Good Dad, Flawed Dad

I’ve had a lot of time over the last 11 years to talk about my father.

Every time I feel like there’s nothing more (or nothing new) to say, I keep thinking losing him will never feel resolved.

This week’s article takes a cue from last week’s, and I have to thank my friend and former client, Grant, for getting my gears spinning this time.

Since my Dad passed in 2011, I’ve been able to watch and learn from other men, other fathers to see how the lead their lives, and, how they exist as patriarchs in their families.

I’ve been inspired by men who lead by an example which states: I’ll give my family the life I never had.

And, I’ve been inspired by men who lead by an example which states: I’m giving my family a life as good as it was for me.

And, I exist somewhere in the middle.

My father did everything well, many things exceptionally well, in a way I’ll never replicate. If he had flaws (and he did) they were sufficiently minor in comparison and hardly worth mention.

As his son and only child, I was benefactor to all the great that he did and I was often too spoiled, too impatient and too self-absorbed to show him what all of his lessons meant to me.

I understood, at all times, that my father worked very hard to provide the life my mother and I were fortunate to share with him. He loved my mother with a love I’ve seldom seen two people share since.

He gave us a wonderful life. One I appreciate more now, than I did when he was here in this world. One of my many regrets.

I have been a father now for over 14 years. Being the parent to a child with special needs forced me to learn skills in parenting that my father never did. Dad passed when Jackson was 3 and I was never able to lean on him to find out how to be the best father I could to Jackson. I just had to learn “on the fly” and do the best as most any parent could for their child.

Of course, Dad never had the privilege of meeting Sebastian. I’m sure he probably would see elements of me at his age to remind me: You know, Jay, you were like that too back then.

Despite all the love and attention my parents gave me, things I’d never wish on another happened to me. No parent can adequately prepare their child for how to handle sexual abuse. Even as a survivor, all I can do is try and protect my boys; that no one should ever harm them the way that I was.

Those lessons live elsewhere on this site.

I’m 46 years old as I write these words and I can say confidently to both of my boys:

I love you more than you’ll ever know.

I work hard, and I work long hours, because I want you to see there is value in doing both. Someday, perhaps you’ll put in the same time and effort for yourselves and, where it applies, for your families.

I will teach you everything I can about the good things I’ve done, as well as the not-so-good things I’ve done, because I want to teach you the importance of not only life when it’s easy, but life when it is ungodly difficult.

I can’t keep you from making the mistakes I’ve made, I can only show you how those mistakes affected me and what it took to overcome them.

I will do all I can to protect you from the things that can hurt you, not because I believe you’ll never be hurt but because I want you to know that you’ll be okay when and if you get hurt.

I am a good Dad, I am also a flawed Dad. I am not the man your Opa was and for that, I apologize. But I am a much better man now than I used to be.

Every day, I am grateful that I have you two to practice getting better with.

With love…

The Handiest Man Alive

There’s a story I’ve told myself for most of my life and it’s a story that has been validated from many failed attempts to put things together or fix items in general.

The story is: I’m just not handy.

From common household scenarios that pop up to random bits of furniture which need to be assembled, my track record of successfully putting things together or repairing what’s broken is abysmal.

My father, by comparison, was very handy. When I needed to put together all of the equipment for RevFit back in 2009, my father was by my side, helping me assemble pieces that I just couldn’t conceptualize working with.

Of course, I could blame shitty instructions, and perhaps I would have been right, but there was my Dad, being all methodical and patient and putting together items that I had just stared at for hours on end.

However, a few years ago, something changed.

When it came time to put together a bookshelf, I did what any reasonable human being should do.

I opened up the instructions, I laid all of the required parts out, I took my time, and lo and behold, I put something together…all by myself.

This probably sounds silly to you.

When I put together that bookshelf, it wasn’t that everything went perfectly. It didn’t.

I made mistakes. I had to backtrack a few times, unscrew parts that were not put together appropriately, reassemble things in their right place, and trudge forward again.

A far more competent person could have done the job faster.

But I was not competent, merely driven to accomplish what I set out to do: Build the stupid bookshelf.

And a small bulb went off, that maybe, just maybe, I was marginally more handy than I thought.

Since then, I’ve put together many more bookshelves, many more pieces of equipment at my studio, and, I have actually repaired some appliances in my home (Thank you, YouTube).

I won’t go into detail about the things I tried to repair that were less successful (Buh-bye, Mr. Oven and See you later, Ms. Dishwasher).

Most recently, my wife let me know that our bathtub wasn’t draining and, rather than default to calling a plumber, my kneejerk reaction was: Well, maybe I’ll take a look when I get home and see if I can do it.

Sure enough, I took apart what appeared to be faulty, went to the hardware store, got some assistance to make sure I had the right part, came home and I’ll be damned if I didn’t sort it out (with careful supervision by Drill Sergeant Sebastian).

And now the joke in my home is that I am The Handiest Man Alive.

Please read the sarcasm.

And also, please note, this is a story of confidence, not a reminder of failure.

I hope you see where I’m going with this.

When we try to improve our health, via fat loss, getting stronger, or making better dietary choices, it’s easy to screw up along the way. Each “screw up” can replay a tape in our minds that maybe we’re not competent of achieving the task we set for ourselves.

We forget that mistakes leave clues and if we pay attention, we can fix them. As in, very few choices we make are permanent. Nearly every “problem” can be solved.

However, confidence is huge.

As the adage goes (attributed to Henry Ford): Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.

If you believe you won’t succeed at something, you’re already setting a foundation for failure. It doesn’t mean you will fail, it means you’ve raised the potential.

You’re planting a seed that doesn’t foster optimism or success.

I hold no illusions that I will fix everything that breaks in my home. I also hold no illusions that anything I elect to put together will be done in record time.

There will be certain things I have to outsource to others and I’m okay with that.

The lesson I taught myself (and it took me a long time to learn it) is that, if I take my time and follow the instructions, I’m capable of a lot more than I ever gave myself credit for.

Take these quick lessons from my journey into handiness (LOL) and apply them to your journey.

Be patient.

Follow the rules.

Make sure you have the tools to do the job.

Expect mistakes.

Ask for help if you need it. (Don’t stay stuck).

Revolutionary You! #361-Walk The Talk: A Shift In Priorities

How are you prioritizing all you have on your plate? I give you my take in this week’s episode as well as an update on the future of Revolutionary You. 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou

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

www.amzn.to/2R9Larx 

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Spotify OR Amazon Podcasts

Walk The Talk: A Shift In Priorities

When I was on the cusp of recording the 300th episode of my podcast (Revolutionary You), I asked myself: Where do I want to take this show?

I decided to challenge myself by asking guests to commit to a 4-episode series with me where I could cover topics in greater detail and give the guest more time to shine.

I’m so glad I did this.

The result was better than I hoped it would be.

However, as a coach, I know that much of the advice I give to my busy clients is to routinely ask themselves: What are my priorities (and values) and am I living and acting in accordance with them?

I have poured a lot of myself, my time and my energy into this show for the last six years and it remains something I am so proud of.

I made a vow to be consistent with the content releasing at least one new episode every week for those six years. As a result of that consistency, I gained a following I was proud of and a following that remained with me even when I made the transition in format.

In addition, RevFit has only gotten busier and since that is my baby and it requires the most of my attention, I always have to make sure that my brick and mortar business has what it needs to thrive.

Recently, RevFit was nominated for a local business award for how we grew on the heels of the COVID pandemic. That was not just for our city but a neighboring city as well. It is a testament to our clients that we were able to thrive despite the challenges presented with the virus.

Also, I accepted a position with Dr. Spencer Nadolsky as a coach for his newly released Big Rocks Nutrition Coaching program. It’s been a great experience thus far and I’ve not only had the privilege of working alongside him and some fantastic coaches but serving another population of clients who want to improve their health.

Which means that as RevFit and Big Rocks continue to grow, my time has to be managed carefully.

To that, I am putting the podcast on an indefinite hiatus.

Revolutionary You has always been a labor of love and should I elect to resume it, I’ll have to think about what direction I’d like it to go at that point.

I’d like to thank every guest who made the last six years possible. Thank you for the conversations and, where it applied, the relationships formed from our sharing the time together.

I would be remiss in saying that my last book would have never come to fruition if it wasn’t for this show and I’m very proud of that project, too.

To all of you tuning in, six years is a long time to be committed to any project and, I have to be honest, it’s somewhat strange thinking about NOT releasing a new episode each week. This show has been such an integral part of the work I do that not taking it further at this time will take some getting used to.

However, there is only so much time in a day and in a week and I can only spread myself so thin. At a certain point, busyness and productivity are no longer badges of honor.

If we’re not careful, they can become the chains that bind us.

If you’ve enjoyed the podcast or shared episodes with others, thank you. Sincerely. It made the effort all worth it.

Should you elect to keep following the work I do, I am still committed to this blog and still aim to release new content each week on here.

Of course, if you’re local to RevFit, we’d love to serve you at the studio and if you’re inclined to need coaching on the nutrition side of things, I’d love to work with you through Dr. Spencer’s program.

Someday, I may fire Revolutionary You back up but, as someone once said with regard to making a decision: If it’s not a Hell Yes, then it’s a No.

And right now, I feel more excited knowing that there are a lot of great podcasts out there for you to tune into and I am fortunate you gave your time to this one over the last six years.

It’s my hope, in conclusion, that you’ll do as I did routinely with your own life: Revisit your priorities, be mindful of your values and align your actions and behaviors accordingly.

Revolutionary You! #360-Client Spotlight: Samantha Parks (4 of 4)

In the final episode of our recent client spotlight series, I get to welcome one of the strongest ladies in our gym: Samantha Parks. You may recognize the last name as her father, Ned, was a guest on the show last year and we have the honor of not only training both of them but mother/wife, respectively, Brenda as well. We touch on all of that and much more in this episode. Sammy talks about events in her life that led to her starting here, how she approached her strength training and weight loss success and where the journey is taking her next. 

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 Spotify OR Amazon Podcasts

Beyond The Highlights

Last year, my mother-in-law was taking a picture of Marissa, Sebastian and myself.

We were trying our best to get Sebastian to pose with us and he just wasn’t having it. Marissa was attempting to hold him in her arms and prop him on her lap but nothing any of us could say would get him to stop squirming around (most parents of toddlers I’m sure can relate).

Marissa gave Sebastian the option to stand between us and behind us, arms wrapped around our necks.

That suited Sebastian fine, so that’s where he stood and when the picture was taken, it was great.

Marissa looked great (because when doesn’t she) and Sebastian looked happy as can be.

You would never have known that we’d spent the last five minutes fighting like hell to get him to just pose for the camera.

Highlights are like that.

We tend to forget those things when we’re perusing social media. We see smiling faces, we see fit physiques, we see posts of celebration and we forget, momentarily, that anything difficult happened that brought that post, or that body or that smile to fruition.

In the gym, when we see someone hit a personal best, we lose sight of the fact that the new record came after weeks or months of attempts, bailed lifts, gym related or non-gym related injuries, illness, and more.

With fat loss, every recorded milestone came because of days in a deficit, days in a surplus, days where we gave up and said “F*ck it”, days where we doubted ourselves, days when it all clicked and came together but all that you see in a before and after picture is a high end and a relative low end, with none of the other glimpses in between.

When you see a smiling couple, do you ask: What’s behind that smile?

There are pictures of Marissa and I, really nice pictures where I know (and she knows) where we were, not just on a social or geographic level, but where we were with our marriage or relationship. What fight preceded those smiling faces? What struggle were we trying to overcome? Was it simply a case of: fake it ’til you make it?

As you take your life in scope, and you view social media through the lens of highlights, there’s always a story that’s not being told. There are filters, there is digital manipulation, there is conflict, sadness, failure, depression, anxiety, happiness, joy and grief. They all exist. They all played a part in a more complex puzzle.

So, when you compare yourself against others (as many of us do), remember that the highlights are what draw attention and likes and shares and they are never indicative of the whole story.

Nowadays, when my wife and I smile, for instance, we know our story, we know the days of happiness, the days of sorrow, the days of loss, and the days of celebration. The whole story is there and the smiles capture one solitary moment.

Fortunately, our story has earned the right to more highlights.

Which story does your highlight tell?

Revolutionary You! #359-Client Spotlight: Ken Klika (3 of 4)

In the 3rd part of our 4-part client spotlights, I’m joined this week by one of the strongest fellas at RevFit: Ken Klika. His story has inspired me since he started here over 5 years ago and it’s been a honor to work with he and his wife, Jen. Tune in to hear what led Ken to us, how he defines strength for himself and what continues to inspire the work he does.

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 Spotify OR Amazon Podcasts

My Marketing Methods And Your Fat Loss

When I started my business, I didn’t know anyone in the town I started in and had to build the clientele from the ground up.


It was difficult and it required me to do a lot of uncomfortable things at the time like putting flyers up all over the area in different businesses or put my business card under windshield wipers, etc. just to get my name out there.


Little by little, as business grew, I was able to forge relationships and get referrals that helped my clientele grow faster.


At the heart of it was me continually doing things that I was not comfortable with. It was new skills I had to learn, that I was resistant to learn, and stepping outside of whatever self-imposed box I had created for myself to be successful because I refused to fail at business ownership.


Throughout that time I chose to learn new ways to put my marketing out there. I’ve had no shortage of options either. There were blogs, there was YouTube, there was Twitter, there was Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.


I would try and learn new platforms because I wanted the presence of the business out there and, while I could have hired someone to make these platforms work for me, I wanted it to be “my” touch on the marketing message.


Blogs worked well for me because it gave me a chance to let my rambling thoughts breathe a bit and I could talk about things that I saw my clients go through and ways I saw them succeed with their goals. However, if I wanted my blogs to be well received, I had to be consistent with writing. As a result, I made a vow to myself to write a new blog every week. That was 6 years ago. Now, there are over 300 articles on this site alone. (There’s a lesson there about consistency)…


Then I wanted to get better at Facebook marketing but I didn’t want to pay to boost ads. So, I started promoting the weight loss success and personal bests of my clients and I absolutely annihilated my personal Facebook page (and still do). As a result of that, I started getting more word of mouth referrals from friends of my clients who would inevitably ask about this business. That was also, coincidentally, about 6 years ago that I started doing those posts. (Another lesson in consistency)…


When Instagram came out, I truly didn’t understand it, nor did I want to. It was one more place to spread my attention and I didn’t think it mattered. However, once I came to understand the platforms and the algorithms, I had a change of heart. It also forced me to think about marketing in a different way: How do I craft an impactful 30 second reel? How do I write a caption that sparks action or inspires reflection? What (or how many) hashtags should I use? (A lesson in learning new skills and adapting to things that can change at a moment’s notice)…


Most recently, I came back to Twitter because it was another skill to learn. How do I make my rambling mind (that can easily write 500-1500 word blogs) pivot and have an impact to less than 150 characters? For the record, this is REALLY hard for me to do because it requires a complete reframe for how to get my point across.


What does any of this have to do with you and fat loss?


If you want to succeed at fat loss, you have to learn new skills, uncomfortable skills and you have to find ways to do them repeatedly. You have to change the narrative about the box you’re in or you will remain confined there. You can pay someone all the money in the world for the tools to succeed but ultimately, it’s YOUR work that makes the impact.

With social media marketing, I could pay someone to do all of that work for me: they could stay on top of algorithm changes, they could choose which ads to boost or not boost, they could craft all of these really nice eye-catching graphics to get your attention and drive more interest to my work.

Fat loss isn’t like that, no one gets to do the work for you while your body takes the benefit. Even if you elect to have surgery for weight loss, you still have work to do to adhere to a new way of eating and, potentially, new dietary constraints.

For me, I like learning new skills, I’m willing to fail (over and over again), I expect to have some efforts be well-received and some to fall on deaf ears (er, eyes), and I have rarely, if ever, been an early adopter. I’m the kind of person who needs a lot of exposure to something before I can understand the value and apply it for myself.

This is where we have a lot in common with fat loss. Reframe all of that last paragraph and apply it to you:

Learning new skills: from meal prepping to food tracking to food measuring to embarking on a new exercise regimen, if it’s unfamiliar to you, it’s a new skill and perhaps a valuable one. Take the time to learn what you need, discard what you don’t and apply what works.

Be willing (and ready) to fail: I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve screwed something up with my marketing. Whether it’s something small like a typo or something more significant like not being as sensitive as I could be to what a reader might perceive in my messaging. Keep trying, keep learning, and keep moving forward.

Don’t expect immediate results/gratification: Sometimes, even doing all the “right” things won’t net the results we expect to see and this is true for marketing and certainly true for fat loss. You’re always playing the long game.

Maybe it isn’t what you hear, but when you’re “ready” to hear it: Much like my exposure to different marketing tactics, some things just didn’t click immediately for me. When they did, I jumped “all in”. Your path with fat loss is similar. You probably don’t need to hear more about energy deficits, protein intake, better sleep habits, increasing your step count or cutting back on ultra-processed foods. You just need to have enough exposure to those truths before you embrace them, apply them and succeed as a result.

Pictured below, an updated look at our coaching staff. In spirit of this post, I’d love for you to follow these accounts so you can keep up with our mischief (Click on the name).

L to R

Coach Nick Morton

Coach David Cameron

Coach Jason Leenaarts

Coach Michael Roder

Revolutionary You! #358-Client Spotlight: Stephanie Duffy (2 of 4)

In our next client spotlight, I welcome Stephanie Duffy onto the show. We talk about the events that led to her starting at RevFit, the changes she made in her life to see weight loss success, how she sees her journey in strength training and what goals she has set for herself next. 

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 Spotify OR Amazon Podcasts

These Food Environment Problems

I noticed some really weird patterns about myself several months ago.

Normally, each weekend, I’ll visit my Mom and we’ll spend time catching up after our busy weeks at work. She usually has different types of snack foods around on her kitchen counter: chips, crackers, nuts, etc.

The way that I make entrance into her house has something to do with what I’m exposed to as well. I’ll come through the garage (as opposed to her front door), and that leads me through a utility room and directly into her kitchen.

Out on the counters, easily accessible, is all of those foods that are within reach and, despite not necessarily being hungry, or bored, or stressed out, I start picking at them.

Next thing you know, I’ve put back hundreds of calories in snacks within just a few minutes of time.

It’s not just her house, sometimes it’s my own.

Where I’m most vulnerable is after dinner when I’m washing my dishes. I’ll put them in the sink or the dishwasher and then wander around looking for something else to nibble on, typically one of Sebastian’s snacks or treats that’s within sight.

What I know is that this isn’t remotely uncommon, especially with my clients looking to lose fat: they’re constantly picking and grazing and snacking even if hunger isn’t the problem they’re struggling with.

So, how do you change it?

Well, that’s a bit harder to sort through but it starts with changing the environment and reducing temptation to the best of your ability.

I’ll put myself under the microscope to make my point.

Let’s assume that fat loss is a goal of mine and I’ve recognized the patterns mentioned above.

I might say something to my mother about how important it is for me to lose weight and that, while her snack foods might not be problematic for her, they’ve presented a problem to me.

I could ask her to put the snacks into other places in her home: in cabinets or otherwise out of plain sight. While this doesn’t remove the snacks completely and there’s nothing stopping me from opening a door to the cabinet, it’s one potential barrier that gives me pause and can remind me that I’m not hungry.

In addition, I could ask her to give me a verbal cue when I come into her home so that my kneejerk reaction to entering her home isn’t to find something to eat. Perhaps, upon entering, she says: “Hey Jason, come into the living room, I wanted you to see something in here.” This changes my pattern of stopping in the kitchen to start looking for food.

Mind you, no tip or strategy is foolproof. I’m not asking my mother to stop buying snacks altogether, I’m just trying to minimize temptation.

Now, what about my own home?

Unlike my mother’s house, many (not all) of the snack type foods are in the pantry or on top of our fridge. What my wife and I try and do is to buy snack foods for Sebastian that we know he’ll enjoy but will be less tempting for either of us. This can be trial and error as well. There are certain things I might buy for Sebastian that Marissa has had to tell me are too tempting for her, so I’ll make a mental note to try something different. The same thing applies for me.

However, since Marissa and I are frequently eating dinner together, I can ask her to give me a verbal reminder as I’m heading to the kitchen to wash my dishes that I was trying not to eat anything afterwards.

Never mind the fact that my body hasn’t even had a chance to digest dinner and register feelings of fullness before I’m off to graze on something.

Ultimately, what I need is verbiage that doesn’t sound like it’s nagging. So, I would need to determine what that verbiage might be so that my wife can use it when the time is appropriate.

Keep in mind that we’re practicing better eating habits not perfect eating habits. Improvements can be made and there can still be occasional slip-ups. Again, this is normal. Treating the behavior as if it’s a character flaw is not only incorrect but also not remotely helpful.

Of course, the easiest way to reduce temptation is to not buy the tempting foods to begin with. However, that’s much easier said than done, especially when our children are frequently the ones who may be asking for the tempting foods. So that we don’t get caught in a trap of demonizing foods to our children, there has to be some give and take.

In closing:

-Make tempting foods less accessible by putting them out of plain sight.

-Consider putting these foods in areas they aren’t normally at to reduce a pattern of checking the same places (pantry, freezer, etc).

-Where possible, eliminate the purchase of tempting foods or find substitutes that are less seductive by comparison

-Have a “safe word” or “safe verbiage” that a friend or a loved one can use that prevents you from mindless grazing while also not making you feel like rebelling.

-Forgive yourself for the occasions when you still feel the need to snack despite putting plans in place to reduce the frequency of the behavior.

Side note: Certain dietary philosophies give you the flexibility to eat whatever you like without judgment and allow your intuitive senses to put a limit on the amount of those foods. I think this is perfectly fine assuming you benefit from this approach. That being said, not everyone is in position to trust their intuitions when they eat hyper-palatable foods and may need to utilize other tools until and if an intuitive approach works better.