Category Archives: Back in US

Why I fast

A few years ago, I became aware of something that was being referred to as intermittent fasting (IF for short). Every now and then, I would come across something written about it.  An intriguing concept for more than just weight loss, it was being promoted as a “mini” elixir for life, so I decided to dig into it.  That’s how I discovered Dr. Jason Fung and his books.

Today, intermittent fasting is becoming more mainstream. I would hope that this is a result of success breeding success.  There’s more serious research and as a result more serious voices advocating the health benefits of fasting. There are even fasting apps. While weight loss appears to be the primary and featured benefit, this has a ripple effect for everything from heart disease to diabetes.  This is not a diet but a lifestyle which promotes a short window for eating.  Most people who adopt it start with and stick to an 8 hour window during a 24 hour day which is the only window where they can eat or drink anything but water, black coffee or tea, and green tea.

In my experience, this is the easiest way of fasting.  All you are doing is throwing one main meal – either breakfast or dinner – out the window.  That gives you a straight 16 hour stretch with no food.

bowl-centimeter-delicious-1332189.jpgWhat happens to your body when you fast?  Perhaps the simplest explanation is that fasting drains your body of its glucose reserves which are its main energy source from food (and why you eat).  Once that happens, your body has to switch over to burning fat for fuel.  This is referred to as ketosis and is the primary way that you lose fat, inches and weight.

Today there are numerous resources available for anyone who wants to try IF including entire blogs dedicated to this topic.

The key for everyone to understand is that weight loss is only one of the many benefits that can be derived from this way of living and eating.  People who have no weight to lose are also adopting this lifestyle.

Take me, for example.   Well, actually, don’t take me for that example!  I am constantly in search of fat to burn.  Unfortunately, it’s not that difficult to find!  What I meant was that for me the benefits of IF are far greater than simply weight loss. 

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Here’s what I have personally experienced:

  • Inches lost (more than weight; Likely it’s because I’m toning up and muscle is denser and weighs more than fat).  I feel and look leaner (but not meaner :))
  • More energy, more focus, more clarity
  • Happier relationship with food; when I eat I don’t really restrict what I eat. I try to eat healthy, homemade whole foods, lots of fruits and veggies.  But not always.  Sometimes, it’s a cheeseburger and apple pie from McD’s and I love it!  No more strict restriction on a type of food (carbs), more balanced eating, more balanced and happy with food!

While these are the experiences I can personally see, feel and touch, research tells me that there are other benefits that I am reaping.

Here is an excerpt from a blog focused on IF that talks about the other significant benefits:

I don’t need to lose weight. Why should I practice intermittent fasting?
Beyond weight loss, there are several benefits to intermittent fasting related to the following key health markers:

  • Inflammation: Some studies have shown a reduction in inflammation– a condition linked to several chronic diseases including asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Insulin Resistance: Intermittent fasting may reduce insulin resistance thus lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Brain Health: Intermittent fasting increases “brain-derived neurotrophic factor” (BDNF). High BDNF is associated with lower Alzheimer’s risk.
  • Cancer: Some animal studies suggest that intermittent fasting may help prevent cancer.
  • Anti-aging: Intermittent fasting has been shown to extend the lifespan of rats by as much as 83%.
  • Heart Health: By reducing LDL (“lousy”) cholesterol, triglycerides, inflammation, and lowering insulin resistance, intermittent fasting can reduce the risk factors for heart disease.
  • Autophagy: IF triggers autophagy – recognized as a crucial defense mechanism against malignancy, infection and neurodegenerative diseases.

I love the name of this blog – Food Can Wait!

I started this journey in March 2016 and can’t be happier.  Over 3 years! I feel like I have earned the right to say that it is my lifestyle.  To begin, my daily fasting method was “16:8” i.e. 16 hours of fasting and an 8 hour window where I could eat.  All this meant to me was skipping breakfast which I replaced with two large cups of black coffee during the morning hours.

For anyone who thinks this is hard, that’s such a poor excuse for not starting!

Today, my normal regimen is a 23 hour fast on weekdays, Monday to Thursday, i.e. 23:1 – also known as OMAD (One Meal A Day). I thought this would be so hard and I have been pleasantly surprised as to how easy it has been. What’s funny is the “1” in “23:1” and how I experience it. I feel like I am eating for the entire hour! Like a camel. 🙂 My normal time for eating is around 5 pm on these days.

Sometimes the 23:1 fast can extend to Friday but that normally means I don’t have anything fun planned for Friday.  Now, that’s rare.  On weekends, I am back to 16:8.  Somedays its 18:6 or 20:4 or even 14:10.  But, that’s okay.  This is a very forgiving lifestyle!

Your body will survive just fine without all that mindless eating.  I guarantee it.  And if you have any extra fat on your body, watch it burn, baby!  The real question is really to your mind.  Are you up for it?  The first comment I hear when I try to suggest to others the benefits of IF is, “oh, that sounds really hard“.  It’s not. 

Ask yourself whether you want to be more healthy tomorrow than you were yesterday.  And then count all those tomorrows against yesterdays.  My goal for my next birthday is to be healthier then than I was 20 years ago.  Is that a good goal to have or what?!! And it’s totally achievable; I feel that with the focus I’ve had on it, I am already on my way there. IF is the key solution for me – probably the most critical one, addressing the diet pillar, with the other lifestyle markers being exercise, sleep and mindfulness. It pays to care about all of them.

[Preaching conclusion:] If you don’t start, you’ll never know how easy it is, or how beneficial.  And if you don’t know that, you will never have the intent to make it a lifestyle choice.

It’s all about mind over body.  One life…how healthy do you want to be?  You decide.

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It’s a mad, mad, mad world

While I was disconnected to writing for way too long, in that interim, two unbelievable examples of the human species became power centers, one on either side of the world.  Can you say narcissist?  And that’s not even the worst of it.  That’s me being kind for a change. Sadly but inevitably, the worlds around these all-powerful leaders shifted and morphed as well. Transient change, one hopes. Hope is a beautiful thing even if it does tend to trick your mind sometimes.

It was so dispiriting to watch and experience these worlds to the point that a few weeks ago, I decided I had enough disgust to last a lifetime (mostly in the Western hemisphere). I needed a timeout – a self-imposed news embargo, from the interminable news cycles that were spinning out of control. I found that giving up my news addiction was an unexpectedly easy habit to form. That’s saying something for a (recovering) news junkie. There was no more devouring of news of any kind except for my daily ten minutes of skimming the headlines of The Times.  Especially no more TV news channels, the kind with talking heads, 24 x 7. And amazingly, nothing drastic happened.  My life continued. And, if anything, I gained back a modicum of peace of mind and a better quality of life. 

So then I began to have this gap hour every evening where I suddenly had the freedom to explore my options. I could read I suppose but I already had other reading stints during my day and night. I could spend more time checking out stuff on my smartphone, but I am smart enough to know that it was only making an idiot out of me.

Switch instead to binge worthy streaming content and a whole new world opened up.  Depending on the show, it was some combination of messy, real, fantastical, down-to-earth, historical, contemporary, futuristic, melodramatic, creepy, funny, sad, mad and more.  Pure delightful, sometimes disturbing, concoctions that had to be forcefully (if not always successfully) controlled from becoming binge consumption to bite sized entertainment.  After too many hours of working, I had found a safe haven of fiction that kept me away from the real news of the day helping to restore my sanity and relax my mind at the same time, even if only for an hour each evening.

And that’s how I finally got around to watching one of the olden goldies of Mad_Men_Logoepisodic content – the brilliantly produced, Mad Men series. It goes back a long time,  all the way to 2007 when the series first aired. That’s ancient for this kind of popular content and I was only now getting to see what all that excitement had been about.

No, not dreamy Jon Hamm.  Although, that one is incredibly….talented!  😉   The Elisabeth_Moss_and_Jon_Hamm_of_Mad_Men_-_5054230830entire show (and I’m only done with the first season) is so very well done.  And as I savored each moment of each episode, rationing myself to one a day, I realized something obvious that was also rather profound.

We have come a long way.  Baby.

Mad Men is set in the world of advertising of Madison Avenue, circa 1960.  To give an idea, here’s a description of Episode 1 of Season 1: New York City, 1960s. In the ego-driven Golden Age of advertising, everyone is selling something and nothing is what it seems.

This show pulls you in right from that beginning and doesn’t want to let you go.  

On the one hand, I was thoroughly delighting in the engrossing drama and entertaining art of it all. And on the other, I watched in horror the deplorable behavior of men and the abuse that women of those times were putting up with it. In the series, I watched the incessant smoking, the three martini “business” lunches, the business men, the advertising executives (all men), the power brokers (all men), the creative directors (all men), the copywriters (men again), the secretaries and typists (all women) and the amazingly, deeply unequal relationship between the sexes, both at home and work.  Blatant abuse of women by men, and the acceptance of the abuse by the women was the normal.   This was 1960…not that far back in the scheme of things.  Truly. Unbelievable. 

And that’s when it struck me…as bad and broken as things seem in today’s world with today’s gross headlines, there is still reason to hope and reason to be grateful about real progress.  For instance, even in the short time that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have been around, more powerful men and influential industry luminaries than we ever saw in that series have lost their careers and reputations as their depraved behavior was exposed.  Our tolerance level for this bad behavior is at an all time low and continues to decrease.  As of October 2018, 201 powerful men had been brought down by the movement, and more than half their replacements were women.   And in the 2018 midterm elections, there were a record 36 new women voted into Congress.  This would have been unheard of in the mad world of the ’60s.  Secretaries and typists only? Ha.

We have come a long way, baby.  Indeed we have. 

So, if you feel like me about the sad current state of things, don’t let a couple of temporarily powerful, odious, divisive leaders (parading as human) come in the way of all that has been accomplished by the good. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to watch the nightly news yet.  But when all is said and done, good trumps evil over time.

Wait for it.

 

 

Picture Credits:

Angela Natividad [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D

RibaX [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D

 

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