by Christian Duque
3x Ms. Fitness Olympia Whitney Jones recently opened up to Generation Iron, discussing a wide variety of topics that a champion of her level would normally keep under wraps. It’s so sad that so few top superstars would feel comfortable enough to speak on topics such as these; however, in a sport that’s dominated by appearances, followings, and the vanity of looking perfect, it makes some sense that very few people are as brave as Whitney is.
No one wants to concede to any sort of pain, even if they’re running on fumes and on the verge of burning out; no one would know the better. Many competitors, today, can live through great stress and say nothing, so much so, that no one knows. Their coaches don’t know, their significant others don’t, no one does.
In this interview, Jones discusses the positive elements of being strong in all ways, but she also talked about the issues that do require more openness. I think it’s really powerful that Generation Iron took the initiative to put out this kind of an interview. When you take a look at what other outlets are releasing, this sort of video just doesn’t come up. It’s all about training videos, meal prep, and/or infomercials promoting powders and pills. That said, this video shows us a very unfiltered, very raw side of the champ. She uses the term “leveling up,” which really does justice to what she talked about. Vlad Yudin did a fantastic job asking the good questions, listening, and never interrupting. He made the champ feel comfortable.
Whitney has probably done hundreds of interviews, but this video had real production value. This wasn’t a rushed, noisey interview backstage at some random contest. This interview had all the benefits of a professional podcast or radio interview. That’s important because the take-home message is very important. There was a lot of information here, information that has a practical purpose for competitors and all people. It was very powerful.
One of the key points discussed was mental strength. Whitney talked about living up to the nickname of “The Comeback Kid,” and how others’ underestimations of her potential motivated her to succeed. She was able to divorce self-pity as a defense mechanism to those undercutting her talents and/or looking to troll her. She was able to turn the negativity into a positive process whereby she was able to achieve the things people doubted she could. But she didn’t use the accomplishments to rub in the faces of her adversaries. When she overcame a blown ACL or faced neck surgery, she used these successes as teaching opportunities to help others overcome bumps in the road.
Moreover, she reflected on the fact that when she was looking at neck surgery, she couldn’t find any posts or threads on the procedure in any of the popular bodybuilding websites or message boards. For all the research on the information superhighway, there was nothing on the surgery she was facing. So what did she do? She changed that, through her own experiences, and she gave others what wasn’t available to her. It’s all about leveling up.
Vlad also asked Whitney if she’d ever battled with anxiety, and her response was that she had and that depression was also a factor. Further to that, she discussed the fact depression runs in her family, but that despite all these realities, she refused to adopt a victim mentality. She spoke about a mindset approach she employs that works for folks in all walks of life, not just competing or working out.
The iconic fitness influencer used the interview as a platform to speak directly to folks dealing with a wide range of mental and emotional issues. This couldn’t have been more evident than when she said, “there’s always a way to flip it,”
The fact is, most people would just quit when confronted with feelings that made them doubt their abilities. How many times have we wanted to achieve something, maybe we have a thought we think could evolve into something but because of doubts, compounded by stress, we just never give it a try. There’s folks who want to start businesses, compete, and/or make body transformations, but they’re just unable to because they lack the ability to process emotions. If negative people get in their ear, that might be the death knell of the whole thing. This is why so many people in the fitness industry totally disconnect from social media when they’re in prep. They don’t just avoid negative people, they avoid all people, for as long as they can.
Interviews like this one help address how to get past the haters and the trolls without running away from the scene. Fleeing is just one of many options. That said, running from your problems only means they’ll be waiting for you when you return. There’s got to be a better way and this interview seems like a good first step. Just because you have depression or anxiety, doesn’t mean you can’t flip it. And if it runs in your family, all the more reason not to discount it’s very real danger(s), but also no reason you can’t flip it.
Additionally, Whitney spoke about her issues with eating disorders and how she was able to overcome these, as well. That said, it’s not what you think. It didn’t happen as a result of wanting to look a certain way, rather, it was the product of a stomach flu. The fact that throwing up and doing well competitively, happened to coincide for a particular event, put the superstar in a situation where being bulimic became her reality. That said, she was able to figure out what was wrong, how to get out of it, and then follow through. That was the running theme throughout the interview. Whitney realizes life is too short and it’s key to push forward.
The whole interview was about moving forward, as a better and stronger person. It was also about working through tough times. There’s time to get mentally strong to toughen it out, but also to get mentally strong to admit when you’re facing something, seemingly, insurmountable and getting help when needed. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out help and/or changing your circumstances. If you need medication to help you through, Whitney says there’s nothing wrong with that, either. She is a firm believer in figuring out what needs to be done and then following through. All change starts with taking the first step.
A lot of champions on this level wouldn’t discuss these topics, much less pull from their own personal experiences and/or past problems, inadequacies, and insecurities on a tv show. Very few would discuss their triggers and/or openly share times when they felt broken. Just think about how many greats we’ve lost and how many more probably suffer in silence. We all know what can happen if anxiety and/or depression aren’t taken seriously.
All in all, I highly recommend this interview to everyone. I’d like to give kudos to Whitney, Vlad, and Generation Iron. Be sure to be good to yourself. Take your mental and emotional well-being seriously.