Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss
If you’ve heard of intermittent fasting but have yet to try it, you might be skeptical. I know I certainly was. But the benefits of intermittent fasting are still working on me now, over one year later. Read on to see my intermittent fasting results one year after trying it as a New Year’s resolution. Yes, I actually stuck with my New Year’s resolution, it’s that good!
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What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting has always been around to some degree, but it started to really become a thing in 2012. Since then, it’s become the latest “fad diet” that everyone and their dog is trying in some way, shape, or form. The basic principle is that you choose to eat all of your meals and calories for a small window of the day, and fast for the rest of it. This book really helped explain it to me and get me started on the right foot.
The most popular fasting window is the 16/8 window, where you fast for 16 hours and then eat for 8 hours. This usually looks like skipping breakfast and eating the rest of your meals like you normally would. For most busy people, this system works perfectly, because they probably don’t have time to eat breakfast in the morning anyway.
You can totally shift that eight hour window wherever you want based on your lifestyle. If you simply cannot function in the morning without eating something, just shift your eating window back a bit. Or if you’re a really big late-night snacker, you can shift your window further forward. It’s all about your personal preferences and your lifestyle.
You Can Make it Even More or Less Extreme
Some other variations of intermittent fasting include shortening the eating window even more, like a 20/4 window. Or some people will eat absolutely nothing for 24 hours a couple of days a week. These are way more extreme, and I don’t recommend them if you’re new to it. Definitely start with the basic 16/8 window and work your way up if you like.
You also don’t have to entirely skip a full meal, either! You just have shorter times between meals, and delay your first meal a bit to get the same effects. This is what I chose to do, simply because it’s what worked best for me and my body’s needs. Breakfast is important to me because I try to give my body it’s healthiest foods first thing, so I didn’t want to skip over it entirely.
Why Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
Simply cutting out one meal per day means you’re eating less, so you’ll consequently lose weight. But there’s actually much more to fasting than that. I didn’t skip a meal and I still reaped all the benefits!
Another amazing benefit of intermittent is that it balances your hormones. Insulin is an example of these hormones that balance themselves out when we fast. Our insulin levels go up when we eat, and having high insulin levels decreases our body’s ability to burn fat. Basically, all of the fat-burning hormones shoot up when we fast, making it much easier for our body to lose fat. (source)
With our hormones a little bit more in balance, our body doesn’t feel the need to snack all day. You’ll be hungry fro the right amount of food that your body needs. This benefit was huge for me, because I’m a very big snacker when I’m bored or stressed. Here’s how I structured my intermittent fasting schedule for my own needs and lifestyle:
My Intermittent Fasting Schedule
I went with the basic 16/8 window style, and chose to have my eating window from 11am to 7pm. It worked out very well with this schedule because I usually left for dance class at seven, so I would be done eating by that point in the day anyway.
I packed my breakfast and lunch for work, and there was no issue there at all with the added weight or hassle of an extra meal. Again, you can just skip breakfast entirely and not worry about it at all. But I knew that skipping a valuable meal like breakfast just wasn’t sustainable for me.
Intermittent Fasting Tips and Tricks
When I was working, it was usually pretty easy to stay distracted from my hunger pangs. But on the weekends, I usually had to get creative to keep myself distracted. I would usually throw myself into work on here at Essential Moves to Wellness, chat with my husband, or clean the house. Anything to keep my from fantasizing about food.
I will say that I never felt truly deprived while I waited for my eating window. I’ve tried more fad diets than I want to admit, so I know what real deprivation feels like. The hunger pangs usually came in waves that would last no more than five minutes or so, then I’d be fine.
Once I learned how to deal with these intervals of extreme hunger, everything was just fine. I never felt moody or lethargic from them, so I knew it was fine to deal with this for just a little bit of time. And you bet that once 11am hit, I was getting my breakfast no matter what! I also had a few more tricks up my sleeve to make it a breeze and keep my intermittent fasting results one year later.
Pack an Easy Breakfast
I can’t emphasize this one enough! Especially if you’ll be eating your first meal at work. You need something easy and nutritious that you can throw together before flying out the door. For me, this was a no brainer. I love smoothies for an easy breakfast, and it fit in with my intermittent fasting schedule perfectly!
The only thing I changed was I simply put the smoothie in a mason jar like this and pack it in my lunch bag. Or if you have a portable smoothie cup, that works too. I’m not very trusting of other containers to carry something like my smoothies, so a mason jar was the clear choice for me. I haven’t had any lunch box explosion incidents yet!
This is also great for an on-the-go kind of day. Say, if you’re going to an early day at the zoo, simply pack your mason jar smoothie to eat when 11am strikes. I’ve done this on hikes, shopping days, zoo/museum days, you name it! And being as hungry as you are, it will take no more than five minutes out of your day, or you can simply sip while you walk.
Always Eat a Healthy Food First
When I was first adjusting to this new schedule of eating, I would fantasize about all the foods I would eat when 11am came around. And most of them weren’t terribly healthy. This is where intermittent fasting can go wrong for someone. All that fasting can lead to binging, and we don’t want that.
My plan to get around this obstacle is to always eat a super healthy meal first, and if I’m still hungry after, I’ll allow myself to eat a bit more. That way, your body gets all the vitamins it needs first thing, and you’ll be less likely to binge on unhealthy stuff after. Usually, I would be completely satisfied with my healthy smoothie, so I didn’t feel the need to eat all that unhealthy stuff after all.
My favorite smoothie recipe is a handful of spinach for greens, mixed frozen fruit, a couple spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, a spoonful of almond butter to make it extra satisfying, then a scoop of protein powder all topped off with almond milk. The nutty flavor of the almond butter with the protein powder makes this smoothie a satisfying dream! And it lasts me a good three hours before I’m hungry again.
Plan, Plan, Plan!
Even on days you don’t have work or another engagement, always make sure that you have the right ingredients on hand for a quick and healthy breakfast. Or at least plan ahead so your breakfast is actually ready by 11am. You don’t want to be drooling over the stovetop while your breakfast fries well past 11am!
Yes, intermittent fasting involves some planning ahead, but it’s not super intense. I was able to do it, and I’m terrible at planning ahead on the fly. Just think about what you need to do that day. Are you going somewhere? Do you need to pack your breakfast? Should you start making your breakfast now? Or later? Little questions like that will get everything taken care of.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff!
Don’t create a negative mindset and be super strict! If you’re still eating your dinner at 7pm, don’t just cut yourself off. Keep eating until you’re done. Same goes for your morning meal. If it works with your work schedule to eat 15 minutes early, don’t sweat it! The hormone-balancing effects won’t magically stop if you’re a little bit off of your schedule.
And don’t be afraid to forego your eating window altogether! On family birthdays, my own birthday, or if the day is just too crazy to keep track, it’s okay to be a bit lenient. Not sticking to your eating window here and there won’t throw off your results, just like one cheat meal won’t throw you off. The last thing you want to do is cultivate a negative, limiting mindset that will destroy you down the line.
My Initial and Lasting Results
When I first started, I never would have dreamed of my intermittent fasting results one year later. I was probably the heaviest I’d been (or at least close to it, I was too scared to weigh myself), and I was showing signs of mild hypoglycemia. In other words, I couldn’t go for more than two or three hours without becoming “hangry.”
I tried the 16/8 rule without easing myself into it, and I felt perfectly fine. Almost immediately, my mood did a complete 180! I could go longer between meals, and the “hanger” basically disappeared! My husband, who was equally skeptical at first, was elated that he didn’t have to deal the the “hangry” me anymore haha.
I decided to measure myself a few weeks later and compare the measurements to some notes I had taken a month or two before. Lo and behold, I lost three inches around my waist! I could feel a difference too. I felt lighter and had more energy, and I wasn’t snacking as much anymore, either. For the first time in over five years, I had finally lost a substantial amount of weight!
Final Thoughts on My Intermittent Fasting Results One Year Later
This was by far one of the best New Year’s resolutions I’ve ever done. It’s also the first resolution I’ve ever kept! It’s made such a positive impact on my life that it was a no-brainer to keep going. I know that you may be feeling a bit skeptical of my intermittent fasting results one year later, but I promise that it could work for you.
That’s not to say it’s for everyone. It won’t work properly for every person, and that’s okay. I’ve recently had to stop intermittent fasting by the direction of my doctor while we work to balance and heal my hormones that should have been worked on years ago. I’ll admit that I miss it a lot, but I haven’t become as “hangry” as I thought I would.
Give intermittent fasting a try for a week or two, and see how you feel! You may be surprised at how beneficial it is to not only your weight loss, but to your mood and overall well-being. Just having my mood improve was huge, so I saw no point in stopping. I hope to keep going with it again once I get the okay from my doctor.
Would you try intermittent fasting? Or do you do it already? How has it changed your life? Let me know in the comments below!
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