ThinkFit was started in an effort to bring products, information, and community to people looking to improve their health. Weight loss or weight gain are secondary benefits to the ThinkFit meal prep system. However, these are often the most impactful stories we hear from our customers.
One of our first customers, Ian, reached out with a success story and it blew us away - he lost 150 pounds over 4 years.
His story starts out just like many of ours do:
Working too many hours, not spending enough time with friends and family, and definitely not focusing on health and wellness. While his mind was pushing through the craziness, his body was hitting a breaking point.
So what happened?
Ian was kind enough to take time out of his day to talk with us about his transformation and how he was able to stay diligent and hit his goals.
TF: Ian, tell us about your lifestyle prior to making the meaningful shift to meal prep and exercise.
IS: After high school I slowly became less active and focused more on my work. I was in the retail industry which means I was short on time and surrounded by food at the mall. I "stress-ate" quick calories throughout my day. I worked multiple jobs to provide for my family, I had absolutely no energy, and I used food as a comfort to deal with it all.
I would work out a little here and there but didn't watch my diet. My health was less than my last priority and over the course of 5 to 6 years I gained 100 lbs.
On a routine doctor's visit in 2015 I found out I was 320 lbs. and pre-diabetic.
Ian in 2015
TF: Would you say that was the breaking point for you?
IS: Yes. I had a pre-diabetic diagnosis, was depressed, stressed, and I’d recently lost one of my jobs.
My first attempt at a healthier lifestyle was rough. After losing my job I had to take up a third shift in a factory which left me mentally and physically depleted. As a result, I failed a lot in my health efforts by leaning on convenience and old habits.
I hated my new job, not realizing it was a blessing in disguise. This time, my stress led to eating less overall and I lost weight. It was the jump start that I needed but it wasn't healthy or sustainable. I felt malnourished.
TF: Did that initial weight loss set you down the course of drastic change or did you slowly ease into healthier habits?
IS: So, I devised a plan to lose weight in a healthy way. By September of 2016, I was down to 260 pounds from 320 which was great. But when I started a new job I quickly gained 20 pounds back.
Ian in 2016
TF: That slip-and-slide is really common when working on weight loss. Change often throws a wrench in our hard-won routines.
IS: Yes, but in January of 2017 I planned on never going backwards again. My good friend Terrence and I established a program where we focused on nutrition, and every 90 days we would take something unhealthy out of our diet.
Within the first 90 days I quit eating batter-fried foods like fried chicken and fried pork chops. For the next 90 days, I chose to work on my condiments focusing on reducing, and in some cases eliminating sodium (salt) and sugar.
TF: Was this the first time you worked with a friend towards a healthier diet?
IS: Yes. Terrence was my accountability partner. We would text each other our meals for the day and train together in the gym! Our commitment to each other snowballed; we ended up creating a group chat and invited individuals who all held each other accountable through community conversations. That was really the start to a healthier me.
Ian & Terrence 2017
TF: That's amazing! We know that consistent daily actions and decisions are really important to the process.
So, what do you do on a daily basis to stay committed to your healthy lifestyle?
IS: My daily routine is what helped me stay committed. I truly believe in a connection between the mind, body, and soul.
Mornings start with saying affirmations to myself. I take my time while getting ready for my day, so I’m not starting off in a rush. I focus on every bite of food I eat to teach myself discipline.
That helped me to learn how my body reacts when I’m full. Plus, I take social media breaks for 90 days at a time to force myself to indulge in self-education. After consistently doing these things for over three years it's become my lifestyle.
TS: Indulgence in self-education sounds like a great addition to a holistic health plan. How did meal prep and ThinkFit come into the picture?
IS: I was in a competition at work and was given the ThinkFit lunch bag as a prize. I've been using it ever since! I started prepping and packing a full day's worth of meals for each day of the week. The containers helped me focus on portion control.
If it didn't fit, I didn't need it in there. My ThinkFit bag became even more than a workday carry along; I traveled with it.
Last year I was heading to a professional football game and knew that they wouldn't have healthy options, so I packed my breakfast and snacks for the road and was able to stay in line with my diet!
I always say, "My lunchbox changed my life".
This ThinkFit lunch bag has taught me discipline. It provides everything I need to be successful in my health journey. Not to mention - it's durable! Last year I ran a 5K while wearing the ThinkFit lunch bag during the race.
Ian with his ThinkFit Bag 2018
ThinkFit is with me everywhere I go. I pack it every morning. I believe it’s a big component to the success I'm seeing and I’m always recommending it to those who see me, know of my journey, and/or are looking to make changes themselves.
TF: Is there anything that you tried that didn’t work for you and how did you adjust to stay on track?
IS: As I mentioned, my first attempt at dieting was horrible. I just stopped eating. I recall days where I would consume less than 500 to 800 calories per day. I consistently felt sick. By Wednesday of each week my body was screaming for food.
Not eating is not okay.
For those just starting out on their health journey, I really advocate for putting a plan together that’s not just based on restriction.
I eventually worked with my wife to establish an eating regiment that was in line with healthy weight loss while maintaining energy. It made a huge difference. I felt better and had the ability to increase my health efforts building up to meal prepping.
TF: We're always looking for new recipes to try. Any specific meals you're loving right now?
IS: Right now I'm currently living the vegetarian lifestyle diet. My favorite dishes to make are a chipotle protein bowl, or a roasted vegetable dish with rice. Both are easy to make, perfect for meal prep, and very fulfilling.
Spinach, jasmine rice, 2 boiled eggs, beans, mushrooms, and chipotle ranch
Chipotle Bowl Meal Prep
Roasted Vegetables with Rice:
Roasted squash, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes seasoned with onion powder and garlic powder with jasmine rice
Roasted Vegetables with Rice Meal Prep
TF: We may have to give mushrooms another try based on those recipes! Anything else you'd like to share with the ThinkFit community?
IS: Take it slow.
Yes, I'm 150 lbs. lighter now, but it’s been almost four years in the making. Find what works for you whether its diet, exercise, or both. I think it’s common to fall into a mindset where we have to race through everything in life. I certainly didn’t and you don’t have to either.
Find something that holds you accountable to your goals. For me, it was my family. I've been with my wife for 11 years and we have two beautiful children that I have to be here for.
TF: Ian, you’ve made health and wellness a part of who you are, even forming your own motivational brand, (NAL) Fitness, and running donation-based fitness classes.
We’re really grateful to you for sharing your story with us and with the community that surrounds ThinkFit.
IS: I wish you all great success and hope my story can provide inspiration and motivation for anyone who needs it.
Remember to (NAL) NEVER ACCEPT LESS. - Ian “Sully” Sullivan
Ian representing his (NAL) brand 2019
If you want to learn more about Ian’s story check out his feature in Men’s Health here:
We love hearing stories about how our friends and family, like Ian, have gotten on the path to a healthier lifestyle. We’d love to hear from you as well! If you'd like to share your story with us please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.