choose to do that? 

The lost art of the thank you note is alive and well in my world! It’s hard to keep up with and I’m a few thousand letters behind, but I set aside time to write 50 a day no matter what. It’s a skill I picked up from my time in politics and I’ve applied it here. People love it, but so do I because I can get to know our customers in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise. Most brands don’t take the time or even have the inclination to take this approach, but we want to deepen our relationships and turn customers into friends and friends into family. This is just one other way that the Blue Run experience is unique. 


As a big fan of bourbon myself, it’s a brand that my wife and I always enjoy. While it may not be the entry point for those who don’t already have a fondness for it, if you’re looking for something unique and delicious for the bourbon lover in your life, I cannot possibly imagine you’d be disappointed by any of their offerings.

A very special Thank You to Mike for taking the time to chat with me!

Pictured below, an option from the newest limited runs of a Mother’s Day batch which were just released the week before this article was posted.

Cult Status

This is Day 28 in my 30-day blogging journey.

The “why” is on Day 1.

In 1994, I had graduated high school and would be attending college in Nashville, Tennessee at Belmont University.

Around the same time that I would be starting school, there was record label starting up in nearby Murfreesboro called Spongebath Records.

Had I not been in the area at that time, I likely would have missed the band that will forever be linked to that label: Self (often styled as sElf).

There was a Tower Records location close to Belmont and I would go there frequently with friends from school.

I recall one particular visit in 1995 where they had a CD single from sElf, featuring the songs Borateen and Stewardess. I was able to listen to both songs and there was something about them that I really liked.

Shortly thereafter, sElf would release their debut, Subliminal Plastic Motives.

I absolutely loved that album and I’ve been following sElf ever since.

I would hear friends talk about them and, more specifically about the talents of singer/guitar player/multi-instrumentalist, Matt Mahaffey.

In addition, Spongebath started to release music from other up and coming acts like Fluid Ounces and The Features.

In 1997, I had the opportunity to see a Spongebath festival at a venue in Nashville where many of the artists they were featuring at the time could showcase their tunes. It was my first of three times to see Mahaffey perform.

At that show, they would be performing songs from SPM and the newly released The Half Baked Serenade.

I’d be leaving Tennessee that same year to return to Ohio and, as a result, not be as close to that scene.

Over the next few years, Mahaffey and band would put out three more releases: an EP called Brunch, and two albums: Breakfast With Girls and the wildly unique Gizmodgery which was recorded using all toy instruments.

It was during the recording of their next album, Ornament & Crime, that output from sElf began to fall apart. The label they were on at the time (Dreamworks) folded and with it, O&C was shelved indefinitely (it would finally see release in 2017).

I had always felt that if Beck hadn’t become as popular as he had, that Matt Mahaffey and sElf would have been the perfect act to fill his spot. Mahaffey and Beck both were multi-instrumentalists and they both had a knack for quirky pop/rock songs.

What’s interesting about that is, somehow their paths crossed and Matt would join Beck for some of his performances. One notable appearance would be on Beck’s Saturday Night Live performance of Clap Hands. You can see Matt on the table playing spoons directly to Beck’s left.

Throughout the last nearly 30 years, I’ve tried to follow every possible project that Matt has been involved in. He transitioned away from his work in sElf to focus more on production work with other artists, jingles, soundtracks (like Shrek), and most recently through work on Henry Hugglemonster and Rise Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He’s even been nominated for Emmys and Annie Awards.

Some time after my wife and I started dating, we happened to be back in the Nashville area and were able to catch a solo performance of Matt one evening. It was a relatively small crowd and I had the opportunity to walk up to him to thank him for so many years of great (albeit sporadic) music. I’m embarrassed to admit that I was completely tongue tied when I started talking to him. I guess my nerves got the best of me! You’d have thought that I was walking up to Paul McCartney (who I also would likely stammer around).

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Subliminal Plastic Motives, Self embarked on a very small series of shows and I drove to NYC to see them play the album in full. It was worth every minute of the drive.

It’s hard to express what it’s like following an act who never made it as big as Beck, or any other stadium sized act. You’re left with very few releases to savor which means that anything new can take years upon years to flesh out. Suffice to say, Mahaffey does much better financially as a producer and someone who scores movies and TV shows than he did as a performing artist (not unlike Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh or Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman).

But that’s kind of what makes it special. It’s the cult status of a band like sElf that makes it seem like I never really left Nashville and he remains the “best kept secret” of those of us who still follow him.

If you’re looking for something to dive into, there’s not really a bad place to start but you can check out early videos from sElf with songs like Cannon and So Low. Or, perhaps you’ll enjoy the insane sounds he makes on Gizmodgery.

As for me (and the rest of the sElfies), we’ll be anxiously awaiting his next proper release.

Thanks to Matt for nearly 30 years of great music and memories.

(Pictured below, the cover of the CD single that started it all for me.)

Beyond The Book Club

This is Day 27 in my 30-day blogging journey.

Background on this experiment is on Day 1.

A handful of years ago, I was part of an online book club.

It’s the only book club I’ve ever been a member of.

As one might imagine, some people read at a faster pace than others, and much like it would be with music, movies or art, the taste of each member can vary wildly.

One of the members suggested a book called “The End Of Innocence” by George J. Leonard.

I went to Amazon to find it and found a very inexpensive copy for Kindle but an obnoxiously expensive paperback.

If memory serves, it was well over $300 for a paperback copy.

I love books and, while I don’t mind reading a Kindle version, I’d much rather have a physical copy to hold on to.

However, that secondary price was well beyond what anyone would have been willing to pay for it.

The member of the group spoke so highly of it that I decided to just get by with the Kindle version.

Like her, I very much enjoyed the book but it’s not a light-hearted read.

I started looking around at different places on the internet where I could learn more about the author and maybe, just maybe, I could find a physical copy that was more reasonably priced.

I ended up on a rather primitive website that gave some background on the author, who also happens to be a professor at San Francisco State University.

It was difficult to discern if A) Dr. Leonard was still alive B) if he spent much time updating the information on his site.

Nevertheless, there was an option to contact him.

So, my inner fanboy submitted a message hoping that I’d get lucky and might be able to reach him.

I expressed my gratitude for writing a great piece of work and that I had been unlucky in finding a decent price on the paperback copy. I wasn’t sure if he would have any information where I might be able to purchase any copies from him.

And then, I promptly forgot about the correspondence.

Several weeks later, I received a package in the mail with two copies of “The End Of Innocence” in paperback.

In one copy, was the inscription: Author’s Gift, 1st Paperback Edition, 2019. For, Jason Leenaarts. From, George Leonard, Best Wishes.

I sent another piece of correspondence thanking him for the gift with another offer to pay for them, which he declined.

In a manner of paying it forward, I sent the other copy to the friend who had recommended the book to the club.

And then, I got back on Amazon to order his other two novels: “Beyond Control” and “The Ice Cathedral”, both of which were very good but darker subject matter like “The End Of Innocence” had been.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it on “The End Of Innocence”. A reviewer, John Bartlett, wrote: “I downloaded this by Reddit referral and am blown away. This book should be required reading in every high school in the U.S. Previous readers compared it with “To Kill A Mockingbird”. That is accurate on many levels, including the brilliance of the writing.”

To Dr. Leonard, thank you for making a fan (actually, two fans) very happy. The generosity doesn’t go unnoticed.

Should you be looking for something to read, might I suggest any of his aforementioned books?

Can Happiness Be Found In Gut Health?

This is Day 26 in my 30-day blogging journey.

The why is on Day 1.

My wife and I were unexpectedly thrown into a journey of gut health over the last couple of years.

While Marissa has always been lactose intolerant, it used to be just an aversion to milk. She could still consume butter, yogurt, ice cream and cheese.

She can no longer consume any of these.

In addition, she’s also identified an intolerance to gluten though it does not appear to be celiac disease.

For as long as I’ve been in this industry, the research and conversation about the gut, the gut microbiota and, in general, gut health has only increased in size.

Unfortunately, there is still so much we don’t understand about the gut which means that the “unknowns” are a great place for fear-mongerers to strike.

Recently, one of my clients asked me if there was any stock behind the connection of the gut and the brain.

There is.

I tried to make a video in one of our closed communities on Facebook to discuss it and wasn’t thrilled with how jumbled it was.

So, I’m going to try and craft something more cohesive with this post.

Let’s start with the understanding that there are several factors which can contribute to both mental health and gut health. Those include but are not limited to:







There is also hormone production occurring in the body. You may recognize hormones such as cortisol, leptin and ghrelin, to name a few.

In addition to hormone production, the brain and spinal cord house the central nervous system while the GI (gastrointestinal) system has the enteric nervous system.

If you’ve ever experienced “butterflies” in the stomach, that’s a simple example of the brain and the “gut” talking to one another.

It’s this sensation that can likely help explain how our brain and our digestive system work together. If you heal the gut, you can heal the brain and vice versa.

The “how” in doing so is where things can become a bit more complicated.

Perhaps you’ve heard that digestive enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics can help heal the gut.

The problem is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

When probiotics have been studied, there is evidence of relieving/reducing symptoms of depression (not necessarily in absence of antidepressants but in conjunction with them), in post-natal symptoms of depression and in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) patients who have depression. There is little conclusive evidence that probiotics can reduce feelings of anxiety.

It’s important to note that the effective probiotics do appear to influence the amygdala (there’s that gut/brain connection again), however, anyone looking to travel this route will need to determine which particular strain of probiotics they’re consuming. Be aware that a 4-week minimum may be required to take the appropriate probiotic and get the intended effect.

For those individuals dealing with chronic stress and, as a component of the stress, digestive issues, improvements have been found via hypnosis (hypnotherapy), implementing a low FODMAP diet or a combination of both.

I should also add that a low FODMAP diet is quite restrictive and could contribute to micronutrient deficiencies.

There was an interesting study with individuals who had removed gluten from their diets. They struggled with something called non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). The study participants were blinded and were told they would be given something containing gluten and a placebo. Even when they received the placebo, 40% exhibited similar or increased problems. (Molina-Infante, 2017.)

During the time we’ve been trying to connect with different doctors, dietitians and GI specialists to help Marissa get to the bottom of her food sensitivities, the overarching problem area is stress.

My wife handles stress differently than I do and simply asking her to “calm down” accomplishes little more than a dismissive side eye (well earned, I might add).

So, in efforts to simplify what can be done to improve gut health, here are some points of consideration:

-Focus on better quality sleep. This can improve hormone function, improve recovery from workouts, and reduce stress.

-Consider meditation, prayer, mindfulness practices and/or yoga. All of which can help reduce stress.

-Add in more cardiovascular activity. This does not have to be running or anything intense. It can simply be a focus on increasing step count.

-Be aware that certain medications can affect the way the gut is operating or can reduce the good bacteria in the gut. Speak with your doctor if you believe this is something to look into.

-Increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and other plant based options. You don’t have to be vegan to benefit from this. Dr. Megan Rossi (aka The Gut Health Doctor) suggests expanding your plant based diversity to up to (if not more than) 30 options throughout the week. It may be easier than you think. Remember that this may include nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. I did a count for myself based on an average week of plant based intake and I average around 26 options. That’s as a lifelong omnivore. Dr. Rossi does mention that it make take several weeks to months to gradually get your intake up depending on your current diet plan and any current sensitivities.

-Where fiber needs to be increased, do so in small amounts and make sure that you’re increasing water intake as well.

My favorite people to follow with regard to gut health are: Dr. Megan Rossi, Dr. Gabrielle Fundaro, and Abby Langer, RD.

(Photo courtesy of Chaitanya Pillala)

The Boiling Point

This is Day 25 in my 30-day blogging journey.

The background on this experiment is on Day 1.

212 degrees Fahrenheit.

I had no idea what the significance of that was when I asked Coach Nick Morton why he chose 212 Fitness as the name for his coaching services.

It’s defined as the “extra degree”.

In other words, water is only hot at 211 degrees and at 212 degrees, it boils.

The metaphor is that, by pushing one step further, one extra degree, that you can achieve the next level in personal or professional achievement.

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

You’ve read about Coach Mike Roder, Coach David Cameron and now it’s time to highlight the newest member of our staff (although he’s been with us for well over a year), Nick Morton.

Like Mike and David, Nick also came from the Kent State University exercise science program.

If you’re a fan of The Beatles, you might know that George Harrison was “the quiet one”.

Well, if the RevFit staff were The Beatles, Nick would be our George Harrison.

Which is funny to me, because he’s actually talkative, just not during our normal work shifts.

Where Coach Mike has more of the athlete’s focus to his training style and Coach David looks at more functional movements and ways to apply almost a physical therapist’s viewpoint to training, Nick leans more towards physique and bodybuilding.

I learn new things and new concepts of training from each of them. That’s one of the joys of my position.

Make no mistake, Nick is constantly thinking and learning and applying information he picks up not just about coaching but business and personal development.

Because he generates more revenue from his online coaching than he does here at RevFit, we are constantly talking about things that are and aren’t working in the ways we market our services online.

Our demographics couldn’t be more different.

Outside of the work he does for us at RevFit, his primary online demographic is young men like himself who are looking to get leaner, get stronger and, where possible, to prepare for competition on stage.

For comparison: on Instagram, 70% of my following is women with an age range between 35-55. For Nick, 90% of his following is men from 18-35.

Nick was an athlete growing up but he reached a point with his body where he wasn’t as focused on his training and his nutrition. As a result, he reached a weight he was unhappy with and that became the catalyst for his own transformation.

He started focusing on fat loss and making the most of his body’s potential to drop the weight he wanted to.

Once he got to a relative low end, he changed course and began the long, slow climb to not only a leaner, stronger version of himself but to keep an eye on muscle hypertrophy.

His personal transformation became the foundation for how he coaches his clients.

As I’ve mentioned in the other coach highlights, Nick provides an angle and a style of training that wasn’t already applied here.

Nick, David and myself split the programming duties among us so that each client gets some variety and spin on their training blocks.

For myself, Nick’s been handling my programming for the last several months and I can proudly say that at the not-so-young age of 47, I’m lifting weights I’ve never been able to do before.

A sincere and heartfelt thank you to Nick for knowing how to work around my frustrating list of injuries and knowing how to program around them.

And for as much grief as we all (clients and staff) tend to give him for being quiet, don’t let it confuse you: it’s a quiet confidence.

It’s that same confidence which gives him space to push for “the extra degree” for himself, his coaching abilities and his clients.

I’d encourage you to give Nick a follow on Instagram so you can see what he’s up to.

(Photo courtesy of Karen Bailey)

The Spoiled Children Of Convenience

This is Day 24 in my 30-day blogging journey.

The “why” of the journey is on Day 1.

I am typing this blog on a computer which is relatively fast.

It’s fast because it has enough processing speed, memory and not too much data on the hard drive to make it sluggish.

If I have to restart the computer, it restarts quickly because the hard drive is a solid state hard drive which makes the computer more efficient.

Some day, this computer will not be as fast as I want it to be.

And on that day, I’ll call Mike (my computer guy, friend and client for over 13 years) and tell him I need something faster.

Because convenience matters.

And speed makes things convenient.

When I was growing up and I wanted to watch my favorite television show, I’d have to wait a whole week for a new episode to premiere.

That was the norm.

Streaming television not only gives us access to television shows right.this.moment. but we rarely have to wait anymore.

Now, we can receive one whole season at a time and binge our way through it (where did the last four hours of my life go?)

Should I even mention Amazon?

But of course.

Remember when Prime shopping meant you’d have something within 48 hours?

Now, Prime shopping can be same-day, next-day or (sorry!) more than 48 hours to be delivered to your door.

So, Prime shopping can either be very convenient or not-so convenient depending on what you order.

Yet it still saves you the trip to the store (or sometimes three stores because the first ones didn’t have what you needed in the color, size and shape that you wanted).

That’s probably convenient.

What about our food?

When we (the fickle public) had no time for a home cooked meal, we wanted TV dinners.

When we no longer wanted TV dinners because we were crunched for time or variety, we had drive-thrus for food.

And now that we can’t (or don’t want to) leave the comforts of our home or office, we have Door Dash, Uber Eats and more.

Because convenience matters.

We will pay a premium for convenience.

Fast computers, fast internet speeds, fast streaming devices, fast food, fast delivery services…

In a world where we have been spoiled by convenience, it’s no wonder we get so discouraged by the things which take time.

And we get frustrated by things which require patience and tact and thought.

Can’t you just solve my problem for me now?

And that’s the thing: Some areas of life can’t be solved like that.

When you start a business, what you want is to be an overnight success. You want to open your doors and know that people will come in droves once your OPEN sign turns on.

But it probably won’t happen that way.

You’ll hustle, you’ll grind, you’ll lose sleep, you’ll skip paying one bill so that you can pay another until you’re comfortably working in the green.

You might find a marketing avenue that helps you generate leads or interest faster but, for the majority of businesses, success won’t be fast or convenient.

Parents make a lifelong commitment to their children.

That’s years upon years of attention, care, and sacrifice to give your children a life that you (and they) can be proud of.

There’s little convenience to be found there.

If you want to improve your physical body by any measure; via fat loss or by gaining strength, it’s a lifelong endeavor.

You’re constantly exploring the range and depth through which your body can perform.

You may have the convenience of a gym nearby but the work you have to do is anything but convenient.

It’s arduous and it can be painstakingly slow.

As one of my former clients (Hi Kim!) asked a few years ago: Can’t I just drop my body off to you and you can give it back to me when it’s in the shape I want it to be in?

(Respectfully) No.

Take a moment and look around you at all of the amazing things we have access to through convenience and efficiency and the luxuries of speed. Cherish those things.

And at the same time, cherish the fact that those other areas of life will take more time than you expected, will cause more frustration than you anticipated and will arguably have more value to you than anything that would have come more conveniently.

(Photo courtesy of Arwan Sutanto)