By Caitlin Kelly
The idea is simple — two days a week you consume only 500 calories; 600 calories for men.
The rest of the week you eat normally, (assuming that “normal” isn’t mountains of chips and doughnuts!)
As someone who’s been trying to shed 30-plus pounds for a decade, unsuccessfully, I’m trying this instead.
I deeply admire people with the consistent and unyielding self-discipline to weigh and measure every mouthful every day but I’m not that person.
Two days a week? Yes. I can do that and plan around it.
Unlike hardier souls, I’m eating 750 calories on my fast days and, for now, not working out or doing vigorous exercise as my energy on these days is simply too low.
But we’ll see. If I get more used to it, I may.
My doctor knows I’m doing it and she suggested 750 calories, knowing my starting weight.
I’m in my third week of it, fasting Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I also know a few friends who are doing it, so sharing advice and moral support is really helpful, too.
So what’s it like?
Not intolerable, but, for me, tiring and uncomfortable.
It does takes serious willpower and planning and preparation to make sure I have the right foods handy; I work alone at home, so that bit is easy.
I don’t have to care for or feed anyone else, so have no temptation in that respect.
I know all the “right” low-calorie foods and, sadly, hate many of them and won’t eat them — tempeh, tofu, sushi, kale. Please don’t even try to change my mind!
I’ve memorized the calorie counts of some of the foods I like that are also healthy: crispbread (45 per slice), apples (80) and peanut butter (30 per tsp.)
Mornings are easiest — and 3pm is hell!
I go to bed hungry, very grateful to disappear into sleep.
The next morning, oddly, I don’t rush into the kitchen starving. I feel a bit disoriented, wary.
(I’ve never struggled with an eating disorder, so that’s not an issue, as it can be for some people.)
I see progress.
I don’t own or plan to own a scale. My goal is to be down by 30 pounds by September when I have my annual physical with our GP. Ideally, I’d love to shed 50, but not sure if that’s possible.
My clothes already fit differently, looser. I feel a bit lighter.
100 calories — 1 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup zero-fat yogurt
I won’t pretend it’s easy, but it’s definitely not impossible.
9 oz can of tuna; 2 crackers; 1 tbsp mayo, 1 pickle — 215 calories
It’s disorienting to not look forward to breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks or sharing a meal with my husband or a friend. (A treat now is a few Lifesavers, at 14 calories each.)
It means arranging my social calendar, avoiding meeting others when my energy is low and my mood…anti-social. I’m definitely grumpy!
A small salade nicoise: 1 hardboiled eg, 1/2 a tomato, 1 cup green beans, 5 olives and 1 tbsp dressing — 155 calories
It does take planning, making sure I have all the foods handy that are healthy, low-calorie and something I enjoy eating — hard-boiled egg (80) or three cups of asparagus (100.)
I make enormous batches of flavored teas (peppermint, peach, mixed berry) so I have a break from water, selzer and coffee. I drink some diet tonic water for the flavor.
People ask if I binge on “feast” days.
I do indulge in higher-calorie foods (cheese! bread!) and I’m a little shocked by how I do eat, so this has very much sharpened my awareness, and that’s a major step forward.
I tend to eye each mouthful with suspicion, but I won’t freak out about it and am now more likely to split a meal out with my husband and/or bring home half of it to eat on another “feast” day.
I do like the conscious decision to “feast” and “fast.”
It has made me much more appreciative of days when I can eat more — and how it feels to function, let alone work hard, with much less fuel in my system.
I also go to a spin class twice a week and a jazz dance class once a week, plus walking and lifting weights.
Have you tried this?
Has it worked for you?