James Sullivan, 29, of Commack, at left in September 2016,...

James Sullivan, 29, of Commack, at left in September 2016, when he weighed 297 pounds, and after his 70-pound weight loss. Credit: ADA Studio; Newsday / Steve Pfost

James Sullivan, 29, Commack

Occupation: Facilities support supervisor

Before: 297 pounds, September 2016; After: 228 pounds, January 2019

At some point in James Sullivan’s adulthood, he says he stopped going to doctors. 

“Always the bigger, heavier kid growing up, I was a little embarrassed about what the scale would show,” says Sullivan.  In August 2016, his then-fiancé, now wife, encouraged him to a get a physical. The findings weren’t good.

“My blood pressure was through the roof, my cholesterol high…and my weight was 297.” He said he didn’t realize he had gotten that heavy and already knew there was a family history of high blood pressure. The talk his doctor gave him worked. “It led to the moment when I knew something had to change,” says Sullivan.  

“I started going to CrossFit gym and fell in love with it. It’s high-intensity functional moves. Basically, you’re doing exercises like heavy weight-lifting that is similar to getting off couch or dead lifting, which is equal to picking up your kids,” says Sullivan. After asking the gym owner for nutrition advice, Sullivan started cutting down on his sugar intake. “Once you start looking into it, you realize how much sugar is in so many things,” says Sullivan. He dropped 25 pounds in six weeks.

Now down about 70 pounds, Sullivan says that it’s not so much about seeing the number change on the scale -- it’s more about seeing changes in the mirror. “And it was great going back to the doctor and seeing his shock at how well my bloodwork and vitals were. He thought it was awesome.”

Breakfast is a cup of coffee with a splash of milk, a piece of fruit, a little granola and a protein shake. Lunch is usually two to three cups of steamed or sautéed vegetables, a protein such as roasted or grilled chicken and a green salad. Sullivan says he eats his lunch over 2½ hours to avoid snacking. Dinner is six to nine ounces of protein, about two cups of vegetables and two cups of salad with a light dressing. He tries to not eat after 8 p.m.

Sullivan goes to the gym five to six days a week for a one-hour CrossFit class. Outside the gym, he walks his dogs and bikes and hikes when the weather is good.  

“The biggest thing I can say is don’t jump into the deep end. Take baby steps. It’s hard to maintain if you start big. Start small — like no more high-sugar creamers or flavoring in your coffee. Make little choices that over time will make a difference.”

Stunned at how much weight he had gained and worried over high cholesterol and blood pressure, the facilities support supervisor began working out at CrossFit.

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