I Never Sweat When I Worked Out—Until I Tried Sweet Sweat

Picture this: It’s a hot, sunny summer day, and I just finished an outdoor workout on top of a three-mile run. And I’m not sweating—at all. OK—now picture this: I’m at a hot yoga class filled with people literally dripping sweat everywhere, and I’m still not really sweating.

Even though I go as hard as the next gal (or at least I think I do), I just don’t sweat that much. On a sweat scale of one to 10, I’d say I’m about a three. I’m not that happy about it, either. I’ve always thought that if you sweat a lot during a workout it means you’re really torching those calories and flushing out those toxins—and I want that sign of a workout well-done. Hey, I’m working my butt off over here!

(I have to admit, there is one positive thing about never sweating that much: I can totally skip the shower after my lunch-break workout and jet back to my desk when I’m short on time. Don’t judge—you normal sweaters have probably done it yourself!)

Given my inability to perspire, a few of my co-workers recently approached me about a doing a sweat challenge (full disclosure: I work at The Vitamin Shoppe, which sells the product). They were buzzing about this stuff called Sweet Sweat, which apparently makes you sweat like crazy when you work out, and they wanted me to be the true test of its powers. I was intrigued, so I volunteered myself as tribute.

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Sweet Sweat is a system of products (including a topical gel you can apply all over, a waistband, and arm bands) designed to help boost circulation to your working muscles, turn up your body’s production of heat, and make you sweat like you’ve never sweat before. But could Sweet Sweat actually make me sweat buckets? I was skeptical.

Related: Why Do Some People Sweat More Than Others?

To make sure my experiment was scientifically sound, I needed a control to test the Sweet Sweat against. So I decided to repeat the same workout two days in a row—one day as normal and the other with the Sweet Sweat gel and waistband.

I picked a tough HIIT workout from Fitness Blender to do. Check it out:

Fat-Burning HIIT Cardio Workout

What you do: Start with Circuit 1 and perform the first move for 20 seconds (as hard as possible.) Then rest for 10 seconds. Follow that pattern for each exercise and repeat the circuit three times total. Then do the same for Circuit 2.

Circuit 1:
Skater Jump Burst
Twist Jump Drops
Jumping Lunge + 2 Lifts
Plank Jack Spider Hops
2 Hooks + 2 Upper Cuts + 2 Jumping Jacks
Squat Hold

Circuit 2:
Plank Taps + Lifts
Squat Jack + Kicks
Bicycle Crunches
3 Ducks + Side Kick
Up and Out Jacks
3 Squat Hops + Jump
Split Jumps
Squat Pulses

Related: Should You Be Doing A HIIT Workout?

Workout #1: Without Sweet Sweat

I wanted my body to have all the fluids it needed to work up as much of a sweat as possible, so I drank tons of water in the morning before my first workout—and another glassful right before. I felt pretty exhausted throughout that HIIT session. My muscles were really feeling the burn! I know I worked really hard, but if we judged my workout based on sweatiness, it looked like I didn’t do too much. Sweat level: 3.

Here I am after that first workout. Totally dry.

Workout #2: Bring On The Sweet Sweat

I made sure I drank just as much water before my Sweet Sweat workout as I’d guzzled before the workout without the stuff. (Gotta keep those results as accurate as possible!) Before I got to it, I applied the Sweet Sweat gel up and down my arms, on my calves, around my neck, and all over my stomach and lower back. (I was wearing a sleeveless, loose-fitting cotton top, sports bra, and high-waisted cropped leggings.)

My first thought was that the gel was a little greasy—but it smelled great (like fresh-outta-the-shower scent) and went on easily. It had a petroleum jelly-like consistency, and any initial glops melted into my skin. I immediately felt a warming sensation all over the parts of my body where I’d applied the gel.

I really wanted to sweat, so I also put on the waistband under my shirt, too. It fit well and was surprisingly comfortable—you couldn’t even tell I had it on!

As soon as I started the workout, I felt the sweat building up beneath the waistband. Everywhere else still felt warm, but I wasn’t quite dripping yet. (Honestly, I was a little distracted at first because I kept checking my arms for sweat.) I had some pretty noticeable sweat in my elbow creases, but that was it.

Something I really liked about wearing the product was the psychological element: I actually think I worked a bit harder knowing I had this sweat-enhancing product on my skin (win!).

When I finished the workout, I couldn’t wait to take off the waistband—I could feel the sweat building up in there. My arms and legs still weren’t too sweaty, except for in and around the creases around my joints. But beneath that waistband…Waterworks! Sweatfest! Glorious evidence of my hard work! Sweet, sweet SWEAT. Sweat level: 8.

Beads of sweat covered my stomach and lower back, and they were literally dripping onto the floor. I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself. Seeing my sweat all over the place was hugely motivating—I wanted to work out again with this stuff now!

The Final Verdict

After hearing so much hype about Sweet Sweat—and knowing a couple of people who love it—I came in with pretty high expectations. For me, it was the waistband that really made the sweat pour—but I imagine someone sweatier than myself would be waterfall-status with just the gel.

I know there are plenty of Instagrammers who consider their Sweet Sweat a vital part of their gym routine. Just search #sweetsweat and check out the sweat party for yourself.

Since my experiment was short, I can’t attest to whether it helped me sweat away any softness in my midsection, but I am definitely a fan and will continue to use it.

If you’re cool with being a bit of a shiny greaseball at the gym (hey, why not?)—and leaving major puddles behind—then you’ll probably love this product. Just make sure you’ve got a shower waiting for you afterward.

Related: Let’s get sweaty! Try Sweet Sweat for yourself.

How This Lazy Girl Survived The Whole30

I’ll just come right out and say it: I try to make smart food choices, but I don’t always get it right. I’m lazy about preparing healthy meals and I never turn down free (read: carb-overloaded) office food. In fact, I’ll pretty much always justify eating a cheeseburger because—you never know—it could be my last day on Earth! In short, self-control isn’t my strong suit.

On any given day, I usually whip up a protein shake or cereal for breakfast, pick up a salad for lunch, and scramble some eggs for dinner. Not too bad, right? But it’s the in-between snacks that are the problem. I’ll often nosh on the half-bagel leftover from a morning meeting or some late-night cheese.

On top of my not-always-so-hot eating habits, my weight has yo-yo-ed for the past five years or so. In fact, bloating and irregularity have been my ‘normal’ for far too long. I also recently learned that I have an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease, which may sound like some sort of ninja move—but isn’t. Basically, my body attacks its own thyroid gland, messing with its ability to make the hormones that my metabolism and cardiovascular system need. No wonder my weight has been trouble.

Finding out about my Hashimoto’s diagnosis has, however, made me more motivated about taking care of my health. So, when a friend of mine said she’d finished a 30-day eating plan called Whole30, I decided to check it out. She looked great, and said she felt even better. It was time to take my health into my own hands!

So, what is the Whole30, exactly? It’s 30 days without processed foods, ingredients you can’t pronounce, dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol, or sweeteners (natural or artificial). The goal is to give your body a month-long break from foods that might be causing health issues. Afterwards, you reintroduce foods one by one to see how your body reacts.

Some Whole30ers say they’ve lost weight, gained regularity, seen clearer skin, experienced less bloat, or developed a healthier relationship with food after completing the program. Intriguing, right? There’s one very important rule, though: Slip up just once and you have to start your 30 days all over again. Intense.

Okay, 30 days, I thought. I got this!

photo: Jenn Pena

So I committed. Unfortunately, that meant saying ‘goodbye for now’ to my buddies Cheese, Chewing Gum, and Mom’s Pancakes. I was worried that my inability to turn down pizza would do me in—but a line from the book Whole30 by Melissa Hartwig convinced me I could do it:  “Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Drinking your coffee black is not.”

Week One

Excited to feel (and see) results, I charged into my first few days on Whole30. There are a gazillion Whole30 recipes out there, but given my busy schedule, I decided to take the simple route. Still, I knew I had to do some meal prepping, so I made ground turkey with peppers and onions for my lunches and a giant fruit salad with grapefruit, blueberries, and strawberries to keep around as a snack. I made an easy egg-spinach scramble for breakfast each morning and stocked my work desk with nuts to squash sneak-attack snack cravings. (What did I do before cashews came into my life?!) For dinner, I scrambled up more eggs and spinach with some diced chicken and onions, and called it a day.

photo: Jenn Pena

Not gonna lie, I felt extremely tired. (Whole30 warned me this might happen.) Without the usual bread, excessive amount of gummy vitamins, and protein bars, I had drastically cut back on carbs and sugar. Despite the tiredness, though, I still finished the week strong. I felt lighter and more optimistic because I managed to survive a whole week!

Related: Is Sugar Really All That Bad For You?

That week brought some perks: My toilet time became more regular and I started drinking more water. Before Whole30, I was lucky if I drank a small bottle of water throughout the day before my nightly glass of wine. I think it was that extra H2O that really helped me ‘go.’

Week Two

With a family birthday party filling my house with non-Whole30-approved foods, week two got off to a rocky start. I was surrounded by temptation—and I felt a little annoyed about it. Luckily, my family was pretty happy for me for sticking it out, and even seemed interested in trying Whole30 themselves—until the cake came out, of course. Determined, I kept my eyes on the prize and got some kudos for my self-control. Take that, cake! As much as I love chowing down with my family at birthdays and parties, it was nice to go to bed not feeling bloated that night.

The rest of the week was a challenge. I continued to feel like a zombie (and not in the mood to think up new meals), so I had kept my daily menu pretty much the same as week one—a decision I started to regret by Wednesday. I switched to a combo of canned salmon and hard-boiled eggs for lunch. While that got me through the rest of the week, I was pretty over this Whole30 thing. I wanted wine and cheese, and I wanted it now.

photo: Jenn Pena

Week Three

At this point, I was straight-up crabby, but I knew I was halfway there. My stomach felt flatter, my face looked slimmer, I was going to the bathroom without a problem, and my skin was blemish-free, so I begrudgingly chugged along.

And then things went south. On Tuesday, I got home really late from work and didn’t have  dinner prepped. I was totally exhausted—and not in the mood to cook. Suddenly I was reaching for the cheese. (Palm-to-face.) I knew what this little oopsie meant: I had to start Whole30 all over again. I felt like I had let myself down, just for a stinking piece of cheese. So, back to day one, I went…

Starting From Scratch

Luckily, starting over wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. If anything, I was more focused, prepared, and determined—I couldn’t fail twice! I knew I had to switch up my meals to keep my taste buds in the game.

I cleared my usual temptations from the fridge and pantry (goodbye, cheese!), and prepped mixed berries and grilled chicken with spinach and a sweet potato for work. I also made cauliflower mash and a bunch of different veggies to give my spinach habit a bit of a break. By the end of the week, I felt energized.

photo: Jenn Pena

With the third week of my reboot came my birthday—and the fear that I’d slip up again. My mom came to the rescue, though, and made a Whole30-approved birthday dinner. We all noshed on grilled chicken, potatoes, and mixed vegetables for dinner—and even munched on fruit salad for dessert! While many birthdays past ended with a stomach ache, this time I went to bed feeling great. I didn’t even miss the cake.

After nailing my birthday, I practically danced into my final week of Whole30. By this point, I felt well-rested and alert all day long. It amazed me how much the foods I ate (or didn’t!) affected my mood, energy, and focus. I didn’t even think about sugar or bread as I sailed through the last few days. Even cheese didn’t taunt me much.

photo: Jenn Pena

I Did It! Uh, Now What?

Reaching day 30 was a great feeling. I was free of bloat and toilet struggles, my jeans definitely felt looser, and everyone kept telling me how great I looked. All this just from eating well!

But then came a feeling that reminded me of a weird breakup: I wanted Whole30 to end so badly, but once it was over I almost felt a little lost. Like, okay, fine, you’re free to go eat your gut-inflaming foods now.

The next day, I was out to dinner with my family and had myself a good ol’ hunk of restaurant bread with butter. (I’ll admit that my eyes might have closed in slow-mo as I chewed.) But my bread-y nirvana was cut short pretty quickly when my stomach started cramping up halfway through the meal. Did my body have an issue with bread? Reintroducing cheese a few days later didn’t go so well either—hello, bloat.

Related: 8 Possible Reasons Why You’re So Tired All The Time

Now that I’m acutely aware of how bread and dairy make me feel, I try not to eat them too often. In fact, none of my old guilty pleasures have much power over me these days. Free office food? Maybe I’ll grab a piece of fruit, but you’ll see none of my former cubicle grub-hoarding habits here. I’m also a lot better at reading food labels and I really think about what I put in my body. Other perks? A lot of the snack bars and sugary cocktails I used to enjoy taste funky to me now. Artificial sweeteners and piña coladas actually make me feel sick.

Though I’m not about to go full-on Whole30 all the time—I still love my protein shakes and a good happy hour from time to time—I’m so glad I did it.

Related: Cleaning up your diet? Find a natural protein supplement to fit your lifestyle.