Intermittent fasting explained by someone that has battled binge eating disorder, as well as successfully maintained over 100 pounds of weight loss (for years). Join Sarah in the 6th post in her free extreme weight loss series, as she dives into the in’s and out’s of intermittent fasting so that you can decide if it is realistic and right for you for long term weight loss.
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What does it mean to intermittent fast?
“Intermittent fasting” is just a fancy way of saying that you are taking a break from eating for a certain time-frame.That’s really all it is…in the simplest of explanations that I can come up with. I like to think of it as just a strategic extension of what we are already doing when we wake up in the morning and have “break-fast”…literally breaking our fast from the night before. Easy enough, right?
Is intermittent fasting just starving yourself?
Before I dive into all of my tips and tricks, and basically just anything helpful that I have learned about intermittent fasting…I thought that I should explain what it is in the first place because as I have been talking to people about it, there seems to be a common misconception that it is just “starving yourself” and I am here to tell you that is 100 percent not true.
You are you not starving yourself when you’re intermittent fasting, unless you are doing it wrong…Since I started intermittent fasting, it has done nothing more than help me develop some self control (which, let’s face it, we all need to learn) as well as it has helped me reach and maintain my over 100 lbs of weight loss…and that is even while battling binge eating disorder, so I think that says something about intermittent fasting being a good tool to have in your arsenal to help you get fit and stay fit, if I tell you that it’s something you should at least try (given my experience).
The reason that I say that intermittent fasting is not “starving yourself” is because you still need to eat your daily calories and can easily choose whether you want to gain, lose, or maintain your weight (if you don’t know how to do that I suggest giving my post “How to understand fitness in general” a read, because I explain how it all works in the best way that I know how).
Will intermittent fasting work for me?
The thing is, that if you think about your eating, and are strategic about it (by intermittent fasting), you can easily achieve the body of your dreams with just a few adjustments. I have discovered that Intermittent fasting works particularly well for me because when I sat down and really thought about when I gained all of my weight, or when I did the bulk of my binge eating (you can read about how I kicked binge eating disorders butt, here) … you better believe that it was at the end of the day when the house was quiet and I finally had time to sit with all the thoughts of my struggles, trauma, and demons… and I turned to food to ease my suffering… and I think that is very common for a lot of people.
Once I had finally escaped a very toxic relationship situation, left Mormonism, and dealt with all of my emotional baggage (I also talked about that in the previously mentioned post about overcoming binge eating disorder because most eating disorders are all in your head)… I still had to retrain my brain and develop new habits so that I wasn’t just eating for the sake of having something that “felt good” for a few minutes.
I had to think long-term about the effects of my “stress-eating” and I took a good hard look in the mirror knowing that I was miserable and self-conscious and I needed to make some changes or I would continue down that sucky humiliating road.
So, if you too do the bulk of your unhealthy eating in the quiet hours, when you’re alone with your feelings…intermittent fasting could very well be the best thing that has ever happened to you.
How do I start intermittent fasting?
I had to take some major baby steps to ease my way into the habit of fasting every night…in fact, my eating habits were so bad that I had to start off by telling myself “no eating for 30 minutes before bed”… (no eating means zero calories…you can still drink water) and I had to force myself to not think about every single delicious snack that was lurking in the cupboards, and pantry, and deep freeze…or even what delectable thing I could go and bake (I’m addicted to baking, so this was HARD).
Once I had mastered “not eating for 30 minutes before bed” (it took a couple of weeks)… I soon expanded it from thirty minutes to one hour… then every couple of weeks I added to that time…until I was at my desired amount of time that I wanted to “not be eating” every day.
Just like breaking any habit, it’s smart to replace a bad habit with a good habit…or rather just to keep yourself busy enough so that you don’t have time to turn back to your old bad ways… for me, I like to do things that calm me down and prepare me for bedtime and so that I’m not an anxious mess (which will lead to binge eating if I don’t keep my anxiety levels low)… so I would either go on a walk, do some gardening, watch a funny show/movie, or just plain spend some quality time with my kids… but reading a good book or taking a nice hot bath would do the trick too.
How long should I intermittent fast for?
You are the only person that can determine how much time you want to intermittent fast each day… because you need to be listening to your own body and its needs as well as we all have a different living/working/and eating schedule in general (if you need to baby-step your way into it, I suggest reading my post about the benefits of not eating at night first).
I recommend starting at 8 hours (which you should be asleep for the bulk of that anyway) and then build on that eight hours until you find what I call the “intermittent fasting sweet spot”…
That sweet spot for me is fourteen hours of fasting with a ten hour eating window… it’s my sweet spot because if I go any longer than that I eat like a horse and ruin all of my progress from the day before…. as well as only having a ten hour eating window helps me stay within my daily caloric intake goal because I’m a busy woman… between running a small business, raising four kids by myself, and the time I spend working out… there are some days that I literally can’t eat enough to gain weight within that window of time.
That’s why intermittent fasting works so well for me… it allows me to eat the way that I feel like I need to because I am listening to my body and feel satisfied for those hours that I’m up and moving… but it gives me a natural “cut-off” time so that I am not grazing and getting fat well into the night like I used to.
That’s really what intermittent fasting is all about… it’s like your own personal food/eating shut-off valve that you have total control over once you have developed the habit… it has given me so much peace of mind it’s not even funny…and it really helps me know that if I just continue to stick to my healthy habits, I won’t get obese again…ever in this life!
Why am I not losing weight with intermittent fasting?
If you’re not losing weight with intermittent fasting, there’s a very high chance that it just means that you’re eating too much during your eating window (barring any medical problems that could be causing it).
If you didn’t read my post about how to understand fitness in general, you may not realize that intermittent fasting does not mean that you just get an eating free-for-all during your eating window… each day your body is doing a math equation and if you eat more than your math equation you gain weight…if you eat less than that number you lose weight, and if you eat that same number you will maintain your weight.
Intermittent fasting is just a tool that will easily help you stay within your caloric intake goals…and if you refuse to count calories, but are still gaining weight while intermittent fasting… the only advice I can give you is to try to drink your gallon of water per day, make sure that you’re getting enough lean protein, fiber, and whole grains (all of which make you feel much more full)… and do your best to try to move your body as much as possible throughout the day and those little changes should help you get back on track.
If you do want to take more control of your eating I strongly suggest you start fitness journaling…it’s literally the only thing that keeps me on track with my daily goals.
When to work out with intermittent fasting
Remember how I said that you can be strategic about how you intermittent fast? I wasn’t just talking about cutting down the window of time each day that you are eating… I was also talking about this cool little trick that I learned that helps your workouts dip directly into, and use up your fat stores.
So, I learned that when you are fasting it takes 8-12 hours of fasting for your body to start using up your fat stores for fuel… this is handy to know so that you can plan your heaviest workouts during any time past the 8-12 hour mark of your fast so that the workout is directly using up your fat stores.
This means, that yes, almost any time that I am strength training, you better believe that it is right before my 14 hour window is over so that as soon as I am done I can load up on a protein-filled and nutritious breakfast… I have seen many body builders that do the same thing, by being strategic about when their workouts are vs when their eating window starts…and if it’s something that you can fit into your schedule, I highly recommend it to help you get lean faster.
*Keep in mind that I do not have any blood-sugar regulating issues, so those of you that are worried about starting anything new with your diet or exercise (especially something that I have suggested) please make sure to run it past your DR or Nutritionist first as I am nearly completely self-taught when it comes to fitness, no matter how great my results have been.*
How to succeed at intermittent fasting for long term weight/fat loss
Once you have gotten into the habit of fasting…it’s all about reminding yourself that YOU ARE WORTH THE EFFORT to continue with your healthy habits.
There are times that I fall off the wagon (typically like once every ten days or more often if my stress/anxiety levels are too high)… but I just keep reminding myself about all the hard work that I have put in to be healthy, that I love myself enough to make my health a priority, and that I never want to go back to my previous life that was riddled with humiliating situations because I was morbidly obese and people are down-right cruel sometimes.
Telling myself that I can do it and that I can succeed, and that I can take care of my body by just taking it a day at a time allows me to pick myself back up when I fall and to fairly easily get back on track with my goals and my promise to myself to keep pushing, and keep on loving myself.
I’m just sayin’ that those positive self-affirmations go a very long way and you just gotta keep reminding yourself about why you need to keep at it. I look back at myself a couple of years ago and every single day I am beyond thankful for the choice that I made to get fit…and you won’t regret that decision either!
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*This post was originally published to this website on January 28th 2022, and has been/will be periodically update to improve user experience, share-ability on the social medias, as well as to remain as up to date and knowledgeable as possible.