After last week’s blog post about emotional eating, I definitely felt relief about laying it all out there. The struggle remains a day to day thing and has not magically gone away but it was kind interesting that the minute I put that blog post out into the universe, a sign came to me in the form of a podcast episode that discussed the benefits of fasting.
Now, I am definitely a skeptic when it comes to “signs” from the universe but seriously, this podcast (click here to find more info and listen) came to me right when I really needed it. I was sick of letting emotional eating getting the best of me and while I have kind of come to terms with it, I wish it was something I wasn’t dealing with. I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone but I didn’t know how to go about it in the best way. Basically, what it all boiled down to was, that intermittent fasting was worth a shot. And so I decided to embark into something new and totally out of my comfort zone.
Before I get into my personal experience of how I became an intermittent fasting believer, I wanted to briefly discuss what intermittent is. I am no expert, by any means, but this is what I have gathered.
Simply put, intermittent fasting is not a diet, it is an eating pattern. You chose to eat (feast) during a certain number of consecutive hours of the day and then you chose to NOT eat during the rest (fast). Most people who participate in intermittent fasting usually fast for at least 12 hours and then feast for the rest of the day. Some people even go 24 hours without food and just drink water. It really all depends what you are most comfortable with and what works best in your day to day life.
So. . .how does intermittent fasting work?
After a meal, your body spends the next few hours digesting it. And because you have all of this readily available energy (from the food you just ate) your body ends up using it for energy instead of any fat you might have stored.
During a fasted state, your body does not have that readily available energy from a recently consumed meal. So when it needs energy (your body constantly needs energy) it is more likely to go for the stored fat.
That’s kind of it in a nutshell, though I would definitely read up more on it if you are interested.
My Personal Experience
My whole reason for writing this blog post is to give you my personal experience with intermittent fasting and to also give you some survival tips for just starting out, straight from the mouth of a newbie.
Now, when I started I dove in head first to this fasting thing. Meaning, I didn’t start with an 8 hour fast or even a 12 hour fast, I went right for the 15 hour fast. I had no idea what to expect but what I did know was that if I was going to do this, I was going to have to just rip the band aid off quickly.
I’m an eater, I love my food, I love to graze, and I love to snack. So, the idea of gradually cutting back on my eating times was not going to work for me because I knew that doing it this way would give me more of an excuse to be more flexible with it. “An extra little snack here,” or “I’ll just start eating a little earlier today because I’m easing into it and it still feels uncomfortable,”. No, it was not going to work gradually, so on June 6th I decided to do a 15 hour fast. That means that I stopped eating on June 5th at 8 P.M. and did not eat again until June 6th at 11 A.M.
That first day was a complete shock to my system. My body was mad, I was grumpy, and by about 8 A.M. I had hit a wall and was just moving at a pace slower than molasses on a cold day. I couldn’t handle it but I wasn’t going to give in. I let it ride and by 10 A.M. I was thinking “food? I don’t need food!” When I did finally eat at 11, I ate a good healthy meal and went through the day with amazing energy and no cravings what so ever. In fact, by the end of the day I felt AMAZING, like nothing was going to bring me down from the awesomeness that was intermittent fasting.
Then day 2 & 3 happened. These days were AWFUL plain and simple. I dragged my body through the day until it was time to eat and then when I did eat, I ate everything I could find to make up for “starving” for a few hours. I felt stuffed and never felt like I could “catch up” with my food consumption for the day, I always felt “behind”. The main problem I did have these two days was not enough water consumption between when I got up and my first meal.
On day 4 I made water my number one priority and was able to get 50oz in before I ate and I felt great, I didn’t get hungry until almost 11 A.M.
Day 5 & 6, I was finally feeling like I really had intermittent fasting figured out. I drank my water in the morning, had my healthy foods, no cravings, and lots of energy.
Day 7 came and I decided to take my “after” pictures, I was pleasantly surprised to see the change in my body, change that I would probably not have seen if I had not made the change.See, I never had a problem with eating the right foods at meals, I had a problem with the lingering snacking between meals and at the end of the day. Intermittent fasting gave me the tools I needed to keep eating exactly the same way I had been without the need or want for snacks.
As I write this, I am starting my third week. I still don’t have it all figured out but I am working on adjusting my times to make it the most beneficial for me. I am also trying to figure out my workout schedule in all of this. It is a work in progress, which is true for most anything that is going to work long term.
I wanted to wrap up this post with 3 tips for surviving your first week of intermittent fasting if you decide that it is something you are interested in. Before that though, I highly recommend checking out this podcast (which I already mentioned above), it truly opened my eyes to all the benefits of intermittent fasting and kind of helped me in making my decision to go forward with it. I’m not saying intermittent fasting is right for everyone and I also don’t think it is a magical pill to solve all the world’s problems but, it could be something worth looking into, once you have read up on it.
Enough of my rambling, here are the 3 tips for surviving the first week.
- Drink enough water WHILE you are fasting. So many times I thought I was STARVING and then I drank 8-10 oz of water and I was fine. I know that a lot of what we mistake for hunger is actually thirst but I never really realized this until I started intermittent fasting. I recommend experimenting with exactly how much you need to drink during your fasting time, for me personally, I drank 50-70 oz during my fast and was fine.
- Don’t try to be so strict with your time at first! OK, I’ll admit, I WAS super strict about times but trust me, if you are trying this out for one week and you are wondering if it is a good fit for you, it is better to be flexible, trying to make the experience as pleasant as possible for yourself. If you are really hungry and it’s 10:30 and you are supposed to eat at 11? Just eat now! Trying something new is part of the journey, and the journey is about progress NOT perfection. For what its worth, perfection is boring and never makes for a good story.
- Don’t stuff your face when you break your fast. You are going to be hungry, you might even be REALLY hungry, and you are going to want to eat all the food right away! Remember to eat slowly. If you eat too quickly, you could easily over eat and end up feeling “blah” and gross soon after that first meal instead of full of energy.
There you go, my 3 tips on surviving the first week of intermittent fasting. I would love to hear from any of you who have tried. Your successes with it or how you made it work for you. Also, if you have any tips for newbies (or not so newbies), I would love to hear those too.