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My Year Of Intermittent Fasting

On January 30th, 2018, I took a step that would change my life. 




I began Intermittent Fasting.

I've talked before about how I discovered Intermittent Fasting (IF) and why I started this journey, but even then, I never would've thought that one year later, it would have changed my life in such an enormous way and that I would show no signs of ever going back to how I was before.

It's not only that I've lost weight, (22 lbs to be exact and going strong), but the change I speak of is my relationship with food and my body.

Before adopting an IF lifestyle, I struggled, much like many do, with feeling guilty for eating the "wrong" things and for feeling like I had no control over my body or my life.

I was speaking with a friend recently who was curious about fasting and in that conversation, I was reminded of my past weight gain, subsequent diets and, most notably, subsequent failures. 

After a tough time in my life, and a bout with depression, I had lost a substantial amount of weight in an extremely short amount of time due to complete loss of appetite. Weight that, at the time, I really couldn't afford to lose. 

I was the "skinniest" I'd ever been in my adult life. None of my clothes fit. It wasn't a weight loss to be celebrated and that fact was constantly reinforced by the looks on the faces of those closest to me every time they'd see me in something form fitting, not to mention swim wear. They were worried and scared about my physical and mental state. I was, too.

Thankfully, with the help of counseling and my support system, I worked through things and eventually my appetite came back. 

However, looking back, it's clear that I over corrected a bit, as I was consuming just about everything, telling myself I was celebrating the fact that I actually wanted to eat again. Pair that with a job that had me sitting all the time in front of a computer, long hours and stress, and I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Eventually, not only had I gained all of my weight back, I also added some extra. None of my clothes fit again, but this time for a very different reason.

It was time to do something. 

This sparked my foray into fad diets, "magic" pills, giving up my favorite foods and failing at all of them. Actually, they all worked to a point, but eventually either my will power or my bank account hit its limit and it was on to the next thing. They just weren't personally sustainable.

With every set back, my self esteem took a hit. With every gram of sugar or carb I consumed, I felt guilty and would usually fall down a rabbit hole of either self-indulgence or self-pity.

In January of 2018, I was at my all time heaviest. I was tired and stressed from working long hours and would come home with no energy to cook, much less work out. I didn't recognize my body anymore and, while my mental state had come a long way since those dark days of depression almost a decade earlier, I wasn't fully happy with myself.

I embraced more flowy and structured clothing in order to hide my body as best I could. Living in a college town populated with cute, little 20-somethings and working in the entertainment industry didn't exactly help my outlook. 

It was hard not to compare myself to the beautiful and fit women I was constantly surrounded by and avoiding getting my picture taken at events (especially ones that would then be shared on social media and within my industry) was dang near impossible.

I decided that I would try once more to get myself on track and if I couldn't find a program that worked for me, I would focus on learning to love my body the way it now was and the way it seemed it eventually would be. I would accept the fact that I would just be larger than I was used to and would still have a happy, full life...I just maybe wouldn't appear in as many pictures.

Enter my good friend, Sheri. Ironically, I had met her years prior thanks to my industry and we stayed in touch through all the years, relationships and multiple-state-moves for both of us.

I had been noticing her posts for quite a while about this weird thing she was doing called Intermittent Fasting. My initial thoughts were along the lines of a lot of people when they first hear about it. "Going without food??!! No thank you."

After all, I had heard the food rules for so long, "Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." "Three balanced meals are a necessity." "Eat every two to three hours to keep your metabolism up!" "Calories in must be less than calories out." I could keep going, but I'm pretty sure you've heard all of it, too.

In fact, I was so inundated with health rules and advice, I don't think I really even knew which end was up anymore.

I decided I NEEDED to find out more. So, I messaged her and prayed she wasn't going to try to sell me another quick weight loss program. 

Soon after, I received what she called the "cliff's notes" version of Intermittent Fasting. It wasn't a marketing scheme. It didn't involve supplements. It had an amazing amount of research behind it and it was simple (and FREEEEEE)! In fact, she referred to it as "eating simplified," which, after a year of practicing, I can now confidently say is a perfect description.

She had been on it for two years and even made sure I knew that this wasn't a "fast weight loss" plan and there was a chance I might even gain weight at first as that had happened to her, but overall, it was a program that was really working for her and to let her know if I had any questions.

By this point in the day, I had yet to eat anything  even though I had my trusty, usual breakfast of hard boiled eggs waiting (easy to eat while working and gotta keep that metabolism up! 😉). I put the eggs in the fridge as a backup snack to protect my coworkers in case I went full-on hangry mode and started my IF journey.

It was a little rough, but I made it through day one. Day two was a bit rougher, but I powered through. Then I did the same with day three...and four...and five. All of a sudden, I was a week in and while I had dealt with some hangry moments (and possibly some beginning of eating window binges), I was doing alright. Actually, better than alright.

I was already seeing a little bit of weight loss, but the biggest thing I noticed was that I didn't want to stop. This had never happened with anything else I'd ever tried.

It wasn't even determination, I just had no desire to go back to the three meals a day. It was like everything clicked and I finally figured out the secret to what my body had been looking for.

Whenever friends and coworkers brought goodies to the office (which happened a LOT), I no longer had to politely refuse or choose to eat whatever sugary delight was before me while internally berating myself for lack of will power. Instead, I got to say "I'll take one for the road" or "Looks amazing. I can't have one right now, but I'll definitely have one later," and then I did! I got to eat my favorite foods and sugar and CARBS!! I even still got to have my wine.

(Although, I do have to be careful not to open my eating window with it in mixed company...losing tolerance can definitely be a thing with IF).

Over the past year, all of that has remained true and I discovered a few more things, like I no longer have food guilt.

If I have pasta or a cookie (or four), I simply enjoy the experience now instead of beating myself up FOREVER afterward for deigning to be human and enjoying a baked good. 

I get to eat my cake AND enjoy it, too!

Also, I've become much more in-tune with my body. In the past, especially if I was over-hungry, I'd binge at the first sight of food, then have to deal with the "I ate too much" discomfort and bloating. Now, I reserve the IATM for special holidays only, and even then, it's extremely rare. 

This phenomenon is what the experts call "Appetite Correction," or AC, another amazing side effect of IF, and it's a godsend. 

In step with the whole being in-tune with my body and not overeating attribute is the fact that I know when I'm actually hungry now. 

Before IF, I couldn't usually tell if I was actually hungry or just bored or thirsty. Now I am 100% sure of what's happening and when. I even have a pretty good beat on what type of food my body is craving. 

Sometimes I want carbs. Sometimes sweets. Usually, I want a balanced meal of whole foods.

I'm sure I could go on about how much and what I love about IF, but what my biggest takeaway and what this all really comes down to is that I feel in control for the first time in a very long time.

I'm no longer playing what I like to call "diet roulette" and attempting to weed through all of the cross information out there. 

I'm also no longer sitting helplessly by while the scale creeps up or my clothes no longer fit right.

Yes, I've had weight fluctuations and plateaus and extended windows and all of that, but I have not once felt out of control in the past year. I have not once felt guilty for enjoying myself or my time with my loved ones. I have not regretted or fretted over any pound or inch regained because of living my life. 

In the past while trying to lose weight, gaining back what I'd already lost would've sent me into a tail spin. Now, when I gained almost six pounds back over Christmas, I didn't bat an eye. 

I knew there would be a bit of fallout over being so lax with my windows, but most importantly, I knew I could lose it again. I knew that I had a system in place and I had no reason to worry about any of it. And I was right.

Less than two weeks of being back on my fasting and feasting times, and I was back to my pre-Christmas weight. No fuss. 

In the end, what I have gained through the practice of IF far exceeds what I have lost. I have regained my confidence, willpower and self respect. I have helped others begin their journies to the same. I have strengthened old friendships and created new bonds. I am forever thankful for this way of life and what it has given back to me.

This year has profoundly and forever changed me and I ain't done yet,

Carly

PS~ As always, if you'd like to know more about Intermittent Fasting and the many, many, many benefits that I haven't even touched on in this post, feel free to reach out to me by leaving a comment or emailing me right here or check out the Resources page for all the great literature from those more well-versed than I.

Take care.



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