|Last Summer versus this month|
I know it is weird. Despite the chaos and pervasive darkness in the world around us right now, I am in a season of great joy and thanksgiving. In many ways, I am more content and at peace than I have been in years.
How is that possible?
For me, I think it is a culmination of new habits and tools that have finally helped me feel like I am on track and moving forward. I decided to make a series of blog posts about the things that are helping me to feel so good these days.
Nearly a year ago, I watched a video by a guy named Dr. Jason Fung that explained that the reason many of us are overweight is because we have something called insulin resistance. Our bodies just don't process the way normal folks do. After reading a couple of books on the subject, I decided to give intermittent fasting a try. It has been a complete game changer.
Over the last 11 months, I have lost 55 lbs by limiting my window of eating, 6 days per week. I don't count calories or carbs. I don't worry about portion size or whether something is 'fattening'. I don't buy special foods or worry if a restaurant can accommodate my 'diet'. All I do is skip breakfast and stop eating by 8pm every day. That is it. That is really it.
For the first few weeks, it was a little tough. I found myself feeling hungry. But after a couple of weeks, I began to feel, well, GREAT. I wasn't really hungry in the mornings. I was never hungry after dinner. I just got into the habit and it began to feel very natural very quickly.
Am I perfect? Nope. If I am having dinner with friends, you can be sure I go past 8pm. If the family wants to have breakfast together on a Saturday, I am in. If I go on vacation, I will eat outside of my window once or twice and not give it a second thought. Because I always take Sundays off as a feast day, I have learned to get back to my window every single Monday, which has helped me keep a long term mentality about it. I know that this is going to be a lifestyle that I will continue for the rest of my life, and I am not mad about it.
The impact on my day to day life has been incredible so far. A year and a half ago, I was going to physical therapy a couple times a week for a knee injury that made walking extremely difficult. I had chronic lower back pain, joint pain, inflammation everywhere. Going up a hill or the stairs winded me. Every morning I woke up stiff and in pain and struggled to get down the stairs. I had more or less resigned myself to a life of limitation because I had dieted in the past, lost weight, and inevitably gained it back and more. I didn't understand why, I just knew that there was some sort of physiological dynamic that made losing weight and keeping it off impossible. Now I understand that there are actual physiological mechanisms that have impacted me, chiefly insulin resistance and other hormonal issues that have been addressed by giving my body a break from food for a period of time each day.
As a person of faith, I also believe that daily fasting has greatly improved my spiritual practice, too. In Christian life, there has always been an emphasis on physical self discipline. Paul talks about it a lot in his letters. In Galatians 5:22-23 for example, Paul names self control as a fruit of the spirit. Gluttony is named as one of the 7 deadly sins. Christians and other faiths have been practicing some form of fasting for centuries. For us, whether it is during Lent, or on Good Friday, or as part of a prayer practice or special petition to God, we know that the experience of self sacrifice is a powerful tool to bring us closer to Christ. I believe that a regular practice of fasting has improved my spiritual life right along with the physical blessings.
Intermittent fasting is just one of the tools that has helped me feel great in this season, even in the midst of crisis and pandemic. The other two are Bullet Journaling and Daily Prayer, which I will cover in separate blog posts.
If you have had success with fasting, I would love to hear from you. If you have questions about it, feel free to reach out. I am by no means an expert, but have nearly a year of experience to share.
I highly recommend these two books to get you started:
Fast, Feast, Repeat by Gin Stephens is an excellent resource that explains the science of fasting and gives real life examples of how to live a healthy and happy life as an intermittent faster.
The Obesity Code is Dr. Fung's book on the science and his experience using it with patients with type 2 diabetes.