I Gave Up Sugar, Dairy, Grains, and Alcohol for 30 Days and This Is What Happened

I Gave Up Sugar, Dairy, Grains, and Alcohol for 30 Days and This Is What Happened
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I will be the first to admit that I have tried (and failed at) my share of fad diets. The Special K Challenge? That was my jam in college. The Master Cleanse? I lasted one day. It’s safe to say I have commitment issues when it comes to dietary restrictions. But maybe that’s because most diets are just passing trends not intended to be long-term lifestyle changes, which is why Whole30 was a game changer for me.

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I recently booked a trip to Southeast Asia and when I realized just how often I was going to be in a bikini, I decided to follow Whole30’s clean-eating program for the month leading up to my vacation. You may have heard of it: The book, written by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, was published last year and quickly gained steam, though I opted to follow the plan on its website instead. While comparable to the Paleo diet (which celebrities such as Jessica Biel, Miley Cyrus, and Megan Fox reportedly adhere to), the Whole30 program is designed to eliminate foods that are problematic for many people, including dairy, sugar, and everyone’s favorite foe, gluten. After 30 days, you can reintroduce these items back into your diet and see how they affect you. Not an easy challenge, but I (honestly!) made it through all 30 days without consuming sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, processed foods, or alcohol. Basically, all the foods that I love. Was it worth the pain? The results were better than I could have expected. Here’s why this is one lifestyle change I plan to stick to:

1. No more bloat: It’s important to remember that everyone is different, so my results are not necessarily going to be the same as yours, but the first thing I noticed was feeling less bloated. I found that I could eat a meal and not regret it afterwards, which I never really knew was possible. I would get full, but because the foods I was eating were pure and unprocessed, I never felt uncomfortable. After the first week, not only did I feel less bloated, I looked less bloated—most noticeably in my face and stomach. The first week was the hardest (on day three, we celebrated a coworker’s birthday with donuts, which I couldn’t take part in!), but once I made it through that hump, it was much easier.

2. Glowing skin: While I primarily did Whole30 to lose weight and change my bad eating habits, there have been a number of perks I didn’t anticipate. For one, my skin looks fabulous. By week two, my sporadic breakouts really started clearing up and now my skin looks and feels smoother, and has a glow.

3. Smiling face: My moods also improved dramatically. I never realized how much the things I was eating correlated to how I felt emotionally, but I’ve been happier all month—and my coworkers and friends have noticed, too. I also have more energy and have found that waking up at 6:30 a.m. for my morning workout class doesn’t suck quite as much anymore.

4. Fruit is my friend: For the first time in my life, I feel like I have a grip on my eating habits. I have always had an uncontrollable sweet tooth (and little will power) but after 30 “clean” days, my candy cravings have taken a dive. Now when they pop up, I reach for a piece of fruit instead.

5. Skinny jeans are back on: I gave up the scale long ago, so I’m not entirely sure how much weight I lost, but my clothes are looser and so much more comfortable. Hello, skinny jeans (and bikini), I’m ready for you again!

My goal was to get in shape for my summer vacay—and I did—but I also reset my mind by sticking to a plan for an entire month. It wasn’t easy, but it was so worth it for me. And if I can do it, anyone can.

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