Family Health

Whole 30, 28 pounds lost, and 15 Paleo meals

So, um, I’ve been losing weight.

Weight Loss Before and After after doing a month on the Whole 30 meal plan eating mostly paleo recipes

It’s so awkward to talk about weight loss, isn’t it? I think it is. Weight loss is only fun to talk about when you’re safely on the skinny side and people can be like, “Remember when you used to be fat? That was so weird.”

That being said, I’m down some weight – 26 pounds as of right now, but that’s because I gained 6 pounds when I was on vacation in California and I’m still wiggling back out of them. Right before I left, I was 28 pounds down after doing Whole 30 for 6 weeks. Tons of that had to be water weight and I definitely wouldn’t expect that kind of loss if I kept doing Whole 30 indefinitely, but weight is weight!

What the ??? is Whole 30?

First, this is THE book about Whole 30 and they explain it better than I do. And this is the Whole 30 cookbook (link updated because a new one is coming out) that tells you exactly what to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The basic idea behind Whole 30 is that you stick to a really specific set of foods (fruit, vegetables, and meats mostly) and you absolutely avoid everything else. It’s a lot like Paleo except that the Paleo diet seems to have a little more wiggle room. I would say that I’m doing Paleo right now because I eat those specific “real” foods about 90% of the time but I let myself have extras every once in a while (like a slice of cake last night for Kyle’s birthday). If I go back to Whole 30 I know that I’ll lose weight faster, but right now I’m just trying to stick with real foods as much as I can without freaking out and falling off the wagon.

I will say that I thought Whole 30 was going to be awful and I was very skeptical about it because the “science” behind it is a little shaky (and don’t get me started on the “science” behind Paleo). For example, I was eating plain steel cut oats almost every day before I started Whole 30, but I had to cut them out because they aren’t on the list. I also cut out black beans, quinoa, brown rice, and a lot of other things that are on my “good” list mentally, but I wanted to give it a fair shot so I did the full 30 days without cheating. Then I tacked on two more weeks because the experience was so good!

My Whole 30 takeaways:

/// My sugar and carb detox didn’t last as long as I thought it would. I was exhausted for a couple of days and kept craving things with sugar added (even weird things like barbecue sauce and bacon) but then my energy zoomed up and stayed up for the rest of the time I was doing Whole 30. The energy alone makes me want to do it again.

/// Cooking wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It took about a week to get used to the fact that I needed to keep the fridge stocked with options so I wouldn’t have to cook during a spell of low blood sugar, but once I got the hang of it I actually enjoyed the simplicity of my options.

/// I started cheating a little during my local blog conference because there was delicious (free!) food everywhere and then I cheated a little more at my other blog conference because there was more free food and then I kept cheating during my road trip because we were in California with all sorts of things that I never get to have and by the time I made it back to Salt Lake, I was like, “Yes, I will have another Chai Latte to wash down these cookies.” The 6 pounds that crept back were no surprise, but I was surprised at the other things I noticed right away: irritability, inability to concentrate, trouble sleeping, constant thirst, and a skin breakout that brought me back to jr. high school.

I want to do Whole 30 again, but I’m very aware of looming hurdles that might throw me off track. Kyle’s birthday was one and I have another blog conference next week where my food options will probably be all over the place. (Note: I could have stuck with Whole 30 at my conferences if I had behaved myself. It’s great to see how many healthy choices people offer now!) As it stands, I’m much more conscious of my choices and I know that I’m doing better so I’m giving myself a break until I get back from my 2nd trip to California. My current plan is to keep eating hearty “real food” breakfasts and then try to keep it light for the rest of the day.

So what am I eating?


15 Paleo Meal Ideas

1. My Paleo chicken is still a favorite and I make it at least once a week.

2. Brown ground turkey in a frying pan (no oil needed) and add a can of diced tomatoes, powdered garlic, salt, pepper, and a little crushed red pepper. Serve over chopped iceberg lettuce and top with black olives and diced avocado.

3. Make a salad of chopped watermelon, chopped apple, torn mint leaves, and a splash of lime juice.

4. Bake white fish of your choice until it’s flakey and then serve over cabbage slaw (no dressing) with grapefruit segments.

5. Slice sweet potatoes into thick rounds and fry in a little coconut oil. Top with smashed avocado and half a strip of bacon. (Watch for bacon with sugar added – you’d be surprised!)

6. Pan fry broccoli slaw in a little olive oil until it softens. Top with spaghetti sauce made by simmering diced tomatoes, tomato paste, mushrooms, chopped white onion, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and basil.

7. Out to eat? Ask for a broth based soup that doesn’t have pasta in it or order a Cobb salad with no blue cheese or salad dressing.

8. Make breakfast hash from cubed sweet potato and sliced mushrooms. Top with two eggs that have been scrambled with a little coconut oil.

9. Boil a cup of chicken stock (in the microwave is fine). Once it’s really hot, toss it in the blender and blend in one egg yolk (two if you want it thicker) and some lemon juice. The heat from the stock will cook the yolk and the result is a yummy soup-sauce that I eat over asparagus or a baked sweet potato.

10. Roast chicken with vegetables – this is paleo food for at least four days! The great thing about a big recipe like this is that everyone in the family can eat it (although I usually make them some non-Paleo side dishes to go with).

11. Slice asparagus very thin at an angle and cook them in a little olive oil with kale. Top with baked chicken breast (you can use the same recipe that I used for the drumsticks and it turns out great).

12. Easiest and most favorite salad: arugula topped with lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a little cold protein if I have something handy in the fridge.

13. Sliced bell peppers, white onion, and portobello mushrooms cooked with cayenne pepper, salt, and garlic are delicious wrapped in lettuce leaves with a little guacamole.

14. Shredded sweet potato mixed with chopped onion, chopped apple, and one egg makes the most delicious potato pancakes you’ve ever had in your life.

15. If you really need dessert (or you have crazy ripe bananas that you need to get rid of), mix one banana and one egg together into a Paleo crepe batter. Cook on low-medium heat with a little bit of coconut oil until they look dry, flip, cook through, and then eat just like that or fill with more bananas that have been fried until they caramelized a little. (I cheated a little with the ones below and threw in some bourbon. What can I say? Totally worth it. Also, I put sugar on Kyle’s. Don’t do that if you’re being good.)

Paleo banana crepesOverall, I’m pleased with my Whole 30 experience because I feel like it was a nice push toward my goals. My next challenge is training for a race because I signed up to run the Princess Half Marathon in Walt Disney World (February 2015) so it’s time to get back out to the road. It’s intimidating, because the last time I ran a race I was ten years younger and a lot lighter but I’m doing it!

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  • Reply Hope at Disneyland

    Hi Carly! Great job! Losing weight is hard and “being good” isn’t always easy but I’m proud of you for sticking to it and seeing results! I have a few friends who did Whole30 and saw the same results as you: improved moods, more focus and weight loss. From looking at your list, there was nothing you were really deprived of and it all looks yummy. That chicken recipe that you shared has been in constant rotation in our kitchen. Didn’t even realize it was part of your special diet. Good for you for signing up for the WDW runDisney race. You’re making me look like a slacker. We signed up for Avengers 5K this Fall and I haven’t gone out for a run at all, and here you are with a race NEXT year and have already racked up some mileage in your running shoes. Go Carly Go! 😀

    July 18, 2014 at 9:07 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Thanks, Hope! I’m glad that you guys are still doing the chicken – we love it! I’m going to try to do the Coast to Coast medal and run the Tinkerbell half as well in Disneyland, so… 😉

      July 20, 2014 at 5:42 pm
  • Reply Eve

    You look AWESOME!!! I am so impressed when people cut out all grains-I’d have a hard time sticking to it. Keep up the awesome work, and let me know if you need any running inspiration. Can’t wait to read about your training! <3

    July 18, 2014 at 9:16 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      Thanks, Eve!

      July 20, 2014 at 5:42 pm
  • Reply {j}

    THANK-YOU for these simple and delish meal ideas. I have done 2 Whole 30s in the past year, but need to go another round. I really needed some one else’s food ideas to shake it up. This is the part that gets us hung up sometimes, I think! I’m using this! 🙂

    June 13, 2015 at 6:39 pm
    • Reply Carly Morgan

      You’re so welcome!

      June 20, 2015 at 2:46 pm
  • Reply Jessica

    Thanks for sharing your meals! Myself and my family have been doing W30 for 3 weeks and honestly, we don’t notice a huge change (especially weightless for me) but we do ‘feel’ better. Less indigestion, heartburn for one of my boys, less congestion for the other. The first week and a half, I was EXHAUSTED from all the shopping and meal prepping. But even with less sleep, I DO feel I’m sleeping better now, lending me more energy to get thru the next day! My husbands main complaint is how expensive it is to feed 2 teenage boys and ourselves on this plan!! ? Fortunately, we have also found some yummy meal recipes. I’ll share our favorite with you. BONUS, it’s super fast and simple!!
    All you need is:
    Catfish (or Tilapia)
    Yellow onion
    Baby Spinach
    To bake, pile a huge amount of fresh baby spinach to a foil lined baking dish, top with sliced onions, and drizzle juice of 1/2-whole lemon over all of it.
    Then lay fish filets down over the top of the bed of veggies. Distribute a few big dollops of butter (or ghee) over the spinach near the fish. Salt, pepper to taste and a little paprika. Then bake for 15 min, depending how thick your filets are, in 375 degree oven.
    The juice from the lemon and the fish cook the spinach and onions and it’s mouthwatering delicious!

    February 20, 2016 at 9:26 pm
  • Reply Heatherlynn

    Awesome! I’m 4 days away form completing my Whole30. I feel so much better physically and mentally that I may just even slide on right into round 2!

    April 8, 2016 at 2:47 pm
  • Reply Lee

    Thanks for sharing!

    April 9, 2017 at 10:11 pm
  • Reply Kelli

    This is so frustrating. whole 30 you aren’t supposed to “cheat” AT ALL and you aren’t supposed to recreate desserts. I’m sorry but you didn’t complete the whole 30. great job on the weight loss though!

    February 1, 2018 at 9:52 pm
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