The final post of this intermittent fasting (IF) series is here. It has been a great way to kick off 2021. I have reflected on how far I have come since I started practicing IF two years ago, stayed focused on my 2021 goals, and thanks to your feedback, I know I have inspired a few people. A win all around! If you decide to practice IF, I can guarantee is your journey will not look like mine or anyone else’s journey. Our bodies are precious, unique, and have individual healing needs. Please talk to your doctor, I am a blogger and not a medical professional. Let’s dive into what our IF practice has looked like over the last two years and talk about the changes we made to our practice at the start of 2021. If this is the first post you are reading, I recommend you go back to the beginning of the series so everything makes sense. Click here to go back to post #1.
I love to know the ending of a story first, how about you? If you don’t, skip this paragraph. 😂 If you do, let me tell you the best news of all. Since the start of 2021, which was only eight weeks ago, I am down 17 pounds and four inches in my waist. 17 pounds!! What the what!?!? I was looking at my Facebook memories this morning and saw a picture from five years ago when I was wearing a pair of pants that I can fit into again. What an accomplishment. Next goal: Be able to wear pants I was wearing seven years ago when I was at my thinnest! Ok, that’s a big lofty but I have to have a goal, right? ❤️ Brian is down 20 pounds and three and a half inches in his waist. Just look at these pictures! If this doesn’t motivate all of us, I don’t know what will! We have lost about two to two and a half pounds a week, which is normal for the start of most weight loss regimens. The loss will slow down, I am sure of that and am already seeing signs that the slow down is upon us. The punch line is this is not the start or the end of our story.
Life is a journey and this is simply one chapter, so let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves! It has been a long two years of practicing IF before we got to consistent weight loss. When I started practicing IF, I thought it was my miracle weight loss plan. I thought I would lose all my extra pounds in months while enjoying wine, pizza, and burgers. I lost weight in the beginning and I was hooked. At first, I was trying to eat one meal a day but my overconfidence got in the way when I started to randomly, without a lot of preparation or knowledge, trying to go two, three, and even four days without eating. This is typical for me, I get overexcited and overzealous when I start something new. 🤦🏻♀️ I burned out fast.
Life is a journey and this is a simply one chapter.
Why did I try going days without eating? Because I was desperately trying to heal my stomach and lose weight. For years, I had been to the ER or at the doctor’s office for excruciating stomach/intestinal pain. I was desperate to heal myself. Fasting helped a lot with my stomach pain but the inconsistency of my IF practice didn’t produce any long-term weight loss.
The theme of our IF practice for 2019 and 2020 was to try it all out, though not intentional. I was going from one meal a day (OMAD) to two meals a day and fasting either 16 or 18 hours while feasting eight or six hours a day (16/8 or 18/6). My body was definitely healing but the inconsistency didn’t help my weight loss. To lose weight, we need to practice IF intentionally which is what we are doing now. The one thing that has been consistent since the start of our practice is that we gave up eating breakfast and we don’t open our “eating window” until after 12 noon most days. This is a huge change for both of us. I have been a breakfast eater forever. I LOVE breakfast! I love all meals, all snacks, and definitely love dessert but that’s another conversation. Haha! Here’s what we’ve learned – breakfast at its root is when one breaks their fast. The first time I heard that my mind was blown! It was around that time when I learned the history of our food guide pyramid and the Kellogg brothers’ contributions to what foods the FDA recommends. Hint: You can blame the Kellogg brothers for grains being at the bottom of the pyramid. You would think science would drive those decisions but instead, money drove them. I would encourage you to do your own research. It will change what you believe about our FDA and their food guidance. You will be completely disappointed in our government. All of the books I have read and referenced in this blog series are listed at the bottom.
The beauty of fasting is its flexibility to the individual and adaptivity to your individual lifestyle. If you go on vacation, have a bad day, work first or third shift, or just need a break, fasting is flexible to when you can eat and adaptive to what comes up in your life. You can’t be in a hurry to lose weight. You may lose fast, or lose a lot at first, or your body may need more time to heal the inside. Many people when they start fasting build up their practice and even though our consistency hasn’t been intentional, we have been building up to where we are today. If you are just starting, fast for an amount of time you are comfortable. Maybe just fast for 14 hours, then move up to 16 hours, and so on.
My biggest suggestions when you are starting out practicing IF would be to (1) eat two meals and don’t snack, (2) fast clean which means only unsweetened tea, coffee, or water (lemon or lime added is ok) when you’re fasting, (3) try to keep your carbs and sugar lower, and (4) take a break or cut back on alcohol because it works against weight loss goals. I am not suggesting going keto, rather I am suggesting you find a regimen that works for you. The bottom line is it easier to fast when your body is not craving foods like carbs, sugar, or even alcohol. If you are fasting for 14 or 16 hours, at least half of that time you are sleeping! If you can work up to fasting 18 hours a day, that would be a huge process but don’t be in a hurry. The goal is to practice fasting forever. This is not a quick weight loss scheme, I can promise you that! Your body may be like ours and have a lot of healing to do before it’s ready to trust you. My body needed to trust I wouldn’t go back to the ridiculous 1,200 calorie diet. Heck, I needed to let go of all “diet” mentalities. Once my mind and body trusted me again, I needed to learn to be consistent and intentional with my IF practice without all of the extremes. Then my body began to heal my menopause symptoms, thyroid, blood pressure, PSOC, etc.
The next thing you should know about fasting is this – mixing up your practice is good for your body as long as you are consistent and intentional. Maybe most of the time you eat lunch and dinner, but sometimes you eat breakfast and lunch. Maybe one month you fast 16 hours a day but the next month you fast 20 hours in a day, again mixing it up. Trust the process which leads me to where we are today.
After two years of unintentionally trying every fasting combination, we have finally found a combination that works for us to start making real weight loss progress. Two years ago we watched a BBC documentary entitled, Eat, Fast, and Live Longer, on YouTube. But it wasn’t until we watched it again this year, ready for a change, that things we learned connected for us. The documentary is about Michael Mosley, a journalist and former doctor, who after receiving some bad health news, tried several fasting regimens to see what worked for him. He is not “fat” but wanted to work on getting healthier (to heal on the inside) and felt that fasting may be his ticket to a longer life. In the end, he determined eating five days a week while fasting (eating 500 calories or less) two days a week was a good regimen for him. If you read Dr. Jason Fung’s books, he talks about alternate day fasting (ADF) where you fast three days a week and four days a week you eat two meals a day. Fung (books are listed at the bottom) talks about ADF being the best for those who are struggling with obesity, diabetes, menopause, blood pressure, cancer, and so much more. To clarify, Mosley and Fung differ on what you eat on your fasting days and I encourage you to read/watch everything that’s out there on the subject.
Brian and I decided to not eat on our fasting days. Honestly, counting calories and only having 500 brought up too many “dieting” issues for me. We do use what Fung calls, “training wheels” on our fasting days. I enjoy dill pickle juice (click for a link to the brand I buy) and we both enjoy bone broth for “dinner” on our fasting days. We also enjoy peppermint tea on fasting days because it’s an appetite suppressant. If you follow Fung’s recommendation for fasting days, keep your salt and electrolytes up to avoid headaches. You can take a pinch of salt under your tongue anytime you need to do so. Here is a link to our electrolytes. We have been adding these drops to our water for years because you lose a lot of salt and electrolytes when hiking, especially in the heat. I would encourage you to work up to ADF so you don’t burn out on fasting. We could not have practiced ADF two years ago. It’s not easy in the beginning and we both still have hard days. We have different theories on why we have hard days, it’s too early for conclusive reasons. It could be because it’s still a new practice, because of a higher carb meal, or maybe we didn’t eat enough the day before a fasting day. However, it’s worth it. My energy level has greatly improved. I only need six-seven hours of sleep now, when I used to need eight-nine hours of sleep to feel good. Don’t misread – I still love to sleep in but I don’t need to in order to feel good! I didn’t know we could feel better than we have for the last two years but we do. Tip: My favorite fasting day ritual is to take a bath with epsom salts, baking soda, lavender oil, and of course bubbles!
Here we are in 2021, Brian and I turn 50 this year. We have seen fasting heal so many ailments that come with aging and being overweight. It was time to try ADF. It was time to be intentional with our practice and we needed to do it together. However, there was no way either of us was ready to start 2021 with fasting 3 days a week. We were coming off the holidays and 2 weeks in the RV with all the food, sweets, and alcohol we needed. 🤦🏻♀️ By the way, that is not 3 days in a row of fasting but rather it’s spread out over a week.
In January we started with fasting only on Saturdays while eating one meal a day every day but Sunday. On Sunday we ate two meals a day after a 42 hour fast. By January 22, we were ready to move to fasting two days a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Saturdays were chosen so we can fast together. On February 22, we moved to fasting three days a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and either Saturdays or Sundays. The days will adjust as needed if something comes up. The nice part is when we start camping in mid-March, we are not fasting on our camping days, just our travel day back home. We are just finishing our first week of fasting three days a week, send us good thoughts going forward. We plan to continue this practice until we leave for the summer, then pull back to fasting two days a week while we are on our summer trip.
The next big “test” will be our camping trip in late March. We plan to fast two days that week, maybe just on our travel days. We will enjoy some alcohol that week. We enjoyed a small amount twice in February and will a couple of times in March. The point of not drinking for three months was to assist us in resetting, breaking bad habits, and focusing on our 2021 goals. It’s time to loosen the reins a bit to see the role alcohol will/will not play in our lives in order to meet our weight loss goals.
What’s next for us? To continue to be intentional and consistent with our IF practice. As of writing this, we are less than three months away from leaving on our 70 day East Coast vacation. Summer fun will be here before we know it. My hope is the same as it is every year: Don’t gain weight and have a ton of fun! Since we started IF, we typically only gain a few pounds over the summer and I hope that doesn’t change. I want to be more comfortable in my skin before we leave, take smaller size clothes, be able to wear them comfortably all summer, and feel good in my bathing suit because I plan to wear it most of the summer! ☀️
I will probably write a recap blog in a month or two to update how we are doing. I will certainly come back to this topic from time to time. If there is something specific you want me to talk about, leave a comment. We are planning to start doing some live streams this summer on our YouTube channel where Brian will cook up a delicious meal. Subscribe to our YouTube channel and click the bell (🔔) to get notified when we post new videos or go live! We will answer your fasting questions, camping/travel questions, or anything else during our live streams. If you want to start practicing intermittent fasting, below are all of the resources I recommend and have cited throughout this blog series. I hope this series has helped open your eyes to what intermittent fasting is and what it is not. The goal is to take care of ourselves because we only get one chance with the body we are given. Live long and live well.
- Dr. Jason Fung, The Ultimate Guide to Intermittent Fasting
- Dr. Jason Fung, The Obesity Code
- Dr. Jason Fung, The Diabetes Code
- Gin Stephens, Delay, Don’t Deny
- Gin Stephens, Fast, Feast, Repeat
- Eve Mayer, Life in the Fasting Lane
- Bert Herring, The Power of Appetite Correction
- Michael Mosley, The Fast Diet
To go back and re-read post #6 in this series, the lessons we have learned from intermittent fasting, click here. To start the series over again, click here.
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