I started fasting in November 2019. Right before Thanksgiving. Probably the WORST time to fast. But what can I say? I’m an idiot.
It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my fasting journey. But for those of you curious, yes, I’m still doing it and could probably do it better, but my goal was never to lose weight, per se, but to feel comfortable in my skin. To not have to be uncomfortable in my clothes because I’ve made a vow to myself, I will not buy bigger clothes.
My Fasting schedule is: I Fast for 24-hours on Sunday, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Why those days? No specific reasons, those days just work better for me. So, for example: I eat dinner on Saturday night about 6:00 PM. I will then not eat again until 6:00 PM Sunday night. I’m giving my intestines 24 hours to rest and my glucose to drop to zero. Am I hungry? Yes. But it’s not bad and I’ve gotten used to it, to be honest. I think the biggest reason I feel hungry is because my brain has been programmed to turn on my hunger hormone at the “normal” eating times and I just need to re-program it. Which takes time.
But honestly, I’m not really that hungry anymore. And I try to only eat when I’m hungry on “feeding” days. I don’t know why we have all been brought up to believe that we have to eat three meals a day. No, actually, we don’t. And in fact, it’s better if we DON’T do that.
Have I accomplished Fasting goal? Yes – sort of. But it has been a BUMPY road and I learned A LOT about my body in the process. More on that later.
First and foremost, if you’re thinking of starting a fasting program, talk to your doctor. Especially if you have any underlying health conditions, specifically, diabetes. Fasting messes with your blood sugars, in fact, that’s what fasting is, in a nutshell, it lowers your glucose level to virtually zero so that your body has no choice but to tap into your fat reserves, so if you’re diabetic … well, you can see the problem. So check with your doctor before starting something like this.
First of all, what is fasting? Dr. Jason Fung is a doctor one our neurosurgeons at work refers patients to. Well, he doesn’t refer them to him, he encourages people to look him up and watch his videos. Here’s Dr. Fung talking about what to expect when you start a Fasting regiment.
- Headaches or Dizziness
Yes. I have experienced, and sometimes still experience dizziness. And I’m pretty sure it’s lack of sodium. I don’t really like salt and prefer my food to be salt free so on Fasting days, I drink a glass of water with sea salt and it not only helps curb my appetite for that day, but I have noticed a decrease in dizziness. And it should be sea salt, not the iodinized table salt.
I have also bought bone broth and warmed it up at work to drink on Fasting days. This helps with hunger and I’m hoping the collagen in bone broth will smooth a few wrinkles in the process. (Hey, let me wallow in my self-delusion, please).
2. Bowel Changes
The change in bowel patterns – erhm – I’m going to keep this brief because NO ONE is interested in how many times I go to the bathroom, but I will say, that yes, that definitely changes when you Fast. However, I take magnesium supplements on Fasting days not only for constipation, but it also helps my stress levels. It helps calm me down and I’ve definitely noticed a difference since taking it.
I have experienced a bit of insomnia. But since I’ve cut all caffeine out of my diet, this is not as big of an issue as it used to be. I didn’t cut caffeine out of my diet because of Fasting, but because I was having a lot of heart palpitations. Cutting caffeine really helped with that but what REALLY helped my palpitations was taking potassium supplements. Ever since I’ve done that, my palpitations nearly disappeared. (Some of the palpitations was due to stress/anxiety, which I have from time-to-time when my body can’t take anymore and then it just sort of manifests. Fun stuff).
He mentions Blue-Block for insomnia. I actually bought, and am wearing now, Blue-Block glasses I bought from Zenni.com. Do they help? Meh – jury is still out but I would like to think they are helping my eyes as I stare at either a computer screen, a phone screen or my Kindle screen all day long. I DO think it helps with eye fatigue.
OH. MY. GOSH. YESSSSSS. I definitely experience heartburn. Especially when coming off a Fast. I went through a period of time when I drank Apple Cider Vinegar, not so much for the heartburn but because it also helps with hunger pangs. Thankfully, heartburn doesn’t happen very often and when it does, I just chew on the Alka-Seltzer heartburn tablets and that takes care of it.
The beauty of Fasting is that it’s completely customizable. You can follow any schedule you want. For me, Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays just seem to work the best. I knew I didn’t want to skip Friday or Saturday nights because those are our “date nights.” Kevin and I go out to dinner on those nights.
I will say, that starting out is hard. And start small, by the way. Don’t start with OMAD (one meal a day) or alternate day Fasting. Try skipping breakfast and eat lunch and dinner to begin with. Or, eat breakfast and lunch and skip dinner. Whatever fits into your lifestyle. And then gradually, lengthen your Fasting window. Skip breakfast and lunch and only eat dinner, for example.
Another tip – DON’T DRINK SODA OR OTHER SUGARY DRINKS. I can’t even tell you how MUCH this helps. Those drinks are good and addicting because they are liquid sugar. And sugar is addicting. Also, cut down your carbs. I try not to eat much bread. And I LOVE bread. But again, it helps. Bread gives you a lot of belly fat because of the yeast, which is also in beer, hence, a “beer gut.”
As Dr. Fung said, consistency is key when you Fast. But it’s a lifestyle choice and change and it’s not always easy. Let’s break down the reasons people fail when they try Fasting according to Dr. Eric Berg.
- Never Start
It seems “unnatural” to not eat. So it’s a mental shift away from what we’ve been taught our whole lives. In order to survive, you must eat. And sure, that’s true, but skipping a meal or two doesn’t equate starvation. “You’re switching food fuel with fat fuel.”
2. Feel Worse
Yes. I won’t lie. When I started my Fasting journey, the third day WAS AWFUL. I was dizzy, a little out-of-my head and I felt like my stomach was going to eat itself. I believe I broke my Fast a bit early that day because I was so miserable. But I didn’t give up. The fourth day wasn’t as bad and after a while, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I still have hunger pangs but I just ignore them most of the time. I found out, the hard way, that most of my struggles were due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies. When I started taking potassium and started drinking water with sea salt, my symptoms went down SIGNIFICANTLY. I also eat a lot of eggs on my feeding days and raising my vitamin B levels also really helped. So, learn from my mistake – keep your electrolytes up, it’s important.
3. Don’t Lose Weight
I dropped about 20 pounds in three months. And then … nothing. Now granted, I haven’t been as active as I need to be. Remember, I’m either sitting on my butt reading or I’m sitting on my butt blogging or checking my Patreon, so I’m quite confident when I start my walking back up, I’ll drop some more pounds. But the fact that I dropped that much weight right off the bat was very encouraging. And people at work noticed and were encouraging, that really helped me to stick to the plan. And remember, my weight loss goal was just to feel comfortable in my skin, not necessarily to get down to a size zero. Not because I didn’t want to be smaller but because I don’t want the stress of staying that size. Staying overly big or overly small takes a lot of work and quite frankly, life is too short to want to deprive myself of the small pleasures all so I can stay overly small. No thanks.
I also Fast to repair my internal organs. And it’s healthier for your brain which studies have shown help prevent Alzheimer’s and other brain diseases. And it also prolongs your life expectancy. There are A LOT of health benefits of Fasting, not just weight loss and to be honest, those benefits are more important to me than being stick thin.
4. People Discourage You
“You’re not starving your body, you’re just shifting what fuel you’re running off of.” Dr. Berg says when you eat is more important than what you eat. I found this interesting and encouraging. Insulin is triggered by carbs and frequent eating. I wish I had known this stuff when I was in my 20’s. I think a lifetime of Fasting would have made my life a little easier now that I’m in the my 50’s. It’s not too late, but if you’re reading this and you’re younger, I encourage you to look more into this alternative. I recommend watching Autumn Bates and Fledge Fitness YouTube channels. They are both GREAT resources on what Fasting is, how to implement in your life and the science behind the lifestyle.
So. I’m sorry if you clicked on this post thinking you were going to get a before and after picture. Honestly, I WISH I had taken a before picture but again, my goal wasn’t merely to lose weight but to feel better on the inside and the outside. I think I’ve accomplished that but I’m ready to amp it up another notch. I’d like to start OMAD (one meal a day). I’m close to doing that now. Even on my feeding days, I have been trying to stick to my fruit smoothie in the morning, skip lunch and then eat dinner. My fruit smoothie is:
Handful of Pineapple
One scoop of protein powder
One cup of Almond milk
Handful of Strawberries
It tastes like liquid ice cream. I LOVE them. I drink them three times a week right before work and that will, most times, curb my hunger and I don’t eat lunch. I hate to give them up, but I suppose I could drink them as “desert” after dinner.
At any rate – I want to try OMAD and of course, start moving more. I have been walking a few times around the hospital during the weekday and I’ve been averaging about 7000 to 9000 steps per day. It’s better than nothing.
So Fasting is not a fad for me, it’s a lifestyle. One that I really don’t have any intentions of stopping. The trick is finding a schedule that fits in with your life.
It’s a personal journey and one I hope you will look into and try.