I have asked some of my closed Whole30® Facebook group to share their experience with the program. Jeff started before my group starting date, so the group received great insight from someone who was about a week or so ahead of our schedule. His posts in the FB group were so awesome. He asked great questions and really engaged with us all. Thanks for being a part, Jeff! He also ROCKED his workouts during the 30-days as well. Jeff really knocked it out of the park. I am so proud of him and his commitment to get healthy and take ownership in his life! Congratulations, Jeff!
Jeff Sullivan's Whole30® Experience:
Hey, have you ever heard of something called Whole30?
….that’s where it all started for me. Sitting on the couch, probably had just finished some delicious pizza or something else that was slowly killing me after what I’m sure was a stressful day at work. That’s the question that Sarah, my fiancé, asked me. I responded with,” Yeah I think I saw some posts from Trainer Bob (Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser) when he was doing it sometime in the last couple years, why?”
In the back of my mind I was thinking, “There’s no way I’m doing that. Everything I saw him post looked so weird and fancy, (that’s what I call things the look hard to make and that you’d find in an upscale restaurant…haha) I’d never like anything!”
Before we go further though, let’s take a look back at what got me to the point where I was in the actual worst shape of my entire life. It’s so hard to think I let myself get there, but hey, it happens.
Growing up I was like almost every other kid, eating and drinking whatever I wanted and the glory of a great metabolism kept me in good shape. I played almost every sport you could think of so I never had to worry about anything. Next were the college years. For the most part it was more of the same. I played golf in college so we were always walking golf courses or had team workouts that kept me moving so I could still pretty much eat and drink anything I wanted. Obviously, during this time I discovered alcohol as well but that wasn’t a factor until after graduation.
During college, I would honestly go through an entire CASE of Mt. Dew just about every week. Not even think twice about just pounding those things back to back at night when we were all hanging out and doing college dude things, playing video games or watching sports. On top of that I would eat fast food constantly, load up on food in the caf and then probably once a week me and two buddies would get the amazing (at the time) 5-5-5 deal from Dominos.
Now it was time for the real world and the dreaded office job. Keep in mind that what I just mentioned above hadn’t changed, but my activity level was totally opposite. I started to notice the weight gain after probably 5-6 months of my first “real” job and it scared the crap out of me. From there, I jumped on the workout train and started to really try and lift for the first time. I’ve never been much of a runner and the only cardio I liked doing was when I was playing sports. I’ve had exercise induced asthma my whole life so it’s pretty tough to run long distances.
From that point (about 7 years ago) until now it has been a CONSTANT yo-yo. Workout hard and eat “healthy” for about 2-3 weeks, feel much better and then fall back into bad habits. Repeat, repeat, repeat. I always felt so silly about it because I’d talk to all my friends and coworkers and have a ton of motivation going and then after one bad weekend, it through me off the wagon for weeks.
The funny part for me is looking back on what I used to consider “eating healthy”. It was absolutely better than what it could have been, but as it turns out, it’s not what I needed to be doing at all. During those times I had been doing as much research as I could on how to eat to aid with muscle gain and fat loss at the same time. Tried all kinds of supplements, protein powders, pre-workout drinks and the list goes on. In fairness to all that, there was a point about 2 years ago where I was close to being in the best shape of my life, but what I was doing was not something I could maintain. THAT is the key.
Let’s go through a typical day from back when I thought I was being healthy.
Breakfast: Protein powder, Almond Milk and a banana blended together for a shake and two pieces of Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Toast. Sometimes I’d replace the shake with an egg and a few egg whites.
Mid-Morning Snack: Probably a string cheese and some almonds with blueberries.
Lunch: Chicken or Turkey Burg and some veggies. The veggies were usually broccoli and cauliflower.
Mid-Afternoon Snack/Pre-workout meal: Protein shake and another piece of Ezekiel bread or two about an hour before working out and then about 20 minutes before my workout I’d mix up some pre-workout. Who knows what that was doing to my body?!
Post-workout/Dinner: Either a shake if I was away from home or something similar to my lunch.
That all may sound okay but the thing I was REALLY stuck on were macros and calories. I was obsessed with tracking everything I ate in MyFitnessPal and was shooting for a split of 40/40/20. For those of you that aren’t familiar, macros is just a fancy was of talking about Protein, Carbs and Fat. I was trying to hit a certain deficit every day while maintaining those macros and while I was able to do is for a few weeks at a time, it was exhausting.
I would also give myself one cheat meal per week. I found myself looking forward to this all week which meant that in my mind I was considering the “healthy” food I would eat as depriving myself instead of having a positive relationship with it.
Cheat meals would turn into cheat days, cheat weekends and cheat weeks. Annnnnnd time to start back at square one, or even worse off than I was before. That same cycle continued for years.
So, now let’s fast forward to the beginning of Whole30.
Day 1. This is pretty easy! Not really any different than one of the old health kicks I used to go on so I should have no problem at all!
Day2. My head is literally going to explode!!! Thank jeezy for coffee!
After the first couple days it became real. I’m doing this for 30 days. No cheating, a lot of work and hopefully a lot of change. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous and a little skeptical still but nothing else I have ever tried worked and led to sustainability so why not see this through?
The first week had gone by and I was feeling good! A little bored with food but I knew that what I was doing was working because I already felt less bloated and full than I would have in the past. I wanted to weigh myself so bad already but that is a big no-no so I held off. Something else that I didn’t really prepare myself for were some haters ☺️ Since it was the beginning of a new year there were lists everywhere of the best and worst “diets” and on one of them, Whole30 was actually dead last. One of my friends actually sent me that list and at first it made me angry and I started to defend myself. What do they know?! They haven’t read anything about what I’m doing, they don’t know my motivation and they also have no clue that Whole30 is not designed to help people solely lose weight. Still though, I had to fight through people asking me why, telling me it doesn’t make sense to eliminate foods that were not approved and where it ranks on “the list”. Multiple people did these things on the same day! I’m thinking to myself, what in the heck is going on?! Are these people trying to make me quit?!
I think my biggest breakthrough came in week 2 on Day 14. At this point I had found some go-to meals and had the prep time down from where it started.
I think I was at home, playing with my phone and then I realized, I haven’t looked at MyFitnessPal or my FitBit app in two weeks!! I was such a slave to both of those things and now, I don’t even think about them and that is a HUGE non-scale victory. All I had on my mind now were simple things. Do I have a protein? Yes. Do I have veggies? Yes. Have I not overdone the fruit today? Nope! And did I only eat when I was truly hungry? Check.
It really became as simple as that.
The other ridiculous thing I heard myself telling people was that I really didn’t crave anything that was not Whole30 approved. We literally had pizza, Chic-fil-a, Buca di Beppo (delicious Italian food) and donuts brought into our office for us, for free, multiple times during my Whole30 month. Everyone would ask me how hard it was to resist or say things like, “Come onnnn its only one meal!” or “How in the world do you not want any of this?!” The answer was easy. I made a commitment to myself to stick to the plan and I also knew that if I ate any of those things that It would put me farther away from where I wanted to be. Also, it would probably make me feel like poo!
I was working out pretty hard during the month, knocking out clean meal after clean meal and I knew I was making progress in every way possible. Nothing was going to stop me but I still wanted to weight myself SOOOO bad. I was excited about the non-scale victories but to be completely honest, my WHY for this was that I wanted to look better. Looking the way I did was slowly ruining my life. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I felt awful because I looked awful and I looked awful because I felt awful. I knew that if I could use this program to turn that around, I’d start to look better, which would make me feel better and then I could keep that momentum going. That is exactly what happened but I never expected for it to happen in such a big way.
Below are my before and after pictures. WHAT?!?!
One month, 14 lbs and feeling SO much better than I thought I would.
I think those really speak for themselves. I started at 192 and dropped all the way to 178. I’d say my results are a little atypical because I put a LOT of work in at the gym this month along with ZERO hiccups with my meals.
I plan to follow the reintroduction steps and look forward to seeing what happens during that phase. What do these things REALLY make me feel like? Do I stop eating them forever if they have a negative impact or do I just become aware of the fact that I might not feel good when I eat them? I’ve really enjoyed the food I’ve been eating and have no intention to stop cooking them the way that I did during my Whole30 but things like maybe having some more fruit here and there and adding grains back into my diet will help me avoid the need to feel like I need “cheat” meals.
I am confident in saying that I will NEVER go back to that person in the photo on the left. Ever. I’ve had learned way too much over this past month and have felt too awesome to let it go to waste.
For anyone that’s on the fence about the Whole30, just do it. It’s only 30 days and you can do ANYTHING for 30 days. It will change your life and then you’ll wonder why it took you so long to hear about it and start.
Thank you so much to you, Staci, for your help in answering my questions and cheering me on this past month. I appreciate the opportunity to share my story and I really hope that it inspires others to do the same!