Revolutionary You! #148-Travis Pollen: Modify To Fit The Need

It has taken me far too long to get Travis Pollen on the show for the first time and I am resolving that this week! Travis and I discuss considerations for learning how to fit exercises to the needs of the individual and our thoughts on vilifying exercises. Travis dives into his background as well which will provide some excellent context to why there is and will never be a one size fits all approach to progress. To learn more about Travis’s work you can follow him on Facebook at and via his website at To learn more about your host, check out and You can also like our Facebook page at Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.

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12 Years Clean…and I’m Still An Addict

I’ve lost touch with most of my old addict friends. Twelve years is a long time to be away from that playground and those playmates.

Of the friends I do still see, we seem to have traded the drug addictions for other addictions. Some arguably as harmful, some possibly less so.

Some went clean but not sober. Some went sober but found other vices. Either way, the addict never vanished. The vices just changed.

And I guess I never thought that when I gave the drugs up after ten years of devotion to them, that other vices would fill their place.

Where I no longer have the consolation of a drug to numb me or help me cope with life when I just didn’t want to face it, I’ve found myself chasing other dragons just to feel high.

Sometimes, being lost in my work can consume me in a similar way.

Or there’s the social media feedback loop of checking email, Facebook, Instagram, etc. (especially when you market your business as aggressively as I do.)

Sometimes, massive consumption of books via physical or audio means can give me a  rush. This odd aching thrill of volume upon volume of words and information that I can devour for a hole that knows not how to be filled.

And I think most would agree that trading cocaine for books isn’t such a bad deal.

They wouldn’t be incorrect but I am still chasing that high.

Much like weight loss when people are eating to satisfy an urge that goes beyond hunger, we’ve all got holes we haven’t determined how to fill.

Many of my longstanding clients may remember that I sobered up for about four years. Since alcohol was never a big vice of mine, it was an easy thing to let go of.

But when Marissa and I were on our honeymoon, we celebrated with some French champagne almost every night we were in Paris.

Since then, I have a drink almost daily.

But only one.

This is one place where I do find that I look forward to the drink at the end of a long day but it’s always just one. One measured shot of bourbon or one bottle of beer, etc. Alcohol is a dicey proposition for me. I don’t trust what it does to my body so I have to keep my limits in line.

If I were to ever need to cut my calories or be on point with tracking, alcohol would likely be the first thing to go. I don’t need it but I find this odd comfort in knowing it’s there. The addict in me stays tested.

Something I’ve mentioned before when I talk about cleaning up is that, I wish I would have known that the addict would always be a part of me.

That there would always be a part that doesn’t know the meaning of moderation.

It’s that same part of me that likely thrives as what many would consider to be a workaholic.

I’ve found that having routines and daily/weekly rituals help keep the addict with some semblance of control.

And I thrive on that control.

So, when I work with people who are struggling with their eating habits, I do understand the struggle.

I’ve had to reshape the person I am and navigate him clear away from the person I was just 12 years ago. And while I can argue that I have changed for the better, those demons don’t stay asleep. They just have other outlets.

I hear clients talk about the food habits they can’t control. I hear them talk about the lure of foods that they eat uncontrollably. I understand those things.

Maybe you don’t associate with drug addiction but you do believe you have food patterns that share a similarity. My advice would be to remove the temptations until you have a better handle on them. This might include throwing out the hyper-palatable foods from the fridge and the pantry. Or it may mean that you need to stop watching TV at night because every time you “Netflix and Chill” you devour a bag of chips, a pint of ice cream or anything else that wasn’t nailed down.

Be mindful that many people close to you are not fighting your battle and they are not aligned with your goals. This is not uncommon.

YOU have your battle.

YOUR battle matters.

If I can give you any wisdom after being clean for all these years: you will always struggle with this. The struggles will ebb and flow and sometimes it will feel like they’ve vanished.

But they don’t.

And the sooner you can accept that reality and prepare for it, the less surprised you’ll be when you find that “Hey, I’m still fighting the same war I used to…just less frequently and with less severity.”

And that’s a victory.

A big victory.

“We Make Great People Greater”





Revolutionary You! #147-Nikki Naab-Levy: Stepping Stones To Progress

This week, strength coach and Pilates instructor, Nikki Naab-Levy joins me on the show. In this episode, we talk about our respective paths navigating injuries through fitness and how to not feel broken in the process. Nikki talks about some of her philosophies which have not only helped her but her clients as well, see progress despite challenges that may have come from previous fitness endeavors. Nikki has some awesome wisdom to share! You can find out more about her work at To learn more about your host, check out and You can also like our Facebook page at Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.

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How I Met My Wife

There’s a story that my wife has been kind enough to let me tell all of the years we’ve been together. Some day, I’m sure I’d get a kick out of hearing it all from her perspective.

As you’re reading this, we are days removed from Marissa’s birthday and a couple of days shy of our wedding anniversary. As a couple we have been together almost nine years and this year, we celebrate four years of marriage.

I started my business in May of 2009. In April of that year, I had found the location where I wanted to open up which was inside a small commercial plaza in Hudson, Ohio.

I went around to my neighboring businesses to introduce myself and let those around me know that I was opening up in case they, or someone they knew, wanted to start training with me. At the time, I knew no one in the area so I was truly starting from the ground up.

There was a glass company in the plaza, owned and operated by Al and Amanda Montigney. I went in to introduce myself to them and noticed all of these pictures up around their shop of a rather striking young woman throughout different stage performances (most of which at Disney.) And as I like to tell the story, I remember looking at those pictures and thinking “Wow, she’s really hot.”

After some short conversation with the Montigney’s, Amanda said she’d love to be my first client.

I would come to find out, that Marissa was their only child. She was raised and groomed to be an actress from a time when she was not much older than Sebastian is now. She danced, she sang, she acted (what they call a “triple threat” in the musical theatre world.) And while she did attend a local university seeking a degree in musical theatre, she got her big break when she received a contract to be a full-time performer at Walt Disney World.

At the time, I was in the last stages of my dissolution with Jackson’s mom. All of those things would finalize by summer of 2009. Marissa had been in a long-term relationship with a guy down in Florida who her parents were not pleased to see her with. She happened to come up for the summer for a short visit and I got a chance to shake her hand, introduce myself as simply her mom’s trainer and that was that.

Shortly after my dissolution, I was back in the dating world but was hesitant to bring anyone into Jackson’s life. He would have been a little over a year old and I just didn’t feel comfortable introducing him to every person I had an interest in if it wasn’t going to be a long-term commitment.

That Christmas, Marissa came back up to Ohio to spend the holiday with her parents. She had split from the boyfriend that no one liked and she had just started talking to another guy before she came back up here.

I got to see her again and we said a quick hello before parting ways. Mandy came in to train with me the week of Christmas and she was a little bit frazzled.

“Marissa just wants to come and go and do all these things right now but we just don’t have the time. Al and I both have to work and it’s just too much to be out and about with her at the same time.”

So, I said “Mandy, I’d be happy to take her to the mall, or out for coffee or a glass of wine or something if that helps.”

And she relayed the message to Marissa, who in turn reached out to see if we could set something up.

That night, we decided to meet at a local wine bar and shoot the breeze. It was not a date per se because in my mind, I saw several things standing in my way: 1) She lived in another state 2) She was talking to another guy 3) I probably wasn’t her type.

Well, I was partially right on #3.

I was everything counter to who Marissa would normally be attracted to. I was much older (there’s a nine year difference in age between us), I was divorced, I had a child, I was not an actor, I had a shaved head, I had facial hair, you name it. I did not really have the deck stacked in my favor if I thought something could happen between us.

And, as memory serves, we just spent the evening talking. I even gave her some tips on things she might buy the guy she had just started talking to for Christmas. We parted ways for the evening, shook hands and I assumed that was basically it.

But, for her, she must have seen things a little bit differently.

The next day, I was at work and I got a text from her: “I’m going to Starbucks. Can I get you something?”

And folks, I was hooked right there.

“Yes, you can!”

She stopped by the studio and dropped off my drink and we had some more time to chat. All I could think was “How do I NOT screw this up?”

And over that Christmas weekend there would be more conversation, and a first kiss, and more conversation and then the ultimate thought of “How does this progress?”

I also made a big leap on my part and said “My son is going to be over for Christmas. If you’re up for it, I’d like you to meet him.” This was a big deal to me. No one had met Jackson, he was sacred ground as far as I was concerned. There was the feeling I had if Jackson gave the slightest notion that he wasn’t feeling Marissa that maybe we shouldn’t pursue any further. That wasn’t fair on my part but I also didn’t know how a long-distance relationship would work if it went that path.

It became little to worry over because Jackson warmed up to Marissa just fine.

So, over that weekend, I decided to unload all of my dirty laundry onto Marissa. Basically the conversation of “this is my past, can you accept it?” I knew I didn’t have to go down that road but basing all of my past experiences as perpetual failures, I knew that I needed to treat this relationship differently. Marissa listened attentively, asked the questions she felt were necessary to get answers to and accepted my claim that I was different from the person I used to be.

By the end of the holiday weekend, Marissa asked “Normally, my parents would be driving me back down to Florida. Would you like to drive me down instead?”

And we did. We drove 17 hours and 1000 miles to get her back home. I stayed the night at her place and drove back the next day.

When you’re cooped up in a vehicle with only one other person for 17 hours, you learn a lot. And I knew then, I was going to drop everything else to focus on building a relationship with her.

We maintained that long distance for the first 16 months of our relationship. We only saw each other once a month for about 3-4 days each time. Either she came to Ohio or I went to Florida. This lasted until her contract expired at Disney at which point, she moved back to here.

In the nearly nine years that we have been together, she watched me lose my father to cancer, I watched her parents go through a lengthy and difficult divorce, we had to put both my dog and her dog down within a couple of years of each other, we got married, have lived at separate times with both my mother and her mother and of course, we had a baby.

Our life has been anything but ordinary. And what the hell does ordinary look like any way?

Sometimes, when things get tense between us, it’s easy to look at other relationships and ask “Why is it not like their life?”

And the answer is always “Because no one lives the life that we’ve lived.”

If you follow me on social media, you know that I have no problem posting all sorts of things out there; some professional, some personal but it’s almost always the bright spots. That is intentional. I don’t believe in using social media as a platform for negativity.

But to give you a small glimpse of a part of our life that is not a highlight it would be our conflicts. Marissa and I have basically always ever had disagreements about two things: quantity of time together and disagreements about money.

We do not fight often, but there are fights. Ultimately, we know that the only person we want standing by our side through the disagreements is each other. That makes it at least a bit easier to sift through the chaos when it hits.

There is also that underlying feeling of change. As in, she and I not being the same people we were back then. And if you’ve been with someone for any lengthy period of time, I feel the only constant is change. It’s all in how you evolve with it.

I don’t spend a great deal of time waxing nostalgic but Marissa does. Her ability to remember things in her past has always amazed me. She can damn near tell me the meal she had on a vacation we took seven years ago and she could probably tell me what she was wearing then. I don’t have that gift. However, ask her where she put her car keys five minutes ago and she doesn’t have a clue. I, on the other hand, always put my keys in the same place because I am a creature of habit. This is a small illustration of the always entertaining and rarely boring life in the Leenaarts household.

I am reminded of a line I said when we were speaking to the pastor who married us on October 11, 2014. He was asking us questions about what attracted us to one another. And in my response I said “I am basically just a rough sketch. Marissa is the color to all of that.” He repeated that sentiment on our wedding day.

It holds true today.

I will side step from you faithful readers to address my wife directly.

Marissa, I love you. Thank you for every day of this journey you have committed to us and to this family. I am in your debt.

And I will slightly modify my tagline from it’s usual comment of “We Make Great People Greater” to something more appropriate while on this subject:

“We Make Each Other Greater”



Revolutionary You! #146-Dr. Brad Dieter: How Do You Change The Value Structure In Your Life?

I’m joined this week by Dr. Brad Dieter as we dive into a topic that I was really intrigued to discuss. In this show, we talk about the importance of self-care, redefining our “Why” and how these things can evolve over time. Having listened to him many times on other podcasts, it was awesome to hear Brad chat about things he normally doesn’t cover in as much depth as he does here. To learn more about Brad’s work, check out and To learn more about your host, please visit and You can also like our Facebook page at Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.

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Revolutionary You! #145-BONUS-Rob Dionne and Jason Leenaarts: The Top 10 Habits For Burning Fat and Building Muscle

In the first episode of it’s kind since I started the show, I am releasing this bonus episode in conjunction with Rob Dionne, host of Open Sky Fitness. Since his regularly scheduled shows come out on Tuesdays, I am releasing this on the same day and we will resume our regular episode this Thursday. In this show, Rob and I each select our Top 10 Habits For Burning Fat and Building Muscle. Neither of us knows the other’s list heading into the recording, so the beauty is in the spontaneity. I absolutely loved this show. Rob was excellent and he will be returning in the future so I can feature him as a solo guest. To learn more about his work and to tune into his show, visit There you can link with his podcast and social media channels to see more of what Rob is up to. To learn more about your host, check out and You can also like our Facebook page at Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.

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Life’s Too Short For Sh*tty Cookies

I love cookies.

And I don’t mean cheap Chips Ahoy or something similar. I love a fresh-baked, not too crunchy cookie.

If I had to be partial, it would probably be a chocolate chip variation over, say an oatmeal raisin or peanut butter cookie.

However, I have realized (somewhat painfully) that cookies are NOT a food I can moderate.

So, when I do treat myself to a cookie, it might be once a week and I only buy one.

Enter: my wife.

Now, before I get accosted by my better half, I have to say: Marissa does a great job of normally keeping cookies out of the house. While she probably won’t claim to have the same cookie problem that I do, I think they’re tough for her to control as well.

A couple of weeks ago, she brought home some pumpkin cookies. These wouldn’t have  been on my radar BUT because they were easily accessible, I found myself indulging anyway. Thankfully, there wasn’t much about these cookies that had me beside myself thinking about them on the ride home from work. And when they were gone, I didn’t miss them.

No sooner did the pumpkin cookies vanish, but I came home one night to see an entire box of Sam’s Club chocolate cookies on top of the fridge. I looked at my wife like she just grew two heads.

“Why on earth would you buy these??”

She said “I didn’t. We got them for free.”


So, of course, me of the weak constitution had to try one.

And what do you know, they didn’t even taste good.

“Sweet!” I told myself “Crisis averted!”

But it wasn’t.

Not an hour later, I grabbed another one.

And the next day, that stupid, no-good, worthless box was STILL THERE.

And what did your favorite bald man do?

Well, he ate two of those terrible cookies for

This is the moment where I should tell you I did what any reasonable human being would do and I threw the box away and watched those nasty cookies disappear into a trash can with Sebastian’s diapers, uneaten food and other trash.


My wife and I whittled away on those cookies until they were gone. Yes, I’m more to blame than she was.

And what boggles my mind is that despite the fact that I know I have an un-diagnosed problem with cookies, despite the fact that the cookies didn’t even taste good, despite the fact that it’s something of a prerequisite that the work I do require a modicum of self restraint, I buckled.

The problem is two-fold.

First, when we have these hyper-palatable (easy to overeat) foods that are easy to access, easy to view and have little barrier standing between us and them, the food will almost always win the battle.

Not us, not at the end of a stressful day, not when the willpower got flushed down the toilet by 5pm.

If we want our circumstances with food to change, we have to change the environment in which we have access to the food.

In my case, I know without a doubt, that I cannot have a box of cookies in the house. It doesn’t matter that I’m not actively trying to lose weight. It matters that I can’t control my intake when they’re around. All the justifications I could make will be wrong.

If you are anything like me and you have foods you can’t keep your hands off of, you have to change your access point.

Second, there’s just something about a shitty cookie that is altogether heartbreaking. By and large, what do we tend to overeat? Shitty chips, shitty crackers, shitty white bread, shitty candy bars because we forgot to pack our lunch and that stupid hum of the vending machine in the breakroom calls out to say “Aren’t you hungry, dumbass???”

When was the last time you heard someone overeat salad or steak or black beans or a damn bowl of broccoli?

“Well, you know, my sister’s boyfriend’s cousin Phillip was really lean when he was younger but he couldn’t control the garbanzo beans!”

If you want help with your food habits, you have to control your food environment. It won’t design itself to fit your will and your goals.

If, like me, you’re married or with a significant other, your better half needs to be 100% on board with these environment changes OR you run the risk of that same person wandering home with something like a Sam’s Club box of not-even-tasty chocolate chip cookies.

Last time I checked, it was really only the first couple of bites of a given food weakness that tasted good anyway. Yet we relentlessly punish ourselves because who on earth can keep it to just the first couple of bites anyway? Can we clone these people?

This article is less about shaming you for eating things that don’t align with the goal. It’s more about reminding you that moderation only works for some people. For the rest of us yahoos it’s some degree of long-term or short-term abstinence until we’ve reigned in the foods that we just haven’t yet mastered the control over.

And while I don’t float so far to one side of the food spectrum to preach that you should only ever eat whole, unprocessed foods indefinitely (although it wouldn’t be a bad idea if you incorporated more of them), you just need to draw greater distance between yourself and those hyper-palatable treats and snacks that are getting in the way of you and your goals.

At the very least, if you’re going to go for one of these delicacies, don’t let it be some cheap, poor excuse for a home-baked or better quality option.

Life’s too short for shitty cookies.

“We Make Great People Greater”

(Here’s our Malik tearing 405 off the floor like it was nothing.) 42791994_2083904121622112_7877024051552583680_n

Revolutionary You! #144-Camille DePutter: Share Your Story

I have the pleasure of welcoming Camille DePutter to the show this week. She is the author of Share Your Story and the brand new Little Poems For Big Hearts. Knowing her affiliations with Precision Nutrition and after being referred to me by some great sources, Camille and I talk about the power of storytelling. While this has less to do with ambitions of being an author, Camille discusses how changing the view on your own story of triumphs and tragedies can help shape how you cope with those circumstances in the framework of your life. You can purchase her books and learn more about her work at To learn more about your host, check out and You can also like our Facebook page at Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.


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Have You Succumbed To The Cleveland Browns Approach To Weight Loss?

I follow two NFL teams and have for as long as I’ve been interested in the sport (which is a little over a decade.) I am a New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans fan.

However, living in Ohio, I am nothing but a mere spectator to the sadness that is being a Cleveland Browns fan. Cleveland, in general, does not have a spectacular history with winning in professional sports. Over the last few years there have been glimmers of hope with the Cleveland Cavaliers (Thank you, LeBron) and to a slightly lesser extent with the Cleveland Indians.

The Browns are a totally different story.

Last season was particularly painful because the Browns were winless for the entire 2017 season and they only had one win in 2016.

Each year, they get great draft options and never seem to get much luck when it comes to picking the right combination of players, coaching staff, etc. to make much of a difference.

This year got off to a strange start. The Browns opened up the season with a game against our neighboring rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Historically, the Steelers generally have no problem counting on a win against the Browns.

But something seemed different in this game. Either the Browns were playing significantly better or the Steelers were playing a lot worse. Either way, the Browns were doing better than many expected. The game went into overtime and ended in a tie.

On the second game of the season, the Browns held the lead over the competitive New Orleans Saints and watched as the Saints took things over late in the game to win. It was arguably just another reminder of how frustrating being a Browns fan can be.

As I saw one of my friends comment on social media “Same old Browns!”

But there was one comment, on the heels of this second loss of the season that made me stop in my tracks.

I heard someone say “The Browns are doing everything in their power to NOT win.”

And I see this happen with so many of my weight loss clients.

It’s not that they don’t want to win the weight loss game and it’s not that they aren’t trying to win.

They just can’t get enough of the right things happening at the right amount of frequency to win that game.

I know this may seem like something of an apple to oranges comparison but hear me out.

Obviously, when it’s your weight to lose, then YOU are in control. You are the quarterback, the running back, the defensive line, etc. And if you’ve hired someone like me, you’ve at least given the reigns to someone else to be your coach.

But, you have to make the plays. You have to eat (or not eat) the right foods, the right portions, and not self-sabotage.

You have to not “choke” when you hit the field for the real game instead of the scrimmage.

Much like watching the Browns play, as the spectator you see them do several things right but they can’t make a trend out of it. Therefore, they lose game after game after game. Then they change team lineup, coaches, back office staff, etc. It’s a complete upheaval.

Sound familiar?

Those who have been unsuccessful with weight loss keep banging their heads against the wall looking for the next book, the next pill, the next powder, the next tea, the next trend. And what do they get? Little to no success. Just like the Browns.

As I write this post, I am happy to report that just last week the Browns won their first game since 2016. The joke around town is that Cleveland fans reacted as if the Browns had just booked their ticket to the Super Bowl.

So, let me try and give you a formula for success so that the Cleveland Browns approach to weight loss doesn’t affect you:

  1. You need the right team to win. In your case, you need a solid support system, people who encourage but promote understanding and guidance. This can include friends, family, co-workers, trainers, dietitians and/or doctors. Just like a quarterback can’t win a game by himself, you would be hard-pressed to work in complete isolation and succeed with weight loss.
  2. You have to master the basics. If you watch a football team during their practice each week, there are constant drills on the basics of their game. Agility, throwing, catching, sprints, etc. If the basics aren’t nailed down, they can’t complete the plays during the game. For you, this means being intimately aware of your food portions, caloric needs based on gender, height, current weight, level of daily activity, etc. and putting the time in to see these habits fall into place.
  3. You have to believe in yourself. When LeBron was still with the Cleveland Cavaliers during his second tenure with the team, the term “Believeland” started to show up on merchandise around town. Cleveland fans needed to believe the teams that they had shown so much love and support to over the years were capable of winning. You have to believe you’re capable of the same. If your mind continues to run the refrain that you’re nothing but a failure, you’re likely to fulfill that prophecy. Believe that you have what it takes to not only see some weight loss but all of the weight loss you are aiming for, assuming that your goals are realistic respective of your current lifestyle.
  4. Accept disappointment as part of your progress. Unlike a team such as the New England Patriots, the Browns don’t have a trend of winning. It’s not been a winning culture. So, as a Patriots fan, I tend to be spoiled by a high frequency of winning. This is normally balanced out by a much less frequent trend of winning by my other favorite team, the Tennessee Titans. For you, this may mean you have more in common with the Browns or the Titans if success has been eluding you. So, the scale may not always tell you nice things (even if you “think” you’ve been good) and some days you have to accept that your best laid plans ended with a pint of ice cream to cap off a stressful day. These things will happen. Accept them, expect them, and move forward.
  5. Break the habit of giving up on yourself. If any city were capable of staging mutiny because of their team’s performance, Cleveland would have to be high on the list. Nevertheless, they stay faithful no matter how frustrating it gets. And even if it’s short-lived (let’s hope it’s not), the faithful do get rewarded somewhere along the way. Your weight loss path will be frighteningly similar. You will want to give up, you will have the deck stacked against you and there will be critics (family, friends and that downer Becky who works in your office!) But your success is reliant on your work, your effort, and your resiliency. When you reach your goal (because you didn’t give up on it), you can kindly tell Becky to screw it.

So, each week I’ll be rooting for my two teams but I’ll be keeping an eye on the Browns simply because I live here and they deserve to win just as much as anyone else.

And so do you.

“We Make Great People Greater”

(Here’s Sebastian wearing his Browns gear when Daddy isn’t putting him in a Pats onesie.)


Revolutionary You! #143-Dr. Tim Jackson: Is There An Appropriate Way To Detox?

In what can be a polarizing topic to dive into in the health and wellness conversation, I welcome Dr. Tim Jackson to the show this week to discuss detoxes. Dr. Tim talks about the protocols that he sees most effective with his clients and clarifies the differences between his take on detoxifying the system versus what the mainstream media may give credit to. To learn more about Dr. Tim’s work, you can visit his website at To learn more about your host, check out and You can also like our Facebook page at Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.

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