Tuesday, 18 June 2019

INTERMITTENT FASTING BENEFITS & CHALLENGES

Three and a half months ago, I gave intermittent fasting (IF) a try (related post: HERE). I devoured every bit of information I could lay my hands on about IF. It was uncomfortable at first but after day two and three, it wasn't too bad. The good thing about IF is it doesn't make me feel deprived since there's no specific food group that I should not eat. Also, I treat it like a game - I try to outdo myself yesterday and the day before. I usually skip breakfast (hopefully, no one's shocked - who told us breakfast should be eaten in the mornings anyways?) and try to be in a fasted state as long as I can. Note: I should mention that when I say I do fast, I am fasting on solid (and obviously sugary) food. Basically all food that spikes my insulin level. I drink water, tea and coffee during my fasting window.

Benefit: My weight loss is maintained
This is my biggest problem since I began this journey. My weight keeps coming back. I tried to be vegetarian, worked out five times a week, even took a diet pill (shaking my head right now). All these gave me the same result: my weight manages to creep up after a week or two. With IF, my weight goes down slower compared to probably what others shed but the good news is it does not come back. In fact, even if I hit a plateau, the numbers are still going down if I say no to occasional treats. For example, I usually need to have a cinnamon social every Saturday, otherwise, I'll be grumpy! 

Challenge: My period became (even more) erratic
A missed period is a very bad news for someone who already has a PCOS. My period was never regular since I recall but being on IF made it even worse! Before IF, I get my red days monthly though not at exact same dates. Two months into IF and I missed a period! It took me one and a half month to gain my period back and since menstruation is a way of our body to detoxify, missing it is not healthy. I know that IF is one of the causes (to be fair, I'm a bit stressed the past weeks) but I don't want to just go back to my old habits on a whim. Thankfully, I got my period back and in hindsight I think I'll stick with 12 to 14 hour fast. My initial goal is to achieve a 16 hour fast but if my body is not a fan of longer fast then I'm happy to tweak it.

Benefit: I am more mindful of the process of eating
Since I cannot eat whenever I want to, I got a whole new level of respect for 'eating'. Gone are the days that I nibble without even realising that I am eating. I also get excited when I prepare meals and eat them intentionally. I now know the difference between boredom and real hunger. Eating is an exciting event I look forward to, not a cheap blips in an otherwise 'I-have-nothing-to-do-so-I'll-just-eat' episodes in my life.


Challenge: I lack nutrients
Eating thrice or sometimes even twice a day would mean those are my only windows to ingest vitamins and minerals into my body. I noticed that I didn't eat as much nutrients my body needs and this probably contributed to me missing my period the past month. Nowadays, I make it a point to eat seven cups of greens a day. I don't always succeed but I'm trying. This can be in a form of salad, shakes or garnishes.

Benefit: Sparkly kitchen
More than a pristine kitchen, I think it's the freedom from constantly thinking about food that makes me feel liberated. Advertising companies sole purpose is for us to eat 'round the clock because snacks and breakfast are money but is it really the best for us? Our body needs time to rest from digesting food and the only way to give it a rest is to stop munching when we're not hungry. I understand some people are not ready for this but I would definitely recommend it to people I care about.

Challenge: I overdo it (sometimes)
Seeing results make me feel so attached with this lifestyle. Sometimes, I forget to listen to my body. For example, I will reach out for a glass of water when I know my body really craves for a solid food around 10:30 am. This morning, I was tempted to have a tea but I know I want to eat so I reached out for a bunch of blueberries and a dollop of peanut butter (Manilife deep roast is the best!). This whole IF thing is a process and I'm learning along the way. Listening to our body requires us to tap to our inner selves and a whole lifetime might be required to master that art. -CMK
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