Tuesday, September 4, 2018

30 Days of 5:2 Intermittent Fasting

In the spring of 2017, after using calorie counting and mindful eating to successfully lose nearly 40 lbs., I hit the dreaded plateau.  For the rest of the year, I struggled to bust through the plateau and by the time 2018 rolled around, I had gained back 8 lbs.

Between January and August of this year, I've danced back and forth within an 8 lb. range.  I'd lose, I'd gain.  I'd gain some more, then I'd lose.  Back and forth, back and forth, but not never making any headway or losing more weight beyond what I had initially lost.  It's been frustrating, embarrassing at times, and above everything else - exhausting.  Don't get me wrong, there's a part of me that is very proud to have been able to hold my own and stay within this 8 lb. range because maintenance has never been my strong suit.  But, I'd by lying if I said that I wasn't also disappointed.

On August 1, I began intermittent fasting (IF), specifically utilizing the 5:2 approach.  A friend of mine had some success with it and after reading about it over the summer, I decided to give it a try.  If you're unfamiliar with 5:2, it's a form of intermittent fasting in which a person eats normally five days a week and then fasts the remaining two.  On my fasting days, I eat about 25% of my estimated total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which equates to around 600 calories.

It's been one month since I started 5:2IF and here's what  happened. In the spirit of full disclosure, I promise to be completely honest.

The First Day
The first day was awful.  Let me say that again - It. Was. Awful.  I was absolutely ravenous, I had a pounding headache, and I was irritable hangry by mid afternoon.  I left work, went straight home, and went to bed thinking - "I can't be hungry if I'm asleep."  I was shooting for 600 calories, but by the end of the day I had consumed 710.

That day taught me a very important lesson, that I was not going to be able to depend solely on two 100-calorie protein shakes to see me through the day (before dinner) on days that I fasted.  In order to make it work, I needed real food.

The pounding headache of the first day faded into a dull headache that persisted each fasting day through mid month.  But, by the sixth fasting day, as my body adjusted, they subsided.  Hallelujah!

Hunger Pangs
I won't lie, I experienced a lot of hunger pangs, but here's what I learned about them.  First, hunger pangs are okay and I don't need to jump at the first hunger sensation and eat.  Second, drinking water often curbed my pangs, so I realized that I probably wasn't hungry like I thought I was, but simply thirsty instead. Third, hunger pangs won't kill me.  They may be uncomfortable, but they will pass.  I learned to sit with my hunger and wait and, above all, be okay with it.  

The Best Thing
I did Atkins years ago and dropped a decent amount of weight in a relatively short amount of time, but I inevitably put every pound back on and then some.  It didn't work for me because the list of what I could and couldn't eat was too restrictive.  Sure, it was great being able to eat all the bacon I wanted, but not being not to be able to eat a biscuit or a piece of cake...  It was just wasn't for me.

Throughout the month while doing the 5:2 intermittent fasting,  I ate pretty much whatever I wanted on non-fasting days within reason.  I had pizza, ate a Twizzler or two, and even enjoyed a small piece of Dairy Queen ice cream cake at a goodbye party for a colleague.  But, despite my being able to eat whatever my heart desired on non-fasting days, I didn't go crazy.  I was very mindful not to binge and potentially undo everything that I had done on my fasting days.  I love this freedom and flexibility.

Biggest Challenge
The biggest challenge I faced was making sure that I had food on hand that would work on my fasting days. I learned quickly on that first fasting day that I had to be prepared, that I couldn't just wing it because I needed to make every calorie count.  This involved marinating and grilling chicken breasts in advance and making several trips to the grocery throughout the week to make sure I had enough vegetables, apples, and hard boiled eggs to see me through.

Something I Noticed
When I only had 600 calories to work with, you better believe when I ate that I savored every damn bite.  I ate slower, chewed longer, and really tasted my food.  Interestingly, I found myself doing the same thing on non-fasting days, too.  This, according to my husband, is a HUGE change because I'm typically a very fast eater.

The Bottom Line
I lost 6.8 pounds.  Yep, 6.8 pounds in 30 days.  6.8 pounds after being stuck for nearly a year and a half. Honestly, I am absolutely amazed by the results.  I had read about intermittent fasting success stories online, but wasn't convinced that it would work for me.  I also think this is something I can maintain long term because of the flexibility and freedom.  In the end, I'm not denying myself, I just delaying.  

Final Thoughts
I like 5:2IF and here's my main reason - it was easier for me to restrict calories in order to create a calorie deficit for two days a week (and eat sensibly the other five) than to restrict calories in a traditional dieting sense every day.  That is what I find most exhausting - constantly having to think about what I'm eating and doing the math every single day. 

For the Record
  • I received no compensation for doing this post.  
  • This post is solely based on my experience and the results I achieved may not be typical.  
  • I'm not necessarily endorsing this method.  I think weight loss is unique and everyone has to find what works for them.
  • I'm not a doctor, nurse, nutritionist, or diet guru.  I'm also not an expert on 5:2 intermittent fasting.  I'm simply a gal who's trying this out, seeing what happens, and sharing my experience with you.

Have you ever tried any method of intermittent fasting?  What was your experience like?  Any tips you'd like to share?

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  1. Thanks for sharing this. It's a method I've considered but usually dismissed because I'm not sure I could get through one day let alone two on only 600 calories. Well done you!

    1. Thank you! It was a challenge at first, but became progressively easier with time as I got a better handle on what I was doing.

  2. congrats!! this is so awesome. 6.8 pounds! seriously. you go girl. i have never tried this but i can definitely see how it would make you savour your food. i am typically a fast eater too, and getting braces has slowed me down dramatically lol.

    1. Thank you! I'm, at the risk of sounding stupid, SUPER STOKED! It's great to finally see the scale moving in the right direction after such a long time.

  3. I think the way you are fasting is sooo much more sustainable than the traditional way where fasters just don't eat for 16 hours in a row each day. If it works for you, it works for you!

    1. Although I'm only 5 weeks in at this point, I think it's much more sustainable, too. That's really the beauty of it - it's versatility. So far, so good! Time will tell.

  4. I've never tried this, but it sounds interesting!

    1. There's a lot of interesting research about fasting and it's benefits on weight loss and other factors as well. I think more research is warranted, but I'm simply thrilled that it has worked so well for me.


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