I am less than one week away from completing my third round of Whole30 and so far, the third time is the charm. I feel like this has been my most successful round yet and it is not yet even over. Whole30 has definitely changed my life and I love what the program has done for me.

Round 2 (February 2018) went better than Round 1 (September 2017) which surprised me as I had read many fellow Whole30'rs had a tough time with their second round. For me, everything kind of fell into place. My body recognized all the positive feels from Whole30 and it clicked fast.

Round 3 has felt very similar than Round 2 but as I continue through this journey I have become much more comfortable and at ease during this round. I no longer have to check labels constantly as I am much more familiar with the foods I am eating, what I can and not have during Whole30. Cooking has become a hobby of mine. I love spending time in the kitchen trying out a new recipe. The Whole30 social community is amazing. I have discovered so many new recipes, tips and tricks through the community. Keeping up socially with how others do in Whole30 can be motivational as long as you avoid trying to compare their journey with yours.

The non-scale benefits are aplenty and a huge part of why I do this. You don't weigh yourself during Whole30 and as someone who was a regular wake-up-in-the-morning-check-the-scale person I am beginning to find comfort in not relying on the scale as a success measure. Round 1 I think I weighed myself three or four times a week #rulebreaker. Am I curious? Heck yes. But Whole30 for me is not about weight loss but more of a mental health check.

Beyond my time in the kitchen, cooking up new recipes and not checking labels, the way I feel mentally, physically and emotionally are huge non-scale benefits and the main reasons I find myself going through this process once again. On the other side of a round of Whole30 is a concept called Food Freedom. Once you have figured out what foods do or do not jive with you, you can live out your Food Freedom enjoying foods that you know make you feel good and occasionally indulging in those that may make you feel not so good but you know the price you are willing to pay. For example, perhaps you don't eat gluten because it makes you sleepy but your best friend is getting married and better believe it you will eat cake at her wedding!

For me, I think I have I have it figured out that gluten grains knock my energy down a few pegs and can cause bloating. Dairy also causes bloating but nothing too crazy. I choose not to eat a lot of these foods mostly because I have gotten used to leaving them out of my diet but I will still eat them now and then and things will be fine. My real problem children are added sugars and alcohol. They are the culprits that fog up my mind and take that clear headed feeling away. When I can feel my anxiety creeping back in, I have likely had one to many cocktails or sweet treats that week. Unfortunately for me, it hasn't been as easy as just not having them here or there. At least not yet. My sugar dragon as referred to in the Whole30 community rares its ugly head and has a hard time quieting down.

That's why I did Round 3. I needed that reminder of the way I feel when I have removed those from my diet. My energy is bountiful, tiger blood as they call it is flowing, my mind is clear and I feel so freaking good. It is crazy to think that the foods we eat can have such an impact on our mental health. Physical impacts are not that surprising. I mean if you have one too many drinks, you might wake up with a headache or if you eat too many cookies, you likely will gain weight. But after experiencing these mental changes firsthand, I am a true believer.

My sugar cravings, while not gone completely this round, have been much less than the previous two. I am curious to see how things go post-Whole30. Hopeful that I can enjoy a donut with my kids on a Saturday morning but not go crazy the rest of the day binging on what other sweet snacks may be in the pantry.

I am traveling next week and will be done with Round 3. I'm going to a place I've never been, will be cocktailing and probably indulging on a few sinful treats. But, that's balance for me. That's the journey of figuring out my food freedom. While in Sonoma, I will absolutely drink wine, but when I get home maybe I'll cool back off so I my mind can reset again.

Here is to a successful week in finishing out this Round 3 and finding a version of Food Freedom that works for me. I will share a recap of my complete experience and any other non-scale victories that show up in the next few weeks.