JED WIGHTMAN PERFORMANCE/SPORTS NUTRITIONIST ADVANTAGE FITNESS LTD
This article has been written for Canadian Physique Alliance – July/Aug 2022 Edition
I’m going to ask you something, now it’s a question I don’t believe I would be the first one to ask, one that has been asked over the ages. So, ponder this for a moment, is it human nature, is it unavoidable. That to truly learn ourselves, evolve, we must blunder, make mistakes? Or can we make swifter more effective progress in this evolution of aging, from birth to death by listening and learning more from our predecessors, elders, and teachers.
Are we teachable beasts who can evolve grow and thrive better when we are Taught? Again, I don’t mean merely receive information, rather, help ourselves build a foundation from our life of knowledge and education that helps us move through life, avoiding many of the pitfalls, falling on our face, self-induced pain and suffering we incur, the bumbling around through the years that pass from youth to our ultimate demise. Can we evolve with age steadily, growing progressing and ultimately aging more effectively, as I see, looking back over the years…? I certainly could have.
As I look ponder over my life, as I think we all can we have so much available to us from the world’s wealth of knowledge, from our genes first off our parents or parent, teachers, our mentors, our elders and coaches. Sometimes many of those “guides” are all from just one person. If we are of a lucky few, to have that mentoring offered when we are pups, how many of us would have really and truly listened or paid attention? Who knew that this information and teaching was vital and we would need it as we got older to avoid life’s many potential self-inflicted wounds, and to not make the same mistakes of those, who before us paved the way, the things which we had been warned against.
So, how many of us truly did that or had that mentoring available? I know I had little guidance when I was very young but that which I did; I certainly could’ve paid more attention. As I got older, especially leaving home at 14, I was almost more resistant to it. I had to grow up very fast, thinking that my limited experience before then had me at my most effective readiness; I was prepared and could face anything with my infantile, arsenal of life experience. My story is not unique I know, many of you probably experienced the same things. Having to leave home fend for yourself, having to grow up very fast in a very formidable environment from a very young age. Oh to be young again! Youth, what a wondrous time!
Well then, I’m perspective, perhaps it’s the ignorance of the young, thinking when we are such an age, we think we know everything and have seen everything? I believe that’s reinforced deeper into the psyche of those like me, who had to take on the responsibility of life while still a child. Perhaps it’s the innocence of youth because we’ve done very little, saw even less, and experienced only a drop in the bucket compared to what we will if we were too fast forward 20 or 30 years? Yet, even this I believe reinforces that useful concept that our limited five block radius of life experience has provided all that we need and we certainly know rather we think we know so much more than we do.
As I ponder this, more so now in the last couple years, then ever before in my life. Coming up on 42 years this time around in this trusty meat suit, pretty much right when this article will be published. After considering all of my life to this point, those I’ve known who were there to teach me, all I’ve learned and continue to learn, from those who’ve come before me. My conclusion being, it’s simply, that all of that above (ignorance, innocence and lack of experience) is true. It is our human experience and we all MUST go through it to truly know it. However, I’m convinced that we can go through it less scared and more prepared for years ahead if we were to allow the teaching available or seek out teaching if it’s not available, to help us evolve effectively with ageing.
So where am I going with all this? I know it’s a very broad and almost ambiguous statement about life, but the overarching concept here is everything that the experience, we must ACTUALLY learn from. Not just experience and then to repeat the same or complain how nothing changes. Thusly, ageing allows for that developmental process to be ever more thorough. To be not just available to us, because time inevitably passes, rather if we use the time wisely, seek out more teaching while listening more and talking less. Aging can be the most educating, guiding and building process that an individual has available to them.
If we look at life as such, we are literally going to school for life!
Now this friends, is what I mean when I say “the evolution of aging “. For if we do not evolve as we age by growing, learning, adapting and modifying everything that we are and do. In our sport and lifestyle of Nutrition, the body, physique development and fitness we do this. Teaching and training our body’s response to everything we are influenced by. If we maintain the ignorance of youth, and we cannot hide in that innocence because we don’t have that luxury, we fail our body’s ability to develop and stay healthy. So innocent no, we left that behind long ago, choosing ignorance and futility is much more common as I see in myself as I look back.
Now if we are critically involved all measures of our existence in the human experience, we will be able to IMPROVISE, ADAPT and OVERCOME all, while conquering most everything we face.
HOWEVER, One thing is we cannot avoid, no matter what, is aging, we must evolve with it. Easy right? No, absolutely not! It’s taken me a long time to first recognize and then accept this fact, after much resistance. I must evolve with my age. We can only then begin to dig deep into these layers, understanding that it’s in my power to be the absolute best that I can be in Health, Mind, Body and Soul, as I evolved with my age. At any age!
So for all the young bucks out there, this is for you. For all of you out there that are close to my age or older and I’ve been doing this for over half your lives this is for us. So sit back and let me share with you a little of my person experience regarding just this, maybe insightful, helpful or at very least entertaining as you come with me on the twisty turning 4×4 trail of reflection.
Remember being young and it’s “Off-Season” Those good old days eating for the sake of eating, EAT TO GROW (eating whatever you wanted just lots of it) training with that ballistic style, ridiculous, heavy weights and not really paying a whole lot of attention to proper warm-ups, readiness training or pre-habilitation, let alone what was done the day or week before nutritionally or supplementally. Just flat out balls to the wall GET SOME!
I remember being in my mid-20s (27 actually) off-season in GROW MODE for the BC provincial championships prep to start in eight weeks. Being in peak off-season that year, while not my heaviest, I got up to 278 LBS. Getting ready for nationals 2009 I was 289 LBS, and that was my heaviest weight ever looking back so silly was I. Anyway, Ok so let me tell you, I had some older guys that I knew respected and trusted, telling me that I didn’t need to get that heavy. How it was too hard on my heart, needed to really watch my blood pressure even though I was young. “It catches up” they said, “the stress to my organs, getting heavier did not mean being better necessarily”, and I could do a great deal of service to myself if I just went slower took another year or two and gained strategically and stayed leaner.
One main proponent of this and the loudest voice in my ear was my coach. My trusted guide teacher and mentor. He gave me a myriad of reasons, but I just heard a noise in my head that said “isn’t it the point to get as big as possible, look how big you are Mr. 5 foot 6 280 lbs IFBB PRO, to train as heavy as possible and then diet down to even bigger and greater than last year?” This was my internal Voice from my ego and inexperience So clearly I thought I knew better, I can actually remember thinking that “they are missing something”, that they legitimately were from a different time and therefore were behind the times and didn’t know what they were talking about.
I was huge, but I didn’t feel adequate, I had full abs, my back was fat though, And the heavier I got even though I was bigger I just felt fatter and worse. I have always carried weight in my back and glutes more than anywhere else. But, I tried to convince myself hey, if I can see my abs I’m still in shape! SMH at the young Jed. Ultimately, I didn’t like how I looked, I just thought if I get to 300 pounds then I’ll finally like how I look. Why? Because, I’ll be something great! The numbers will matter and everyone that I see in the gym as well as around me, will tell me that I’ve met some high level of elite echelon and that would validate me, I’d feel like I “got there”. Again, I was not happy, I was pretty lost, I didn’t know myself and I couldn’t see myself. Crazy right!? Lost with all the help right there!
So in my reflection, if I would’ve just listened and put my limited knowledge to that point in my life on the shelf, and accepted and administered the guidance, I would have loved how I looked experienced a process of health mind body much more so than I was living. Ultimately creating the unavoidable the eventual falling on my face, does this sound familiar to anyone?
So I was just big everywhere. For any of you that know what it’s like to be 275 at 5’10” everybody that sees you either scoffs, or stops to scoff or just has to say something to you about being that guy. So, yup ego feeding was happening even more than the hate, but still the hate fed my ego. Also, remember this was before any real social media Facebook was kind of a thing but not really yet. So it was all of this organic attention gyms restaurants grocery stores etc. Oh and holy cow I was strong, I felt like rubber everything, just bounced and ricocheted and recovered, nothing made a dent. Six plate deadlifts, four plate benches, curling 185 on the Olympic bar, close grip bench with 3 1/2 plates…you know, the gnarly stupid stuff you do when you’re young. “Weight” “numbers” EGO.
Leg day, was on Sunday at that time, I would go in after a big cheat day on Saturday, 10,000 calories burgers and pizza of course. I’d go to leg extension and pound off five sets progressively, working up to the stack for 25 reps each, then take a short break which I thought was a short break which was like 2 /2 minutes maybe longer lol. Then do 25 reps from the stack all the way down dropping two plates per drop set. That was my warm-up, then I’d wrap my knees, my training partner would have the bar 5 plates a side set up in the rack, 495lbs belt on knees wrapped up, get a good spot for my trusty training partner (miss you bro thanks for many years of that awesome shit we did every day together). I’d get 10 to 12 reps, pretty bouncy, pretty easy then he would drop a plate aside, I will try to get 20, most I ever got was 19. I would usually get between 15 and 18 reps with 405, then I’d drop to a 3 plates while trying to push for 20, if you get 20 try for 22. Then two plates to complete failure, then one plate aside until he’s taking it and curling it off my back because I couldn’t stand up another time.
Now, that was fun for me to relive thank you for letting me explain in colourful detail, this scenario of absurdity. In my opinion, this was the ignorance of youth for me, not innocent because at my age and experience with clients, I was not innocent of experience. (I would never have encouraged a client to do this, and I would’ve corrected it immediately if they’d come to me with this ridiculousness).
I had been training in bodybuilding since I started school at 23 and had been working out since I was 17. Ultimately, I knew better not just because I was told, coached or shown by living examples. This was also because I was very good at what I did with my clients, I kept them from injury and this probably played into my hubris regarding myself. Ultimately, did I get hurt? No, not once zero injuries, I went through my bodybuilding career as a competitor without experiencing one serious injury from training. I had injuries mind you, that later me up, but I did not hurt myself in the gym. Not then anyway… . Hahaha oh to look back.
My experience to that point was very thorough, in my career as a fitness consultant, coach, nutritionist, and trainer to high-performance athletes, fire department, first responders, police and sports teams. For many years I had an extremely high workload six days a week, 10+ hours a day. Due to where I lived, I was an anomaly there were few others like me in the two communities in which I worked. I worked in the local high school teaching nutrition and SAQ for a Hockey Canada Academy as well as the dryland coach and nutritional consultant or the hockey Junior A, B and midget AAA Bantam hockey clubs and several other teams in surrounding areas.
I also was consulting for the Canadian Diabetes Association and did seminars for proper nutritional measures to assist with type one insulin-dependent diabetic and type two insulin-resistant diabetics. I helped many and I feel like I made a huge positive impact in my time working with the association. I did great, everybody was very happy. I never had anybody place out of the top three on the stage. Many overall tittles, my sports teams dominated, my individual clients looked amazing and my firefighters won the annual firefighter challenge every single one of them that I prepped for it. So again I thought I knew everything.
I felt my knowledge and continued education in the fields I specialized was thorough enough, I mean I knew a fair bit (I thought) about advanced (at the time current available science) Biochem, fats, endocrine, system digestion, nervous system and hormones. Looking back, I was a baby and knew so little compared to what I see now as knowledgeability 15 years later. Essentially what I had done was, I had made myself an island metaphorically speaking. I was evolving externally, learning and applying my in field evolution to so many, yet I was confined on my island, inside myself and how I applied things to myself. For some reason, I thought I was different.
So much so, I decided to start prepping myself and not use my coach who I had been coached by from the inception of my training and nutrition journey when I was a boy. From getting me ready for basic at 17, He had taken me to every class and overall win that I had in my bodybuilding experience. He was the best coach, I couldn’t have asked or paid, there was for me no better one, he was the best in the business. His wisdom massive, he was really that knowledgeable, truly a wise sage, I mean the thing that could’ve kept me from falling on my face if I would’ve listened, but I thought I knew. When I told him this, I was going to prep myself he was gracious and told me that he’d always be there for me if I needed. He then advised me against it and said, “not only a second set of eyes that are pragmatic and honest, but knowledge that you do not yet possess, is essential and he said more necessary than you’ll ever know.” I’ll never forget this he said “you will certainly find that out the hard way”. Moreover, he said the ability to apply that knowledge without hesitation and with strategy, that when dieting yourself you may not be able to be so concise, because you’re too close to it, the forest for the trees if you will.
So, remember I was rubber, so sure of myself that I knew it all. So on I went, dieted myself, got 2nd at provincials (looked like crap) then got utterly smoked at nationals. Stubborn, disbelieving and doubting myself, I failed prep, I didn’t have the detail needed, I thought if I came in at the top of my weight class and heavy weights it would be the difference I needed. Such a common thing I see in today’s young people “if I weigh more I’m better” and for women, “if I weigh less I’m better”. When the knowledge of experience tells us very simply, what we look like is what we look like regardless of the scale. I had lost my way, the process I had trusted and been guided by when I was coached. Yet I ignored my inner voice and pushed on to the next year off-season.
I did what I had to get up to the 289lbs and at 29 years old, not once looking ahead to the ramifications of the choices I was making could have on me when I was older. Lunacy, I was doing everything I could imaginable to push the envelope. The whole time living in this weird doubtful scenario inside myself that even with all I knew, maybe I’d repeat again what I did the year before. I pushed deep down inside myself and kept saying the “bigger I get the more I can make it happen”. I felt myself breaking with doubt, confusion, inadequacy and disillusion wondering what I was doing, wondering what for and now I realize I was thinking, at what cost? Besides that, having trouble breathing putting my shoes on was quite an exercise in cardio, simple things being nearly 300 pounds unless you’ve been there I know, there’s a whole other ball game in the realm of physicality. You are not athletic, you’re just big and everything is a challenge.
So one day I woke up, legitimately one morning After a night of terrible sleeping because of my horrible snoring sleep apnoea that comes along with being that big. And I was, like “what the F am I doing this for, pushing my body with all the means that I had necessary to try to hit 300 pounds because I was going to be the biggest super-heavyweight? To come back a whole weight class bigger, harder. Dominant. Then what? THEN WHAT!? I needed guidance I need wisdom, I hit the wall at 100 miles an hour metaphorically speaking. If I just would’ve listened to my guide, my mentor, if I would’ve had him in my corner with my best interest in mind I would’ve grown slowly and progressively taken a couple of years off from competing put on quality muscle again slowly and effectively for my body.
The whole time following the plan and trusting the process, but I didn’t and ultimately I sabotaged myself and fell on my face. So I retired, stopped going to the bodybuilding gym, I lost 80 pounds, stopped training with weights for 13 months. I still trained though, I did some MMA fights dominated that, and functional training. Sleds legs bags strongman and SAQ blended training; I thought maybe I had been missing something in other areas of athletics and training. This was a deeply evolutionary process for my inner self. But was it my path for training? No. These now made me look deeper, being more receptive as I was starting to learn. It took me those 13 months to recognize that I had to get back in the bodybuilding gym, my passion for training, and to be a better coach, the best coach I had to grow. Not physically only, ya get my build back. Most importantly I had to grow scientifically, psychologically, spiritually, emotionally and physically. I had to be living example of health longevity and educated discipline to truly be the best for myself and my clients, yes, but first myself.
This is who I was and it was mine to master, not only career but it was my therapy it was my passion, it was my happy place. I was aging faster now it seemed, those two years went by in the blink of an eye. Evolution with my aging was essential.
Did it happen overnight? Of course not, I got back to training in the bodybuilding gym, I started to put weight back on, I got up to 260 lbs pretty fast. Too fast, this also clouded my judgement because here I was, still working with myself and I had blown up and gotten so strong so fast. Of course, I started training the same way that I had always trained when I was younger. So here’s the fun stuff, I suffered 4 serious injuries all within 2 years of each other, 32 years old to 33 years old. First, I tore the Sartorius in my left leg squatting stupid, heavy like I was used to without warming up properly as if I was still young and rubber. So then I healed, that didn’t stop me, I just had to try harder, push harder or so I thought, so then I tore my gracililus in my right leg eight weeks after my Sartorius injury.
Did I learn? No, I healed and pushed on. EGO, EGO, EGO, I thought. Then tore my semimembranosus, after healing that a year later I tore my vastus lateralis IT band insertion. The whole time coming back, I didn’t check into the reality. Until the last injury, then I endeavored on the spiritual journey and started reading, reading and reading. Losing the ego, observing the mind while not being connected to the pain of my past, trauma, the “pain body” no it is as time to stop letting the ego drive my decisions. I knew I was not evolving, not changing, just a progression of the same thing as before thinking that I was making improvements. Now 33 Years old I started to really change things. Starting with how I trained, approaching things from a much more tactical sense, volume and quality over weight, enhanced recovery with healing time, time off, periodization, D load week’s, still challenging the body with heavy weight training but relative to where I was in life and taking into consideration the injuries, that was no doubt because of my younger years and doing such heinous ridiculous things to myself.
All of it added up, all of it made me who I was at that time and proved that I needed to modify and evolve to overcome where I was. Nutrition and training for myself in a much more definitively controlled way using the weights as tools ultimately, generating the deepest connection between the minds of the muscle. Eating for recovery and performance no garbage cheat food, no junk food ever, anti-inflammatory healing and regenerative supplements, everything that I could use at the time and learn about and gain accreditation for its application to human biology and physiology.
Yes, I went back to school for everything that I thought I already knew. I realized as I said before, I knew barely a drop in the bucket of what was to come. Also, due to my injury I started posing my legs constantly, posing my legs 3X/day and between every set on leg day, to get deeply connected with the muscles that I needed to be developed in priority, this greatly enhanced contraction and performance in the gym under weight-bearing load. My new mission was to apply every tactic that I could study and learn everything; I could be verified that I could read. Ultimately using myself as that test pilot to grow and develop into a human-machine of progress in the most healthy beneficial sense, and injury-free.
So it’s been 10 years on the new path, evolving, I’m learning and I’m getting older. My mission is so far successful. Over the course of the last 10 years I’ve been developing ways of ever evolving applications of natural and holistic nutrition, supplementation, training and developing once injured and long a symmetrical body parts and bodies of people that are my age and older, much older, always with strategies of health and longevity at the forefront. Continually working with the analysis of the person as the individual dictates their capabilities and dispositions that they have from the years lived in the pit of iron previous.
I have national champions that are in their 50s both male and female healthy strong injury-free. Lifestyle clients that continue to improve health markers, lipid panels, blood pressure and heal holistically. My personal health and physical body and well-being have never been better. My BP is 108 over 65 with a resting HR of 59 BPM. I feel improvements in the last few years greater than I have in the last eight and I’ve never been happier with how my body looks and how I feel. I invite the future, the aging process and with it what comes of me and my ever necessary development through my evolution of aging.
It’s funny, right now at this moment I just remembered when I was young, a conversation, one of our first with one of my great mentors. He told me you’re probably not going to like how you look for a long time, probably do a lot of things to be the biggest guy when that’s not what this is all about. There I was again my ignorance of youth my innocence of little to no experience thinking “whatever if I was to 280 pounds like you, I would be totally happy, he doesn’t know me he just doesn’t know what he’s talking about“. Alas, he was right.
So everyone, fun stuff reflecting, a little dive into my experience, how about you, have you thought about it? The question I asked earlier. “is it human nature, is it unavoidable. That to truly learn ourselves, evolve, we must blunder, make mistakes? Or can we make swifter more effective progress in this evolution of aging, from birth to death by listening and learning more from our predecessors , elders, teachers? Are we teachable beasts who can evolve grow and thrive better when we are Taught?
Hopefully, whatever you answer to that question, this little excerpt from my own personal experience helps shed light or provides an example or at best you laughed at me as I do myself upon reflection, at my ridiculousness of youth. So if nothing more, I can give you some entertainment on this beautiful blessing of a day to be alive. If I can leave you with something that I truly believe, seek out guidance trusted teaching from the wisdom of those who possess the knowledge expertise and experience, have learned it and lived it. The few trusted individuals who are there to help you be the best version of yourself, and guide us along on our personal evolution of aging, journey. Until Next time everyone stay safe healthy, and most of all ALWAYS FORWARD AF.