Loooooong post ahead:
I can't believe it's Day 30. Pardon my language, but holy shit, what a journey.
I did Whole30 to lose weight, manage stress, reduce anxiety, and get more energy, but let's be real, losing weight was far and above my biggest priority at the start. Strangely enough, I let go of it sometime over the past month. I'm sure I've lost weight--my clothes are all looser, and I feel leaner (even though I've been regularly eating spoonfuls of coconut fat, which blows my mind)--but the other benefits seem like a bigger deal now.
Stress and anxiety: I'm perpetually stressed out and anxious because I'm high-strung. That's pretty much how I've always been. But I've definitely experienced a big reduction in both over the past month. Things that would have sent me into a tailspin before are easier to manage. I still get stressed and anxious, but I'm beginning to be able to just take a deep breath and do what needs to be done instead of being paralyzed by uncertainty.
Energy: I'm not bounding from the rooftops, having suddenly decided to take up competitive handball and learning Esperanto (let's be real, this is what I wanted when I said "more energy"). But it's easier for me to get up in the morning, I work through the day without any energy slumps, I have the wherewithal to plan and make fairly elaborate meals, my fiance and I have been going on fun dates. This is all pretty normal stuff, but SUCH a huge improvement over before, when I was crawling out of bed, pouring coffee down my throat, waiting for the minutes to tick by at work, slumping home, watching TV, and then tossing and turning before sleep.
Speaking of sleep, that was a major, unforeseen benefit. I'm an insomniac, and I've been trying to manage it without prescription medication. A week and a half into Whole30, I found that I was actually getting sleepy and falling asleep at normal times--such a coup! I ended up increasing my sleep budget to 9-10 hours/night, which does squeeze out time for many other things, but which has made such a huge difference in my mood and energy because, duh, of course it does.
Almost everyone I know has commented on my skin. I'm not particularly acne-prone, but my skin texture has always been not great, and I get really splotchy sometimes. I'm not quite down to going bare-skin-only, but I have to say, I look awesome with two dabs of BB cream. My skin feels so, so, so soft, too--not just on my face, but all over my body.
Also, I've managed not to get sick even though most of my co-workers, my fiance (and most of his co-workers), and many of my friends have been. I may have been battling something three weeks in, but I definitely beat it. As someone who always get sick in the winter, I'm impressed.
I do regret not exercising... like, at all. But 24 hours - 10 hours for sleep - 2 hours for commuting - 8 hours for work = 4 hours to run errands, cook, eat, etc., on the weekdays. Yes, I could definitely have squeezed in some time on the weekends, but the spillover of moral superiority from eating so cleanly made me feel virtuous enough not to (haaaa).
I also regret not making a greater effort to support my psychological well-being. Yes, my stress and anxiety went down, but I wonder how much the decrease would have been if I'd eaten cleanly AND, say, had made daily gratitude lists, spoken to a career counselor, explored therapy, etc., etc.
I think I probably overate protein this time around, especially in the beginning when I was constantly ravenous. I was definitely more focused on staying compliant than keeping protein and fat in balance. My appetite did eventually regulate itself. I'm thinking about tracking macronutrients for a while, until I get a better handle on what an appropriate amount of protein is. I'm also interested in pursuing intermittant fasting.
Going forward, I'm planning on staying on-plan for another week or so, since I'm currently mid-cycle and want to weigh myself after what I hope is bloating subsides. After that, I plan on reintroducing liquor; then fermented soy (miso and wheat-free soy sauce); then cheese; and then rice. I might venture out further with milk and butter, but I'm not sure--I don't really miss milk, and clarified butter is fine by me. I might go back into Whole30 for March, too. It's just been a great reset button.
So, that's that.
I haven't been super active posting on the boards, but I've read every single post in this thread. It's been great reading about all of your experiences, positive and negative; the emotional solidarity has been really important to me. Good health and best wishes to y'all, no matter what path you take forward from here!