*This post was really hard for me to write, so please be kind.*
I first heard of not eating after 8 pm to lose weight from a friend named Kaiti. I wondered what she was doing to look so fit (she looked as good if not better than she did before her 2 kids) and she told me that she and her husband had been not eating after 8 pm for the past couple of months. I decided that I was going to give it a try and so I did, but I kept wanting to lose more weight even faster. I had many, many lbs to lose so I would bump it down to like 6:30 pm every night. I was starving by the time I went to bed, usually around 11:30 pm. I was able to lose about 10 lbs that first month doing it this way, but then became pregnant with my third child and obviously had to stop dieting.
Fast forward to about six months after I gave birth, I was able to get most of the pregnancy weight off, but I was still really having a hard time getting the extra weight off. I had actually broken down and bought a brand new pair of pants(so I could finally get out of the maternity clothes) into what I consider to be “my super fat size” and I had to grunt to get into them. This kind of set me off, and I was determined to find a way to get the weight off without having to count calories, or points, or feel overly-restricted every single day. I refuse to count calories. Life is too short to have to worry about every little thing that I eat and then feel bad about myself if I go over. I needed to find some other way to cut myself off or know when to stop.
I remembered the 8 pm thing and thought that I’d give it another try. However, rather than rushing the weight loss by trying for an earlier time every day and feeling like I was starving the whole time, I decided that I needed to just do the standard 8 pm but that I’d need to set a goal. I don’t weigh myself anymore, another thing I find way too restrictive, so I couldn’t go off of pounds lost and had to figure out another way to measure my progress. I was actually looking at a very inspiring gif of a girl that lost 88 lbs over the course of a year and it hit me… “ok, this took her a year of consistent habit changes and she really didn’t show the most progress until the last half of the year”. I told myself. “I need to make a consistent change, for a significant amount of time.” That is really the only way to measure long term progress anyway. I decided that I owed it to myself to make this a healthy habit for six months and then re-evaluate when I got there.
I started not eating after 8 pm in November…just after the Halloween candy binge, but just in time to help me get through the rest of the holidays. I had some sweets, but not eating at night kept it in check from becoming out of control. I was actually pleasantly surprised to find that I was slimming down through Thanksgiving and Christmas but then I caught a snag in January (when I lost my grandpa and husbands uncle in the same week). My progress kind of halted because I was stress eating. I decided to cut sweets for a bit, but that began to feel too stressful so I stopped doing that and just kept myself in check a bit better. Well, here it is six months later and I am really excited that I am starting to get my hourglass figure back. Just looking at my pictures (and fitting in to clothes a couple sizes smaller) I can see my progress. Not to mention I’m starting to feel less self-conscious about my weight. That’s really all I want…to be comfortable in my own skin. I don’t ever want to be super skinny, I just want to feel healthy.
Not eating after 8 pm works for me because the end of the day is when I did the majority of my stress eating. This works for me because I ate my feelings, I’d have a hard day and then medicate with food. That’s when the kids are all in bed and I actually have time to worry about things. Since then, I’ve had to learn to deal with my problems rather than just eating them.
Things I noticed about the challenge:
- The first two or so weeks were the hardest for me. I had many, many years worth of bad habits to break, so it took some time to get used to not just eating out of boredom. Plus, I was a little hungry (but only at night) that first month.
- By week three, I noticed that I literally could not eat as much in a sitting as I could before. This makes sense because since I hadn’t done any binge eating (stretching my stomach) for a few weeks, my stomach had shrunk so I was getting full faster.
- By about week seven I noticed that I started getting these little bursts of energy and then that energy slowly became more consistent. I now have energy for pretty much the entire day.
- The hardest part was just being patient with myself. Don’t give up! Take it one day at a time and try not to think much past that.
Things to remember for success:
- Keep going…even if no one tells you you’re looking good. You’re not doing it for them, so it shouldn’t matter…do it for you!(this one’s been hard for me because no one has mentioned that I’m looking better…the hubs doesn’t count)
- Don’t use the excuse that “I’m not going to be eating tonight so I better stuff my face all day”. Learn to listen to your body and it will tell you when you’ve had enough.
- Don’t cram as much food into your face as you can that last hour of the day… you’ll survive, I promise.
- It’s ok to go to bed a little bit hungry. All I have to do is think about all the days that I went to bed completely stuffed to the point that I was hurting and it reminds me that I brought this on myself and need to stay in control of my body. I rarely do anything super productive that last hour that I’m awake anyway, so if I was really hungry (this was only the first month that this was an issue) I would just go to sleep.
My top reasons why I want to get my weight under control:
- Being fat hurts and makes you feel yucky! You’re body is not meant to be lugging around so much weight. I used to feel sick ALL THE TIME and was frequently at the Dr and all he wanted to do was medicate. I refuse to be on a prescription when the problem is self-inflicted. Plus, Dr visits get expensive fast. Over-eating is super pricey too! Think of it like over-filling your gas tank and just letting all that extra gas spill out all over the ground. That’s pretty much what we’re doing when we eat mass-loads of food, past the point that our bodies are full..what a waste of money.
- I want to feel like I am physically attractive for at least one year of my twenties. I got super fat the year I was 20 and I’ve only got another year and a half left until I am 30.
- I really got sick of people giving me that “yeah right” look when I’d talk about eating whole foods/clean eating. Just remember that just because I was eating healthy foods doesn’t mean that I knew how to portion control them. It certainly didn’t mean that I had all of my emotional eating in check either.
- Did you know that obese people, on average, live 10 years less than people that are fit? Holy shiz! What a waste! All because these people can’t master the bulge. I don’t know about you, but when I think of how many grand-kids or great-grandkids I could have in a 10 year time frame, that gives me some pretty good motivation! I want to see as much of my posterity as humanly possible.
- I need to set a good example for my girls. They’re going to be developing their own eating habits and if they see mom pound a tray of brownies, they are going to think that that behavior is ok. Also that that is what a correct portion size is…I can’t do that to them.
Before I set the goal and decided that it was going to work for me, I started paying attention to just how much I was eating after 8 pm. That was sure an eye opener. It was usually between 500 & 800 calories (minimum per night) and if it had been a particularly hard day that triggered a binge…probably like 3k+ calories…gag…I know! It’s really embarrassing, but people need to know just how much it all adds up. You don’t get fat in one day.
8 pm, the time, works for me because of how late I go to bed. Remember, I told you that I go to bed at around 11:30 pm most nights. Dr Oz suggests not eating at least 3 hours prior to bed… So basically, just determine your average bedtime and then stop eating at least 3 hours prior to that every night and that should do it. I do suggest having a firm time set though, it keeps you more accountable rather than telling yourself “oh, I just ate a ton of food…I better stay up three more hours so that I can say that I hit my goal for today”.
This experience has given me something invaluable. I finally feel like there may be a day that I’ll be able to buy a fitted dress and it’ll actually fit for more than a couple of weeks. I’m just about able to fit into my wedding dress again, and it didn’t fit a month after I got married.
Now that I’ve done this for six months (with only a handful of days with minor mess-ups+ a girls night), I am setting a new goal for three months and then I will re-evaluate again when I get there. Wish me luck!
Side-note: A little history of me and my struggle with weight management, it’s at the bottom because I realize most people don’t want that much back-story or were done reading a while ago:
I struggled a little with my weight as a teen, I was almost always within 10-20 lbs of a healthy weight for my height and build. Fast forward to a little after graduation, I moved to Washington state briefly, gained a bunch of weight because I was home-sick, moved home, the weight fell off and then I got married. I got in a really bad, 7+ year, funk starting a couple of weeks after I got married. I was so home-sick that I cried every single day for at least a year (I’m not exaggerating either, it was bad). Living in the city also gave me incredible anxiety. I can’t even fully describe it, but let’s just say that this country mouse was not meant to ever try to become a city mouse. That is when my weight got so out of control and I have struggled with it really hard ever since. I became what I call “one of the living dead”. So un-happy and lost in my own problems that I was basically just a zombie…a very fat zombie. I couldn’t see a way out of my problems so, I guess I just tried to eat them. Before I knew what had happened, I had become, by definition, a binge eater. My level of self-consciousness was off the charts too, I wore a sweater everywhere and everyday trying to hide myself. Only now can I see that it was an adult security blanket. I even missed out on weddings, family reunions, and keeping in touch with friends because I was that insecure about myself. I’d say that I was just one step less self-conscious than the mom off of “Hairspray” that doesn’t leave her house for like ten years because she was ashamed of her weight.