2018 Challenges | Intermittent Fasting

Welcome to the first post in the brand new 2018 Challenges series!

While some of this year’s challenges will be somewhat short, others will be on the longer side. That’s because things like diet changes and shifts to a training program require a larger chunk of time to see viable results. This first challenge, however, will be one month-long.

Enter – The wonderful wide world of Intermittent Fasting (“IF”).

Here are the first two questions EVERYONE asks when you mention Intermittent Fasting.

  • First, what does that even mean?
  • Second, why would you do that?

Before I get into my experiences with IF, let’s answer those two questions.

(1) What exactly is IF?

There are different approaches to IF, but the basic concept is the same. You fast for a set number of hours and then consume your meals during the remaining hours of the day.

This isn’t a diet. I will be eating the same types of food, it’s just a change in the timing of my meals. There’s daily fasting, alternate day fasting, and weekly fasting. AND there are different suggested periods for fasting – From 10 to 20 hours {20 HOURS – OH HELL NO}.

I made my choice based on what would be easiest to implement in my schedule and settled on fasting for 14 hours – Feeding for 10. That means I will stop eating at 7pm, fast through the night and early morning, and then break my fast around 9am. I get up before 5am, but it’s still doable since you can have black tea and water while remaining in a “fasted” state.

(2) What are the benefits of IF?

Fasting is a part of many cultures and while long-term water or juice fasts may have questionable, if any, health benefits, there are long-term studies and data points relating to fasting in general. During a fast your insulin levels decrease, cellular repair has more time to do its thing, hormonal and brain functions are shown to increase, and it can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. The last one is the biggie for me. Inflammation is thought to be one of the root causes in everything from aging to chronic Western diseases like heart disease and various forms of cancer. I add lots of things to my diet to reduce inflammation, so why not try taking something out?

Now that we’ve gotten the questions out-of-the-way, it’s time to see what happened!

Intermittent Fasting Diet Vegan Gluten-Free Vegetarian Paleo San Francisco Bay Area Fashion Food Fitness Lifetyle Blogger Challenge

Week 1:

I’ll start by saying that implementing IF wasn’t effortless.

In part, that was because I’m very used to my routine and had trouble adjusting to the morning part of the fast. The second part was about breaking my habits and thinking before consuming things.

The first few days were almost entirely about changing my habits and routines. I was just so used to doing things that I completely forgot to think first and just did them automatically.

Week 2:

By Week 2 I wasn’t waking up starving most days, or if I was, a glass of water usually calmed the beast.

Since I wasn’t focusing on remembering that I was doing IF anymore, this week I was free to start thinking more consciously about my meal spacing and sizes. I’ve struggled with binge eating for years and while I can definitely eat large quantities, I try not to really stuff myself since it can trigger disordered habits. That meant that I needed to eat larger meals during my “feast” period, but space them out somewhat.

Week 3:

This was the week that I had my last long training run before a February half marathon that I had planned well before I started this IF adventure.

I prefer to run in the mornings on an empty stomach, so for shorter runs it has been no problem to keep up with my IF routine. But this week I had a 9 miler and a girl needs some energy to pull that one-off!

My start time got delayed by a BBQ delivery {woot woot}, but I ended up heading out around 8am. I had a bit of easy-to-digest glucose and took a high-carb bar with me in case I crashed mid-run.

Since I was planning to have some calories in the morning, I adjusted my dinnertime the night before so I would still get 14 hours of fasting. The key to remember is that it’s the fasting period that really matters, not when you’re breaking it.

Week 4:

This week I just happened to read Miss Whitney’s I Tried a Fasting Mimicking Diet and watched her YouTube video featuring Dr. Valter Longo on fasting, protein intake, and longevity. Fascinating stuff, I highly recommend it.

It was very interesting, and I might add inspirational, almost a month into IF, to hear so much about the benefits of fasting. It definitely kept me fully engaged in the challenge and motivated to finish the challenge strong.

Overall thoughts:

I’m a fussy sleeper so forcing myself to stop eating at 7pm ended up being great for me. I can’t fall asleep when I’m super full, so I slept much better this month.

That was, honestly, the only concrete result I experienced. It may have been that this wasn’t too far from my usual habits so I didn’t get the flashy benefits I would have if I’d made a huge change. {My normal fasting period is 7pm-7:30pm until 8am, so it was really only an hour or an hour and a half different timing wise.} Or it may be that one month just isn’t enough to see any concrete changes.

Since I did enjoy the 7pm forced shut down on eating, I think I will continue with that. And since fasting is beneficial, I think I’ll plan to do 12-14 hours a day, but not overstress myself when it comes to scheduling.

What do YOU think? Would you try IF?

Stay tuned for my next challenge!

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