On December 31st of last year I decided I was actively going to participate in dry January. Though I did stumble some and had drinks when I went out, I put the kibosh on having liquor at home. The simple act of deciding start my new year without drinking send me out on a path to try something new with my eating habits as well. Which in turn set me off on a path of unexpectedly diving into intermittent fasting. Now as we start the third month of 2020 I can say with certainty why intermittent fasting has been better than dieting for me. Want more on how, keep reading!
When a friend of mine mentioned intermittent fasting to me some time last year, I responded with resistance and snark. Being fully transparent – I don’t believe in dieting. Deciding to jump head first into any eating plan that is so different from your life or counter to your lifestyle is only setting you up for failure. I’m not a medical professional but realistically going from eating fast food every other day to suddenly being carb free isn’t going to help you win. As I listened to my girlfriend tell me about her new eating pattern I dismissed it as another fad that claimed to give you abs in two weeks. I will confess here and now, I was wrong.
Intermittent fasting is defined as an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting.
The biggest difference between dieting and intermittent fasting is that intermittent fasting does not say anything about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them. Once I digested that tidbit I began to realize I was viewing it all wrong. My schedule is such that I typically rise around 6:30am or 7am catch up on my morning news via Twitter, post my scheduled social posts and linger in bed while my husband handles the mornings with our daughters. I don’t drink coffee or eat once I get up. Once I understood the basic layout of fasting periods I started looking at it as something that I could do.
While there are several types of Intermittent fasting or IF, the three most popular are:
- The 16/8 Method: Fast for 16 hours each day, for example by only eating between noon and 8pm.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Once or twice a week, don’t eat anything from dinner one day, until dinner the next day (a 24 hour fast).
- The 5:2 Diet: During 2 days of the week, eat only about 500–600 calories.
I have been following the 16/8 method since January and have seen significant changes in my body without exercising consistently. Since I usually forgo breakfast and don’t even remember to eat until around 12 or so, I was already unintentionally fasting. Where I was going wrong was typically binge eating around 4 or 5 with something sugary to curb my hunger headaches and probably having a glass of wine. I’d nibble through dinner with my kids, have a plate around 8:30 or 9p, eat dessert at 10, and then fall asleep on the couch. Yikes. Sounds horrid even as I type it. What’s worse, I saw the affects of those habits in my weight gain, how my clothes were fitting, and how I felt.
What I knew was that I needed a change but I required something that I could actually maintain and not anything that would overwhelm me. So I read up more on intermittent fasting with the thought that perhaps this could be the things I needed. Deciding on my method proved to be easy, what I had to do was be intentional about my eating and drinking. That dry January I mentioned earlier was the perfect boost because I stopped buying wine. In fact, I haven’t purchased liquor or had a drink at home since December. That small change helped me not to consume empty calories nightly and honestly I’ve been sleeping better too. In addition I’ve incorporated having a cup of matcha daily in the am which is allowed and gives me the boost in energy I need plus curbs any hunger I may be feeling.
Now I ensure that I have lunch, which may seem like a small thing for many people but for me it was a feat. Reminding myself to take the time to pause working or running around to nourish myself is a form of self-care I had been neglecting. At the very least it has made me aware of how I wasn’t properly feeding me. That change has helped me eliminate the need for a cookie or a plate of pate and crostini at 4:30 out of near desperation to stave off migraine at least twice a week. What was most interesting was how quickly I noticed the changes. In a short time I began to notice my midsection slimming down. I’m a mother of three, I’ve had a Cesarean and a hernia repair; my tummy has been through a lot. I’ve also been having intense cramping and pain for a few months so to see it decreasing has been encouraging.
Intermittent fasting for me hasn’t been about dieting or significantly changing what I eat. I don’t eat fast food, drink soda, eat a lot of fried food, and I’m really good about portion size. What it has done for me is make me more aware of when I need to eat. Now I have my first meal at or after 12:30 and have my last by 9:30p nightly. That discipline has curbed my appetite, helped me fit into my goal jeans, and feel lighter over all.
If you’re like me and looking for a more active way to be mindful about your eating and consumption, read up on IF. Check out some of the methods and see if you can incorporate one that already fits in with your life. Now that I’ve done that I am going to get back into a good workout routine with the goal of wearing a sexy girl bikini by December. I am going to stick with intermittent fasting and I’m looking forward to seeing how things are going come NYE 2020.
I’d love to hear about your IF journeys if you have them or even answer your questions if you’ve yet to start. Changing your life isn’t about wrecking your life it’s about making the moves toward better with ease. Let’s get it done!