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3rd Whole30 Adding Workouts and Barely Lost Weight

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This is my first post in the Whole30 Forum, after hours of reading other blogs online to help answer my question.  Figured I'd try this out instead to get some help!!    I just finished my 3rd Whole30, after going off the deep-end after my 2nd one by binging on sweets.  I was determined to do this right and change my lifestyle once and for all.  


The first 2 W30's I lost a good 7 lbs, each time, with no exercise.   This time around, I added in 5/week workouts (15 min cardio with 45 min strength training).  I also added Pre-WO (3-4 macadamia nuts) and a Post-WO (egg whites or tuna with a few bites of sweet potato).   The rest of my meals mirrored what I did for W30 #1 and #2.   I just finished my W30, and my weight only went down 3 lbs and I only lost 2" on my waist.  


Granted, I do feel like I have built more muscle than I had before, but a part of me was discouraged....and almost threw in the towel. I also even started tracking my calories to see if that was it...and that about drove me insane going back to that.  I don't want to do that again, that is pure bondage for me.    But I didn't continue down this path!!!!  I LOVE eating to fuel my body, and I LOVE the way I feel.   I LOVE that I'm not obsessed about food anymore, and that I eat when I'm hungry and til I'm full.   So I'm trying to be happy but...part of me still looks at the scale and think...."what did I do wrong??".   


So, anyone else that added in workouts see a less-than-normal weight or inches lost and feel discouraged??   Or did you change anything to help get better results?   I'm going to stay on Whole30 for the most part, and not give up, because I love this way of living.  

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I didn't lose any weight on my whole30 - not a single pound. My meals were to template, I excluded nuts & nut butters entirely, I didn't snack - EVER - and I barely touched fruit the entire time. I train hard, and I train 6 times a week so although weight-loss wasn't an objective for me I thought I might have seen *something* different on the scale, but no.

What I *did* see however is that my body fat dropped from what is considered 'good' to what is considered 'excellent/fit' - and I know that having continued on with whole30 eating that this it is continuing to improve.

​Better a slow & continual loss than a rapid one which has a tendency to make a comeback!

Bear in mind also that women tend to carry a little more weight than they'd sometimes like (especially around their middle) to protect their reproductive organs - it could well be that you have reached your 'natural' weight.

Don't feel discouraged - you're eating your way to good health, you're strength training, you're building muscle mass, you lost 2" from your waist, you ARE making progress and will continue to do so if you stick with it. What it says on the scale is irrelevant.


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DO NOT rely on the scale to tell you your progress, for so many reasons.


If you're doing strength training 3 times a week, you are gaining muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat. Unless you are planning to get married and have your husband carry you across the threshhold, and he happens to be weak, there is zero significance to the number on the scale!


Your body will let go of any weight it doesn't need when it is ready. If you are sticking to your Whole30 and not underfeeding yourself, you are doing it perfectly.


Be encouraged!

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Your post reminded me of a final post written about the scale from a friend/member.  It was her last one.



11 September 2014 - 04:36 AM

There is a scale inside your head that is harder to jettison than the one you stand on to abuse yourself with your perceived failures. We all do this weird, abusive crap to ourselves in some form or another, whether it be body shaming ourselves or picking away at our inadequacies as parents, friends, lovers and on and on and on. It is the unhelpful idea that there is some Platonic ideal that we should be holding ourselves up to, a perfect version of you, if you will. This is the greatest bunch of bulls*&t ever sold and it is a bestseller baby. You know those signs in the mall that say "you are here"? Well, here is where we all are and its ok. There is no greener grass on the other side of losing weight or that boob job you've been planning, or finally fitting into a size 2. Because you and I will still be right here with ourselves. So that's where we need to reset the mind, around the crazy, frantic attempt to chisel off the outer layer of ourselves to reveal some perfect structure beneath. The only thing under this carapace is muscle and bone and if you chisel off the stuff on the surface that you hate so much you will fall apart. Oh the humanity. 


I feel you, I really do. I don't weigh myself on a scale anymore, but I do weigh myself against other people I think have got things more figured out than me. I weigh myself against the image I think I should project over the truth of who I am. All I can offer you is my mall sign and the moment I take each time I feel that twinge of self-loathing to remind myself that I am here and here is ok.

Best of luck and good times rolling,


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Okay - I know exactly where you are.  Exactly.  Because I was on the same boat for a while.


I am a tallish (5'9") stocky built woman.  (think large bone structure, along with short arms and short legs - and pretty strong without much effort)  I lost 6lbs my first whole 30 and then proceeded to lose another 29 lbs after (within a 6 month period of time).  That's an average of 1lb a week.  But trust me it wasn't ever a straight line.  And according to my BMI (don't ever, ever fall for the BS that is BMI - PLEASE!) I had still 60lbs to loose. (If you ever met me you would wonder where those 60lbs would come from - 25 - 30lbs - I think would be doable but 60?) 


I added some HIIT training about a year and a half ago - My body composition did change - but the scale went up instead of down.  Part of me was mortified but then I stopped.  I looked better.  I looked like I had lost weight. I looked more "toned".  My clothes were fitting better in some ways - so therefore that was a giant win.  I have since injured myself so I'm afraid HIIT is off the books for now.


Do I like my number on the scale - not particularly.  But I am also to the point where it doesn't matter so much either.  I have made peace with it, and accepted that my body is healthy and happy where it is.  It really likes the way I eat now and rewards me with being PMS symptom free, and migraine free (only if I stay away from sugar though)


Please read this article - http://whole30.com/2015/03/dear-melissa-change/

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Is it possible that the weight you WANT to lose is the same weight you don't NEED to lose?  I say this because the "norm" in our western society is unachievable for most women.  The goal that is planted in front of us in magazines, television, paleo blogs etc is not always healthy and in fact is often times not even real.  These people that we wish to live up to don't even exist; they are air brushed, dehydrated, painted, posed, cinched, tucked and starved to within an inch of their lives.  That's not real.  YOU are real.  You are a real human being doing good things for yourself and your body is responding exactly how it's supposed to.  It's letting go of excess fat and doing so in a manner that it feels comfortable with.


If you're not happy with that you could always restrict your food and nutrients and ramp up your exercise and force your body to let go of scale weight by messing up your hormones and ultimately adrenal function. ;)  Or..........you can keep eating real food in a quantity that suits your context, exercise in a responsible and intelligent way and beat the crap out of your scale with a sledgehammer and then back over it with your car, dragging it several blocks and then throw it in the trash compactor, never to be seen again!

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I cannot tell you how much each of your replies are exactly what I needed to hear!   I have been bound by the scale for years!  I have weighed myself every week since 2008, and yes, I have it logged in my iPhone App.  So I can tell you how much I weighed at any point in the last 7 years.   To break from this has...been hard.


But I can see I've lost fat because my muscles look more defined, and I know adding fitness is what I need.  Not only for my health, I like feeling strong and love being in the gym lifting weights and seeing my progress.  Getting the scale number out of my head is not going to be easy, but what I got out of my Whole30 was a new perspective on my eating habits, got me back in control, I crave good-for-me-food now, and feel better than I have in a long time.   So that needs to outway the # on the scale.   I know I am now fueling my body, and that my body is adjusting to this new 'norm'.   


I will read and re-read each of your posts every day to drill it in my head to see my results as positive and not a discouragement.  Can I restrict my food....which I've done before to lose alot of weight, which is not healthy or good.....yes, but I chose NOT do that!   I almost considered it until I read your all's posts so....thank you!   


I am going to plan my post Whole30 meals and keep following the rules, because they work for me.  I almost replaced my eggs with egg whites, and removed the fats to "loose more lbs" and....I've decided not to do that!!   I know it takes time to respond to posts, so just know that your posts help people like me from going down the wrong path and sticking the program that we all know works!   

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This is what my meal plan looks like (what I did on Whole30) and I feel wiped out and drained almost every day.  I am not going to decrease my food intake to just lose some more weight, but if anyone has any feedback on this Whole 30 meal plan I stuck to, I'd appreciate it.   I weight lift 4 times a week and just do light cardio for 15 min prior to lifting.   Then day 5 is just 45 min of cardio.   Was I eating enough to support my fitness routine?   I'm wondering if I was under-eating vs. over-eating.   


I'm going to continue to follow Whole30 for most of all my meals, so I just want to make sure I'm on the right track and make sure my problem wasn't that I wasn't eating enough.   Any feedback on how my meals looked during my Whole30, I'd appreciate it!   


Pre-WO (I work out at 5:30am)

3 Macadamia nuts OR 5 Almonds


Post WO:

3oz can tuna or egg whites

1/4 Sweet Potato OR 1/4 C Pumpkin



3 Eggs or I'd have 1 chicken sausage link

2 C Super Leaf Mix

2 Tbsp Coconut Milk in my coffee

1 tsp Coconut Oil

1/4 Sweet Potato



Turkey Burger

2 C Spinach

5 Grape Tomatoes

1/4 Avocado

8 Black Olives

1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar



4oz Chicken

Persian Cucumber

Brussels Sprouts

1/2 Red Pepper

Grape Tomatoes

2 tsp Macadamia Nut Oil

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Good to hear you're going to stick with it - you're doing the right thing!

As for your meals I'd say nuts are a poor preWO as they're difficult to digest - your WO is probably done by the time your body knows that you've eaten. Try a different fat like avocado maybe, or you could go for the popular option of a hard boiled egg to get your protein & fat in one hit - it's good and portable too. Post WO looks ok.

You're under-eating and you need to eat more. All of your meals look very light to me - especially on fat. Eat a half an avocado, measure oils by the tablespoon (if you feel the need to measure at all - I free pour), up the quantity of the olives, or choose fattier cuts of meat. You also need to up your veg intake. 2 C of spinach or other leafy greens is really very little when it's munched down - think of how little it looks when it wilts, or is cooked - you need a TON of leaves to satiate you - so maybe incorporate more roasted/cooked veg to each meal. A serving of starchy veg a day will help with your energy levels, and will be a whole lot more filling than leaves...


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Your Post WO looks perfect. I do think you need to INCREASE your food intake at your other meals. If you work out, you need more than the template - remember those are the minimum recommendations (for average, semi-sedentary people).


For instance, when all I do is bike to work (4 miles) I would eat 2 or 3 eggs PLUS a (hot dog sized portion) sausage plus veggies cooked in fat and my coffee + coconut milk.


Your lunch looks good. lf you find you get hungry frequently before Meal 3, add some other types of veggies -- some cubed, roasted beets, broccoli, carrots, etc. Even when I eat a huge salad, I find greens just don't hold me.


I'd add a little more protein and a little more fat for your dinner too.


Really, do not fear the fat. My first W30 I often had trouble finishing some of my meals (and I've always been a big portion eater). My husband could not hide his shock at how much I was eating. I didn't have but a little flab to lose so didn't expect any weight loss so imagine my surprise when I lost 6 lbs by the end.

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Thank you jmclon and ultrarunnergirl!!   I am definitely going to take your advice!   I can easily change my nuts for a hard-boiled egg for my Pre-WO.   And to think I was under-eating, too.  I literally can never finish even the food that I listed, so it's going to be hard to add more, but I'm going to try.   I can easily up my coconut oil I cook my veggies in, and add avocado....I love avocado.  I was just trying to stick right to the guidelines and 1 thumb rule, so that's why I was measuring to not go over that.  But I can increase my fat at breakfast, olives at lunch and even up my oil at dinner.   


And roasted starchy veggies, that I can certainly try because I love them!   I figured 2 cups was just 2 cups, not what type of veggies.  I think I'm more worried that adding this will make me gain the weight back I lost, but I need the energy, so I'm willing to try!   


I'll let you know how I feel.   I feel like I eat so much already, adding more....will be an adjustment but I'll do what I can.  Thanks for the tips!   I wouldn't have guessed those changes.   :)

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I agree with all the recommendations but especially upping your starchy veggie intake. Especially as you are active you should eat at least a whole sweet potato (or equivalent) a day and possibly more. I teach group fitness and I feel awful if I don't have starchy vegetables at least two meals a day. 

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Thanks Physibeth!   I probably have 1/4 sweet potato a day, maybe a 1/2 but I am hoping if I add more starchy veggies my energy will go back up.   I didn't feel this during my first or second Whole30 at all, but....I didn't exercise at all.   Adding exercise and I kept my food the same as before, that makes total sense that my body needs more food.    Since that's the only thing I changed, adding exercise, then my body is telling me pretty loudly that it needs more nutrition to keep my energy up.   Good thing I love sweet potatoes, butternut squash, spaghetti squash...all those starchy veggies.  :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am updating this post just in case anyone else has the same problem and are looking for some good suggestions.   Since this post, I've added more starchy veggies, I am feeling like at totally NEW person!   Talk about Tiger Blood!   I went from almost sleeping at my desk to now....I can't sit still for long without moving or doing something.  I feel like my body was definitely telling me it was lacking certain nutrition to function on, and I'm glad I posted this topic and asked about my energy level.    


I'm certain that not only did the missing starchy veggies during my Whole30 affect my results, because I was so tired and drained....my body probably held on to all that it could just to keep it functioning.   


I have added roasted root veggies at my breakfast and lunch meals now (beets, plantains, butternut squash, carrots, yellow squash).   It's only been 3 days and I'm like a new person!   It's amazing how our bodies talk to us, if only we'd listen and respond...and in the right way, of course.  :)

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