I have done my best to stay focused on my goal despite the lack of progress. But there’s a limit to my patience and last week I messed up; I’m human. No, I didn’t eat sugar or grains or any of the other garbage carbs I’ve sworn off for the last two years. But I haven’t fasted for the last week or so, and I have let myself overindulge in what are supposed to be occasional treats. Two or three Atkins bars in a week is one thing … two or three in a day is another. A handful of peanuts is one thing … a whole bag is another. After months of trying to change things up to try and get things moving again, I had had enough and I ate these things out of frustration – then I found myself back at 82 kilos (181 pounds) on Thursday. I determined then and there that this ends now.
Hubby is always telling me I should be focusing on how far I’ve come and how much better off I am today than I was when I started, even if I never lose any more. That’s true, of course and I am grateful to have lost the weight – but I’m not ready to throw in the towel. If I don’t find a way to get things moving again, I’m worried the stall will become a regain, and that’s simply not acceptable.
One thing I have been doing the last few weeks is reading heaps of different books and websites, listening to various podcasts and watching lots of video lectures by Dr Andreas Eenfeldt (DietDoctor.com) and Dr Jason Fung (a world-leading expert on intermittent fasting and LCHF, especially for treating people with type 2 diabetes). The more I learn the more I keep coming back to intermittent fasting as the way to go. Dr Fung’s video lectures on treating obesity and diabetes (or diabesity as he refers to it) are fascinating. Yes his series The Aetiology of Obesity is long (six parts), and each video is an hour to an hour and 20 minutes long, but they are well worth watching. He is a proponent of alternate day fasting or ADF. I have read many articles on how it doesn’t always work as well for women, especially those of childbearing age. Some say it can cause issues like those discussed in this article.
I contacted Dr Fung via his website about these concerns and happily he wrote me back. He said that he has perhaps 300 women in his Intensive Dietary Management (IDM) program and he’s noticed no significant difference between men and women in how they respond to intermittent fasting – he believes it works equally well in both. I’ve been very much impressed with his lectures and I think this guy knows what he’s talking about. You may recall I tried 4:3 fasting for a week and didn’t feel it worked any better than 5:2. Maybe I just didn’t give it long enough to decide. Maybe it was just a bad week, I don’t know. But I've decided I am going to try ADF.
I actually started already with a two day fast – hubby was concerned but I reassured him first of all, when I go in for colonoscopies they make me fast for two days, so clearly there’s no reason to be concerned if you don't eat for a day or two. In fact I found numerous references to a man who fasted for 382 days (1 year and 17 days) under medical supervision and went from 456 pounds to 180, losing over half his body weight. So a couple of days is nothing.
Secondly, I didn’t get hungry. After finding myself at 82.1kg (181 lb) Thursday, I fasted all day Friday and the next morning I was 80.2kg (176.81 lb). I had planned to start eating at lunchtime Saturday but I just wasn’t hungry! So I fasted Saturday as well. This morning I weighed in at 79.3 kg (174.83 lb) and more importantly, I feel great! I had some leftover soup that needed to get used so I assured hubby I would be eating today – I’ve had cabbage soup for brunch, and I’m having some Kielbasa soup tonight for dinner. I’ll even have a small no-sugar-added greek yogurt for dessert. Then Monday I’ll fast again and from there it’ll be alternate day fasting (ADF).
This time I’ll give it ample time to decide whether it works for me or not. One week just isn’t long enough to tell. Most programs allow eating up to 500 calories on a fasting day, but to me that’s not fasting, that’s just calorie reduction. Plus that's harder for me to do. Studies have shown benefits from fasting that you don’t get with calorie reduction. For example, people think fasting can lower their metabolism or lose muscle mass. My research shows that may happen with reduced calorie diets, but not with intermittent fasting. Dr Fung explained that if you eat less calories, the body thinks it needs to get used to less calories, so it starts conserving energy by reducing your metabolism. But if you eat nothing, your metabolism remains higher, you remain alert and have plenty of energy to hunt for food. He points out that our species would not have survived if a few days without food left us sluggish, lacking energy and losing muscle. Besides, I do much better eating nothing than eating less, it just works for me. I can eat none, but I can't eat just one. As I said, two days fasting was easy, I had no problem with it at all and I'm thrilled with the initial results.
We all have to do what feels right for us. Some may not think fasting is a good thing but people have practiced it for centuries – most religions emphasise fasting during certain periods. Research shows it’s not only healthy, it can extend your life expectancy. I’m not going to go into all the rationale here – I have done far too much reading and sat through too many video lectures to summarise it all for you here. Do your own research if you’re interested. Start with DietDoctor.com and Dr Fung’s site, watch this video in particular, starting at 50:50 if you want to learn more about the benefits of Intermittent Fasting.
So that's my plan for the coming weeks. I’ll keep you updated on my progress. Wish me luck!