Another year in the books

I had a birthday recently — 34. Wow.

I don’t know about you, but with every year that passes I think about what I accomplished and what I didn’t, where I thought I would be by this time in my life as opposed to where I actually am, and whether I even want the same things I thought I wanted a year ago.

Dirty 30 Party 035The past few years have been a little more pleasant especially when I look back at the pictures from my 30th birthday. I had a blast at that party, but the photos remind me of a struggle I had been fighting for a long time.  This was a year before I started fasting. As I’ve said in other posts, I wasn’t what many people would consider “fat”, but I wasn’t where I wanted to be. Of course, that didn’t stop me from having 2 slices of cake that night or a slice of that cake every night for the next week. I was never bothered by my weight enough to make big changes in my diet and exercise plan.

IMG_5263It turns out I didn’t have to. I know fasting might seem extreme or hard work to some, but it was pretty simple for me to follow and adjust to. This photo was taken on my 33rd birthday, about 2 years after I started fasting — about the time I really felt like I nailed it. I remember showing up to my day-drinking brunch and telling my friends that even a year ago, I would have been too self-conscious to wear a skirt that fitted.

It’s been a little more than a year after this was taken. I still wear that skirt. I still eat cake. On the other hand, I still wake up on Mondays and question whether I’ll get through the day with only 500 calories or bail and go get pizza.  In my 3 years of intermittent fasting, I’ve only bailed on a fasting day twice (I can’t turn down an unexpected invitation to dinner). Overall, I feel like I’m winning this battle. Cheers to another year of that!

Fasting Day Pleasures

Fasting can be depressing, especially when your co-workers bring in delicious-smelling food for lunch or if your friends decided to go out for happy hour at the last minute. I’ve found a bunch of things to do to keep myself in good spirits. I try not to do things that “fill the void” like shopping and (unfortunately) there’s no amount of boredom that will make me want to clean my house, so here are the things that make me happy when I can’t have food.

Drinking some fancy tea
Tea is one of the few things I can have an unlimited amount of on a fasting day because it has no calories. I try not to go crazy because it does have caffeine and it stains my teeth, but I got fancy tea from London a few years ago — Harrod’s Earl Grey blend. I wanted it to last, so I drank it sparingly and it turned into my mid-fasting day treat. My supermarket has Twinnings Earl Grey, so I usually have that, but there are lots of cool flavors of tea out there to try when I get bored of this.

IMG_6728Using up my “products”
I’ll bet there are tons of fun things in your bathroom cabinets and drawers that you used once and then never bothered with again: facial masks, bubble bath, oily hair treatments. I sometimes use them to turn a fasting day into a spa day! Much cheaper than the actual spa, too.

Getting a mani/pedi
I’m terrible at doing my nails. I leave them to the professionals and since I have more time on a fasting day I’d much rather go to a nail salon after work than on a weekend when it’s crowded. I’ll usually have a simple microwavable dinner afterward so I won’t ruin my nails.

Going easy at the gym
I do still work out on fasting days when I’m able to, but I definitely don’t work as hard as the days I eat. I still feel good for working out, but I don’t overwork myself. If I don’t make it to the gym then, weather permitting, I take a long walk.

Going to bed early (or sleeping in)
I usually won’t let myself go to bed before 11pm no matter how tired I am. I always feel like there’s one more task I could do, one more article to read, or one more blog post to write, but when I’m fasting I make the exception to end the day (and my hunger) as soon as I want. On the days when I’m working late, I shorten my fasting day by sleeping in.

Binge watch TV
I’m not one of those people who likes to snack in front of the TV and that’s why this works for me. I’m good with a cup of tea or glass of water. I prefer to do something more active on a fasting day, but when I just don’t have the energy or I’m not in the mood, I allow myself to binge watch some things.

What are some fun things you do to keep your mind off of food on a fasting day? Please share in the comments!

Fast Days & Exercise

A lot of people on Instagram have been asking me if I work out on fast days.

Yes. I do.

“I’m fasting today” sounds like the perfect excuse to skip the gym, but I don’t fall into this trap (too often). Plenty of studies suggest working out on an empty stomach is not only safe, but can help you burn more fat than if you eat before a workout. 

I had concerns about this when I started fasting: “am I going to get dehydrated and pass out? Where will I get the energy to work out if I don’t eat during the day?” Sound familiar to any of you starting to embrace the possibility of intermittent fasting in your lives?

IMG_4869I’ve been doing hot power yoga for about 7 years now. It helps me get a good sweat on, gives me some definition in my arms, and gets me moving so I don’t settle into old age at this point of my mid-30s. It may not be cross fit or running or weight lifting, but it’s the only workout I’ve been able to consistently tolerate for more than a few years at a time. And isn’t that what everyone needs: a form of physical activity they enjoy?

In the book, The FastDiet, the authors encourage working out on fasting days, so I gave it a try. Back then, I had a different work schedule and I was able to work out in the mornings. For early workouts, I always ate afterward anyway (fast day or not), so I thought this would be the easiest approach. My body wouldn’t even realize it was fasting yet. I got my exercise in, stayed hydrated throughout the day, and all was well. Once I realized working out while fasting wouldn’t kill me, I tried an evening workout on a fast day — when I was mid-hunger. That turned out to be fine too. So as long as I feel good (hunger aside) and I’m able to hydrate, I definitely work out on fast days. After all, it’s one more thing to keep me distracted from thoughts like “I really want fries right now”.

When I started fasting, I was getting to the yoga studio between 4 and 6 days per week. I moved less than a year ago and the studio I go to now isn’t as easy for me to get to, so I only work out 3-5 days per week…but more like 3…and sometimes 1. Fasting helps me control my weight enough that I don’t see working out as “urgent” anymore. Good for peace of mind, but probably not so good for the body. Exercise is still a priority for me, but I don’t freak out if I have a busy week and can’t make it to yoga.

Workout or not, I still keep it to 500 calories or less on fasting days. Burning calories gets me no reward of eating extra calories. Sorry to disappoint if that’s what you really came here to find out.

F**k Cheat Days

cat-709987_1920Which would you rather do each week?

Diet 6 days and have 1 “cheat day”

or…

Eat like a normal f**king human being for 6 days and diet only 1 day?

If you’re seriously thinking about this, then we can’t be friends.

Oh, by the way: I HATE the concept of “cheat days”.

Cheating, by definition, is wrong. If you look up the definition of “cheat”, other undesirable words  come up with it: dishonest, trickster, hoaxer, fraud, fake, snake oil salesman (still not sure about the origins of this one, but it sounds gross).

Most people with a conscience feel some sense of guilt when cheating on anything (with the possible exception of death). I notice this theme when I read diet blogs and first-person articles about people who incorporate a day of indulgence into their otherwise healthy routines. I also notice they don’t go all-in on their cheat days. They hold back because they feel guilty and are afraid of possibly ruining the progress they’ve made.

That last part is understandable. Dieting is hard and setbacks hurt, but I think if you’re going to adopt new habits to improve your health, then you’re not doing yourself any favors if one of those new habits is feeling guilty about enjoying yourself. It’s like trading one problem for another.

When it comes to food and eating I am GUILT-FREE and I owe that to intermittent fasting.

On Mondays, I get all my sacrifices out of the way and eat whatever I want Tuesday through Sunday. All the fatty, sugary, alcoholic stuff I eat goes down nicely knowing that what I’ve been doing for the past 2 and a half years has been working to keep me at my goal weight and feeling healthy in general.

Does fasting 1 day/week make me a cheater? I don’t necessarily think so, even though I may joke about it sometimes. There’s a price to pay for everything. I pay that price and happily reap the rewards.