When Jonathan, my client and friend looked me in the eye and says “I’ve hit a plateau, what can I do?” I looked right back at him and asked him “how bad do you want it?” He wanted to continue moving forward, reaching his goals and was willing to take the next steps necessary. His goal was to continue shedding fat to gain visible muscle definition. Jonathan’s workout regimen involves a mixture of cardio based work and heavy weight lifting five to six days per week. Monday through Friday he eats fairly clean but I knew his weekend eating and drinking habits were holding him back from reaching his next goal. So, I proposed the 30 Day Challenge – No alcohol and to eat cleaner than he already was for 30 days, and to sweeten the deal I offered to go all in with him, the same rules applied for me. After the 30 days were complete I sat down with him to discuss how he felt during his journey and what advice he could offer someone thinking about taking on their own 30 Day Challenge. Here’s what Jonathan had to say:
Weight: Before = 162 /// Weight: After = 165
Q: What was the driving force behind going 30 days with no alcohol and eating cleaner?
A: I go to the gym five to six days a week and I have not been getting the results that I wanted. I put a lot of effort into my gym routines and I was getting frustrated not seeing any changes to my body. I read a few articles about how bad alcohol can be to your system, muscle atrophy, and your metabolism.
Q: What were your eating/drinking habits prior to starting?
A: Eating habits: I am very structured during the week with my meals, but when the weekend comes my diet is horrible. I wouldn’t cook or make my own food, instead I would just order food.
Drinking: I have horrible drinking habits, I would consume four to six drinks on a typical going out night. I usually drank on Friday and Saturday nights, and sometimes Sundays watching sports.
Q: What were your eating/drinking habits during the 30 Day Challenge?
A: Eating: I made sure to stick to my meals, even on the weekends. If I did go out or order food I stayed away from fried food, pasta, any type of sweets, bread\bagels (if I did it was wheat, but like once per week) I also started intermittent fasting during the 30 days. I would start my first meal at 2pm and my last meal no later then 10pm. During my eight hour eating window I made sure to pack in 4 solid meals and to not eat less then I would have normally eaten before starting intermittent fasting.
Drinking: I did not drink any alcohol during the 30 days. I normally drink water everyday anyway, so drinking any soda or coffee with tons of calories wasn’t an issue prior.
Q: What did you find most difficult through this journey?
A: Honestly, it was the food that was harder. Once I got used to not drinking, it became easier and easier. I enjoyed waking up Saturday and Sunday morning without a hangover. I had to turn down pizza and cake\sweets a few times and that surprisingly took a lot of willpower.
Q: Was there anything you were surprised by during the 30 days?
A: I was surprised that the food temptation was more difficult then the alcohol temptation. I was also surprised, in seeing it first hand, that your diet is almost 90% of losing weight\gaining muscle. I always thought I could use that work hard play hard mentality. I now know what it takes to get your body fat percentage down under 8%.
Q: Did you use any tricks when you were faced with a food/drink temptation? If so, what were they?
A: I found that drinking seltzer with lime was the perfect oral fixation for me whether I was home or out. I normally drink vodka and seltzer anyway, so it was like a placebo effect. Food temptation was harder and required me to be more proactive. I made sure to have healthy snacks around the office and my house. Rice cakes, hummus with vegetables, fruit, and pickles became my go to replacements, giving me a sweet and salty fix instead of eating junk. Also, during my fasting period, I would drink Apple Cider Vinegar in water (cap full only) to subside my hunger pains. This worked surprisingly well, not to mention all of the health benefits ACV has.
Q: Did you notice any changes (physical,emotional, internal) after the 30 Day Challenge?
A: I did notice how good I felt mentally, about my body and myself. I guess its true what they say about alcohol being a depressant. I would sometimes drink too much on a Saturday and it would affect me physically and mentally till Wednesday or Thursday the next week.
Q: You said you felt better both mentally & physically. With these changes were you able to get more accomplished or did your lifestyle remain the same?
A: On the weekends I would wake up the same time as I did for work, so I began my weekends earlier then usual which led to me getting more done. Before I started the 30 days, I would wake up hungover and sometimes wouldn’t do much of anything except lay in bed, order food delivery which was usually junk food and compound everything. I would destroy my healthy eating during the week. During the 30 days, I kept my healthy eating routines into the weekends.
Q: Now that the 30 days have ended will you continue with any of the changes made?
A: Definitely with the alcohol. Going forward I am picking one day on the weekend to drink and not more then three drinks in a day.
Q: What are your thoughts on your before and after weight change?
A: I have constantly been struggling with losing the pouch on my belly and I would never see results before. After going the 30 days I could see a change down there and I know now how to achieve that chiseled six pack look.
Q: Would you recommend others doing this? Why?
A: I highly recommend this to anyone, who is just starting at the gym or has been going for a long time and getting frustrated without seeing results. Your diet has such a huge influence on your body and I definitely felt the benefits. I remember telling Michele how great I felt and I could feel the strength growth from week to week. In the past, I would use supplements to compensate for my bad diet\drinking. I can’t imagine the damage I did to my kidneys and liver.
Q: You mentioned using supplements in the past, do you currently use any or plan to use any in the future?
A: I am currently using a pre-workout but I make sure to research the ingredients of the ones that I use. Other than that I stay away from anything else. I will use the pre-workout for a month or two and then go off of it for a few months just to make sure I keep the same intensity at the gym. I may use creatine for a month or two in the winter but that’s about it.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: This is the fastest way to get that mystical six pack, and to keep it! I recommend doing this with a friend or buddy because you will get pressured often, always good to have a support system.
My thought process in recommending the 30 Day Challenge to him was the same thought process I use with many of my clients. Build from the foundation up, giving my clients small attainable goals that will set them up for success, not frustration or anger. Jonathan’s happiness and success speaks for itself. He achieved his goals breaking through his plateau and is continuing to build on his foundation for a better version of himself, for himself.
If you are just starting out or looking to break your own plateau contact us, we’d love to help you on your journey. A 30 Day Challenge might be in your future.