Did you know you could eat what you want and still lose weight?
Me either! Until I discovered Intermittent Fasting. Not only did it help me shift the pounds, it's now become a part of my lifestyle. I'll never have go on a diet ever again and can freely eat whatever I want - without feeling guilty.
PLEASE NOTE: I am not a doctor or a dietitian. The information I provide is based on my personal experience. Any recommendations I may make within this post should be discussed between you and your doctor before you commence any changes to your diet. The information you receive below does not take the place of professional medical advice.
I never even heard about intermittent fasting until I was in my 40s. For years we’ve been taught losing weight was a simple equation: Total calories consumed < Total calories burned. Every single diet I tried always emphasised this. Up until my discovery, the only way I knew to lose weight was to reduce my calorie intake and find ways to burn more calories.
At the start of my quest to improve my life, I followed the reduction of calorie rule. Filled with all the gusto and commitment to finally get on top of my weight, I downloaded a calorie counter app on my phone. I was building my discipline – counting calories, moving my body and seeing the results.
Yes, the science was right, but counting everything I ate began to take it’s toll. Refusing that glass of wine as I didn’t want to ‘drink’ my calorie allowance. Reducing the potion of my evening meal when I could’t resist the two extra chocolate biscuit’s at lunch. Everyday I was making a compromise.
“Nothing taste as good as skinny feels”
– Kate Moss
I had this quote as a wallpaper on my phone! It’s was my reminder to quell those hunger pangs which had me staring into the fridge or kitchen cupboards.
I was not about to let the excuse of this seasonal indulgence make all my hard work and sacrifice go to waste. As I search the web for how to stay on track when counting calories during the Christmas period, an interesting video popped up.
I’ll admit I was a little sceptical about the word ‘fasting’. After all, I wanted to eat more food not less!
But when The Health Nerd asked me: Do you want to lose weight? Energise your body? Boost your brain power? And live longer?
‘Hell yeah!” was my answer.
Who knew a 4 minute video was the catalyst to a brand new intermittent fasting lifestyle.
Following further research into intermittent fasting, I discovered so many other benefits that this method of eating could do to improve my overall health. Including:
- Balancing blood sugar and insulin levels
- Reducing inflammation in the body
- Cleaning and removing waste from cells
- Enhancing the immune system
- Improved sleep
- Increasing growth hormones to help build muscle and increase energy levels
Once I checked (and double checked), the safety of intermittent fasting from other sources, I decided I was going to try the daily 16:8 protocol. This required me to only eat within an 8 hour window each day. In my mind, this seemed doable. I’d be sleeping for a lot of those 16 hours so will not be thinking about food!
I never told anyone I was trying this new eating pattern. The word ‘fasting’ brings about all kinds of assumptions. I knew people would be all too willing to give me their opinion – I didn’t need that type of ‘help’ or judgement.
Anyway, the promise of not having to count calories and still lose weight was all the encouragement I needed. Besides, I already had my own problem from the beginning of my experiment without other people’s input!
The Most Important Meal of the Day
I wanted to following an eating window of 12pm – 8pm. This would enable me to not eat anything at least two hours before I went to bed. (Which I found out during my research was good for your digestive system.)
“But, what about breakfast?” My mum’s a nurse and since I’ve known myself I was told breakfast was the most important meal of the day. For over 40 year’s, I ate breakfast before I started my day. That would mean only eating between 7am – 3pm. No food when I got home from work until the next morning. Really?
“I love sleep because it’s like a time machine to breakfast” – Anonymous
I tried it for one day. Everything was good until I got home from work and had to cook dinner for the family – knowing I wasn’t meant to eat any of it. How the hell was I supposed to follow an 8 hour eating window if I ‘must’ eat breakfast in the morning? Needless to say, my 7am – 3pm eating window only lasted one day!
I continued to count my calories and workout whilst I tried to figure out a way to make my eight hour eating window work. It had to work! Intermittent fasting was promising more than just a weight loss tool. If I could just get over my breakfast dilemma!
It was by chance I happened to have a random conversation with a neighbour about his working shift, that it hit me. Breakfast does’t not have to be eaten in the way TV commercials advertise to us. In fact, the word itself means ‘To break the fast’. Which suggests; breakfast is anytime of the day when you have your first meal. It may be the most important meal of the day – but it doesn’t have to be eaten in the morning! Eureka!
My 40 year belief was shattered and I now had the freedom and confidence to chose my own time to break the fast.
I know I could not just jump into the routine of not have anything to eat until 12pm. Four decades of holding a belief is hard to undo. If I tried to rush the switch, it would work for a few days, even a week, but I would eventually go back to my old ways.
In order to start the migration from a 7am breakfast to a 12pm, I had to do it in stages. I waited until the first morning of my two week Christmas break and had my breakfast at 8am. My plan for the next consecutive days was to continue adding an hour each morning until I got to 12pm. It was struggle for my brain to compute that I was not going to starve to death by the time my eating window opened at 12pm. It took 8 days to get to my target. But I got there.
It wasn’t plain sailing after that either. There were mornings when I did eat half an hour or an hour before 12pm. But I did not get the same anxiety as I did with going over my calories whilst counting. I just know if I ate earlier, I would have to close my eating window earlier too.
About 3 weeks into following this way of eating, I wasn’t really tracking my calories. Now back at work after the Christmas break, my breakfast was actually my work lunch time. Instead of eating a traditional breakfast type of meal, I was having a full lunch to break my fast. I didn’t have to worry about fighting off the mid-morning urge to eat a biscuit – because 10.30am was not my eating window and more importantly, I would not starve by waiting a while longer! Once I ate my lunch at 12pm, I really only felt like a small snack before I finished work for the day.
It’s amazing how my brain made the switch. I didn’t feel food deprived because I knew as soon as my eating window was open I could eat exactly what I wanted. I just had to be patient. The funny thing is, all the things I wanted when I was counting the calories, I really didn’t crave any more!
By not craving them, I didn’t consume them and the weight continued to drop!
Who Knew You Could Eat What You Want?
It’s now been two years since I started my intermittent fasting lifestyle. I can’t see myself ever going back to eating in a different way. The weight continued to come off and I have also gained an improved sleeping pattern, higher energy levels and a better relationship with my food and body.
Realising ‘when‘ I ate was just as important to ‘what‘ I ate for my overall health, was the most liberating part of my whole journey. I am free from counting calories and love the freedom of eating what I want. But the strangest thing is, I no longer crave the sweet sugary comfort foods as before. I now tend to automatically make healthier food choices, as I want the nutritional value the food will bring to my overall health and vitality.