The challenge of intermittent fasting

By Caitlin Kelly

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A great doorway on East 9th Street, NYC

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?

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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.)

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Verboten! Sigh….

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.

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100 calories — 1 cup strawberries, 1/4 cup zero-fat yogurt

 

I won’t pretend it’s easy, but it’s definitely not impossible.

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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!

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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.)

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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?

 

 

 

 

Happily Married? Time For Bigger Trousers

A picture taken, of A Green Salad.
Yummmmmm.....Image via Wikipedia

Not surprisingly, people who have found a partner and settled into a happy marriage or life with them, tend to gain weight, reports Abby Ellin — (author of a book on teens and weight loss) — in The New York Times:

Call them happy pounds, love chub or the marriage 15. No matter what, gaining weight during marriage is about as common as holding your breath under water.

A 2008 study in the Journal of Economics and Human Biology examined data from 12,000 men and women ages 18 to mid-40s. Compared with when they were single, the body mass index (or B.M.I., a height-to-weight ratio) of married men increased by 1.5 percent above and beyond what they would normally gain as they aged, and that of women shot up 2 percent.

“Marriage brings along with it social obligations: you eat out more, entertain more frequently, cook meals more frequently, and there’s also an element of being too busy to exercise,” said Laura Argys, an economics professor at the University of Colorado at Denver and an author of the study. What’s more, for better and worse, married couples tend to share behaviors and activities, like snuggling on the couch with a vat of popcorn rather than hopping on the treadmill.

There are also incentives that could explain why the B.M.I. of couples who lived together without making it legal increased by only about 1 percent. If you’re married, the thinking goes, you’re somewhat settled. You don’t have to prove yourself; your spouse will ostensibly love you, all of you, muffin top notwithstanding.

The skinniest I’ve been since moving to the U.S., partnered, living in places that demand driving everywhere and  assaulted by American-style huge portions, was the week my husband bailed and I didn’t eat for a week.

Fifteen pounds — gone! Hot new boyfriend showed up three weeks later.

I’ve been with the sweetie a decade and we are both fighting this weight(y) issue. We love to cook, love great food, love eating out, know how much we make one another happy with a terrific meal shared in a restaurant or cooked well at home.

Other than the obvious, there aren’t a gazillion quick, easy ways to show your love; your hubby can tuck a brownie into his briefcase (or green salad, yes) but which — when homemade — most signals your love?

Breaking the calories = love link is a challenging one. No longer does the sweetie (sigh) bring home muffins. No longer do I bake. But, no matter how beautifully prepared it is, I just can’t get all misty-eyed over yet another bowl of leafy greens with a tbsp. of oil and vinegar dressing.

How do you handle the issue at your house? Have you gained (or lost?) weight when happily partnered?