“I couldn’t possibly do intermittent fasting, I love food too much…”
I hear that from people all the time, as they do not realize they are talking to the numero uno fan of food. I’ve never met a girl (nor many men) that can eat more than I can – I can throw down some food! My appetite was just always set at the self-destruct level – hence my constant struggle with too much weight.
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said “all you have to do is eat healthier and exercise.” Oh? Is that all? No, I’m pretty sure you also have to slay the demon inside your head that screams “EAT CAKE NOW!!” repeatedly as you munch on a bland piece of lettuce. You also have to watch everyone else (aka your skinny friends) eat pizza and drink beer as you force down yet another plate of chicken breast and steamed veggies.
How did you start Intermittent Fasting?
But when my doctor told me it was time to start watching my blood sugar before I developed diabetes, I accepted my fate and started a low carb diet… again, for the billionth time – but somehow, this time I would be able to stick with it. And I did for a while. I think it was about the time that I thought I could vomit if I ate another egg for breakfast that I decided I’d rather skip breakfast than try to choke down an egg, or any kind of meat. So I began skipping breakfast. Yes, breaking the cardinal rule of healthy eating, doing all that which is unholy when it comes to dieting. If only I had a dollar for every person that told me I was going to hell for skipping breakfast… okay, they didn’t say that, they only told me that some bad thing was going to happen to my health for not eating breakfast but I don’t think they ever specified what that bad thing was.
That’s about the same time I learned about Intermittent Fasting. So skipping breakfast was actually – a thing – and there were (a whole bunch of) people out there who not only believed the world wouldn’t come to an end if you skipped breakfast but that it was actually good for you! The funny thing is, I hated eating breakfast when I was a teen – unless it was doughnuts or french toast – but otherwise, not interested in breakfast AT ALL. Ah but again, the sky-is-falling-when-you-don’t-eat-breakfast-people convinced me that I would get fat if I didn’t eat breakfast, so I started eating breakfast, and eventually I did get fat anyway.
So I was enjoying not having to gag down eggs before work and getting to spend those calories on having a satisfying dinner. Dinner was the time when I was actually really hungry anyway. Suddenly eating lower carb wasn’t as hard when you have more grams of carbs at your disposal for your favorite meal (hence my invention of “lowish carb dieting”) and I also started to notice that I didn’t need as much food at lunch, and my weight loss was really kicking into gear.
On Friday nights we often went out to eat after work and all carb and calorie rules go out the window. But with the fasting, my hunger didn’t kick in until late, so I was able to also skip lunch on those days to save my calories for eating out. Normally, when I go out to eat, I gain a couple of pounds and it takes a week to get off, and the cycle starts anew each Friday. But now, I was NOT gaining weight after going out to eat for my one meal, and I was able to continue my weight loss. Eventually, it was so easy to just eat that one meal a day, that I just made that my lifestyle for most days. I lost 54 lbs while nutritionists and personal trainers were having heart attacks over my one meal a day. I have a friend who is a personal trainer and she will lecture me for hours about how what I did was wrong but I just can’t seem to make her understand that losing a good deal of weight without feeling like you are deprived was the very best way that I could have done it!
What? Not feeling deprived? Yes – not feeling deprived! But… you didn’t eat snacks, or breakfast, or lunch?? NO, I had one big, juicy, satisfying meal where I felt FULL and happy with what I ate, INSTEAD of eating 3 meals, 2 snacks of rabbit food I didn’t really want to eat while feeling like I was starving myself to death. Watching people (skinny friends) eat pizza and drink beer became easy because I know that I could have it for dinner, if I wanted. But the funny thing is, with the freedom of suddenly being able to do that I started craving things like salads instead of burgers and strawberries instead of cake. Knowing I would only be able to eat so much at dinner, I became more concerned about maximizing nutrition on most days. Sometimes I would eat pizza and beer but on most days I craved more balanced meals.
You must be really unhealthy now
But my health? Surely I must be half dead by now and have the resting metabolic rate of one calorie a day. My metabolism is so low now, that I had to *decide* to take a break from losing weight and eat more to sustain my current weight. The increased amount of energy and smaller appetite I have is surely a sign that I am starving myself to death. It also must be a miracle that I am able to lift much heavier than when I first started weight lifting, because everyone knows you can’t build muscle when you are starving yourself. It must be a great coincidence that I no longer suffer from frequent heartburn and digestive issues. Or, it could just mean that for some of us, eating multiple times a day isn’t ideal. So yeah, my health has improved greatly. The cake demon in my head isn’t doing so well though.
But don’t just take my word for it. Do some research and see that bodybuilders, doctors and scientists (people not interested in starving themselves – people that are interested in their health) believe in the benefits of Intermittent Fasting too. (This is a study on “ADF” or alternate day fasting) I tried to understand the science of it all, but just as there are people who argue whether low carb is better than low calorie and vice versa, you have different IF camps too. There are many different forms of Intermittent Fasting as well as many studies. I just kind of fell into what worked for me. Intermittent Fasting has helped me maintain my weight loss without counting calories or carbs, but to lose weight, I think we all agree working out in addition to diet lifestyle changes is a must.
I’m not saying the struggle is over. There are 30 lbs of fat on my body that are calling to be set free. I still get visited by the cake demon every now and then. Sometimes I go off the rails for weeks and eat 3 times a day (usually on vacation or holidays) and I end up feeling awful… hungry, sinus trouble, digestive issues, heartburn, fatigue, bloating… My body just can’t handle excess food. But I can typically get back on track very quickly and drop any weight gained easily when I return to Intermittent Fasting.
But aren’t you hungry all the time?
I have learned through this journey that if there is one equation in dieting that is true, more food consumed = more appetite. The other thing I learned is that there is a difference between real hunger and blood sugar/appetite hormones being out of whack. When you have many days of IF under your belt, you soon recognize that hunger feels like a light punch in the gut; a single, easy signal that says “EAT.” When I am consistently eating multiple meals a day, I wake up feeling slightly nauseous, with a burning feeling in my stomach, which only eating can fix. I get hypoglycemic, shaky, slightly delirious and a little angry (cake demon?) after a couple hours have gone by without food. It becomes harder to make good decisions about pizza, beer and cake. But that’s not hunger – that’s my body on too much food.
So how can I continue to be a food lover and fast? By spending all my effort and food budget on that one glorious meal. I’ve become a 100% better cook and menu planner. I refuse to eat things I don’t enjoy. Even my healthiest recipes have to make my mouth water. I also think eating less often has sensitized my taste buds to appreciate the nuances in healthier foods as well. Suddenly things like popcorn and a few nuts are decadent treats that I thoroughly enjoy. Two slices of pizza feels like a complete indulgence whereas before I struggled to be happy with four slices. So this food lover also happens to love fasting… the world is strange indeed!
Have you tried Intermittent Fasting? If so, how has it changed your life? What method did you try?
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