This is the final post recounting my first experience with Intermittent Fasting which I undertook back in February of this year. Read on for the exciting conclution to my month long attempt at intermittent fasting.
Intermittent Fasting – The Wrap Up
My month of intermittent fasting has reached an end. All in all it was a worthy experiment. I can’t say I enjoyed it, but I did learn a great deal from it. In this final post in the intermittent fasting series I wanted to share what I liked, what I didn’t like and what if anything I’ll continue.
Before getting into the summary, I think it only fair that I grade myself on how successful I was in sticking to the objective. If you didn’t read my initial post on intermittent fasting my general goal was to fast for 15-17 hours before giving myself a 7-9 hour window of eating.
In week one I had the most success, both in adherence and in benefit. I was motivated; continuing to immerse myself in intermittent fasting information was helpful in keeping me going throughout the first week.
I remained adherent in week two, but the benefits weren’t as evident. I even began having some adverse effects. So, I made some adjustments to mitigate the struggles I was experiencing in week two.
The Wheels Come Off
Week three was a perfect example of giving an inch and taking a mile. It was my worst week by far. I think two factors conspired to derail me in week three. The first was a direct result of my struggles in week two.
After making some initial adjustments after week two, I felt the freedom to make more and more adjustments, as I felt inconvenienced in week three. By midweek I was way off script and struggled to regain the structure I’d created for myself in the first two weeks.
The second struggle in week three was having attended a kids birthday party. This was problematic because of my own personal kryptonite: sugar. I hadn’t eaten sugar at all during the first 2 ½ weeks of the challenge. Which I was quite proud of since going more than a day without some form of sugar has previously felt insurmountable.
So with my success as my justification, I gave myself permission to have a piece of birthday cake. Big mistake. The sugar cravings returned and I slipped up several times the remainder of the week.
Week four had me back on track, mostly. I wasn’t as diligent as I had been week one, but I did regain some semblance of structure. Overall I’d give myself a solid B -.
Where Did I Go Wrong
I had two major failings that prevented me from having the success I would have liked to have. The first was the aforementioned latitude I afforded myself. In future challenges I’m not going to give myself permission to depart from the original structure. Once you make adjustments, it is too easy to justify making more and more changes to the original plan.
The second error was my lack of follow through with the immersion. As I outlined in my philosophy of change, immersion is one of the best ways to facilitate making a change in your life. However, after the first week, I completely abandoned my exposure to intermittent fasting.
I have little doubt had I kept immersing myself in intermittent fasting information throughout weeks one and two; I wouldn’t have made the adjustments and exceptions that eventually lead to my struggles in week three.
What I Liked
- It seems odd to say it, but I genuinely liked the feeling of being hungry. For me, there are two stages of hunger that I experienced in the morning. The first was a physical hunger. In this stage I felt my body resetting itself. I equate the feeling to cleansing your pallet. But instead of doing it between courses, your cleansing your system between days.
The second stage of hunger for me was mental decline. This was less enjoyable. I felt myself being distracted by my hunger and had a harder time concentrating. This usually occurred in the final two hours prior to breaking my fast.
- Over the course of the month I lost nearly 10 lbs. The majority of this was in week one. I took a step back in week three, but 10 lbs. in a month is pretty good. While this wasn’t part of the initial goal, it was a nice added bonus.
- I generally felt healthier. This is likely due to my change in diet more than the fasting itself, but I overall felt pretty good this month. This was only confirmed when I slipped up with the sugar and felt terrible for a few days.
- I liked not having to think about breakfast everyday. It was nice to remove this chore from my morning routine.
What I Didn’t Like
- As I mentioned above, the mental decline connected to fasting was not enjoyable. In fact it was the hardest part of this experiment. Ultimately I see it as the reason that intermittent fasting of this kind just isn’t sustainable for me.
- I didn’t enjoy the amount of preparation that was required. It took a lot of thinking ahead to ensure I had my meals taken care of and was breaking the fast at roughly the right time. Not to mention the prep work required eating a salad daily.
- Variety is the spice of life and this structure didn’t offer much variety. Having the same salad for 28 straight days was redundant and my taste buds are ready for a change.
- I was cold. I normally feel cold, but I felt like this was amplified by the fasting.
What I’ll Continue
While I won’t be militaristic in my adherence to any of these items, here are a few takeaways I’ll try to continue.
- I think a 12-13 hour fast is ideal for me. Longer and I start suffering from mental decline. With around 12 hours I get the benefits I enjoyed without the struggles that come along with it.
- Eating healthier. Ideally I’d like to cut sugar out altogether, but I know this will be a battle. Additionally adding in some sort of salad was a nice addition. I’ll just need to find a bit of a variety.
All in all it was a worthy experiment. I’m glad that I did it. Blogging about it was great for accountability and reflection. I’ll likely keep up this series and continue to make my health a priority.