The Journey to Watling Wellness


Sep 11, 2023

 by Tyler Watling
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This intro was the last thing I included because when I started writing I wasn’t even sure what direction I would head in. As I went through my path to this point it was an interesting realization to see how many events and changes took place all leading here. There are details in the moment that seem like forgettable, every-day items that all these years later appear far more consequential. There are essentially 3 key periods. College, Post-college through my move to Columbus, and then the Pandemic until now. Along with where this will go from here. This may be fairly long winded, but if you’re really that interested, here ya go.

This is also the most I’ve written since English 2 my sophomore year so bear (bare?) with me.


COLLEGE

If you told me 10 years ago while I was drinking my bodyweight in Natty Light that I would no longer be in engineering and instead working a job in tech sales and as a personal trainer on the side there is no way I would have believed you. Although, I wasn’t the best student, so maybe I would have…  However, that is right around the time things started to change for me. Literally. At that time, I was 5’ 11” and maybe 145 pounds if I had just walked in the rain. Whether it be biology or being embarrassed by how I looked without a shirt on or a combination of both, I decided it was time for a change.

I immediately started searching for the best workout plans and how to get bigger and ripped. There was only one man I trusted to get me to the place I needed to be. You guessed it, LL Cool J. Not even joking. I vividly remember watching S.W.A.T. roughly 78 times (shoutout to TNT) and thinking, damn, LL, now that is what a real man looks like. Aside from the obvious barriers to looking EXACTLY like him, his body type was my goal. My first purchase, which I still have to this day, was LL Cool J’s platinum workout guide. This really sent me down a path of learning different all types of exercises and being fascinated with how different methods caused my body to change.

The worn corners, the marked off pages, this thing got some serious use. Actually sneaky educational and there are some hard ass workouts were in here. New Hybrid at program at Verve is about to go crazy...

Pairing this with another fantastic purchase of Tim Ferriss’ “The 4-Hour Body” (an incredible read and very ahead of its time, strongly recommend), I saw things really take off. Crazy to think how adjusting the food you eat to go along with your workouts can make an even bigger difference. A realization I did not dive very deep into until years later which completely changed the game. Anyways, I continued this trend of different eating and exercise regiments throughout college. The change I came to see is that when I graduated just 3 years later I was coming in at 6’2” and 190 pounds. In 3 years, a transformation of 3” and 45 pounds. 15 pounds a year (didn’t use a calculator for that one, math guy) of about 80% muscle. I was fascinated to see just what the body was capable of doing under the right circumstances.


POST-COLLEGE

I was hooked and had no intentions of stopping there. Post-college, I continued to experiment with different workout plans. From super sets and drop sets to calisthenics and Occam’s Protocol, another gem from the 4-Hour Body. I was trying everything I could think of, constantly switching every 6-8 weeks to see what else I could achieve. No matter what I did I always seemed to see improvements from my baseline so I kept researching new and different things to try. I discovered things that I loved (dips and dumbbell bench press) and things that I hated (squat/deadlift superset, strongly DON’T recommend).  Whether it be from anxiety or not wanting to do dishes every day or definitely anxiety, I slowly started to work meal prep into my weekly routine. Another thing that came easy to me as I slowly eased up from one meal a day to entire weeks prepared on Sunday. Macros were not yet a thing to me as I crushed slow cooker barbecue pineapple chicken with mashed potatoes for lunch and taco pasta for dinner. Although, both are excellent choices if you are looking for recipe ideas.

As life goes, things changed and I was offered a new job that gave me an opportunity to relocate to Columbus, OH where I now happily reside. I did not know many people in the area which did make me a little nervous, but that also gave me the opportunity to focus on the important thing, myself. Narcissism aside, I was excited for the change in environment and the opportunity for personal growth. Upon my arrival I was met with a terrible situation... I had hit a plateau. One of the worst experiences to occur in the gym aside from an injury or getting caught on camera staring at someone. I was not seeing improvements. I switched up my exercises, but the weight I was able to lift stayed the same. Changed the tempo, the rest, the style -- nothing. When this happened, I was searching for answers on how to proceed when I remembered back to the 4HB and how I was adapting my diet to fit my workouts per Tim’s instructions. A full chicken breast, sweet potato and avocado was a standard dinner for me and the results of it showed in the gym. This led me to the path of “macros” which was the next biggest change in my fitness journey. I started to track what I was eating, how much I was eating and when I was eating it. Bingo. Pairing this with a revamped intense workout plan and the progress I was used to seeing returned. After a few months of this new lifestyle I decided to really crack down. Hell, I wasn’t doing anything in Columbus. Work, hit the gym and come home to watch Netflix was my daily schedule. I had all the power and freedom to get as strict as I wanted cutting out any negative temptations. Within 6-8 weeks I saw a twice the difference than after 3 months of hard work. All I did was lock down my diet and the results skyrocketed.

Now, I should mention that this led me down a path that eventually led to more harm than good… That is something that can be saved for another time, but my relationship with food was healthy to the point that it became unhealthy. Throughout time I was able to a transition to a more reasonable state. However, what always stuck with me is just how much of a role diet plays in your results. A facet of my training that I would continue to emphasize moving forward.


‘RONA SEASON

Remember when I said I wasn’t doing anything in Columbus? Well, mix in a global pandemic and wow did your boy have some free time on his hands. My job at the time was starting to become unbearable, I was not out getting much social interaction throughout the day and overall my mental health started to become an issue. I had way too much free time and a majority of it was spent alone in my apartment. Around this time, I had a couple friends reach out asking me about different workout or diet plans I might recommend. I didn’t have much of a reason not to help so I was happy to lend a hand. Afterwards, one of them complimented the plan and mentioned how I should charge people for something like that. Duh, that is absolutely what I should do. Right then I started looking into personal training certification. I reached out to an old roommate who was in the field and before I knew it I had my American College of Sports Medicine textbooks and I was off to studying. I would work during the day, get my workout in the afternoon and spend all night literally reading a textbook and taking notes. I took more notes on this one book than I did all of engineering school. I was using my free time to learn anatomy and kinesiology which is a pretty good sign that you’re on the right track of following a passion. 4 months later I was a certified personal trainer and about 3 months after that I had my first job at a small private coaching facility in Columbus, Verve. I applied to roughly a dozen different gyms and that was the only one I got an interview at. It ended up working out, pun very much intended, in the best way. In the 2 years since, I have met, coached, sweat and had a few too many beers with some incredibly friendly, genuine and hardworking people. They allowed me to find a new life in a city that was starting to feel unwelcome and was one more example of how following my interest in health and fitness led to bigger and more enjoyable things.

I have continued to try and better myself and my craft through research and personal development during this stretch. I frequently find myself looking up articles, watching podcasts or trustworthy YouTube tutorials and taking notes making sure I have the most accurate information to spread because this is something I want to make sure I am doing to the best of my ability. The more research I do, the more ways I find to make improvements. However, the progress comes at a slower pace. Although that is the case, I have realized how important things besides physical wellness are in measuring success. There are so many mental, emotional, social and other areas that need attention. I have expanded into learning about all areas of health and wellness even more thanks to the great work done by Dr. Andrew Huberman and his podcast Huberman Lab which provides a wealth of tremendous science-backed information all at zero-cost. A major inspiration for my endeavors here. 

So just a quick recap; the people I’ve looked up to for guidance have gone from LL Cool J, to Tim Ferriss (the man described as a “human guinea pig”), to a Stanford PhD and professor. It's called ~*growth*~


MOVING FORWARD

First, if you have made it to this point, I really appreciate you taking your time to read through all this. You had zero obligation to do so and it means a lot that you are remotely interested in what I am doing. I mean, I had to proof read this and even I got a little sick of myself...

It seems that every time I have put in the work to learn or achieve something in this field I have been able to push the boundaries of my comfort zone and become better for it. That is what I will continuing to do with this brand. My entire goal of this is to try and bring as much useful and valuable information to those with the shared goal of optimizing their wellness and maximizing their physical performance. And to do so in the most authentic and easy to understand way possible. As I have learned through this long roller coaster of a journey, there is no shortage of tools at your disposal or methods of achieving your ideal state of well-being. This is a field in which I have gathered a substantial amount of experience and knowledge through various education, self-experimentation and research. One that I truly have a passion for teaching others about so they can also reach a place that is even 1% better than where they are at now. I am by no means saying that I am perfect, and that is the whole point of “Optimal Wellness”. It is not no mistakes, zero flaws, the cleanest living possible. It is achieving a level where you are able to find a sustained balance between all the areas of wellness that give you a better feeling, higher performing, more enjoyable lifespan.

The structure of things will inevitably vary, but the information being provided will be constant. Also, be sure to check out my Instagram where I will be posting videos with useful wellness and performance tips. The blog will mainly be used to expand on those videos to provide more detail or for long-form versions of topics that don't necissarily require a video (top 10 recipes blog coming soon).

I believe that wellness and performance is best supported when we are able to choose activities and lifestyles that lead to our most sustainable levels of health across all categories. Knowing what to do is one thing. Understanding why you do it is the true key to success.