Revolutionary You! #354-Dr. Bo Babenko: Long Term Fitness (2 of 4)

In Part 2 of our 4-part series together, Dr. Bo Babenko is back with me as we chat about long term fitness. Building on our conversation from part 1, Bo explains how we need to have a long-term view on how we move our bodies and the best way recover from injuries when and if they happen as well as understanding the importance of cross-training to maximize the performance of our bodies. 

To learn more about Dr. Bo’s work: 

www.fitcarephysio.com

www.instagram.com/drbobabenko

www.facebook.com/BoBabenko

You can also search YouTube for “Doctor Bo” to subscribe to his channel. 

To learn more about your host: 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou 

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

www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Spotify OR Amazon Podcasts

You, Your Values And A $10 Chocolate Bar

I recently read the book “Meaningful Work” by Shawn and Lawren Askinosie. I would call it highly suggested reading for any small business owner OR anyone who feels they haven’t found their professional calling. At the heart of the story is the Askinosie chocolate bar (of different origins and flavors) which retails for around $10 and higher.

Throughout the book, Shawn explains how he became a chocolate maker, the life he chose to leave behind, and the lives he now chooses to change by profit sharing with the farmers who grow the cocoa beans, by providing meals back to the malnourished communities the beans grow in, and how he has justified charging $10 and more for his chocolate bars.

The story is fascinating.

I completely bought in and when I finished the book, I went online and ordered two of their award winning chocolate bars, which qualifies as the most money I have ever spent on a bar of chocolate in my life.

Shawn asks the reader (I’m paraphrasing) to consider: Rather than ask why would someone pay $10 for a bar of chocolate, start asking yourself what goes into the bar you pay $1 for.

I realize that in writing something like this, it comes from a position of privilege. Sometimes, $1 is what you can afford.

Allow me to pivot.

For most of my life, I have collected things: baseball cards and comics when I was much younger and then switching to all manner of music: cassettes, CDs, and (now) vinyl as well as bourbon and books. What we spend our money on has a direct correlation to how we value it in our lives.

We know, as consumers, that just because something is more expensive does not make it better in the same sense that something more economically friendly isn’t necessarily an inferior option (take for example the difference between generic and name brand over-the-counter medications which are often made in the same factories).

There can be a placebo effect to the belief that if you paid a lot of money for something, you’ll enjoy it more. I’ve seen this play out in the bourbon my wife and I buy and appreciate: if it was expensive, it usually tastes better; in the records I purchase, by noting the superior sound quality of a pressing, and even with the food we buy in restaurants, surely that expensive cut of filet is better than anything I could have made at home at a fraction of the price.

Those are just a few examples of value as it relates to the prices we pay for things, which of course you can extend towards the price of your home, your car, or personal services (not unlike personal training…more on this later).

Recently, a solicitor came to see me to quote me on credit card processing here at RevFit. He wanted to know what we pay in processing fees to see if he could save me money.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I have a longstanding relationship with a local bank that handles my processing. I plan to stick with their services.”

“You know, we typically can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fees compared to what a bank can offer if you look at the numbers annually” He countered.

“No sir, I’m not sure you understand. It’s not just processing I do with this bank. This is years of personal banking, business banking and having several family members with this bank. Not to mention, I have a professional relationship with the branch manager and they’ve been instrumental in helping me with any issues I’ve had over the years. This is about more than money saved, it’s the value I place on that relationship.”

Needless to say, the solicitor hit a wall he couldn’t overcome.

In considering services, we will often shop for the most affordable rather than the best available option. I mentioned personal training because it’s my career and I know that being able to afford a personal trainer is a luxury service.

Since I got certified in 2007, I’ve watched as evolutions in technology have continued to change the face of how people choose to exercise. There are free apps that give you daily workouts as well as any cursory Google search which can give you a free workout plan for every day of the rest of your life.

However, what exactly do you get with a free workout? Do you get any individual tailoring? Is there a real, live person you can communicate with to correct your form? What happens if you get injured? Are there modifications to work around those injuries?

This isn’t to say that every person needs a personal trainer. They don’t. Some people need more accountability than others and some people don’t need one more thing to add onto an already full plate. They want someone else to handle the programming, the modifications and to manage personal preferences and goals.

We place value on the things that matter most.

You probably get my point.

Let’s go back to the chocolate.

Over the last couple of years, my wife Marissa’s lactose intolerance, which she has had for all of her life, has become so severe compared to what it was once before, that she can no longer consume any dairy (milk, yogurt, ice cream, cottage cheese, butter) without getting sick within minutes of doing so.

Most of the popular brands of chocolate are made with milk and, since chocolate is something we both like to enjoy from time to time, we had to start looking at dairy free options. Fortunately, many organic chocolate bars have dairy free options but you’ll pay a premium for those (often $3-5 per bar). Of note, is that many of them are made in factories where dairy is also used but, thus far, this has not been an issue for Marissa.

I made a choice based on how I value Marissa feeling sick or feeling well. Of course, when I read “Meaningful Work” I wanted to know: What does a $10 chocolate bar taste like?

And, if I’m willing to pay $5 for a dairy free chocolate bar, would I pay $10 if I knew that I’m buying more than chocolate?

The answer is yes. Maybe not always, but from time to time to have something special.

Which bears the question: Is it worth it? Well, from a manner of taste, yes. It was delicious. Marissa thought so too (before she knew the story or the cost).

So, whether you like chocolate or not, whether you would spend $10 on a chocolate bar or not, the real question is: What do you value and how do your actions align with your values?

When you’ve had some time to consider the question, make a list of what you came up with.

I’d love to hear your answers.

Revolutionary You! #353-Dr. Bo Babenko: Is It Time For Your Annual Orthopedic Screening? (1 of 4)

I’m honored to welcome Dr. Bo Babenko to the show for our next 4-part series. In this episode, Bo explains the need for an annual orthopedic screening so we can better understand how our bodies move, where there may be areas of opportunity and develop a plan for being proactive to reduce the risk of future injury. Fortunately, due to the convenience of technology, Dr. Bo can do this type of screening through the use of a user-friendly app. 

To learn more about Dr. Bo’s work: 

www.fitcarephysio.com

www.instagram.com/drbobabenko 

www.facebook.com/BoBabenko

You can also search YouTube for “Doctor Bo” to subscribe to his channel. 

To learn more about your host: 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou 

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

www.amzn.to/2R9Larx 

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Spotify OR Amazon Podcasts

Do You Need To Take A Break?

Since I found myself having this conversation a bit more frequently with my fat loss clients, I wanted to write this week’s article specifically about maintenance breaks.

For many dieters, they tend to fall into one of two camps: dieting to lose weight (at whatever degree of deficit they choose) or overeating (eating in a surplus).

And if you’ve never intentionally taken a maintenance break, you may not have known that it was a viable (and sometimes necessary) option as well.

Keep in mind that when you’re dieting to lose weight, the ultimate goal is to not only achieve your desired weight but to reach a place in your life where you live “at maintenance”.

For instance, my body has floated between the same 4-6 pounds for years now. Between the amount of movement I get in a day (having an active job, plus strength training, and cardiovascular activity) and my untracked caloric intake, my body weight really doesn’t change much beyond those same handful of pounds referenced above.

This means, that by and large, on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, what I expend is about equal to what I take in.

For many dieters, they can fall into a rather unwanted rhythm of cycling between the same few pounds despite legitimately trying to eat in a deficit and getting fed up after doing so only to end up overeating when opportunity strikes (not to mention, the shame cycle that invariably occurs as well). As a result, they bounce from one diet (or exercise program) to the next, never really committing anywhere long enough for change that sticks.

Another interesting thing that can happen when you give yourself a maintenance break is that you might actually drop pounds by doing so. Part of the reason this can happen is that, when you increase your intake, the quality of your workouts can improve (meaning you might burn more when you train) and your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) can increase as well. This means that you might fidget more, do more chores, walk more, etc. even if you’re not totally conscious this is happening.

If you’ve ever read or seen someone say something to the effect of: I’m eating more than I used to AND I’m losing weight, this is essentially the reality they’re talking about.

Let me give you some very loose and arbitrary numbers to highlight my point.

I know that my maintenance calories are around 3000 right now (I only know this because I was recently tracking for some other reasons). Anything below 3000, done consistently should result in fat loss.

Let’s assume that I really want to lose some weight and I make an aggressive cut to get the pounds off fast, we’ll say 2000 calories. I can do that for a period of days before I get so stressed out that I spike up to 3700, 3900, etc., get mad at myself for eating so much and then try to drop back to 2000 only to go through the same cycle over and over again.

I decide to take a break on the dieting and push my calories back to 3000. Weight should stay mostly stable (give or take a few pounds). In doing so, I should add back in some of the foods that I felt I was depriving myself of. There’s a slight caveat here that if there are foods you don’t moderate well, you may need to still keep those out of the mix. For me, I don’t moderate cookies well, but if I was offered a cupcake, I would be okay.

How long I stay at maintenance is really based on my mental state. If I feel as if my stress levels are lower, I’m sleeping better, my workouts are going better and my libido is in a good place, then I can determine to do another fat loss phase. For some people, a maintenance break might last a week or potentially a month or two.

Remember: this is a skill. If all you know is “aggressive dieting” or “eating too much”, a maintenance break helps teach your body to maintain the status quo.

Then I can choose to make a modest cut to my maintenance calories again. Perhaps, I cut my calories back to 2700 from 3000 (a 10% deficit) and see how I do. There’s really no wrong answer here. You do what feels right, you listen to your body, and journal your feelings/reactions (if need be) so you have some data to support the actions, and plot the course.

If you had, say, 100 pounds to lose, it’s not unreasonable to have several maintenance breaks along the way. You could “schedule” a maintenance break every 10, 20, 25 pounds down so that you have strategic times to diet and strategic times to take a pause. This can not only help you on a hormonal level but it can keep you from completely abandoning a social life, too.

An easy way to determine what your maintenance is would be to use a calorie calculator or food app to plug in your age, gender, weight, height, and level of daily activity (be honest on this one). Many food apps will ask you to pick a weight loss goal but all you want to select is your maintenance intake.

Remember that calorie goals are estimates and the numbers could be slightly off but start there and keep an eye on the scale to make sure things are roughly where they need to be (3-5 pounds in either direction is normal and you can fluctuate that much in a 24 hour period).

So, if you’ve never taken a maintenance break before, you’re not seeing much progress right now and you’re ready to throw in the towel on fat loss, you may need the break.

Pictured below: pizza and canoli. Which would you add back in when you go to maintenance?

Revolutionary You! #352-Kaleen Canevari: Using Technology To Coach Movement (4 of 4)

In the final episode of our 4-part series, Kaleen Canevari is back with me to talk about how technology can help practitioners coach movement. The primary inspiration for this conversation comes back to the creation that Kaleen has brought to the world with Flexia. We talk about the role technology plays in our ability to coach from a distance, the importance of app-based exercise platforms and being able to quantify movement. Specific to this conversation, Kaleen dives into how technology allows Flexia users to be able to perform Pilates without leaving the comfort of the home. 

To learn more about Kaleen and her work with Flexia: 

www.flexiapilates.com

www.instagram.com/flexiapilates

www.instagram.com/thefitreformer

www.medium.com/@kaleencanevari 

To learn more about your host: 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou 

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

www.amzn.to/2R9Larx 

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Spotify OR Amazon Podcasts

Onward, Upward (For Ryan)

There are so many ways to measure success as a coach.

If you train athletes, success might be measured by making them faster, stronger, more resilient, or helping them achieve the next level in their sport however it’s best defined.

If you train fat loss clients, success can be measured by helping them achieve something closer to their ideal weight, adding longevity to their years on this earth, or making it easier for them to achieve the physical tasks of their daily life that they want to complete.

Throughout my tenure as a coach, I’ve seen amazing physical transformations, I’ve seen my business achieve financial heights I never dreamt possible, and I’ve watched confidence soar in people who never knew what they were capable of until we helped bring it out of them.

One story of note is with Ryan.

About three years ago, Ryan was referred to us by one of our longstanding clients and arguably one of our biggest advocates, Shon C.

Ryan had been a part of another gym in the area which had not been as positive of an experience for him as he or his parents had wished.

Shon told the family about RevFit, and Ryan and his mother Amanda came to meet with me.

He was 16 then, and needed to gain strength and muscle mass for track and field.

Within just a handful of weeks, we could tell that Ryan was all in.

He embraced the culture of the studio, he befriended the coaches on staff and the clients he would routinely train around and took everything we taught him in so he could make the progress he wanted.

As we try to emphasize for our clientele, progress is not about perfection and it’s rarely linear and Ryan absorbed all of this. He kept pushing for more, always trying to get the next best rep, the next pound up on the scale and not letting a less than ideal workout deter him from something greater ahead.

We measured Ryan’s success by all of those markers: his lifts kept getting better, he was incredibly consistent with his workouts routinely getting in 3 sessions per week and allowing his appetite to guide the scale up. In his words, the goal was to “eat more than yesterday”.

As high school came to a close for Ryan, his future was less certain. He wasn’t quite ready to attack college and needed some time away from academics to decide which career path fit him best.

In the interim, we had a need for a coach on staff and I thought it might be a good opportunity to take someone who clearly loved the environment and had a vested interest in the success of the clientele that we could groom him into the industry.

So, Ryan joined forces with us and started working on his personal training certification. He learned lessons from that organization and he learned some of the processes and philosophies that had helped make RevFit what we are today.

He learned how to work with people who shared his enthusiasm for training and those who might never have a passion for exercise but valued what it did for their lives.

And, much as I had learned from mentors before me, I tried to impress on him the good, the bad and the ugly of how this business has grown. I’ve always appreciated that behind every successful business is a journey of peaks, valleys, stumbles, and misgivings that chart a course.

Much like we teach our clients, everyone wants to be successful and not everyone appreciates and respects how long it may take, how success should be defined and how many obstacles stand between us and the goals we want to achieve.

Somewhat jokingly, Ryan would tell clients: “I have a real dad and a gym dad.”

I have had the proud distinction of being the latter.

I’ve also had the privilege of training both his mother, Amanda and his father, Mitch.

And what I’ve seen throughout not only Ryan’s tenure but the time I’ve worked with his parents is that these are two people who have always and likely will always continue to shower their son with love and support while also making sure that he has his wings to take off into this world.

To that point, Ryan began looking for a second job to complement his part time hours with RevFit and found it at a local steel company where he could get steady hours, a bigger paycheck and have plenty of room for advancement should he decide to take it.

As I watched Ryan continue to balance 5 mornings a week at the steel company and at least 5 shifts with us, I kept up with how things were advancing for him. Not surprisingly, he did great work for them as he had with me and they reminded him that if he wants more work, it’s available for the taking.

So, Ryan and I put our heads together and I’m watching this young man, who is no longer the boy of 16 who started with me, try and plan for his future.

We put steps in place for him to finish his time coaching at the Rev and move back into a client role while he takes on a “big boy” job and starts making the money he deserves to make.

This week, at least as far as the eye can see, will be the conclusion of Ryan’s time as a coach at RevFit.

Which brings me back to the definition of success, a message I’ll tailor directly to Ryan.

Ryan,

Thank you for giving me (and my staff) the opportunity to be a part of your life. I have seen what the benefits of nutrition for a goal and appropriate strength training can do for any individual who embraces it. You, my friend, have embodied it. In a perfect world, every client who steps through our door would immerse themselves in those areas to see how it improves their lives as well. What you have done for your body, your spirit and your self-confidence is awe inspiring.

As your coach, you have done everything I’ve asked of you. You’ve pushed when the need was there, you’ve followed instruction, you’ve absorbed the lessons and reflected on them. That is a gift. Thank your parents for instilling that gift in you.

As your employer, you have gone above and beyond more times than I can count. You’ve listened to my constructive criticism and learned how to apply it to the work you do. Not that you’ll ever need it, but you will always have a glowing job reference from me should the need present itself.

As your “gym dad”, remember what you are capable of. Never let self-limiting beliefs keep you from a greater life. You are surrounded by people who love you, who cheer for you and who want to see you happy, healthy and successful (by any definition).

Long before he passed away my father knew the words to say to help inspire me. And while you aren’t my son, you are one of my greatest successes as a coach and I thank you giving me that.

Fortunately, we are not saying goodbye. We are closing one chapter to continue writing another.

I am so proud of you.

And I’m 100% certain I’m not alone.

As they say, onward and upward.

With love,

Jason (and your extended RevFit family)

Revolutionary You! #351-Kaleen Canevari: Mindfulness (3 of 4)

In Part 3 of our 4-Part series together, Kaleen Canevari is back with me to talk about mindfulness. While it’s certainly been a topic that has been discussed on the show before, Kaleen presents it in some refreshing ways. We talk about how and why meditation might work for you, how you use mindfulness to be more aware of how your body moves, how it can be used with our diets and even in the workplace. 

To learn more about Kaleen’s work: 

www.flexiapilates.com

www.instagram.com/flexiapilates

www.instagram.com/thefitreformer

www.medium.com/@kaleencanevari

To learn more about your host: 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou

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

www.amzn.to/2R9Larx

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Spotify OR Amazon Podcasts

1-5: How Do You Rank?

I wanted to start this week’s article with a hat tip to Dr. Eric Helms for the inspiration.

I was listening to Eric speak recently on a podcast for some continuing education I was doing.

In the conversation, he referenced a tool he uses for his clients (and in his example it was more for clients competing on the bodybuilding stage). I was so impressed by the simplicity of it that I’ve been using it more recently with clients of mine as it pertains to fat loss.

Each of these three areas are routinely evaluated to understand the efficacy of your diet beyond what the scale says. This can give some insight into potentially the need for a diet maintenance break or to decide if a caloric deficit is just right or too aggressive.

Rate yourself, on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest) on these areas:

-Sleep Quality

-Libido

-Irritability

If you find that one (or more) of these areas is lower than you’d like it to be, determine what needs to change for that area to improve.

Sleep Quality: We know that higher quality, more restful sleep can not only help you recover better from your workouts but can also help with dietary adherence. Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room and keep your sleep/wake routine as consistent as possible. Eliminate the use of electronics (phones, laptops, tablets, and television) at least 30 minutes before bedtime so your mind isn’t stimulated. Keep a notepad by your bed to write down anything that is pressing on your mind before going to bed. This can reduce the potential of you keeping yourself awake stressing about things that haven’t happened yet. If you consume alcohol, you may have to reduce the amount you consume or consume earlier in the evening for more restful, uninterrupted sleep (some people report that alcohol helps them fall asleep). Having a dinner with some carbohydrates may help with the release of seratonin and tryptophan to improve sleep as well.

Libido: If you find that your libido is not where you’d like it to be, one contributor could certainly be stress. However, if you’ve been dieting too long (chronically dieting without a break), this can have a negative impact on hormones and, ultimately your libido. Try utilizing a diet maintenance break for a period of days/weeks and see if your libido improves as well. You may also need to seek the help of a doctor in case something more concerning is happening with your body. Bear in mind that if you are constantly trying to keep a very low body fat percentage, this may also contribute to a drop in libido.

Irritability: Stress can affect sleep quality and libido and, of course, certain types of stress can make you feel more combustible or have a shorter fuse than you want. My clients dealing with perimenopause and menopause may be nodding their heads as well. As with libido, some of this may be directly associated with fluctuations in hormones (and can be regulated with the help of a doctor). However, you may also need to look at areas that are constantly setting you off: relationship stress, a hostile work environment, little ability to practice self-care, etc.) Keeping your calories too low for too long or eliminating carbohydrates can be two areas that might be suspect as well.

It also bears mention that you may want to ask a loved one if they agree with your rankings. An outside perspective may help you understand if there are areas that need more attention than what you think. I should also remind that it may be difficult to consistently achieve a 5 in all three areas but be aware that what you’re doing with your diet and your training can have a direct effect on how you sleep, what your libido is like and how irritable you might be.

Sometimes, it helps to put the breaks on aggressive methods to see other areas of your life improve. As you can hopefully see, dieting and training not only affect your body, they can have a correlation with how you perform outside of the gym and in the relationships that matter most to you.

Revolutionary You! #350-Kaleen Canevari: Conscious Competence (2 of 4)

Kaleen Canevari is back with me this week for the 2nd part in our 4-part series together. In this episode, we talk about the conscious competence learning cycle and understanding where we need to apply skills in our lives to practice not only self-awareness but execution to get closer to our goals. Kaleen breaks down the different stages of the learning cycle so that you can be aware of where you might be in that cycle relative to what you want to accomplish and how to make progress moving forward. 

To learn more about Kaleen’s work:

www.flexiapilates.com

www.instagram.com/flexiapilates

www.instagram.com/thefitreformer

www.medium.com/@kaleencanevari

To learn more about your host: 

www.jasonleenaarts.com

www.revfittherapy.com

www.facebook.com/jason.leenaarts

www.instagram.com/jasonleenaarts

You can also like our Facebook page at: 

www.facebook.com/revolutionaryou

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

www.amzn.to/2R9Larx 

Apple Podcasts OR Stitcher OR Spotify OR Amazon Podcasts

The Man You Never Knew

Sebastian,

I write these words to you just days before what we recognize as the anniversary of your Opa’s passing, this year marking 11.

I do not know if you will read these words when you are old enough to read and understand them, if you will read them after I leave this world or perhaps never read them at all.

As I’ve tried to do on a few occasions each year since Opa passed, I wanted to write something in his memory as a tribute to the life he lived, much of which has been mostly therapeutic for me as a way to handle losing him.

Your brother, Jackson, had only recently turned 3 when cancer took Opa from us. Due to both Jackson’s age at the time and his autism, I don’t know that we’ll ever truly know how much Jackson remembers Opa.

Which means that one of the greatest tragedies of your life is that you never knew him at all.

I am so sorry for that.

This post is just a few of my thoughts on what I believe you may have missed out on by not having him around.

First, know that for the three years of Jackson’s life, the man the world knew as Paul and that I knew as Dad, absolutely loved being an “Opa”. If he were still here today, he would have loved having not one, but two boys to be a grandfather to.

Like you, Opa loved technology. He was endlessly fascinated by what could be done with computers, smartphones and televisions. He would have loved to see your curious mind and the things that grab your attention.

As someone who understood science more than the average person, he would have encouraged your fascination with science experiments and how you are able to bring them to life. He would have challenged your mind to continue and find answers to the questions you think of.

Opa would have been thrilled that you, like so many of us in your family, also take a liking to music. Not just listening to it, but picking up instruments and trying to find the one that resonates most with you. Opa played guitar and bass and he gifted me with his acoustic guitar many years ago that you still see me play. I have arguably written more songs on that guitar than any other instrument. It holds more than just sentimental value to me, it’s part of my own history as well.

He would have encouraged you to keep exploring, to keep finding your beat and your rhythm in more ways than one so that, at the very least, you could contribute the beauty and magic of music to this world (even if it’s solely for your enjoyment).

Opa would have known the ways to get you to channel your intelligence. He would help you understand your curiosity so that the world around you keeps you searching and pondering but forces you to think of not only problems, but solutions as well.

Perhaps one of the greatest gifts Opa gave to me, which he undoubtedly would have shared with you, was the gift of tolerance and acceptance. Opa saw everyone as his equal, no one was beneath him. This went for all colors, all cultures, all beliefs, all backgrounds. He only ever wanted to expand his understanding of who people are, what they stand for and learn, to the best of his ability, to see the world through their eyes and not just his own.

We live in a world that tests those abilities and not everyone will be kind to you (or to each other). Opa would have helped you understand that we don’t all have to be in agreement with one another to have respect for one another, and that respect will get you much further in life than disrespect. This is a lesson which took me a long time to comprehend and appreciate.

Sebastian, I’ve spent much of my life and certainly many years of the last eleven trying desperately to fall into Opa’s shoes only to realize that I was trying to fit into the wrong pair. He taught me to be the best I know how to be at all times. If I do right by his memory, I’ll continue to shower you with the lessons that not only he taught, but the ones I took the time to learn.

Undoubtedly, you have more than just his influence in your world. Much like I grew up with, you have the privilege of a mother and father committed to your best interest. The lessons won’t always be easy to learn, and we won’t always be the perfect teachers, but we will love you through and through.

I was very lucky to have that in my life.

And I’ll spend the rest of my days giving it to you and Jackson as well.

Never forget how much I love you.

And always know that Opa’s light shines through me.