Ladies Of Iron

As I have watched my business evolve since we opened in 2009, there have been a lot of shifts in the fitness industry. By most accounts, the industry itself could still be considered in relative infancy so it makes sense when old-fashioned and ill-informed philosophies change over time.

It wasn’t that long ago, that women were advertised to in efforts to do more aerobic work, lift light weights, and basically have no mention whatsoever of how to make them stronger…just smaller.

Perhaps I should credit avenues like CrossFit or even American Ninja Warrior for bringing to the forefront the rise of stronger, more capable, fearless women.

And it has shown, little by little, in the conversations I have with women who come through my door looking to change their current physical and mental state.

I rarely, if ever, hear a woman say “I want to be toned.”

In it’s place, I am hearing (much to my joy) “I want to be/feel strong.”

And I’ll be damned if we won’t make that happen.

It has always been inspirational to me to see my clients get stronger. For our fellas, maybe it’s a foregone conclusion that they will get stronger. But for our ladies, it’s a special kind of inspiration to see this new breed who want to achieve more than just a smaller body.

They want strength? We can train that.

Over the last several months, not necessarily by intention, I have been posting more and more pictures of our clients (male and female) doing impressive traplifts, squats and bench presses (the arguable best bang-for-your-buck exercises.)

As I have done so, I have more people talking about them. And the more they talk, the more they want to be involved.

If I just look at my landscape of female clients currently on the roster, the age range spans from 12 years of age to 79. And while my 79 year young client does not partake in those big lifts, she continues to add weight to her programs. Increment by increment, she is improving. Age means nothing.

We have one young lady who is 12, two who are 13. All three of them are uniquely strong. It is SO impressive to watch them progress.

My eldest woman (67) who is still playing with the traplift, just hit a new PR (personal record) of 220 a couple of weeks ago. I find that particularly awesome. That’s more than one and a half times her body weight.

Our twelve year old, is very close to pulling a 200lb traplift, nearly double her current bodyweight. I find that particularly awesome too.

Last week, I had scheduled clients in a compact session time without realizing the effect of what I would see. In just under one hour, we had a room full of women (ages twelve to 50s) who were all working on separate programs, all here to get stronger, feel better and just genuinely be badass. The camaraderie, vibe and support during that short amount of time was really a spectacle to behold. I was the only guy in the room training all these amazing women to be better than they were when they walked in.

I have said this before and it bears repeating, not everyone is built for or in the right condition (currently) to lift heavy. That is perfectly okay. Strength can be measured in other ways.

But I will tell you, if the body can improve and the mind will allow, a strong, unbreakable woman is like no other force known to man (sorry fellas, you know I’m right.) 🙂

So, I will leave this post with a collection of shots of our ridiculously strong women, our “Ladies Of Iron.” This is not all of our female clients, and they all deserve to have their pictures shown but this is a glimpse of one of the many reasons why what I do and who we serve is so immensely gratifying.

The strength movement is changing, the landscape is shifting, the results will be phenomenal.

“We Make Great People Greater”

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Revolutionary You! #126-BONUS-Jon Goodman: Fitness Marketing Monthly

Jon Goodman is the creator of the largest collaborative blog for personal trainers, The Personal Trainer Development Center (The PTDC) and the founder of the world’s first certification of online trainers. He’s the author of 7 books including Ignite The Fire, Viralnomics and the seminal textbook on online training. Jon has been featured in Men’s Health, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and many more. Originally from Toronto, Jon spends the winters traveling the world with his wife and baby boy. We take time to chat on this episode about his newest offering: Fitness Marketing Monthly. Access this link to order now and lock in your best rate. To learn more check out http://www.theptdc.com/get-fmm To learn more about your host, please visit http://www.jasonleenaarts.com and http://www.revfittherapy.com You can also like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.

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Revolutionary You! #125-Patrick Umphrey: An “Au”some Father’s Day Continued

The man, the myth, the legend of Eat, Train, Progress is back with me a year after our first episode together (#70.) Patrick Umphrey is someone I have a great deal of love and respect for in the fitness community and he returns so we can talk a little bit more about Daddy Life. Many of you may remember that of the many things Patrick and I have in common, it’s that we both have sons with autism. I hope you’ll listen to this show so we can compare notes, if you will, about how fatherhood has continued to evolve since that last episode. You can learn more about Patrick through his online community “Eat, Train, Progress” on Facebook. To learn more about your host, check out http://www.jasonleenaarts.com and http://www.revfittherapy.com You can also like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.

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Your Commitment Issues Are Keeping You From Losing Weight

It would be easy to blame social media for this problem.

Like you, I find myself constantly bombarded by online personalities and marketing messages trying their best to convince me of the healthiest way to eat, the most effective fat-burning exercises and the superfood recipes that I haven’t tried which would solve all of my inflammatory internal responses that are keeping me from looking and feeling my best (*yawn*.)

But I know, as do you, that these messages existed long before social media. They were prevalent on the covers of magazines in the checkout aisle of every grocery store and people like Oprah Winfrey were the loudest cheerleaders of the “next best thing.”

And I get it.

Also like you, I have my own inherent beliefs that give me that “shiny penny syndrome.” That maybe, what I’m currently doing isn’t the best but that whatever Oprah (back then) or Facebook (in the present) offer would be exponentially better.

And the problem, is that it makes it really difficult to commit to a plan.

The people selling us these messages know that too, which is why everything promises to work fast.

So, when you think of Whole30 diets, 17-day diets, 7-day detoxes, etc. it’s all custom made for our short attention spans and relentless desires for lightning fast, instantly gratifying results.

I don’t have to tell you about their effectiveness. You already know. You’ve probably already tried them, and re-tried them, and suffered the diminishing returns of each.

And that leads into the other problem: it causes commitment issues.

That shiny penny syndrome is keeping you from staying the path for a prolonged amount of time. 14 days into your Whole 30 plan, you’re now derailed because of those exogenous ketones your Facebook friend is selling you. 6 days into your 17-day diet, you saw the messages that meat causes cancer so you need to go vegan or maybe you saw that vegetables have been over-hyped and you’re tempted to go the all-meat diet.

What I won’t do is directly slam any of those options. Options are good. Options help us find what fits FOR US.

What I will do is tell you to find a plan to stick to. It matters less that you can do it for the rest of your life. I have yet to meet a person who spent the entirety of their journey committed to Weight Watchers. At best, they started WW, followed the plan for a series of months, hit the inherent ceiling and had to recalibrate to try something else. That is okay.

What is less okay is starting Weight Watchers, trying it for two weeks, then going paleo and trying it for six days then trying keto and lasting three weeks only to look back and say “Woah, in a month and a half, I’ve bounced through three different diets and have lost and regained the same four pounds. Maybe my metabolism is damaged…”

At this point, your metabolism is the least of your concerns. It’s your commitment to the process.

I believe you need to commit to an eating plan for 2-3 months to really determine what can work. Divorce yourself from the idea that what should reasonably work can be done in 30 days or less. Sure, you can drop a few pounds in the 30 days or less (I’ve seen people drop 30lbs in that many days.) That does not mean it’s done safely, sustainably or in a way that doesn’t cause an immediate and drastic rebound.

I should also add that it’s not fair for me to just call out random diets and point a finger. Consistency has to be given to total caloric intake as well. Eating well throughout the week only to go on a food bender Saturday and Sunday is just a harmful to the process as diet hopping is.

So, let me pop the bubble now: There is no perfect diet but all diets work for certain people some of the time.

I’m reminded of my conversation with Mac Nutrition’s Martin MacDonald on my Revolutionary You podcast. Paraphrasing part of that episode, Martin reminded listeners that once you determine the estimate of your daily caloric needs, depending on your goals, you can dial in your ratios of protein/carbs/fat and at that point you have complete autonomy over your destiny. You can listen to the episode in entirety here.

And isn’t that a great thought to be reminded of?

WE have control over those results.

Of course, I’d be kidding myself if I believe that everyone needs to count calories to succeed. They don’t and many of our clients see great things happen without counting calories.

But I’ll give you a rundown of what it will take to overcome your commitment issues with your diet journey and start seeing lasting results:

1.) Get painfully candid with yourself about your food intake. Be aware of every bite that crosses your lips that has a calorie attached to it.

2.) Set a pattern of consistency with the way you eat so you can see your trends and areas of opportunity to modify. While not every day will go off without a hitch, you can string together more days if you have a system for tracking the days you were on or not.

3.) Realize that your path will have potholes and detours. Plan for them, expect them and have a workaround for when they occur (also know as “Plan B”, “In The Event Of Emergency” or “Things I Crave When It’s That Time Of The Month.”)

4.) Commit to a longer term than something which promises results in 30-days or less. No one fixed their marriage, their job or their outlook on life in less than 30 days. Your food plan will be no different.

5.) Try to have some fun along the way. Learn to experiment with different recipes, cuisines and cultures to develop a wider palette of tastes and foods.

And of course, if you’d like our help with any of these steps, you know where to find us.

“We Make Great People Greater”

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Revolutionary You! #124-Victoria Moran: That’s Not Failure, That’s Part Of The Process

I’m joined this week by bestselling author and fellow podcast host, Victoria Moran. Many know her through her site and podcast Main Street Vegan but the majority of our conversation on this episode talks about re-framing your perspective around your diet and your progress to come from a place of deeper self-care. We dive into addictive behaviors and the value of 12-step programs to help conquer eating habits that might throw you off course. Victoria has some really amazing tips that I know you’ll be able to appreciate. To learn more about her work, check out http://www.mainstreetvegan.net To learn more about your host, visit http://www.jasonleenaarts.com and http://www.revfittherapy.com You can also like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.

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I’m Excellent At Nothing (And I’m Good With That.)

Maybe it’s because I was raised by two parents who, despite all their talents and successes remained very humble about them.

I have never had that resounding feeling like “Wow, I’m really awesome at this!”

Even all of the years I spent as a musician; recording, performing and writing, I never felt like I was one of the best in my city, state and certainly not on any grander scale.

I look at my life now: solid marriage, two beautiful boys, a successful business, a popular podcast and blog, and happy clients. I could never tell you that I am an excellent husband, excellent father, excellent small business owner, excellent podcast host or an excellent trainer.

At best, I’m just good.

Allow me to pivot from that point for a moment.

I see the struggles of some of my clients. Those desperately wanting to be amazing at weight loss. They want to perfect the diet riddle and claim once and for all that they hit their maintenance weight and they’re never going to gain weight again.

They deride themselves when the diet goes off the rails for an unplanned dessert or a portion size that was bigger than it needed to be. They mercilessly beat themselves up because the food plan was perfect on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday until Judy brought in those damn donuts on Thursday and due to complete lack of willpower and mental fortitude, they caved and ate the stupid donuts.

That must make them weak and unsuccessful and unable to conquer their diet plan with perfection.

Or I see the frustration of my clients who want that instant gratification of a new personal record. They come into the gym, anticipating the weight that they need to lift only to find that today was just not their day and they failed on the rep. So, they trudge through the rest of the workout, beating themselves up because their linear progress took a hit.

It is scenarios like these that I think about when I challenge people to embrace what’s good.

I recently told one of my clients that I don’t know what “perfect” looks or feels like so I don’t coach perfection, I just coach progress. The rest seems to fall in line.

I take my own general feelings of not assuming I’m excellent at anything and ask “But am I getting better?”

And I think when you can allow yourself to improve on any scale, that is reason enough to claim victory.

Maybe you have to temporarily take a break from dieting to focus on other skills like meal prep or better sleep. Maybe you have to stop chasing a heavier weight on the dumbbell rack or the barbell so you can focus on having a stronger grip, better endurance or some mobility work.

Maybe you (and I) were never destined for perfect but destined for better than we were when we started.

Lest people believe that I associate being good and seeking improvements are synonymous with mediocrity, I do not.

I think you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to be on a nonstop, relentless path towards self-improvement: to be healthier, more caring, more compassionate, a better listener, stronger, kinder, more forgiving, less critical, or simply a version of you that trumps the one you were even a month or two months ago.

I have attached a picture of our client Casey, who has mentally and physically transformed herself during her time here. The psychological shift that’s occurred in Casey is remarkable and I think that she says it better than I ever could when she posted this on social media last week:

“205 isn’t a lot of weight (to lift) for many people, so I’m not sharing this because it’s particularly impressive in that way. What it is, however, is a very revealing and accurate look into how good working out at Revolution Fitness And Therapy makes me feel. Happy, strong, accomplished. I love the feeling of getting a little better each week and knowing I’m continuing to do things that are more difficult than I’ve ever done before. If you haven’t checked out RevFit yet, you should. Jason Leenaarts will help you become an even greater version of you than you already are.”

I am very fortunate to have a roster of clients, both face-to-face and online, who I think are truly amazing people. The very privilege of seeing these individuals push and strive for more inspires me to do the same for myself because I don’t want to let them down.

So, I will continue to move my needle of being good and striving for better. And to my clients, who I think have in many ways achieved their greatness beyond my own skill levels I extend our proclamation:

“We Make Great People Greater”

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Revolutionary You! #123-Kate Galliett: Start Seeing Your Body Objectively

Kate Galliett, of Fit For Real Life and The Unbreakable Body, joins me this week to discuss some overlooked movement patterns to get you feeling and moving better right now. We take apart some problem areas that we see with our clients and Kate talks about the methods she uses to help her clients see noticeable changes in how they feel. I can’t recommend highly enough her videos and articles to gain a better understanding of how to make her approach work for you. To learn more about Kate, check out http://www.fitforreallife.com and http://www.theunbreakablebody.com To learn more about your host, check out http://www.jasonleenaarts.com and http://www.revfittherapy.com You can also like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.

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Is There A Simpler Solution To Your Weight Loss?

Take your pick: low fat diet, low carb diet, high fat diet, moderate carb diet, vegan diet, ketogenic diet, Mediterranean diet, gluten-free diet, intermittent fasting with a 8 hour eating window, intermittent fasting with a 24 hour fast, detoxes, cleanses and Colon Blast 3000 (this is not a real thing, yet.)

When did we start making eating so complicated?

With all of these choices: magazine stands with quick fixes, bookshelves filled to the brim with short diets for short attention spans, short-term results and long-term disappointments, it’s easy to be persuaded and misled.

So, let’s move past the calorie counting, the food apps, the diet shaming, and just focus on something else: your patterns.

Step outside of yourself, become a fly on the wall in your own life and start noticing the habits that you fall into. And since our memories have a funny way of tricking us, you might opt for writing down what you eat over the span of a few days.

Maybe you should take pictures of what you eat (for your eyes only.) Or, spread your day out and look at places where you eat a meal or skip one and if you have a tendency to snack and graze or simply go for a second serving at dinner.

Don’t forget to look at the creamer you added to your coffee this morning and that extra glass of wine you had while making dinner (plus the one you had with dinner.)

One of my online clients recently posted this observation after a week full of food tracking:

Wow what an eye-opener I’ve gotten about what I’m actually eating, when and why. My urges were stronger than my resolve to reach my goal, and I gave in to them every time. What have I learned from this week? Chips, pastry/cookies and alcohol are a big part of what’s keeping me over the weight I’d like to be.”

Over the last (nearly) decade since I opened RevFit, I’ve made it my mission to help people remove the complications from their diet without having to succumb to the traditional notion of a diet.

Yes, you do have to cut calories somewhere to succeed at weight loss and knowing where you’re supposed to be with your total intake can make the rest of the process a lot easier to deal with.

While calorie counting and measuring has a great place, it isn’t for everyone. I’ve helped clients lose weight simply by adjusting things like their sugar and creamer intake in their coffee to trim off an extra 400 calories a day.

Many people feel they’re missing the perfect diet or meal plan. They usually aren’t. They just need to have another set of eyes look at their eating habits and say “Change THAT.”

We don’t focus as much on what the sexy, new diet fads are because they’ll come and go as quickly as fads in fashion. We focus on the basics: real food, real training, real people, real results.

And if you need our help to be that “fly on the wall” to troubleshoot for you, you know where to find us. 🙂

“We Make Great People Greater”

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Revolutionary You! #122-Chip Conrad: Consider Yourself A Beginner

BodyTribe’s Chip Conrad joins me this week to discuss not only his book “Are You Useful?” but some of his training philosophies as well. This episode does not do Chip the justice he deserves as I feel the aforementioned book and his videos on YouTube do a much greater service to him. This is a great introduction all the same to someone whose perspective on training is a refreshing outlook and not what you might normally stumble across. You can follow him via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/chip.conrad.54 and on Instagram at BodyTribeChip. To learn more about your host, check out http://www.jasonleenaarts.com and http://www.revfittherapy.com and like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.

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How I Learned To Stop Suffering And Find Some Self-Worth

The day I decided to stop using drugs was not a particularly special day.

It was sometime in the summer of 2006 on a not so remarkable evening.

Nothing earth-shattering had happened during my day. No drama at work or in my relationship at the time. 

I was sitting in my room getting high. 

I looked around me at my surroundings, and decided I had had enough. 

Why was it that I always had money for drugs but not enough to pay my bills? 

Why was all of my self-medicating leaving me not only poorer but less fulfilled in every aspect of my life? 

Literally, nothing in my life had improved as a result of my self-destructive tendencies. Everything in one way, shape or form had deteriorated. 

As the adage goes: Change occurs when you finally get tired of your own bullshit. 

And I was tired. 

Tired of suffering and feeling the need to self-medicate and alienate myself from others as a result of it. 

I don’t have a lot of clients who share my background of drug abuse, but that number is growing. I am now helping more and more who are in recovery, whether the drug of choice was alcohol or substances. 

But many of my clients come to me because they’re tired of suffering. 

Suffering that comes from coping with things like stress through emotional overeating or coping through various cycles of binge, purge, repeat. 

And to watch people suffer is no luxury. 

To be the coach to someone who is trying to break these chains is a tightrope walk that alternates between immensely gratifying and genuinely traumatic. 

The premise is still the same. You may be hoping for a dramatic, life-changing catalyst that snaps you back to reality and gives you control over your eating habits.

But that may not come.

You may experience the death of someone close to you or your doctor tells you that your bloodwork confirms that you are now at risk of “insert syndrome or condition here.” 

Your catalyst for change will likely have to come from within. 

You will have to get tired of your own bullshit. 

You will be lucky if someone you care about and trust actually calls you out on that bullshit. 

I had people in my life like that but I was unwilling to listen because I didn’t think I had a problem. My justification was that I saw people who were involved in far less who were dead, incarcerated, or were basically vegetables. That hadn’t happened to me, so it was easy to assume I was getting through unscathed. 

But that was not the reality. 

Our ability to sabotage ourselves comes at a price. I look back on an entire decade of drug abuse, depression, co-dependency and infidelities and ask “What the hell was I thinking?” 

My clients ask themselves something similar but for different reasons:

“Why do I continue to do this to myself?”

It’s not my place to answer that. It is my place to inspire your change. 

I will say that for some people, therapy may be an avenue worth considering. If you have decades of self-abuse through food or repeated cycles of what you qualify as depression or the “blues” (seasonal or otherwise) you may need the help of a trained professional.

For me, I’ve had to continue to nurture some healthier steps to keep my mind in a better and more productive place.

  1. Find an outlet. By time I stopped using drugs, I was already exercising regularly. It had not quite taken hold of me the way that is in my life now. Contrary to the belief of some, I don’t exercise because I love it. I exercise because it’s a necessity. I make my training something that is enjoyable enough that I stick with it and reap the benefits over time. I do not expect dramatic overnight results and I play the long game with my training. In other words, I want to be able to workout for my whole life. Being able to do so requires sustainable workouts. Reading, writing, listening to and playing music have also been mainstays for me. If I didn’t have an outlet, it would have been easy to fall back into patterns where I had nothing to look forward to except the next drug.
  2. Pick new playmates. It didn’t happen immediately but I had to start finding people who were also clean and not using. The lure and the attraction of drugs was constantly present so I had to draw some hard lines that those particular behaviors were off the table. If you’re struggling with certain food behaviors, this may require you eliminating certain foods/drinks from the home and talking to your social circle (family, co-workers) about your respective struggle. Be explicit with your needs. Explain that there is an area of your life where you have a found a vulnerability. You will need their help to conquer it. These conversations can be difficult to have because many people do not like admitting their weaknesses. If your obstacle is with food, we know that food is a necessity so it has to be available for our survival but it may have to be controlled in a way that helps us not harms us. For me personally, I had to put clear distance between 95% of the people who were in my life at that time. Being not only linked to them but linked to certain environments bred an atmosphere that made me want to continue the previous behaviors until I made the step to turn away.
  3. Stop playing the victim. There were a lot of places I could point my frustrations in life when I finally stopped doing drugs. I could (and did) blame my fiancee (at the time), my job stress, the traumatic events of my childhood, etc. I could find anyone around me to say “You’re the reason I behave this way.” But that was delusional. We are in charge of our decisions. We choose how to react to circumstances. When you feel the empowering change of admitting, “I am in control of this” you will take the steps to change your situation. There will always be a situation where the pattern of self-destruction seems like an easy thing to fall back into because it is what you are accustomed to. This takes time and effort to undo and prevent.
  4. Let no one steal your power. Wherever you are in life, you are there for a reason. You have survived by luck, sheer will, stubbornness, or by determination. Start with that. Realize that you have the capacity for success but you need a pattern of seeing success work for you. Celebrate your little victories. In many ways, the “one day at a time” approach of 12-step programs has it right. Focus on the day you’re in, not the day behind you (which cannot change) or the day ahead of you (which is too far in the future to influence with 100% accuracy.) Toxic people, life traumas, circumstances which are wildly out of our control will constantly be in our life. Manage these areas with humility, compassion and understanding but with clear boundaries. If you can’t manage these boundaries, someone else will manage them for you. This is where things go awry.
  5. Know that you’re in this for the long haul. I spent ten years in a self-proclaimed “love affair” with drugs. I have been clean for twelve years. It is still my (un)natural tendency to temporarily lose my sense of self-worth when things go wrong. I am okay with that. I am okay being a work in progress. I accept failing at certain things at certain times. I have tools to succeed and I use them. I expect many years of life to come and I want to get better over time at using my success tools. They are not formed by wealth or material things (although sometimes I like to tell myself they are.) No matter how many years of self-defeating cycles you have repeated, you are capable (and worthy) of change.

You are worth more than the struggles you suffer through. 

You are worth more than the people who have discouraged you from progress have led you to believe. This goes for parents, children, friends and anyone else who has made you feel less than adequate. 

You are worth more than your diet. 

You are worth more than your dietary misgivings. 

You have a gift of life. 

You have a gift of seeing yourself succeed because no decent human being ever wants to celebrate the feeling of failing at life and at health. 

Stop suffering. Change begins with you.

“We Make Great People Greater”

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