I have probably mentioned this before, but for the past… eight months or so my weight loss has been more or less stagnant. While I used to be able to follow my plan for at least a week or two before I cheated (more than I had planned, anyway), since New Year’s I’ve been lucky to be able to stay under the calorie limit for more than one day.
Last weekend I started researching Intermittent Fasting, and decided to give it a go. Basically you have an eating window of 8 hours a day; the remaining 16 hours you don’t eat anything (but you can drink coffee, tea or anything else without calories). For women it’s usually recommended to only fast for 14 hours. I’ve ended up on around 15 hours, which I find is a good compromise. There are a few variants out there, but I try to follow the principles of LeanGains.
I have to admit I was a bit hesitant before I started (Monday was the first day). I have both depression and endometriosis, and didn’t know how these would react to fasting. The depression is perhaps the biggest risk. So I am constantly monitoring how my body and mind responds to the fasting, and I have a back-up plan for how to adjust things if I run into problems.
Honestly, it’s been far beyond my expectations so far. My mood has been great, and apart from the last hour or so before lunch and about five minutes in the morning I haven’t felt hungry at all, really. The funniest thing is that I expected to be exhausted in the mornings, since I fast then, but instead I’ve become twice as efficient at work. Today, on my day off, I’ve tidied my apartment before I normally would even think of getting up, and tried fasted training (which went quite well).
The verdict so far:
- My all-too-common lethargy and slowness in the mornings have been replaced by energy and a drive to get things done.
- My mood is better than usual, and I haven’t had any symptoms of depression all week as far as I can remember.
- I’ve done running, Irish dancing, ballet, cycling and walking this week, and as far as I’ve noticed my performance is about the same as before I started, especially if you account for the fact that I was sick during the weekend.
- I feel FAR less stressed, simply because food and meals have become so much easier. Coming up with dinner/supper/lunch ideas that were lean enough, nutritious enough, filling enough was really stressful for me, and I found it hard to stick to any of my plans. Now I mostly need to worry about whether or not I want this or that for dinner, and to put in enough veggies. Which isn’t usually a problem.
- I expected troubles sleeping, since many women get that when fasting, but I haven’t had any problems. In fact, I ran out of antidepressiva yesterday (they are of a kind that helps me sleep, since that was one of my problems when I was diagnosed), and had to fall asleep “unaided” – and it wasn’t a problem. At all. I don’t feel the need to sleep the morning away as much either.
- I’ve hardly felt any urge to snack or overeat. I bought a small bag of chips today (didn’t even want the big ones – what has happened?) and on Monday, but it wasn’t out of a feeling that I HAD to. Once you’re “allowed” to eat it, it’s quite a bit less tempting.
- I’ve been well below my calorie limit ever since I started. Five days in a row and it wasn’t even hard this time!
Of course, some of this might be because I have been making sure to think about and do the right things so that my depression would not be triggered, but I don’t think it’s the whole story.
It’s also too early to tell whether or not this is something for me – I would have to stick to it for at least a month, I think – but I think it’s useful to evaluate along the way. It’s looking good, though, and I really, really, really hope it continues along the same lines.