Athlete of the Month: Justin Wimberly

Name: Justin Wimberly
Hometown/Currently Living: Olympia, WA
Age: 27
Main Sport, How Long Competed: Football, Tight End – competed for 12 years
Current Occupation: Fitness Manager at Tumwater Valley Athletic Club
Favorite Healthy Food: Really good barbecue chicken
Favorite Physical Activity: Playing basketball
Biggest Sport Honor: Being voted team captain in high school
High School: Tumwater High School – Tumwater, WA
College & Degree: Whitworth University, Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (NCAA DIII)

Justin (center) playing for the Whitworth Pirates in 2009
Justin (center) playing for the Whitworth Pirates in 2009

How old were you when you started playing sports or exercising?
11-years-old. I played football. I didn’t play anything else until getting into high school. There were five kids in my family, so one sport was chaotic enough for each one of us. In high school I also played basketball and track. I wrestled for awhile, but didn’t stick with it. I liked basketball better.

Did you have support from friends and family throughout your journey?

How do you view your health throughout your athletic career?
I thought it was pretty good. I got better my junior and senior year of college, as we got a new coach. He played in the NFL, and he taught me how to eat. I would lose weight and would have to eat to keep my weight on, which was tough.

Who was your favorite coach, and what qualities did your favorite coach have?
Coach McGrath from Tumwater, who is still there. He is one of those blue-collar kind of guys that does everything asked of him, works his tail off, and has the utmost respect for people if they earn it. He isn’t perfect but is the first to admit if something was wrong. He is first to praise you, and will push you hard if he thinks you have the potential. And if you aren’t meeting your potential, he will call you out on it.

What issues did you have with your least favorite coach?
My head coach in college was a nice guy, but he was always yelling. I think he was Bipolar, because he would have really high highs and really low lows. It didn’t motivate anybody. In general, everyone was walking on eggshells around him.

Were you ever provided with nutritional information during your athletic career (childhood, high school, college)?
Not by my athletic coaches, but because I had to take nutrition classes for my degree.

Were you ever provided with exercise information, other than for your sport, during your athletic career (childhood, high school, college)?
Not really.

Do you feel like this information helped you after you finished competing in your sport?
Yes, because it wasn’t always about lifting heavy, but functioning properly.

How did you feel about your sport immediately after you were no longer competing?
I missed it.

How do you feel about your sport now?
I still miss it. More than anything, I miss the camaraderie of the team, and the process of getting ready for a season and getting into the season. Preparing, working hard, and having a schedule. Also traveling, especially in college. Traveling to different states was fun.

How did you feel about your overall health immediately after you were no longer competing?
I kept eating like I was still playing, and I wasn’t as active because I had just gotten married. The quantity I was eating wasn’t good. I was used to 6,000 calories per day. My body started changing and I didn’t like it.

How do you feel about your overall health now?
I feel pretty good. I’m about 25 pounds lighter than I was in college. I was a lot stronger then, but I feel healthier now.

What is your current exercise regiment? Are there any activities you can no longer do?
I work out five to six days per week: four days of lifting, three days of cardio and high intensity exercise. Luckily there are no exercises I can no longer do.

Did you sustain any serious injuries during your career that greatly affected your life then, and may affect you now?
I broke my Tibia and Fibia in high school. I had a rod put in my leg (motions rod is as long as his shin). If it gets really cold it aches, and I can feel the screw in my knee once in awhile. I broke it in a game senior year, so I was out rest of the season. I rehabbed and recovered, but didn’t go to college and play until the following year by choice. It is a hard injury to come back from, and before the injury bigger schools like Oregon State and Eastern Washington University were recruiting me. However, they didn’t think I would come back from it, so instead I red-shirted for Whitworth.

How would you describe your current diet?
Average. I think it could get better. There are good things, and things I need to cut out.

Do you include anything in your routine for “mental” health? (i.e. meditation, affirmations, playing logic games)?
Besides going to church, no.

Where are you working now? Do you feel like your job allows you to have a good work/life balance?

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would you say?
Work harder and ask more questions. It wasn’t that I didn’t work hard, but I look back and feel there were times I could have worked harder.

Last comments:
Balanced nutrition and exercise definitely comes together. If you don’t do both, then one will kick you in the butt, especially as you get closer to 30. There are people ahead of me who aren’t doing as well. If you lose one, you usually lose both and get into a hole.

Justin (back right) playing basketball at The Valley Athletic Club in 2014
Justin (back right) playing basketball at The Valley Athletic Club in 2014

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