It was 2003 and I had just moved to Tennessee from Ohio with the woman who would be Jackson’s mom (we were still dating at the time.)
It seemed like the right time and place to start fresh.
She and I were both trying to restart our lives in a new location and I was about seven years into my ten-year foray with drugs.
As a by-product of leaving Ohio, I had to split my band up. A band that was named after one of my middle names: Mabry.
So, in Tennessee, I started referring to myself on almost all documentation as Mabry Leenaarts instead of Jason, the name I had spent the previous 27+ years going by.
I knew I was trying to bury some part of myself. I just didn’t know which part.
In a way, it felt refreshing. I was in a new place with my “new” name and it seemed like the pieces might fit.
The problem was, there was this addict I was still trying to come to terms with. He was the person I really needed to put in my rearview mirror and had unsuccessfully done so with up to that point.
You see, in 2003, there was no way in hell you were going to get me to admit I had a drug problem. I was bound and determined to keep that a part of my identity because I was still fully functional. I could hold down a full time job, still write music and attempt to live a normal life.
But it wasn’t normal. Inside, I was miserable and drugs were how I coped with that misery. There was no one who could help me but me and I wasn’t at that breaking point where I knew something had to give.
I was honestly at a place where it seemed everyone else needed to change except me.
God forbid I be the broken one.
I would love to tell you that by getting clean three years later that all of the problems in my life subsided and I was able to follow a straighter path from there on out.
It’s not true.
Getting clean was monumental for me but being clean opened up a whole new can of worms that I could only look at with more clarity since the drugs weren’t there to mask my reality.
I got clean in 2006 and if I’m being painfully honest with both you as the reader and myself, I didn’t start to get my shit together until after I started this business in 2009.
Everything, and I mean, everything in my life has been sloooooooooow progress.
And this is what I want to write you about.
I support my family by training people (just like yourself) who want to improve their health. I find joy in this process, I believe I empathize with this process and I think I have a somewhat unique perspective to apply and help.
Where I find so many people struggle is they have a goal YET they have a lifestyle that has been on the polar opposite side of that goal.
In other words, they eat out at restaurants more than is beneficial for them.
They are more sedentary than what is beneficial for them.
They have more negative self-talk than what is productive or beneficial for them.
And there is this tug of war that happens internally where the client REALLY wants to achieve their goal BUT they are still very much connected to the person who is keeping them from that goal: themselves.
As I have mentioned in myriad ways throughout my writing over the years, I believe you have to bury certain elements of this other person. The goal you’re trying to attain, the one you deserve to attain is not in harmony with the other end of the spectrum. They are diametrically opposed to one another.
You can’t be successful at self-care and be a complete asshole to your health at the same time. It won’t work. And that’s why it has not worked for you up to this point.
As it related to me in 2003, changing my name didn’t change my life. It simply allowed me an attempt to polish a turd.
Life had to change.
So, you can hop to as many diets and supplements and shakes and pills as you like. I did. I tried all sorts of things to improve what I felt I could or should have in my life. It didn’t work until my belief in myself changed.
I believe that the person you are running from, this person who is on the other side of your goal has to stay behind you. I am reminded of my friend and fellow trainer, Chuck Gross, who is a former guest on my show and has successfully maintained 200 pounds of weight loss. When he thinks about the person he was 200 pounds ago, he says (I am paraphrasing): He’s dead to me. He’s gone.
This is what I had to do for myself when I got clean. This other person, this terribly unhealthy person both physically and mentally had to die off. He can’t come back. I won’t let him.
It may seem like a very callous and cold way to approach your health and wellness. Like many things, this approach may not work for everyone. But if you have spent many years in a cycle of self-destruction, as I did, you may have to take a more drastic measure to succeed.
This approach, this rip-the-bandage-off approach will not be understood by many. And, I will warn you, you could lose friends, you could change jobs, you could lose your relationship/marriage. It’s that pivotal and dramatic of a shift.
It is not my hope or desire that these things in your life occur. I just know, from watching people improve their health in the decade of this business’s tenure, that dramatic change has a profound effect on those in your inner circle. Not always, but sometimes.
So, when you look in the mirror, and when you look at your lot in life and you tell yourself how important your goal is: be ready for turmoil. Some of it good, some of it less so.
I will repeat this: YOU DESERVE SUCCESS.
But…no one will hand it to you. This is not a lottery ticket that you scratch off and win on. This is hard. Excruciatingly hard. Ask anyone who’s ever transformed their lives and made the change stick. No one can bottle this solution up and stick it on a shelf to sell to you.
My kind and affectionate urge to you is to realize this and tear that bandage off.
Your time is now.
Below is the most recent picture of me with my boys. I can tell you, with full certainty, they would not be of this world if I didn’t put the wheels in motion to be who and what I am today.
“We Make Great People Greater”