You Want to Know More About Whole30?

You want to know more about whole30

Thank you for the amazing response to my first post about my journey with Whole30. I had a number of friends reach out to me with additional questions, or to tell me they were now considering Whole30. I’m serious, you all – it has changed my life.

If you want to give Whole30 a try, here are a few tips to get you started.

Be prepared.

Like, really prepared. I recommend purchasing and reading a book first – but it’s not necessary. You can get the Whole30 book – which is the rules and guidelines and explanations AND lots of recipes (kind of like a cookbook). Or you can get the one I prefer which is It Starts With Food. I like getting my recipes from Pinterest (here’s a link to my Whole30 board), so it wasn’t necessary for me to have the whole big book. I love how It Starts with Food will tell you WHY some foods make you feel like crap, and the background of the program. Having that knowledge really motivates you and makes you think twice when you’re about to grab a treat out of a candy jar. It also helped me understand why other programs I’ve tried in the past maybe didn’t work for me.

All that being said, one of my favorite things about Whole30 is there is nothing to buy (besides groceries) – so it really is for anyone. There are tons of free resources on the Whole30 official page. If you peruse the website, you can find anything you might need. I just think it’s helpful to read the book (or skim it if that’s more your jam) so you’re in the right mindset before starting.

Pick your start date.

You don’t have to start on the first of a month – but it makes counting easy. I like being intentional when picking my start date, although the whole point is to change your habits, so waiting for a month when you have nothing going on kind of defeats the purpose. You’re probably going to have to go out with friends at some point in your Whole30 and order a water (or sparkling water with lime if you want to be fancy). You’re really going to wish you could go sit on a patio and drink a beer or eat chips and salsa. But the key is – its ONLY 30 DAYS. You can do it. 

I tend to go back to this quote from the Whole30 program when I feel like it’s too hard or restrictive:

“This is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth—the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.”

Know what you can’t have.

You can’t have SUGAR (real or artificial), SOY, DAIRY, GRAINS, ALCOHOL, LEGUMES, OR ARTIFICIAL INGREDIENTS. The official Whole30 page is the best place to go if you want to figure out what all you need to cut out. The point of my blogging my experience is not to pretend to be an expert about Whole30 – but to share my experience and show you that it’s completely manageable for ANYONE to do.

Know what you CAN have.

There is SO much variety in what you CAN have. Seriously! You can have bacon (sugar free, though!). You can have potatoes (any variety!) You can use ghee as a butter substitute, eat almost all cuts of meat (hello, chicken thighs!), all fruits, most vegetables, and there are even compliant snack bars for when you’re in a pinch. My favorites are Coconut Cream Lara Bars and Chocolate Sea Salt RX Bars. I even found some compliant fruit snacks today at Aldi! These aren’t meant to replace your 3PM daily afternoon snack….but they are compliant for times you are starving or on the run and not around good, wholesome food.

Meal plan/prep.

Every weekend you’ll want/need to meal plan and prep for the coming week. There is not  one more important tip I can give you besides meal planning and prep. When I fail it’s because I’m ill prepared. Write out everything you’re going to prep on Sunday, and everything you’re going to eat throughout the week. Then get groceries accordingly. Here’s a sample of my meal plan for this coming week:

Sunday: Bun-less Burgers

Monday: Beef and Cabbage Skillet

Tuesday: Taco Salad

Wednesday: Chicken Thighs and Veggie Sheet pan meal

Thursday: Out to dinner with friends (left overs for rest of the family)

Friday: Flank Steak and Broccoli

And here’s a sample of what I’m going to prep today for lunches and to make the week easier:

Salads in containers for the week, Italian Dressing, roast whole chicken, sausage patties for breakfasts, carrots portioned out in baggies, ground beef cooked for the week, and Chicken Fiesta Lime Soup. Having these things prepped will make lunches a breeze, as well as make dinner a little easier every night. And my philosophy is if I’m going to dirty the kitchen….might as well just do it once. Plus, plan your prep order so you can use the same ingredients all at once. For example, I’ll cook the sausage, then move straight to the ground beef, I have two meals with ground beef next week, so I’ll cook 2 pounds today, and have half for my Beef and Cabbage skillet, and half for my taco meat.

Get used to reading ingredients, not nutrition facts.

You will become an expert at reading ingredient lists – but not overnight. It takes some practice and time to learn. You want to avoid anything that says “artificial” or “artificially flavored”. You want to avoid SUGAR and any sugar trying to hide in a different form (I’m talking about you dextrose and maltose). No maple syrup or honey or Splenda or anything else “like” sugar. Find a full list of those tricky names here and a full list of all the okay ingredients that you might find in things here.

Your first trip to the store when you’re planning your Whole30 is going to take forever. Print those pages off, along with the list of what you can have and take those with you. You’ll need to look at every ingredient unless you’re buying produce raw and straight off the shelf. You will start to realize there is sugar in EVERYTHING (in some form or another). One time I found there was sugar in the spice packet of my potatoes. WTF.

Keep it simple – especially at first.

When I started my first Whole30, I had so many dishes every night it was a freaking production and it WORE. ME. OUT. You can find millions of recipes on Pinterest for Whole30. Some are super complex. Save those for when you are really going and ready for some variety. When you’re just getting started, STAY SIMPLE. I mean sheet pan meals, zoodles and spaghetti sauce, meat, veggies, fruit, salads. If you don’t know what all these things are, that’s okay – I’ll be posting compliant recipes over the next month and beyond that can help you get started and stay on track.

Heres a look at what I’ve been eating so far in my first 3 days:

I’ve learned so much just from following Whole30 myself. The main thing I’ve taken away is that sugar is in EVERYTHING. Even if you think you’re being healthy by eating greek yogurt (full of sugar) or reduced fat this or that (tons of sugar), or even DIET something (get outta here aspartame!), until you actually learn what you’re putting in your body and cut out the sugar, your weight is just going to keep fluctuating and you’re going to keep feeling like crap. Fake sugar makes your body think you’re eating sugar, which makes you crave more sugar. Its a terrible cycle.

Here are some Q and A’s I was asked since my last post and want to share with you all.

Do you feel really restricted on Whole30?

In short, yes, but only for 30 days. And there are so many convenience foods I’ve found that it really isn’t bad. The hardest for me personally are sweets and alcohol. But those also are probably the two that make the biggest difference for me. Once you’ve done your first 30 days, you can add back in what you want, but you honestly don’t even want them like you used to. You know how it makes you feel/what it does to you, and it’s a million times easier to say “no thanks.”

How can I get started? Where should I go?

As I said before, I plan on posting my personal experience on this blog, so I encourage you to sign up for email updates and check back often. However, I’m not an expert, I’m only sharing MY OPINION and take on the program, so your very best bet is to check out the real Whole30 program page. Those folks are the experts, and everything on the site that you need without buying A THING.

Are you working out, too?

I’m not proud to say I’m not right now. I’m still nursing so I know that’s helping me burn 500 or so calories a day. And I am chasing a toddler around, so I call that some exercise. Additionally, though not technically “working out,” I try to get up and walk around through out the day as much as possible. I know I need to get more consistent with working out because the health benefits are obviously super important, but I’m not there yet. If you aren’t eating healthy and you aren’t working out right now, I recommend you get your eating in check first. If you try to do too much at once, you’re going to set yourself up to fail. If you ARE working out – don’t stop!

Feel free to leave more questions in the comments. I hope you’ll be following along over the next coming month or share with someone else who wants to start eating healthier, and follow me on IG for more looks at my yummy (and simple) meals. Soon I’ll be posting some ideas for easy compliant convenience foods, my favorite sheet pan meals (I could make these every night), more Sunday prep ideas, recipes, and more.

If I can do it, I swear anyone can!

Who is with me???

*This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase through these links I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!


How I Lost 30 Pounds on Whole30


I have two beautiful boys now, but my journey to motherhood wasn’t the easiest.

It took a couple years of trying before I got pregnant the first time. I had been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and needed to take a couple different medications. For as long as I could remember, my weight had fluctuated, but in that time when I was trying to get pregnant, I really started to gain weight due to hormones and my lack of control when it came to eating. I figured I was HOPEFULLY going to be pregnant soon and gaining weight anyway, so I might as well not worry about what I was eating.

Ugh. If I would have know then what I know now.

I suffered a miscarriage before getting pregnant with my first son. After I got pregnant after the miscarriage, already in an emotional state, I was at my 8 weeks doctor’s appointment, when the nurse said my weight out loud, in front of my husband. She said I was one pound shy of their threshold for sending mothers in for early gestational diabetes testing. I was horrified, and couldn’t believe I had gotten to that weight.

And as pregnancy goes, I continued to gain weight. I gained close to 50 more pounds before my son was born, and at the end was swollen so badly I couldn’t find shoes that fit. I look back at pictures now, and I swear even my nose was swollen. I didn’t take care of myself, and it showed and I felt it.


38 weeks pregnant with my first son – everything was swollen and I felt terrible.

It was so hard to lose the weight after my son was born. I was nursing, but that didn’t seem to make a difference. I was still eating like crap and feeling like crap. I lost some weight, but it took a long time, and I was still not where I wanted to be. I succumbed to the fact that my pants were just a bigger size than they used to be. Chalked it up to being a mom.

I was about 10 pounds lighter than before when I got pregnant with my 2nd son. But I still wasn’t happy with my weight. A few weeks into my 2nd trimester, a friend asked me if I’d be interested in joining her for a “Whole30“. She explained that it was no grains, dairy, soy, sugar, legumes – basically nothing processed. You also couldn’t have alcohol, but being pregnant, that was the least of my worries. I figured I might as well try it. I spoke with my doctor who told me that he was absolutely supportive of it. He also told me if I never eat high fructose corn syrup again, that would be ideal.

So I joined her Facebook support group. My husband agreed to do it with me. We ate (mostly) whole foods for a month. And in those 30 days, so great things started happening.

  • I LOST 5 pounds (while pregnant!)
  • My energy levels were through the roof (while pregnant!)
  • I could feel a shift in my body – things didn’t ache like they had previously
  • I was less swollen all over
  • I was no longer craving sugar
  • And I felt like I could keep going eating mostly Whole30 compliant meals

My first Whole30 wasn’t perfect. But it was a start. And I learned so much about label reading and nutrition, and how to make better choices about what I was eating and what I was feeding my family. I continued eating mostly Whole30, living by the 80/20 rule, and the weight gain throughout the rest of my pregnancy was slow and manageable.

By the end of my pregnancy, people kept saying they couldn’t believe I was almost due. I didn’t look or feel huge. I felt great. I could still fit into many of my pre-pregancy clothes comfortably. I knew I had turned a corner and was looking forward to doing a full Whole30 again after the baby was born.


38 weeks pregnant with my second son. I felt so much better after I started eating whole foods!

And only 2 months after my baby was born, I started another Whole30. I started dropping weight like crazy. I was still nursing, so I had to modify just a little (I ate snacks and would occasionally have oatmeal or other carbs) but for the most part I was very compliant. And once again, I felt great.

After that Whole30, literally none of my clothes fit me. I needed to go buy all new pants – and not just one size smaller than I was used to….TWO, sometimes THREE sizes smaller. I am now at the lowest weight I can remember in a very long time, and I’ve kept it off for several months now. I would like to lose about 10 more pounds, but I am not obsessive about it.

After Easter and a few weeks of really falling off the Whole30 wagon and indulging too much, I haven’t gained weight back, but I don’t feel very well. So I’m starting a new Whole30 today.

Follow me on Instagram for my daily meal posts, and check back here for updates and tips about Whole30. (Hint: I had shredded pork in a salad for lunch, and a bunless hamburger for supper)

“Diets” have never really worked for me. But eating using the principles of Whole30 has actually not been hard. And it’s only 30 days. Will you join me? Put any questions you have about Whole30 in the comments and I’ll try to help answer them. Having a support group was the biggest motivator for me, so I hope I can help others, too!


*This post includes affiliate links. If you purchase through these links I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Real Talk: Getting Trolled/Mommy Wars

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Once a month, I write a blog post for the Cedar Rapids Moms Blog. I love connecting with local moms, and have made some wonderful friendships by being a writer with them. You can see all the posts I’ve written for CRMB here. I’ve really learned a lot and have definitely seen an improvement in my writing.

I always enjoy when I get comments on my posts. For one, it confirms for me that people (besides my parents) actually read my writing. Two, it’s always been something complimentary or validating, and who doesn’t like a choir of people saying “Right on! I agree!”?

My latest post was titled “Four Hours with my Kids: A Working Mom’s Reality,” and I talked about the challenges of being a full-time working mom. Namely – only getting to spend limited time with my kids before and after work during the week. In it, I was honest, and said I enjoy working, but sometimes I feel guilty not wanting to be a stay at home mom.

When I saw I had received a comment on my post, I was excited to see what someone had written. Not thinking that my post might be controversial AT ALL, I eagerly read the response. It said:

“Sorry but you feel guilty, because someone else is raising your children! Being with your kids 4hours (sic) a day is not giving them what they need. You are thinking about yourself, that’s why you feel guilty. You are fooling yourself, trust me every child wants to be with their mom. Make a sacrifice for a few years until they are in school, you will never get that time back!” -Sandy

Whoa – talk about a gut punch. I didn’t even see it coming. Someone quickly came to the defense of all working moms and responded:

“Wow Sandy – you must have been one that was able to stay at home with your kids. Lucky you (note sarcasm). I myself am a working mom – because I want to and my husband is self-employed. Quite frankly, I don’t feel guilty about leaving my kids at daycare. I know they are learning more there than they ever would at home with me. Most importantly, they get to learn how to play and interact with other children – they aren’t stuck in the same four walls with me every day. My thought for you – if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all. Hopefully your kids learned that when they were home with you…” -Lea Ann

Neither comment was very nice. And they both just further promoted what we know as “Mommy Wars.” Breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, SAHM vs. working mom, public vs. private school – and the list goes on.

I know “trolling” happens on blog posts and social media all the time. It’s hard to please everyone, nor should that be the goal. I didn’t take the post personally, and I don’t necessarily agree with everything Lea Ann voiced in her rebuttal, either. I have lots of friends who are SAHM’s and they love it and are wonderful at it.

But, we’re all moms. We all want what is best for our children, and what is best for our personal situations. Promoting or participating in “Mommy Wars” does no good – it just further divides us. I never expect that everyone will agree with my choices 100%. I can only support my fellow moms and write from my heart.

In my heart – being a working mom is me. And I’m proud of that. To quote from the post:

“I pray that they’re seeing first-hand that women can have a successful career and a family, and give them both her all. That they’re getting what they need from me, my husband, and the village that is helping us raise them.”

Let’s stop the mommy wars and band together to join team mom. Lord knows there are plenty of other conflicts and disagreements out in the world today….and I can’t think of a better team to promote love and understanding and support.

Leo’s 1st Birthday Par-Tee

After searching Pinterest for 1st birthday party ideas, I settled on a golf themed party for baby Leo. It was taking place in the middle of summer, in our back yard, and our family loves to play golf. So we planned a 1st birthday PAR-TEE, complete with his very first set of golf clubs!


2-tiered cake and smash cake: Countertop Cakes

Embroidered birthday shirt: Etsy


Golf Clubs (Brats and Hotdogs)

Putt-ato Salad

Par Pasta Salad

Chip Shots (Chips)

Watermelon Slices

Range Balls (Popcorn Puffs)

Donut Hole-in-Ones (Donut holes)

Arnold Palmers


I’m Back–With Lots of BIG News!

Hello, and I’m back!! I had to take a break from blogging for the first part of this year, with lots of big changes going on in my life. But lucky for you, I’m back and ready to talk about what’s happening in Our Little Ivory Tower!

Here’s the first piece of news:

Guess what?!

Guess what?!

Big enough for you???? We found out in November that our life was going to change DRASTICALLY in 9 months and couldn’t be any more thrilled. We got to share the news with our parents at Christmas by giving each set of parents a baby book and ultrasound picture. There was a lot of screaming, tears, and hugs–and I think it’s safe to say this first grandchild on BOTH SIDES is going to be very loved (and very spoiled!) We have decided NOT to find out what we’re having {yes, I know that’s crazy!} so we are preparing as best we can with neutral tones. I can’t wait to show our nursery progress with you as we get further along.

I am at 32 weeks today, so we only have about 2 months left to prepare until the little bambino is here. He or she is incredibly active and has been looking great at my doctor’s appointments. I have been feeling pretty well, but the swelling has been getting worse and worse, and sleep is getting harder and harder to come by. I miss margaritas, sushi, and being able to comfortably bend down to pick something off the ground. I also miss wearing my wedding ring, which became impossible to get on and off about a week ago. Darn you summer pregnancy!

Here’s the second piece of news:

I got a new job! On May 12 I had my first day at ACT in Iowa City as a Product Marketing Associate and it has been a whirlwind since. I’ll be working on marketing their K-12 products including the ACT Test and the new ACT Aspire. While I miss my amazing coworkers from my old job SO MUCH, I’m really excited about my future with ACT and am already loving working full-time in a marketing role. I can’t wait to see where it will go from here.

I think that is enough news for today. Next weekend we’re taking a mini-“babymoon” to Milwaukee, then in coming weeks we have a LOT of work to do to prepare for the baby, and a baby shower at the end of June. We’re also trying to enjoy quality time together while it’s just the two of us, work on projects in and around the house, and getting a few rounds of golf in.

Have a great weekend, and I promise to be back soon!

Dory is resting up for the baby

Dory is resting up for the baby

Where Did January Go?!?

Well, I’m off to a terrible start this year blogging. Believe it or not, it’s been a pretty busy month, despite the freezing temps and frigid weather. I had several things I planned on blogging about this month. For one, I thought I was going to do Bachelor recaps. However, after the first show or two, I realized this season is REALLY not very interesting. The lead barely speaks English, and the girls are pretty blahh. So I didn’t have much motivation to blog about it. Then G & his dad painted our kitchen/dining room, and it looks AWESOME! We still have some projects to finish it off, but the paint looks great. We went with Naval (navy blue) and white, and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Maybe this weekend I will get my kitchen put together enough to take some pictures and post the before and afters.

Last weekend I got to celebrate my friend Tiffany’s 30th birthday at her 90’s theme party. We had SO much fun reliving the 90’s in costume, complete with lots of denim, clogs, and some butterfly clips. I was so impressed how into it everyone got. Lots of great costumes and fun games. One guy even came dressed as a TY BEANIE BABY. It was awesome.

Me and "Cher" - the birthday girl!

Me and “Cher” – the birthday girl!

He's got his much is he worth?!

He’s got his tag….how much is he worth?!

Bottom's Up for the Birthday Girl!

Bottom’s Up to the Birthday Girl!

It’s going to be a fun year with so many of my friend turning the big 3-0 this year! (I still have another year, though, YIPPEE!)

Tonight I tried a new recipe that I wanted to share while it’s still bitterly cold outside. This chicken noodle soup recipe will make your house smell amazing and will warm you right up–and the best part is it’s SUPER easy and only takes about 30 minutes to make! I did make a few changes to the original recipe found on Pinterest.


Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 bag of egg noodles (medium or wide)
2 cans of cooked chunk chicken breast, strained
1 can sliced carrots, strained
8 cups water
Chicken Boullion cubes
Spinach leaves, cut in thin strips
Parsley Flakes

1) In a large soup pot, saute onion in olive oil until translucent.
2) Add 8-10 cups hot water and add bouillon cubes (I used 8 cubes)- you could also use canned chicken broth.
3) Bring to a rolling boil and add bag of egg noodles.
4) Boil until noodles are tender (approx. 8-10 minutes, according to package), and stir occasionally.
5) Add carrots, spinach, and chicken and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 more minutes. (I did a quick taste test here and add more seasoning if it needs it including some salt/pepper.)
6) Sprinkle parsley flakes on top and serve!!! (Don’t skip out on the parsley flakes- it really adds to the “homestyle” look of the soup.)

This recipe makes a big pot of soup, so you’ll have left overs for a couple days. It is so easy and delicious, and perfect for this time of year. Enjoy!


Merry Christmas From the Ivorys!

Merry Christmas friends and family, near and far! We spent the last few days with family in Plainfield, IL celebrating the holiday and getting to see my cousin who is home for a short while from the Air Force. We enjoyed eating way too much and got completely spoiled with presents. We missed being with my sister who was in Colorado, and Greg’s family. But we will continue the celebration with them next weekend.

Hoping you all had a wonderful holiday!