Jessica Wilkins

JMW3Division you will compete in: 123 lb, open, raw, full-power

Age: 30

Height: 5’3”

Weight/Competition Weight: 125/123

Current max lifts Bench/Squat/Deadlift: Bench = 115, Squat = 215, Deadlift = 300

City: Portland, OR

Years as a vegan: 2.5

Why you became a Vegan: #1-ethical, for the animals, #2-health, #3-environment

History Competing: NANBF Iowa Natural bikini show May 2015 (2nd place open and novice), APA qualifier April 2016 (2nd place in 123 class), WPL World Championships October 2016 (2nd place in 123 class), unsanctioned benefit meet Deadlifts for Doernbecher December 2016 (3rd place in under 156 class). This year I will be competing in a USPA qualifier in April, USPA Naturally Fit Games with PlantBuilt in June, and if I qualify, the IPL World Championships in Vegas in November.

What drives you to compete: I have a passion for lifting heavy weights. I enjoy setting goals, working towards them, and meeting them. Competing is my form of activism as a vegan. I want to be a living example of what you can accomplish on a vegan diet to challenge social norms and stereotypes and get people to think differently. Talking about the benefits of veganism is important but there is nothing more powerful than embodiment of the concepts. I am living proof that the vegan diet can support optimal athletic performance. This is the complete antithesis to what most people believe a vegan should be able to accomplish. I know that my abilities have caused people to question the ideas in their head about veganism. The more I excel in my sport – the more people I can affect in this way. I also love the powerlifting community and seeing other people strive for strength goals. It is very inspiring to me. And lastly, I think a successful powerlifting career will teach me a lot and gain me credibility in my business, which will translate to me being able help more people (particularly women) learn the benefits of gaining strength and living a healthy plant-focused lifestyle.

What do you see as the biggest advantages of being a vegan athlete: The biggest advantages are those stated above – challenging and disproving stereotypes about veganism. Our society highly glorifies athletic performance and an athletic physique, so this is one of the biggest motivating factors for why people make the decisions that they do. If you can get to the heart of a person’s highest motivating factors, you will be most effective at changing their behavior. There are clear health benefits of a vegan diet, which have an effect on athletic performance. I believe that the diet has immensely positive effects on exercise recovery. Animal products are disease promoting and inflammatory. I have noticed a trend (anecdotally) in that omnivores seem to have more issues with injuries and recovery.

What types of supplements if any do you use?: Protein powders, BCAAs, caffeine, creatine, probiotics, methylated B-complex including B12, D3, vegan omegas, herbs (such as ashwaghanda, boswelia, vitex). Sometimes magnesium, turmeric, calcium, and electrolytes (if it’s hot out).

How would you describe your diet while preparing for a competition: I eat a variety of mainly organic, whole, plant-based foods with a balance of macronutrients. I eat almost no gluten and minimal soy due to intolerance issues. My diet does not change much when prepping for competition until the last week or two before because I generally have to cut a couple of pounds to make weight. I will lower the amount of carbs a week before the comp and do a slight water manipulation a few days before. The day before the comp I will carb and sodium load and focus on hydration including electrolytes. I’m still experimenting with works best for the day of the comp, but so far keeping my diet very similar to what I usually eat on a daily basis seems to be most effective.

Favorite food in your prep diet: Cacao oatmeal topped with soft serve banana nice cream.

How would you describe your training for a competition: I train three days per week for around three hours per session. Training is always focused around optimizing technique and strength in the three main lifts, with a healthy side of accessory work. Off-season consists of more muscle building programming – higher rep schemes. During competition prep we taper down to lower rep schemes with periodic deload weeks. I also try to do 20-30 minutes of mobility work every day, I meditate daily, and have been employing visualization techniques which are very helpful.

Favorite exercises: My favorite lift right now is bench even though it’s my weakest lift. I feel like my bench technique has been improving the most. I also love squatting because it’s scary, but rewarding. I like block pulls because you can pull so much weight, which makes you feel like a beast.

How many hours a week do you spend training?: About 9 hours powerlifting. Maybe 2-3 hours mobility. I also take a pole dancing class 1x per week and do yoga periodically.

Today I am most proud of: The fact that I am following my passions, living in line with my values, and have developed a huge capacity to love and appreciate life, other beings, and the planet. I am also very proud of my ability to find the positive in all things. I am proud of my education, my strength, my business, my ability to communicate and connect with others. I am immensely proud of my parents for living healthy lives and changing their diets (my dad is completely vegan now, my mom is about 90%).

Personal website or blog: www.mightysteady.com, IG @mightysteadycoach