Today, I am sharing the prep work I recommend before starting Intermittent Fasting. With a variable work schedule, and long shifts it’s important to prepare and remain flexible!
Set yourself up for success and use these tips today. This is the ‘secret prep work‘ I tell my friends and coworkers to do before they start IF. And I promise, it’s a game changer!
Step 1: First things first: Listen Up
It starts by listening.
Shortly after starting IF, I realized I was having a hard time listening to my body. I had picked up little habits over the years that shaped my day whether I was at the hospital or not. My body wasn’t the boss of when and how I did things. I wasn’t listening to it and doing what I wanted.
For example: after waking up each morning, I’d have breakfast. Was I actually hungry? When I thought about it, no. But eating first thing in the morning was something I had done for years.
It was a habit I got into, in case my shift got so busy I didn’t get a chance to eat. #iykyk
Spend some time figuring out what automatic habits you have.
What do you do on ‘autopilot’ every day?
Make a conscious effort to tune into what your body is telling you. Are you thirsty? Hungry? Is last night’s dinner still sitting in your stomach?
Recognizing habits can be eye-opening. Trying to de-program these automatic choices won’t be easy. But knowing what you’re up against is half the battle.
Summary of Step 1: Tune into what your body is telling you.
Figure out your habits and rituals. When you discover one, write it down. As silly as it sounds, this will help you spot patterns.
For example: Do you notice you feel full every morning? Like nothing digested from the previous night? That’s important.
Write down what you had for dinner, when you finished eating, and when you went to bed. This can help you spot trends. Things like: eating too much, eating too late, or consuming caffeine too close to bedtime.
You don’t need a super cute journal to track things. Don’t wait until you go out and buy a notebook for tracking.
You could, but often these ‘minor’ delays are a way of self-sabotaging before you even get started.
Start tracking things today, without a cute notebook. Use some scrap paper or the notes section on your phone. The results will be the same and you can still buy a cute journal later.
Pro Tip: Spend at least one week tuning into your signals and writing everything down. Eat what you usually would.
Make notes about: what you ate, how the meal made you feel, how you felt after you ate, and how you feel before your next meal.
Were you actually hungry? How hydrated were you? Any bloating or GI upset after a specific meal?
Then, adjust what you eat, or when, according to how you are feeling. Keep making small tweaks and track how your body is responding.
Take your time: Recognizing patterns can sometimes take longer than a week. Make sure give yourself time to slow down and listen to your body’s signals. It’s a great option to start on your day off or on a weekend, when you aren’t pressed for time.
It may seem silly, but don’t skip this step. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. Understanding your body’s signals is important. Get tuned into what it’s saying, before you get started with IF.
Step 2: Pick a goal and a plan.
There are a variety of goals you can reach through IF.
- Restoring gut health
- Healing your liver
- Balancing hormones
- Losing fat
- Increasing energy
- Better sleep
Pick the most important thing you want, and focus on that first. Write down your #1 top goal.
I invite you to check out the plans I offer for Intermittent Fasting. There’s something for everyone. For those looking for a tune-up or those looking for a complete step by step plan as they start IF.
If you choose to go it alone: there’s a lot of information out there. It can feel overwhelming or confusing. One says you can have this, the other says you can’t. You don’t want the headache or added stress of conflicting ideas.
So try to make this process super simple and streamlined. You’ll have the most success with something easy and straightforward.
No matter what plan you choose: Beware of the internet search deep dive. There’s so much conflicting information out there. You’re bound to find recommendations that contradict each other.
Pro Tip: Find a plan you trust, and stick with it. That’s part of the secret to success: trusting the plan and ignoring everything else.
Summary of Step 2: Pick a goal, then a plan and stick to it.
Step 3: Prepare to change your eating, at least a little.
Truth time: If you want to see results and feel the benefits of IF, you do need to adapt your eating. Keep that in mind when choosing a plan (above).
Intermittent fasting is not as simple as eating during a small window of time. It is also not an excuse to eat anything you want.
Please learn from my early mistakes. As someone who ate whatever I wanted during my eating window, it’s a direct path to cravings and weight gain.
I had to reset and restart IF with clear goals and a solid plan. I wanted to decrease the ‘junk’ my liver had to process, heal my GI issues (bloat city), and reduce sugar cravings.
I have a sweet tooth and have a hard time saying no to dessert, especially after dinner, so I started with that first.
My advice is to find a plan that supports your top goals. There’s always time to add a more goals after you crush your first few.
I recommend following someone with a health or nutrition background if possible.
Science and research backed information about the how and why a plan works is important to me.
That’s why my plans are all research and science backed. You won’t find any casual anecdotes, crazy extended fasts or dieting myths. Just the facts and step-by-step strategies that work!
No matter what plan you follow, find one that aligns with your goals.
Step 4: Dig into the details.
Regardless of what plan you choose, spend time reading the fine print before you get started. Check out the background and science behind it, so you understand how it can help you reach your goals.
It’s also good to familiarize yourself with meal recommendations too. If the plan has recipes I suggest doing some trial recipes.
Figure out what meals you want to make and bookmark the ones you love for later. Being excited about the food you will be eating during your eating window is key to sticking with it!
Step 5: Shopping trip.
Make a grocery list of all the ingredients you’ll need. Don’t forget about reusable containers or Tupperware/Pyrex to take your meals to work.
I store leftover and pre-made dishes in the fridge for ‘grab and go’ options throughout the week. It helps streamline my routine and ensures I have nutritious options for my entire shift. There’s no excuse to run to the cafeteria.
Don’t forget ingredients for beverages too. In my 90 day jumpstart we cover exactly what you need to stock your pantry so you can make healthy, hearty meals. Plus there’s a grocery list to help keep you organized.
Step 6: Now for the fun part: Meal prep.
You’ve got the plan, recipes, groceries, and storage containers. Now, it’s meal prep time and set yourself up for success.
I usually meal prep on my day off when possible. I like to start by prepping larger, more involved dishes. Then pre-portion them into storage containers and store in the fridge. Most dishes can last 4-5 days or longer in the refrigerator.
It’s not realistic for me to prep every meal, so while one dish is cooking, I’ll prep ingredients for the week.
I chop veggies, pre cook potatoes and meat (or tofu) and hard boil eggs for easy options.
Salads are another easy item. Be sure to keep the salad dressing separate, otherwise, you’ll end up with a soggy mess.
The goal is to have healthy options on hand. Sooner or later, you’ll come home from work and be too exhausted to cook. We’ve all been there right?!
Prep ahead to give yourself healthy options, instead of ordering takeout.
Stick with it.
In the beginning, it takes a little longer to meal prep. Once you’ve done it a couple of times, I promise it goes much faster.
If you don’t want to meal plan or prep, you can consider a meal delivery service. My go-to meal delivery service is Sakara Nutrition.
Why Sakara? Each meal is based on nutritional science and traditional healing. Dishes are super tasty and give your body what it needs to thrive.
You can feel confident you body is getting the support it needs during your eating window.
Ingredients are sourced from trusted suppliers and organic farms. Suppliers use healthy, sustainable agriculture practices. Each dish is flavorful, inspired, and nourishing. Crafted with love and care. And delivered in sustainable, recyclable packaging so it’s kind to the environment too!
Now it’s your turn!!
Woo hoo!! You are prepped and ready to roll out of bed Monday morning to start your intermittent fasting journey! No more hesitation or wondering how to start!
I hope these tips are helpful and give you a jump-start toward your goals! If you’re interested in a complete 90 day step-by-step Intermittent Fasting Jump-Start, check that out here!