The Five Life-Changing Lessons I Learned from An Ex-Convict Turned Coach

Stephanie Cansian
3 min readSep 22, 2021

Back in March 2021, I decided I was ready to up my game. My mental health was much better from where I was in January, and my burpee count was increasing steadily. Still, I felt I needed more guidance with my nutrition.

I needed to find a coach.

Enter Wes Watson, the creator behind the YouTube channel “GP- Penitentiary Life.” My husband had started watching him in 2019 when we were going through a rough patch. Then I started listening in, the both of us eagerly waiting for his videos to drop on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Finally, I started following him on social media.

I remember the exact moment I decided I wanted him as my coach. It was this Instagram post:

It’s easy to see someone shredded and assume that they have a fast metabolism, or that they’ve always worked out, or that they are on steroids. However, this post was proof of the Wes Watson process: mindset, hard work, and proper food, even while in prison.

The date on the post is March 16th, 2021. I happily handed over $750 two days later.*

Here are the top five things I have learned from Wes Watson. None of them have anything to do with nutrition:

  1. When in doubt, do burpees. In moments of self-doubt, I quickly bang out five to ten burpees. This accomplishes two things: it reminded me of how far I’ve come since I started, and it gives me a quick endorphin rush whenever I really need it.
  2. Invest in yourself, and downgrade everything else. That first move to invest in yourself is terrifying. $750 is not a small amount of money, especially in the wake of COVID. Because it was such a large sum to me, I made sure that every penny was worth spending. Whatever insane workout routine he gave me, I did. Whatever macros he told me to eat, I did. Every other vice fell by the wayside; no more Hulu or Netflix binges, no more alcohol, and no more lame excuses for not giving my all every day. I trusted the process and got results that were worth more to me than my initial investment.
  3. Conscience congruence. If you have a negative feeling about something you’ve done (or haven’t done), that’s your conscience telling you to fix it. Right now.
  4. Save your will for what matters. Every person has enough willpower to make one to three huge decisions every day. Do not let your coffee order be one of them. Save your will for those life-changing choices, such as getting that early morning workout in or building a body of evidence to negotiate for a raise. Automate everything else.
  5. Your reaction is a reflection of your character. How you react to a situation is a direct reflection of your mindset. Are you a person who treats every inconvenience like it’s the end of the world, or are you someone who faces a problem head-on, full of confidence that you’ll solve it? Which of those two people would you hire to fix your toilet, run your office, or shop for your groceries? The world needs problem solvers, not problem solicitors.

It sounds dramatic to say that Wes Watson’s coaching has changed my life, but in this very real case, it has.

A transformation picture with a purple background. On the left is the author in a sports bra and work pants, looking unhappy in a cluttered office. In the middle there is a green arrow pointing right towards a recent picture of the author flexing in a black sports bra and black pants in front of a brightly lit window.
The author flexes her gains. March 18, 2021 to September 17, 2021.

*The initial $750 investment got me three months of coaching. When my time was done in June 2021, I re-upped for an entire year.



Stephanie Cansian

Content creator and copywriter for the coolest people on earth. This space is dedicated to professional development. If you like what I write, let’s chat!