Dempsey

In the summer of 2013, Marissa and I had to put my boxer, Buckley, down. He had been suffering with some neurological problems, and, at over 11 years of age, we knew his best days were behind us.

Marissa and I had only been together for a few years at that point, but she took to Buckley as if he were her own, in addition to her Jack Russell/rat terrier mix, Petunia.

For me, saying goodbye to Buckley was not just difficult, it was almost symbolic. He and I had been through some of the most difficult, traumatic and pivotal points of my life to date together, most notably the passing of my father in 2011.

Every bit of grief I never gave myself the time to express after my Dad passed seemed to come out when we made the decision to put Buckley down. I hadn’t cried like that in ages.

Within a month, I was already clamoring for another dog. I wasn’t handling the void of not having another dog around very well. I knew I wanted another boxer because I loved the breed and Buckley had been such a great dog to me.

Marissa was not sure the timing was right. She expressed that maybe I wasn’t as ready as I thought.

Nevertheless, I started looking around on Craigslist (not a practice I would still recommend) and found a boxer I wanted to look at.

Marissa and I met the seller at a park and, Marissa arguably fell faster for the dog than I did.

In my mind, I wanted to name a boxer after a boxer, so Dempsey in tribute to Jack Dempsey was a good start for me. Marissa was less impressed but she added her own spin to it: Mr. Dempsey.

We took him home with us that day.

While we’ll never know what kind of life Dempsey had prior to us, he was only a year and a half old and we knew his life to that point had probably not been great.

The first month was the toughest with Dempsey.

He was completely wild, very destructive, and he would pee and poop everywhere he possibly could. We couldn’t put barriers up anywhere because he would hurdle, claw, smash and rip at anything we put in his way.

It took a month before we realized that he would have to be crated due to severe separation anxiety. He would deal with that anxiety indefinitely.

There were several times during that first month that I was ready to throw up my hands and find a new home for him. I couldn’t handle how destructive he was but Marissa wouldn’t give up. She knew we had to find a solution and the crating was what did it.

And soon, Marissa and Dempsey became inseparable.

She still had Petunia but Petunia wasn’t as excited about a new dog being around. Marissa would frequently drive around town and Dempsey was conveniently parked in the passenger seat with his head hanging out of the window.

She had a new partner in crime.

It was also around this time that Marissa’s parents were starting to go their separate ways. Like me, Marissa is an only child and her parents had been a mainstay throughout her entire life. As that split began to take shape, Marissa started to bond more with Dempsey.

Despite the fact that he was the first pet we got together, it started to show that Dempsey was really more Marissa’s dog than mine and at a time where it seemed like she needed him more than I likely did.

We would be married the next year (2014) and shortly after, Petunia’s health declined to the point where we had to say goodbye to another dog together (2015).

Of course, this just brought Marissa closer to Dempsey than she already was.

When Sebastian was born in 2017, it brought another dynamic into the household as we got to see how Dempsey would react to having a baby around. Suffice to say, they did great together.

Towards the end of 2019, Dempsey started to develop masses in his gums. We elected to have them removed and the vet told us there was a very good chance the masses would come back with a vengeance.

They did.

On the heels of the pandemic and the first series of lockdowns in the Spring of 2020, we were basically given two options: put Dempsey through a partial mandibulectomy to eliminate the masses or let the tumors take over completely. We decided on the former and the vet removed the majority of the lower left jaw.

After this, Dempsey’s long tongue would hang completely off the side of his mouth.

While it did seem to take some of his spirit, he still had plenty of energy and could still eat and drink (sloppily, of course!)

Marissa lost her last remaining grandparent last year as well which made her double down on staying close to dog and family.

Sometime after, Marissa and I started talking about the potential of bringing another dog into the home, in hopes that it might lift Dempsey’s spirits to have another playmate around.

A few months ago, we rescued a pit bull (Bowser) and brought him home with us.

And, whether related or not, Dempsey’s health started to take a turn. We took him to the vet to get some concerns sorted out through medications and nothing was having the effect we wanted.

Marissa, ever the optimist, knew that our time was limited.

So, when we went back to the vet to discuss our options, no outcomes seemed favorable. In Marissa’s words: He’s not happy, he’s not himself.

And we made the difficult decision to let our Dempsey go “with dignity” last week.

Much like I had gone through with Buckley, all those years before, Marissa was experiencing with Dempsey. He had been there with her, side by side, through some of the highest highs and lowest lows of her life.

To make things more difficult, this would be what we would have to explain to Sebastian: that Dempsey has gone to heaven.

Dempsey has been a difficult loss for me, too. I drew comfort in knowing that the dog we initially got to console me grew more to Marissa’s benefit and I was happy that she had someone by her side when I was off at work.

We tend to forget the place that our pets have in our lives. They are constant, they are loyal, they are dependent on us and, they never leave our side until health dictates otherwise.

Having said goodbye to three dogs in the time we’ve been together, none of it gets easier and it would appear that the more we’ve experienced of life with our pets, the more touchstones and pivotal moments we’ve shared together the harder it is to look at life ahead and ask: How do I get through this without you?

And I guess that might be why losing a pet seems like we’re losing a person, they’re not just part of our family, they’re these permanent etchings in our hearts.

Rest in peace, Mr. Dempsey. 4.1.12-10.20.21

Revolutionary You! #328-Client Spotlight: Pat Carano (4 of 4)

As we wrap up this mini-series of client spotlights, I welcome Pat Carano to the show this week. I’ve had the honor of working with Pat and her daughter Cherie for about 5 years and Pat’s story is one I’ve wanted to share on the show for a really long time. You’ll hear about her motivations for starting with us, the challenges she’s been met with along the way, her recent spark which led to her dropping 30 pounds and more. A very special thanks to all of the clients who joined me for this and I hope you enjoy Pat’s story. 


To learn more about your host: 
www.jasonleenaarts.com
www.revfittherapy.com
www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts
www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts


You can also like our Facebook page at: 
www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou


To purchase my book, “A Revolution A Day”: 
www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Player FM OR Podchaser

…About That Mile I Ran

I hate running.

Despite being built like someone who looks as though he enjoys endurance activities, I’ve never found the love for running, rowing, biking, or anything of the sort.

About four years ago, I sprained my left foot and it’s never quite been the same. So, even if had enjoyed endurance training, my foot would have been what held me back.

However, like a lot of things in life, knowing that I couldn’t do those things actually made me wish (in the smallest of ways) that I could.

On the advice of my friend and frequent podcast guest, Dr. Lisa Lewis, she recently recommended a book called ”Spark” by Dr. John Ratey.

Although she wasn’t recommending it to me in efforts to change my mind and embrace cardiovascular activity, it was more from the viewpoint of how that type of exercise can benefit neurological health.

We know that quantifying the calories burned during exercise is difficult at best, which is one of the reasons it’s not as efficient or effective for fat loss as dietary changes would be.

For myself, I was fascinated by Dr. Ratey’s work in seeing how shorter bouts of cardio each week could benefit depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorders in addition to the good it does for our hearts.

Somewhat begrudgingly, I started putting in some time on the elliptical to get more movement in than I normally do. Throughout the course of my normal day at RevFit, I average upwards of 15,000 steps a day. Cardio for fat loss is not on my radar but cardio for general health and (perhaps) some stress relief was worth doing.

That was about two weeks ago and, nearly every day, outside of my normal resistance training, I’m putting in 1-2 intervals of additional cardio in bouts of 10-15 minutes. It’s not hard and my foot, for the most part, has handled the increase in stress.

Last week, I got on the treadmill and after not running in over 4 years, I set the treadmill at a speed of 5.0 and ran a 10 minute mile.

I was fine with the pace and was happy that I didn’t have much difficulty running a relatively slow mile (based on what I had been able to do long before the sprain). I still hated it but I got it done AND it only took 10 minutes.

I don’t think I will ever like traditional cardiovascular exercise. I much prefer strength training but I’m not getting any younger and I’ll take the benefits of moderate amounts of cardio for whatever it’s doing for my mind and for my heart.

Like a lot of things surrounding exercise, you don’t have to love what you’re doing to get it done and it normally requires far less of a time commitment than you think.

So, however you’re stalling regarding your health, jump off the fence and go.

Do the thing.

If I can (re-)start doing something truly mind-numbing like running, you can do something good for your health, too.

Just don’t get caught in that awful loop of trying to beat calories off your body.

That rarely works.

Revolutionary You! #327-Client Spotlight: Don McNair (3 of 4)

In Part 3 of our 4-Part client spotlight series, I get to introduce you to Don McNair. Don and his wife, Amy, have seen amazing weight loss with us to date and while I’ll be sharing Amy’s inspiring story at a later date, I wanted Don to have some time to shine this week. In this episode, you get to hear what led him to RevFit, how he’s been successful at weight loss, what’s kept him motivated and more. I hope you enjoy his story.

To learn more about your host: 

http://www.jasonleenaarts.com

http://www.revfittherapy.com

http://www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

http://www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou

To purchase my book, “A Revolution A Day”: 

http://www.amzn.to/2R9Larx 

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Player FM OR Podbean

A Story Of Bourbon And Marriage

Note: I recently posted this on my Facebook page but, in the event that social media decides to bow out on us some day, I revamped the post with some minor edits here for posterity.

My wife, Marissa, and I have always been a partnership of opposites. While there are things that we have historically enjoyed together, the list has always been rather small and we have always had our respective spaces where we could be our own.

Like a lot of marriages, we went through some turmoil awhile back and, in the midst of that, we found a common bonding over bourbon.

It wasn’t a quick transition…

Many people who knew us when we first started dating in 2009 know that not long after the relationship began, I sobered up and didn’t have a drink for about four years. I just found that drinking didn’t do much for me so I left it alone.

When I did decide to pick it back up, it was on our honeymoon when we were “gifted” with a bottle of French champagne while we stayed in Paris. I guess the adage is “When in Rome…” but as it applies to us…”When in Paris…”

However, Marissa was always open to nice wines, craft beers and the occasional liquor. I was having trouble trying to find alcohol that actually sat well on my stomach and, for some reason, bourbon became the settling place.

Initially, bourbon had too much burn for Marissa, so we made a segue way with Manhattans which I got to be fairly good at making. Then, she was able to transition to bourbon on the rocks and finally, neat, the way I take it.

So, last year, we made our first trip down to Kentucky to officially experience part of the Bourbon Trail for our 6th anniversary. We had a wonderful time and had some experiences that we still talk about to this day.

Since then, we’ve come through the Trail a total of four times, knocking out different parts that we either hadn’t seen before or just had a desire to see again.

This past weekend, we went down for our fourth trip celebrating her birthday and our 7 year anniversary. If you don’t know much about bourbon, each distillery is an experience. Maybe you visit because you love the product, or the history or both. I tend to like the product more than the history while Marissa enjoys a combination of both.

On our third day and the final full day of bourbon tourism, a great deal of sampling, driving and history, we had what I believe was our most fascinating experience yet.

When you go to a distillery, you are at the mercy of the tour guide. They share the story, the product line and…maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get to sample or buy something that is rather unique.

As a bourbon lover, maybe you get to be a part of a single barrel pick that might yield, say, 180 bottles. That means, that once those bottles have been purchased, you’ll never experience the exact same blend again.

Today’s experience trumped that.

We went to a place in Georgetown, Kentucky called Bourbon 30 and we had an experience unlike anything else we’ve had before. We entered a room with probably close to 50 barrels (maybe more) and the option of picking our favorites which we could then blend into a one of a kind bottle.

The safest route is to sample what you like, pick 2-3 favorites and blend them down. We picked 5 initially and asked the owner to provide some guidance in blending the final product. He saw what we picked and whittled down 5 options to 2 and then made a ratio: 75% of one barrel and 25% from another. We tried it and it was delicious.

Then, he drifted off and said: “Hold on a second.”

He changed the ratio and picked a third barrel to go 75/20/5. The final product was even better.

We bottled it, named it, and a picture of it is below.

Some people like beer and maybe the beer industry has something similar. I haven’t touched beer in probably 4 years and I have no desire to go back.

Wine lovers may also have a similar experience and it’s been about as long for me since I’ve had wine as it was with beer. (Marissa still tries wine from time to time).

It’s a long way of sharing an experience that I think speaks a lot about marriage…bear with me on this.

You’re going to experience a lot of things in a marriage…the good, the bad, the amazing, the sad, the painful, the beautiful and everything in between.

Live for the experience (read that again).

You have one life to get this right and you’re going to screw up a lot. Find someone who can help you steer the ship straight again so you don’t make a fateful crash.

I found that person and I hope you did (or I hope you do, too).

Sometimes, you find the perfect “blend” early on and you’re fortunate, you’re happy and life is good.

Sometimes, it takes some “aging” and a little bit of guidance (like we had at Bourbon 30) to come up with something better than what you did on your own. Of course, that guidance can come from a family member, a therapist or a friend and make all the difference…

Sometimes, you just have to live a life that provides enough entertainment, passion, trauma and tension to make you look at each other and say: I want this more than anything else in the world and there’s no one else I want to experience this with but you (the blend)…

And when Marissa and I bottled up our one of a kind bottle, number 1 of 1, I called it “7 Years Later” because I’ll be damned if it didn’t take every day of the last 2,555 of married life for us to arrive here today, share that moment, craft that bottle and say: “We are here because we fought like hell to get here and this little memento signifies 7 years of every moment, good and bad, that it took to get here.”

When I looked out into that room, across all those barrels, I saw something similar: the good, the bad, the great, the not-so-great, and somewhere in between…a little combination that made something magical.

Yeah, I know it’s just bourbon…I might be a bit melodramatic…

But it’s a marriage, too…and there’s drama, and magic, and spice, and laughter, and love, and determination, and perseverance and (if you’re lucky) something called a family.

However, it’s uniquely ours and I hope you have a life, and a love, that provides you something like that too.

Monday the 11th was our official anniversary and, let me just tell you FB fam, I picked a winner in the woman I married, limited edition 1 of 1…just like our bottle.

And to my wife…our very best years to date are these years right here.

Revolutionary You! #326-Client Spotlight: Pete Trivelli (2 of 4)

In this week’s client spotlight and Part 2 of 4 where we highlight a handful of our clients here at RevFit, I get to share time with Pete Trivelli. We’ve had the opportunity to work with his wife, his daughter, his son, his sister and even his soon-to-be son-in-law. Pete also holds the throne at the Rev for the best trapbar deadlift at 565×1. Not too shabby for a retired fella! In this episode we talk about what his journey in strength and weight loss has looked like, how the community has helped him and how he manages expectations between gaining strength and losing weight. 

To learn more about your host: 

http://www.jasonleenaarts.com

http://www.revfittherapy.com

http://www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

http://www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou 

To purchase my book, “A Revolution A Day”: 

http://www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Podchaser OR Podbean

What If What They Said About You Was True?

In 1998, I was attempting college for the second time. I already had two years of college credits under my belt but a nasty bout of depression, hospitalizations, and drugs, both legal and illegal, derailed those efforts.

I was changing majors and schools and I decided to major in music therapy. I had already been writing, recording and performing music for about 6 years and I thought there would be a place to put those talents.

I enrolled in a voice class and walked in for my first lesson with my professor. He placed some sheet music on the piano and said, “I’d like you to sing this.”

I didn’t recognize the piece and I told him as much: “I don’t know this one and I don’t know how to read music.”

He looked at me over his glasses and said: “You’ll never be a musician if you can’t read music.”

I dropped the class the next day.

I thought of every successful musician I had ever known who couldn’t read a lick of music and if the legends were true it would have included: Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen and I thought: Who the hell is he to tell me what I can and can’t be?

But the seed was planted. Even though I would go on to write, record and perform for the next several years, I never let his words out of my mind.

That was my fault.

Beyond all of our own negative self-talk, there are the things that people around us will tell us: That we’ll never be good enough, talented enough, pretty enough, or skinny enough to meet the standard.

And once that seed is planted, we run the risk of writing that script, too. We try and take on a challenge and the voice in our head says: Remember when you failed before? You’re probably going to fail again and everything “they” said about you would be true.

Now, my life hasn’t been a smooth sail since 1998. In fact, I spent the next 8 years doing more drugs, getting into more trouble and making a pretty good mess out of my life. But I dug myself out, I got clean, I got my college degree and I started a pretty amazing business.

I’ve got two beautiful boys, an amazing wife, a life that has had more twists and turns than a labyrinth and while my success in life didn’t come through a music career, it came through what I do today as a coach.

One perspective I could have taken was that my professor was right and I’d never fulfill what I thought I could be in music despite a lack of skills. I chose to let his words fuel me and be successful in other ways and, admittedly, I believe I found the better path.

Throughout your life, you’ve likely been told what you could or could not be, what you could and could not achieve, and it’s possible that those words came from people you thought you could trust or people you thought you could respect and once the script began, you kept writing and re-writing those words into your mind.

The words I write to you today are to remind you that you have the ability to change that script, to carve success on your terms and by your definition. I’m 23 years removed from that day in my professor’s class and I’ll be damned if I’ll let the dismissive words of a disgruntled old man decide what good I deserve to have in this life.

That was on me to prove him wrong.

And it’s on you to prove those voices in your life wrong, too.

Revolutionary You! #325-Client Spotlight: Rachel Herman (1 of 4)

One of the aspects of this show prior to changing direction with the episodes that I missed the most was client spotlights. In similar fashion to what I did with the last several guests, the next four episodes will be featuring some of our RevFit rockstars and highlighting their experiences since joining here. First up is a family we have had a huge pleasure working with since they started early last year. The Herman family’s story actually begins with their oldest son, Charlie, and would soon evolve into working with his mother, Rachel, and his brother and sister, Joey and Abby, respectively. Tune in to hear directly from Rachel what that journey would be like to date. I hope you enjoy. 


To learn more about your host: 
www.jasonleenaarts.com
www.revfittherapy.com
www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts
www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts


You can also like our Facebook page at: 
www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou


To purchase my book, “A Revolution A Day”:
www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Podchaser OR Podbean

A Tablespoon Of Trouble

The list is long of the areas in a diet where clients might get sideways. We could look at snacking, grazing, second servings, bites, nibbles, licks and tastes and still not cover every single sneaky place where calories lurk.

Like last week, my hope is to make today’s post short and sweet so that you can start seeing better fat loss results.

And I’m going to break it down to a tablespoon.

I’d like you to consider a short list of the foods in your diet where measuring down to the tablespoon might apply:

-Coffee creamer (35 to 50 calories per TBSP)
-Mayonnaise (95 calories per TBSP)

-Cream cheese (50 calories per TBSP)
-Peanut/Nut Butter (90 calories per TBSP)
-Olive Oil (120 calories per TBSP)
-Coconut Oil (120 calories per TBSP)
-Butter (100 calories per TBSP)
-Sugar (45 calories per TBSP)
-Salad Dressing (60 to 100 calories per TBSP)

The first thing I’d like you to do is consider how frequently you use any of those foods. Then, I’d like you to break out your handy tablespoon and start measuring.

When I talk to clients about things like this, the response is generally the same: “Do you mean I really have to be concerned about this?”

And my response might be: If you’re not succeeding at your weight loss goals, this might be a place to start.

One of the main reasons why is because these are the areas that are “criminally” overlooked when it comes to our diet.

We pour ourselves a cup of coffee in the morning and we don’t measure the creamer (or sugar), we eyeball it until the coffee turns the shade that makes us happy. The more coffee you drink, the more of a problem this habit turns into.

We build ourselves a salad (because salads are healthy, right?) and we don’t account for the sprinkled cheese, the chopped nuts or the 300-400 calories of dressing that the salad is either swimming in or is conveniently in the cup that’s on the side.

We stir-fry some chicken and veggies in a wok and when the recipe calls for 1 TBSP of peanut oil, we don’t measure it, we just drizzle some of that bad boy onto the wok and say: Eh, looks like a tablespoon to me (try 2 or 3!!).

The details matter. They almost always matter.

We don’t know how much creamer Starbucks puts in our coffee because they eyeball it too which pretty much negates the calories given on the menu just like we have absolutely no idea how much cheese is on that Chipotle bowl because the gal behind the counter thinks you’re pretty cute so when you say: “Just a little cheese” she puts enough cheese on the top to choke a rat and you’re too kind to say: Um, that’s more than I wanted. Can you put some back?

No, what you do is you grimace a little, act like it’s not that much cheese (yes it is) and you eat every last bit of it.

That’s your homework this week. Break out your tablespoon and start taking a good hard look at some of those places I mentioned above. The tip won’t apply to everyone but I would imagine you’re going to shock yourself by the 100s of calories you never considered before.

Revolutionary You! #324-Dr. Lisa Lewis: On Resilience, Self Care, Balance And The Injustice Of Peanut Butter (4 of 4)

In the final episode of our 4-part series together, Dr. Lisa Lewis wraps up with me as we chat about resilience, how to define self-care, how we balance our priorities and a very unexpected (and hilarious) detour on peanut butter. It’s another episode you don’t want to miss. 

To learn more about Dr. Lisa’s work: 

http://www.drlewisconsulting.com

http://www.instagram.com/drlewisconsulting

To learn more about your host: 

http://www.jasonleenaarts.com

http://www.revfittherapy.com

http://www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

http://www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou 

To purchase my book, “A Revolution A Day”: 

http://www.amzn.to/2R9Larx 

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Podchaser OR Podbean