I am in my mid forties and over the past few years, my weight has slowly creeped up. Even if I own a scale, I rarely get on it, but I knew it, because my cothes were tight, both around my waist and my upper back. This situation has been frustrating for me. No matter how I tweaked my diet or my exercise regimen, I saw no change.
So in August I decided to sign up for a 6 week on line Boot camp / Carb Cycling program with Amanda Tress.
Since the first program, I have done two others and am signed up for my fourth starting in January. I love the workouts and the accountability of the closed Facebook group, but I am also loving one of the specificities of her programs, intermittent fasting.
Her boot camp program, (first program from August) is based largely on the philosophy of Yuri Elkaim :
…it integrated a 24 hour fast every 5 days, for 6 weeks. For example, you eat dinner on a Monday night and you fast until dinner the next day (drinking lots of water, tea & coffee is of course encouraged and necessary). Does that sound crazy ? It did when I started, but I wanted to trust the process and I was open minded about the reasons behind fasting (let your body rest, repair itself, give your digestive system and organs a break). So while I was skeptical, I did it. The first time is very hard. My stomach growled most of the day. I needed to plan to keep myself busy so I wouldn’t obsess about what I wasn’t eating. But it got easier each time and I was part of a Facebook group, all the other ladies are going through the same process, so there was experience sharing and mutual encouragement. I then started looking forward to these days and giving my body some ”digestive” rest.
Was I scared to try it ? Yes. But I trusted the process.
For the FASTer way to fat loss program I have been doing, she is not doing a 24 hour fast, but encourages fasting until lunch every day and having a ”shorter eating window”. What does this mean ? To put it simply, you do not eat breakfast, your first meal is at lunch, and you get your calories in between lunch & dinner. The ”eating window” is generally 6 to 8 hours. I thought this would be a piece of cake, seeing as how I was able to do a 24 hour fast, fasting until lunchtime sounded ”easy”. But not to say I wasn’t worried. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, so I was very worried. But I did my homework, read up on fasting and trusted the process.
The conclusion ? Intermittent fasting has been an amazing experience.
Since October, I have fasted until lunchtime 90% of my days, excluding the days I have races or long runs, then I eat breakfast.
And I learned something. Quite a few things actually. There were a couple times where I hadn’t eaten enough the day before, and I was very hungry in the morning, so I decided to eat breakfast. And I observed what happened.
- Eating in the morning kick started my appetite. Every.single.time. Meaning if I had breakfast, I would eat much more during the day. It is like my appetite was revved up and I wanted to eat all day long. I noticed that when I ate breakfast, I would eat at least a third more than a day when I fasted until lunch (hello pounds that have creeped on !).
- Once I got over the hump of the initial stomach rumble in the morning, the hunger went away and my body got used to using stored fat for energy. I never felt hungry. I never had an insulin high then crash. Never felt sluggish mid morning. Not once. I needed to break through the initial knee jerk reaction of my stomach is rumbling = I need to put food in it.
- My body can function perfectly on 2 meals a day. Because the fasting trains your body to use fat for fuel, I am not hungry and my energy levels never plummet. Ever.
I believe that fasting, and particularly just fasting until lunch, has had a huge impact on the results that I am seeing.
- My body has learned to use fat as fuel, rather than the constant stream of food I am putting into it
- My calories & quantity of food has been significantly reduced (I strongly believe I was over eating)
- I have a huge amount of energy
- I am sleeping soundly
- My mind is clear
- I feel I am fueling my body with what it needs and I am not over feeding it
- I have lost many inches around my midsection, and while it is not only linked to fasting, this was a big part of it
Before the experience of these past few months, I NEVER would have thought I could go without food for several hours. I was scared. Skeptical. More than skeptical, I thought it was crazy. But this experience has been hugely beneficial and helped me be less stressed. I don’t have to bring a snack with me. If I am traveling and don’t find something that immediately pleases me, I can wait. I can wait for food, and my body & mind will perfectly function. Because my body has learned to use food for fat.
I strongly believe you get fit in the gym and lose weight in the kitchen, so my fasting experience is coupled with 90% whole foods.
Disclaimer : I wouldn’t recommend trying fasting without the proper support or education. It works so well for me because it is built into a bigger lifestyle change and a program where I have slowly made modifications to my eating & exercise habits. I would recommend you read up on it and check out Amanda Tress and her on line programs (I was NOT paid to say that !).
Have you ever tried fasting ?