How you got to where you were at weight/health-wise
A combination of ceasing to have my teenage metabolism alongside not being force to exercise (and discovering beer!) meant I’ve been some form of overweight all my adult life. But as I got older the weight just crept on and on as the years went by, as well as the having my two gorgeous kids. By the time I started, I had a BMI of nearly 35 and a pelvis that just couldn’t support me anymore.
What you have tried in the past to lose weight/get healthy? Why didn’t it work for you?
I’d not tried much! Mainly I tried to control things with exercise but it never lasted. I was very successful with low GI, but ultimately it failed when I ceased to be in control of cooking (that’s back now thankfully!).
How did you find out about fasting?
I had been reading an article on something completely unrelated on the internet and there was a link on the side to a Daily Mail article on fasting for weight loss. I read it but put it to the back of my mind. I was pregnant at the time so had no intention of dieting then anyway. I knew nothing of the benefits other than weight loss, nor did I realise there had been a documentary on it.
What appealed to you about it and made you decide to start it?
My pelvis kept giving out. For the first few months of my youngest child’s life I was fine, but as he got older carrying him added to the strain. Every few weeks it would ping out and spasm the rest of my back. Months of being on and off with strong painkillers only added to my weight. I woke up one morning and thought I can’t keep doing this, I have to do something to help myself. Somewhere from the back of my mind the article resurfaced and I thought ‘hey, you can do this’, it was what I’d do if I had a dodgy tummy anyway but at least I’d get to eat something, albeit a small amount.
What did you want to achieve?
Weight loss, pure and simple!
Did you have a particular timescale in mind or other motivations (eg forthcoming events, a health scare etc)?
I didn’t have any plan in mind, I just wanted to lose the weight to help with my pelvis issues. I figured I had 5.5 stone to lose at least and that wasn’t going to be quick. Plus I also wanted to find some way of making it stay off.
How were your early fasting experiences?
My first fast I was clueless, I’d just flung myself in. I had no clue about the calorie count of anything. I think I ended up around 400 calories that day just because I was underplaying things. Quickly I realised pre-planning was the key, and I also realised that for me I was best waiting until the evening meal to eat my calories as anything before set the hunger monster off madly. I definitely had a few hangry moments and would get tired easier, and then struggled a little to sleep. It wasn’t easy at the start, but it wasn’t so hard that I wanted to stop trying.
What were your early results like?
Scary! I lost 5lbs in the first week and did so for the next month. It slowed down month by month, but it flew off.
Your Fasting Journey
What did you do which made fasting sustainable for you?
I try to have special treats reserved for fasting days, something I wouldn’t normally have on a non fast day. Something silly like a special coffee. I also calorie counted on non fast days to make sure I wasn’t over eating on them (not to a reduced level, to my TDEE whatever it was at the time). The counting at all times suited me, and taught me a lot about food and my eating patterns I hadn’t realised on my own. Its lead to a general overhaul of my diet, small piece by small piece. And that in itself helped me find more sustaining and enjoyable foods to use my fast day calories on.
What do you like/dislike about it?
There are still odd days that are harder than others, but generally there’s nothing I dislike now I’m in the swing of it. It makes me feel like I’m giving my system a little cleanout.
How did the loss/health benefits progress?
The weight flew off, which helped my dodgy pelvis out very quickly. Once that improved I came off the painkillers, and started slowly to add exercise into my daily life. More weight came off, my pelvis improved, I could do more and more. And this carried on. I’ve gone from a lady who could barely walk to the local shops and a BMI of nearly 35 to a lady who walks everywhere, exercises several times a week and has a BMI of 20. I also suffer with pernicious anaemia and a lovely side effect of this has been that my B12 levels are staying higher for longer which means I’m not exhausted for most of the time.
When did people start to notice the changes in you?
After a few months. I think I had lost a couple of stone before I got comments from people who didn’t know I was trying to lose weight.
When did you reach your goal?
I reached my goal after about 6 months (nothing to sniff at given it was 5.5 stone I’d lost). However I’ve since slowly dropped a bit more weight that wasn’t planned but was a side effect of trying to get a maintenance plan in place for myself!
How did you feel about reaching your goal?
Phenomenal. I looked good, I felt good and most importantly I knew I finally had a tool to keep the weight off.
Did you find it easy/hard, fast/slow?
I would say very easy but then I’d be ignoring the harder days. The harder days don’t just come on fast days either, there are non fast days where there is no off switch to the hunger. Those are the hardest and most frustrating days for me! But its difficult to say its anywhere near hard when on most days of the week nothing is off limits and you’re still losing weight. Definitely it was fast though.
Your Fasting Future
Have you considered how you plan to maintain? (or are you currently maintaining, and if so, how?)
I am currently maintaining but it took me almost as long to hit a workable plan as I did to lose the weight in the first place! Like with fasting itself the different ways you can do this gives so many options. I wanted to stick to two fasts a week, except I upped the limit to 1000 calories. But I still lost weight. I tried 6:1 but found I didn’t feel as good in myself or with food. I then tried one fast day with no calorie limit and one with a 1000 limit, but still lost weight. And I lost weight still with two fast days with no calorie limit! Eventually I’ve hit on weighing myself on a fast day morning. If I’m within a weight zone I will skip breakfast, over the zone I also skip lunch and on the rare occasions I am under the zone I don’t skip anything.
Will you keep fasting in some form or have your eating habits changed in other ways to help you maintain?
While I don’t fast properly any more (its more skipping meals occasionally!), I can’t see myself stopping this. I don’t want weight to start creeping back on, I can’t go back to the pain I had before. However fasting and calorie counting in general has taught me so much that my eating and drinking habits are completely different and so much healthier. I rarely snack, and if I do its on something healthier and sustaining. I eat vegetables regularly and in decent quantity which I always knew I should but its taken this shake up to do it – my kids will never again see me not eating vegetables (even the ones I don’t like so much). I am not scared of trying new foods anymore. With drinking too, there’s been a natural cut down – I still enjoy a good night out every now and then but I’m consuming nothing like my old levels.
Have you hit any bumps in the road while maintaining – i.e. continued unwanted weight loss, unexpected gains etc?
I am one of those annoying people who couldn’t stop losing weight. It was a struggle but I got there. Your Top Tip! If you could give a new faster just one piece of advice based on your experience, what would it be? Start simple – eat normally but sensibly on non fast days, and have 500 calories on non fast days. See what that brings you. There are many many ways to tweak this, but there’s no point in tweaking if you don’t need it! Plus simple starting will help you find how fasting works best for you.
Fasting in a Nutshell
Health, happiness, control and lack of fear around food!