Years ago in my twenties I managed to lose a large amount of weight – through daily calorie restriction and some pretty bad eating habits as a result of a controlling and unpleasant relationship. When the relationship broke down and I found a new man I was happy again and felt free to eat as I wanted to. I kept the weight down to a reasonable – albeit still slightly overweight – level until we got married and from that point on I got into the marriage comfort zone and stopped weighing myself. For me, this is a fatal mistake in terms of weight as the scales helped keep me in check. In the past the lazy me would have gone on to meal replacements for a while until I got fed up of them, then to the daily grind of calorie restriction, which never lasted more than a year at best.
I happened to be on the BBC News website in mid 2012 when I spotted an article about fasting for weight loss, it was promoting the then-forthcoming documentary “Eat, Fast and Live Longer” with Dr Michael Mosley. I read it and couldn’t wait for the documentary to air! When it did it was like a revelation, it seemed so simple and ideal for someone who loves food like I do! At this stage it wasn’t being marketed as a diet – there were no 5:2 books and IF wasn’t mainstream at all. I just decided to try it – what harm could it do? It all seemed to go well for the good doctor and I had nothing to lose but weight! I decided to start a few days later.
All I really wanted was to get back down to the weight I knew I could relatively easily maintain – my average ‘good’ weight from my younger years. Around 65kg to be precise, although if I could get to just under 60kg again I’d be delighted. Along the way I have learned to embrace and celebrate every little goal – measuring in imperial and metric to make the most of feeling the achievements such as new numbers on the scales in either format and measuring my waist, body fat and BMI.
My early fasts were difficult, I won’t lie. But, I’m nothing if not stubborn (or should I say “determined?”) and got through them with a fair amount of willpower and at least as much water! The first fast was not well planned at all, with a main meal at lunch time and very few calories left for tea. I soon discovered it was easier to save all my calories for dinner time, or at least the lion’s share. Unfortunately in those early days I hated the numbers on the scales so much (despite the fact that they were going down) that I didn’t start logging my losses until some time later. I do recall that I lost my first stone in about 6 weeks – and that was without any deliberate changes to my feed day eating habits. My appetite and ability to eat large meals decreased naturally from the smaller fasting meals.
Your Fasting Journey
As with so many of my fellow fasters I have adjusted the method to suit my life and that is what has made it most sustainable for me. I have a single meal on a fast day in the evening, giving me about a 24 hour fast and a really satisfying meal. I don’t allow myself to obsess over small discrepancies in calories like I did in the early days. If it’s 550 calories it’s not going to wreck everything and cause me to gain 3 stone! I really love the control this has given me over food and the way I understand my own sense of hunger, what affects it and how my weight fluctuates. The support from everyone at the FastDay Forum has been so helpful to me and I’ve learned so much from our resident nerds. I really feel equipped to manage my eating for life now. I love fasting, but I also still love food, and both seem to work well together.
The weight loss may have slowed down as the months went by, even hitting a plateau for a while, but with the aid of my fellow fasters and armed with new knowledge and understanding I continued to lose weight until I fell just below my 65kg goal. My asthma improved drastically, my skin looks worlds better, my eczema has improved and overall I find myself much healthier – I have had so few cold or flu bugs since fasting!
I reached my goal in early 2014 and was delighted but intended to carry on to try to drop a little more weight, to give me a bit of leeway if there should be an indulgent holiday or anything like that! Overall I’ve found it really easy and the initial faster losses were so encouraging that by the time it slowed down I didn’t mind because I was eating the foods I loved and losing weight instead of gaining as I always had in the past. Win!
Your Fasting Future
My plans for maintenance are to continue fasting 1-2 days a week, or to switch to a 16:8 feeding window method. Unfortunately due to an unexpected serious health scare this year (unrelated to fasting, I should add!) I am currently unable to fast – but can’t wait to get back to it. A feeding window is helping me not to regain an excessive amount of weight and I know the weight I have regained through my illness and medication will soon come off again when I am able to fast later this year.
Your Top Tip!
Planning, planning, planning! The key to a successful fast!
Fasting in a Nutshell
It’s been so unbelievably simple, but fasting has totally changed my life, my relationship with food and my size.