Tools for fasting success: What you need

Losing weight and becoming healthier isn’t about buying expensive plans or special food.

It’s not about fancy gym memberships costing tens of thousands of dollars a year either.

I know this. I’ve tried these methods, and none of them worked.

To lose weight, you need to fast regularly. This will burn off the sugar in your system, then lower your overall calorie intake over the long term.

The good thing is, you don’t need many tools to fast successfully.

Tools for fasting successfully

Scales: You need a reliable scale – or a pair of tight-fitting jeans to measure your loss by. I prefer the “jeans method” myself!

Water bottle: You also need a decent sized water bottle to keep at your workplace and carry around with you. Drinking plenty of water is the key to successful fasting – it helps physically as well as emotionally, because you feel like you’re having something, even though you’re not.

Teas: I find a selection of lovely, high quality teas helps me work through difficult periods of a fast, especially for the times of the day when the rest of the family is eating and I’m not. I curl up in a ball on the sofa, and sip my tea, and I feel like I’m enjoying a treat and some solitude, rather than depriving myself.

Keeping busy: Keeping yourself busy is critical to a successful fast. I usually start my fasts on a Sunday night, so I’m fasting on work days, and am busy. The hardest times are weekends or times when I don’t have a lot to do, and food starts taking over my brain.

A notebook: You may find a little notebook useful. I write down how I’m feeling, how I’m coping, and even a ridiculous list of “all the food I want to eat right now” when times are tough on a fast. Weirdly enough, when I actually write down the foods I’m craving, the cravings go away. Maybe it’s because I usually crave junk food, but when you actually think about junk food deeply, you realise it doesn’t actually taste that good!

Waterfasting forum: The waterfasting forum s a great support network for people who are fasting. Keeping in touch with like-minded individuals who are going through the same things you are going through can really help a lot. There’s a link on this page. It’s free, and very worthwhile.

Metamucil: While technically a “cheat”, it you feel like you desperately need something in your stomach, a teaspoon of metamucil in some water can really help you feel full. It can also help if you find yourself constipated, which can happen to some people when they fast.

Diary: Everyone fasts differently. I tend to fast from most Sunday nights, continuing through the week until I stop, usually lasting anywhere between 3 and 5 days. That works for me. Others find alternate day fasting works better. Do what works for you. But keeping a diary of when you fast and for how long is invaluable in tracking your progress, what works and what doesn’t and why. Add comments on how you felt, what made you stop if you stopped earlier than expected, and how you’re feeling at various points during the fast.

Happy fasting!

Goal weight: What’s yours?

Are goal weights just fantasy? Do they even make sense from a health perspective?

Everyone who has ever struggled with being overweight has a perfect weight they’d like to be.

For me, being a tall woman with a large frame, my goal weight is around 65 kgs /145 pounds.

Despite the fact that, as an adult I’ve never been that weight, I still have the idea firmly stuck in my head that if only I can reach that weight, everything will be roses, I’ll be perfect, my life will be incredible.

All thanks to a number on a scale.

It doesn’t make sense when you think about it logically. Thinking about it logically, what really makes sense is a) not allowing yourself to get obese in the first place and b) if you are obese, eating well, including fasting in your lifestyle, and heading in the right direction for health.

In other words, it doesn’t really matter how slowly you lose weight. It also doesn’t really matter whether you reach a “goal” or not. What matters is that, this time next year, you’d doing better and feeling better than you are right now.

Having an unattainable goal weight stuck in your head might just be making you miserable. That’s not the key to long life or happiness at all. Time and again, when we interview centenarians, they say “being content” was key to their long life. They all seem to be genuinely happy, thankful people.

So stop fixating on your “goal weight” that may or may not happen. Instead, think of some ways that you can make your life better in a genuine way, that may not have anything at all to do with weight. Go for daily walks with a friend or loved one, volunteer at a charity, write and share something useful and positive, fast for a few days and focus on your own wellbeing and spirituality while you do so.

It doesn’t matter how you make your own life better. Everyone’s version of happiness is different. Just like everyone’s goal weight. Which might or might not ever happen.

So smile. Be content. Be happy. Enjoy the sun when it shines.

Life is too short for numbers on a scale anyway!

This is how much weight I lost in THREE weeks of intermittent fasting…

I’ve lost 7.8 kilograms, which is 17.2 pounds!

Has it been hard? Not so much. Because the fasts are intermittent, there are plenty of days where I eat normally, and can eat pretty much whatever I like.

THE LOWDOWN

Started fasting: 20 April
Today's date: 8 May
Weight lost: 7.8 kgs / 17.2 pounds
BMI: Was 33.2 currently 30.8
Days fasted during this period: 11 days

HOW WERE THE FASTS STRUCTURED?

My fasts during this period were all between 1-4 days. While fasting, I drank LOTS of water with a little lemon juice added for flavour, but ate no food. I also drank a sugar-free electrolyte drink when I felt I needed to.

When not fasting, I ate normally, but tended to avoid carbs because that’s just how I eat. I’m not much of an exerciser, and didn’t leave the house much, but did get some walking in and lifted a few weights but not much else.

HAS THIS BEEN A POSITIVE EXPERIENCE?

Absolutely. I’m right at the start of my journey, and looking forward to more fasting to come. When I fast I feel healthier, clearer-minded and just “more myself” (I can’t explain it any better than that).

More to the point, fasting feels natural. Once you get over the big mental hurdle of believing we need to eat 3 meals a day every day, you’ve opened the door to a wider, healthier world.

I’m looking forward to continuing my journey.

Shorter fasts are HARDER than longer fasts. Here’s why.

Let’s be honest: Fasting can be HARD. Especially the shorter fasts.

HUH? Did I just say the shorter fasts are more difficult?

Shorter fasts – and fasts where you get to eat, say, 500 calories on alternate days – are much, much harder than longer fasts where you eat nothing at all for a few days.

Let me explain why, because this absolutely makes sense when you think about it.

WE’RE HUNTER-GATHERERS. WE’RE BUILT FOR FASTING

Our bodies are adapted beautifully for fasting. We evolved as hunter-gatherers, our main source of calories was animal foods through hunting, and we’d often goes days or sometimes weeks without much to eat.

Also, our food was seasonal. As anyone who has ever grown a fruit tree would know, nature often provides food in gluts. You either have no peaches or enough peaches for the entire neighbourhood! You either had enough wild buffalo meat to stuff yourself and your tribe, or the buffalo were nowhere in sight. That’s how nature works.

Before modern farming (10,000 year old farming techniques are “modern” to our hunter-gatherer bodies, remember!), our bodies were beautifully adapted to all this by putting on fat when we ate to the point of stuffing ourselves, then living off our fat in lean times in between successful hunting.

Women were – and are – able to store fat even more efficiently than men, because we needed to be able to carry children, give birth and feed them. It all makes sense.

Except now we don’t fast any more, because food is so ridiculously plentiful now that obesity is more common than underweight in the world.

I’m not saying this is bad or good, but it’s the way things are now. If we want to lose weight, it makes sense to return to old patterns of eating and to tap into the eat-fast cycles that our bodies are well adapted to.

WHY ARE SHORTER FASTS MORE DIFFICULT?

Shorter fasts are more difficult because they’re not true fasts. Our bodies keep expecting food, our insulin and ghrelin levels never truly level out, and our bodies never fully move into a fasted state. They’re kept in a limbo – not quite fasted, not quite fed – with the result that hunger is more difficult to manage and the benefits of true fasting never emerge.

WHAT ABOUT ALTERNATE DAY FASTS – WITH 500 CALORIES?

Several “alternate day fasting” programs allow up to 500 calories of food on the “fasting” days, as evidence seems to suggest that those 500 calories do not interfere with weight loss.

Maybe, but I speak from experience that when I tried one of these programs, on the 500 calorie days all I could think about was food. I was hungry all the time. I spent the whole day fantasising about what I might eat, and obsessing about those 500 calories. It wasn’t pleasant.

Eventually – a couple of weeks into the program – I slid off it. With no weight loss to speak of.

Now there seems to be evidence coming out that suggests that people on these programs end up much hungrier than if they ate zero calories on their fasting days. I’d agree with that. I think you’re better off fasting properly, and eating nothing on fast days. It’s much easier.

HOW HARD ARE LONGER FASTS?

Not as hard as you’d think. I’ve found on 3-4 day fasts that the hardest day is day 1, about mid-afternoon. My body hasn’t yet realised I’m fasting, and I’m starting to get hungry because I’ve missed lunch.

At this point, I drink a fair amount of water – at least a litre (four cups) – over an hour or so, and sometimes more. It gives me something to do, and fills me up. It also seems to trick my body into thinking I’ve eaten.

In the end, the only way to figure out what you find hard is to try different lengths of fasts, and see what works for you.

Motivation: What’s yours?

Weight loss is a great motivator. Let’s face it: everyone wants to wear nice clothes and look good in a swimsuit. We all want to look lean and healthy. Nobody wants to look overweight and unwell.

However, while weight loss can be a great motivation, it helps to see the bigger picture of why weight loss can be a great idea.

Truth is – and we all know it – being overweight is unhealthy. While that might not be a huge problem when you’re younger, years of being overweight stacks up on your body balance sheet, doing years of damage over time. While it might not affect you too much in your twenties and thirties, by the time you hit your thirties, forties and fifties, you’re staring down the barrel of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and more.

That’s not fun at all.

There’s now strong evidence to suggest that, while most people won’t develop Type 2 diabetes until they hit mid life, the cause of that diabetes has been their lifestyle for the last decades of poor habits and overweight / obesity. Your body has needed more and more insulin to deal with the sugar hits being thrown at it from our high carbohydrate, high sugar processed diet, until diabetes is the inevitable result.

Likewise, heart disease and cancer are also the result of insult after insult to our bodies – feeding ourselves poor quality food and generally ignoring what our bodies need while giving ourselves lots of what we don’t need.

Wanting to look better is a great motivator, but wanting to be better in all respects – well, that’s a terrific motivator.

Think about some reasons why you might want to lose weight permanently and write them down. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Look better in all clothing – and in no clothing! 🙂
  • Lower risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Who doesn’t want that!
  • Able to move better, with less pain and discomfort. I found when I switched to a keto / carnivore diet I stopped feeling achey and sore in the mornings.
  • Able to keep up with younger family members and children as they rush about. If you have young children you’ll know exactly what I mean!
  • Able to achieve fitness goals, and travel goals. If you have plans to travel, you’ll want to be fit and well. Fitness goals can often involve adventure travel (hiking, paragliding, diving, swimming.)
  • Learn to enjoy food again. By putting food in its rightful place as a part rather than the centre of your life, you’ll learn to enjoy tastes and textures more fully.
  • Be able to afford great quality food and drink. Fasting and reducing quantity enables you to afford quality instead.
  • Be able to buy – and wear – the nicest clothing. Fashionable clothing is often only made for leaner bodies. That’s not fair, but its the way things are. Losing weight means you’ll be able to shop in a wider variety of clothing stores and enjoy a wider variety of clothing.

What else can you think of?

21 April: What am I tracking?

Weight, waist, mood, skin, eyes, blood sugar

I’ll be tracking my weight (and hopefully weight loss) and my waist measurement.

I’ll also be taking notes on my mood, any side effects I notice, and my skin and eyes, as I’m quite an allergic person and have had terrible problems with both.

I’m also about to order a sugar monitor which attaches to my upper arm, so I can track my blood sugar. I have not been diagnosed with diabetes, but my blood sugar was rising last time I went to the doctor for a check up, and I think I’m likely to develop diabetes if I don’t get a handle on my weight and wellbeing now.

21 April: Hello world

Fit, Fed and Fasted is my online log of my adventures with fasting and the keto-carnivore diet, and today is Day 1 of my first fast.

My goal for this fast is to manage 4 days. It’s Tuesday and I want to try for four days, but if I can’t manager that (which is likely), I’ll stop at whatever point I have to.

I want to note how I manage, what the difficulties are, and how I get around them. I’ll document weight loss and inches lost (f any), and how I feel generally, as well as how my body responds.

What will the blog cover?

My health approach has two main prongs of fasting and a low carbohydrate diet. So the title of this blog is a play n words of those two points 🙂

IF you run a blog with similar themes, please comment. I’d love to learn from what you’re doing 🙂