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I’m the worst dieter. I just can’t stick to weird restrictive food lists and I’m not exactly a fan of daily workout regiments. I’m more of a hot mess style mom who runs around chasing my kids and wonders if that counts as cardio. My idea of a “diet” means not eating my kid’s leftover pizza or crackers. So, while my weight has ballooned from 125 to 185 over the last nine years, three kids, and no sleep, dieting has still managed to elude me.
But that all changed when I discovered the world of intermittent fasting.
If you’ve not heard of intermittent fasting (IF) then prepare to be amazed. Instead of limiting what or how much food you eat, you simply limit when you eat. Currently, a trending version of IF is to fast for 16 hours a day, consuming zero calories (yes, that means no cream in your coffee) and then eat only during your 8-hour window, which can be scheduled around your life.
Intermittent fasting is capturing the attention and fascination of researchers as they publish study after study that confirm the amazing anecdotal results from IF adherents such as controlling insulin levels and preventing or reversing type II diabetes, cellular regrowth and repair, and sustainable weight loss.
After reading a mountain of articles describing the myriad ways in which IF can be easily and seamlessly adapted to even the most chaotic lifestyles and all the benefits that can result from the IF approach to eating, I figured I would try it.
Would it really be possible to lose weight without restricting my foods or working out? Well, on January first I dove into an 18-hour fast and a 6-hour eating window and I’ve maintained that pattern throughout the month. So far, I’m down 4 inches off my waist, and 6 pounds from my bathroom scale.
I’m beginning to notice other, pretty kickass benefits as well. My brain feels sharper and I am not as groggy and exhausted when I get up in the morning, which is great because I have three kids to keep up with. I’ve also noticed that on the days when my weight doesn’t appear to change, my body does. I’m consistently shrinking and shape shifting into being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans. Sure, I still have a lot more to go, but I feel healthy, alive, and energized in a way that a bucket of coffee that I was accustomed to just couldn’t give me.
When I started fasting, I was worried that I would feel like I’m starving and give up. And while it defiantly took me a week to get into a groove of fasting, I finally found my sweet spot where fasting doesn’t affect my feeling of hunger at all. I stop eating in late afternoon and I don’t start eating again until the next morning. The times change based on whatever I happen to have going on that day (see? Adaptable) and during my fasting hours I drink a veritable ton of water, which actually helps to make me feel full.
When I do eat, I eat whatever I want but I stop when I notice that I am feeling satiated. Listen, that’s a tough one to learn and it takes time. If you’re like me, and you love to shove tacos in your mouth while guzzling a margarita then, girl, I feel you. Relearning how to know when you’ve had enough food takes a bit of practice but it will happen.
You can eat all of your calories for a day during your eating window without feeling guilt. Yes, chow down on those 1500 or 2000 or whatever is healthy for you and don’t look back. I suggest learning what calorie limit is best for you and then learn how foods will get you there. But after that? You have to stop counting calories. The numbers game of dieting will make even the sanest among us feel crazy.
To keep me on track with fasting, I downloaded Fast Habit, a simple tool that tracks both my fasting times and my weight. It displays my efforts on easy to read graphs which is perfect because it allows you to start to notice patterns about how your body handles weight loss. For example, I’m noticing that on days when my weight stays the same on the scale and in my app, my waistline is still getting smaller.
Before you dive into intermittent fasting, it is important that you talk to your doctor because it’s not for everyone, especially those who are pregnant or nursing. I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist so get medical advice from a professional you trust.