Hello my friends! For those of you that follow me on my @magickalbabebrigade IG account, you might have kept up with me and my Whole30 updates via stories. Well today, I completed Whole30!! I did it!! I wanted to write up a post and capture my experience for you. The good, the bad, the ugly, my favorite recipes and what I'm planning on doing now. And of course, if you want to catch up on my IG stories updates, check out my highlight reel on my profile for a compilation of all 30 days! 

  Photo by Faring Well  

Jon and I have been through a lot these past two years. Both good and bad and we've really had to shift gears in a lot of ways to focus on each other and our kiddos. With that, we definitely let food be a comfort for us. We INDULGED. We went to Chick-fil-A so much. We got lazy with our meals and we were both feeling heavy and unhealthy. Jon has suffered from some inflammatory issues and I was struggling with some of the normal mom brain/low energy/hardcore PMS that can come along with motherhood. We were both feeling like we needed to make some positive changes but we had lost a little bit of trust in ourselves with following through so we talked and talked and finally decided to take on the Whole30 challenge. We wanted to see how it would make us feel and to give our bodies a reset.

What does the Whole30 diet entail? It's considered an elimination diet. You're eliminating foods that can have an inflammatory response to your system and slowly adding things back in after the diet to see how your body reacts. That way you can be more aware of the foods that make you feel like jazz hands and the foods that make you feel like dog do-do. You are eating WHOLE foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, some nuts and cutting out processed food, sugar/sweeteners of any kind, dairy, grains and legumes. It's pretty intense. It makes paleo look like a DREAM. You can read more about the diet and the reasons for the diet here

When I say I wept for pizza, I literally mean I WEPT for pizza. Ask Jon, Jenny or Katie...they all witnessed it. I started craving pizza about a week into Whole30 and it plagued me every. single. day. I'm actually getting pizza tonight to celebrate Valentine's Day and finally eat that good good pizza, hopefully it will taste as good as it does in my mind. Haha. 

At some point in August of last year I started having IBS issues. This was mainly due to highly emotional circumstances that triggered everything. My body takes stress and manifests it physically, hardcore! So I always try to avoid stress, but sometimes it's out of your control. I was hoping the Whole30 diet would help heal my body BUT I actually found it to make things worse. For the entirety of the Whole30 I've had digestive issues. I was looking into the FODMAP diet (specifically for IBS suffers) a few days ago and it turns out things like Apples, Garlic, Broccoli, Asparagus and Pistachios are all on there and listed as foods to avoid. ALL of these things I was eating pretty regularly throughout. I have some more work to do to figure out WHAT the culprit is, my guess might be garlic, because we've been seasoning with garlic like fools. I DO appreciate that this has brought my digestive health into the spot-light and I plan to find the foods that are affecting me the most, avoid those and incorporate probiotics and food enzymes into my daily ritual. DoTERRA has BOMB probiotics and enzymes so I'm living for that. 

SO. MANY DISHES...It takes some prep and some work my friend! We've been constantly doing dishes because we haven't been going out to eat! While it IS work, there is a plus to this. See below in "The Good" section. 

EMOTIONS & CRANKINESS, I found myself getting highly emotional every few days. I was SO close to calling it quits probably 3-4 times. I would call my friends and tell them, unless you can offer me life-changing encouragement, I'm ordering PIZZA! They were of course, always amazing and really believed in me and cheered me on. They knew I needed to complete what I set out to do even though I threw every excuse in the book at them for why I should probably stop. Because of the emotions and weight of FOOD...food I can have, food I can't have, celebrations where I had to pass on all the cake and meals, just all the food. It felt really heavy to me. I have always had a fairly good relationship with food. Some seasons I was just plain LAZY and ate whatever I wanted whenever, but this really caused me to have food on the brain during all my waking hours and I did not love it. It felt like an unhealthy place to be and my goal is to create a lifestyle and diet for myself that frees me from that while eating whole foods and enjoying treats sometimes. 

I was NOT perfect on this diet. I did my very best to give myself a range of foods...vegetables, fruit, meat, nuts, lots of water but I did allow myself some smoothies during the last half of Whole30. I also totally made myself some compliant paleo banana muffins. And I totally had a wee bit of honey three different days. Sue me. ;) Other than that, I was good and really did my best to abide by all of the rules and pay close attention to my labels. 

So now that I've dumped all the negative on you, let's chat about the good parts! 

I love how it made me be more intentional about the food I eat. We could not be lazy on this diet and it really stretched up to get up and make some food. It challenged me to cook things we've never tried cooking before and we found a lot of dishes that we LOVED and will continue to incorporate into our new lifestyle. 

I've definitely had energy! I've been sleeping wonderfully, my skin has been looking good and I've gotten A LOT accomplished. I tend to take my time with things, but I was re-arraging, painting, redecorating, getting rid of stuff and checking things off of my to-do list like a beast. I felt focused and productive and it was good. This was the best part of the diet for me and is something I want to maintain. Sometimes the energy was overshadowed by the woes of missing pizza and homemade chocolate chip cookies, but it was still good energy. ;) 

I utilized pinterest a lot for recipes and I also loved the Whole30 Fast & Easy book. You can check out my Pinterest board here. There were several recipes in the Fast & Easy book that I loved and that we made a few times. My friend Kristen also has some great resources on her blog and recipes that I definitely referenced. 

A few of my favorite recipes & resources included:
Cashew Crusted Chicken Tenders (Fast & Easy Cookbook)
Turkey Meatballs (Fast & Easy Cookbook)
Coconut Fat Balls
Bars - Larabars, RX Bars & Epic Bars (make sure the flavor is complaint tho!)
Banana Muffins
Bacon Wrapped Dates 
Whole30 Snack Ideas
Trader Joes Shopping List
Turkey Egg Breakfast Casserole 
Roast Stew with Potatoes and Carrots (Fast & Easy Cookbook)

Frankincense & Peppermint - Headaches! So many detox headaches the first week!
Peppermint & DigestZen - For all of the tummy woes. 
Lemon & Tangerine - Make my water happy! Also lemon helps naturally cleanse your body too.

More essential oils that are bada$$ for Whole30 support!

ALL the essential oil information here!

Pizza (we established this), whole grains (gimme dat ezekiel bread), feta, sweeteners in my drinks and homemade chocolate chip cookies. 

Steak, shrimp, pork loin, chicken tenders, sweet potato baked fries, sautΓ©ed veggies, pears, dried mango, pistachios, Larabars and Epic Bars. Also, smoothies tasted like a dream on this diet! 

1. PREP! Meal plan and meal prep. Collect all of the recipes you're interested in, create grocery lists and have a good variety. It's easy to get bored on this diet so sprinkle in some new and exciting meals here and there so you don't get into a rut. If you can make several things ahead of time at the beginning of each week that will go such a long way for you!

2. ACCOUNTABILITY - Find people that will do it with you or have already done it to be your accountability partner. They will help keep you grounded, shed light on the reality of the diet and encouraging you to keep going when you don't feel like you can continue anymore. 

3. DAY BY DAY - This Whole30 timeline really helped me realize a lot of the things I was feeling were completely normal. For some reason, that really helped propel me forward because I felt more peaceful knowing it was part of the process instead of feeling like a crazy person. 

4. TRICK YOUR BRAIN - Some days I just had to tell myself, just eat one more meal and then you can be done...just do one more day and then you can be done. This really helped me push past weak moments and move forward. By the time the next meal came around or next day, I was feeling better and stronger to keep going. 

Quick tip: Track your days, how you are feeling and what you are eating. It's so insightful to look back on especially if you come across issues or you start feeling awesome. 

This has been the big question! Something I've been thinking about since I started. I want to create a lifestyle that is sustainable for Jon and I, something that encourages good, healthy eating and continues to challenge us to not be lazy BUT still enjoy the occasional out to eat meal and treat. I've been thinking a lot about adopting the A Beautiful Mess Weekday/Weekend way of eating where you eat whole foods 5 days a week. Similar to Whole30 but you are incorporating whole grains, legumes and sweeteners like maple syrup and honey. I might also keep a few light cheeses like feta, mozzarella and goat cheese in there too since we aren't bothered by dairy. Two days a week we'll allow ourselves more flexibility to enjoy some treats or go out to eat. Still being mindful and not going crazy bananas but enjoying some of our guilty pleasures now and then. 

But I want to continue meal planning, cooking and being intentional. I'm excited to try this new plan out and see how it works for us! 

For today, Jon and I are unashamedly enjoying some delicious pizza and going out to see a movie and I can't wait!! Happy Valentine's Day!! 

Thanks so much for following along these past 30 days. I seriously didn't think I would make it here and here I am! Whew!! Dear Whole30, you kicked my butt. Sincerely, butt sore Sav.