Let me preface this blog by letting you know I am not the girl who just so happens to forget to eat…EVER!
I have always wanted to be (and have even found myself envying those who are) but it’s just not me. I wake up to visions of avocado toast and green tea dancing around in my head, so when it came up in the office to try intermittent fasting for my next “How To” topic, I have to say I had my hesitations.
While thinking it over and diving into a bit of research that speaks to the many health benefits attributed to intermittent fasting (we’re talking increased energy, reduced inflammation and a slimmer waistline – just to name a few), I felt more intrigued than ever to jump in full throttle.
My decided goal was to implement the 16/8 fasting method. This would mean eating all of my meals within a span of 8 hours during the day and fasting for 16 hours. I would repeat this sequence 5 days a week. To give an example of a typical day’s schedule, I would start eating around 11am every morning and stop eating around 7pm.
The first couple of days went by without me noticing much besides getting really hungry and, according to my 11-year-old doing distance learning, I was hangry. (A word to the wise, hunger and homeschool just don’t mix.)
It wasn’t until day 3 that I noticed feeling a bit more “off” in ways that I wasn’t expecting. I was starting to experience insomnia which is something that I’ve struggled with throughout my life, usually in times of stress. Prior to this new how-to endeavor, I had even found myself thinking that it’s amazing that my insomnia wasn’t already in full swing, given the year we’ve all had. That being said, you can imagine how I was caught off guard once it decided to show up with some other anxiety type symptoms a few days into beginning intermittent fasting.
These symptoms prompted me to do a bit more research.
I am pretty in tune with my body and I started questioning that maybe intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone or maybe I was just a rare breed that couldn’t hang with this trend. What I found was pretty interesting and I credit it to a podcast I listened to from a wellness guru I love, Kelly Leveque. She interviewed Dr. Amy Shah and during their conversation, I felt like I was having lunch with girlfriends – they were speaking directly to me about what I was noticing during this experience.
Her recommendation for beginning your fasting journey was to really pay attention to your body and its signals. If your cravings are off, your focus, your sleep, etc. then your body is under some stress and you may need to make some adjustments.
So that’s what I did. Starting on day 5, I decided to heed her advice and go low and slow.
It was insightful to read that giving your body a 12-hour break from food can be enough to begin lowering your insulin levels along with helping your GI cells to reset – aka cleaning out the bad cells to make way for the good (if you want more info on this process referred to as autophagy, check out our Founder’s post here).
This being said, I decided to start fasting 12 hours for the next week and increasing to 13 the following, and by the fourth week, I was up to 14 hours. I also decided to stop eating a bit earlier in the day so that I could enjoy breakfast here and there.
Making these adjustments made all of the difference for me and I have to say that although my progress has been gradual, I’m starting to see some of the benefits I was hoping for – and definitely enough to want to keep this going. I feel like my cravings have decreased, I have more energy and I’m back to sleeping great most nights.
With each and every wellness trend I try, it really helps me to learn more about my body and its specific needs. It’s really easy to compare and get caught up in the mindset of “go big or go home”, but this experience was a great reminder that it’s all about progress over perfection.
I hope that whatever wellness trend you implement next, you’ll remember to be gentle with yourself and find value in the process.