I’m joined this week by the owner of Rackhouse Whiskey Club, Dannie Strable. We veer slightly out of the norm with this episode but we cover a lot: a fondness for bourbon and whiskey, the story behind Rackhouse Whiskey Club, an appreciation for exercise and, of course, how the pandemic has affected his industry and how they’ve used their resources to help the distilleries they partner with. Stay tuned at the outro for a special coupon code for listeners to get $25 off your first box with Rackhouse Whiskey Club. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
To learn more about Dannie’s work with Rackhouse Whiskey Club:
If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you’ve been seeing a lot of Don M. His wife, Amy, started coming to me a little over a year ago for weight loss and while she got off to a good start, she began to plateau and held steady there prior to the pandemic.
All along the way, she kept telling me how much she wanted to get her husband, Don, in to see me.
When I met Don, I liked him instantly. We share more than a few common bonds: we’re relatively close in age, we each have two sons (one on the autism spectrum and one who is neuro-typical) and we’re both musicians (he, an active musician and I loving say, am a recovering musician).
Don’s immediate problem was pain. We both agreed that, even with our lack of medical degrees, much of that pain could be alleviated if he lost weight. In his words: “Jason, I could lose 100 pounds and I’d still be fat.”
I’ll come back to that…
Don was plagued with so much pain in so many different areas of his body that I wasn’t sure just how few things I could comfortably get him to do in the gym.
When he decided to start, I told him this would be a long, painful journey. I wasn’t trying to be snarky. Long, because he has a lot of weight to lose and painful because of how much pain his body was in day-in and day-out.
As I do with all of my incoming weight loss clients, it’s a lot of conversation about food. If you don’t know much about the work we do, when it comes to weight loss, the major mover is food intake NOT how hard we can crush you with a workout.
Don gave me a tour through his diet. On paper, it didn’t look terribly off path. However, that’s one of the interesting things about nutrition coaching. Some people will give you every gory detail of their diet and some are a bit more reserved. That’s not a good or bad. It just sometimes requires more digging.
So, I asked Don: Where do you think your diet goes sideways the most?
His response: Definitely dinner.
Now, I have something to work with.
Without discussing in great detail how many calories, or how much protein, or any of those things, I asked Don to do something “simpler”: Eat the same size dinner as your wife is supposed to eat.
Allow me to caveat this. I knew what Don was eating throughout the day. I knew what the scope of his day looked like. This tactic was aggressive and, killed two birds with one stone, if you will. It got Don into a deficit and it got his wife, Amy, back on the plan.
This next part can’t be understated. Don is extremely motivated. That’s not a slight on anyone else. When someone comes through my doors, motivation is at least somewhat in place. The problem is that dieting is harder than people give it credit for. It takes focus, it takes patience, it takes consistency and it requires a fair amount of change to make it work and make it stick.
Don is motivated by pain: to be in less of it. He is motivated by his sons: he wants to be alive and healthy to enjoy a lifetime of raising them. He has his own stories about his relationship with his father that motivates him to provide something different for his own children.
This motivation is what is giving him something of a dietary compass.
As for his exercise, we saw some interesting things early on. I knew I would be limited with the training I could do for him because standing too long would give him pain and sitting too long would do the same.
We experimented with a handful of exercises on his first couple of sessions and while some of them were relatively pain-free movements, others would fire his system up (notably his midsection) where he would sometimes be paralyzed in pain, sweating profusely and unable to continue.
So, I pulled together a small list of exercises he could perform on the two days he’s here each week. We focused on those and on progressing them in weight or reps each time he came in.
He is currently doing no cardio.
I mention that because, it never fails that someone who is unable to lose weight immediately jumps to the conclusion that they need to do more cardio to succeed. Cardio can help, don’t get me wrong. However, it is nowhere near as efficient as calorie/food management.
In Don’s case, it’s barely even an option for him until we get more weight off his frame and have fewer and fewer bouts of pain holding him back.
To date, Don is down 37 pounds in 9 weeks. Results are not typical. If I could get 37 pounds off every weight loss client who walks through this door that quickly, I could likely retire on a remote island.
What you’re seeing (or in this case, reading about) is a man who is driven to succeed. His diet isn’t perfect and it doesn’t have to be. It has to be more “in line” than “outside the lines”. It is more about caloric content than food quality (although better food quality certainly makes the process easier).
It’s about a father who wants better for his sons and a husband committed to a plan with his wife.
I chuckle with him because every time I post about his weight loss success, those posts do extremely well on social media. I lovingly call it The Don M— Fan Club. People love him. And, it stands to reason, that his friends, his family, and extended RevFit family very much want to see him succeed.
To the man who said: “I could lose 100 pounds and still be fat”, that may very well be the case. The journey will be to see him get beyond 100 pounds lost, to a weight he feels he can maintain, be happy with and fulfill all that his motivation is driving him to be.
What Don is doing is tremendously inspiring. It is for anyone who solves their weight loss riddle and makes the plan work. We have no fads and no gimmicks here. Just a path.
He sent me a text over the weekend and the last part of it read: “Brother, you will just never know what this means to me and what YOU mean to me. Thank you for your wisdom, your superior leadership, but most of all, thank you for believing in me when most wrote me off. You are my friend more than anything else and you gave me my life back. I don’t even know how to begin to say thank you. I love you, brother!”
On that note, I’m going to grab a tissue. I wouldn’t give myself near as much credit as Don does. The hero here is him.
I’m honored to share time this week with Parmjit Kaur. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2008 and has spent her time since then undergoing a successful experimental procedure for MS, advocating for MS and learning how to rebuild her body through strength training. Special thanks goes to Jim W. for making the recommendation to connect with Parmjit to make this episode happen. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
It’s been an interesting last year, to say the least, with our (now) three year old.
To look back on a year that includes the experience of the pandemic with a toddler who appreciates quarantine about as much as he appreciates time outs has been eye opening for the entire family.
In many ways, Sebastian is almost exactly the same at three as he was at two. He still has an obsession with home appliances: vacuum cleaners, blenders, washing machines, toilet bowls, food processors and the coffee grinder.
He oscillates between wanting to be fiercely self-sufficient: “I want to do it by myself!!” (also, stated as “I want to do it on myself!”) and the team player “I want to do that with you!” Of course, if for some reason his mother and I don’t give him precisely what he wants, a colossal meltdown is not far behind.
However, as with age comes a more animated personality, fewer naps, a greater vocabulary and (dare I say) more drama. It’s not uncommon for him to say “I want something to drink.” To which we’ll ask:
“Do you want milk? “
“Do you want water?”
“Do you want juice?”
“OK, here you go.”
NO! I don’t want it in that container, I want it in that one!!
*cue meltdown in 3, 2, 1, go*
It’s not all meltdowns though, I promise. As Marissa has been working to keep her own workouts consistent, she and Sebastian have been at the Rev at least 3 days a week. Sebastian is getting more and more comfortable around the gym. He grabs kettlebells, dumbbells, battle ropes, gym rings, you name it. He wants to get his hands on the same toys all the rest of the clients do.
Sebastian still adores his big brother, Jackson. While it’s always been the case that Jackson appreciates having his own space when he’s here, he does a pretty good job interacting with his little brother (assuming that Sebastian isn’t touching Jackson’s toys!)
He is absolutely his mother’s child, though. Sebastian has been involved in musical theatre through all of his mere three years. Prior to the pandemic, when Marissa would be directing or choreographing a show, Sebastian would frequently be at the theatre learning the big numbers of each show and promptly coming home to cue Alexa to play those numbers again and again and again and again. I’m not sure Marissa or I can handle the numbers from Mamma Mia or School of Rock in this household ever again.
Of course, as a result of the pandemic, the silver lining for those who enjoy theatre was the inclusion of Hamilton with Disney Plus. Sebastian loves it. In fact, as much as Marissa enjoys it, it’s debatable over whether Sebastian likes it even more.
I got to recently relish in the fact that I’ve had my little guy turned on to 70’s era punk music and while I might be able to boast that Sebastian loves “Blitzkrieg Bop” by Ramones, Marissa can just as easily say: Yes, but he also has the entire first half of Hamilton memorized! You win, Mama. I’ll keep working on the rock and roll though.
I’d say that, by and large, Sebastian survived quarantine okay. Certainly, there were aspects of missing out on his “Buddy and Me” 2-year old class and the interaction with other kids his age was obviously impacted. We’ve even had to pare down the size of his birthday party so that the few attendees we invited will be able to socially distance while they celebrate with Sebastian.
And then, there’s the aspect of his life that I likely contributed to the most (for better or worse). Over the last several months, Sebastian has seen my bourbon collection grow in our dining room. While neither his mother nor I are heavy drinkers, we’ve both been favoring bourbon over things like wine and beer in the house.
As a result, Sebastian frequently follows me into the dining room when I go to pour a shot for us. That interaction usually goes something like this:
“What’s that bourbon?” Sebastian asks.
It’s (insert type here).
“I want to smell that bourbon.” He says.
Ok, buddy. You can smell it but you can’t drink it.
“Mm, it’s strong!”
Yes baby boy, it is strong. They’re all strong. Too strong for a little boy. What’s it smell like?
No, Sebastian. It does not smell like bananas!
Such is the conversation each night we do this. I have yet to smell bananas in the bourbon bottle. I think my child is hallucinating.
I heard the term “threenager” for the first time a year or so ago. I’d say it’s appropriate for our guy. He’s three going on 13. He’s laughter, smiles, meltdowns and attitude. Sounds about right. I know who his parents are.
To our (mostly) sweet little boy: Happy 3rd Sebastian. We love you.
I kick myself for not getting legendary coach, Lee Boyce, on the show sooner. That problem is solved with this week’s episode. We cover a lot of ground in this episode: his evolution as a writer, learning how to recover and train around injuries, how he and his clients have been reacting to the pandemic and why the path to fitness success shouldn’t necessarily be the easy one to take. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
You’d think that after all these years of coaching clients to weight loss success, that there would be some new pitfalls under the sun.
There really aren’t.
In fact, I find myself, more often than not, trying to tease out the little details from someone’s diet to get down to the bottom of why the scale isn’t going the right direction.
I do have to add that often the biggest hurdle is our own mentality and mindset around how we diet. I spoke at great lengths about that in this article awhile back.
However, once we’ve wrapped our minds around what has to be done, it’s about finding those sneaky little places that slip us up along the way.
For instance, let’s start with condiments. If you’re making a sandwich/sub, what do you dress it up with?
Mustard (10 calories per TBSP)
Ketchup (20 calories per TBSP)
Mayonnaise (95 calories per TBSP)
Dressing (60-100 calories per TBSP)
Olive Oil (120 calories per TBSP) and Vinegar (3 calories per TBSP)
Just to keep things on the up-and-up, try using a TBSP to measure your condiments before putting them on a sandwich. Then determine if that’s all you need (or if you’ve been using more than that in the past).
While I’m thinking about olive oil, what about the other oils you use to cook your food with like coconut oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, etc?
Then I think about the snacks that many of my clients resort to when they’re in between meals:
Trail Mix (350 calories per 1/2 cup)
Almonds (150 calories per 20 almonds)
Peanuts (200 calories per 1/4 cup)
String Cheese (160 calories per two sticks)
Pretzels (200 calories per 60g)
Tortilla Chips (300 calories per 1 cup)
And what about the things we use to dip chips or even veggies?
Hummus (200 calories per 1/2 cup)
Guacamole (200 calories per 1/2 cup)
French Onion Dip (320 calories per 1/4 cup)
Ranch Dressing (350 calories per 1/4 cup)
And yes, I’ve been just as guilty as you have of piling that dip on whatever piece of food is in my hand.
Then, I have to think about all of my fellow parents who nibble and bite at food that their children didn’t finish: a chicken nugget, some dry cereal, popcorn, goldfish crackers, or a couple of spoonfuls of mac-and-cheese…
I certainly can’t forget all of my fellow coffee drinkers who think that their low-fat (or high fat) creamer doesn’t need to be measured (It does. Seriously).
When was the last time you measured out the appropriate 2 TBSP of peanut butter for that sandwich? That’s 200 calories. Have you seen what 2 TBSP actually looks like? It’s damn depressing, that’s what it looks like. It looks like 2 TBSP of sadness.
Sometimes, the problem is actually bigger. Maybe you’re the person who needs to put the brakes on after the first serving of a meal (No seconds, thanks). Or, you just need to cool it on dessert for a little while.
Or maybe you’re the cook who starts with one (unmeasured) glass of wine while you’re cooking and another glass with dinner (at the minimum). That’s between 200-300 calories right there…
If none of these ring a bell, maybe you’re the person who eats really well Monday through Friday afternoon and then has a back-to-back set of “oops” on Friday night and Saturday night. What did that “cost” you? You very well may have lost the progress you made throughout the week.
I say all of this without trying to come across cynically. The thing is, this is a lot of what I see each day with my clients. If it’s happening to them, it’s probably happening to you.
Are you aware of it?
Are you wiling to change it?
Let’s shift slightly from food intake too.
Maybe the “small stuff” that you need to be aware of is the fact that you’re not sleeping well and, as a result, you can’t reign in your cravings the next day.
Or, maybe you think that you burned a lot of calories in that workout earlier so you can “reward yourself” with more food at your next meal (please try not to do this).
The important thing to remember is that the answer to your fat loss problems is probably not the new diet book/trend you’ve been hearing about. It’s the “small stuff”.
-It’s the details you think that don’t add up when they actually do.
-It’s the little nibbles and bites that you forget to log into your tracker that make the difference between eating in a deficit and eating at maintenance.
-It’s the complete inaccuracy of your fitness tracker telling you that you burned more calories in your workout than you actually burned.
-It could be the fact that you’re a lot more sedentary than you give yourself credit for and by raising your steps per day from 3000 to 6000(for instance), you’re spending time doing something that not only burns a few extra calories but is less time you might be spending eating food.
If you think the small stuff doesn’t matter and you’re not succeeding at weight loss right now, I would argue the small stuff absolutely matters. It’s about finding what small stuff is derailing you right now.
Left to right: one measured tablespoon of peanut butter (100 calories), one container of half and half (10 calories), 21 almonds (approx 170 calories) and 9 pretzels (110 calories).
I welcome back two returning guests and two great coaches: Melody Schoenfeld (Episodes #88 and #205) and Chad Landers (Episode #106). As they are both gym owners in the state of California, a state which has been more aggressive than most with lockdowns, I wanted to know more about how they’ve been reacting to the situation. Both Chad and Melody operate different formats of training and both had to shift their clientele to methods that worked best at the time. Tune in to find out what worked, what didn’t and how they are continuing to move forward despite more uncertainty with how California is handling the virus response. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
I’ve been an omnivore my entire life. From a mother who, like me, was born in the South, there was never a shortage of pork products, chicken or beef. From my father, a Dutch immigrant, there was still the inclusion of pork, as well as a fondness for seafood and some organ meats (namely liver).
Much like we see with eggs, the general public continues to see sensationalized, fear-mongering headlines demonizing red meat year after year (because it sells and invites clicks) and the truth is rarely what you see.
It’s important to note that when a headline links a correlation to health and tries to pin the blame on red meat consumption, there are other factors at play. A study published in 2012 found that individuals who consume red meat frequently have a high BMI, they are found to lead sedentary lifestyles, may or may not be smokers and consume more than their maintenance calories on a regular basis. In addition, they are found to eat fewer whole grains, fruits and vegetables. When considering all of these variables, it’s difficult to blame red meat for mortality rates.
So, what is a reasonable amount of red meat to consume?
This study, published in 2016, was able to link to a 0.5 serving of red meat per day with no adverse cardiovascular effects. Consider that a serving of steak could be 4-8 ounces depending on the individual, which means that 2-4 ounces daily of consumption has no negative health conclusions.
Of course, we know that our diets don’t exist in vacuums. Rarely will we see an individual eat only a 0.5 serving of red meat and nothing else so that we can watch the effects it has on the body.
Which red meats should you be concerned with?
As with most anything in our diets, a term that gets used (and abused) is moderation. If you enjoy red meats (beef, lamb and pork), eat them somewhat sparingly and in conjunction with whole, minimally processed foods (whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables).
The problem areas tend to be the processed red meats eaten in abundance such as bacon, hot dogs, chorizo, pepperoni, salami, ham, etc. Does that mean never? No, it means less frequently.
Opt for leaner cuts of red meat, as well as skinless chicken, turkey, seafood (although not all seafood is lean) and plant proteins to give yourself not only a variety of protein choices but a variety of micronutrients.
Further, if you do want to continue the consumption of red meats and have any of the other factors as noted from my first referenced study, do what you can to reduce/eliminate smoking and alcohol, eat in a sustainable deficit to reduce overall BMI and do what you can to change the sedentary aspect of your life: strength train and get in a cardiovascular activity that works well for your lifestyle.
Remember that news outlets, social media and most food documentaries operate on concepts and attitudes that get our attention and do not always align with accurate, honest information.
Of course, with all due respect to any vegans reading this, you’ve likely found a style of eating that works well for you which is truly the biggest battle most will face when embarking on a healthier body. The purpose of this article is not to sway someone from that side of the fence to this one, rather to present options to those (like myself) who want to continue to keep red meat in their diets.
Assuming calories are controlled and a varied, whole food, minimally processed diet is in place, most foods should fit within reason into your diet (assuming there are no particular food intolerances to be mindful of).
If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat some ribs…
(With kind regards to my 2020-21 class of Mac Nutrition colleagues).
It’s a topic that is very close to my heart, having a son with autism. This week, I welcome Eric Chessen of Autism Fitness to the show. We talk about how he got started focusing on this incredible niche demographic and what eventually led to him creating two certifications to help trainers learn how to effectively coach individuals on all degrees of the autism spectrum. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
To learn more about Eric’s work and to get more information on getting certified:
I first met Rick Carson in 2011. He had just opened his restaurant, Nosh Eatery (now Nosh Creative Catering) in Hudson, Ohio and, in efforts to bring awareness to their work, he had joined the business-to–business networking group I was a member of at the time.
I don’t know a lot about the food and beverage industry. My work experience prior to starting RevFit was almost solely in retail. I do know it’s a relentless pace with very low profit margins. It stands to reason when you own a restaurant, you do it for a love of service to others, not to roll in the dough (pun intended) unless you make it as a celebrity chef.
There has always been something about Rick that I’ve been drawn to. He’s a bit younger than I am and you could tell that he was passionate about his approach to cooking, something further enhanced by his ability to bring as much farm-fresh, organic and often locally sourced food to what Nosh offered.
Since 2011, I’ve seen him go through many changes to the way he operates his business. Ever the restless business owner, he would change the business and the hours of operation as the demand for their services began to be dictated by the overwhelming catering work they did.
2011 was a tough year for me and my family. We lost my father to cancer in March of that year and many of my business friends in the networking group Rick and I were a part of came to support my mother and I, a gesture we were immensely grateful for.
As a part of that group, the members would frequently give direct business to one another, so I became a dedicated fan of Rick’s culinary work.
Pretty soon, the word around town grew exponentially and all you heard was how great the food was.
In 2013, my mother would be celebrating her 60th birthday. Had my father been alive, he would have absolutely made it a birthday to remember. I was still trying my best to fulfill that role for my mom; to give her special gifts for those unique days like a birthday and holidays.
Not knowing what Rick would be available to do, I reached out to him and expressed my interest in throwing a surprise birthday party for her. My mom and I are both native to the state of Tennessee and we absolutely love Southern food.
I asked Rick if he had an interest in cooking a Southern spread with his own unique spin on the food. He said he did and we arranged to have the occasion at Nosh on a night they weren’t normally open to the public.
As a way to keep things quiet for my mom, I told her I wanted to take her out to dinner for her birthday. I invited several local friends and even some friends from Tennessee to be a part of the special occasion with us.
The day before the event, I had a last minute idea and I called Rick to see if he could help. I knew how much my mother loved pecan pie and I asked Rick if he could pull it off. In his always kind way, he said: “Jason, I’d love to but it’s really tough to pull together everything we need when we’ve already done our ordering. I know I can’t get the pecans in time.”
“Rick, I happen to have about 2 pounds of Tennessee pecans. If I drop them off to you, will that help?”
“Yes, I think I can come up with something if you can bring them to me.”
I rushed the pecans out to him that day and got the rest of the little details worked out for the party.
The day of the event, one of my Mom’s friends called her (not someone I had initially invited) and asked her if she wanted to go out to eat for her birthday. My mom called me, knowing that we had plans and asked if it would be a huge inconvenience if her friend joined. Knowing that we had a buffer for our head count that evening, I was happy to have her friend come along, especially since she had no idea about the surprise party and would get to find out at the same time as my mom.
When we got there, there was not a soul in the dining room with the exception of the kitchen staff. There were some decorations up but they were somewhat ambiguous with no hint that they were specifically for my mom. Once we walked in, the guests came out of the back.
Much to my delight, my mother was completely surprised. Not just with the party itself, but we had some close friends of the family who made the trip all the way up from Tennessee to be with us and celebrate.
And, to Rick’s part, the food was to.die.for.
Rick came out and gave a really nice introduction into his thoughts and approach to how, why and what he cooked for the evening. Everyone loved the food.
At the end, Rick brought out the pecan pie.
As he was cutting the slices up, he made the remark: I’ve never made a pecan pie before so this was a new thing for me. I give myself a 5 out of 10.
We all tried a slice and couldn’t have disagreed more, it was at least an 11 out of 10. Way to be humble, Rick.
Of course, the truest test was to not only satisfy the Tennesseans in the room, but my mother who was the queen of honor for the evening. Everyone was over the moon about the great work Rick and his staff did.
Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of training his chef Derek, his son Issac, his girlfriend Laura and Rick himself throughout the years.
Ever since 2013, Rick has always held a special place in my heart. He came through in more ways than one for my mother and he completely overdelivered. I’ve never (and I don’t say this lightly) ever had a better dining experience.
That he did this to commemorate such a special time for my Mom in a bittersweet way without my Dad being there is something I’ll never forget.
You might be wondering why I’m telling you a story that happened 7 years ago. It was a long way of carrying you to why this matters in 2020.
Like many other small businesses, Nosh was absolutely affected by the pandemic. Like we had to do with RevFit, Rick continued to find ways to keep Nosh afloat by making great food available to his customers in whatever way they possibly could. When you have a business that is almost completely about catering and a virus forces many people to cancel their events, your business model suffers greatly.
Rick was one of the first business owners I reached out to when the closures began. I knew how much he would potentially be affected and I would have been devastated if he couldn’t survive it.
Last week, he reached out to me to let me know about some new things he was trying and he asked if I could spread the word. As I told him then: Brother, anything you need, you know I’ll do all I can.
So, this week’s blog is dedicated to him, his staff, and, true to the title of the article, his sentimental value to me. He’s always been a great friend, they do exceptional work at Nosh, and I want to see my guy thrive year after year. Especially after the insane start to 2020 we’ve all experienced.
If you’re local to the area, please consider getting on their mailing list to find out about their weekly pick-up/delivery menu and try some of their amazing food.
You can learn more about what they do by clicking HERE.
I should offer the disclaimer that I make no money by promoting them nor am I receiving any free food for doing so. To be honest, even if Rick offered it, I wouldn’t take it.
To my friend Rick, stay true to your mission of Nosh. Keep making exceptional food and I’ll do all I can to help promote you. I know the city of Hudson (and neighboring areas) will do right by you to do the same.
Thank you for what you’ve done for me and my family. I’m in your debt. Love you, brother.
(Below is a picture of Rick and I after we were invited to speak to a group of doctors, dietitians and weight loss patients about the importance of quality food in our lives.)