The skinny on intermittent fasting – follow up

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The weather has been so up and down here that it’s been a struggle to workout this past month. Last week with the humid temperatures, I ballooned up to one of my highest weights ever. I was swollen all over. My face was red. My hair was limp. And I literally cried in bed for an entire day because I hated that things had gotten this bad. I know I am not alone in this. Combination of hormones, the weight, anxiety and extreme heat – are a recipe for an emotional fallout.

So, rather than wallow in self-pity for the rest of the summer, I decided to take matters into my own hands. It’s one of the reason I didn’t want to go to the party on Saturday night. I know people stare at me in disgust and wonder, “how did she let herself get to that point?” I mostly just sit at the table with family I’m close to and ignore everyone else. It’s the way I cope. I don’t get social anxiety. I can handle myself in social situations. It’s just that I’m very aware of how others see me. I see it in myself when I look at the pictures that have surfaced on Facebook. That’s another reason why I don’t go out much. With TikTok and social media platforms, it seems everyone has a phone in hand and loves to record other people at their low points in life.

And so, starting Sunday night, I decided to get back into intermittent fasting. This is really what helps me to drop weight fast. Pun intended. Three days into it, and I already feel lighter. The inflammation is mostly gone. My face is less puffy. I’m still tired as hell and have a migraine. But at least the worst of it is over. I stocked up on new foods yesterday with my bi-monthly grocery order. And I’m excited to try new summer recipes that don’t require turning the oven on.

If you want to learn more about intermittent fasting, you can read my popular post called the skinny on intermittent fasting. Basically, I do the 16:8 fast -where I eat between an eight or nine hour window. The rest of the day, I fill up on water, coffee (1 or 2 cups) or other beverages. Sometimes I give into cravings and have a low carb snack – but I’m really trying to not eat past 8:00 pm at night.

One question I get asked a lot is – what do I eat during that window? How much do I eat? And, why did I choose fasting? Was there a spiritual reason for this?

The answer is easy. In just three days of fasting, I’ve dropped nearly six pounds of water weight. That’s amazing. But if you want to know more, then keep reading.


Health issues became a real problem

I have PCOS which is a hormonal disorder. I also have an auto-immune disorder which causes inflammation of the joints. The hypermobility also makes exercise hard sometimes as my knees give out. Yes, I’m permanently disabled and am trying to get on long-term disability so I can focus on weight loss and recovery. I’ll need a knee replacement in the next few years too.

Over the years, I tried everything for weight loss. I successfully dropped 70 pounds back 2010 from 240 pounds to my lowest point ever – at 170 pounds. I had dropped from a size 24 to a size 12. I managed to do that with low carb eating, cooking most of my meals and also daily exercise. But I was 11 years younger and my knees were healthier. I went hiking, camping, traveling, took boxing lessons, and was at the gym every other day. I was dating and my hormones seemed to even themselves out. At least until about 2013, when I went on a hiking trip and my knee popped out. That’s when I found out I have arthritis and fibromyalgia. And that’s when the chronic fatigue really settled in.

I ballooned up to 240 pounds after that accident and have struggled to take the weight off since. That’s my first time admitting that publicly. My weight has yo-yo’d since 2015 and it seems to be a never ending battle.

With hormones, comes the water weight and retention. In any month, I can fluctuate 5-10 pounds, so I never know my true weight because of that.


Nothing else worked

I have tried so many things to lose weight since 2015 and nothing else has worked. I even went as far as to try anti-depressants for the anxiety and migraines, but nope. I actually gained weight instead. I tried hormone replacement therapy in 2014 and it just made me a bubbling mess. I weened myself off the drugs in 2015.

I tried keto for a couple of months out of sheer desperation and actually wound up gaining weight. I followed everything correctly and was tracking my food on My Fitness Pal. But then it seemed like I couldn’t hit my daily caloric intake with the foods I was eating. So, I would binge eat at 9:00 pm at night to make up for it. Keto or low carb isn’t for everyone. Yes, it can do wonders for some people – but for those with hormone disorders? It’s not a quick fix. That said, I love a lot of keto recipes that I still use, even if I’m not fully keto.

I think it was in 2019 when I got sick again that I decided to give intermittent fasting a try. I managed to get myself down to 230 pounds for a while there and was feeling good. That was from 250 pounds to 230 pounds. The most weight I had lost in a few years. I felt great. But it seemed like every few months, emotional stress or anxiety would push me over the edge and I gave into cravings and binged. I ate my emotions instead of talking about them. That was around the time I started this blog to talk about the struggles. And then I went into therapy in 2020 and it really helped – a lot. I’m a different person now.


Even medications wouldn’t work

Back in January, when I saw my new doctor, we had a long conversation about my struggle with weight loss. I was open and honest with him. I told him I was doing really good and then due to work stress, I gained thirty pounds in over a year. He was surprised to learn that even amitriptyline made me want to sleep all day and did nothing for the migraines or my anxiety. He then suggested Mirtazapine for weight loss.

And within a month of taking the drug, I was back to sleeping 20 hour days. I went from extreme insomnia to just wanting to stay in bed. So, that was another drug that failed to help. I see him in a couple of weeks and am going to ask for some lab work to see what else we can try.

I’m working on getting my sleep back to normal and trying to get in bed by 1:00 am each night. Sometimes it’s hard with the heat. And last night was one of those no sleep nights. But honestly, regular sleep does help. And that’s my goal this month.


What I eat in a day – low calorie foods

This is a great question as I get stuck in these food ruts and then tend to gravitate towards junk food and crap food when I don’t feel like cooking. I did some research last weekend to find some new recipes for inspiration. My eating schedule is either 11:00 – 7:00 pm or 12:00 – 8:00 pm. If I get up earlier in the morning, I find it difficult sometimes to fast for that long. So my schedule might look like 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Rule of thumb for me, is to try and not eat past 8:00 pm. I eat two good sized meals each day with a healthy snack. So that’s lunch and dinner.

As for calories, I aim for low calorie foods and try not to go above 1500 calories. This will vary from person to person. The more active you are, the more food you might need. Here is a list of meals I’ve had over the last few days. I do allow myself to have bread as a treat – but am making a conscious effort to reduce my gluten intake.

I love bread, tortillas, pitas, pizza. I’ve learned to eat these things in moderation. Instead of three meals a day with bread, I have cut down to only one.


Breakfast options:

  • Oatmeal with a banana and cinnamon (made with quick oats)
  • Piece of fruit with yogurt
  • Hard boiled eggs with 1 piece of wheat toast
  • Grain cereal with skim milk and berries

Lunch options:

  • Chicken salad (cooked chicken, lettuce or kale, cottage cheese, cucumbers, etc)
  • Lettuce wraps (protein, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, or peppers)
  • Pita or tortilla wraps (tortilla shell, lettuce, tuna, or other protein, cottage cheese, pickles, etc)
  • Raw vegetables and hummus (carrots, cucumber, grape tomatoes, bell peppers, snow peas, etc)
  • Soup and toast (mostly a winter meal when it’s cold out)
  • Other salads – I mix it up with different types of salads that don’t require lettuce (kale, avocado, etc)
  • Avocadoes and eggs are delicious together too – or just eat an avocado on its own
  • Party platter – finger foods like crackers, cheese, vegetables, fruit, sausage, etc

Dinner options:

Dinner is mostly the same options as lunch in the summer months. But I usually have my bulk of protein here. Steak is a treat that I have twice a month. Most nights it will be chicken, pork, tuna, shrimp, or some kind of casserole. The other night I made a really great rice cooker dish with smart pasta, tomatoes, and cheese. It was 500 calories all together.

I love making things like chili, bean dips, or chicken fried rice in my rice cooker. Sometimes I’ll switch from rice to quinoa for something different. Quinoa is very filling – but I’m not a fan of it all the time. Same with rice. It’s not my favorite. But Jasmine sticky rice, I do love. I have a pack of udon noodles that I need to use up too.

My cupboards are stocked with canned goods, smart pasta (about once a week), beans, soups. All things I can just heat up quickly if I’m not in the mood to cook. I will order in about once a month if I feel like a treat. Like pizza. Because, pizza.


Snacks:

There are days that I’m just not hungry. When it’s over 30 outside, I find it hard to eat. So these days, I’ll graze like a bunny on raw vegetables, fruits and snacks. Last night, I made a delicious party snack mix with nuts, pretzels and cereals. You can keep these on hand for a long time. A handful or two of that and you’re good for a few hours.

Filling up on things like roasted nuts, pumpkin seeds, fresh berries, or other fruit, or even two scoops of low fat whipped cream – these are all my top choices for snacks. I also am a popcorn addict and this is an easy and low calorie snack that is fairly healthy and will fill you up.

When it comes to drinks, I have 1-2 cups of coffee daily, drink flavoured water throughout the day and have a can of diet pepsi with my dinner. That’s pretty much it. I do have chilled teas from time to time but have been a bit lazy on that with the weather.


So, that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. My goal for the rest of the summer is to continue with intermittent fasting as much as possible. To get my sleep back on track. Exercise and go for walks on cooler days. It’s going to be hot again this week and I’m just trying to keep my condo as cool as possible. It’s sitting at 25C right now which is nice. All my curtains are drawn to keep the heat out.

The other thing I’ve come to love doing is sitting on my balcony after 11:00 pm. The stores are closed. Most of the traffic has died down. I sit out there until midnight or 1:00 am. And for the most part, no one even knows I’m up there. If I want added privacy, I can throw a towel over the balcony fence. But even my neighbours above can’t see me where my bench is now. I have a huge tree to the right of me. And I love it. I aim for 20 minutes of sun during the day. And 1 to 2 hours in the evening. Why? Because our summers are so short. I’m making the most of it while I’m able to. I’ll have to figure out something for winter months like maybe getting a heater I can put out there. Only in Alberta can we go from 40C in the summer to -40C in winter.

Are you struggling with weight loss? If so, let me know what has worked for you in the comments.

For related posts, check out my fitness page.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Hilary Tan says:

    I am a yo-yo dieter and have concluded that diets don’t work. So keto is out (tried it), and pretty much anything with major food restrictions (tried those too). It’s not sustainable long term which is why I think most of us end up yo-yo-ing. I don’t really call intermittent fasting a diet because there aren’t food restrictions. Intermittent fasting does work, but for me it’s only worked when I listened to my body. I lost 25 lbs back in university from intermittent fasting (aka being mindful about only eating when I’m actually hungry, and skipping a meal as a result). I’ve even lost weight living off of McD’s for a while despite my health conditions. But that was when I was VERY in tune with my body. My professor taught me that children are most in tune with their bodies, and that we need to go back to that place before we were influenced by society.

    One thing I’ve noticed about overweight ppl in general is that they tend to eat quite healthy. The issue is that they eat 3 meals a day plus snacks etc. because society has convinced us that we need that much food. It’s a myth that we need to eat 3 meals a day. It’s also a myth that we need to count calories. Children don’t count calories and naturally know what their bodies need. If we just listened to our bodies we would know when to stop eating. I need to lose weight too and had forgotten about what my prof said until I read your blog post about intermittent fasting. I hope this resonates with you as well! 🧘‍♀️🌱

  2. Wendy says:

    Yeah at best I eat twice a day with a snack. I was always taught as an older person to ” eat six small meals a day”. I even had a personal trainer tell me that as recently as 2010. Like who has time to cook that much? And imagine what the grocery bill would be like.

    For counting calories, I do it to make sure I eat enough or that I’m not over eating. I’m giving calorie cycling a try as it seems to work for a lot of people.

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