Editor’s Note :: this post is one mom’s personal journey with intermittent fasting. If you are interested in implementing intermittent fasting into your own lifestyle, please consult a medical professional.
Hello. My name is Kristen and I have food issues. I know that I’m not alone and in wanting others to feel the same way, I’m trying not to be shy about sharing.
I grew up in a house with both parents and pretty happy. My parents loved and encouraged me. I was an athlete, fit compared to any throughout my childhood. However – (and there’s always a “however”) – HOWEVER, my mother never liked herself. I mean, she never TOLD me this outright, but kids are pretty intuitive. I could infer. She never wanted to be in pictures; she shied away from meeting other parents. She stayed in a close social circle of church friends. Her weight would change by over 100 lbs at a time. While she was always sure to tell me the opposite, I watched her value herself by her weight.
I’ve been teetering on the edge of an eating disorder – always able to reign it in – for years and years. I’m sure a lot of you out there feel similarly and just consider it normal. I am a veteran of Slim Fast, Exercise Addiction, Unhealthy Restrictive Eating, Binge Eating, Weight Watchers, and on and on and on. Some of those worked for a time and then something in my life would change making it harder to execute and I’d drift until I found the next “thing.”
I’m going to interject here with a whole lot of I KNOW BETTER, folks. I have a few college degrees, Psychology and Nutrition among them (go figure), so contrary to my formative adolescent experience, I have education that tells me what’s “right.” Moderation. Healthy Diet. Exercise. WE ALL know these things, right? So, why don’t we do them? Ummmmmm because it’s not easy?!?
I’m a working mom with a working husband with evening meetings and a third grader with her homework and a traffic obstacle to getting anywhere and a feral kindergartener (while we work on 3rd grade homework) and a roof with a leak and a car that needs a oil change and … I JUST WANT SOMETHING EASY. And healthy. That will work.
Too much to ask?!?!
There’s no “easy” way for most of us with foundations set fast and hard. I welcome any opportunity to change it up, to learn something, and to align at least ONE side of the Rubik’s Cube in my effort to solve this puzzle, this quest for “easy.” And then I read about Intermittent Fasting.
I’ve heard about it from friends (mostly from stories about their husbands trying and succeeding with it). I was initially doubtful and dismissive – because I LOVE food and love my excuses to eat (celebrations, assigned meal times, emotional need … ). Then I read this: Not So Fast from the October, 2018 issue of Discover Magazine published online September 24, 2018. It was a link I followed posted and shared by a trusted friend, referencing input from the local (and world renowned) Biomedical Research Center, Pennington Biomedical. Now, I’ve read all sorts of articles about weight loss but this one hit me a little different when I read this part:
“Research shows it’s an effective weight-loss strategy and also has potential to improve health for people of normal weight. Regular practice may delay the onset of age-related diseases, such as cancer, Type 2 diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. It also appears to enhance learning and memory, and can increase life span.
In addition, fasting is being explored as a supplemental treatment for brain injury, various cancers and metabolic syndrome. Most of these results are preliminary, and many of them are conclusions from animal studies.”
“…Valter Longo, a cell biologist and fasting researcher at the University of Southern California, says fasting is the body’s built-in fixer. It holds the power to heal. “But now, because we eat all the time, that inner repair has been eliminated,” he says. “We are not benefiting anymore from this ability.”
Whoa. “Cancer?” “Type 2 Diabetes?” Those run in my family. My ears definitely perked up. Also, I’m over 40 – so I’m not feeling all that invincible anymore. “Power to heal?”
So I decided to try it.
You can choose what you think might work for you. I choose to fast daily between the hours of 6:00pm and 12:00pm the following day. I’m about a month in. As one would imagine, near the beginning I was hungry in the morning. That quickly passed. 12:00pm came faster each day.
Things I love:
1. FREEDOM. I’m free from thinking about food during the fasting times. I’m free from having to make any decisions about whether to eat, what to eat, how bad I’m going to let myself feel about what I’ve eaten. All of that is gone (for the most part – because those food issues don’t disappear, y’all)! When I eat, it’s sanctioned. It’s approved. WHAT I eat is up to me. The goal is certainly to maintain a “healthy” lifestyle but the guilt I would feel when eating something “bad” isn’t as great now.
2. I don’t have to have a plan. Hear me on this one: On a lot of other eating plans, you have to plan. That’s not always easy. Weight Watchers, Whole 30 … there are restrictions, counting, sourcing, cooking. I have done most of those and they WORK, they absolutely do – but all I have to do is eat. And then not eat.
3. I wake up feeling more streamlined, less bloated.
4. It’s a different kind of self-inflicted discipline. I thrive on the limits I can put on myself or the goals I can set to push myself. I like accomplishing the fast each day. I feel powerful and in control. I realize this has echoes of an eating disorder because it totally does, but I’m trying to use harmful tendencies to my advantage instead of to my detriment. USE those flaws, people.
Things I don’t love so much:
1. Dinner with friends. This can get awkward, although I’ve survived a few dinners with ladies out after 6:00. I enjoy the conversation while I enjoy my club soda and work to avoid the free chips on the table. Discussions about my decision to fast result in support.
2. The initial weight gain. My body took some time to adjust. It was expected but still disheartening.
I’m just getting started so I’m positive, in general. If you’re interested, I’ll be sure to do a follow-up post about my progress or my decision to discontinue.
If you’d like to explore, you can Google as well as I can, but these are a good little introduction: (Remember, I’m not a doctor, so check with yours if you have any questions or concerns)
Original article I referenced above: Not So Fast
Intermittent Fasting 101 – The Ultimate Beginners Guide
I Was Shocked at What Happened When I Stopped Intermittent Fasting
What Is Intermittent Fasting?