So it has now been a little over one week since I started intermittent fasting and I think I am ready to write about it! I was super excited about it and wanted to tell the world (meaning the 3 people who read this blog) about it right away. But I thought a week’s worth of experience was probably necessary first.
So I eat from 12:30pm to 8:30pm only. I drink black coffee, tea, and water anytime I want, especially water. During this time period, I eat mostly Paleo now that I have gotten good at it and prefer the way I feel when I don’t eat carbs. I am going for an 80/20 kind of thing on weekends and trying to stay pretty strict on weekdays since it is pretty easy to do so.
So I got the idea for intermittent fasting from the obvious source of all brilliant things: Pinterest. I had heard of it before but believed the whole “breakfast” myth. I don’t know why I put “breakfast” in quotes considering that breakfast is an actual thing, but I am trying to convey that eating is not necessary for weight loss. Lol, duh. Also, I am generally a huge skeptic and can crossover into cynical sometimes so I read more than 50 articles on intermittent fasting before buying into it. I am no expert so I am going to let you in on a couple articles that helped me understand:
It is so interesting because obviously the reason I need to lose weight is because I have a history of eating too much or the wrong foods. Intermittent fasting has somehow lifted the power food had over me. Turns out that by setting a time period where I allow myself to eat, I have more control and willpower. Why? Because I am ONLY eating when I am actually hungry. I have learned in just one week to listen to my body and take cues from it. For example: breakfast. When have I actually ever woken up hungry? I do love eating breakfast with my husband and it is so sweet that he makes it for me. But the difference between him and I is that he goes off to landscape, excavate, and dig up dirt at 7am. I go and sit in an office chair most days. Taking in about 250 calories first thing in the morning also makes me hungry again at like 9am. It is so interesting that my stomach only growls on days where I eat breakfast. Since starting intermittent fasting, my stomach has only ever growled around 12pm.
Turns out that this “post-breakfast hunger” is not something only I experienced. Many people experience the same thing and is also why a lot of them have turned to intermittent fasting. More about this here–> http://www.leangains.com/2012/06/why-does-breakfast-make-me-hungry.html
It seems like a lot of the time, I eat when I think I am “supposed” to. For example, in the past 3 years since working in a high school, if I have a lunch, I eat it at 11am! Why? Because that is when the kids eat lunch! They are bringing their delicious smelly nachos, pizza, and cheeseburgers into my office to eat their lunch and chat. So since they are eating, I reach for something too or drink my Shakeology. So now it is noon and I have already taken in about 400 calories, all while I wasn’t even hungry.
Last year, I saw a nutritionist after a annual check up. I wanted to know why I struggled so much to lose weight. Turns out I had great blood sugar and A1C levels, perfect blood pressure, and no thyroid issues. The nutritionist told me that with all my restrictions and multiple diets, I had stopped listening to my body and my signals and cues were all messed up. She encouraged me to read a book on intuitive eating which I promptly went home and ordered on Amazon. It was a decent read. Nothing earth-shattering. Mostly a lot of duhs: Eat only when you are hungry, don’t restrict yourself from anything, eat a well balanced meal, don’t be dichotomous about food, once you let go of rules you will only want nutritious food, don’t ever weigh yourself. I was inspired for like five days. I tried to adapt to the book’s way of thinking but it just didn’t hit home for me at the time. The book and the theory tells you to listen to your body. Well, my body was telling me that the free donuts in the staff lounge smelled and looked really yummy. The book claimed that once I freed myself from the restrictions and rules, that I would be able to say, “Eh, I am not that hungry, maybe I will have a celery stick instead” or “I don’t like the way sugar makes me feel jittery so I think I will pass”. Seriously? I don’t think I would be in this position if I was EVER able to think like that. Too many years of being messed up about food and body weight. So I gave up that idea pretty quickly and canceled my follow-up appointment with the nutritionist.
Here is what is so funny though. Now that I have set a time limit on my eating, I have completely learned how to listen to my body! With the intuitive eating, there were no real guidelines, just a lot of nice thoughts, and I am clearly someone who LIVES for more direction. My slightly Type A personality needs rules in order to feel confident and comfortable. It is not until I feel like I know what I am doing and where a bit of flexibility is okay that I can focus on me and my way and not on the rules as much. What is it they say? Know the rules so you can break them properly?
So when I tried intuitive eating, I ate breakfast like a piece of fruit or green smoothie because EVERYONE and their mom says breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Then two hours later when my stomach growled, I ate a snack at my desk Then two hours later when someone offered to go on a Starbucks run, I would order a coconut milk latte, because the book said I could throw some of my rules and calorie counting out the window. You can see where this is going, yes?
So definitely a 2,000 calorie day at least. And at the time, I was really stressed with my work. It was my first year as a school counselor and I made it through by ordering pizzas for dinner and going to happy hours with colleagues. There was a lot of wine, vodka martinis, and mangoritas involved and I couldn’t sleep at night because I was stressing about all things I didn’t get done and everything that awaited me the next day.
I get that I didn’t exactly do the intuitive eating thing right and for not long enough, but that was just my experience. For me, it was like telling someone to snap out of it. Easier said than done. However, once I started reading about intermittent fasting, I bought into it pretty quick. Even though it is fairly new, it makes so much sense in my brain. By restricting the time period when you can eat, you naturally eat less calories. Instead of having to make difficult choices like granola bar vs fruit vs nuts, you just don’t eat anything. I mean why waste calories on something I don’t really like that much anyways? Also, when am I ever actually hungry at 8:30pm? Following dinner, I would eat dessert or drink wine because I wanted a treat for a hard day or snack while mindlessly watching whatever was on TV. So even though the real reason I started all this is because I really believe the benefits of being in a fasted state, I am now continuing it because it freaking works.
Fasting and Feasting
So basically I don’t eat for 16 hours. 8 of those hours (hopefully) I am sleeping. I stop eating at 8:30 at the latest. Ideally, I want to stop at 8 but Ryan gets home really late some days so I say 8:30 to be safe. I do this so that my body can have 16 hours in the fasted state. This is best explained on the jamesclear website:
“The post–absorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, which is when you enter the fasted state. It is much easier for your body to burn fat in the fasted state because your insulin levels are low.”
Bam, in two sentences you know why I tried this. Low insulin levels, burning fat.
I don’t know if I was ever in a fat burning stage before I started doing this. I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead 1 (most of it) and 2 this past weekend and in kind of a roundabout way also explained why fasting works. I hate to use the caveman argument but I mean, it does make sense. Only for the past maybe 70-100 years have we been eating the way humans do today. If I am going to follow the logic of caveman eating and stick to a plants-based and animal protein diet, then I might as well take it full force and include some fasting. Cavemen did not eat 3 square meals a day or 6 small meals a day with snacking. Sometimes they didn’t have access to food and their bodies had to use fat reserves for energy. Cavemen didn’t carry about Tupperware full of nuts, protein powder, and hardboiled eggs.
But even if are like me and don’t really love comparing myself to a caveman in these modern times with ridiculous temptations and conflicting ideas everywhere, I can’t deny that intermittent fasting has boosted my weight loss. In the one week I did intermittent fasting, I lost the 2 lbs I wanted to. Every week before that was a slow one lb. Yeah, yeah, slow is good… I know, but it is quite discouraging when you are working your ass off. What is interesting is that I am still eating the same number of calories and quality of food I was before. I am still around 1,500 calories and burning about 200-300 of them with exercise. I think I have finally given my body the time it needs to burn fat. Today I am 175.8 lbs. I went from losing 1 lb a week to 2. I don’t know if I can credit that all to intermittent fasting but I think it helped boost my energy, curb my cravings, and burn a tiny bit more fat. All of that together, and I am back to what I weighed before the holidays!!! 10 more lbs and I will be at my pre-wedding weight. 10 more lbs after that and it will be my high school weight. I got this!