Whole30 Success Story: Andrea vs. That Shoulder Thing

Today’s Whole30 Success Story comes from Andrea Cochran, of Simi Valley, CA. Andrea suffered from something common to so many high-intensity exercisers… “that shoulder thing”. You know what we’re talking about – that shoulder pain that comes on gradually (or not so gradually), and just won’t go away no matter how long you rest, ice, recover and mobilize.

We know that systemic inflammation plays a huge role in recovering from exercise and recovering from injury, but Andrea realized firsthand the difference the food you put in your mouth makes to the pain you may be feeling in your shoulder (or your ankle, or your back, or your knee… you get the picture). Read on for Andrea’s story, in her own words.

Andrea’s Story

Rachel and Andrea (right), December 2009

I just wanted to take the time to thank you for everything you and Dallas are doing. I just finished my first Whole30. I am a 23 year old 5’4 female who started her Whole30 journey at a whopping 191.3 pounds. I am a religious CrossFitter who knew nutrition was my main problem. With little willpower on my own, I was able to gain power and strength from both my lovely partner (whom lost 9 pounds on her own Whole30) and one of my CrossFit Simi Valleytrainers (Wendy Hoffman) who did nothing but support us through the whole process.

Both Rachel and I knew we had to step up our nutritional responsibilities if we wanted to get out all we could from CrossFit. Then in June, I suffered a high ankle sprain – the type which my doctor said is difficult to heal and can take years to fully recover. After weeks of physical therapy I was making little progress, still in considerable pain and rolling my ankle while standing. Not soon thereafter, I noticed my shoulder was a little sore following a slow pitch softball game – and it continued to worsen after a shoulder-intensive workout at the gym. Before I knew it I had also strained my shoulder. I was feeling almost constant pain, especially when sleeping.

Shortly after all my injuries, Rachel and I started our Whole30. I am an impulsive eater, but once I established my routine with packing lunch and eating a healthy breakfast, I was on a roll. I was getting a TON of support from Rachel, which helped tremendously. It was difficult at first, but our trainer (Wendy Hoffman) assured me it would get better. After two weeks, things were going so well, another two weeks didn’t seem bad at all.

Rachel and Andrea, August 2011

After day ten, I was on a roll. I could literally feel my life and my body changing. People started to comment on how good I was looking. I was not thinking much of it – I just kept going. By week three, my ankle and shoulder pain was decreasing. Before I knew it, I was running again in my workouts. (Not just running, but running followed by box jumps and more running!) Things the doctors told me stay away from, I was now able to do pain free.

We ended our Whole30 on August 3rd – and on Day 31, I had absolutely no pain. On August 4th, I played my first softball game in over a month.

In addition I lost a total of 19.9 pounds and 14-¾ inches. My clothes are fitting better, I have more energy and my sleep is amazing.

I can’t tell you how thankful I am for the Whole30 and people like Wendy, who were able to share their knowledge and give support. I knew that I needed this experience to change my life, and it did. I can’t wait to complete my next Whole30!

Thanks again,

Andrea Cochran & Rachel Davis

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  1. Nelson says

    Hello all, We have been doing paleo for a while and my wife has developed a huge concern.

    1. She has been reading all these success stories about women losing 20-30lbs in the first month or two. She lost 9 pounds since we returned from vacation(that was 2 months ago). This week she is upset becasue she feels like she has gained a pound and the same pants that were loose last week are tight this week. She has been reading about caloric intake, and felt that she was eating too many calories, and now that she has hit a rut is considering “only doind cardio and restricting calories even further”. It doesnt help that her friends who dont eat paleo or healthy at all are losing weight simple by eating less fast food but yet she isnt. Her goal is to lose 30lbs. In reality this stems even from before our vacation because we were doing great on paleo, went back to the USA for two months and we both gained weight. Since we have come back she has reached her weight before we left but is stuck.

    Here was her daily meal plan before vacation:

    Bfast –> 3 natural Sausage and 3 egg mixtures and veggies(with hot sauce)

    Lunch –> chicken(breasts or strips) and veggies(with hot sauce)

    Snack –> some sort of fresh veggie and nuts( carrots/peppers)

    Dinner –> meat and some sort of veggie

    Dessert –>Smoothie( coconut milk + fruit)

    Here is her current daily meal plan:

    Bfast –> 2 hard boiled eggs and veggies(with hot sauce)

    Lunch –> chicken(breasts or strips) and veggies(with hot sauce)

    Snack –> some sort of fresh veggie( carrots/peppers)

    Dinner –> meat and some sort of veggie

    Dessert –>Smoothie( coconut milk + fruit)

    Activity level:

    Stay at home mom with two young boys, exercises once or twice a day. Workouts consist of cardio & weights during the week, and HIIT(crossfit type workouts) on the weekends.


    We get anywhere between 7-9 hours a night depending on if the baby wakes up. We also have put blackout shades in our room and don’t have a TV in there anymore.

    When she asked me what could be going wrong, I did some research. I found on the Whole9 site that eating commercial pork isnt a good idea becasue it has the most outa wack omega 6:3 ratio out of any commercially packaged meats. So I thought that was it but then I remember reading that she might not be eating enough fat at all. I just know that I am at a loss and I feel bad because she is busting her but in the gym( she knocked a minute off her mile in 1 month, and has gotten stronger every week)and feels aesthetically she has nothing to show for it. I just dont want her to give up. We started this becasue of our family health history and I just dont want her to give up. Please Help

  2. Junior says


    I did the Whole30 with the same intentions. I have a very poor family history and so does Rachel. I started my whole “betting my life” journey in 2009. It’s now 2011 and I have JUST figured it out. Now I have gone up and down and up and down. But it’s constancy! I also try to limit my fruit intake, because right now my goal is to drop weight I know that my sugar intake (natural or artificial) needs to be limited. Same thing when it comes to nuts. I hope I have answered some of your questions. It’s totally worth it and I am not lying when I say it changed my life!


  3. says


    What your wife needs is a full-on consultation – and that can’t be done over the internet, based on the few things I know about her health and fitness status. Sometimes, food isn’t the limiting factor, but there’s a complicated process that we use to determine what might be her stumbling block – and no nutritionist worth their salt is going to do that over a message board.

    I’d highly recommend contacting us directly for a one-hour consult. We’re busy moving for the next week or so, but Amy Kubal (our in-house RD) has availability, and she would be very well suited to helping your wife figure out what might be going on with her health and fitness. Please email me if you’d like to speak with Amy directly – melissa/whole9life/com.



  4. chris simmons says

    I have a girlfriend that I have been talking to about whole 30 and eating paleo. She had her gallbladder removed a few years back so she does not think she can eat vegetables because her digestion is messed up with out a gallbladder. She also says she cant have any iodine. any suggestions ? Is it possible for her to eat the paleo plan?



  5. says

    Chris – I’d ask your girlfriend to speak to her doctor (or, preferentially, a naturopath or nutrition-oriented doctor) again about how having no gall bladder affects digestion.

    The gall bladder’s role is to store bile between meals, so that it can be available in a large single dose rather than a constant drip, in order to emulsify the fats in our food to enable digestion. When fat-containing food comes into the small intestine, the gallbladder squirts bile onto it. This breaks down the fat, so that the useful parts can be absorbed in the small intestine. When your gall bladder is removed, the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the small intestine are still intact, they just bypass the absent gallbladder.

    So the good news is the liver is still functioning, the bile is still flowing, and your fatty foods still get digested. However, many report that large meals or large servings of fatty foods can cause discomfort, because the bile can’t reach the small intestine fast enough (and in enough of a “surge”) to properly digest a large amount of fat at once. As a result, smaller meals more frequently throughout the day (to space out the fat “dose”) are often recommended for those without a gall bladder. She’ll have to play around with protein choices too, as some can be quite fatty and may pose the same issue. Interestingly, some emulsified fats (like egg yolk or butter) may pose less of an issue, and coconut fat (from coconut oil) doesn’t require bile to digest, making it an ideal fat source for those without a gall bladder.

    I’m not sure where she’s getting the “can’t eat vegetables” from… in fact, a higher fiber diet (including lots of fiber-rich vegetables) is often recommended to aid digestion post-gall bladder surgery. If she’s got other issues (irritable bowel stuff, for example), there may be specific steps she needs to take to adjust her diet accordingly. The same for the iodine recommendation – that sounds like it’s a lot more to do with a thyroid condition than a missing gall bladder.

    The Whole30 is not 100% perfect, as written, for everyone. Those with allergies, auto-immune conditions or other medical conditions will need some tweaking to be optimally successful with the program. If your girlfriend is interested, we offer one hour consultations, which would help us adjust the program specifically for her condition(s). And again, we always recommend obtaining the advice of your doctor or medical professional before undertaking any new dietary regimen.



  6. Beth Tracy says

    Junior and Rachel,

    You both did an amazing job on your first Whole 30! Way to go! Wendy has been keeping me updated on your progress and she is so proud of you both! I am so happy that you are feeling better, inside and out! Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing your story! Thank you also, for the kind words to me last month! It really meant a lot!

    Beth (Wendy’s mom)