One month ago, I began the Intermittent Fasting ‘lifestyle.’ People who follow this path to health and well-being do not consider this path a diet, but a lifestyle much in the same way vegans considers not eating meat a lifestyle choice. If I am being honest, anyone that chooses to ridicule another person’s choice to becoming healthier is just another ‘fat-shamer.”
Over the course of the last twenty years I have tried and failed at every diet or weight loss fad. The weight has come on slowly since the birth of my last child. As every pound found its’ home on my hips, thighs, and ass, my joints became inflamed so much that it was difficult to rise from a chair, hoist myself from the passenger seat of a car or crawl my way up a flight of stairs.
Each year I began a new resolution to diet and exercise. About 8 years ago, I awoke the day after Christmas, and I told my husband that I was giving up. Unspoken, but if I am being honest, I was thinking of ending it. I knew I was going to die an early death anyway. That is how bad I felt in mind, body, and spirit.
I was a failure
One doctor after another, particularly endocrinologists told me to “eat less, exercise more.” Personal trainer, diet diary, exercise plans only seemed to budge about three pounds. I finally found a holistic doctor that would accept my insurance and after a series of blood, urine and feces tests, he determined that not only did I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis disease, but I also had a high sensitivity to gluten and casein (cow’s milk protein).
Although I had been taking thyroid medication for over twenty years, this doctor continued to change medication and dosages to find the right one for me. With this new medical dedication, I started to diet, limiting gluten and dairy, trying exercise programs that fit within my schedule only to continue to fail. The pounds kept finding new areas to reside on my body – my face, my shoulders and arms. If I am being honest, I look like a linebacker, an out of shape linebacker.
I was inspired
It usually takes a traumatic experience or a life altering event for most people to make the positive changes in their life. Last summer, my youngest son fell deathly ill with weeks of doctors and specialists trying to determine his illness. Unlike his father and I, he has always been pencil-thin and to see him further wasting away was heart wrenching. Part of his recovery would depend upon him drastically changing his diet. He, too, now would have to be gluten-free as part of his new diet regime due to a kidney disorder.
Over the prevailing months I saw my son take control of his new diet. It has been inspiring to see his dedication to becoming healthy again with the obvious support from not only my husband and I, but his friends too. His quiet determination has inspired me to becoming healthier myself.
But, how? I did not want to fail especially in front of my son. I had to plug into my competitive nature and a ‘mother’s can-do’ attitude.
What do writer’s do? Research.
In late December, I began to research why losing weight is so difficult. Not difficult for the average person who can “eat less, exercise more” and lose the weight; but people who like me have seemingly tried everything and failed. After reading literally thousands of book reviews, I read the book, The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. After devouring his book, figuratively speaking, I read his follow-up book, The Complete Guide to Intermittent Fasting. (Click here to read my review here on The Blogging Owl.)
My next research led me to an online support group where I could learn from those already living the IF lifestyle. I have never been a fan of support groups either in-person or online. Too much drama and die-hards that like to continue their own brand of shaming.
I joined an IF support group on Facebook named simply, “Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle” with over 20.6K members. To my surprise, I found the group to be very supportive and encouraging with many offering their own personal success stories and tips. Members post their personal photos, their failures, their successes, no matter how big or small, their questions, and the admins are diligent in blocking hucksters who only want to sell members supplements or the latest and greatest diet plans. Negative or abusive members are also blocked. This group changed my opinion on the benefits of support groups.
If I am being honest
I cringe at writing this out loud. I am obese.
Whenever I post about my honesty with my weight or how I look at my weight, I have friends who message encouragement. They tell me I am beautiful no matter what the scale registers. In mind and body, I have healthy esteem. I am a survivor and a competitor, but if I am being honest, I must admit that I once wanted to give up because of what the mirror was reflecting when really what my body was screaming at me to do was to – just take control and get healthy, damn it!
I am being honest when I say that I strongly believe God is calling me to do something with my life’s work not simply blogging about this or that, but something else even more worthwhile. And if I am going to be up to that challenge, I need to be healthy in mind, BODY, and spirit.
I have a planner personality.
So, with all my research in hand, my Facebook support group to lean on, and my supplies from the grocery store – whole, gluten-free foods, tea, coffee – NO processed foods, sugars, gluten, etc., I set out on my IF journey on January 2, 2019. I told my family in advance that if I get ‘hangry’ that my present mood isn’t anything to do with them if I snap or snarl at them. They looked at me blankly.
If I am being honest, I was anxious.
I still am. I do not want to fail.
I was surprised
Everyone has a different experience with any type of change. The IF lifestyle is no different. I was surprised how easy it was in making the conversion. I believe the major reason for my early conversion success was my research, planning, and support I found not only from the Facebook group but from my immediate family, friends, and co-workers.
Within the first week, I was amazed at the benefits from my daily fasting. I was receiving more restful sleep. I was sleeping through the night! Before my erratic sleep pattern would net me maybe 3-4 hours sleep maximum. In fact, the second week I over-slept and I missed a doctor appointment that had taken me three months to schedule!
Other noticeable benefits were clarity of mind and energy. No more brain fog. I had less joint inflammation. I saw a difference in my skin and after a few weeks, I didn’t notice the ugly skin tags and lesions that are heredity but also a sign of insulin resistance.
Another shocker was that I did not experience any cravings. Not sugar. Not cheese. Not pasta. Not bread. None!
Important IF points
• Intermittent fasting needs to be created around the individual’s schedule to make it easier to convert and to maintain the lifestyle.
• Some IF’ers eat Keto, vegan, Whole 30, or simply eat whatever they want within their eating window. I eat 99% GF, 99% processed-free foods, and no sugar unless it is naturally occurring sugar, no fruit, and clean meat. I often drink Huel as a meal or part of a meal.
• Taking a multivitamin is recommended. I researched the best multivitamin for women and take one daily.
• Anything with calories breaks the fast. Only black coffee, plain tea, and water during the fasting time. In the beginning I would drink cinnamon and Oolong tea with black coffee and plenty of water. I dropped the cinnamon tea and began drinking more black coffee because it helps me fast for longer periods of time. Surprisingly, it does not affect my sleep as it would have prior to intermittent fasting.
• Not everyone fasts every day. I do.
• Some people do OMAD every day (one meal a day). I don’t. I do 18:6 five days followed by two days of OMAD. Sometimes I change up the days depending upon my hunger or special event.
• Some people lose weight immediately. Some don’t. I did. I lost 12 pounds in 4 weeks.
• Everyone will see changes in their body composition if not on the scale. I see changes that may not be readily apparent to others. (Sorry, no photos. the Owl is camera shy.)
Personal IF tweaks in the first 30 days
• I am still tweaking my caloric intake during my eating window to make sure I am getting the right number of calories and nutrients for successful weight loss.
• I found that I have to back-load my calories during my eating window. If I have two meals during my eating window, I don’t snack in between meals. Snacking affects my hunger levels during my fasting time.
• Personally, I found that OMAD is easier for me if I eat my one meal in the mid-morning and not at dinner time. If I eat at a normal dinner time, I cannot concentrate as well the next day although I am still experimenting with the timing of meals.
• In the beginning, I vowed I would not weigh myself until the end of my first 30 days of intermittent fasting. Curious, I weighed myself after the first week and I saw that I lost weight. Then I told myself I would only weigh myself each week because I did not want to become discouraged if I had not lost any more weight, or worse that I had gained weight. After the second week of weighing myself, I noticed the body composition changes and a few more pounds lost. I have been weighing myself every day since.
Personal IF tweaks the next 30 days
• Most IF’ers exercise. I am currently what medical or health types call sedentary. I sit at a computer all day. I will charge up the Fitbit and start walking and fit in some time to do recumbent bicycling.
• Most IF’ers track their calories and nutrients. In the past, I have found that to be too tedious. I lacked focus and diligence to keep up with it. Although I plan on researching the available and recommended apps, i.e. MyFitnessPal and others.
• Continue changing up and adding OMAD to the schedule, if possible.
• Most IF’ers weigh and measure before they began intermittent fasting and during their progress. I didn’t. If I am being honest, I didn’t want to know the truth except for my starting weight. As mentioned earlier, I now step onto the scales daily.
• Most IF’ers have taken before photos. At the end of the first days, I did take a photo but just for my eyes only. I will take another one in 30 days.
If I am being honest in my first 30 days…
I feel 100% better in mind, BODY, and spirit. It is not because I have lost more weight in 30 days than I have since giving birth to my youngest son. It is because I feel better physically. In the last 30 days I have been able to tell which foods have contributed to my weight gain, to my inflammation, bloating and fatigue.
I did not become ‘hangry’ or crave peanut M&M’s much to the delight of my family and pups. I am more mindful of what I eat, the quantity and quality of the food I eat, and I tend to eat more slowly at each meal. In fact, I feel more in control when I fast and I look forward to fasting than to my next meal.
I am more mindful of my overall well-being that others may not yet notice. While the pounds fluctuate from day to day, I have maintained losing weight in the last 30 days from my starting point. (I will reveal my starting weight when I reach my goal weight.) For now, I will enjoy the clothes becoming looser and the subtle body changes I see in the mirror.
Members of my Facebook support group often post before and progress photos. I find them to be inspirational and motivating. I purposely did not take a before photo. I do not want to remember myself being at my starting weight. Instead, I came up with my own creative representation of similar ideas posted by my Facebook IF group. See the photo below.
The carafe on the left shows blue-green glass stones with each stone representing a pound. For every pound lost, a stone is moved to the carafe on the right. When the 2 carafes have equal number of stones or there about, I will have reached my goal weight.
Although after my first 30 days, if I am being honest, I wish I had taken a photo of myself on January 2, 2019. I did take a photo of myself today, 30 days into the IF lifestyle, just so I alone can seem my own progress. (I am beginning a more positive mindset in that statement alone.) I will take another photo after the next 30 days.
I refuse to see the scale as an enemy any longer. The most important lesson I have learned in the last 30 days is that I must think of myself as an athlete in training for a competition. Competing is in my nature and it fits well into the IF lifestyle. The truth is however much my body will lose is what my body is going to give up. As Dr. Fung stated in his book, The Obesity Code, 30% of our weight is within our control and the other 70% is genetic. Hashimoto’s will more than likely make my journey take a little longer. I have come to accept that truth.
And to my loving family and friends who continue to tell me I am still beautiful no matter my size, thank you. I am not on this Intermittent Fasting journey because I don’t believe I am beautiful or that I don’t love myself. Quite the opposite. I love that God gave me this body to take care of and I don’t want to be a failure at what he has given me to do in mind, body, and spirit.
My goal is to post my progress every 30 days here at The Blogging Owl. Blogging about my progress helps me keep it real, and if it helps you too, all the better. You are welcome to post any thoughts or tips too! I appreciate you following The Blogging Owl.
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