Update 5/29/2019 – I’ve been working with a nutritionist and wanted to share her views on intermittent fasting. She think’s it’s a great thing to do, but cautions that women can be more sensitive to IF and can experience hormone issues. She recommends women fast between 12 and 14 hours, and it isn’t necessary to do every day. I’ve since tailored my fasts to follow her recommendations and don’t go over 14 hours.
I’ve struggled with dieting my entire adult life. I always inevitably cheat and give up.
A couple of months ago I did some serious self reflection and decided I need to make a real effort to get healthy. I’m 33. I can’t bounce back like I could in my 20’s and my health now is going to seriously impact my health in the future. It’s time to get serious.
Over the past 8 years, I’ve gained over 50 pounds. Some of that was due to anti-anxiety medication I was on during and after law school. The rest was poor eating habits and minimal exercise. When I got off the anxiety medications 3 years ago, I lost 20 pounds with no effort. Since then, I’ve tried a lot of diets to lose the remaining 30, especially in the lead up to the wedding. I tried weight watchers, Keto (my own personal hell on earth), and calorie counting, but I failed miserably. I’d be good for 2-3 weeks and lose weight, but I’d inevitably have a day where I’d give in and cheat on the diet and eventually just give up.
In January I decided to give intermittent fasting a try. I’d heard great things about the health and weight loss benefits and thought I could make it work. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist so I’m not going to list all the great benefits as if I am in any position to advise others, but there is plenty of information out there if you are interested.
It took a little trial and error, but I eventually figured out a plan that really works for me because it actually isn’t very restrictive. Intermittent fasting doesn’t dictate what I can eat, only when I can eat. Here is the schedule that works for me:
- On Monday through Friday I do a 16:8 fast. I fast for 16 hours and only eat between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM. After 4:00 PM I don’t have anything except water.
- On the weekends I am more relaxed and will open my eating window to 10 hours if we are going out to dinner. I also wait until around 12 to break my fast on weekends since I’m usually sleeping later.
- I try to keep my daily caloric intake under 1200. The shortened eating window actually makes it a lot easier to stay under 1200 calories simply because I’m not eating as often or as much food in a given day. And if there is a day where I just really want a bad meal like pizza or a burger and fries, I can still do that, and have that be my only meal of the day. I realize having only one meal a day might sound crazy, but I’m finding that I’m getting full much faster and if I eat a really high calorie meal like that, I’m actually not hungry the rest of the day.
After 2 months of really sticking to this system, I’m down 10 pounds with what feels like very little effort and I feel great. And maybe just as important, I’ve kept the weight off. It may not seem like much in a 2 month period, but it’s the most success I’ve had on a diet.
Fasting has also helped me to have a much healthier relationship and approach to food. I’ve realized that most of my cravings during my fasting hours aren’t because I’m actually hungry – I’m actually rarely hungry during the 16 hour fasting window. It’s usually because I’m bored or upset and want to use food to cope. This process has helped me to recognize and break those patterns.
Other people can see much faster results with intermittent fasting if they do it 7 days a week and workout. However, it was important for me to have some flexibility on weekends so I could maintain my social life and go out for dinners and drinks. Also, I know that if I get too overwhelmed, I quit diets and workout routines, so I’ve been waiting to add in more cardio until I was fully adjusted to intermittent fasting. Up until now I’ve been doing yoga 3-4 times a week and taken a long walk every weekend with the dogs. This month I’m going to start using the treadmill 3-4 times a week and hopefully I’ll continue to see results.