Are You Blaming Your Heritage For Your Food Choices?

In 1975, I was born in a little town in Tennessee called Union City.

My father was a Dutch immigrant and my mother was also a native Tennessean who was born in a town even smaller than my hometown.

And I think about my upbringing with all of the foods associated with those places and what my diet was influenced by early on.

From my father’s side of both Dutch and German influence: lots of potatoes, breads, pork and cheese.

From my mother’s Southern side: fried foods (fries, catfish, hush puppies, tater tots), butter, bar-b-que, pork (sausage, country ham, pork rinds), pecan pie, biscuits and gravy.

And when I think further about the foods that make me feel closest to “home”, it would be all of these foods. The foods that give me comfort, the foods that make me feel like I’m with family.

And I love that feeling.

I would argue that any combination of the foods listed above would be among my very, very favorite.

But let’s be honest: is there anyone who’s going to associate biscuits and gravy with a healthy diet?

Not a chance.

As much as I love fried catfish from Boyette’s and a pulled pork sandwich on a white bun from Corner Bar-B-Que, I know I just can’t make them staples of a healthy cuisine.

Which is why I find it puzzling that so many people are unwilling to step away slightly from their heritage to get their food in the place they want it to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to disassociate with being Italian simply because you can’t control your pasta intake.

But just because you’re Italian, also doesn’t mean that cuisine should be the mainstay if you need to get your eating in order.

I love pasta through and through but it is not a food I can easily control. I can eat massive quantities of it before my body ever registers that I might be full.

And the same goes for all of my favorite foods too.

When I go back down to my hometown, I know it’s going to be a fiasco of pure gluttony. I mentally prepare it and I face the music over it. I know that it will be a couple of days of my favorite foods just the way I have always loved them and I don’t deprive myself.

But that isn’t to say I don’t have consequences.

I get bloated. I feel lethargic. I can’t seem to get in enough water to flush my system out. It’s just one of those situations where once or twice a year I loosen my belt and prepare for all of those foods I don’t normally eat.

Where I find my clients getting in trouble with this is that it’s not a once or twice a year conversation. It’s more like a 3 or 4 or more times a week conversation. It’s really hard to see weight loss progress when your “heritage” foods that you can’t moderate successfully become the cornerstone of your diet plan.

Yes, in a perfect world, we could moderate these foods. As much as I love a good fried catfish filet, I am 100% certain that I could fit it into my calorie plan if I absolutely had to have it more frequently. But there are certain foods that I want to feel as if they are a reward to eat. Something that I can’t get every day or I can’t get them in the circumstances to make them feel special (like sporadic family gatherings.)

And it doesn’t make me less of a Southern boy or have less pride in my Dutch heritage because I don’t indulge at every possible opportunity. I just know my limits so I don’t test them.

If you’re struggling with diet success and you’re letting your heritage stand in your way, you may need to take a couple of steps back and determine HOW you’re going to make what you want to eat fit into the grand scheme of your plans.

If you’re like me, those special foods can come at more infrequent times. No guilt included.

Below is a picture of the Biscuit, who at the ripe age of 13 months old, can eat anything he damn well pleases and not gain an ounce. I remember those days. 🙂

“We Make Great People Greater”

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Revolutionary You! #142-Dr. Susan Kleiner: The Focus On Female Nutrition

I tipped my hat to this with the prior release just a few weeks ago (#135) with Dr. Susan Kleiner. As continued build up to her new book “The New Power Eating”, we continue our conversation about the changes she made in this new version. This episode is completely focused on female nutrition. This is one of those episodes where you may want to tune in with a pen and paper so you can make notes on some of the great detail Dr. Susan gives here. We cover a lot of ground from caloric needs, menstrual cycles, macronutrient profiles and more. This is an excellent show! You can order your copy of The New Power Eating directly from Dr. Sue’s website at http://www.drskleiner.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.

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Why Am I Doing This Only To Fail?

The title of this article was taken from the very question Hugh asked me during his workout last week. For some great background on him, you may want to read this article first. He had just been getting warmed up with his set of squats when he asked those words “Why Am I Doing This Only To Fail?” 

And I asked him to clarify the question. 

“It seems like we keep getting up to a weight only to see me not be able to do it or not be able to complete all the repetitions. I don’t like knowing that I’ve failed at something. So why do we do it that way?” 

And to be honest, it’s an excellent question. 

Like Hugh, many of us can relate to the fact that no one likes to feel like they can’t do something right or do it proficiently. In strength training, of the myriad ways you can progress, often you have to get to a challenging enough weight or a predetermined set of repetitions to give the body the stimulus it needs to change (get stronger, build/rebuild muscle.) 

As the body continues to adjust to the given stimulus, something has to change in the programming so that the end result shows something favorable as well. 

I also told Hugh that sometimes it isn’t about hitting a new personal record (although they’re pretty great when you hit them.) Sometimes it’s about accumulating more volume at lower weights so you can see the numbers rise that way as well as the confidence in how you’re moving with the exercise. 

I outlined several different rep and set schemes so he could see that there are countless ways to approach an exercise plan to say “I got better.” We have some of our favorites at RevFit because we’ve seen them work time and again over the years we’ve worked with such a variety of individuals. 

But it’s not just about strength. 

Failure, and how we handle it, encompasses weight loss, our social lives, and our work. We are literally surrounded with opportunities to succeed through our ability to fail and learn from why that failure occurred. 

In weight loss, many people get discouraged when they set a goal for themselves only to see that they didn’t hit that goal (or within the time frame they expected.) That point of relative failure can discourage some to the point of just giving up only to repeat the cycle with the next fad diet or trendy supplement. 

But, like strength training, there are so many ways to approach weight loss success that have little to do with the scale. With a record of tape measures, you can see changes in body composition that may not be reflecting in scale weight. You can also use before and after photos to see parts of the body change over time with comparisons. 

Not to mention, I see many people completely miss the boat with diet approaches. They assume that since their neighbor has seen success on “X” diet that the same diet will work for them (HINT: It probably won’t work as well or be as sustainable.) We’re cut from a different cloth, with different motivations, stresses and responsibilities in life. The likelihood that our diet success would match someone else’s isn’t accurate. 

But we can take points of reference from different diets to see how they adhere to our current lifestyle. Rather than treating results as all success or all failure, we continue to modify the playing field so that, no matter what, we can still put a “Win” in our sights. 

Like me, Hugh is a small business owner. So, I also approached the conversation in much like the way we would frame it in business.

You won’t get every sale.

Of the ones you do get, maybe some generate more revenue than others but it doesn’t make the other sales less important. They all contribute to the greater good of the bottom line.

And with your health and your goals, the bottom line still matters.

So rather than treating failure like it’s a death knell to your success, treat like it like a stepping stone.

Because here at RevFit, we don’t treat failure as a black-or-white outcome. It’s just one more data point so we can realign our focus and keep you moving forward. It works for strength, it works for weight loss, it works for life.

Here’s a shot of Hugh pushing around 260lbs across our turf like he’s owning it.

“We Make Great People Greater”

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Revolutionary You! #141-Krista Scott-Dixon: How Are Coaches As Clients?

Back for her third appearance after two great episodes with me (#66 and #92), Precision Nutrition’s Krista Scott-Dixon returns this week. In this episode we talk about Krista’s experience being the nutrition coach to other coaches in the industry. We compare the similarities and differences between the obstacles someone from the general population struggles with versus an industry professional. Krista and I also compare our thoughts of how the tables have turned for each of us once we assumed the role of client to other coaches as well. You can learn more about Krista’s work at http://www.precisionnutrition.com and http://www.stumptuous.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.

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Are You Really Willing To Change?

There’s a saying in the world of small business ownership: evolve or die.

And that saying has embedded itself in my mind since 2009 when “RevFit” started.

There is not only the feeling that change must occur so that growth (or transformation) can happen but the equal pull of trying to figure out what must stay at the foundation of what we do and who we are.

And there is also that nagging stubbornness of mine that says, “Maybe we need to stay the course on this plan of action and not deviate for awhile.”

In the spring of 2009, I was working with a designer to help me craft our logo, business cards, letterheads, you name it (Hi Lee!) The work he did for me was really great and I still use so much of that initial design work to this day for much of what I do.

I remember he asked me what my tagline would be.

“A tagline? What do you mean? I asked.

Lee replied, “You know, Nike has “Just Do It.” That’s their tagline. What will yours be?”

I had no idea how to respond to that. Here I was building a business from the ground up and a tagline was the furthest thing from my mind.

So, I tried to think about what I envisioned our services to be and what a first impression might come off as to a potential new client.

The tagline I sent to Lee was “Personalized. Privatized. Revolutionized. Welcome to the New You.” (I know, it’s a mouthful.)

So, that’s what we went with.

And I would say it worked okay for about a year or so. There was just something about it that felt off. Not to mention, it seemed way too wordy to me.

In 2010, my father was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer and my oldest son, Jackson was diagnosed with autism. Trying to wrap my head around both of these diagnoses was a lot for me to deal with.

I was working as hard as I could to build my business up, while also trying to take care of my own health, nurture a new relationship with Marissa (which at the time was a long-distance relationship), make sure my mom was doing okay handing my Dad’s prognosis, and try to be the best father I could be to my son. It was so much to handle at one time.

And somewhere in the midst of all of that turmoil, another tagline hit me:

“Be Fit For Generations”

I saw the importance of being healthy and strong to help my mother with my Dad as his health was deteriorating and I saw what obstacles I was going to have to help Jackson overcome throughout his life. Being healthy and fit for my family seemed like not only the right thing for me but something of an overarching concept for my clients too.

I saw how many of my clients were also parents or perhaps transitioning into care-taking roles for parents of their own. It just made sense that our vision of what we do become the next phrase guiding our business model.

I won’t lie, I always liked “Be Fit For Generations” but like my first tagline, there was something missing.

You see, “Be Fit For Generations” really seemed more about me than it was about our clients. Sure, there might be some clients who would appreciate and share the sentiment of mine. I just couldn’t quite see it being a driving force behind how we do our work or even the motivation to keep our clients on the path they want to be on.

And then earlier this year, there was another change.

As we got adjusted to our new and larger location, I got more into posting our work on Instagram. As many know, Instagram posts rely heavily on the use of hashtags to develop a concept of what the posts might signify.

And a line crossed my mind that made me stop and search for it on Google.

“Surely, someone else has used this line before. It’s too simple. It’s too easy for someone else to have already thought about it.”

But I couldn’t find it.

And so, little by little, the tagline propelling my vision for what I believe the business to be is “We Make Great People Greater.”

And it just fit.

No longer was the tagline too wordy. No longer was it driven by my own personal life. This tagline was about our clients. It was about what we have the privilege of seeing 5 and a half days out of every week: great people doing great things and getting better at them.

And this is a very long way of me trying to illustrate a small point:

You Have To Be Willing To Change.

I see clients who talk a good game. They want to lose 40lbs but they don’t really want to do much different with their diet. Or they want to consistently get stronger so they can see more muscle definition and hit a new personal record on a lift but they’re unwilling to get better sleep, better recovery and eat for the goal.

And I get it, change is hard. Change pushes back with an indescribable resistance. Change might tell you: “I bet you can’t”

And stubborn bastards like me say “Try and stop me.”

As a business owner, change is inevitable. It is essential. Change has taken my business towards peaks I never believed we could achieve and beyond the comprehension I had way back in 2009.

For some people, they just don’t believe enough in themselves to think that they can succeed at change. So they offer myriad of reasons/excuses why they are destined to fail.

“I’m too busy.”

“I forgot.”

“I’m such-and-such age.”

“I had to work late.”

“But I’ve been like this for so long…”

But if this post can illustrate anything to you, it’s that sometimes we have to be open to the possibility that the life we’ve created for ourselves is no longer serving our best selves. The person we aim to be is no longer fitting in the cage we’ve trapped ourselves in.

Do I think that RevFit could be where we are today if that original tagline still existed? It’s hard to answer that but I will say that as the tagline changed, the business changed. And as our industry has catapulted to shinier trends and more novelty, we have had to stay more firmly rooted in the basics: great nutrition, great support, great strength progress…and yes, all for the greater good of great people.

That came from change.

Of not allowing ourselves to be so firmly stuck in the past that we could no longer associate with a future.

It’s also my open invitation to you to be more willing to adopt change in your life. It is not without struggle and it is not without pain. Hell, I think some of the biggest changes we’ve made with our business were both temporarily painful and a legitimate struggle.

They’ve also been what’s allowed us to see greener pastures on the other side.

It’s about more than taglines though, as I’m sure you can imagine.

It’s about changing the narrative that no longer tells us the right story.

Below is our “King” Richard. At 78 years of age and nearly three years training with us, he’s still breaking his own personal records, still progressing, still evolving. It’s been an honor to serve him.

“We Make Great People Greater”

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Revolutionary You! #140-Dr. Quinn Henoch: Considerations For Stretching And Injury Recovery

I am joined this week by Dr. Quinn Henoch as we dive into the nuance and considerations of how, why and when to stretch. We talk about some contraindications for doing so and also his thoughts on effective warm-ups before exercise. Quinn also chats with me about ways to recover from injuries to still see progress even if one is unable to push with the same intensity as before. To learn more about Dr. Quinn’s work, visit http://www.clinicalathlete.com and check out his Instagram page at http://www.instagram.com/quinn.henochdpt 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.

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The Case For And Against Your Minimum Effective Dose

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had to completely change the way I train.

The decision was based on the fact that as my business continues to grow at RevFit, my available time to get in my own workout diminishes. I’m not the type who can work out simply for the sake of moving my body around either. I actually need to see some quantifiable progress to feel good about what I’ve done.

So, running counter to almost any workout regimen I’ve ever followed in my life, I am lifting 5 days a week, Monday through Friday and I do two lifts each day. One day will be a series of squats followed by a series of isolated hamstring work, the next day will be a series of bench presses followed by a variation of back work.

That’s it.

And every day I go after those lifts, I find some way to increase weights, reps, or sets depending on how much time I have.

Would I recommend this approach to my clients? Probably not unless they were in the same situation as me; crunched for time but still needing to find the time to progress and move forward.

As for the results, well I’m under no illusion that I will completely transform my body with this regimen. I probably won’t see that type of progress but I can feel good about what I’ve done so that the rest of my energy can be spent on taking care of my client’s needs.

I also know that there is a chance this method is only temporary. It’s something I can do until I find a reasonable way to add more into the mix.

Mentally and physically, this is all that I can do right now.

It is my “minimum effective dose” of exercise.

And it’s this minimum effective dose that I wanted to discuss in greater detail to you.

To make a case for doing the bare minimum of anything and seeing a benefit from it, we have to look at the positive. Does that dose keep you consistent in your efforts and are you seeing progress in any measurable way? In my personal example above, I can say that for the time being, I can answer “Yes” across the board.

I see people who put a lot of effort into their exercise (showing up, working hard, etc.) but put little into their diet and wonder why weight loss isn’t happening at the rate they desire.

I see others who can seemingly white-knuckle their way through both diet and exercise, but exist on poor or little sleep. Believe me when I say that this will catch up negatively at some point for both diet adherence and a quality workout. Your body will finally betray you if you don’t give it the recovery it needs.

Sometimes (actually maybe more often than not), I have clients who believe they’ve made enough changes to see the scale reward their efforts. And while it may be true that they have improved from where they were when they started with me, it just isn’t enough or it isn’t consistently on point long enough.

And that is a very frustrating reality indeed.

As I alluded to when I wrote this article about knowing when to put the brakes temporarily on dieting, I think it’s important to note when the minimum effective dose needs to be part of your plan.

-If life is currently more stressful than you initially anticipated when you set out to make a positive change in your health, you may need to dial down the intensity or frequency of your workouts. Do so until you can add more of the appropriate habits and see faster results.

-If you can forgive yourself for not putting 100% of your efforts in all the time and be comfortable putting in 50% just to stay consistent, do so. Be able to quantify that some progress is better than none, even if it isn’t ideal or as effective at getting you towards your goals.

-Realize that the minimum effective dose may show no reflection on the scale if you’re using it during a weight loss phase. That’s not necessarily a negative. Sometimes, being mindful of things like drinking more water and eating more protein may not give you the caloric outcome you need to drop weight. Focus on the “dieting” aspect when you feel that it’s mentally easier to execute.

-Be aware that falling back to the minimum effective dose does not mean you failed. It means you had a shift in priorities and other things in your life had to take place for the time being. Utilizing this tactic is always an option to keep the needle of progress moving across the board (albeit at a much slower pace.)

Below is a picture of our Erin hitting a 165lb squat PR. She’s been a bright light around the studio with her support of others, her camaraderie, her ability to expect the best from those around her, and her commitment to her own self-improvement.

“We Make Great People Greater”

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Revolutionary You! #138-Stuart Aitken: What We’ve Learned From Podcasting

Stuart Aitken is arguably my favorite podcasting host. He oversees the Lift The Bar podcast which is formatted for the personal trainer industry. I couldn’t wait to bring him on the show so he could talk a bit more about how he got into the industry and share some of what we’ve learned since we’ve been in the podcasting arena talking to some of the finest minds in the industry. To learn more about Stuart, you can follow him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/stuart.aitken.35 and on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/stuartaitken_ 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.

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Are You Diet Hopping Your Way To Nowhere?

Working with both online and face-to-face clients, I’ve learned a painful lesson:

Most people can’t follow a diet plan.

Let me clarify that statement.

It’s not that they are physically unable to do so. And it’s definitely not because they’re ignorant, lazy or have broken metabolism.

I have the honor of working with some of the smartest, wittiest, funniest, most inspiring people I’ve ever met. Many of whom actually spout off great dietary wisdom to me. It’s amazing the things that I hear my clients say and I think “Wow, if you just followed your own advice you would have already reached your goal!”

And the problem is two-fold:

ONE) We don’t listen to the words we say regarding what we know about nutrition.

TWO) We don’t stay focused enough to see the plan through.

Part Two is actually more of a problem than Part One.

Recently, I was speaking with an online client (let’s call him Joe) and we outlined a plan for him to follow. We agreed that embarking on this plan would be easy to implement, practical for his lifestyle and required little overwhelming change in his life.

Joe was thrilled.

Over the next couple of days, I got feedback from him like “This is really working!”, “I’m already down “X” pounds!” “Thank you so much for supporting me with this change!”

And then, this “I was online reading about certain superfoods and I think I need to start eating those too. What do you think?”

*Cue the palm to the forehead*

Call it boredom, call it “I need something more exciting in my life”, call it “I’ve just been wooed by Diet Guru Fra-La-La about the toxins and the blah and the blah and the blah.”

I call it “You just lost your focus.”

Dieting, in and of itself, is a simple (not easy) process. Eat below your body’s required maintenance, sustain that level consistently over time and you WILL LOSE WEIGHT.

However, that funny piece of matter in between our ears likes distractions. I mean, just by reading this article, you’ve been distracted from something else, right? Either that, or you just like me. Thanks! I like you too. (Wait, weren’t we just talking about focus?)

Ahem.

The nastiest problem I see rear it’s head time and time again is hopping from one plan to another EVEN WHEN the one you’ve been on is working OR when you haven’t locked the consistency part down long enough to elicit the results you wanted.

Here’s some really valuable totally free advice: You Have To Be Consistent AND You Have To Follow The Plan.

It doesn’t matter WHAT the plan is. Walk into any bookstore, walk up to any magazine stand, peruse all the diet bestsellers on Amazon, pick ANY diet system and FOLLOW IT. You will succeed. They are all built on the same premise of calorie restriction even if they tell you it’s not about calories. It’s ALWAYS about calories because no diet author in their right mind will deny laws of physics. They might deny Santa Claus though (bastards!)

The variances between diet programs will be in how the authors care to approach the calorie conversation. Weight Watchers uses a point system because counting 25 points is WAY easier than 1300 calories.

Diets based on food elimination work because they assume by removing these massive areas of potential overabundance, you’ll automatically be forced under your required maintenance and then…wait for it…the magic happens!! *pat on the back, high five*

Years ago, I was in a forum where a member asked the author of a diet program “Hey, I’ve read your diet book and I was wondering if it would be okay to switch this part with that part and do this instead of this?” To which the author replied “If you do that, you are NO LONGER FOLLOWING THE DIET.”

Harsh words perhaps, but the reality is what it is.

Social media, print media and any other source of influence in your life is going to shine a beautiful shiny penny in your face at any possible moment. You can be swayed and disappear down a Google vortex hoping that you will stumble across the weight loss solution that has eluded everyone else. But that third world supplement allegedly used for centuries that has been reduced to a powdered form and has been touting every possible benefit from curing cancer to allowing you to never feel hungry again is probably a joke. And you’ll pay for that joke. (Don’t feel bad, I’ve wasted money on supplements too, I’m not immune.)

What I can say is this: You know what works and chances are, if you’ve followed a diet for any reasonable amount of time, you’ve seen what works. If you are still hopping from one new idea to the next, there is a good chance that your results are less than what you’d like them to be.

A more realistic approach would be to give yourself 30, 60, even 90 days to go all-in on ONE program. I’m less concerned with which program that might be and more concerned that you just stay the course and follow the guidelines.

Because the moment you hop onto the next thing without full commitment to the initial path, you’re probably not going to like the outcome.

So, realign your compass, focus on the plan, put the work in.

Below is a picture of our Anthony, who’s down 15lbs in one month from making a few small changes to his diet and (so far) not having to count calories. I’d say he’s focused. 🙂

“We Make Great People Greater”

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Revolutionary You! #137-Kelly Coffey: On Diet Resentment, Sabotage And Moderation

After her great first episode with me (#72), Kelly Coffey of Strong Coffey Personal Training returns again and we talk about some stumbling blocks that many on their diet journey have to overcome. As the title suggests, we tackle diet resentment, sabotage from ourselves and our loved ones, plus her thoughts on when to moderate food choices and when to choose otherwise. To get insight on her free course, check out http://www.bit.ly/rightwithfood and to learn more about her work visit http://www.strongcoffey.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.

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