Mike Howard returns for the triumphant fourth time to the show to promote his soon-to-be-released new book, “Lean Minded.” To venture back into our previous episodes together, check out Episodes #64, #102, and #159 (also with James Krieger.) In this week’s show, Mike talks about 4 topics that he presents in his book and how they can serve you best on your journey of self-improvement. I can’t recommend his work enough. To learn more about Mike’s work and to be in the loop to get your copy as soon as it comes out, visit www.leanminded.com You can also follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/leanminded and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/leanminded To learn more about your host, check out www.jasonleenaarts.com and www.revfittherapy.com You can also like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
As reliable as the scale can be for telling you exactly what you weigh on a given day, it’s never going to tell the whole truth about what’s happening in your body.
Let’s assume you’ve reached the point where the scale is no longer your friend and there’s nothing more you’d like to do than smash it to bits and pieces. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of some other things you may want to look into that could help get that scale number back in your good graces.
How Are You Sleeping?
Sleep is one of the most overlooked factors in successful weight loss. It affects your ability to recover from your previous day’s activities, regulates the function of your hormones and can affect your hunger the following day. Start keeping track of how many restful hours of sleep you average per night. Many wrist trackers can offer this insight but be mindful of the fact that spending too much brain power on better sleep can give you some anxiety (resulting in poor sleep.) Stick with the low-hanging fruit: limit caffeine after noon, reduce alcohol intake, turn off electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime, keep the room relatively cool, and aim for as dark of an environment as possible.
Start watching your sodium intake. Many of my clients don’t add extra salt to their dishes but if you’re someone who frequents restaurants, you can easily surpass your daily recommended sodium intake in one meal alone. While you don’t necessarily have to go “no salt” in your diet (unless directed by a physician), your body may retain sodium more so than others. When you compound sodium retention with a lack of water intake, the scale probably won’t be happy with you. And while we’re on the subject of water…
Ain’t Ya Thirsty?
Water, water, and water. Yes, you probably should grab another swig while you’re reading this (go ahead, I’ll wait.) While there is some dispute about how much you should have on a given day, I’ll offer a guideline of 80-100 oz per day. I would even suggest you do this in addition to any other fluids you might be taking in. So, even though coffee, tea and your favorite sparkling water all count (sort of), I want you to aim for 80-100 oz of the good ol’, plain jane, boring as hell water. I’m not going to go down a rabbit hole of all the alleged wonders of water intake but I will tell you that it can help you with the sodium issue referenced above and help with the removal of waste from your digestive system. I have clients who can swing as wildly as 10-12 pounds on a given week when they’ve had a weekend full of events and little to no water. Once they spend the following week getting food and water intake back on track, the weight plummets down again. Think about that for a moment. Would you be happy with upwards of a 10 pound swing in scale weight over a week? (Results not typical.)
Don’t Forget The Poo-Pourri
While I’m on the thought of digestive systems, how’s your fiber intake? With ladies needing 20-25g per day and fellas needing 35-40g per day, where is your current intake? Start looking at your daily sources of fiber to continue removing waste from your system. I would suggest sticking with whole food sources before you attempt to get what you need from supplements or Quest Bars. If a doctor has recommended a fiber supplement for you, follow their advice but you may start seeing better results when you’re more consistent with bowel movements.
To Carb Or Not To Carb?
If you’ve been lacking in consistency with carbohydrate intake, remember some rules of thumb. If you’re a less active individual on average, your body will likely do better with lower carbs. If you’re more active, you can have more. When I mention this, people like to fall to extremes. Try not to do this. Lower carb could simply mean a shift down from 150g of carbs per day to 100g. Higher carb could be 150g to 200g. This is different for different people. You won’t know where you are unless you’re tracking but keep in mind that carbs hold water so a shift in either direction can affect what the scale might read. This is why folks who shift from their typical diet to a low carb or keto diet see a plummet in weight (initially.) Once the body regulates to overall caloric intake, the honeymoon is over.
Tame The Weekend Warrior
I see so many people eat within their respective goals Monday through Thursday. And then the proverbial gates of Hell open up over the weekend and the willpower goes right out the window. Try to minimize your caloric luxuries over the weekend by cutting back (not necessarily eliminating) the social events. All too often (especially with women), I see clients who not only lose the ground they had from the previous week’s efforts but can have a weekend so off the grid, that it takes them at least a week to recover and get back to a previous low. You’re aiming for consistency, not perfection but cooling the madness of the weekend warrior can help.
Use The Same Scale In The Same Place Under The Same Circumstances
Not every scale is calibrated the same way. Here at my studio, I have an exact place that I set the scale. Shifting it slightly to other areas can make the difference in ounces or pounds depending on how even/uneven the floor is. Make sure your scale is in the same place every day and keep some consistency with the time and environment in which you weigh. For instance. weigh yourself when you wake in the morning, after urinating and get in your birthday suit (if you aren’t already.) Use that as your given baseline for weight. Yes, you could theoretically be lighter at another point in the day but you could also be heavier. You’re looking for an average over time.
Accept The Fluctuations
One thing I like about tracking your weight via an app is that many of them will offer a graph so you can see the spikes and the dips. This visual can be very helpful so it’s not just about a number. I used to offer the wiggle room of a four pound swing on any given day. In other words, depending on many of the variables mentioned above, your weight could swing as wildly as four pounds at any point in the day and that’s normal. Over time, I’ve found some people can swing even more than that. If we only use the four pound swing, that means you could hit a new low of say 162 in the morning and be at 166 in the afternoon and it be completely normal. This does NOT mean that you magically consumed nearly 14,000 calories of actual food. Do not let the scale trick you!
Grab Your Measuring Tape
There are three tape measures we use to check progress here. We measure in centimeters and those three areas are: one inch above the bellybutton (around the body), at the bellybutton (around the body) and at the mid-glute (around the body.) If the scale is being an asshole, try tracking these measurements for a while and see if your numbers are changing.
How’s That Food Tracking Going?
When I mention food tracking, some people bristle up. It’s boring, it’s too time-consuming, etc. But here’s the thing: when you do it right, it works really well and, like so many things, it’s a skill. Work on improving it. It’s not fool-proof but it can be damn helpful. It’s also not something you have to do indefinitely. But for a few days, track/measure every morsel that goes in your mouth up to and including the cream in your coffee, salad dressing, nut butters, those six pistachios you just ate, the nibble of grilled cheese off your kid’s plate, and even that eyeballed glass of wine. Track every single bit of it. If that doesn’t open your eyes, please go see your optometrist (I’m only sort of kidding.)
Sometimes, you really are doing the right things with your diet and your training. You’re not dieting aggressively and you’re not beating your body to shreds in the gym or on the treadmill. What you need is to just be patient that you’re body isn’t fighting to hold onto the weight. The body will do all it can to achieve homeostasis and cling to the weight as a survival mechanism. This doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. Just go back through this checklist and make sure that some of these factors are still in place.
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you, that if you’ve allowed some of this list to get off track, you probably don’t want to tackle all of these things at once. It’s too much change to take on at one time. Focus on one area and see if that gets the scale moving in the right direction again. If not, try the next thing that could be in the way.
Lastly, in the grand scope of your life right now, maybe weight loss isn’t your best path to follow. In that case, take a week or two to eat at maintenance, gain some clarity on where things may be too stressful right now and schedule a time to start back again.
Below is a shot of some of our resident wild things. This was taken after one of our Saturday circuit sessions. I’d like to introduce you (left to right) to: Bill, Jean, Kelvin (in front of Jean), Brandon, Pete and Shon. We love them. And, because they’re real people just like you, the scale is sometimes an asshole to them too…
“We Make Great People Greater”
Carolyn MacDonald is Director of Operations at Examine.com and the self-proclaimed Master of “Getting Shit Done.” In this fast paced, high stress world, it was time to bring on the productivity queen and get some insight on how to get more done when it seems as if there is not enough time in the day to do so. To learn more about Carolyn, you can follow her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/itscarolynmac and by visiting her website at www.artofgettingshitdone.com To learn more about your host, check out www.jasonleenaarts.com and www.revfittherapy.com You can also like our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
It was the only time in my life that I would be handcuffed in the back of a police car.
I had threatened suicide in the middle of some emotional breakdown in March of 1998. It was my second attempt at college, this time at Tennessee Tech, and I had effectively blown it.
As the policemen were driving me to Nashville to be admitted into a psychiatric facility, they advised the handcuffs were just a precaution so I didn’t harm myself.
When I went through the admissions process, I was asked several questions about my mental stability, if I felt like hurting myself, etc.
Then they asked me about my use of substances.
Do you do any drugs? Yes.
Which ones and how often? Weed, coke, acid, mushrooms, ecstasy. However often I can get my hands on them. Daily and in combination.
Do you drink alcohol? Yes.
How often? Almost daily.
And when everything was finished they escorted me to a co-ed floor with other patients who, like me, were emotionally unstable and suicidal. The men were all alcoholics and the women were all crack addicts.
At first, I didn’t understand why I was there. What did I have in common with alcoholics and crackheads? My problems weren’t that serious.
For me, drugs and alcohol were still a point of pleasure for me. I did them with my friends, I did them to have fun, I did them to forget about the stress of school, relationships and life in general.
I didn’t have a “problem.”
But that’s not the way the hospital saw it. They looked at frequency, emotional attachment to substances and my general frame of mind and saw things differently.
And in the two weeks that I was a patient there, I had to attend A.A. (Alcoholics Anonymous) and N.A. (Narcotics Anonymous) meetings just like the rest of them.
I resented that.
“They” were worse off than me.
“They” had real substance abuse problems.
I was just dicking around with drugs and having fun.
So, rehab didn’t work for me. I wasn’t ready for it.
I was ready to not be suicidal.
I was ready to feel normal again but I wasn’t ready to give up drugs. There were way too many left to do.
And that’s exactly how my life played out. I’d continue using in greater quantity and greater frequency for another eight years.
When I reached the end, I knew it had all run it’s course.
My life was not improving, it was getting worse. My work had become too stressful for me to deal with. I couldn’t make it through a single day without something in my system to mask whatever pain I was dealing with.
And that was it. When it was done, it was done.
Getting clean was relatively easy.
Getting my life together afterwards wasn’t.
It was difficult to see back then, that I was doing just as much harm to those around me as I was doing to myself. I didn’t have the self-awareness to notice that all the things I was allowing into my life actually had a negative effect on the people around me.
When I coach change to my clients, the problems aren’t generally wrapped around drugs. Yes, alcohol is a big one because it’s socially acceptable. I have a very small percentage of clients who have the same background in drug recovery as I do.
But whether it’s the socially acceptable over-comsumption of alcohol or the even more acceptable over-consumption of food, sometimes we just don’t know when to stop our “bad” habits.
We’ve grown up in a society and within cultures where “food is love” and we proudly belong to the “clean plate club.” Let’s be clear, we MUST have food in our lives.
At no point in my life with drugs did anyone who cared about me say: Well, you bought all of those drugs, you sure as hell better finish them! Oddly enough, there’s a “clean plate club” in the drug world too…
But I digress…
Where I draw the most common parallel between my past and the past of many of the people who come through my door because they’ve heard we do good things for fat loss, it’s that slippery slope of knowing they need to change and not being ready to admit there’s a problem.
Let me say it like this: change is hard.
Change is messy.
Change may often have to be dramatic and painful.
But change can only happen when YOU are ready for it.
Which means that YOUR “rock bottom” will look different than mine did.
And your way out of that rock bottom will look different as well.
The unfortunate part of change is that we often don’t credit how much effort it will take to do it.
And in addition to the effort, sometimes we want better health and we want change, we just don’t want to change that much.
For me, speaking only for myself, change was a rip the band-aid off scenario.
Bridges were burned, relationships were ruined, and somehow I had to stop the self-destruction from continuing.
Your path looks different because it is different.
But the discomfort you’ll have to experience to make it all turn around is similar.
It will be hard because at a certain point you just can’t keep the self-destruction going.
The picture you see below was taken a handful of months before that last hospitalization.
I lived to tell the tale and to help you tell yours.
I’m honored to bring another client spotlight to you this week with our very own Amy (Francesconi) Carroll. In this episode, we talk about what was happening in her life prior to joining us, her weight loss transformation, her strength progress in the gym and how this wife and mother of three makes it all work. To find out more about your host, check out http://www.jasonleenaarts.com and http://www.revfittherapy.com You can also like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
When I wrote this article last week, I gave you some “No B.S.” information to help you sift through some of the nonsense around how and what to eat.
While there was some information in there about how to gain weight (for the select folks who need to do so) most of the information was provided to help someone who just wanted to lose some fat without driving themselves crazy with the 50,000 diet variations out there.
There was one thing I forgot tell you in that post.
I owe you an apology.
Not because I did anything wrong but because I know what you were probably thinking once you crunched your numbers and saw what you had to do to lose weight.
You see, there’s a collective feeling that the amount of calories you need to eat to lose weight simply isn’t a lot.
This affects both men and women but ESPECIALLY women.
Part of that is due to size.
If we line a span of men and women side by side (all weight loss participants) there’s a decent chance that the men will weigh more. A larger body typically requires more energy to make it function.
But guys have another advantage. They usually have more muscle mass.
Let me give you two comparable (not exact) examples to highlight.
I currently have a male client in his 50s who weighs 257. Due to height, level of daily activity, age, and ratio of muscle to fat mass, he has maintenance calories of approximately 2800 per day. If we make a 20% reduction to his maintenance in efforts to get his weight loss started, that puts him at roughly 2200 calories per day. Of his 257 pounds, approximately 177 pounds is lean muscle mass and 80 pounds is fat mass.
By comparison, I have a female client also in her 50s who weighs 257. Due to height, level of daily activity, age, and ratio of muscle to fat mass, she has maintenance calories of approximately 2000 calories per day. If we make the same 20% reduction to her maintenance in efforts to get her weight loss started, that puts her at roughly 1600 calories per day. Of her 257 pounds, approximately 130 pounds is lean muscle mass and 127 pounds is fat mass.
What I tend to see a lot of are women who weigh sub-200 pounds in starting weight on their weight loss journey, with significantly less muscle mass than the client referenced above. As a result, their maintenance calories could be anywhere between 1600-1800. When you make a 20% reduction from those numbers, you end up somewhere to the tune of 1280-1440 calories per day.
It just isn’t a lot to work with.
And believe me, I am really sorry about that.
But that is your relative truth.
Imagine for a moment that you have a job you are locked into for life. There is little hope of quitting that job and the ceiling for a greater salary is relatively low. That’s kind of what your calorie goal is like.
You have one body to live in and the only way you get to eat “more” is to essentially “do more.” But that, in itself, is much harder in practice than it is in thought.
So, using “more cardio” as your fallback for eating more doesn’t work as efficiently as any of us might hope. If it did, every gym in the world would be equipped with cardio equipment alone and all of us trainers would be figuratively chaining you to that equipment until you burned every unwanted ounce of fat right off.
But that’s not what you see.
You see gyms with cardio equipment, free weights, machines, etc.
And they all have a purpose.
If I could put you in my perfect little bubble where no outside influence (stress, sickness, anxiety, or depression) could affect you, I’d have you control your calories to stay within your respective goal.
I’d have you lift weights 2-3x per week in efforts to get stronger (not bigger, unless that’s what you want.)
And I’d have you do cardio (not too much) for better heart health and to burn “a few extra” calories.
Please don’t hear what I’m not saying.
If you LOVE cardio, you should do as much of it as you enjoy. It’s just not the most effective way to burn fat.
As your body adjusts to the stimulus of cardio, what you once could do to burn, say, 300 calories, now takes effort that is longer, faster, or offers more resistance.
Not everyone wants to take their body to that place.
What you find is that the same 300 calorie burn within a set amount of time now only gets you 220 calories or maybe less.
Which is why what you put (or don’t put) in your mouth counts so much more.
And that problem right there is what sets off so much resentment in dieters.
So, I say this as lovingly and kindly as I can: I don’t like how little you have to eat to reach your goals. That number is different for everyone but NO ONE likes that number.
And I repeat, I am very sorry about that.
As the adage goes: I don’t make the rules.
If you can, treat your diet journey, your fat loss journey as an experiment in yourself. It’s where you learn your limitations, your discipline and where your body and mind fight back.
It’s not intended to be comfortable. It’s intended to get you your desired results.
And it’s intended to be a relatively short-term experiment.
For some, short-term is a matter of months and for some it’s a matter of years.
And if you’re someone like the 50-something year old clients I referenced above, that could be 5% of the life you’ve spent on this earth so far.
I think you’re worth it.
I want you to think so too.
Below is a recent picture of my boys (Sebastian on my right and Jackson on my left.) Neither of whom has needed to talk to me about their calories yet because it doesn’t have much effect on them. Their old man doesn’t have it so easy. 😉
“We Make Great People Greater”
It’s been an eternity since Jordan Syatt was on the show (Episode #49) and a whole lot has changed since then. This week we talk about how his journey as Gary Vaynerchuk’s trainer progressed, how he had to manage his own fitness priorities during his time with Gary, what life is like now for him and his now famous Big Mac Challenge. To learn more about Jordan’s work, please subscribe to him on YouTube and subscribe to his podcast the Jordan Syatt Mini-Podcast on your listening app of choice. You can also find him on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/syattfitness and on his website http://www.syattfitness.com To learn more about your host, check out http://www.jasonleenaarts.com and http://www.revfittherapy.com You can also like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
I’d like you to take a few moments and forget everything you’ve ever heard about nutrition.
Forget every diet book.
Forget every diet you’ve ever succeeded or failed at.
I would like to start back at the basics of nutrition and give you some indisputable facts, add a slight bit of nuance and help restore some dietary sanity back into your world.
Let me get the uncomfortable part out now: the calorie chat.
Based on a handful of factors: age, gender, height, your current level of daily activity, and your current ratio of fat mass and muscle mass, you have a rough estimate of a caloric goal to work within every day. If you’d like to check your numbers, this is a good starting place
Next, decide what your goals are. If you’d like to lose weight (fat mass), you would make a reduction from that caloric goal.
I typically have clients drop 15-20% from maintenance. You can see faster results if you drop more than that but you may also find the diet harder to adhere to.
If you’d like to gain weight (muscle mass), you would make a small increase over your maintenance goal (approximately 10% more until you plateau.) If you increase your calories too quickly or too aggressively, you may find that you’ve added disproportionately more fat mass than muscle mass to your frame.
Now, let’s briefly discuss the macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates.)
Protein helps you build and maintain muscle mass.
Fats assist with hormones and give you healthy skin, hair and nails.
Carbohydrates give you energy.
I’d like you to consider which of these macronutrients you would prefer to go without.
If they all sound like they’re important, that’s good. It’s because they all have a valid function in your body.
The nuance comes from what you’re currently doing with your body and your lifestyle to determine how you want the macronutrients to play a role.
Let’s assume you’re sedentary, not exercising and would like to lose weight.
Find your caloric goal using the calculator above, make a reduction from that amount and be as consistent as you can in hitting that number.
Tracking calories (short term) can help using a food app (like MyFitnessPal, Lose It or MyPlate.) Remember these are tools and you don’t have to use them indefinitely.
One method I like to use with my clients is to set the caloric deficit and aim for protein in grams in line with your current lean muscle. If you’re not sure what your lean muscle mass is, you can get a rough estimate using this.
Beyond that, set your fat grams at no less than 20% of your total daily intake and carbs would be the remainder.
Here is where some of the nuance comes into play.
If you have a more active lifestyle, you may want to consider a higher carb diet. If you are more sedentary, you may want to consider a lower carb diet.
Be cautious not to veer to extremes. Most diet books these days will have you lean heavily in one direction or another. That is not the purpose of this article. This article is meant to bring you back to the middle.
What you’ll find if you set your macronutrients similar to the guidelines above is a diet that looks roughly balanced unless you are either VERY sedentary or VERY active.
You can add exercise into the conversation with an emphasis on strength training first and cardiovascular training next.
The reason for the preference is that for many people, adding in cardio activity can raise hunger signals. If you’re dieting, you’re already hungry. When you compound that hunger with your high intensity cardio training, you’re setting yourself up for the inevitable cycle of “rewarding” your training with more food.
While there are exceptions to this, some people actually do find their hunger is blunted with increased activity, this is not the norm.
You’ll place an emphasis on strength training not for the end goal of being a bodybuilder (unless of course, that is your goal) but to maintain and preserve your lean muscle mass. When you diet to your ideal weight, you will want to have as much lean muscle mass in place as possible so that you can burn more calories at rest (thereby giving you more calories to eat when you hit maintenance.)
Be advised that whatever calories you started at with maintenance when you began your weight loss journey will likely be less when you reach your ideal weight. This is because you will be a smaller person overall and a smaller person requires less energy in general.
In other words, you will likely never be able to eat as much as you did before you lost weight again (unless you significantly raise and maintain your activity levels.)
Note that there is no shame attached to what’s happening here. All foods are allowed assuming that you feel in complete control of those foods. If there is a food that you are unable to moderate, that food may temporarily or permanently be taken off the “menu” until you are in a better place with your weight progress.
Treat yourself as if you are both the lab and the lab rat. You know what foods make you feel good and what foods make you feel less so. Moderate what you can, abstain from what you cannot.
What if you don’t want to track calories? You don’t have to.
You can take pictures of your food, you can log what you eat into the notes section of your phone, or you can simply remove “junk” from the equation.
It’s not uncommon for people to lose weight by simply changing from regular Coke to Diet Coke. These changes add up, these changes matter.
When you can divorce yourself from the sensationalized information that plagues us at every corner regarding our nutrition, you can make more effective and less emotional decisions regarding what you want your food to do for you.
Below is my online client and friend, Gillian. She’s down 30 pounds and has been following guidelines for weight loss that include hitting her caloric goal, eating the foods that feel right to her system and just staying consistent. In her case, she hasn’t been overly concerned with her macronutrient ratio (not everyone needs to be.) But she has learned to eat within her means, remove surprise from the menu, meal prep more often, and most importantly: to stay the course and not let dietary detours turn into weeks of sabotage.
Gillian, we celebrate you.
“We Make Great People Greater.”
As she has just recently re-released her e-book, “Mom Strong”, it was time to bring Sumi Singh back on the show, this time for a solo episode. If you would like to hear our previous conversations with her coach, Lyle McDonald, please reference episodes #99 and #149 respectively. In this episode, we talk about the needs and concerns of new moms and not-so-new moms to help get their bodies back on track after bringing children into the world. Sumi discusses time constraints, dietary expectations and realistic timelines for what can be achieved for moms when they want to put the gym back into their lives. You can learn more about Sumi at http://www.shailafitness.com (where you can also order a copy of Mom Strong) and you can follow her work at http://www.facebook.com/sumi.singh.35 and on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/shailafitness To learn more about your host, check out http://www.jasonleenaarts.com and http://www.revfittherapy.com You can also like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review.
I’ve been talking about sexual abuse for nearly two decades now.
My own brush with it occurred nearly 40 years ago and when I wrote this article earlier this year, I felt a certain sense of finality with it.
Being sexually abused was something I felt I could compartmentalize well and put into a nice pretty box and set it aside in my life.
I felt the same with being a drug addict.
In other words, when you spend enough time putting certain parts of your life in your rearview, it gets put into one of these boxes and can basically stay safely tucked away, you know…over there.
But that’s not exactly how it’s worked for me.
Being a victim of abuse and having the addict background gave me certain advantages as a coach. I had a different perspective on trauma and a different lens to view coping mechanisms through. It helps with things like weight loss.
And, as I’ve been learning over the last few months, being a victim of sexual abuse doesn’t exactly allow for being put in a box.
There are things, professionally, that I feel have benefited from my background. And there are things, personally, that have not benefited.
This is frustrating because, we as humans, like closure. We can put the bad in it’s place and leave the good out for all to see.
As I’ve been learning (and re-learning) more about how the abuse affected me, I find myself more unsettled, not less so.
It’s forcing me to open up the wound, pry it wide and expose it for all it was worth.
The tough thing about trauma is that you want it buried completely but it never really goes away. It just festers about keeping you cognizant of it’s existence.
There is the tendency to compare trauma against someone else’s. As in, your pain was worse or more frequent than my pain, therefore mine must not matter.
But it does matter. And the more I tried to tell myself that it didn’t, the more it’s managed to prove me wrong.
Unfortunately, not a lot of men are talking about this. That makes it feel even more isolating than it already is. Depending on where you pull your stats from, the numbers are either 1 out of every 10 or 1 out of every 6 that can make the claims that I do. I would expect those numbers to be higher because there is still too much stigma around men admitting they were child victims.
Admitting this when I was in my late teens/early twenties, was fraught with enough tension and sadness. I dealt with it through suicide attempts, suicidal ideation and a total of 5 hospitalizations within 2 years.
Now, I don’t even think about suicide. Not even close. Nor do I feel remotely depressed.
I’m angry mostly. Angry, that I still have to deal with this bullshit for what some waste of life did to me nearly 40 years ago.
I never had a fear of crying. I was raised by two loving and devoted parents who taught me, correctly, that it was okay to cry and okay to show emotion.
So I did.
Until my father passed away and now I rarely cry. It’s too painful to do so.
When I needed help with anything in the past, it was my parents I knew I could turn to. They never let me down.
But it’s hard to turn to your parents about sexual abuse when neither of them ever experienced it. So, my little “secret” wasn’t unveiled to them until I was in college…years and years after it happened.
So now I find myself asking for help again. Help to sort through the trauma of sexual abuse. Patterns and behaviors in my life that I attributed towards the grief of losing my father were actually all stemming from the abuse.
It’s been easy to convince myself that so many things in my life I had under control. That’s one of the issues with victims of abuse, they have a tendency to control things. And why not? We couldn’t control the traumatic event, so as adults we have to exert control elsewhere. It’s our only defense.
This post is a call to anyone, especially other men in the fitness industry, to speak up. Speak up if it happened to you. Because your story needs to be told and it needs to be heard.
I won’t go on a crusade about it but I also won’t drop it.
What I’ve found after nearly 44 years on this earth is that avoiding the trauma and treating it like it was just some “thing” that happened is coming back to haunt me. And I don’t want to be haunted by it, I’ve got too many good things going on in my life to be pinned down by a memory that refuses to let me go.
The picture you see below is me at roughly the time in my life that my babysitter abused me.
I’ll never get that child back. There is a part of me that is essentially frozen in time and I don’t know how to save him.
But I’ll learn.