Welcome back to the next chapter in my intermittent fasting story. If you are new here, let me get you up to speed real quick.
Earlier this year, I started focusing on small ways to improve my health and wellness. Every month, my goal is to take a series of small, actionable steps to enhance my overall wellness and make a difference in my health and energy levels.
Recently, I chose intermittent fasting as an experiment to help optimize my digestive processes and help me tune into what my body is truly telling me. I also wanted to increase my energy levels. You can read more specifics about Week 1 here and Weeks 2 & 3 here if you are interested.
After having committed to the intermittent fasting lifestyle for the past month, I am happy to report that I really enjoyed it and will be sticking with it moving forward. I do plan to alter my eating window and cycle in and out of IF as needed for birthdays, vacations, celebrations, etc.
If you’re in a hurry and you’ve got questions about your IF journey, check out this convenient 8 page PDF download designed to answer the most common questions you’ve asked about Intermittent Fasting!
So, without further a-do, here are my intermittent fasting one month check-in results.
I have more energy than before I started IF, but this has become noticeable only relatively recently. I feel that the second half of week 3 and most of week 4 is where I felt the bulk of my energy increase. I am hoping it is sustained from week 4 onward. Fingers crossed. Stay tuned!
I find it much easier to get in my required hydration each day. Making the commitment to drink 16-20 ounces of water before I leave the house in the morning has made a tremendous difference. The extra pinch of sea salt and an electrolyte tab has also helped. On the rare occasion I forget to add them, I sometimes wind up with a headache. Not sure if the two are correlated, but in my mind they are. So, add electrolytes!
I feel WAY less bloated. My stomach is flatter and my gas has been minimal. (I know…TMI! But, it’s true and I don’t do sugar-coated re-caps). I found that food preparation helps with this tremendously. Simple steps like soaking beans or legumes and preparing them myself (instead of buying canned goods) has greatly reduced my GI upset. Also, by massaging and then cooking kale and other fibrous greens, my stomach has had an easier time digesting them. The few minutes it takes to do this, greatly offsets the tummy troubles, so I highly recommend it.
I don’t weight myself on a scale, however I do have a ‘favorite pair of jeans’ as my gauge for size. I notice my jeans are fitting looser and a slight decrease in my ‘winter insulation’ after following Intermittent Fasting for a month. A less noticeable muffin top? I’ll take it!
Disclaimer: I was NOT working out super hard or lifting challenging weights during this time, so I was very careful about what I chose to put into my body for fuel. For the past month I have been doing physical therapy and rehabbing my knee. Now, as of May, I am fully cleared to work out so I am excited to see my results after I start implementing more intense workouts.
Remember that comment above where I said I don’t do sugar-coated re-caps?? 🙂 I purposefully cut out sugar (nearly any form of it) and was conscious to read labels and check nutrition facts. I did notice that my sensitivity to sugar has heightened over the past month.
If I have a small treat or something with sugar, I immediately tasted it and surprisingly felt a few things were ‘too sweet’. It was nice to give my body (and taste buds) a break from sugar and was also shocking to notice how much sugar is in almost every food. It’s super sneaky!
I have also noticed that most fruits and some fresh juices taste much sweeter than before and I have a hard time finishing a glass of juice. Overall, not a negative, if anything it’s made me more aware.
Since I have implemented the IF strategy, I am so happy to report that my ‘hangry’ issues have almost completely resolved. I am no longer tormented by the highs and lows of my blood sugar. Better yet, I have learned to control my nutritional timing when I do eat, for more consistent blood glucose levels. I am hardly every shaky or feel like I ‘need food immediately’. I have also stopped stashing hangry snacks in the car, or my gym bag, or even my purse because I truly don’t need them anymore.
I have noticed that I am more in tune with my body after a month of IF. I am able to tell when I actually feel hungry versus when I am thirsty or needing something else. I am no longer using food or alcohol as coping mechanism. (That’s a story for another time.)
By giving myself a specific window of time for nutritional intake, and not pressuring myself to start eating until I actually feel hungry, I am able to focus on what my body is really telling me. The clock starts when I need it to. That has allowed me a sense of ‘food freedom’ that is very refreshing.
So now that I’ve talked about some of the plusses, let’s chat about some of the possible negatives. These are just based on my IF experience, but I am sharing them with you for transparency. In case you are encountering something similar, please know you are not alone!
Some ‘not so positives’.
Beloved foods that don’t love you back.
I am a sucker for peanut butter. A skill I once bragged about was my ability to crush an entire jar of peanut butter in a single sitting under the guise of ‘casual snacking’. This, sadly, is now a thing of the past.
It turns out, my stomach does not react well with the salt, sugar, and other ingredients in most peanut butters. At first, I thought it was a fluke. I would eat healthy all week, and then on the weekend I would eat peanut butter on celery or with an apple, and BAM my stomach would be so upset. It was rumbly and gassy pretty quickly after I consumed it (I would say within a half hour). I figured it must be the celery.
Then the next time, it surely must be the apple. It literally took me an entire month, and lots of trial and error before I sadly concluded it was the peanut butter. *Sigh* Now that I have cut it out of my diet, I don’t have those GI issues anymore. Nut butters are only slightly better, but work when I’m having a real craving.
The same goes for a specific type of protein bar I used to love. I loved this brand so much, I ate a bar nearly every day. Sadly, after taking a mini break from eating them, only because I ran out and needed to order more, when I reintroduced them, my body said “no way!”. Turns out they were made using a type of sugar alcohol my body doesn’t love, so those are a thing of the past too! Truthfully, I am less sad about the protein bars than the peanut butter. I also religiously check protein bar ingredient lists for this sugar alcohol to avoid the same issues. It’s in a LOT of bars, especially those with “low sugar”. Beware.
This was something I was surprised to find myself reading more about. In the beginning, I was so hungry when I started my eating window, that I would cram a LOT of food in my mouth, basically as fast as I could. I would eat too much too fast, and then would have an upset stomach. Not good.
By realizing that I could add ‘healthy fats’ to my coffee in the morning, I was able to keep the hunger in check. Then, when my eating window opened around noon, I wasn’t eating everything in sight. By taking my time when eating, and being more mindful of the tastes, textures, and flavors, and fully chewing my food, I was able to slow down. I enjoyed my food much more and was able to feel my body signal when it was full. No more over eating. This was huge! Learning to listen to your body is important and IF has absolutely helped me tune into mine.
Some people just won’t “get it”. They will question and criticize everything from the meals you eat, to your portion sizes, even the smell of your food. Learning to be OK with that can be a challenge. I found it intrusive and even offensive at times, but ultimately I found it best to just ignore it.
My health is more important than anyone’s criticism or unsolicited opinion. Just be prepared that not everyone will be as excited about your nutritional choices as you may be. Don’t let it bother you. You do you!
Oh goodness, there are so many dishes. From the meal prep for the week ahead, to the dishes from each day’s meals. There are Just. So. Many. Dishes! I make a conscious effort to stay on top of the dishes each day, otherwise they multiply like rabbits. I also try to be environmentally conscious and choose re-useable glass containers for my food and beverages. Glass is BPA free and dishwasher safe too! Safer for me, better for the planet: win-win!
Forgetting when your window started.
So, this sounds like a silly thing, but it’s real. It may even make you think you have early memory loss issues. Write down when the eating window opens each day. Trust me! I put it in the notes section on my phone. I know you may be thinking “it’s so easy to remember, why write it down?” but as the days turn into weeks, and the weeks start to blend together, I find myself less sure of when I actually started eating. Simple fix: put it in a note or memo to self. Problem solved!
That’s it for my recap of month one of intermittent fasting! I hope you found this recap helpful. There are so many positives (and a few not so positives) about intermittent fasting.
If you’ve got questions about your IF journey, check out this convenient 8 page PDF download designed to answer the most common questions you’ve asked about Intermittent Fasting!
Have you tried IF yet? If so, what did you think? If you want to but haven’t made the decision yet, what’s holding you back? Keep the conversation going and join us in the Wellness in Healthcare Facebook Community! I can’t wait to see you there!