My name is Eric Williamson, head coach at Unlocked Fitness and Nutrition
I'm a registered dietitian, certified strength and conditioning specialist, ISAK level 1 kinanthropometrist, exercise science graduate student, and regular guy devoted to integrating fitness into any lifestyle.
Deciding to become "fit"
As a young ripe teenager, I enjoyed the simple life of sitting on the couch, playing video games and eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted (particularly potato chips). As the days went on I knew I was becoming less active, no longer participating in the sports I did as a child and just allowing the days to pass thinking “maybe I’ll get in some exercise tomorrow.”
(Warning: unreserved honesty ahead)
As growing up was taking it’s course 2 things happened that were big motivators for me to start getting into shape:
I wanted to start attracting the opposite sex (somehow I knew playing video games and eating chips all of the time wasn’t going to do that very effectively for me)
I found myself in a couple of physical altercations with some other hormone-fueled male teenagers (I was a different person back then).
After these 2 big realizations hit me hard, I decided to get into shape. I joined a commercial gym and also took up boxing. I was working out consistently and taking my vitamin supplements like Arnold said to do… and then doing more of that… and then doing more… but it didn't quite seem to be working for me. No matter how often I was training, I wasn’t getting any leaner and I certainly wasn’t putting on any more muscle. My gains in strength and endurance seemed minuscule compared to the massive amount of time and effort I was putting into it.
My great depression
I started experimenting with different training methods, I tried every supplement under the sun and was constantly on and off fitness diets that I would read about online. It seemed like these ‘methods’ and ‘short-cuts’ were working for everyone else except me. Thus, the limiting beliefs and perceptions started to kick in.
Some of my thoughts:
I love my social life too much to ever have a six-pack
I don’t like fruits and vegetables enough to really “live the healthy lifestyle”
I don’t have time to exercise enough to be fit
My genetics aren’t good enough to gain muscle or strength
I had affirmations that would drive me in and out of periods of eating healthy and working out and periods of giving up and for lack of a better way to express it, “not giving a shit”. If you asked me about it back then, that is probably what I would have said with a clear negative attitude towards the whole fitness thing. Part of it was always in the back of my mind though; I really did care, I just didn’t believe it was possible.
It was time to leave behind family, friends, a world where everything was cooked for me and an avid social life. This gave me lots of lonely time in which 2 things happened in a subsequent order: First, I crashed – lonely and struggling through school I had pretty much given up on life. Depression was rampant; I was angry at the world for its injustice and giving me so many disadvantages in life. Second, I found the area of ‘personal development’ and made a life-altering decision that started the journey I am still on today.
Personal development taught me that I had one of two choices, continue to wallow in my sorrows as a victim of life and focus on the negative (but true) reality that I lived in OR grab my life challenges by the horns, open up to the possibility of changing my situation and focus on the positive (but also true) reality that I lived in.
For the first time, I was reading books in their entirety and not just looking up SparkNotes on the internet to write a book report for school. I actually found enjoyment in reading in this area known as "self-help". I started with many of the classics: Think and Grow Rich, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Mapping my path
In the area of personal development, there is a common theme in the importance of finding your passion, purpose, and path in life and then developing yourself in this area so you can ultimately experience the fulfilling practice of helping others. With my incessant struggle, yet fascination with this area of fitness, mine was right under my nose.
Decision: do whatever it takes to figure this out!
After my first year of college, I took the bold step of dropping the program I was in and shooting for greater, which started with going back to high school. Possibly the most difficult part of this was undoing the limiting belief that I had of not being smart enough to get good grades. During the next year, I studied grades 11 and 12 (again!), more personal development and, particularly, how to learn.
Aiming myself in the direction of achieving a successful career in the fitness industry and achieving my own personal fitness goals, the year after that I found myself enrolled in, not one, but two-degree programs at Western University; knowing at the time that there are two necessary components to achieving performance and body composition goals being: nutrition and exercise.
I quickly became involved in these areas wherever I could, including in many different community programs and in Dr. Lemon’s Exercise Nutrition research lab. This lab has educated some admirably bright minds in the fitness industry including Graeme Thomas, a successful one-on-one and online fitness coach in London Ontario, and John Berardi, founder of Precision Nutrition, the world’s most successful online fitness coaching company in the world.
In my fourth year, I worked under and was mentored by Graeme, where I gained much of my initial knowledge of coaching, including in the fascinating world of physique competitions. And of course, through all of this, I started incorporating my new science-based knowledge into my own training and nutrition – finally experiencing some success.
At the end of my undergraduate career, I was now strapped with a BSc in Nutrition and Dietetics, a BA in Kinesiology and a gold medal for achieving the highest GPA in the 3-year BA Kin program.
The following year I had the most educational 10 months of my life in my dietetic internship to attain my RD. Here I gained practical experience in the many areas of dietetics, including with multiple clinical populations, children, and seniors. I was also fortunate to be mentored by one of my heroes (and in my opinion, Canada’s top sports dietitian), Jennifer Sygo, through an internship rotation with her. This was obviously my favourite rotation where I experienced working with elite level athletes.
The journey continues
Today my passion and path of lifelong learning continues in the metabolism and exercise nutrition lab at the University of Toronto. Here, I study under Dr. Dan Moore. Dan has produced some of the most revolutionary research in the area of exercise nutrition in recent years and his hard work and dedication to uncover the truth in this field inspires me daily.
Most importantly, my mindset has changed. I now hold the belief that it is possible to learn anything (even how to learn) and that fitness does not require: giving up a social life, having to eat kale, needing to work out for two hours 6 days a week or that there is one diet and exercise routine that you HAVE to do.
My mission for Unlocked is to help people accelerate the process of finding the most effective nutrition and exercise strategies that work for them while balancing the many other important areas of their lives to achieve overall success and fulfillment.