For the next few weeks, I’m going to document my return to intermittent fasting (IF) and provide more specific details of how it’s working for me.
I decided to kick-off 2019 with a few weeks of intensive IF to eliminate the 10+ pounds I gained when I added gluten back into my diet about 18 months ago. I say + because I probably added a couple of more pounds in December 2018, due to an unusual (for me) month of “bad carb” consumption.
My Introduction to Intermittent Fasting
I accidentally discovered the practice of intermittent fasting around 2014-15. I think my first awareness of IF as a health practice came during a time period when I was regularly listening to the Bulletproof Radio podcast.
I discovered back then that my preferred “breakfast” time in relation to my preference for early dinners sort of fit within the framework of intermittent fasting, even though it wasn’t always practical for me to eat according to my preferred schedule due to work constraints.
Once I heard about intermittent fasting and the health benefits of IF, I (sort of) began to pay more attention to my eating schedule.
I’ve been a casual intermittent faster over the past 3-4 or so years. I say casual because I’ve never made a formal effort to regularly practice intermittent fasting. I did IF fairly often during those years, but mainly because I could control my eating schedule on most days. I did not have a set practice. When it was possible, I simply had some coconut or MCT oil and butter in my coffee (far below the official “Bulletproof” quantities) and waited to eat “breakfast” when I got hungry. The timing of breakfast determined if/when I would have lunch. I usually did. What I had for lunch then determined the time for dinner and how much I ate. I never ate dinner later than 7 p.m.
My foray into intermittent fasting overlapped with my decision sometime in 2015 to give up all gluten, to the extent practical. I bought GF products when feasible and stopped eating breads. My gluten-free initiative resulted in a significant reduction in sugar consumption, as well. Most of my sugar intake over the past 15 years has come from home-baked cookies, cakes and other desserts. [I’ve never been a big consumer of any processed sugary foods, especially since the late 90s.]
The gluten-free shift + coconut oil in my coffee resulted in the loss of about 5-8 pounds without any intent or effort on my part.
Gluten In, Pounds On
I continued my gluten-free initiative until the first week of August 2017. I remember the exact date because I made a specific decision to have a BLT sandwich from the Odette food booth during the Made South weekend in Birmingham. It was delicious! [Odette is a great restaurant in Florence, Alabama.]
Since I had been so good for 2 years, I thought–that same weekend–that some of my Shine Springs Farm grown heirloom Italian peppers would be so awesome on a nice baguette from Continental Bakery. Heirloom Italian peppers sauteed in olive oil with garlic and served on a baguette is one of life’s great pleasures. I succumbed to the thought and gave in to the temptation. As a girl thinketh…..
That weekend of gluten led to a week and then a month. Then two. I backed off on the gluten in October when I realized I had very easily added about 8 pounds without even thinking about it. I say “backed off” because I ended up having gluten in home-baked foods several times during the holidays and I also ramped up my 2017 holiday baking, using gluten-free flour as well as regular whole wheat flour.
I’m talking about gluten because it was gluten that also led me to back off on the intermittent fasting practice.
During early 2018 I got back on track and started dropping the pounds again, until mid-summer when the heirloom peppers started coming in again. I was running again at that point and decided I could afford to eat baguettes again occasionally, at least on the weekends, with my beloved Italian peppers.
The problem with the summer 2018 time frame is that I started eating later in the evening and having an earlier breakfast to allow me to run earlier in the day before it got too hot.
The normal eating schedule of 3 meals a day and dinners from 6:30 – 7:30 and an overall higher calorie intake + gluten resulted in another few pounds by the time October rolled around. I ramped up my running, but didn’t really change the eating schedule or what I was eating. As of my birthday in late November I was at my highest weight ever. 🙁
The incessant rain during December combined with a rare case of the “mulligrubs” led me to a lot more snacking and relatively more processed carbs than usual, even during the holiday season. I even went so far as to make TWO batches of a maple-flavored Chex party mix using a recipe I found in Martha Stewart Living. Delicious, but definitely bad for the abs!
So all of that extra weight set up my commitment to give up gluten again, for sure. Rather than throw out whatever I had in my cabinets, though, I decided to just eat it all down as the year wound down.
2019 Game Plan
During the early part of the New Year, I decided to jump-start things by also returning to the intermittent fasting eating schedule.
Then, as I thought about it more, I decided to more or less double-down and see how long I could go without eating each day. The game plan that evolved was to:
- Try to eat just one meal per day during January
- Use up all the food I have on hand before buying more groceries and
- As I progress on #2 begin to move back into a more paleo style of eating.
So it’s the results of this game plan that I’m going to be blogging about this month.
I’m writing this at midday on Day 6 of plan and so far it’s going amazingly well. Perhaps better than I probably would have predicted, even though I have pretty good self-discipline when I make a firm commitment to do something health-related.
I hope you’ll follow along with my efforts. More importantly, I hope that what I share will inspire YOU to ramp up your own health commitments during 2019.