one year of intermittent fasting experience

1 Year of intermittent Intermittent Fasting

No, no, it’s not a misspelling. This is all about my 1 year experience of intermittently doing intermittent fasting. Last year in the beginning of May, I came across some information about fasting on YouTube. I knew a bit about fasting and what it does and what it means to the body from the religious point of view. Yes, and the food you are supposed to eat and not eat during the fasting period. However, intermittent fasting was something new to me at the time. At least the concept or the name given, because in a way I had been practising it when I was younger before going to uni.

What is intermittent fasting? It’s the same question I asked myself. It is a regular fasting by which you eat in a specific eating window daily, letting your digestive system to breathe for 16-18 hours per day. During those 16-18 hours (or a bit less, if you are just starting, let’s say 12-14 hours) you do not eat anything. You just drink water, tea or coffee (with no sugar or milk). Because I was hooked with the idea of cleansing the body and having a better digestion and charmed by the release of the growth hormone that occurs during the fasting period and its wonderful anti-aging effects, I jumped onto it. From eating all day long, every 2 hours for 16 hours a day, I moved in one night to eating 2 times a day during 8 hours. The opposite of what I was doing up until that point. I had no issues in adjusting to the schedule of eating. In fact, because I was expecting to experience the hunger effect in the morning, I went on with the expectation that I will be feeling hungry, but I will drink more tea. Clean even more my body. It was very easy to me to do it. Contrary to what I expected it to be, a bit harsh, not very easy to adapt but it will be worthwhile, it was extremely smooth in my experience. Probably because I wanted it to work so much. I was enthusiastic about my discovery and about Dr. Berg’s YouTube Channel. It was also Kinobody Channel that I discovered and a few others after digging more, Thomas DeLauer (who is more into ketosis) and at the time, I was watching Jon Venus for a while also, and realised that he had a video on fasting a while ago too, but at the time, it did not click anything in my head. Probably because I was associating fasting with something radical and too sudden, like dry fasting or religious fasting as it is in my religion. So, researching more and more with each day I was fasting, I realised how natural it comes to me to do it, but at the same time, was doing some exercises because I wanted to tone up my body. Kinobody entered my frequency for that scope. Little by little, I learned more about the process and realised the deep changes that were taking place inside and outside my body. The first week went off quite fast. And because I was pleased with the easiness of it all, the flow of the experience, it’s probably why I carried on. The first few days, the first main difference occurred.

intermittent fasting 1 year experience
Photo credit – Olu Eletu

I realised just how much clearer and focused I was compared to the times of the past when I would eat every 2 hours to have energy and enough drive to go through the day, to cope with the multitude of tasks and customers over the phone in a very demanding and challenging fraud department of a call centre. I realised just how my concentration improved, I was able to deal with the situation so much smoother and I had a better mood overall to deal with stress. I believed that you need sugar and glucose in your blood and brain to have energy. I was so wrong. You need the lack of that to be focused. To have determination. Perseverance. To avoid procrastination and to be dynamic and energetic. 

Intermittent fasting made me realise just how much I was addicted to food, and sweets to believe that I needed it to go through the day. To actually work well. My brain was foggy and addicted to food. I was eating every 2 hours because that’s what some doctors and health specialists recommend, to eat often and less. But that triggers your insulin levels every 2 hours. Those mood swings? That insulin going up and down every time you eat was the main reason I had mood swings. And they were powerful, I was so mad, angry and upset on myself for my job. I hated my job. I thought that the reason I felt so up and down was the work I was doing. Maybe it played a part too, but then, how come after this intermittent fasting, the game changed completely? Little by little, I realised it was not the job itself. It was my lack of focus, my lack of presence in dealing with the tasks and customers situations was the reason I felt I did not enjoy what I was doing. I was caught in a carousel of emotions every minute because my brain needed more sugar to have the energy necessary to deal with frustrations, stress and challenges, and deadlines and timescales. I believed you need energy to cope with a demanding job. I was wrong. What you need is focus, a clear head and a peaceful mind. Those mood swings caused by this insulin swing and insulin resistance were not making me feel at peace. My mind was scattered in thousands of directions and I could not focus on one thing, because I did not wish to focus on what thing. I was actually wanting to deal with the feelings I had at the time. Those feelings of frustrations and feeling stressed, overwhelmed, annoyed with customers and annoyed with life for being forced to have that type of job (which I still do, but I have a so much better, peaceful and mindful approach towards). I had my brain injected with poison every day, every single hour and my brain only wanted the sugary thing. My brain could not focus on the task at hand. It had to deal with its addiction. I, on the other hand, had to deal with my brain addiction and its lack of focus to cope with my job. I was torn apart because I was upset on myself for not being able to cope with the chocolate addiction and for not being able to handle my job fulfilment. Too many emotions. So much chocolate drama. Food drama. I was constantly thinking at my next break and what to eat. I was always thinking of food and what I could eat. All the time, my brain and my mind were located in the food paradise. It is overwhelming for the conscious mind. It was not sustainable and anyone reading this, understanding what I say, feeling alike or glimpsing, yeah, it kind of feels like me, my God, you have no idea that life does not need to be like that.

Intermittent fasting has changed my life. I have also learned lots of stuff about health and mostly about myself and about my mind. Not my brain. My brain does what my mind tells him. The brain is an engine that we need to use for our mind’s use. It’s not the other way around, as most of the people live by, and as I lived by not long ago.

After the first month of intermittent fasting, I lost my period. I lost it for around 2 months, and then freaked out and stopped the 16-18 hours of fast. Went back to eating around 3-4 meals a day without skipping breakfast, but this time, it was different. Eating regularly felt different. I was more aware of what I was experiencing when I wanted to eat something in particular. Especially if the food desired was chocolate. I knew I was craving that because I felt unloved. I felt unfulfilled professionally. I felt I was not using my gifts or my talents and I would need sugar to compensate me for my failures. It was as if my brain was telling me, but you have this, eat this now and you will feel better, you’ll see, life is better after something sweet, life is sweeter after sweets. I realised I was not my brain nor my mind. I was more than that and I was not a reflection of what I felt I should eat. I understood the differences between what my brain is, what my mind is, and what my consciousness and spirituality is. I felt free of the burden of my brain addicted to food and free from thinking all day long of food. I felt free to actually focus on what I had to focus on. Things were so much clearer in my head and they transpired in my work. I was getting better at focusing at my day to day role. I felt less the stress that a couple of months ago I was experiencing. I was more at peace with myself. This was such a great realisation to me. Like an epiphany. Something like, so that’s why this happened. So that’s why I was doing that. It was like suddenly knowing something.

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My chocolate cravings diminished hugely during and after the intermittent fasting period. I went on after the 2 months intermittent fasting to a one month let’s say normal eating, but I was still eating in a eating frame window of around 12 hours. I was letting more time between meals before jumping to another one and I felt less and less the need to eat every 3 hours. I felt relieved. I mean, if this is what rehabilitated people from drugs or alcohol feel, I do understand why they would fell off track. It’s the emotional side of the addiction that needs cure, not the biological one. It’s very easy to make your brain understand it does not need something you are addicted to, but it is hard and it takes time to make your heart understand a trauma or an emotional conflict and how to overcome it correctly without the involvement of addictive substances. Because sugar is a substance if you did not know. A toxic one. It’s poison. POISON. TOXIC. Then during that time, my period came back. So I decided to adjust my fasting window to one more hour. But it turned out it was actually 15-16 hours, it’s just that I did not realise how easy it was for me to forget I needed food. I was not feeling hungry and when I was eating I was enjoying food SO MUCH MORE THAN EVER BEFORE. I could sense and taste more. My experience with food not only changed but improved in terms of sensations. It’s weird. I realised I was actually doing intermittent fasting without knowing in early November. I think I had a flu or something because in November my period did not come. But at that point I was not as concerned as I was in the first month. Because by that time I thought I just need to stop this for 2 weeks and it will flow again. Which it did. but then, I met a health consultant and I realised just how wrongly I had been eating all that time. Even though my sweet cravings have diminished a lot and the sweets that I was eating were more natural or better, and I was anyway and still am into organic food and wholefoods, I was making mistakes which I hope you will not do. Eating sweets after main meals, no matter what label of natural and better for you they have, is still sugar and sugar combined with any other food is alcohol to the liver. It’s more than sugar toxicity. It’s damaging for the liver, especially in the long term. The second mistake was that I was not consuming enough of greens, I was eating vegetables and I love them, but I enjoy more peppers and tomatoes and radishes and onions. I love onions. Very little greens like salads, kale or spinach. And that’s a huge mistake on a ketosis (high protein diet or lifestyle) or an intermittent fasting lifestyle. When you fast, the body releases lots of toxins from the body and they go through the liver to be cleaned out of the blood and the body. Not having enough of greens and its nutrients an other chemicals that help the liver to stream them out of the body is quite heavy for the liver. It’s like unpaid overtime. After a while, the performance will diminish. Why bother when there is no pay? I stopped that non-sense I would say in time. But that does not mean that the years before that, when I would eat a bit of desert after each meal, which is like alcohol after every single meal for more than 10 years-15 years, have not marked some difficulties for my liver to clean myself and itself. If the liver cannot heal itself through the greens we consume, then it won’t have the capacity to clean toxins and waste from our bodies. And that’s when I finally understood why parents said to us when we were young that we must consume vegetables and we must eat our greens. They must have heard it from their parents too and maybe in the past it was simply put out as for health benefits because vegetables have lots of nutrients and vitamins. But the reason we need it, is because those vitamins and nutrients help us live. If our liver would not perform as it’s supposed and expected to, then it would not have much life, and neither would we.

So, bottom line, eat your greens daily. In November last year, I did change a bit my lifestyle and my intermittent fasting became even more drastic. I stopped eating sugar. Little by little, I had since December last year to April this year a sugar free diet or lifestyle. And it felt amazing. I did lose a lot of weight (2 kg for me, being quite skinny, is a lot) mainly because I stopped consuming those foods which were high in sugar and hidden sugars and because sweets were expelled for a while from my diet. I talked about my sugar free experience in this post here, if you are curious how that made me feel and what I learned from that.

intermittent fasting 1 year experience
Photo Credit – Phi Phi

The reason I called this post intermittent intermittent fasting is because my whole year was intermittently an intermittent fasting. I had 16-18 hours of fast. I had 12-14 hours of fast and also I had 10 hours of fast. But I did not once had a fast lower than 10 hours. In the last month, being April at the time of this post, I had intermittent fasting for around 12-14 hours. Which seems to work best for me now. And I started including a bit of sugar too. The recommended sugar per day should be 20 grams max. If you take a look at a package of biscuits you will realise, the whole package if eaten, and most of the times, by most people it is, it contains 40-60 grams of sugar. Can you imagine how much toxicity is in your body if only one package of biscuits has that amount and you would consume your coffee with sugar, you have a fruit yogurt or you eat a piece of cake as desert? And that’s without counting the hidden sugar in bread, sometimes meat, precooked meals etc. It’s unbelievable.

When I started intermittent fasting, I did not want it to lose weight. I am skinny anyway and always have been. I was interested in the long term benefits such as anti aging effects due to release of the growth hormone, no more insulin resistance, detoxifying my body naturally, better focus, improved sleep. I actually forgot to mention this, but I experienced a diminished need for sleep. And when it comes to sleep I am a koala bear. I would sleep A LOT. This aspect changed since doing IF. I am not needing to have 10 hours of sleep. I am able to cope just above fine with 7-8 hours. Which is an extra benefit to me. I am no longer tired and dreading to wake up in the morning. The attitude towards that changed also probably because my moods are now constant. And not up and down. I have lost weight even though my purpose was not that, but I am comfortable getting it back too, I would simply need to switch off the IF for a couple of months and eat regularly like 4 times a day. I noticed that when I was fasting and training I had seen an improvement in my muscles, in the sense that I was a difference before when exercising and not doing IF and after. It was more vivid the change. IF also is said to actually maintain your muscles and contrary to the believes that if you do not eat, your muscles will lose their weight. Actually, that happens when you are starving, but during IF you are not starving, you simply are not hungry because your body naturally does its job and it provides the energy it needs from the fat stored in your body, without the need to ask your brain to manipulate you into giving a treat. Cause, we are not dogs, are we?

In conclusion, my intermittent fasting thought me the following 5 important things:

  • I am not my brain and its thoughts. I am consciousness and I am human.
  • Mindfulness is very powerful and you understand it better through intermittent fasting, being much capable of practising it in other areas after an IF experience
  • Your focus is on your food or on your present moment. It’s one of the two. If you are not experiencing the present moment, it’s because you have a food addiction and an insulin resistance issue.
  • Peace truly comes from within. I have found peace and the opposite of this peace is called insulin resistance and its twisted mood swings and impulsive actions and consequences.
  • Do not underestimate your brain nor its power to dominate you. You have no idea how clever you are. You sabotage yourself daily and you don’t even know that it’s your brain doing it to you, because it’s the brain controlling you instead of you controlling your brain. And it’s really not that hard to manage it.

Intermittent fasting is part of my lifestyle now, I am also considering ketosis, however that is something that in my opinion should be tried out a couple of times during the year, like a couple of months. Do more research into that. Do lots of research into intermittent fasting if you are going to try it out. Do not jump into an 18 hours fasting period because, even though at first I thought it was easy, it was not easy to my body, my period disappeared. A hormonal imbalance does not equal health. Do it gradually, from 9 hours of fasting to 10 and so on. I am now doing 12 hours simply because my body is a machine. It serves me, but I need to take care of it. Sometimes you take your car to repairs. Sometimes you need to be loose. Experiment with balance. This is what I want to do. Not too much of anything but not too little either. A bit of everything in equal parts. Intermittently.

That’s how life is. Intermittent times of great fulfilment and deep mad disappointments. What we need, is to learn to jog with the two and bring the positives from a negative experience and think of the bad things in a good thing. Insulin resistance should be stopped in emotional situations too. Going from high to low is devastating and rising from low to high can be to euphoric sometimes and too much adrenaline may cause issues. Equilibrium. Intermittent equilibrium.

intermittent fasting 1 year experience
Photo Credit Remi Yuan – @remiyuan

 

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11 Comments

  1. essaysbyces

    Thank you for sharing this! I read through it and will do again. I like how you said that we can control our brain and our thoughts – it is certainly one of the things I became aware of since I started IF 15 days ago. It’s re-training your brain and resetting some habits around food. 🙂 Happy to have come across your post. I appreciate reading stories/experiences of people who have been through what I am going through as well. Hope to read more from you!

    Like

  2. thehaven23

    Thank you very much for taking the time to write this very detailed blog post. I have heard about the benefits of intermittent fasting and haven’t pushed myself to getting around to it. Because of the benefits you have listed I most certainly will be adapting fasting to my lifestyle! Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

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