How you got to where you were at weight/health-wise
Last year, at 47, I had a wake-up call. One hot, humid night I was playing tennis and I started to feel funny in my throat. This was the same feeling my mother had reported 10 years ago just before having to have a triple heart bypass. So I was scared and got a doctor’s appointment right away. It turns out my heart was fine (phew), but I viewed the whole episode as a come-to-Jesus moment. I weighed in at 151 lbs. I told my doctor I was going to lose 20 pounds. He countered with 25.
I joined Weight Watchers the next day (for the fourth time in my life – never having made goal). In three weeks, after following the plan faithfully and tracking every morsel, I had lost 0.6/lb. When I expressed concern, shock, and dismay, my WW leader asked me if I had been exercising that week. I answered “yes,” and she replied that it was probably muscle mass. I called (can I use a bad word here?) BS on that right then and there and knew there was NO WAY that was the issue.
The next day, my sister told me about MM and the fasting “diet,” which she had heard about on National Public Radio. We both started the very next day. The day of my next WW meeting, I weighed myself on my home scale and had dropped 4.4 lbs. I never went back to WW and quit on the spot. BTW–we both bought the book and watched the program on the Internet and were both sold instantly.
How did you find out about fasting?
As mentioned above, my sister heard a segment on NPR and then we both bought the book and watched the Horizon program. It was compelling and intriguing.
What appealed to you about it and made you decide to start it?
I knew I needed to do something to get my health on track, and WW wasn’t working for me. So I decided to give fasting a month to see how it would work for me. I liked the idea of eating normally 5 days a week and fasting 2. That seemed like such an easy-to-maintain lifestyle.
What did you want to achieve?
My main goals were to lose 25 lbs and get healthier. The promise of anti-inflammatory effects, anti-ageing properties, and a possible decrease in dementia down the road were all also right up there with losing the weight.
Did you have a particular timescale in mind or other motivations (eg forthcoming events, a health scare etc)?
I hoped to lose the weight at the 1-lb a week clip. It has been substantially longer than that, but I don’t mind. I feel great and look good and know I am doing my body good.
How were your early fasting experiences?
My whole life, I was brainwashed to think I had to eat every 3–4 hours. When I was 18, I was diagnosed with low blood sugar, so I knew that I HAD to eat all the time. So I was a little nervous about fasting. I did clear it with my doctor beforehand, and he told me not to worry about my low blood sugar. He said not eating for a few hours was not going to kill me! Even so, I was very nervous starting out. The first 4 or so fasts, I was very spacey and confused. I think a lot of those feelings were probably due to anxiety and also probably due to my body detoxing. I also used to say, “The hunger is all mental!” After the first 4 or so fasts, that spacey feeling left and I haven’t had that feeling since. Also, at first I was very tired during the day and felt like I had little to no energy. That lack of energy also disappeared as I got more experienced with fasting.
I kept a journal for the first three months, tracking everything I ate and how I felt in addition to my weight and measurements. My sister, who got me on this path, was new to fasting, too, so we would email or text each other throughout the fast days, saying, “How are you feeling?” and giving out encouragement (which was great). At first, I was obsessed with food on a fast day. My journal has lots of notes in it like “I’m starving!” and “Only four more hours to go!” I weighed every morsel of food and obsessively checked calorie counts (quickly dismissing MM’s count in the back of the book in favor of My Fitness Pal or Google calorie counts). I would document how many calories were in each of my favorite foods for ease in tracking later.
Like many others, I had a hard time sleeping at night at first. My sleep was definitely disrupted.
At first, I did two small meals, a 200-calorie lunch and a 300-calorie dinner. Soon, I found this forum and discovered that it might actually be better and (weirdly) easier to eat only one meal a day, and save my 500 calories for dinner time. So, my sister and I tried it after about a month of fasting, and found, much to our surprise and delight, that it actually WAS easier to wait for 24 hours. Added bonuses were that it made sleeping easier at night because I was no longer hungry in the evening, and it made eating easier because 500 calories can be a lot if you eat well. Soon, I stopped obsessing over calories and just ate “well” on a fast night, knowing if I ate well (lean protein, leafy greens, minimal or NO refined carbs), it would be hard to go over 500 calories.
Additionally, at the same time I read MM’s book, I read a 1995 Joel Furhman book about fasting, and I became convinced that longer time periods with few to no calories might give you the most health benefits, which is why I have stuck to 24 hours (on my offical fast days….2 or 3 of the other days of the week I do 16/8’s).
What were your early results like?
The first week, I lost 4.4 lbs. The first ten pounds went pretty quickly, averaging 0.88/lb a week. The second ten have been much slower (now I am averaging 0.5/lb a week). I have experienced a few plateaus, which are frustrating. I have been in a long one which has lasted 3 months, but that also coincided with me starting perimenopause. Last week, in an effort to get the weight loss started again, I did a 4:3, and I lost weight for the first time in months!
Your Fasting Journey
What did you do which made fasting sustainable for you?
Discovering miso soup has been my biggest savior. I had a few episodes of tingling hands and low heart rate/blood pressure, and it was nerve-wracking. However, once I added electrolytes to my fast days, all of that shakiness has gone away. Now fasting is almost easy! Sure, I get hungry, but if I have a packet of miso soup, I feel better and it sates my hunger for several hours.
What do you like/dislike about it?
I love how easy it has been to lose weight. But, by far the best thing about it is how easy this lifestyle is to maintain. It has been 9 months and I have missed very, very few fasts. Remarkable. And even those months that I didn’t lose weight weren’t a total loss, because I maintained my weight! The other thing I love love love is that I eat well the other days and still lose or maintain weight!
I also like how fasting decreases your appetite and it also seems to give you a desire to eat more healthfully.
There’s not too much I don’t like, because it’s so flexible. And it has proven results.
How did the loss/health benefits progress?
I haven’t had my blood work done since starting, but will be very curious to see how my health indicators have changed. My sister saw some remarkable results, however, and the only thing that changed for her is that she is fasting.
When did people start to notice the changes in you?
People started noticing after I had lost about 10–15 lbs, and that makes it even better. Compliments are great motivators!
When did you reach your goal?
I have not yet reached my official goal, but am within 4 pounds of it, so I feel pretty darn happy about where I am so far.
Did you find it easy/hard, fast/slow?
While at times the weight loss has been a bit too slow for my liking, I am still pleased at the overall trend. And like I said above, if I wasn’t losing, at least I was maintaining (even despite starting perimenopause!), and that is a victory in itself.
Fasting is now pretty easy for me. Yes, some days are harder than others, but it’s just one day at a time. And I can always eat tomorrow.
Your Fasting Future
Have you considered how you plan to maintain? (or are you currently maintaining, and if so, how?)
I plan to continue fasting one day a week to reap the health benefits of fasting. I will also throw in 16/8’s or an additional fast day, as necessary.
Have you hit any bumps in the road while maintaining – i.e. continued unwanted weight loss, unexpected gains etc?
I hit a wall but am doing two weeks in a row of 4:3 to shake up the body.
Your Top Tip!
If you could give a new faster just one piece of advice based on your experience, what would it be?
If I can do it, anyone can! Don’t give up. This will absolutely change your life for the better if you can stick with it. And electrolytes/miso soup will make you feel better if you start to feel shaky or lightheaded.
Fasting in a Nutshell
Sum your experience up & ‘big-up’ fasting in around 25 words!
I look better than I have since before kids (16 years ago) and feel better than I ever have. I have more energy and feel so empowered by this lifestyle!