The Lowdown on Wellness

Welcome to the first entry of the Personal Edge Fitness Blog.  I’m Garrett Williamson, your host and I’m writing this from the facility of Personal Edge Fitness. Now, who am I? And why am I writing this blog? I think it’s probably a good place to start all of this again, with my name, Garrett Williamson. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science from the University of Georgia. I have a master’s degree from the United States Sports Academy in Fitness Management. I have been a personal trainer for the last 28 years working, with all ages. I am also still competitive myself.  I was a pole vaulter in college, and then, somewhere around age 40, I decided to get back into the competitive world and started training again in multisport racing and had the privilege of competing in my first national championships in 2009, in the sprint triathlon, and was blessed enough to place 6th in the nation and qualify for Team USA. And that has been a major, major passion of mine. I’ve just completed my 8th World Championship competition ITU World Championship in Pontevedra, Spain, I’ve done non-world championship races in aquabike, sprint triathlon, and aquathlon. Also, since that really didn’t pay the bills, my day job is taking the role of President of Personal Edge Fitness. Personal Edge is an elite training facility dedicated to making our clients feel better about being themselves. And that’s really what I want to talk to you about today and give you a little background on not only why I’m writing a blog, but tell you the underlying theme behind this blog. And that is dealing with what I just said a moment ago, making our clients feel better about being themselves. Now, obviously, this is going to be about health, wellness, and fitness, and we’re going to cover all aspects of nutrition and whatnot. But the thing I’m most concerned about with my clients, with anybody that we get a chance to work with, with anybody that I talk to about health and wellness, is finding their own personal level of wellness. And what I mean by that is, nobody comes to us for a physical goal. I am a personal trainer, I’m in the fitness industry, I’ve been a personal trainer for 28 years, I have got all kinds of people that come to us for many reasons. 75% of people come to us for weight loss. We’ve done strength training programs, we’ve taught three people to walk again, we’ve got 13 scholarships to our name, so you think they’d be here for a physical goal. But that’s not true. Everybody comes to us, actually for a mental reason. And that’s what we call their level of wellness. So if you’ve got 20 extra pounds on you, you got a gut that sticks out – let’s say it makes an entrance before you do, it precedes you, or you’ve got a shoulder that hurts, you have rotator cuff damage or you’ve got a knee that’s been a trick knee ever since you had that football injury, you’re not coming to see me, you’re not going to see anybody to do anything about any of that until it starts bothering you in your head. Now there’s plenty of people wandering around with shoulders that don’t function because of a rotator cuff injury. They’ve even gotten it frozen at some point because they just stopped moving it, because they’ve injured it or what have you. They’ve got calcification in that bone, and not doing anything about it, and that’s fine. The reason being is that it doesn’t bother them in their head, it doesn’t bother them for the main reason why people would come to see us. The reason I say that nobody comes to us for a physical reason is very simple. Somebody contacts me and says they want to lose weight. Well, we start digging deeper, to find out what’s bothering them, because evidently this person’s been, in many cases, been overweight for years, all of a sudden, they saw themselves in the mirror, all of a sudden their wife made a comment, all of a sudden, they’re not able to get a date, their kids made fun of them, something that doctor scared them, something affected their mind, something truly bothered them. And that’s why they decided to make a change. And that’s why they’re coming to see me. So what we’re talking about here is addressing the real reason why anybody gets involved in a fitness program for that matter. For a nutrition program, dietitians deal with the exact same situation. Why are people coming to see me? Why are they trying to make a difference in their lives? Now our mission statement here at Personal Edge Fitness is to strive to make everyone feel better about themselves. Now, that’s what I’m talking about as far as the mental side of this. But our passion statement is for everyone to entrust their health to us.  The staff of Personal Edge Fitness is compelled to find each client’s personal level of wellness.  All that comes in addressing the mental side of fitness, the mental side of what we do.  If I have somebody come in and see me, let’s say to get in shape. Let’s say they’re interested in strength training.  I have an example of a lady who called me about 10 years ago and said she wants to get stronger and lose some weight. And I noticed as she was talking, she was back and forth and stuttering a lot.  Now if somebody is calling to set up an appointment with a personal trainer, that usually takes a few battles that you’ve already conquered. There are some challenges going on in your own mind. There are intimidation factors of contacting a trainer, there are problems of actually making the decision to make it change. So when you get to that point of actually picking up the phone and call, you’ve dealt with a few battles in the mind and if somebody is calling me and really has a goal, they’re going to call and be able to spit it out with no problem whatsoever. And here she is hesitating. I thought it was one of the greatest phone calls I’ve had in the 28 years I’ve been doing this because she finally stopped and said, “You know what, I want to get on the floor and play with my grandchild. I have three granddaughters, and I have my first grandson. And I noticed the other day, I wasn’t able to get on the floor and play with him. And that’s the reason why I’m calling”. See what I mean there? That’s not an exercise. That’s not a bench press. That’s not a squat, that’s not 20 pounds of weight. That’s not a knee injury, that’s a level of wellness. That’s her true goal. And with all due respect, this kind lady could care less what kind of modality, what kind of fitness level, what kind of trainer she worked with, as long as she was able to get on the floor and play with her grandchild. Now that’s her level of wellness. There are actually six dimensions of what we call wellness. Now, Dr. Bill Hettler, the co-founder of the National Wellness Institute, actually, in 1976, designed a model of the different parts of wellness. The first is Occupational, which deals with personal satisfaction and enrichment in one’s life through work. Then, you’ve got Physical, which is the need for regular physical activity.  Third, we have Social, which contributes to one’s environment and community, you can’t do anything about the mind. Next is the Intellectual component, which is creative, stimulating mental activities. Fifth is a Spiritual component, which is a search for meaning and a purpose in human existence. And last, is Emotional, which recognizes awareness and acceptance of one’s feelings. Now I’m going to stop for a second; I know what you’re thinking:  “Okay, wait a second, I clicked on this blog to read what this trainer has to say and learn some aspects of fitness… And he’s going off on this tangent of dimensions of wellness”.  Well, I promise you, if you’re involved in some kind of fitness program, or if you’re involved in some kind of a nutritional program, you’re doing it for one of those many reasons right there, and you’re not going to stick with it unless it addresses every single one of them.  Just like the lady I was telling you about a minute ago, you may say you just want to lose 20 pounds, you may want to make the varsity squad, you may just want to run a 5k in a certain amount of minutes. But the reason for doing any of those things is because at the end of the day, one of those physical activities, physical accomplishments, makes you feel better about being yourself. That’s what we’re seeking. That’s what we’re going after. And the reason I bring it up and the reason I find it so important is the fact that we find plenty of people that are looking for fitness, they’re looking for different types of fitness, they’re looking at a high-intensity interval training program, they’re looking at what their best friend does, or they’re going out for a run. They’re swimming, they’re finding these activities and think, “Hey, that’s that’s the activity I want to do”.   Much like a client, I was talking to this morning; he saw a pair of shoes another client was wearing. He liked the look of the shoes on the client, and the client said, “Well, these are light”. And so then he’s dying to go out and buy these shoes because gosh, that sounds good light, light sounds really good!  He was asking me what do you think about that? Do you think I should go buy those shoes? My question to him was simple: “What are you trying to do with those shoes?” He said, “Well when I walk, my hips hurt.” Now, I’m not so sure that’s because of the weight of your shoes. Alright, what am I talking about here? Again, when people are looking for a fitness program or looking for a diet, they’re looking for the different things that sound good. But at the end of the day, they’re looking to solve that thing in their mind. They’re looking to solve that problem of finding that level of wellness. If you’re involved in a fitness program right now, if you’re involved in some sort of activity, you may be struggling with it, or you may be going great with it. I hope so. I hope you are, but if you find yourself struggling with certain components of it, try to really think about why the heck are you doing this in the first place? Now it’s kind of funny for me to say that since I’m in the business of selling fitness, I don’t want to talk anybody out of it, that’s for sure. But I would like you to not spin your wheels, not waste your time, instead try to analyze what’s going on.  So anyway, putting this idea of searching for your level of wellness, putting it into practice is a six-step program. And why would you want to do that? Well, the whole reason you want to do that is the fact that that gets you to the core reason of why you’re doing fitness, the core reason of why you want to diet, and helps you actually select exactly which avenue you want to go down. If you know that you’re going towards addressing that mental reason for picking a fitness program and getting involved in a fitness program; If you’re addressing that you’re going to develop a passion for it, you’re going to be far more motivated. And you’re going to be far more successful. Because every day you don’t have a problem going to work if you know what the goal is, if you’re working towards a goal, you don’t mind putting the work in there if you’re actually working towards the actual goal of why you’re doing this. So it’s an easy way to develop a passion and actually, I’ve seen it where it actually makes somebody excited about an exercise if not an exercise regimen altogether. Our trainers in fact are trained to recognize that there are certain exercises that speak to certain clients. We know that each one of those happens to be addressing that level of wellness for them, especially with the clients that we see that are here to see us because of the whole aging crisis and their fear of aging. Putting this into practice, as I say, is a six-step program. 


Number one, the first thing you want to do is of course identify your hindrance to your level of wellness or identify actually what your level of wellness is. I tell people to take this and work backward. And you may be listening to me and simply say, “Garrett, gosh, all I want to do is lose 20 pounds”. I would say, “Well, why did you pick that number? What made you get up and do something now?”  And I say work backward from it, because if you’re already involved in a fitness program, what are the aspects of it that you like?   What parts of it- and it can be the exercise itself, it can be how you feel afterward. It can be the results on a scale the next day, it can be the way somebody comments about you. It can also be the way the suit fits you when you put something on.   Many times, it’s the way you feel about yourself when you’re involved in exercise itself. There’s a reason they have so many mirrors and fitness facilities. Yeah, checking form. But I’m telling you, we’re checking out ourselves, we’re checking ourselves for a reason. And keep in mind, vanity is absolutely my favorite sin, that’s for sure.


Side note- I’m passionate about drinking water. We’re going to talk about this in some upcoming blogs and podcasts but water will make you lose fat, not weight. I don’t mean it indirectly, I mean it directly- it will make you lose fat. So I aim to drink over 100 ounces a day, and I’ll remind you, too.


Number two, look for the most meaningful way to address this problem. Now that sounded funny; the most practical way is what you’d think I’d say.  I mean, the most meaningful.  The reason I say most meaningful is that we get asked all the time, what is the best cardio exercise, what’s the best exercise, what’s the best ab exercises, etc.  Now, as a trainer with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, a master’s degree in Fitness Management, and two different certifications that you can’t get unless you have a degree, I’m under a certain code of ethics. And I’m kind of governed by the powers that be of personal trainers. So therefore the answers to all those questions I can’t tell you because then I’d have to kill you. So what we usually tell people, when we answer those questions, is this:  The answer to the best cardio exercise, the best fitness exercise, the best ab exercise, is the one that you do. Now, it seems kind of ridiculous and stupid, but it can be swimming. But if you don’t swim, you don’t care to swim, you’re not interested in swimming, it’s too much trouble to swim., or if you don’t like what you look like in a swimsuit, or it’s just not going to happen…I’ll tell you, that’s probably the worst cardiovascular exercise for you. In fact, in swimming alone, that’s a running joke in the fitness industry is to have a swimming pool because it’s a great thing to sell memberships off of and it will put you out of business quicker than anything else because of the insurance concerns.  See, I didn’t say the most practical. I said to look for the most meaningful way to address that problem. I’ve got runners and they love to run, absolutely love to run. They get that runner’s high, there’s an endorphin release, the body’s an amazing thing, you can create a type of morphine that we cannot reproduce, and it feels great. And this is what’s so great to these runners.  They’re looking for that runner’s high, they have a block of time when that’s just time to themselves, you know, they get to get out and go for a run and just get a break. Get away from the kids, etc., that exercise is meaningful to them. I’ve got 80-year-old clients that get underneath a bench press for the first time and I don’t know 20, 30, or 40 years, some of them if not more, they’ll do 115 pounds, or they’ll do 120 pounds, then maybe up to 135. But they’ll tell me that it reminds them of when they were in high school when they were strong, young, virile, attractive, desired, and whatever means a lot to them. So, therefore, they never missed that exercise. I’ve got a client that does ab straps, of all things.  He hangs from some straps and does just simple leg lifts.  It makes him feel young, makes him feel virile.  I got a guy that always came in, and he always had to throw the medicine ball with me.  No matter what size medicine ball, he just had to do that exercise. Because again, it made him feel young, strong, virile. Those are meaningful exercises.  Those actually speak to each one of those clients’ level of wellness. So when you’re going after your fitness goal, even if it’s a rehab type of situation, even if it’s your shoulder, something that that speaks to you, that means something to you I highly recommend doing what my wife tells me on a regular basis. And that is to seek professional help, Garrett. I don’t think she’s talking about what I’m recommending to you, though.  But seriously, take those ideas to somebody and tell them not only what problems you have, or what physical problems you have concerns with, but what things you like, what things you don’t like, what speaks to you, what you see somebody doing that makes your think “gosh, I wish I could do that.” Those are the things that are meaningful to you. Notice I didn’t say easiest, either I just said meaningful. You’ll find when you find those types of exercises that if they’re more meaningful to you, no matter how hard they are, you’ll be more passionate about it, you’ll be more apt to do it, you’ll get to your goal a lot faster. 


Number three: clearly define what there looks like. This is something I actually talked to my staff about when we moved to our new location. I told him that I know we’d moved all the equipment over when we got some new equipment. And even though we were opening the doors, we still had some adjustments to make. We still had some equipment that was coming in. But I told them, I said, “Look, don’t tell your clients gosh, it will look great when we get there. When that equipment gets there, we’ll get there, it will look great. It looks great now. That’s fantastic. Now there is when we get to this piece of equipment, this look and then we’ll know we are there. Let me give a little better example because I think that kind of stinks.  I had a high school coach who was actually a physics teacher who helped me a lot in my pole vaulting. I cleared a height one day and it was a lifelong goal. As far as pole vaulting was concerned, the height was very low, but I cleared it. I got excited about going to the next height, and he told me to be satisfied with my goal. Now, what I heard him say was, that’s good enough for you. And of course, I got upset about it. And I think to this day, I look back on it and think, you know what, I had strived so long to get to that level, I had to find what there was, there happened to be 10 6,10 6 gets me into the varsity level 10 6 gets me into qualification.  That’s the there I need to be excited about getting to. It’s not that I didn’t want to get better. And it’s not that I don’t have clients that come in and have a goal, and they won’t drop five or 10 pounds and they get there. It’s not that they don’t turn around and change and set another goal. I’m not against that. But you got to have an input, you got to have a finish point, you got to have what does this actually look like when I get there?  Maybe it’s a number, maybe it’s how you feel, maybe it’s being able to get on the floor and play with your kids. Maybe it’s a certain bench press, clearly defined there. Once you get there, you can always redefine it. But you’ll drive yourself nuts if you keep moving that bar as you’re going along. And if you’re looking down, you’re grabbing your fat and you don’t have a way of actually measuring at a body fat number, weight or something, a definable goal, you’ll drive yourself nuts, always getting there and you think you’ll be spinning your wheels. And actually, you’ve probably already been there. 


Number four: set a timeline to achieve it. Now, the reason I say that is that a goal without a timeline is just a dream. And if you sit down and say you want to lose weight, well, that’s not defined enough.  You’ll need to define it. And step number three, and number four, you give yourself a goal. And again, go back to what I said earlier, seek professional help. I want to lose 20 pounds in a week, they may say.  Well, I’m not so sure that’s a good idea. But they can give you some realistic ideas about your timeline and how soon you should expect to hit that goal. And keep in mind, we’re talking about your level of wellness here. So when you’re doing that, you’ve got to think about the six dimensions of it and every aspect of your life. Real simple, you know, if you’re gonna start running two hours a day, every single day, well, if you have kids, you have a job, a wife, a significant other of some sort, that may be a little difficult. Take all those things into consideration; that will affect your timeline. But if you lay that out for yourself, it’s much easier to digest mentally. 


Number five:  Take your first step, which is to make a plan. Now you think you take the first step is hey, go for your first run, go out and do your first workout. If Monday you’re starting the diet, make your plan. You’ve got a timeline. Now you have to clearly define there. You know what your goal is, you know what your level of wellness is, you’re starting to find a modality of fitness or diet or whatever that’s going to get you there, so set a plan. This is going to happen on Monday. What time is it going to happen on Monday? How long is it going to take? If you’re going to do a fitness program? What time is it going to take you to change when you have to shower afterwards? Are you driving there? Lay all those details out and go through the first week, write it down if you have to. Because again, a plan gets you to that goal and a goal needs a timeline. Like I said, if not, it’s just a dream. It’s almost the same thing without a plan. Think of Eisenhower’s great quote on that:  “The plan is not important. Planning is important”. You can’t have that plan B, which most of us live our lives by, without making that plan. 


And number six: Take your second step to put your plan into action. When you’re actually putting your plan together, be very, very clear about that second step and know exactly what time this is going to happen. Many times when they put things together, many motivational speakers talk about this particular idea about putting your plan into action. If you’re going to make some major changes, make sure as soon as you make that plan, you can close the book and immediately start then. And that could be something as simple as laying your clothes out for a workout the next day, be very clear about that second step. That way you’re more apt to get started, get going towards your level of wellness. Now the reason I keep talking about is that there’s your six-step guide to attacking your level of wellness. You’ll hear me using that particular phrase throughout all of my podcasts. I’m going to address that on several occasions, your level of wellness, and it’s mainly making all of your fitness challenges, wellness challenges, diet challenges, what have you, it’s putting them into reality. You’re making a plan to make a change, be realistic about it, and search for your level of wellness. It’s not a number. It’s what makes you feel better in your mind.


There’s a lot of success stories I have, dealing with a level of wellness. I had a lady that came in wanting to lose weight. It turned out that she was, I have to say this, and please know I love this lady to death but in a rather small town, she was “the fat teacher”. At that time years ago we didn’t have such an obese nation. We didn’t have childhood obesity running rampant. And so when we had a substitute teacher come in, everybody knew who the fat one was. She was very, very overweight, had been overweight, pretty much all my life. She came in to see me and it’s quite obvious that she had decided to finally make a change. And she said she wanted to lose weight. And I said how much she said, I don’t know. I’ll know when I get there. And I said, Okay, that sounds fantastic. How are we going to go about this? She was going to give me two days a week to work with her and we were going to start there and I’ll tell everybody this actually started back in 1997. Very significant date, remember that date.  But she came in and we started losing some weight, we did two days a week and then we went to a plan of once we got in two days a week and gotten that under our belt, we were going to start doing five days a week where she would do some cardio and then she would do resistance training with me two days a week. And then she was going to go up to seven days a week. And when we moved on to that we started tracking and setting numbers. By this time, we want you to be down this way. By this time, we want you to be down to this weight and every time we’d hit her there, we’d reevaluate. Where do you want to go from here? How are you feeling? One day she walked into my office And she said, Garrett, this is it. Garrett, this is where I want to live. She had gotten her fitness routine down to a program that she could manage where it was, seven days a week with a walk on a couple of days a week where he was working out with me and what have you. She said, her nutrition, her fitness level, how she felt about herself, and how she looked, she said this is where I want to live. And if anybody looked at it, they could say yeah, she probably stands to lose a few more pounds. She probably could. But you know what? She could maintain where she was for the rest of her life, which she did. She did. She lost 45 pounds of fat, not weight, she lost 45 pounds of fat. Now she did this back in 1997. The reason for that date is significant. She was paying me a few $100 a month as a personal trainer.  At that exact same time, Oprah Winfrey was paying her first trainer over $2,000 a week, He was almost living with her, redoing her diet, they were spending hours together, and I always told my client that you know, if you get your own nationally syndicated talk show, I’d be a famous trainer. But up until that point, she had a lot of success. She maintained that after not only four or five pounds of fat did she lose, but she maintained it through two bouts of cancer, which was pretty amazing. Had a girl come in that just wanted to start working on a regular basis, start doing some fitness, start feeling a little bit better about herself. We kept on setting those goals, and she started losing a little weight. Then she started working out a little bit more. Then she started walking with some groups doing a little bit of group fitness. She’d never done that before. She had never actually done a whole lot outside of her family before and outside of her home. She did all that and parlayed every single bit of that all the way up to seven or eight years later, qualified for the National duathlon,  Where she qualified for Team USA and competed in her first world championship. Every time she knew when she hit her there, she celebrated each one of her theres and then reset a goal and went for the next level of wellness. To give you a little bit of closing on this episode because that’s going to come up quite a bit. But the main thing I want to say about the end of this and the conclusion is there’s a lot of external hindrances to searching for your level of wellness.  Most of it is due to mis. Misinformation about fitness misinformation about nutrition misinformation about age.  And this is something we’re going to address quite a bit. It is something that aggravates me. There are absolute lies in diet. There’s a lie of food and my biggest one is a lie of aging. We’re going to talk about that a lot because don’t let that ever, ever be a hindrance. Thank you for reading the inaugural first entry of the Personal Edge Fitness blog. If you enjoyed it, please share it around. Make sure to check out my podcast and I look forward to talking to you on future entries. Hey, I’m Garrett Williamson. Remember, stay hydrated.

Thanks for reading the Personal Edge Fitness Blog, by Garrett Williamson. Ask questions by calling 251-278-EDGE (3433) or message us on Facebook and Instagram @PersonalEdgeFitness or @TeamPE on Twitter and visit us at