Lesley Hauler is a "Good Morning America" social media producer who challenged herself to try out the Whole30 program and is sharing her wellness adventure each week.
I'm officially in the home stretch -- and I never thought I'd get here.
I thought my body -- and social life -- couldn't survive without sugar, dairy, grains, alcohol and all the other foods the Whole30 program makes you eliminate.
Now, I'm two-thirds of the way done with the 30-day program and I feel great.
As I went into my third week of Whole30, I felt incredible. I finally felt that all of my hard work, grocery shopping and meal prep was paying off.
Founder Melissa Hartwig stresses the idea that the Whole30 program is not about weight loss but resetting your diet, which means no weighing yourself during the 30-day process.
Despite ditching the scale, I was noticing other signs of success: My energy levels were consistent, I was sleeping better, I felt happier and my skin was improving.
"That's when all the physiological changes begin to take effect," Hartwig explained to me.
She calls it the "Tiger Blood" phase.
"You feel awesome. You've been doing it for a while," she said. "It almost feels like second nature."
How to keep Whole30 and not alienate people
However, trouble was looming.
I had friends staying with me this weekend and needed to treat them to a great weekend without sacrificing all the progress I've made.
Just like most 20-something tourists visiting New York, my friends had an agenda jam-packed with brunch and bar-hopping.
They were excited. I was determined not to let this weekend turn me into the Whole30 wallflower I was last week.
I let my friends know in advance that I was doing Whole30 and offered to make them some meals at home. Understandably, they weren’t thrilled with the idea of a weekend full of only fruits, vegetables and organic meat, so we agreed I’d run errands while they had brunch and we’d go out to dinner later.
Despite New York City being a foodie haven, I was pressed to find Whole30-approved restaurants that my friends and I would enjoy. Luckily, we agreed on Dig Inn, and the staff was incredibly helpful letting me know which foods were compliant with the program. While I dug into my Dig Inn broccoli, my friends happily nommed on some mac 'n' cheese. All were happy and well-fed.
Going out to the bars was a better experience than last week, too. Despite some awkwardness when people questioned why I was drinking only seltzer, I felt at ease with my friends, had a blast and even escorted them to my favorite pizza place as a nightcap.
The next morning, I made them a sweet potato, veggie and bacon hash that had become almost second nature to me in the past three weeks.
I was appreciative they were letting me cook them a Whole30-compliant meal. They were appreciative there was bacon.
Next-level kitchen skills
One of my favorite things about Whole30 is that I see my kitchen skills improving every day. I'm constantly coming across new recipes from the Whole30 cookbooks I've bought and from browsing the #Whole30 hashtag and community on Instagram. I'm excited when I find new recipes that actually taste good.
As I look forward to my last week of Whole30, I'm excited to try those harder recipes I've been putting off and make sure I’m not tempted to try any non-compliant foods before the 30 days are officially up.
Favorite meals of the week
Pan-seared scallops with cauliflower-parsnip puree:
Homemade plantain chips:
Grilled salmon with roasted asparagus and salad with Whole30-approved ranch dressing: