Intermittent Fasting Retrospective – January Health Challenge

In January, I decided to try intermittent fasting to see if it would help me lose weight and feel better. I decided to do something difficult and stick to a 18/6 schedule where I don’t eat for eighteen hours per day, and only eat for six.

My wife joined me in this challenge, while working on her own additional health challenges. With her school schedule, there were difficult days where she had to break fast early or eat a bit later than expected.

The goal was to only eat between noon and six in the evening. Most guides on intermittent fasting say that you should start with something easier, with the goal to have at least twelve hours of non-eating time so your body can work to clear out all the sugars and carbohydrates you ate.

The biggest thing that I learned in doing this health challenge was that I’ll have to revisit intermittent fasting when I have a better control over my eating.

Basically, for the first week, it was great. We were cooking our meals, focusing on healthy food, lots of vegetables, and then it took a slide into crappy eating. It likely doesn’t really matter much how short of a window you give yourself to eat if all you do is stuff yourself with high calorie, high sugar, high processed carbohydrate foods, and that’s basically what ended up happening.

I’d get to noon and feel ravenous. My willpower would be next to zero and I’d eat junk to satiate myself. I’d eat until I was nearly exploding and then do it once more around four in the afternoon to try to get in as much food as I could to make it until noon the next day.

I am pretty certain you can see why this is dumb.

It wasn’t just a willpower issue as that would be overly simplistic. It was also a time and energy issue. I work from home, but I’ve been very busy lately trying to juggle many different projects. Annie is back in school and focusing on that. Between the two of us, we just don’t have the interest in managing the process require to purchase, prep, cook, and clean for meals each day, especially since we weren’t thinking and planning ahead.

If we were smarter, we would have had a meal plan, we would have prepped ahead of time so that at noon, we would have had healthy options at the ready. Instead, it was like runners at a gate, waiting for the gun to go off to signal them that they can sprint away, except instead of a track field, it was chips, pop, donuts, candy, juice, bread, noodles, and cold cuts and instead of running, it was like competitive eating.

So, was it a failure?

Well, I was able to stick to the schedule, every day except three. On the ninth of January, I broke thirty minutes early to eat some fresh from the oven cookies that I had made. On the twenty-fifth, I finished Annie’s Coke at my aunt and uncle’s place after the normal cut off time. And on January 31st, I broke an hour early to have fresh from the oven cinnamon buns that I made before Annie had to head off to class.

As for my weight, I didn’t gain, but I also didn’t really lose any. I went from 278.8 pounds at the start of January to 277.9 pounds at the end of January. A loss of less than a pound and thus, a statistical nothing.

The hardest part of this whole thing was not snacking in the evening. After a long day of work, wanting to unwind with eating something or watching a late night television show or even YouTube video, and I wanted to munch on something, anything…

I don’t remember ever feeling like I was going to bed hungry, but I do remember waking up feeling hungry on more than one occasion.

Would I do this again?

Yes. I’d like to maybe try again later in the year using what I’ve learned and hopefully, finding a month where Annie is not in school, my schedule is a bit more reasonable, and planning meals and healthy options ahead of time. I think I could be more successful with intermittent fasting than I was in January, but I am also proud of the small victory of sticking to the timing for twenty-eight out of thirty-one days.

February Challenge – No Added Sugar

As for February, we are going to try to do a no-sugar added month. This doesn’t mean no sugar or no carbs, but instead avoiding added sugars or processed sugars in our foods. So we could eat a steak, potato and corn, but we couldn’t drink juice with it unless it was fresh squeezed with no added sugar. The one thing that I gave my wife was that she could have honey. Because it isn’t a processed sugar in the same way as maple syrup, I told her that she was good to go.

We will also be looking at reducing our overall carbohydrates during February. I am hopeful that, even if I don’t lose any weight, that maybe the weight I do have won’t be so concentrated on my gut.

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