Tuesday, August 13, 2019

One Year of Intermittent Fasting

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Before I begin this post, I wanted to remind you to always check with your doctor before you start any sort of new diet program. Also, be sure to do your own research as well. This is simply my own experience and journey so yours may look different. Again, I am not a health or nutrition expert, what I'm sharing below is all based on my own personal experience.

Happy Tuesday! I hope you had a great weekend! Today is all about intermittent fasting! I began this journey of intermittent fasting on August 1, 2018 and today, I'm sharing my experience with intermittent fasting in the past year. I can't believe it's already been a year! When I first started fasting last year, I did it out of curiosity to see if I could do it and how it would make me feel. I never imagined that I would stick with it for a whole year. So in today's post, I'll be answering your questions that you sent me over on Instagram (and updated some old questions that have been asked previously) but if you have any additional questions that you don't see answered in this post, feel free to ask in the comments or send me an e-mail. I will be happy to answer any questions to the best of my ability and based on my own personal experiences!

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W H A T  I S  I N T E R M I T T E N T  F A S T I N G?
I heard another blogger mention intermittent fasting last summer and at that time, I had no clue what it was. I had never even heard of it so I immediately looked it up. I stumbled upon this article that was published literally a day before I first heard of IF. It simply explains what it is...

"Intermittent fasting (IF) is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating."

W H A T  I S  Y O U R  T I M E  F R A M E?
There are many ways to go about intermittent fasting but the most common methods are fasting for 24 hours, twice a week or the method I chose, fasting for 16 hours, everyday, How this works for me is, I stop eating at 9pm and then I break my fast at 1pm the next day. So basically, I fast while I'm sleeping and in the morning. This method worked best for me because I wasn't a big breakfast eater anyways. I rarely ate much before 11am prior to IF. Also, you don't have to dive right into trying to fast for 16 hours. You can do it gradually. My husband is actually doing intermittent fasting with me and this is how he started out last August. He's also stuck with it for almost a year, too!

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D I D  Y O U  F O R G E T  Y O U R  S T A R T  A N D  S T O P  T I M E S  A T  F I R S T?
I forgot my stop time more than anything the first couple of months. I would forget what time it was and mindlessly grab something else to eat after my stop time. I have definitely gotten so much better about this in the past year and I don't mindlessly snack when I'm bored anymore. Prior to IF, I was so bad at eating junk when I wasn't even hungry. Sometimes I do forget to eat. I know that sounds weird but I always start to feel hungry around 11:30 am. But, I usually get busy at work and sometimes don't even realize that it's already 1pm. This doesn't happen often but sometimes I have to set a reminder in my phone so that eat I remember to eat on time. I eat my first meal at 1pm, have a snack around 4pm, and dinner by 7pm. Sometimes, I'll also have a small, healthy snack right before I stop eating at 9pm. I honestly think I might eat more now that I'm fasting intermittently!

W H A T  A R E  T H E  B E N E F I T S  A N D  H O W  I S  Y O U R  
E N E R G Y  L E V E L  A F F E C T E D??
The personal benefits that I have noticed the most are increased energy and concentration. I was completely surprised by both of these because I assumed I would struggle with them both since I wasn't eating. But, the opposite happened! The first two weeks this wasn't the case but after I got past the those first fourteen days, I felt so much better and my body had adapted to it's new way of eating. I definitely had a lot less energy when I first started because my body was adjusting but now I have so much more energy overall. 

Other possible benefits are: weight loss, improved fat burning, reduces inflammation, and it also can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

After a year in, the biggest benefit for me has been discipline. Before doing IF, I wouldn't think twice about what I was eating. I would grab a piece of candy here or a cookie there anytime of day. But now, I don't snack out of boredom. Besides being more disciplined about my eating, I feel like I have become more disciplined overall. Since my concentration has improved, I feel like I am better able to complete tasks. I have been able to be more intentional about devotionals, exercise, errands, and other everyday tasks. I am also more hydrated (when I start to feel hungry, I grab some water), which definitely improves how I feel overall!

Also, I have learned to listen to my body. I have learned to eat what my body needs and to stop eating things that do not make me feel good. Having an eating window has helped me to be elevate what foods make me feel bloated or just lethargic instead of providing me with energy like they should. If it makes you feel bad, stop eating or drinking it. It's crazy how many things I have learned to just stop putting in my mouth through this IF journey! Also, during this process, I have started eating gluten free about 80% of the time. I don't celiac disease but my body definitely doesn't like gluten and I have really been able to realize that since I started intermittent fasting. 

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C A N  Y O U  H A V E  C O F F E E  I N  T H E  M O R N I N G?
Yes! I would actually 100% personally recommend coffee in the morning, mostly because I love coffee! I feel like it definitely helps curb your hunger and gives you a boost of energy. I usually start my morning with one cup of black coffee or a plain Americano. I literally don't feel hungry at all after a cup of either.

During my 16 hour fast, I don't go completely calorie free but I always stay under 50 calories. I do add a tablespoon of heavy whipping cream (so delicious) and a packet of stevia.

W H A T  D O  Y O U  E A T  W H E N  Y O U'R E  N O T  F A S T I N G  A N D  
H O W  D O  Y O U  P L A N  Y O U R  D A Y?
Since I'm only eating eight hours out of a 24 hour period, I have to be strategic about getting in my calories and making sure that I am eating the right kind of foods. Back in July, I gave up pretty much all bread and regular pasta. I do eat corn tortillas, potatoes, and I rarely say no to dessert. But, everything in moderation. That's one of my biggest takeaways from intermittent fasting. My normal meals also consist of a lot of protein and I feel like this is especially important because of my exercise regimen but it also helps give me energy. So, this is a sample meal plan for the week:

Lunch is pretty much whatever I can grab on the go. I go to work between 10:30 am and 12:30 pm so I always eat my lunch at work. I eat a lot of cheese, yogurt, nuts, salads, turkey pepperoni, ham, eggs, fruits, and raw veggies at lunch time since it's quick. I also try to save a portion from our dinner a couple of times a week to mix it up for lunch. I also make sure to eat at least one snack between my lunch at 1pm and my dinner around 7pm. I usually eat a high protein snack or fruit around 4pm (usually nuts or a banana) and I usually have another healthy snack around 9pm to finish the day.

Dinner is much more planned out since I meal plan and buy our groceries according to what we are having for dinner that week. This is a sample meal plan for our family:

Monday: Salad Night 
Spring mix then I add chicken, eggs, avocado, some type of cheese, bacon bits, fruit, etc. I mix this up a lot and add whatever toppings I have on hand.

Tuesday: Taco Night
Grilled shrimp with taco seasoning served with black beans, corn, guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, and sour cream. I usually serve this in a bowl with tortilla chips or sometimes I eat it over sweet potatoes or with corn tortillas. The girls love taco night!

Wednesday: Italian Night
Ground Italian sausage served with pasta (we use gluten free), marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and ricotta cheese. We usually have a side salad as well or roasted broccoli/brussel sprouts.

Thursday: Salmon Night
Salmon with roasted veggies (I usually buy the steamable veggies, cook in microwave for normal time or slightly less then added olive oil and salt and pepper to roast them in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees) and loaded mashed potatoes. 

We typically dine out on the weekends. I get salads a lot when dining out and usually skip the bread and opt for a lettuce wrp when ordering a sandwich or a burger. I do splurge on pizza occasionally but only for really good pizza, lol.

It's super important that you don't overindulge during eating hours. It can be so tempting to say since I have to fast the next 16 hours, I'm going to eat whatever I want but that's just not a good idea. You should always be mindful of fat, sugar, and calories. Again, listen to your body.

W H A T  D O  Y O U  D O  W H E N  Y O U  G E T  
H U N G R Y  D U R I N G  Y O U R  F A S T?
The first couple of weeks, I honestly didn't think I was going to be able to do this. I definitely thought about quitting a lot during those first two weeks because it was rough even for someone like me who wasn't a breakfast eater before. However, once I got past those first two weeks, it was so much easier. I focused more on what I was eating during my eight hours and realized the first two weeks that I wasn't eating enough. Getting in enough calories and protein during your eating hours is essential. There are many calculators out there that can help you figure out how many calories you should be eating in a day or you can talk with your doctor to get an accurate number. 

I pretty much always feel some hunger around 11 or 11:30 am every single day. It's like clockwork. When I get hungry, I either drink a bottle of water (because a lot of times you when you think are hungry, you are actually just thirsty) or I grab some black coffee or I pray. I have used this time of fasting as a spiritual reminder that I need Jesus so I talk to Him instead of focusing on my own desire for food. If I'm able, I also likes to use my fasting time to do a devotional. It always works for me. Sometimes I even get to 1pm and forget that I can eat, like I mentioned already.

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C A N  Y O U  E X E R C I S E  W H I L E  F A S T I N G?
Yes! If I don't get my workout in before 11am then I will never get my workout in because of my work schedule. Working out at night just doesn't work for me. I was a little nervous to workout while fasting because I had always had at least a cup of yogurt or a granola bar before working out. But, I was totally fine! Be sure to drink water before, during, and after your workout to make sure you are hydrated. Also, adding protein to your coffee really helps you sustain your energy through exercise. This is also why I eat a lot of protein packed snacks during my eating hours.

W H A T  I S  Y O U R  E X E R C I S E  R O U T I N E?
I exercise three to four days a week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (sometimes Thursday, as well). On these days, I take a one hour Les Mills Body Pump class at my local YMCA. I have been doing this workout for almost two years and I absolutely love it! You can read more about what it is here but basically it is a barbell workout that use high reps and lightweight. It's a motivating workout that gets your heart rate up while lifting and toning. I personally cannot run. I have uneven hips and running is just painful for me so that's really why I fell I love in love with this program. It's such a great workout! I also add in a cycle class on Thursday mornings when my schedule allows.

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D O  Y O U  D O  I N T E R M I T T E N T  F A S T I N G   E V E R Y D A Y?
I intermittent fast every single day but I do allow for exceptions. IF does not rule my life so I do eat when I need to eat. For example, if I have an event or party or meeting, I'll eat earlier. It's not the end of the world. Also, when we vacationed in Puerto Rico and went to Disney World, I did not do intermittent fasting. I pretty much ate all day, every day while we were in both of those places!

H A V E  Y O U  L O S T  W E I G H T  A N D  D I D  Y O U   S E E  R E S U L T S?
This was by far the most asked question! And the answer is YES! When I started this journey, it wasn't just about losing weight, it was about improving my overall health but losing weight is definitely an added bonus. I rarely step on a scale because who likes doing that but for the purposes of IF, I did weigh myself at the beginning, after six weeks, and after 90 days. I have lost over ten pounds during this journey. Most of this weight was belly fat that I was just holding onto after babies and bread, lol. Ater the first 90 days, I never stepped back on the scale so I couldn’t tell you if I have lost any more weight than that. I don't personally recommend anyone standing a scale. Pretty much ever. I usually judge my overall health and wellness on whether or not I can fit into my favorite jeans. It's been six months since I have stepped on the scale. I may or may not have lost any more weight and that is okay. I have gained so much strength from my workouts (which equals muscle) and I feel great so I don't think it's necessary to find out exactly how much I weigh. The way I feel is the scale I use.

Your worth is never found in the number on a scale.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Psalm 139:14 ESV

So, the biggest takeaways for me have been: everything in moderation, self-control happens when you make it an intentional part of your daily routine, and listen to your body. Intermittent fasting isn't for everyone however, listening to what your body is telling you when it comes to food, drink, and exercise is totally feasible for everyone. I wish I would have listened a long time ago!

Thanks so much for visiting! Have a great day!

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