Last Monday, I decided that I really, really needed to do something different if I wanted to lose weight.
Now, I’m not fat and I don’t think I’m fat. But I did gain about 10 pounds in the last three months that I would rather not have. I don’t feel comfortable with the extra pounds, and I want to go back to my normal weight. I have tried dieting and exercising, but no matter what my weight wouldn’t budge. It wasn’t working. I would work out 30 minutes a day for four days a week and didn’t notice any difference. I ate only “healthy food”, and I didn’t notice a difference.
The only weight-loss method that has ever really, really worked for me has been low-carb. I tried a “carb-free” diet (nothing made of “wheat” or high in sugar, including fruit) for about two weeks once and I lost a lot of weight in that short period of time. However, when you lose weight quickly it is just as easy to gain it back quickly (not that carb-free dieting is easy. No pizza, bread, or pasta? NOOOO!). But I wanted to try a new diet that wouldn’t be too restrictive, and I wanted something that I could actually follow for longer than a week. So I looked up intermittent fasting and decided to try it out.
If you have never heard of intermittent fasting, it is basically a starvation diet (KIDDING). But really, it is an eating pattern where you go through a 16-ish hour period of fasting. The pattern I chose is to eat lunch at noon, and dinner between 5-6 p.m. Two meals a day, that’s it. No snacking. I chose those times because they work with my work schedule. I usually eat lunch at noon anyway, and I can eat again when I get home from work and have time to prepare dinner. This isn’t too crazy. Really all you are doing is eating an “early” dinner and skipping breakfast. Yes, skipping breakfast. The most important meal of the day…serving it up, Gary’s way, OOP!
The word fasting sounds scary at first, at least to me. I am the type of person who hates the thought of being hungry. Honestly, my fear of hunger and inability to pace myself when I eat is probably the reason why I’ve always weighed about 10 pounds more than I would if I had self control like other people. But I want to change that, I’ve always wanted to. If you want to try intermittent fasting, you have to come to terms with the fact that you will be hungry, really, really hungry sometimes. But you won’t die. Even if you feel like you’re going to die, you won’t. I promise. The first day I skipped breakfast, I was so hungry by lunchtime that I thought I would faint. My stomach was grumbling so loudly that I thought everyone could hear it. It was bad, but it got better.
Fasting is easier if you fast for a purpose. When people fast for a period for religious reasons, it is easier for them because they have a reason to fast that they really believe in. For me, I started fasting because I wanted to rid myself of the stubborn extra weight that I didn’t need. It got easier. I knew that even thought I was hungry for a time, I would be okay. When you have food in your stomach, your body uses those calories that are available for energy, and the excess calories are stored as fat. When you have no food in your stomach, your body uses the fat that it has already stored as energy, and that’s a good thing because that’s how you lose fat. That mentality got me through my first long, long day of intermittent fasting.
Over the course of the week, my grumpy body adjusted to the fact that it wasn’t going to get fed first thing in the morning. Even on the second day I noticed that I wasn’t getting hungry at 9 a.m., but I was craving food closer to noon. It got better.
One thing I learned, though, is that I cannot (read: will not) fast longer than 16 or so hours. Last Tuesday, I had a big, late dinner that ended at around 8 p.m., and decided that I should skip both breakfast and lunch the next day to make up for it. By the time I got off work, I actually felt like I was going to faint. I was so hungry and empty that the wind could have knocked me over. I felt horrible, and I won’t ever skip food that long again.
My first week of intermittent fasting, I lost between 2-3 pounds. I am very happy with that, and I hope that by the end of the March I will either meet or surpass my goal. Although my goal is to lose 7 pounds now, I would also like to get back to my pre-college weight, which would be an additional 5 pounds. I can do it!
I got a lot of info about intermittent fasting by reading this article, linked here: “The beginner’s guide to intermittent fasting” Thank you, Steve!
Intermittent fasting pros and cons:
*I can eat whatever I want! (I do prefer healthy food, of course)
*I have more food laying around, which means I go grocery shopping less
*This is an eating pattern I can stick with long-term
*Hunger makes it hard to concentrate at first
*Stomach growls are distracting
*I want to stuff my face with food 24/7!
*People hear the word “fasting” and think you are anorexic (not the case at all!)