Jason, We Need To Talk

Last year, when I decided to go back into therapy, there were problems in my life that I was dealing with that I felt had a correlation to my grieving process (or lack thereof) over losing my father.

When I got through my initial appointment with my therapist where I gave him my backstory and all the things that had led to where I was up to that point, he agreed that not properly grieving for my father may have been one of the areas of concern.

He felt the major area of focus needed to be on the sexual abuse I experienced as a child.

Before I go much further with this, I’ve been speaking about this topic for over 20 years. Many times, I can do so in a way that keeps me distant from the memory. I’ve found ways to detach myself from the event and talk about it as if I were telling you a story about the weather.

Much of the work I did to process that event occurred in my late teens and early twenties. I would write poems, give speeches, talk to therapists, etc. I was even encouraged to confront my abuser, which I did do via phone when I was in college.

It didn’t come as a huge surprise that he did not remember the events the way I did. I had to give him some indisputable details of what occurred so he knew that what I was claiming indeed happened.

I was in a place in my life then that forgiveness seemed the only option. I didn’t confront him to ruin his life or his profession. I confronted him to make peace with it and give myself closure.

I write this today, a couple of months away from my 45th birthday and I still have no closure.

My therapist recognized this.

To which he offered an assignment.

Initially, he had a few books he wanted me to read. There were books he felt would help me relate to others who have been through similar events. It stands to reason that many people have experienced more occurrences than I did but we are taught not to compare.

I read the books and there were insights, often painful ones, that seemed to show a similar trajectory of life between myself and fellow survivors: theft, lying, promiscuity, infidelity, addiction, trouble with finances, trouble with relationships, etc. It outlined these areas in such stark details that not only did I no longer feel alone that I had struggled with these things, I realized I was just like the others.

It wasn’t just sexual abuse either. These patterns were apparent in children who were raised by alcoholic parents or by neglectful parents (neither of which describes my own parents). Survivors, of any type, talk about going through the “process” to heal. I’m still working through that.

My assignment, as it was, was to write two letters with the knowledge I have now. One letter to my abuser and one letter to myself.

I asked my therapist for more detail.

How should I write these?

For instance, why would I write a letter to my abuser when I’ve already confronted him?

He said: “Because more has happened since then and you may need to get it off your chest.”

And what about the letter to myself? Do I write it to myself before or after the event occurred?

“After”, he said. “Think about what you would say to yourself immediately after it happened.”

I sat on this for a while. I knew what he was asking. I also knew how difficult it would be to do. One letter was going to be significantly easier to write. The other, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do at all.

It didn’t happen immediately but when I felt I had a clear head, I wrote the letter to my abuser. I won’t be reprinting it here. While I managed to write it with as personal of a perspective as I could offer, I simplified his name down to an initial, loaded both of my barrels and took aim. It was one of the harshest things I’ve committed to paper.

I’m writing this today, over a year after my therapist asked me to do so. It’s the first time I felt I could pull it off.

Having seen my therapist last week, I told him I believed I was ready but I thought the only way I could do it was to make it public.

I recently read a quote by author Chuck Palahniuk when referencing the writing process to which he remarked: Don’t write to be liked, write to be remembered.

I likely won’t gain any new fans for this one but that’s not my goal. This particular article won’t be comfortable to read nor has it been to write. If anything, I hope it makes more men comfortable talking about the abuse they’ve suffered with. The more it stays hidden, the more it stays stigmatized. That can’t happen anymore.

Children are sexually abused in such shocking numbers that we’ll never know the true statistics. As a father to two beautiful boys, it is my hope that no one ever lays a harmful hand on them.

This, I suppose, is just as much for their sake as it is for mine.

Coincidentally, while I was working on this article I was listening to the audiobook version of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. A quote stood out to me that I thought was somewhat serendipitous under the circumstances:

“Why am I as I am? To understand that of any person, his whole life, from Birth must be reviewed. All of our experiences fuse into our personality. Everything that ever happened to us is an ingredient.”

What you’re about to read is the best I can do at this point in my life in talking to my 5 (or 6) year old self immediately after the abuse occurred.

Jason, we need to talk.

You probably don’t recognize me but I’m you, some 40 years in the future. If that’s surprising to you, it may seem weird that you have a head full of hair now but not anymore at this age.

I wish that I had nothing but good things to tell you but that’s not why I’m here.

I’m here, first off, to tell you I’m so sorry for what just happened. I wish I could change it but I can’t. I can tell you that the choice you made was the right one. I promise you did the right thing but I know it doesn’t feel like it. No one should ever punish you for doing good. But that’s exactly how this played out.

I can promise you that he will never do it again. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that this will haunt you for all these years to come. You won’t realize that early on. It won’t make sense to you.

I am the product of what happens if you don’t tell Mom and Dad immediately about what just occurred. I’ll talk more about that later.

If you follow this path, the way I am here in front of you today, you’re going to forget a lot about this event. Many years from now, when you’re about to graduate high school, it’s all going to come flooding back and you’re not going to like where it takes you.

You’ll be hospitalized several times, you’ll try to take your life on more than one occasion, you’ll just threaten to end it on others. You’ll get addicted to drugs for a very long time, you’ll lie, cheat, steal and you’ll struggle with something that most people can’t relate to and I’ll try to explain it like this:

Imagine you walk into a store and you want some candy but you don’t have any money. A normal person will just leave and come back when they have money. But you’re not normal anymore. This experience changed that. You’ll look at that piece of candy and you’ll ask yourself, should I steal it or should I leave and come back when I have money? This is a very simple way of looking at what many areas of your life will come down to. When it’s a question of right or wrong, you’ll struggle. Sometimes, you’ll do the right thing. Sometimes, you won’t. You’ll tell yourself that you can get away with it and, sometimes you do. Sometimes you don’t.

The reason you’ll go through this all comes back to this moment. You did the right thing under the worst circumstances and you were punished. So, when it comes to something as simple as right or wrong, for you, it’s never simple. It’s always a negotiation.

I don’t want to make this all sound negative either. Because I can show you another side to this. You’re going to do a lot of good for a lot of people. It will be some of the most gratifying work of your life. You’ll do that because you know what the other side of life looks like. You’ll know what the bottom looks like. And it’s not good.

So you’ll do work that can change someone’s life because you will be making all strides to change your own. Sometimes, you’ll succeed but when you fail, you fail big. Those failures will hurt.

I can tell you that from here you will have two sons. Two wonderful boys. You’ll be married (as I am now) but you will also have gone through a divorce.

I can tell you that I remember virtually nothing about childhood. I’ve blacked nearly everything out. As a result, I see the happiness and joy in the boys that I have no idea how to associate with it. I’m like a blank slate with virtually no memory.

I can tell you at what age you’ll lose Dad. I can tell you how awful that loss will be. Mom is still with us.

I’m coming to you now because I need you to know that you have options. Remember that Disney version of a Christmas Carol where Scrooge can change the outcome of his life? It’s kind of like that.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know what the right decision is. Maybe you have three paths to take.

  1. You tell Mom and Dad as soon as they get home. You let them make the decisions they need to make regarding who watches you when they’re not home. I have absolutely no idea how that will turn out. I don’t know if that makes your life better or worse but I can pretty much promise you it will go differently.
  2. You keep this from them and let the timeline follow a similar place. Maybe the stories I’ve told you help you make better decisions, hurt fewer people and hurt yourself a lot less. I don’t know what you’ll do with the knowledge I just gave you. All I can hope is that some insight makes your life brighter than the path I’ve been on.
  3. You leave everything as it is and take the good with the bad.

I wish I could give you better options than this. I wish I could say: “Just do this and it will all be better.”

I can’t.

I can’t because I don’t know what another path looks like, only what I can imagine.

I know that everyone goes through struggles in their lives. Everyone has pain and hardships. Everyone is just trying to make do and make the best of what life throws their way.

I cannot change what he just did to you. It will forever be a part of your life. Because of that that, you’ll continue to walk this line sifting through the outcomes, the great ones and the traumatic ones.

I want you to know that I love you. I’m proud of you. Despite not knowing enough about this circumstance to understand the depths of how it will change you, you made the right choice. I just really wish it didn’t come with such a heavy price.

Allow me to say again: I’m so sorry. This should never have happened. Not to you, not to “us”, not to anyone. There are good people in this world, there are bad people in this world and somewhere in between, there are good people who just don’t know any better. I don’t know where that leaves us. I just know what I’ve seen for the last 40 years since this happened.

Whatever choice you make, remember that none of this was your fault. Do good in this world and, more often than not, you’ll be better for it and so will the world around you. As hard as it may seem at times, this much I know is true.

Revolutionary You! #270-Dr. Debi Silber: Do You Have Post Betrayal Syndrome?

This week, I welcome Dr. Debi Silber to the show. Dr. Silber is the founder of the Post Betrayal Transformation Institute and is a holistic psychologist, a health, mindset and personal development expert, the author of the #1 bestselling book: The Unshakable Woman: 4 Steps To Rebuilding Your Body, Mind, and Life After a Life Crisis and her newest book: Trust Again. Her recent PhD study on how we experience betrayal made 3 groundbreaking discoveries that changes how long it takes to heal. In addition to being on FOX, CBS, The Dr. Oz Show, TedX (twice) and more, she’s an award winning speaker, coach and author, dedicated to helping people move past their betrayals as well as any other blocks preventing them from the health, work, finances, relationships, confidence and happiness they want most. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review. 

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Let’s Talk About Your “Bad” Diet

Each week, beyond and sometimes on the training floor of RevFit, I’m having countless conversations about food. With my clients, we can get as in depth as: “How many grams of carbohydrates should I be aiming for?” to “Why can’t I stop eating after dinner?” or “Is plant protein better than whey protein?”

Of course, every client is approaching food with a completely different set of circumstances. Sure, most of my clients are with me for weight loss but each individual has their dietary preferences, intolerances, psychological relationship with food, and life stressors that further determines how food will work for them or against them with their weight loss plan.

However, if there is one common thread between the individuals I work with, regardless of age or gender, it’s the notion of a “bad” diet.

Before I delve any further, ask yourself: What makes your diet or, more specifically, your food choices bad? (You might want to write those things down).

In practice, what I hear from clients ranges from: the choice of food they ate (typically highly processed options), to the amount of food they ate (portion sizes relative to what their goals/needs are) and sometimes it delves into certain “bad” ingredients (high sodium, aspartame, etc.)

What strikes me as funny, if you will, is that what a client thinks is bad, typically isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, I have clients with a history of binge eating and while a distinct overconsumption of foods may be “bad” for the goal and “bad” for the psyche, we’ll consider binge eating somewhat beyond the scope of this conversation. My kind advice is to seek out a therapist who has a background in dealing with the psychological aspect of this and perhaps a dietitian who can help facilitate better eating behaviors as well.

I’ll offer my thoughts based on what I hear most often with my clients.

A) Choice Of Food

If I’m coaching a client with their diet, we might be talking about their fat loss progress throughout a given week. Whether the scale is up or down, there’s a good chance I’ll hear something like this from Client A: “Well, I had a pretty good week until yesterday. Yesterday I was bad.”

“Why do you say you were bad?”

“Well, because I ate something I shouldn’t have.” Client A says.

“Really? What was that?”

“Oh, I had packed a lunch to bring to work but they had pizza delivered and it smelled really good so I had a slice.” Client A mentions.

“So, what’s wrong with pizza?”

“I mean, it’s not healthy, right? And it has a lot of calories.”

“Sure. Potentially it does have a lot of calories but you only had one slice and it sounds like the rest of your day went according to plan, right?”

“Not exactly. I felt bad that I had pizza so then, when I got home that night I said “Screw it, I’ve already messed up the diet with the pizza, I might as well have that dessert I’ve been holding off on and I’ll try and get back to my diet the next day.”

And this is my big issue with shaming ourselves around food. Once we set the ball in motion that a “bad” choice was made, rather than halt the process, the snowball builds and a fairly innocuous meal turns into a day of counterproductive eating. Then the client ends the day on a low note, feeling bad about themselves and their choices and “hopes” (operative word) that next day will be better.

The effects of how we eat often have less to do with what we put in our mouths and more to do with how we treat ourselves as a result of it.

So that was an example of quality of food dictating our eating behavior. What about quantity of food?

B) Food Quantity

Recently, I was having a consultation with a weight loss client and I remarked how I had been working through a sweet tooth in the evening after dinner.

For me, I found that a cinnamon graham cracker could satisfy that little bit of sweet that I needed. Normally, the one sheet (4 small rectangles) is enough for me. (Total calories, approx 65).

My client thought that sounded like something worth trying. That night she opted for graham crackers and ended up finishing the sleeve (total calories, approx 560).

Did I shame her? Absolutely not.

All I asked her to consider was that maybe that wasn’t her ideal food. Maybe, for her, something safer would be dark chocolate. For someone else, it might be a serving of fruit.

This is where it takes some honesty with yourself and determining:

What do I feel that I need right now?

What can I tolerate in moderation?

Is it easier to abstain for the time being?

Am I actually hungry for more food or would something else suffice?

(You may want to write those things down as well).

C) Foods We Fear

For as long as we, the general public, have been reading about nutrition, we’ve had a target to take aim at and be afraid of. Sometimes, it’s eggs or butter or aspartame or high sodium foods. There can be a shred of truth to those depending on if you have a pre-existing health condition or an intolerance to a given food.

That fear then transitioned into whole food groups and people began to fear grains as a whole or fruit as a whole, vegans of course strip out all animal products (although the reasoning isn’t necessarily out of fear), while on the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got the carnivore diet that just leaves meat on the menu. Three cheers for a nation of extremes…

Which lends the “bad” choice to be anytime we consume something we were taught (even incorrectly) to fear. Imagine if someone said Oreos were cancerous!

I often find that the food many people have been led to fear are foods they were misled about and may need to reconsider the source of their information.

Here are some strategies for conquering the notion of a “bad” diet and making it better by comparison.

  1. Remember, first and foremost, that what you eat does not dictate your value as a person. Whether you eat more or less, whether you eat “clean” or “dirty”, you are still a perfectly functional human being and your self worth goes well beyond what’s sold in a grocery store.
  2. Reduce your exposure to social media channels, platforms, pages and people who don’t help you foster a healthier relationship with food. It’s difficult to be on social media and not get lost in comparisons. If you see a fit person who gloats about eating a cupcake and keeping their washboard stomach, it’s not that it isn’t inspirational but you don’t want resentment guiding your food choices either. They’re working with a different set of circumstances than you are and the comparisons are hardly fair (assuming the person’s image hasn’t been photoshopped beyond recognition…)
  3. Build a food environment that breeds success. The foods that are more visible and easier to access in the home are the foods that you will likely gravitate to faster. So, if chips are out on the counter instead of fruit, you’re probably going to reach for the chips.
  4. Alcohol changes the way the game is played. You may have the best intentions with your food for the evening but not everyone can follow the straight and narrow after the first drink. Determine where and how alcohol can be a part of your plan if you’re currently trying to diet.
  5. “Is this the most caring thing I can do for myself right now?” This was affectionately taken from my dear friend, Kelly Coffey. Rather than attach a feeling such as good/bad, right/wrong, ask yourself if the eating behavior is what your body and mind need the most. If so, carry on without guilt. If not, choose a more “caring” option.
  6. You can change your entire trajectory at the next meal. Regardless of what you ate, how you ate it, or how much of it you consumed, your next best opportunity to change course is at the next meal. Make a plan to do so.
  7. Hope is for gamblers. I referenced the word “hope” earlier in this article. I constantly hear clients say “I hope I do better tomorrow”, “I hope I make the right decision with my food”. Rather than leave your food up to whim, willpower and chance, plan more effectively, develop strategies, and form healthy skills. Get the family involved. You’ll need their help. You can “hope” for a winning lottery ticket but if your food needs to be on point, don’t hope for it, plan for it.

“We Make Great People Greater”

Revolutionary You! #269-Storme Gray: Step Up To The Bar And Leave Your Fear Behind

I was first connected with Storme Gray through our very own Kimberly Young who was also recently on this show. Storme joins me this week to discuss her journey into and around fitness and how she has embraced powerlifting to enhance not only her strength but her life as well. Storme has so many great takeaways in this episode as we chat about how what you do in the gym can crossover into how you approach your life. This is another HIGHLY recommended listen if you have an affinity for getting stronger and learning why it matters. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review. 

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Got Clean (And Why You Still Refuse To Change)

2020 marks 14 years since I got off drugs. For the 10 years prior, I put everything I could into my system from street drugs to pharmaceuticals (not legally prescribed, of course).

What kept me addicted to drugs for 10 years?

Well, a lot of things. But I spent the better part of those 10 years not completely convinced I had a problem.

I had a full-time job, plenty of friendships, was playing in a band, writing songs, basically having the time of my life and drugs were just there to make things better (or worse, depending on your point of view).

It didn’t matter that my loved ones were encouraging me to change. I didn’t have a problem.

It didn’t matter that I reached a point where I had to be high all day long to make it through a work shift. I didn’t have a problem.

It didn’t matter that my drug use became so pervasive that I had to deal drugs just to afford the habit (my paycheck couldn’t do it all). I didn’t have a problem.

My problem occurred when I started neglecting my mortgage to pay for my drugs. That problem eventually affected my father and his credit score because he co-signed on my house with me. THAT was my problem.

It was one thing to have a drug addiction. It was another thing for others to suffer as a result of it. When that other person became my father, I knew something had to give.

There are many beliefs associating abuse of food/drink and how it can be similar to drug use. Similar parts of the brain are affected, cravings and urges creep in, and when you have no other coping skills to help you with stress or boredom, your cope becomes the food (or drug, in my case).

If 2020 has shown us anything (and it’s shown us a lot) it’s that many of us need better coping skills and outlets for our stress.

Which makes this whole conversation about “change” really difficult.

Last year, I got back into therapy. My life, while mostly pretty fantastic, was not going the direction I felt it needed to be in. I have a lot more to write about this in the future, so I’ll take a slightly different angle on change with you today.

Recently, I was speaking with my therapist and, sometimes, when I’m at a loss speaking about my own personal problems, I just pick his brain about concepts relating to change.

You see, I’m in therapy to get better. I want a better life for myself and my own set of coping skills when I’m under stress were not helping me achieve that.

I was recently speaking about this topic on two of my more recent podcast episodes. One with one of my clients, Erin, and the other with internationally renowned coach, Dan John. I highly recommend you check both of them out so you can hear about change from the viewpoint of the client (Erin) and from the viewpoint of a coach (Dan).

This was even something I brought up recently within our closed community on Facebook.

I told my therapist that within the field of health/wellness/nutrition coaching, there is a belief that if you have a set of behaviors that you feel you need to change, you should start with the one that provides the least amount of resistance in your life. This way, you can tackle something “easy” to develop confidence and consistency with it and then stack that with the next behavior until you have the momentum and results you’re looking for.

He agreed that this certainly was a path one could travel to improve their health.

He also offered another path: that sometimes people need to tackle the most difficult behavior first. The theory being that if they can accomplish the hardest thing first, everything after is easier by comparison.

There is a common statement that I hear with weight loss clients, male and female, and I asked my therapist more pointedly how he responds when he hears this:

“I know what I need to do, I just have to do it”

He offered five reasons which I am re-purposing in my own words strictly for the goal of weight loss.

1) They don’t want to do it. Which is why change has not been implemented up to this point. The “want” is not strong enough.

2) They don’t actually know how to do it. Applied to weight loss, are you in a caloric deficit, do you know how to get in a deficit and are you doing the appropriate/right amounts of exercise?

3) There is a fear of change. Change disrupts the status quo. It disrupts friendships, marriages, social gatherings, the workplace, etc. Weight loss, done responsibly, requires a lot of change and not everyone is mentally prepared to do it.

4) There is a fear of success. I actually had to probe deeper on this. Why would someone fear success? His response: Some people fear the ability to keep up the success they’ve had. I’ll offer my client, Don, as an example. Since his weight loss has been so dramatic so far, what if he started to second guess himself and start (unconsciously) sabotaging himself because he knows a lot of eyes are on him to succeed? Some people short circuit and revert back to old behaviors.

5) They don’t give credit to their barriers. It’s easy to blame certain boogeymen for an inability to lose weight: Oh, it must be my metabolism. Oh, it must be sugar. Oh, it must be “insert demonized thingamabob here”. When the reality is things like: your food environment is out of control, you married a saboteur, your sleep habits suck, and you haven’t found more productive ways to handle your stress. Pinpoint those barriers first, THEN revel in your success.

Circling back to me and giving up drugs, I struggled with two of those factors for sure: 1) I didn’t want to give them up and 3) I had a fear of change. I had spent so many years with drugs as a part of my life, my recreation, what I felt inspired me to write better songs, and what gave me a stress outlet that I wasn’t sure how I could function without them.

Once I learned what life was like without drugs to get me through, I had something I had long forgotten how to appreciate: clarity.

Come to find out, I didn’t need drugs to sleep better, feel better, relieve stress or write songs. What I needed was a more focused mind so I could prioritize my life and my finances again. While giving up drugs was “easy” in execution, it took time to develop the self-confidence that I could actually live a normal life again.

True to the theory, giving up drugs also cost me friendships. Many of my friends at the time were still users and I had to split myself further from them socially (and geographically) so I could clean my slate with less temptation.

If you’re struggling, there’s a lot listed above that may be worth your consideration. Change comes at a cost. Not everyone is willing to pay the price.

However, marking my 14th year clean, I can promise you that change is worth it.

“We Make Great People Greater”

#268-Dan John: A Voice Of Reason In An Unreasonable World

Dan John joins me again for his third appearance on the show. You can reference Episodes #100 and #181 to hear those. This go-round, we discuss his brand new book “Attempts”, Dan John University, the importance of habits, thoughts on fitness “hacks” and so much more. Dan John is always a guest you’ll want to tune in for. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review. 

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“The New Way to Eat and Get Slim”

My mother and I just returned from a very quick weekend trip to my hometown in Tennessee (Union City) to see my Grandmother and visit my father’s gravesite in nearby Ridgely. I’ve always credited my grandmother for teaching me to read when I was still very young. She, herself, was an elementary school teacher many years ago and it was always a priority of hers to know that all of her grandchildren were proficient readers. To this day, I love devouring books.

On this particular trip, I was perusing her bookshelves and came across an old book called “The New Way To Eat and Get Slim”. It was originally released in 1941 and written by one Donald G. Cooley. The edition she had was the 7th one which had been reprinted in 1945.

Diet books, regardless of when they were released, fascinate me. Like many things in the world of health, it is always interesting to see what concepts have held up over time and which things have since changed due to the ever evolving nature of science.

While I don’t make a habit of doing “book reports” on this blog, I found the book of particular interest on more than a few fronts. Bear in mind, that we’re talking about dieting the way it was spoken of 80 years ago. When you hear the adage ‘there is nothing new under the sun”, it is books like this one that remind you just how true that actually is.

Let’s start with most of what I felt Cooley did right in the book.

For one, there was a great explanation of calories and, what we now call macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein). He explains the importance of all of them and how getting “slim” is just a matter of reducing calories, or in his words, being on a “reducing diet”.

He also reminds the reader that while exercise is important for the physique, aesthetics and cardiovascular function, it is not the most efficient way to burn calories, thereby putting the focus back on controlling intake for more effective weight loss.

Cooley notes that for those who think their weekend hike burned a fair amount of calories, it likely didn’t burn anywhere near what they think it did and it would be prudent not to eat those calories back into the equation as a reward for good effort.

There is mention that the reader needs to be mindful of added fats, processed sweets, and foods low in nutritive value. He also talks about alcohol and gives an interesting breakdown of what certain drinks look like in total calories compared to their food counterparts.

Within the context of alcohol is the understanding that the body has a preference to work on filtering alcohol out of the system before it focuses on burning fat. While he doesn’t suggest one should be a teetotaler to lose weight, he does encourage limiting alcohol on a “reducing diet”.

Somewhat surprisingly, Cooley took one page in the book to comment that even though the reader might think their thyroid is keeping them from losing weight, a visit to the doctor will most likely show that it isn’t so. He then reinforces his belief that a sub-maintenance (low calorie) diet will still do what’s necessary. To be honest, I assumed that just because people thought that now didn’t mean they had the same feelings in 1940…

More than once, I found myself nodding my head in agreement not just with the recommendations in the book but with how little things have actually changed in the nutrition world over 80 years.

So, what does his diet actually look like?

Well, that’s where it gets a little bit more interesting.

Cooley lays out a blueprint for a 10-Day Miracle Diet in the book. The focus of the diet is primarily lean proteins, vegetables, a “vitamin cocktail”, water, black coffee and clear tea. Total caloric intake on his Miracle Diet would be well south of 1000 calories a day.

After the 10-Day plan is another set of food plans which wisely allows the reader to swap proteins for proteins or vegetables for vegetables in order to allow some flexibility and these meal plans sit at phases of 1000 calories per day, 1250 calories and 1500 calories depending on your respective starting point.

He reminds the reader of the thermogenic effect of protein and is so adamant of the nutrient’s importance that he suggests no fewer than 400 calories of every day coming from protein (100g for those of you counting).

When you look at the breakdowns of his meal plans, what you frequently see if a macronutrient breakdown of approximately 50% protein, 40% fat and approximately 10% carb. For those of you wondering, this is not an early incarnation of the keto diet. However, it is absolutely a low carb diet during the “reducing” phases.

Of the book’s 200+ pages, Cooley spends at least 60 pages discussing the importance of vitamins and minerals in the diet. He talks about not only the ones you should be most aware of, but the foods needed in the diet to help you achieve those levels. While some of the claims may be somewhat far-fetched, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t encourage a varied, whole foods approach to balancing your diet for better health.

So, where does he go wrong?

It’s interesting to note that fat shaming was definitely a thing in the 1940s and not just something that magically appeared with the rise in social media. Cooley makes the claim that a slimmer person is healthier, more envied, has a better libido and is essentially the talk of the town. He uses the words fat, pudgy and portly liberally throughout the book. I’m not entirely sure how Mr. Cooley might have felt about the Health At Every Size movement (despite some inherent issues within the movement itself).

It’s also important to note that due to the timeline of when the book was written, smoking had not yet been proven to be as detrimental to one’s heath as we know it is now. As such, when smoking cigarettes is mentioned, it’s not outright discouraged as a reason to improve one’s health.

In addition, scurvy was still a problem in the 40s and Cooley references it several times when he is speaking on the importance of vitamins and minerals in the diet.

Another thing I found troubling was that despite his mostly correct understanding of “calories in”, Cooley attempted to make a claim in reference to how many calories we actually expend in a day. Granted, this was the 1940s and I don’t know that people were quite as sedentary then as they are now.

If you were going to take his advice to heart, I would suggest not following the guidelines of how many calories you actually burn in a day. They seem to be grossly inaccurate. As with anything in the diet world, take what you read with a grain of salt and don’t accept everything as truth simply because it made the written page.

While he does reference many nutritional studies such as ones that came from Yale and the Mayo Clinic, science does continue to evolve and life in 2020 is not exactly the same as it was in 1941. What does remain the same is that your control over what you put in your mouth is paramount to your weight loss success. We could argue over the right balance of macronutrients but you’d likely not find a person on this planet who wouldn’t lose weight on his 10-Day Miracle Diet or even his comparatively more balanced 1000 calorie or 1250 calorie diet plans (assuming you can follow them).

Simplified further: eat lean proteins, get a variety of vegetables and fruits in your diet, drink water, black coffee and clear tea, reduce processed sugars and extra fats, reduce alcohol and move more. Contrary to the title of the book and the article, there are no new ways to eat and get slim. What might have been considered new back then is certainly not the case any longer. It’s the basics of most sound nutrition plans and if they worked 80 years ago, there’s a damn good chance they still work now.

P.S. You probably don’t need to do the 10-Day Miracle Diet anyway.

“We Make Great People Greater”

#267-Erin Riffle: I Was In A Toxic Relationship With Myself

Initially, it was my intent to get as many of my clients on the show who had the desire to do so before I had a repeat performance back on. However, Erin’s story I knew would resonate with so many of my listeners that I had to bring her back to talk about it. You can hear her first episode with me back at #179. This episode does have some explicit language, so listener advised depending on how you like to enjoy tuning in each week. Download, subscribe, share with your friends and please take a moment to leave us an iTunes review. 

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What Will You Do With The Time You Have Left? (Revisited)

Today would be my father’s 69th birthday. Each year since he passed, I normally write something inspired by him around the anniversary of his passing, Father’s Day and/or his birthday.

This year, I decided to revisit a post I wrote a year ago. For one, I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to write something new about him. I know there’s more to say and more stories to tell.

However, since last year, a lot has happened for me, my family and the rest of the world. I thought that many of my sentiments shared last year would still be applicable (and maybe more so) now.

I’m leaving the original post up on the website and have changed some minor details to the article below.

A strange thing happened when my Dad passed away.

For the first time in my life, I looked at the age he was when we lost him (59) and the age I was at the time (35) and started to count down the years.

It was unfair and probably unreasonable for me to do so.

The likelihood that I will pass from the same cancer that took my Dad from us is not likely.

I started to look at my life from the viewpoint of: What if my days are numbered more so than I realize? What if I only make it to 59? What am I going to do with my life for the next 24 years?

And now, the gap has closed and I still think about it. I’ll be 45 this year, Dad would be 69 today.

What am I going to do with my life for the next 14 years?

Some people take the viewpoint that they are going to experience all of the joys, the thrills, the excitement that life can offer.

I feel like I got enough of those thrills in my 20’s (otherwise known as my ‘lost decade’.)

And, for me, it’s how I am going to inspire enough people to change their lives with the time I have left? Whether it’s 5 years, 15 years or 42.5 years…

I watch people spin their wheels, agonizingly accomplishing nothing with their health, their lives, and their ambitions. It’s like they’re tied ball-and-chain to a past they can’t let go of and they keep forgetting that the key to unchain themselves is within arm’s reach.

Literally within sight.

Literally within grasp.

But, they don’t take it. They just stay with the familiar.

No matter how painful or depressing it is.

I have struggled for nearly ten years since my father passed to write this.

Every time I feel like I’m ready, I tell myself “No, not yet. It’s not time. You’re not ready.”

But then come back to that same series of questions ultimately ending with “If not now, when?”

And it’s the question I pose to you.

To me, I don’t care what you need to change. I care THAT you change. You don’t have to be a client of mine. You just have to make that decision.

I think if you have been fortunate enough to have lived longer on this earth than my father did, you were given a gift. A gift that every day you get another breath. Are you wasting it?

I think that if you are nowhere near the age he was when he passed, you have the same gift. Every day, you get another breath. Are you wasting it?

I have struggled to write this because I didn’t know how it all would be interpreted. I have struggled with a lot of other things too: self doubt, moral failings, poor decisions, the seemingly endless cycle of not knowing how to fill the shoes he left behind.

After my father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, we were given nine months left with him. Nine months where I saw some of the most beautiful and poignant sides of him and nine months where I saw a man who was the pinnacle of strength and poise in my life be reduced to a shell of himself by a miserable disease. And if you haven’t heard the sentiment…fuck cancer.

I don’t take a lot of moments to stand on a soapbox and beg more from you.

I’m doing it now.

Because if you won’t ask better of yourself, who will?

And if you’re waiting for the perfect time to do better, stop waiting.


The picture you see below is among my most treasured. If you are reading this and you recognize this picture, it’s because it was at my father’s calling hours.

Dad was admitted into the hospital shortly after Valentine’s Day 2011. He would remain in the hospital for almost one month to the day. My mother and I would go to see him every day. Every chance we got, we would bring Jackson with us. Jackson had just turned three and it was around this time that he received his official diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum.

Jackson didn’t mind being in the hospital room with my Dad. But he didn’t want to be near the hospital bed. It broke my heart because I knew how much it would mean to my Dad to be close to his grandson. My father loved being an Opa. Seeing him fulfill that role were some of the best times of my life. Not surprisingly, he was as great of a grandfather as he was a father.

The doctors released my father to come home and have his remaining days with us. On Sunday, March 20 Jackson was at the house with us. Dad was resting in the bed. Jackson went into the bedroom and climbed into the bed next to my father. That’s when I took this picture. It’s one of the most beautiful and heartbreaking things I own.

Dad passed away on Wednesday, March 23.

When I ask you what you will do with the time you have left, I don’t mean to browbeat.

I just want you to look at the gift you’re given, the life you’re given, and I want you do better.

I don’t want you to waste any more time.

Revolutionary You! #266-Dannie Strable: Whiskey, Wellness, and Pandemic Pivots

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. 

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