I finished the Whole30!

Hooray! What a ride it was!

I wasn't sure what would happen when I first decided to go on this crazy adventure. I thought it seemed a little too restrictive, but vanity won over in the end. I just had to see if I could get clearer skin. And I did! But I never expected that I would feel so good that I would be sad it was ending.

When I wrote this post at Day 18, I was starting to see some nice results. The 12 days after that were full on "tiger blood" like the timeline promised. I woke up every morning feeling amazing. I'm talking about jumping-out-of-bed-singing amazing! I've never been a morning person and never thought I would be a morning person. That alone blew my mind. 

What else? I felt really, really good after every meal--full and energized but not heavy. My workouts were stronger. I slept better and woke up happier. My cravings plummeted. My skin became clearer than it has been in two years. My SI joint pain basically disappeared, finally! I made some delicious nutrient-dense meals--mmm, homemade mayo! And I learned about how much sneaky stuff is in our food--I'm looking at you, sugar! 

Was it hard? 

Not really. It was frustrating at times, especially when eating out. Or that time I brought a compliant meal over to dinner at our friends' house. That was more embarrassing than anything, though. Or that other time I was reading about the difference between prime rib and Oreos in It Starts with Food and I had a daydream about eat-swimming my way through an ocean of Oreos. Although that just illustrated their point that Oreos are a food with "no-breaks" for many people. 

But like they say:

It 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. - See more at: http://whole30.com/step-two/#sthash.wjZhqVfT.dpuf

Was it worth it? 

Double yes! Beyond all of the great results, I learned so much about how what I eat affects everything from my energy to my skin to my mood. As a result, I'm finding it easier to say "no" to certain foods, whether it's when someone offers me a dessert I don't really want or when I'm out buying groceries. 

What happens on Day 31?

The Whole30 has a reintroduction phase, so you can't just wake up on Day 31 and gorge on everything you cut out. A bummer, I know! I had visions of cake and ice cream dancing in my head.

Instead, you add back dairy, gluten grains, non-gluten grains, and legumes one at a time with two days of Whole30 compliant eating between them. This lets you see if you're truly sensitive to any of those things.

Reintroduction has been the worst part of the Whole30 for me (yes, even worse than the "kill all the things" day!). I never expected to be sensitive to anything and I've spent the whole reintroduction feeling, well, like crap. Lots of headaches and bloating and stomach cramps and wanting to go to bed at 8. Dairy was an especially awful two-day experience and, to top it all off, I broke out. It has been a learning experience!  

Where will I go from here?

Going forward, my plan is to stay mostly paleo and choose my treats wisely. Turns out that I actually love eating lots of meat, veggies, good fats, and fruits more than I love big bowls of pasta or sandwiches. I'll probably follow the off-roading and life after the Whole30 guides for awhile. Is white bread from the grocery store worth it to me anymore? No. Is a crusty baguette in Paris worth it to me? Yes. 

I'm sure there will be days when I will eat terrible, delicious junk food, too. I think those days will driven much less by crazy cravings than before, though. 

Advice for first-timers? 

Set yourself up for success first and foremost. Read all of the rules, know the timeline, read blogs and forums for others' experiences, find some great recipes to try, use the Whole30 downloads, and then commit 100%. I found reading the book, It Starts with Food, gave me a better understanding of hows and whys, so I'd recommend either buying a copy or borrowing it. 

Yes, 30 days seems like a long time at first but in the grand scheme of things, 30 days of your life is nothing. It's ok to be nervous or skeptical. I was definitely both! I decided to treat it like a science experiment and a time focus on doing something good for myself. So be kind to yourself, too. Get lots of sleep, relax, have fun outside, do non-food things that make you happy and help you de-stress. It will come in handy when the going gets a little rough. 

It really boils down to this: If you really want to do it, you can do it!