You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you step on the scale, only to see those digits flash menacingly across the screen?
Yeah, I’ve had that feeling more often than I care to remember or admit this last year. Major UGH.
After baby number 2, I reached the highest weight I’ve ever been in my entire life. And let me tell you, I was miserable. Topping out at 211.6 pounds on my small 5’2” frame and heading into the holiday season, I felt completely defeated. Ready to throw in the towel and dive headfirst into a two-month-long binge, something major needed to happen.
Finally, I was revived one night after seeing a post on Pinterest encouraging people to find a word by which to live. I write about how I took the challenge here. This call to action turned out to be the beginning of the end for my steady weight gain. Once I had chosen my word, I was determined to apply it to my health.
Enter Intermittent Fasting
I’ve used intermittent fasting as a weight loss tool off and on since January of 2015 and am a firm believer in its health benefits, both mental and physical. However, it wasn’t until I became a member of a Facebook group called Delay, Don’t Deny: Intermittent Fasting Support and began living by the “law of the clean fast” (expertly explained in the book Delay, Don’t Deny by Gin Stephens available here) that I was finally able to see steady, significant, and motivating results in not just my weight loss, but my overall health. Within the first two months of my IF journey, following a protocol of 20:4 fasting (fasting 20 hours a day, and eating mindfully the other 4) and an occasional 36 to 48 hour fast, I was living proof that intermittent fasting works!
Finally, the numbers on the scale were dropping and my clothes weren’t suffocating me anytime I made it out of yoga pants. It felt amazing. But, beyond the weight, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I was experiencing some other amazing side effects from my new intermittent fasting lifestyle.
5 AWESOME Things I Experienced My First Two Months of Intermittent Fasting
#1: More Self-Confidence
This first side effect is one that I attribute mainly to my initial weight loss. However, I’m certain that part of this new confidence can also be attributed to what is happening inside my body during the fast itself. Now, I’m obviously no doctor and all of this is completely unsubstantiated beyond my own experiences, but when I enter into the fasted state, even now, after 5 + months of living this lifestyle, I just feel good. I feel more attractive, more capable, more in control. Whether it’s in my head or something actually taking place in my body, I don’t know for sure, but I definitely love this side effect of intermittent fasting.
#2: Increased Productivity
The next benefit is one with which I’ve always struggled. My girls, Teeny and Sweets, tend to wake up at alternating times each night, meaning I’ve spent the last three and a half years fighting chronic fatigue, relying much too heavily on caffeine and other stimulants in order to function throughout my day.
After about three weeks of intermittent fasting, however, I suddenly began to experience an increase in my energy in the middle of the day rather than needing a nap at 2 ‘o clock or popping a caffeine pill. What is more, my mental clarity skyrocketed and I found it so much easier, almost essential, to turn off Netflix and tackle my massive list of projects I’d been ignoring.
I no longer feel like a slave to my phone and am also enjoying my time with my girls so much more than before. I do have to note that I still struggle with fatigue and I’m sure that there is an underlying medical reason for this. But the degree of exhaustion I experience from a day to day basis has drastically decreased since I began fasting and I am so grateful for this change.
#3: Improved Self-control
Benefit number three, improved self-control, almost makes me emotional when I think about it. While I have never been formally diagnosed, I feel it is safe to admit that I have lived with what I consider to be a severe addiction to food throughout the last seven years or so. I’d go from feeling in complete control of myself to eating excessively large amounts of food and loathing my entire existence in a matter of minutes. I’ve often found myself hiding cookies and snacks so that my husband wouldn’t know that I’d eaten whole packages in disgustingly short periods of time. I was miserable and felt completely enslaved to my constant obsession over food.
With this in mind, as I was researching intermittent fasting, my first thoughts were of the overbearing urge to binge that I was sure to face if I was to implement it into my life. However, as I continued to read others’ personal success stories and learn more about the importance of the “clean fast” (which meant consuming only water during my fasting window since I do not drink coffee or tea), I was surprised and even excited to learn that many people had dealt with the same negative habits as I and had found relief through adopting an intermittent fasting lifestyle. This was the push I needed to take the leap, and I am so grateful I did.
Obviously, at first when I began the delaying part of intermittent fasting, I struggled with the mental fear of not being able to eat whenever, whatever, and however much I wanted. This did lead to a few unwelcome binges here and there in the beginning, but it wasn’t long before I began to recognize when a binge was building, at which point, I’d make a very conscious and calculated decision to break my fast with a relatively nutritious meal of something that I loved; and, more often than not, once I’d eaten my delicious meal, the cravings for crap food with which I was struggling were no longer overbearing and I was able to either eat a small “treat” or forgo the cravings completely. With all of this, my tendencies to fear the inevitable lack of food soon turned into stronger desires for quality food rather that massive quantities of junk.
Looking back on this transition from food addict to conscious eater, I am still surprised at how something so simple as delaying when I ate provided such a long-sought-after change. Now, as I live an intermittent fasting lifestyle, I no longer have a list of good and bad foods; rather, I live by the rule that I can eat whatever my body wants as long as I eat it in my feasting window and in moderation. So simple!
#4: Less Aches and Pains
So, I’m a pill popper. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. If I have any kind of ache or pain, I’m immediately thinking about an ibuprofen or acetaminophen fix in order to get it to go away as fast as possible (very low pain tolerance; aka: I’m a wuss). So, after a few weeks of intermittent fasting, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I’d gone almost a whole week without taking anything for any pain. And, for me, this was a big deal! Gone are the days of searing leg cramps, achy hips, and even tension headaches. My body feels younger than it did even when I was 20! I wonder if it has to do with the now 34 pounds I’ve lost….hmmm…
#5: Improved Family Habits
Before becoming mom, I promised myself to do everything in my power to teach my children how to have a positive body image. I was determined to raise them with a healthy relationship to food and an ability to know how to listen to their bodies. Except, I had one problem. How was I supposed to do all of this if I had no means of doing it for myself…?
Admittedly, my husband and I allowed too many sweets and not enough vegetables for the first few years of our children’s’ lives. But, when I started implementing intermittent fasting and eating less garbage food myself, naturally the foods my daughters were exposed to changed. I soon discovered that if they didn’t see me eating unhealthy amounts of junk, they didn’t think they needed to have it for themselves. Furthermore, this same principle rolled over to my husband because I was no longer enabling his sweet tooth. We now basically live by the rule of “out of sight; out of mind” and I am loving the difference.
And the family benefits haven’t stopped there. Beyond my own household, since starting IF just over 5 months ago, two of my sisters and one of my brothers-in-law have all adopted intermittent fasting and are having excellent success. It’s so exciting for me to see their progress and positive experiences from this amazing health hack. My mom and another sister (I have lots of sisters!) have also been asking questions and are considering the lifestyle for themselves. Intermittent fasting has definitely impacted our lives for the long haul.
Intermittent Fasting is a Lifestyle
The benefits I’ve experienced for myself because of my choice to intermittent fast have been enough for me to firmly decide that this is my lifestyle now. Gone are the days of quick fixes and fad diets. I am completely convinced that I will never go back to the “Standard American Diet” and this excites me! I look forward to sharing my continued journey through IF with you and cannot wait for the day that I get to post my own personal success story for the world to witness (I’m already half-way there! Yay!!!). Be sure to keep an eye out for it!
I strongly encourage anyone who has struggled with any or all of the issues I’ve mentioned above to take a serious look at the benefits of intermittent fasting. You’ll be seeing lots more from me on this topic. And, while this post has been more anecdotal than factual, I will do my best to be a factual source of information for my readers. Please, feel free to ask me any questions you might have. If I don’t know the answer, I will gladly take the time to find it for you.
Good luck in all you do.