By LMQC Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell, St. Ambrose communications professor, RAGBRAI-er, pizza lover, and longtime weight watcher.
I found the new magic formula for losing weight: Don’t eat.
Intermittent fasting is the latest “diet” thing. And yet it isn’t.
When I’ve mentioned to friends that I’m trying it, they all seem to know about it. And yet, so did my mother. … 65 years ago. When cleaning out her desk a few years back, I came across a fasting plan dated 1955.
My mom loved to say there’s nothing new under the sun. I can hear her now. But at least now, there’s more science behind the plan.
For the last few years, I restricted my eating between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. I’d read an article that had research to back up this method of conscious fasting.
And for a number of years, that plan – in addition to paying closer attention to the amount and quality of food I was consuming – worked.
But I am human. And because the plan worked so well for so long (5 years), I slowly stopped paying close attention to my diet, figuring I had solved my 50-year battle of the bulge(s). However, as noted in last month’s blog, that’s not the case. The battle is never over.
Shortly before Christmas, I realized I was 8-10 pounds above where I wanted to be.
Those of you who have been on similar journeys know the last 8-10 are often THE hardest pounds to lose. Because it’s not THAT much weight. And you think it won’t take that long … once you start a program. And because it’s not that much weight and because it won’t take that long, it’s easy to say that you’ll start the program … tomorrow.
But tomorrow can take days, weeks or even months to come.
Luckily, my inspiration to start a new program came in the mail the next day. In the form of Prevention magazine. The cover story seemed to scream at me: 19-Day Weight Loss Plan!
I know, I know. Magazines often feature headlines like “6 Days to 6-pack Abs.” And I’m usually immune to them. Usually.
But this one intrigued me because it was similar to what I was already doing, restricting my diet. But the 19-day plan was a bit more restrictive, only allowing eating during an 8-hour window. So instead of eating 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., I began eating between 12 noon and 8 p.m.
The mornings were hard at first. My normal routine had been to work out after the first cup of coffee, shower and then eat breakfast. My new routine required me to find other things to do for 4 hours.
But I found if I kept busy – not in the kitchen – the time went by fairly quickly and I didn’t even realize I was hungry.
In a way, the plan was easy because for 16 hours of the day, I didn’t have to worry about calorie counts, or making eating decisions because there was one simple answer: NO!
And during the 8 hours I could eat, I found I was focused on quality food because my window for eating was short and I wanted what I consumed to hold me over the 16-hour fast.
The first week I went from 175.8 to 172.8. The second week I lost another pound (171.8) and the third week, yet another (170.8). A total of 5 pounds in 3 weeks.
I felt so successful I was ready to write a diet book and go on the daytime TV talk show circuit.
But then reality struck. Flush with my success, I made the mistake I’ve made so many times before: I could ease up on my restrictions because it was working so well.
And during the 4th week, I gained a pound back.
Although it may not be for everyone, intermittent fasting works. But only if you stay focused during the time you CAN eat and choose good foods in proper proportions. If you do, the plan works and works fairly quickly.
I’m going to keep doing it until I get it right.
|Meet Battle of the Bulge blogger, Alan Sivell. Alan is a communications professor at St. Ambrose University and a former reporter for WQAD-TV who has exercised – and dieted – his entire life. Read Alan’s other blog posts.|