I’m not an expert here, but I am a huge advocate of listening to your body and finding what is best & works for you!
This method has personally worked wonders for my physical health (as of mid October 2018, I’ve lost 32 lbs) and my mental health + clarity have never been better. I highly suggest playing around with foods and fasting to see what makes you feel and function at your very best!
March 2017 - July 2018
Truthfully, I started to practice intermittent fasting before I even knew it was a thing. DJ had done intermittent fasting with some workout program he was focusing on a year or so prior, but besides me knowing the name of what he was doing, I did little-to-no research on the topic. He’s into heavy lifting and reading about how carbs breakdown into sugar so you should drink 1/2 your body weight in liters of water a day…. or something like that. Me, as you can probably tell, not so much.
It was January 2018, I had just turned 27, had just returned home to Jacksonville, Florida from an amazing trip to Singapore + Thailand, and overall just felt stuck. I was going through a lot of back-and-forth internally about what I wanted out of life.
I wasn’t happy in my current job- which was made abundantly clear while traveling. I became comfortable in the day-to-day and lost sight of the creativity and lacked motivation. In every sense of the phrase, I was stuck in a rut.
So, long story short, I decided to take on a lot of freelance clients in an attempt to see if it was viable to quit my secured job, but as a result, began working 15 hour days up-keeping both. I quickly became overwhelmed, but didn’t know what to do about it.
I couldn’t quit my job yet; I didn’t make nearly enough freelancing to make up for my lost salary, benefits, 401k- you get the picture. But at the same time, it had been 3 months of 15 hour work days, and I was burning out physically & mentally. Something had to give.
And, to not leave you completely hanging, something wonderful DID blossom from that struggle, but I will leave that for another story when I cover quitting my secured managerial marketing career & launching my first business!
Back to the current, self-overworked state I was in during mid January 2018 – April 2018 where I accidentally discovered intermittent fasting.
Since I was working 15 hour days, I needed to keep my energy levels pretty consistent throughout the day. I knew, just from having a desk job for 4.5 years, that I was always more motivated when I would snack throughout the day rather than eat full meals.
Well, during these 3.5 months, I was overworking myself into a ball of stress and when I become stressed, I’m one of those who lose my appetite. If I tried to force myself to eat, I’d get sick. To me, it wasn’t worth it- plus, I gained my appetite back at night.
After a month, I noticed that I was preforming better during the day and getting twice as much work done in the same amount of time. I still would get up from my desk, drink coffee with almond milk creamer, and talk to my co-workers. Nothing besides my eating habits changed during this time, but this was the time frame my mental clarity became strongest and weight dropped the quickest.
I kept plenty of snacks stocked up in the office- here were some of my favorites!
- Hummus (we had access to a fridge)
- Apples + bananas
- Whole wheat pita
- 100% peanut butter
- Sprouted bread
- Baby carrots + bell peppers
During the first 3 months of (accidental) intermittent fasting, I would typically finish eating around 8:00 pm the night before and begin eating around noon, which is a 16 hour fast.
If you’re new to the concept of intermittent fasting, fasting is simply the time that you spend not eating and allow your body to fully digest what you ate the day prior.
Think of it this way- every person fasts while they sleep, and the first meal is when you “break” the “fast”. Aka, what we have adapted to be known as “breakfast”.
I didn’t follow this strictly, of course, but only because I didn’t actually realize what I was doing (lol). Around noon, my stomach would settle, I would be in rhythm for the day, already have had a cup of coffee, and this is the time I’d usually reach for the first snack, which was typically one of the listed above.
After 3 months of 16 hour fasting 5-7 days a week, I had lost about 15 pounds and was feeling like I was rounding a new corner. Friends and those around me were curious to what I was doing, but truthfully, I didn’t know. I was crediting this change to cutting dairy, since it coincidentally happened around the same time. (After a spree of migraines, my doctor suggested eliminating dairy from my diet, which has cut my migraines down tremendously!)
However, after a little bit of research and feeling like I had almost been “inflamed” before starting this diet- my cheeks were becoming less full, my stomach bloat and digestion issues went almost completely away- I stumbled upon the name to what I was practicing: intermittent fasting.
I quickly became encompassed with the health benefits and studies I read about this ancient practice:
Fasting has been a practice throughout human evolution. Ancient hunter-gatherers didn’t have supermarkets, refrigerators or food available year-round. Sometimes they couldn’t find anything to eat.
As a result, humans evolved to be able to function without food for extended periods of time. In fact, fasting from time to time is more natural than always eating 3–4 (or more) meals per day.
Fasting is also often done for religious or spiritual reasons, including in Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism. source
As well as became fascinated with it’s incredible health benefits and started to make connections to this diet I was unknowingly practicing + the way it was making me feel –
- Improved mental clarity and concentration
- Weight and body fat loss
- Lowered blood insulin and sugar levels
- Reversal of type 2 diabetes
- Increased energy
- Improved fat burning
- Increased growth hormone
- Lowered blood cholesterol
It was around April 2018 when I began researching the benefits and becoming more aware just to what I had been doing for the 3 months prior. From there, I gradually started building up more time and playing around with the hours that best worked for me. I became aware of the time I would finish eating at night and since have worked my way up to 18 hours, which is what I currently am doing, 8 months later, in September 2018.
Through taking the time to play around with various fasting lengths and different types of food, I’ve found what works for myself personally and in the past 9 months have lost a total of 32 pounds + have improved mental clarity & strength. It takes time! I highly suggest playing around with different hours of the day & fasting in general. Patience is key + remember to be kind to yourself in the process! 💛
HERE’S WHAT I DO!
I typically try to fast each day, but am more flexible when staying with family. I can’t quite turn down my sweet Oma’s homemade breakfasts when we visit, and having the freedom to pick and choose when to practice fasting has a liberating appeal to it.
I usually don’t get hungry until later in the day and prefer to eat at night. I usually get most of my work done in the early morning hours (hello coffee, my bff) and then at night (hello food, ily).
I will typically finish eating around 9 pm. I have a sweet tooth and usually snack on an Oreo or two to finish out the night. 😇
During the week, I’ll typically fall asleep around 11 pm and wake up around 7 am. I’ll brew some coffee, hang outside with my cats, and then get to work. I drink coffee almost every day and like to mix in some almond milk creamer. After drinking my coffee, I’ll stick to water. Here’s when I focus on working, running errands, cleaning the house – generally doing anything that needs to be done, until around 3 pm.
This is when I now start to get hungry. (Reminder that it took me months to be comfortable with an 18 hour fast time. Start slow!)
Once it’s after 3, I start to snack. I usually reach for no bake bites (these are some of my favorites to make at home), an apple with some peanut butter, pita with hummus, or a Lara bar (this flavor is my favorite).
I usually eat one meal each day, simply because I’m only eating in a 6 hour window. I snack throughout the 6 hours though, so all my nutrient boxes are still getting checked, just in smaller bites and simpler ways.
I’ve included some sample meals and snacks I love! My preferred cooking + eating methods have always been very minimalistic. I reach for wholesome ingredients and foods that have a small ingredient list.
Food is one of my favorite things in the world! It brings people together, is one of the best providers of comfort, as well as warm memories.
Here are some of my latest kitchen creations-
- sprouted bagel
- Kite Hill dairy-free cream cheese
- sliced tomato
- fresh basil
- balsamic drizzle
- Everything But the Bagel seasoning
- Trader Joe’s sprouted pizza crust
- vegan pesto
- caramelized onions + mushrooms
- roasted broccoli + garlic
- balsamic drizzle
- tomato basil tortilla
- vegan mayo
- yellow mustard
- Field Roast Chao dairy-free cheese
- red onion
- black olives
Tom Yum soup no shrimp, sub tofu plz! from one of my favorite restaurants in Jacksonville, Florida! Hawkers
- spinach tortilla
- Kite Hill dairy-free cream cheese
- power green blend
- balsamic drizzle
Have you heard of or tried intermittent fasting before? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!