If there’s one footballer who knows the values of perseverance, dedication and the willingness to improve, it’s Jackson Edwards.
The 20-year-old Tiger has been on a huge journey with his health and wellbeing, but today he is thriving more than ever.
The secret to his success is… well, not a secret at all, as he has been promoting his learnings on his Instagram page @empowering_plants.
@empowering_plants aims to promote a positive and healthy lifestyle change through showcasing training sessions, healthy meals, and positive quotes and discussions, while also giving raw and honest insights into his journey and what he’s been through to reach this point now.
“So, it started in August  and when I transitioned back to Adelaide, I had a bit of a break and it recently got picked up again. So, within the last few weeks, I’ve sort of just wanted to try to help as many people as possible.”
As a teenager, Jackson experienced several health challenges, including digestive issues. But no matter what life has thrown his way, Jackson had (and still has) the determination to educate himself and continually improve his lifestyle.
“At age 17 I was doing a fair bit of my own research, trying to find out what I could do to make a change. I was getting stomach pains during games of footy and I didn’t want to continue down that path…I wanted to feel good and digest my food properly,” revealed Jackson on @empowering_plants.
“I go by the ‘All or Nothing’ approach a fair bit in life, I don’t like doing things half hearted! Over time I became very in tune with my body and knew what foods worked for me and what foods caused issue…”
Jackson has certainly put in 100% into developing effective training regimes and diets, even it if meant preparing his own meals for footy trips and more. His diet has made several transitions and he has now settled on a whole food plant-based diet. Today, he’s happy to say that he’s reached a point of feeling his best.
“I was paleo for three years, which is basically no dairy, grains or legumes. So I had a lot of digestive issues and I was trying to fix that. And that probably took at least two years to fix by just being really consistent every day.
“I would say the past probably two or three months, I’ve felt my best. Physically, I just feel a lot better and stronger, I feel like my physique looks a lot better than where it was, and I think it’s definitely impacted my aerobic base and footy.
“I just feel like I can run further for longer. I don’t know whether that’s to do with a diet change or my lifestyle, but I think it’s definitely had an impact. But yea, my digestion is so much better. I have a lot more energy. I can get up at 4am and go to bed at 10 and I feel fine.”
There’s an empowering message which arises from Jackson’s story – no matter what adversity you’re facing, you have the power to make a difference. All it takes is persistence, motivation and education.
“Education is probably the biggest part. Once you know what to do, once you know what to eat and what to train, there’s nothing really holding you back from getting to where you want to be.”
But perhaps the greatest part of Jackson’s goal to empower people is that it’s all for free. For Jackson, the ‘profit’ is the amazing feedback he’s received, the knowledge and skills he acquired, and knowing that he’s made some form of positive change in someone’s life.
“The support has been pretty amazing. At the start when I made my page, I did not tell many people about it, I didn’t tell my family because I just wanted to see how it went with building it up organically. And then the last few months I’ve sort of put it out there a little bit more just because I felt like I wanted to impact people and get a bit more growth.
“Now I get people from all around the world saying, hey your page is so inspiring and so motivating, and it helps people to make a change.
“I probably get at least one message a day saying something about how they made a recipe that I made and they loved it, or they’d like me to make up another session for them or something like that. It’s pretty awesome. It’s a good feeling.”
If you have a scroll through @empowering_plants, you’ll see it’s bursting with vibrant photos of meals which will make your mouth water. Many of these plant-based meals are Jackson’s own recipes based on his own research, adaptations and learnings from his Mum. They’re quick, easy, ridiculously delicious, and best of all, each post comes with valuable nutrient knowledge.
Over the past few weeks, his posts and stories also showcase training and coaching sessions with his increasing client base.
“It’s only just started in this isolation period…I bought equipment and I was just training myself at the start. Then mum had been asking me for a while if I can train her, so I started training her. And then my cousin’s husband would always want to join in on a session…and then it sort of organically just grew.
“Then through social media as well, people could see that [my clients] were having fun and they were getting something out of it. I have people messaging me every day asking when can I come to a session?…so, it’s pretty cool at the moment.
“I’m not charging or anything. This is tough times for everyone. And I just want to get more experience under my belt, get the coaching under my belt and wait and see what happens in the future.”
For those looking for advice on maintaining the healthiest possible lifestyle, especially during these tough times, here’s what Jackson has to say.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge and it’s going to pass, but I guess try to get at least a workout in a day … so load up a backpack, or pick up some bricks or something like that that’ll help.
“But just try to stay consistent with it, go for a walk each morning, do your workout in the afternoon or at lunchtime, and then just try to stay as healthy as possible during the week and try to keep that routine and structure as much as possible.
“If you can make a small change to your lifestyle, it will help in the long run. I feel like a lot of people make one big dramatic change and then they just can’t sustain it. If you make small, consistent and progressive changes over say 12 months or two years, you’re going to feel a lot healthier, and you’re going to feel a lot better.”
While transforming the page into some form of online business may be in store for the future, for now Jackson is just focussed on producing engaging and accessible content.
“My goal is to just put out as much good content as possible. Making it free for everyone. I guess that’s why I did the giveaway, to promote a healthy lifestyle, attract people to the page and hopefully they get something out of it.
“If I can inspire one person to change, then job done.”
If you’re looking to make a positive and healthy lifestyle change, whether it’s through nutrition advice or training sessions, check out @empowering_plants (we promise you won’t regret it).