About 9 months ago, I wrote a blog post about fasting called The Death of Dieting. At the time I hadn’t long discovered it, but I was very keen to share the advantages of fasting, not only for weight loss, but also for general good health.
I had heard about it through a colleague at work, and although my initial reaction was less than favourable, as I listened to his evangelical speech about the wonders of going without food, I decided a few weeks later to give it a go.
I am very lucky that I have never really suffered with being overweight, (although after my daughter was born, I did somewhat resemble Winnie The Pooh.) My two pregnancies aside, I have probably stayed a similar weight my whole life, give or take a stone. My goal weight as a younger person, which was 8 and a half stone, (119 pounds) is no longer suitable for me as a 50-something, and if I try to go below 8’12, (124 pounds), I look absolutely terrible! I now prefer to be around the 9 stone mark (126 pounds), though after Christmas, or a two week all inclusive holiday, this usually goes up to around 9’6 (132 pounds). When I return to “intermittent fasting” after a period of overindulgence, I can easily lose the extra pounds in less than 2 weeks.
Fasting is not just for people like me who need to lose the odd half stone now and then. There is evidence of impressive success rates in people who have a lot of weight to lose, and what’s more, there is increasing research to show that once shed, the weight stays off.
In the old days (before fasting), if I found myself having put on a few pounds, I would grudgingly resort to dieting. I hated dieting! I could usually drop 6 pounds or so by sticking to a strict regime for a couple of weeks but it was miserable. I have never joined a slimming club, so I have no experience of that, but I would gamely count the calories in my yoghurt for breakfast, salad for lunch and small main meal. I would completely cut out biscuits, chocolate, crisps and chips, and even wine, if I was feeling supremely motivated. There were 3 things wrong with this approach; firstly I could never keep it up very long, secondly, the pounds I lost just came back on as soon as I started eating normally again, and lastly, I’d begun to notice a horrifying fact in the last few years; it didn’t actually work anymore.
Apparently, this is down to my age and at 50, (nearly 53 actually), I am far more susceptible to weight gain and weight loss is harder. That double whammy doesn’t seem fair does it? Not only am I dealing with an alarming amount of wrinkles and saggy looking skin, but it is now more challenging to shed those pesky pounds once they’ve settled around my hips and thighs.
Reading up on why we put on more weight after the age of 50, there seem to be a number of reasons: That old favourite, menopause is top of the list, followed closely by decreased activity, (and therefore decreased muscle mass,) and finally, metabolic rate change. I still exercise quite a bit, but apparently my metabolic rate is declining by an average of 2 to 3 percent every decade. Therefore, even if my eating habits stay the same, I still gain weight! Doesn’t seem fair does it?
Determined not to give in and surrender to this tide of inevitability, I had a look around to see what could be done. And that’s when I discovered fasting.
Fasting is nothing new of course, and has been practised for centuries for religious and political purposes. But in the last few years, there has been overwhelming research released showing that fasting is not only a powerful tool for weight loss, but it also promotes good health and, (my personal favourite), is anti ageing.
If fasting was not only going to help me lose weight, but also age less quickly, I was definitely listening! The health benefits are hardly minor either: For example, fasting may boost heart health by improving blood pressure and dropping cholesterol; it helps fight inflammation, (which can lead to cancers, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis), and increases growth hormone secretion vital for metabolic rate, weight loss and muscle growth. On top of all that, it may aid cancer prevention and increase the effects of chemotherapy, while boosting brain function and preventing neurodegenerative diseases. Wow! Shouldn’t we all be trying this?
If you fancy being the recipient of all these advantages, I advise you to give fasting a try. I started ‘intermittent fasting’ twice a week, once for 36 hours and once for about 20 hours, but now I’m used to it, I mix it up a little. This week on our return from holiday, I have managed a 24 hour fast twice and an 18 hour fast once, and the rest of the time, I have eaten normally. I can’t tell you how much better I feel since taking up fasting. My weight is stable, at just under 9 stone, and I eat what I like when not fasting. I urge anyone who has struggled with weight loss to give it a try.
Just remember to be aware of the following:
1. You must always consult a doctor before fasting, as it may not be suitable for everyone.
2. During your fasts, drink lots and lots of water. This is imperative as we gets lots of water from food, and your body will be missing out on vital fluid if you do not keep hydrated.
3. Stop a fast if you feel unwell.
4. Only fast for short periods to start with. Once you are comfortable with the concept, you can experiment with the different types of fasting:
5:2 Eat normally for 5 days, fast for 2.
OMAD One meal a day.
16/8 16 hours of fasting.
Eat-Stop-Eat A 24 hour fast a couple of times a week.
Alternate day fasting Fasting every other day.
Do some research before you start and find the one best suited to you.
5. Don’t become obsessed about eating/not eating. Go for a walk, keep busy with work, or have a bath. Remember you are not denying yourself, you are simply delaying eating. This concept is very helpful to remember, and is from a very good book I would recommend, Delay Don’t Deny, Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle – Gin Stephens
6. If you find it too much to begin with, eat a small amount of something healthy during your fast.
7. Use my mantra: “Eating is fleeting, but Fasting is lasting” It’s true! How ever much you crave that ice cream, when you have it, it will still be gone is less than 5 minutes. The benefits of your new fasting programme will be with you your whole life!
8. Make sure you eat protein when you are in an eating phase, and if you can, make sure what you are eating is as healthy as possible. Don’t stress about this though. The wonderful thing about fasting is that I can enjoy pizza and chips occasionally, and don’t put on a ounce!
9. At the end of a fast, don’t go rushing to the nearest burger joint. Try and have a healthy first meal and don’t over do it.
10. Get a fasting App for motivation. My favourite is Zero.
I don’t have a perfect body, far from it, but I think I owe it the chance to stay as healthy as possible, for as long as I can, and I honestly believe fasting will do that for me.❤️
*Please read my previous blog on fasting The Death of Dieting, available on this site. It has more information and some recommended reading. ❤️