What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent Fasting, or IF, is a fairly popular topic right now and comes in many forms. It’s either eating your calories within a condensed window, or restricting your calories for periods of time. For a thorough overview of IF, I suggest watching Dr. Sara Solomon’s video below.
Why did I experiment with IF?
While I have a slender figure, I dream of the coveted defined abs a la Tracy Anderson. Despite healthy eating and frequent exercise, I never could quite get there.
In my quest for information, I listened to The Chalene Show and her first interview was Melissa Mcallister, creator of the 8 Hour Abs Diet. What Melissa said blew my mind: she eats clean and works out, but she waits to eat her first meal until about 11:00 AM and consumes all her calories for the day within an 8-hour window. I was so perplexed – postponing breakfast was counter intuitive to everything I knew about nutrition, but I decided to give it a shot. I MISSED breakfast though. I hated those days that I was starving and forcing black coffee or hot water down my throat until 11, and doing this every day for the rest of my life was not feasible.
So I tried an alternative – The Fast Diet by Dr. Michael Mosley. The premise of this is for women to eat 500 calories 2 days per week and eat normally the other 5 (otherwise called 5:2). Starvation mode is a myth they say! IF has countless benefits beyond weight loss, including Alzheimer’s and cancer prevention! I gave it a concerted effort; determined to show off the abs I could feel under a layer of fat and benefit from the purported long-term rewards.
So what happened?
I went through months of hating fasting days and learning to suppress my hunger. On days I could eat, my appetite was significantly reduced. I could barely finish my afternoon snack of a Greek yogurt and an apple. And I didn’t lose a pound. While they say starvation mode is a myth, I certainly felt like my body clung to food on my eating days. If I had an event where I overindulged, I would immediately gain weight and it would SIT on my hips.
After trying continuously and making adjustments for 4 months, I asked myself if it was still worth it. I love food, I find pleasure in eating, and I was miserable in this experiment. Moreover, after 2 years of an intense MBA program, my standard way of eating (more on that in a future post) allowed me to maintain my figure despite high amounts of stress and little to no exercise. This had the opposite effect, and I decided to go back.
Where I am today
It took a remarkably long time to get my metabolism humming like it was before. While I occasionally have a complex love/hate relationship with food, I try to keep perspective.
As Bethenny Frankel says, “it’s just food. it’s neither your friend nor your enemy.” I learned to enjoy eating again, but I pay attention and recognize when I’ve had enough and what my food voice is telling me. I work on making peace with my body every day. Perhaps ripped abs are never in my future, but regardless I want to pursue self-improvement in a sustainable and loving way.
What about you? Have you ever experimented with a new diet and enjoyed or hated it?
Would you ever experiment with IF?