Fasting…Yes, please.

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This is the year of getting things right… hopefully.  Historically, my go-to means of losing weight have been fasting (up to seven days) and Atkins (less than 10 grams of carbs per day) for up to a month.  With age, I’ve noticed such a low-carb diet has some negative side effects and less results than when I was young.  Fasting works and has wonderful effects on skin, hair, eyesight, etc.  The problem is, fasting is hard.  It also isn’t a long term solution.

The Journey

We all know the solution is working out and eating right but that isn’t always enough for weight loss, especially in our 40’s.  Besides, what kind of exercise is best for each of us and how do we stick with it?  How do we balance our diet?  How many calories do we restrict?  How do we fit it all in with kids, school, sports, college, volunteerism, ad infinitum?  Well, the answer is a journey.  No one can answer these questions for you.  I used to love riding a bicycle but moving to the country made it impractical.  I tried Crossfit, bootcamps, obstacle course racing, marathons, all of them made a difference, for a while.  The problem was they took too much energy and eventually, I quit.  I am now a firm believer in finding something that doesn’t feel like work.  For me, that was buying some weights and starting small.  I began working out twice a week and didn’t give myself a hard time for missing a day.  I started seeing progress, and the more I did it, the more I enjoyed the results.  I started feeling stronger, even though I was still overweight.

Success Breeds Success

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So now I want to keep getting stronger.  What do I do?  I google.  It turns out I need a minimum amount of protein.  I need vitamins and I need to keep my diet fairly clean.  Hmmm… now they’re getting personal.  Ice Cream and I have a long-standing relationship.  But, I want to be there for my kids when I’m older so I remind myself what’s important in life.  Sir Arther Quiller-Couch’s advice was to “murder your darlings”, so here we go…

New Year, New Beginning

Sweets are my darling and it’s all or nothing.  Experience has shown that a little leads to a lot so I called it quits January 1st.  Now, let’s be honest, this wasn’t the first time.  I have gone without sweets for a year before.  My downfall was being too extreme and removing every tiny bit of sugar.  That’s harder to do than most people would think.  This year, I’m trying to find balance.  As long as the food was meant to be a whole food and not candy or desert, it’s fair game.  The occasional cafe mocha will not kill me.  That takes care of my largest source of weight gain, now what about weight loss?

Fasting, or the F word

To most, fasting is a bad word full of all manner of terror.  I won’t get into all the negatives here, suffice it to say, it’s baloney.  Fasting is the ONLY way your body can enter autophagy, the condition in which your cells create membranes that seek out dead and diseased cells and destroy them.  For me, fasting provides more energy, better skin, and clearer eyesight.  The best part is, it is now proven that working out in a fasted state increases both testosterone and growth hormone, the two hormones that begin to decline in our 40’s.  As a bonus, I find I feel stronger and better lifting weights after not eating for 22 hours.  Crazy, huh?

How I Fast

vegetables and tomatoes on cutting board
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There are a million ways to fast.  I have found over the years that I only see the results I’m looking for (weight loss and energy) if I fast for close to 24 hours.  My issue with previous fasting was how hungry I became at night, which often led to failure.  This year, I found a solution that is working well.  I begin my fast at the end of a work day after a small meal or large snack (usually around 4 P.M.).  I am less hungry at night and so far, haven’t had any issues.  In fact, I’ve found it easier to not have to think about food.  In the morning, I am so busy I don’t have a problem.  I take in lots of water and only start feeling munchy around 10:30 or 11 A.M.  By then, I only have to put off eating for another hour or so and I can go to the gym excited about the meal I will have when I return.

So How’s it Working?

It’s been two weeks today and color me impressed.  I’ve lost over seven pounds and gone up 10 lbs in my Bench Press and 15 lbs in my squats.  I think more clearly and feel more energetic.  I don’t expect the weight loss to keep the same pace but a slower, steadier loss is actually good for motivation.  So, have I found a solution that will work for me long term?  Let’s hope so.  I started last year with the theme of health over beauty.  I want to hike mountains in my 70’s, not be on the cover of a magazine.  So far, that focus and balance have served me well.

The Plan

Monday Fast morning, Gym 1-2pm, end fast
Tuesday Eat until 4pm, begin fast
Wednesday Gym 1-2pm, end fast
Thursday Eat until 4pm, begin fast
Friday Gym 1-2pm, end fast
Saturday Eat all day
Sunday Eat all day

Foods I cut out because I can’t control quantities: all sugary food and drinks
Foods I limit in quantity: bad carbs (bread, chips, pasta)
Foods I enjoy: Meat, Rice, Quinoa, Couscous, lots of veggies, fruit, almond butter, popcorn with coconut oil
Treats: Homemade trail mixes, my weekly bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and the occasional hot mocha!

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