The Journey Through MNU

Shortly after I first got certified as a personal trainer (circa 2007), I knew that the weight loss demographic would be the clientele I most wanted to work with (an attitude that has only slightly changed over time). However, as many of my fellow coaches know, you really don’t learn as much as you need to about nutrition to help this demographic with a base level certification.

My initial certification was done through ISSA and shortly after I passed the exam, I furthered my base with certifications in fitness therapy and nutrition. Somewhat interestingly, the nutrition certification was written by one, John Berardi, who would go on to start Precision Nutrition (PN for short).

As more certification options became available to me, and certainly after I started RevFit, I began to spend even more of my time learning what I could about nutrition. I attended seminars, found some specialty courses and picked up some other continuing education options to further what I knew.

As PN began to make waves, I picked up that certification as well (Level 1) and kept trying to expand my base. I constantly felt like I was behind the ball in the industry because my degree was neither in Exercise Physiology nor Nutrition. My degree was in Business Management and I kept pushing myself to learn more about the field in which I started this business.

Over the last several years, I started to hear more about Mac-Nutrition UNI, a UK based nutrition organization, and I saw that several of the coaches and health professionals I’d held in such high regard since I started this business were singing it’s praises. People like: James Krieger, Dr. Spencer Nadolsky and Danny Lennon, to name a few, all spoke so highly of the work that MNU was doing, namely the creator, Martin MacDonald and his staff.

Martin was even kind enough to join me on my podcast a few years ago and I thought we had a wonderful conversation. To date, the episode we did together remains in my Top 10 most downloaded.

Like a lot of niche areas within health and wellness, starting MNU was not a low-cost endeavor. I knew it would be something that would not only challenge my skillsets as a coach but would comparatively be the most expensive continuing education course I would have taken on since I started this career.

In late 2019, after releasing my book, “A Revolution A Day”, I was ready to sink my teeth into the MNU course.

Classes began in Spring 2020. Little did any of us know what was going to happen in the world with the pandemic and initially, the time we spent in lockdown allowed me to put more focus into the course.

To paraphrase Martin, MNU was designed to not only further the education of coaches like myself but it also served to help doctors, dietitians and the like from across the globe. I knew then, that any course which would have to provide value and substance to the individuals in the upper echelon of health and wellness would indeed prove challenging for me.

I wasn’t wrong.

Coming out of lockdowns, RevFit became busier than we were heading into lockdowns. We were already having a great year but the remainder of 2020 would continue to put a damper on my schedule as business continued to grow almost month over month.

For those who don’t know the layout of MNU, imagine something like a college course. You tackle a lecture per week, approximately 90 minutes in length (some shorter, some longer), complete a quiz, and you often have additional homework to complete as well.

It was advised that students spend 3-4 hours per week on the course and, admittedly, due to everything else I had on my plate, I did well enough to just not fall behind in coursework.

The support was excellent, the lectures also excellent. There were so many things, so many little details that I felt fortunate to learn, even if much of it was above my head.

In many ways, I was grateful because much of what I had been coaching my clients to do was on point and correct in execution and theory. The course itself gave me more insight into how and why that was the case. There was far more discussion about the evidence behind why we coach the things we do with our clients and where fad diets and misguided trends tend to get things wrong.

There were subsets of information, like the lectures on PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), diabetes and eating disorders which were absolutely fascinating to learn more about. As with many areas of nutrition, understanding nuance, causation versus correlation, and working with your clients where “they” are can be the most helpful tools in a coach’s toolbox.

The test itself, I can’t lie about it. It was the hardest test I’ve taken in my adult life. Maybe other coaches might disagree but I was not confident I had absorbed, retained and could express what I had learned as easily as others might.

However, as of yesterday, I received the news that I did, indeed, pass the course.

The experience was exceptional. The depth of information, I only hope I can utilize to its best effect.

While the recognition may not mean as much to my clients, those who have succeeded in the course probably know as I do, that the time, effort, and expense was worth it.

To Martin MacDonald, Sarah Duffield and the staff of MNU, thank you for your support and guidance.

I aim to make you proud over here in Stow, Ohio.

To my fellow coaches who may be considering the course and who already have insight similar to mine heading in, make sure you carve out the necessary time to study each week’s course load. In hindsight, I should have done more but I felt that under the circumstances of running a business that has been kicking my skinny little ass, I am genuinely thrilled that I can now call myself: MNU Certified.

Revolutionary You! #303-Mike Howard: Context, Cues And Proximity For Fat Loss

Mike Howard of Lean Minded is back with me again this week as we continue our 4-part series together. This week, we dive further into the nuance of food environment and how what we’re exposed to can influence how and how much we eat. Mike and I talk about better ways to craft that environment so you can see better fat loss results. 

To learn more about Mike’s work: 

www.leanminded.com

www.facebook.com/leanminded

www.instagram.com/leanminded

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 iHeartRadio OR Amazon Podcasts

Twelve Things You Need (and Need to Know) When You Start Your Personal Training Business

As you’re reading this, RevFit (Revolution Fitness & Therapy) will be celebrating 12 years of business. We opened officially at the beginning of May 2009. It’s been amazing, enthralling, frightening, frustrating and every possible feeling in between in the last 12 years.

Due to the events which occurred in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many gyms were forced to close their doors and many trainers either had to pick up additional jobs for income or leave the industry altogether. As a result, a new surge of coaches decided they could strike out on their own and forge a path with their own training styles and philosophies and try to make a better career for themselves.

So, after you’ve incorporated your name and you’ve told the world who you are, where you are and what you do, here’s a list (not exhaustive) of 12 things you’ll need to make your business the best it can be.

  1. Develop a banking relationship. From your first dollar on, you need a business checking account. In addition, you’ll need a go-to point of contact for all of your banking needs. This could be if you get in financial difficulty or if you need advice on how to start up credit card processing with minimal fees for your business. Some day, you might need a line of credit for your business or you might need a business credit card for unforeseen expenses (which will come up more frequently than you’d expect). I have one person I have used almost exclusively for nearly a decade. Any banking concern I have and Laura is an email/phone call away and she can get most anything I need or problem solved faster than I can often do it on my own. This, ultimately, saves you time that could be better spent coaching or trying to attract new business.
  2. Hire an accountant. Like you, I know how to add and subtract. However, I do not have the time, patience or insight to know all the inner workings of tax law and how things change as my business grows over time. Find an accountant, someone you trust, who understands and works with small businesses. I have had my current accountant, Deb, for about five years. She and her firm are AMAZING and they have done nothing but look out for my best interest since I hired them. A good accountant won’t be cheap and, to be honest, they shouldn’t be. They just need to care about your business almost as much as you do.
  3. Start small. Expand later. This was one of the best pieces of advice I received before starting my business. It was given to me by my Uncle Bruce who had a ridiculously successful niche-business for several decades. In his words: “It’s better to start small and be in position to expand than to start big and have to downsize.” This also matters when it comes to the amount and type of equipment you purchase to train your clients. Start with as little as humanly possible (some of which is dependent on how many people you expect to train at one time) and add pieces as you grow. One of my biggest mistakes in starting was that I bought WAY too much equipment, brand new, and ended up selling off many of those pieces because they were not worth the space they took up in my first location. My first spot was roughly 1000 sq. ft. We have since expanded not once, but twice, and now have a location that is well over 3000 sq. ft. We don’t have significantly more equipment than we did when I started. What we DO have is more space for clients to spread out for their sessions which has been a godsend in light of social distancing protocols with the coronavirus.
  4. Have an online presence. Want to know how I built my business with online exposure? Speaking only for RevFit, it goes: Facebook, Website, Instagram. I know other personal trainers who may change that order respective of their businesses but this is the order that works for me. I started my website first but it was only to be accessible through Google searches. I know things like meta-tags matter when it comes to searches and other businesses may have better looking/functioning websites than mine but all I needed and wanted was visibility. Facebook is my biggest driver of new and referred business leads. I do NOT pay for any Facebook ads nor do I pay for more followers on Instagram or pay for SEO rankings. However, I do market this business very aggressively (see Point #5) and I cannot possibly oversell how good this has worked for us.
  5. Brag like your career depends on it (because it does). What you market is what you attract. If you run group exercise, post pictures and videos online about it. Do it as often as you can. If you help clients with weight loss, find fun and creative ways to show that off. Whatever it is that you feel you do and coach best, is what you need to put out into the world. I wrote a fairly lengthy article about this for the Lift The Bar community and if you’d like some inspiration to get your gears turning, feel free to read the evolution of my social media strategies and how this works for us.
  6. Time Matters. If you’re just starting out, you may have to take any and all business that comes your way. This may mean a huge span of time in a given day to train clients. When I started, I took every person on that I could. I learned quickly which areas of nutrition and training I felt most comfortable with and I learned the areas where I did not feel I could do my best work. I am now in a position (and have been this way for several years now) where I can kindly decline business and/or refer out to others if I feel that our services are not a good fit. The busier we’ve gotten over time (and we are busier now than we have ever been), the more I need downtime in a given day to take care of all the things related to this business that aren’t directly related to training on the gym floor. One of the best things I did for my own sanity and to keep operations running as smoothly as possible, was to split the day into essentially two training blocks: 530a-10a and 230p-530/6p. The time we are closed is when I am writing client programs, getting in my own training or a meal, running essential errands for the business, handling client consults/coaching calls, or simply recharging my batteries. Due to the demands (both physical and mental), during the training blocks, some downtime is needed each day so that we as coaches can be our best for our clients when they arrive. When you’re just getting started, you may not be in the position to close off part of your day the way that we do. However, once you get to that point, you’ll understand how important it is to segment time to focus on the business that happens behind-the-scenes. I should also add to this point that how you prioritize your time is how you get your own training in as well. While I don’t believe that every successful trainer should be stage-lean or batter themselves with workouts, I do know that you have to “walk the talk” when it comes to prioritizing your own training. It doesn’t have to be fancy but it does need to be done, if for no other reason than because the type of work is very demanding on your body and you need to be physically prepared for it.
  7. Build a community. Not that it took a pandemic to illustrate how incredible our community is, but I’ll be damned if our RevFit family didn’t show up and prove their mettle in light of a global concern. In my wildest dreams, I could have never imagined a more fun, engaged, caring and supportive group of people than folks like who we have now. The bigger we get, the more it seems that our core collective shows up and embraces the whole. We have two closed communities on Facebook and the one comprised of our current clients is what I remain most proud of. As the coach, you need a place where not only can you share your wisdom, insight and experience to help others but you need a place where those who are on the journey can give a hand to lift others up as well. We have, since 2009, been a fully inclusive business so we have always welcomed, with open arms, any individual regardless of race, gender, sexual preference, political/religious affiliation, you name it. If you’re ready to improve your health and you like the way we approach training/nutrition, you’re welcome here. The best thing about an online community is that you give exposure to people in the group who might not normally see each other face-to-face because of when their training is scheduled. There is also a greater potential of clients baring more of themselves without fear of reprise because they know that the culture supports them. Not everyone will engage but many will lurk in the background and can benefit from the actions and words of others.
  8. Get great results. No matter what segment of the population you look to serve, results speak volumes. So, whether you train clients for endurance, aesthetics, strength, etc. make sure that you have documentation and proof of the results. Your business won’t grow if you don’t have what it takes to attract new people to your door and to retain what you currently have. There is a natural state of attrition that happens with personal training because it is, by nature, a luxury service. However, if you are consistent, caring, and understanding of the fact that life has a tendency to ebb and flow with the stresses of work, family, emotional status and social impact, you can provide a place where people find you are an integral part of their health and livelihood. As someone probably far smarter than me has said: give people the tools they need to survive without you but give them an environment that makes them never want to leave. I’ll add one component to that by saying: If they leave, keep the door (and your arms) open and ready for their return should they elect to come back at a future time. Some of my best client success stories have been from clients who left for a period of time and came back when they were “ready”.
  9. Evolve or die. It’s hard to talk about this point and not have the year 2020 as a point of reflection. However, beyond that, your business and business model should always have areas to improve on. The business will never be perfect and sometimes little nagging details will slip through the cracks but treat your business the way we ask our clients to treat their bodies: ever-evolving, ever improving. Learn how to operate in both a physical and virtual landscape, learn how to automate certain parts of the business to make your life easier and never stop asking yourself (or your clients) how you can improve the business. You may not be able to please every person but you can continue to strive for smoother operations, a better customer experience and a place that, each day when you wake up, you feel excited to go to.
  10. Never stop learning. Unlike a lot of trainers in the industry, I did not go to school for exercise physiology or anything of the sort. My degree is in business management and prior to starting RevFit, nearly all of my work experience was running retail facilities. While I do believe that experience has helped me from a customer service standpoint, much of what I have had to learn to make this business what it is today has been from a nearly insatiable desire to learn more. I read constantly, nearly everything I can get my hands on. I read books on psychology, nutrition, exercise and I sprinkle in a healthy dose of fiction (to be a better writer) and books about music (for sheer entertainment value). In the last 12 years, I’ve picked up no fewer than ten different certifications all applicable to the work I do as a trainer. As someone in his mid-40s who is continuing to see the rise in younger, hungry trainers move into the industry to make their mark, I know I can’t rest on my laurels. If I’m not growing, that’s a problem. So, I spend as much time as I can trying to figure out not only how to be better for my clients but how to be better for myself and my family too.
  11. Have a voice, have a platform. The longer you’re in the industry, the more you stand to learn about the best ways to help your demographic. However, it’s one thing to “know” what it takes and it’s another to be able to spread the word to others. I use both this blog and my podcast as ways to carve a message and a methodology to help as many people as possible. I know that not every person who reads my blogs or tunes in to the podcast will become a client of mine. I am okay with that. What’s more important to me is that someone digests those forms of media and finds inspiration to improve themselves. Just knowing that I provided a little ripple of change to someone is worth all the time and effort it takes to put a blog out into the world or a podcast on the air. I know these things will have posterity and, if I keep improving the work I do, I have a better chance of reaching others. I wrote more about that platform awhile back and you can read some of those thoughts here. What I will say is that you should find the medium of your choice. One of my favorite coaches in the industry, Meghan Callaway, is excellent at providing videos of exercises including progressions, regressions and explanations of why she performs things in the manner she does. As a result, she’s gained a huge following of loyal, buying customers because she has found the method that works best for her. Be willing to experiment, be willing to fail and be willing to study and learn ways to improve your method of reaching as many people as possible.
  12. There Is No Competition. I Repeat, There Is NO Competition. I think I have to credit Alwyn Cosgrove for this sentiment and I will have to paraphrase his words. I heard him once on a podcast and he was expressing the fact that even if a coach left his facility and tried to open up a gym to compete with him within geographic proximity, they would not be able to match his success. At first, I thought it was kind of a boastful expression. That is, until I saw what happened with RevFit over time. Shortly after I started this business, a CrossFit box opened up down the road from me. I kept hearing people talk about this style of training and I thought that maybe my business model was the wrong approach. I started looking into certifications for CrossFit because I didn’t want to miss the boat on something that was about to blow up. Instead, by just continuing to refine the work that we do, I saw that it attracted the type of clientele I wanted, the type of clientele that, perhaps, would not have been suited for CrossFit. Shortly after that, a franchise boot camp came to the area and I heard even more people talk about training there and how much they enjoyed it. Yet again, I had that FOMO (fear of missing out) feeling that maybe I picked the wrong area of fitness to put my focus into. Turns out, that business didn’t last long due to some shady financial practices. Over the years, one curious thing of note, is that the more fitness facilities I have within a 5-mile radius of my studio, the better RevFit seems to do. I wish I could give you an explanation for why but, to be honest, I don’t know. All I know is that once upon a time, every fitness place that I saw close to me felt like a threat. Not anymore. I welcome them, because whether they do great or they go belly-up, RevFit keeps growing. To mirror Cosgrove’s sentiment, we have no competition. We are who we are, we train who and how we train and, in consideration of all the points you read above, we our on our own little island. I think the more fitness facilities are around, the better it is for the public as a whole. If we are growing, it’s for one main reason and one alone: our community simply kicks ass and that is more credit to them than to me.

As I try to mentally wrap my head around the fantastic successes we’ve had and some of the colossal failures I’ve seen this business through, I still marvel that we are where we are today. If you’re local to us, we’d love to serve you, your friends, and your family. If not, we’d love to inspire your journey from afar. The beauty of things like social media is that you can find inspiration from so many places and every day I come to work, I remain inspired by the people who have chosen us. A big thank you not only goes out to them but to the coaches who have been a part of this journey as well. My love goes out to Coach Megan, Coach David and Coach Mike who keep me grounded and help RevFit cement its status in this little corner of the world.

Thank you to everyone who made the path to 12 years a possibility.

“We Make Great People Greater”

Revolutionary You! #302-Mike Howard: Steps Over Leaps (2 of 4)

My new direction of the show continues this week as Mike Howard of Lean Minded returns for Part 2 of a 4-Part series. In this episode, we cover the concept of steps over leaps and why small changes may be more important, more sustainable and more realistic with fat loss over larger, perhaps more dramatic changes. 

To learn more about Mike’s work: 

www.leanminded.com

www.facebook.com/leanminded

www.instagram.com/leanminded

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 iHeartRadio OR Amazon Podcasts OR Podchaser

Back To “Why”

Several years ago, I had the pleasure of working with a client by the name of Mark who has since moved away from this area. During our time working together, Mark had made a comment that has stuck with me ever since.

Historically, he liked to hit the golf course with his friends and afterwards enjoy a beer (or two or three) and have some chicken wings.

Knowing the way that friends have a tendency to rib each other after a few drinks, he had mentally prepared himself for one conversation that happens all too often with fat loss.

When one person is trying to improve their health and is trying to make better decisions around food/alcohol choices, someone will ultimately ask if they’re on a diet. Which then has a tendency to lead to some sabotaging behaviors from others along the lines of:

-You can have just one bite, right?

-One more drink won’t hurt

-You can cheat this one time, etc. etc.

So, Mark was ready for the dialogue on one particular outing when his friends asked him: “Are you on a diet?”

To which he replied: “No, I’m training.”

“Training for what?” his friends asked.

“Training to get off medication.”

And, by reframing the motivation, it halted the sabotaging behavior of his friends.

It should be of little surprise that many illnesses and diseases we hear about in the modern day are termed: lifestyle related.

In other words, if someone is a lifelong smoker, there is a greater potential of being diagnosed with lung cancer or throat cancer (to use an example).

With weight gain, over time, problems that may not have plagued us when we were younger may manifest into a greater problem as we age. And, ask anyone who is no longer a “spring chicken” how hard weight loss is when they’re older and they’ll be quick to tell you it is much harder with an eye on the past that they “wished they would have done it sooner.”

Which brings me to the recent success of one of my clients (and someone I’ve written about before), Pat C.

Pat’s daughter, Cherie and her husband, Roger, started training with me well over 5 years ago. Shortly after they started, Cherie received the news that Pat had been diagnosed with emphysema (shockingly, having never been a smoker).

That initial diagnosis led Pat to start training with us and she was initially very motivated to lose weight in hopes that it would help her breathing.

Throughout the time Pat has been with us, she’s had to watch her parents age in a nursing home (which was not easy in light of COVID) and she has lost a sibling. Those factors contributed to some ups and downs with her own weight until she received news from her doctor late last year that he would need to put her on some additional medications.

There was the belief that if she could reduce her weight, that she could discontinue the use of her medication and that became the catalyst for change.

Pat told me that she was renewing her focus on weight loss to see if she could reverse the path of the medications.

So, for the better part of this year, Pat has been steadily losing and as of just a couple of weeks ago, she reached a new all-time low since she started training with me over five years ago.

All along, she would patiently update me on her progress and make comments to myself and to other clients who might be training at the same time as her: “At my age, I’ll take any little bit of progress I can get!”

And it wasn’t just about the diet, Pat has been steadily rebuilding her upper body after a knee surgery kept her from using her lower body like she was used to.

I have always been very inspired by Pat. To me, she is another shining example at RevFit of someone who knows how to fight through adversity and keeps putting the work in. Success doesn’t have to come quickly, it just has to come (and sometimes it changes in definition).

However, Pat has also been a shining example of reclaiming her “why”.

Why it matters that she loses weight this time

Why it matters that she retains and rebuilds her muscular strength

Why, even in the midst of COVID, she focuses on areas that can help her breathe better and live better.

Far beyond my description, Pat summarizes her work to date more succinctly that me: “I am proof that you don’t have to be 100% “good” on the diet to be successful”.

And she’s right, you don’t have to be 100% on point, but consistency, focused effort, and a guiding “why” certainly help.

For you, if weight loss is the goal, ask yourself similar questions:

Why is weight loss important to me?

-Is this my goal or a goal someone else wants for me?

What is motivating me to lose weight this time that makes it different than a previous time?

How am I going to lose weight?

What is my action plan when things don’t go the way I expected them to?

In this week, we celebrate not only our “Mama Pat” but the many other RevFit clients who are doing the same kind of work with similar purpose.

Congratulations on 22 pounds down (with more to come)…

“We Make Great People Greater”

Revolutionary You! #301-Mike Howard: Habits For Fat Loss (1 of 4)

As I looked into the future for this podcast, I wanted to take the show in slightly different directions. I credit returning guest, Mike Howard of Lean Minded, to be the “guinea pig”, if you will, for the first in a 4-part series. To hear our previous episodes together check out Episodes 64, 102, 159, and 221).This week, we kick off the series with habits for fat loss. Mike and I tackle what we believe are some of the most important concepts to consider and what he has found works best for his clients when you’re trying to lose weight effectively. 

To learn more about Mike’s work: 

www.leanminded.com

www.facebook.com/leanminded

www.instagram.com/leanminded

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 iHeartRadio OR Amazon Podcasts

Weight Loss Strategies From Weight Gainers

Interesting things can happen when you try to change your physique through food. Logically, someone trying to gain weight has to eat above their body’s required maintenance to do so. By comparison, someone trying to lose weight would eat below that maintenance number.

In this week’s article, I wanted to highlight some strategies I use to help clients gain weight and how a weight loss client could benefit from working those same strategies in reverse.

When I’ve been contacted to help clients gain weight, it’s most often by younger men (high school/college age) who may or may not be involved in sports. What I tend to find is that most of these gentlemen eat fairly healthy food, have been blessed to whatever degree with visible “abs” for most of their life, and they’re trying to gain weight with the least amount of body fat gain as the scale shifts up.

Generally speaking, while a surplus is required to help them reach their goals, the more you overshoot the maintenance number, the greater potential for unwanted fat gain. The number I try to stay around is 200-300 calories above maintenance.

What I’ve found, anecdotally, is that younger clients can get away with a greater surplus with little worry over excess body fat. Older clients, say men in their late 20s-early 30s (and beyond) may have to stay closer to the 200-300 as referenced above. Part of this is due to the fact, that the older client is likely more sedentary when compared to the younger athlete.

As this client starts to see the shift upwards in weight, their required maintenance shifts up as well. In other words, if I start with a 150-lb athlete and they increase to 160-lbs, their maintenance has shifted up slightly as well.

For some approximate numbers, let’s consider the trajectory of one of my youth athletes: Ryan.

When Ryan started with me, he was just shy of 150 lbs.

His approximate calories for maintenance were 2300-2500.

For a moderate caloric increase, we’d shoot for 2500-2800.

As Ryan’s weight increases, a “larger” body requires more calories to maintain the mass. (This works in reverse as you’re dieting and getting leaner)

At 160 lbs of weight, maintenance calories could be approximately 2500-2700.

Ryan would increase to 2700-3000 to continue weight gain.

This cycle continues until Ryan has reached his ideal weight at which point he holds steady at maintenance with a general eye on the scale to make sure that weight stays mostly stable.

It bears mention that when Ryan stops participating in sports, then he will likely have to pull his calories back a bit to maintain his weight since his level of activity has decreased significantly.

The goal, in my opinion, is to increase calories in a way that doesn’t affect the size of the already established meals. I will tend to favor liquid calories (a protein shake with milk/milk alternative and peanut butter, for instance). This is a relatively easy way to hit that 200-300 goal without a lot of worry.

We start with the shake, we make sure that the shake becomes a staple in the diet and that breakfast, lunch, and dinner have remained basically the same.

If Ryan were to come in and say that he’s been having trouble increasing calories because he doesn’t have an appetite, the goal is to find some relatively “innocent” places to spike calories without suppressing hunger.

HINT: This is where my weight loss readers might want to take note.

  1. I would suggest cooking applicable food with a tablespoon of olive oil, a pat of butter, a dollop of sour cream, or topping food with some avocado or shredded cheese.
  2. I might also suggest that he snack on some quickly digestible carbs around his practice or event time like: gummy bears, licorice, or something similar.
  3. And, if Ryan is having a snack, maybe a handful or two of pretzels or he can opt for another protein shake.

In other words, I want Ryan to increase intake with the foods/liquids that are least likely to make him “feel” full.

As a result, Ryan can eat significantly more calories than what he used to just by adding in a few options that may not seem as obvious as: a pint of ice cream, a second serving of chicken breast or extra mashed potatoes.

If you’re trying to lose weight, take a look at these things too.

Many of my weight loss clients didn’t gain weight because they went completely overboard with their meals (although this absolutely can and does happen).

What led to weight gain were the little things: the handfuls, the nibbles, the extra wine, the unmeasured oils/butters when preparing foods and sweet treats.

It’s important to note too, that if I have a client who steadily gained 20 pounds over, say, a year’s time, it’s not necessarily because they went from eating 1800 calories a day to 3000. They could simply have gone from 1800 to 2000-2100 steadily over time with the occasional splurges that would go well over.

So, now you would take my weight gain strategies and work them in reverse:

  1. Start using zero calorie sprays instead of olive oil and butter when preparing food. While you don’t have to remove food toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream and avocado/guacamole, you may have to be more mindful of which of those you want the most and measure a smaller serving than normal.
  2. Bite size candies, trail mix, holiday treats, etc. may not seem like much when you’re holding them, but most of those “mini” candies are at least 50 calories each (especially what you find around the holidays) and it’s not uncommon to eat more than one and foods like trail mix and granola average nearly 200 calories per 1/4 cup. Most people’s “handfuls” are at least double that.
  3. Watch out for the snack foods that you might gravitate to in-between meals. Pretzels, chips, crackers, etc. can add up quickly (as easily evidenced any time you go to a Mexican restaurant and get served the basket of tortilla chips before you’ve even looked at the menu.)
  4. One final tip: If I had to take a snapshot of most of my weight loss clients, they do a pretty damn good job of moderating food intake throughout the week, it’s the weekends that, in all likelihood, derail a whole week’s worth of progress. Watch alcohol intake on the weekends and be mindful of the portion sizes that restaurants dish out (which are frequently double what the average person needs).

Of course, if you’re a young athlete like Ryan who can stockpile calories like it’s their job, these little tips may not be worth considering. It’s once you’re like me, and you’re old enough to have a child Ryan’s age that the calorie game has changed (as has the rest of your lifestyle) and you have to watch those slippery areas that may have gone under the radar.

And, shout out to Ryan as well, as he is currently weighing in the high 170s and will likely be at 180 soon. He’s been working with me for a little over two years. Progress has been steady, methodical, and, credit to Ryan for being patient and trusting with the process.

Revolutionary You! #300-Leigh Peele: Restriction Is Not Reasonable Or Rational

Maybe it comes as little surprise to long-time listeners of the show but Leigh Peele makes her 6th appearance for the milestone 300th episode. You can also check out our previous conversations via Episodes 28, 118, 150, 200 and 215. She has been in the midst of a complete re-write of “The Fat Loss Troubleshoot” which will be released at the end of this year in a very big way and, according to Leigh, is nothing like the original release. We discuss the directions in which she took the book, where her current philosophies and strategies are headed when it comes to coaching fat loss for clients, the importance of diet breaks and maintenance eating and much more. I feel like each time we talk, the episodes get better over time and this one is arguably my favorite. A very big thanks to everyone who has helped us make it to 300 episodes and stay tuned to the end of the show to hear a little bit about the changes I’m looking to make as the show continues on. 

To learn more about Leigh’s work: 

www.leighpeele.com

www.facebook.com/leighpeele

www.instagram.com/leighpeele

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 iHeartRadio OR Amazon Podcasts

When Did “Diet” Become A Dirty Word?

The longer I remain in the health and wellness industry, the longer lines become drawn between the right way and the wrong way to do something, the optimal path to success, and all the nuance involved when it comes to someone simply trying to improve themselves through food.

It’s not uncommon now to find some really fantastic coaches, doctors, dietitians and the like steering people away from the word “diet”. The implication is that dieting means you’re doing something potentially unsafe, with a high failure rate (not being able to maintain a given weight after dieting) and only fosters a more dysfunctional relationship with food.

Many of these same health professionals will espouse a more intuitive style of eating (not to be confused necessarily with the Intuitive Eating plan) and try to instill better eating habits through food environment, support systems and some basic nutrition guidelines (more lean protein, more vegetables, less processed foods, etc.)

While I love those nutrition guidelines and they reflect much of what I coach to clients, I don’t quite understand all the shame around the word “diet”.

Here’s why:

Do a little internet scouring and “diet” has roots in the Greek (Latin) word, diaita, or “way of life” and that doesn’t exactly sound like it has a negative connotation to me.

In this day and age, when someone typically wants to reduce their weight they talk about “going on a diet”. The understanding is that they will be making some marked changes to the way they have been currently eating via some degree of food intake reduction. However, when someone wants to increase their weight for perhaps a given sport or for health reasons, this is still a “diet”. They are just dieting to gain as opposed to dieting to reduce. It’s about strategy…(more on this later).

Part of my frustration comes from the fact that we are all (myself included) trying to navigate the best way to eat for us, our lives and our goals. At 45 years of age, I don’t eat the same way now that I did when I was 25. At 25, I ate with no regard whatsoever to food quality, portion sizes or anything like that. My body is less forgiving of that behavior now and I do try to focus on getting the food that I need to fuel my day, my workouts and to maintain the body weight I keep now. How I eat is my diet. It is my “way of life”.

A few years ago, when I intentionally lost a handful of pounds to reduce some fat mass on my body, that was also dieting. I was just dieting with a plan and a strategy to get to a given goal. That included eating in a deficit, getting in enough protein to preserve my lean body mass and some toying around with intermittent fasting and TV dinners to have better control over my intake that worked well at the time.

I think people who are trying their best to find a way of eating that works best for their lifestyles, current stressors, and current goals might be dealing with enough shame as it is. Implying that the word diet, by itself, is a negative is only going to lead to more frustration than what already exists.

My advice this week is to find the way of life that works best for you.

Answer these two questions:

-Am I happy?

-Am I healthy?

If the answer is yes, then your way of life is close to where it should be.

If you answered no to either (or both) of those, find the way of life that gets you closer.

It doesn’t have to match anyone else’s definition and if it takes a diet by any name to get you closer to where you want to be (and it’s done safely/sanely) the semantics don’t really matter anyway.

Revolutionary You! #299-Caroline Juster: Make It Easy To Make Good Decisions

I’m joined this week by fellow coach Caroline Juster. In this episode, we talk about her journey from musician to personal trainer and her own weight loss transformation. Caroline talks about how she takes inspiration from both of those areas to inform how she coaches her clients to better success. We also talk about how her clientele and her approaches to training evolved in light of the pandemic. 

To learn more about Caroline’s work: 

www.carolinejusterfitness.com

www.facebook.com/chjuster

www.instagram.com/carolinejuster 

To learn more about your host: 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou 

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

www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Player FM OR Amazon Podcasts