BodySpace Member Of The Month: The Shredded Southern Gentleman
Jason makes a difference in his everyday life, but now, as a BodySpace Spokesmodel finalist, he's hoping to reach a huge audience. Hear what he has to say!
Name: Jason Wittrock
Location: Atlanta, GA
Occupation: Personal trainer (AAAI/ISMA)
Jason Wittrock doesn't want to be just another impressive body on a stage. This humble amateur bodybuilder really wants to make a difference. He works with people suffering from mental disorders and struggling with weight gain caused by their medication. He also wants to spread a worldwide message about how to win the battle against obesity.
From February 7-8, Jason will compete against four other finalists at the Los Angeles Fit Expo to see who will be the next BodySpace Spokesmodel. Whether you come to see him and the other finalists or not, you need to read his story!
Tell us about your early years
in fitness. How did you get your start?
I fell in love with weight training at a young age. My first experience with lifting was around 8-9 years old. As a young kid, I constantly acted out and got into trouble, so my mom would send me to my room as punishment. It came to a point where I basically lived in my room.
To pass the time, I started doing push-ups and sit-ups. I would do hundreds of reps for hours on end. I became addicted and saw results quickly. One year I asked for dumbbells for Christmas, and once they were in my hands I never put them down.
I was dealing with some tough things in my life at the time. Looking back, I'm sure I worked out so hard in my room to avoid the pain I was feeling. I linked massive amounts of pleasure to working out, and the physical pain I felt during my workouts made me feel alive and gave me a sense of being in control.
What allowed you to take the next step with your physique?
Ultimately, it came down to hard work and persistence. Growing up, I paid close attention to the bodybuilders I wanted to look like them, and imitated their training and nutrition methods. I read as much information as possible with an open mind. I asked as many questions as possible from people more experienced than me. I surrounded myself with people who were stronger and more experienced than me. I looked around and paid attention to what other people were doing. I tried everything. I kept what worked for me, and forgot about what didn't.
In my opinion, the more time you spend in the gym, the greater the success you'll have. The same is true in business and other professions. They say it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.
How long did it take you to truly become comfortable with your physique?
I'm comfortable with my physique, but I'm still self-conscious. It took me a while to accept constant judgment by other people, but everyone has to deal with that. I worried that people who saw me, but didn't know me, would see my physique and rush to judgment and think I was conceited, arrogant, or unapproachable.
The opposite is true. I also noticed how people automatically assumed I was judging them, as if I wasn't going to be their friend because they didn't work out or eat healthy foods. I hated feeling like people were uncomfortable around me. Now, I just focus on things I can control, and use my physique as a tool to inspire and motivate people to take action and change their lives.
Why did you enter the BodySpace Spokesmodel Search?
I entered the contest as an opportunity to change lives. I realized that if I could change my life and get into great shape, I could help others do the same. I get a great sense of pleasure when I'm able to help others. It makes me feel good and gives me a sense of purpose. Bodybuilding.com changes more lives than any company in the fitness industry, so an opportunity to contribute to their efforts would be a dream come true.
All of the BodySpace Spokesmodel Finalists have one thing in common: They genuinely care about other people and dedicate their lives to help people reach their goals. For that reason, no matter the outcome of the competition, every finalist will have a successful future. As they say, you can have whatever you want in life if you just help other people get what they want.
You've been involved in a unique facet of the battle against obesity. Tell us about it.
I'm currently involved with a groundbreaking program conducted by a mental health facility here in Atlanta. Each week I offer my personal training services to young adults between the ages of 18-24. They all suffer from severe mental problems ranging from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia, multiple personalities, cutting, and suicide attempts. To fight their symptoms, they must take a specific medication that usually causes them to quickly gain 40-50 pounds.
As a result, most of them end up dying by the age of 40 from obesity-related illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, stroke, or heart attack. To prevent this from happening, we teach them how to exercise and educate them on proper diet and nutrition. The results have been incredible! It's estimated that we save 10 years of life for the kids participating in the study. The study will be published soon, and I'm extremely fortunate and proud to have contributed.
My objective is to educate people on the different types of carbohydrates—good and bad—and introduce them to new ways of approaching fat loss and dieting. It all comes down to combating the vast amount of misinformation on diet and nutrition. Research shows the primary cause of America's obesity epidemic is an overconsumption of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates ultimately determine insulin secretion, and insulin drives the accumulation of body fat. The most fattening foods are the ones that have the greatest effect on our blood sugar and insulin levels. These include foods like: bread, cereal, pasta, beer, fruit juice, soda, potato, rice, and corn.
Excess carbohydrate consumption is medically proven to increase risk for cardiovascular disease, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and some forms of cancer. Today, the average American consumes approximately 300 grams of carbohydrates per day.
As more research from the medical community comes out, we are forced to think differently than what we learned growing up about why we get fat. There is a tremendous opportunity to use this knowledge to help thousands of people who make the decision to lose weight, and give new hope to those who have given up.
We're in the middle of transformation season, but how can a new lifter continue training beyond that 12-week window?
The most important thing is to never forget why you made the decision to change your life. Remind yourself every day why you decided to raise your standards, why you demand more of yourself, and why you are willing to sacrifice and work hard to become the best person you can be. You didn't make a commitment to change your life for the next 12 weeks; you made a commitment to change your life forever.
Take your journey one step at a time. Be patient with yourself and learn to love the process. Focus on how you feel in the moment and don't get too far ahead of yourself. Life is about ups and downs; weightlifting and fitness are no different. How quickly you pick yourself up and move forward will ultimately determine your success.
What advice can you give to someone who just got a gym membership?
My advice to new gym members is to not be intimidated. You are there for yourself, not for other people. Think of the gym like a playground, with tons of different things to do. Try everything out! Keep going back to what you like and what works for you, and forget about what doesn't.
Find other people to work out with if you want, and use it as an opportunity to meet new people. Be observant and try to learn by watching other people around you. Understand there is no wrong way to work out. There is no magical exercise, and no number of sets or reps that will guarantee results. All that matters is that you show up, push yourself, have fun, and continue learning.
Understand and accept that it takes time to get results, and with enough persistence, you will reach your goal. Learn to associate working out with pleasure instead of pain. On the days you don't want to go work out, remember how great you felt when you left the gym last time. Remind yourself why you made the decision to make this change in your life. Visualize what you want to achieve and obsess over it. As long as you believe in yourself and stay committed, you will find a way.
Once you find your way, make sure to encourage the next person who just got their gym membership.