I think the obvious question from some will be, why would I choose to try this? If you haven't read the previous posts, I generally feel good when I fast whether it's been done intentionally or unintentionally. That's not to say there are not times when it didn't suck because there have been. There have been occasions when I've fasted and then eaten half the food in the house when it was over. Clearly, that's not the best idea (those were generally fasts in the 20 plus hour range.) I tried the, Master Cleanse once. I made it three days on little food and the nasty "lemonade" you're supposed to drink and frankly, I think it'd be easier just to avoid food all together rather than do it their way again. Oh, and if you can't tell I don't recommend trying it. I'm sure there are others elsewhere who'll stand by it but my ass isn't one of them. A second reason I want to try this is because for me, fasting generally isn't that difficult. Will there be days when I'll be itching to eat before my window opens? No doubt but for me missing meals isn't the hard part. Where I have problems much of the time is stopping after I begin eating. That's when things get dangerous for me. I'll binge if I'm not careful, and that's not necessarily because I'm post fast. I have an admitted unhealthy relationship with food and yes, fasting could possibly be a coping mechanism for dealing with it though I don't know for sure. That's best left up to someone with more knowledge on the subject than I.
I'm also not doing this on a whim. This has been something I've been thinking about for over a month and during that time I've played with it a little day to day. It's already shown some clear benefits weight wise and I've also felt better overall, other than days I've eaten things I shouldn't (coming back to this shortly). As such I've laid out some parameters to follow:
- Keep a Food Journal : I've tried this more than once with limited success, mostly because I'll miss a day or two and then it all falls apart. However, when I've tried it previously it was by using an app on my phone, which I'm currently unable to do because I don't have the available storage. So it's currently back to pen and paper, which I honestly don't mind because I'm weird like that. Additionally, I'm planning this initial fast for 30 days. By planning a beginning and an end, I believe that mentally I wont fall into that "constant diet" mentality that becomes so emotionally wearing over time and thus will have a much easier time maintaining consistency.
- Plan Workouts for Eating Hours: Last week I did a training session at the end of a 20 hour fast as research. It sucked, and I'm not just talking about doing it while hungry. The session itself sucked. My numbers were down, I was in a constant fight to continue, the further in the more I yawned (which I'm coming to believe is a sign of nutrient deficiency for me), and simply put, I felt heavy all over. I suspected that it wouldn't be a good workout but it was one of those things I wanted to experience for myself and I did. While I can't say it'll never happen again, going forward I'm hoping planning ahead will help me avoid it.
- Daily Plan: It would be much easier if I could just say today that from 9pm to 9am I'm going to fast daily for the next 30 days. Unfortunately, that's not going to work because I work a couple overnight shifts per week and that must be taken into account. And it's not just those days, it's the day prior and the day after because unfortunately, at least for the time being, I'm struggling to move to a consistent night schedule and my days and nights are in a constant rotational flux. Common for night shifter's from my understanding and something that must be considered. In order to do this, there are days when my fasts will be extended or my eating hours will be cut to adjust but I'm not too concerned honestly. Some hunger pangs may arise here and there but that's to be expected regardless.
- Two Weeks of 12, Two of 14: That's fasting time. From some research it seems that many people, at least once they're into it for a bit, have an 8-10 hour daily window for eating. To begin, I decided to extend it a couple hours to increase the likely hood of continuing. Basically I want to set the stage for some mental and moral victories before moving on so that's what I'm going to do. The first two weeks's I'll have a daily 12 hour window in which to eat (9 am to 9 pm today for example). The last two weeks, I'm going to cut it to 10 eating, 14 fasting. Who knows, I may find it unbearable and move back to 12 and 12 but I won't know until I try it. For now though, this is the plan and as I'll be updating periodically, I'll let you know how it works out.
- Food Experimentation: I'm going to be playing with and trying some different foods throughout. This kind of goes with tracking but some things I'll be consuming expressly to find out how my body reacts. I've been dealing with some, what I believe to be, gut issues, for awhile and because I'll already be tracking, this is the perfect opportunity for me try and find what my body is processing well and what it isn't. I already know things like milk, mayo, and creamy dressings are a no go and believe that white pasta is as well but how is my body processing bread? How's it working with crackers? Are there certain veggies I feel better eating over others? This are a few of the questions I'm hoping to answer. 30 days may not be enough time to answer everything but my hope is that it puts me on the right track.
- Food Tracking: While I'm planning to track my food and keep accounts of the physical feelings, I have no plans to limit what I eat nor get deep into tracking specific nutrients like micro and macro's at this time. My current focus is on the fasting potion as well as doing the food experimentation. Getting deeper into the nutritional portion may happen at a later date but that's not my intent here. It may and likely happen some because hammering down Cheezits and Snickers is clearly unhealthy but I won't be getting to the end of any days and worrying about whether I hit protein or carb goals. While definitely valuable I'm afraid attempting to do to much at once will increase the likelihood of failure. I'm going to eat during my hours, see what happens, and adjust accordingly. If nothing else, this will give me a good baseline for further adjustments later.
- Imperatives: Imperatives are the things I believe must be done daily in order to get the most out of this process; physical, mentally, and research wise. I could be missing a few and reserve the right to add:
- Accurate Daily Journaling
- Drink 1/2 body weight (150 oz est) in ounces of water daily
- 3 cups of vegetables. Recommend daily is 2 1/2 but I'm a big guy and it can't hurt.
- Eat kimchi daily. Recommended for gut health and it's delicious to boot.
- Fish oil. Easiest way other than eating to get omega 3's is to simply take it in oil form.
- Daily vitamins. Multi, Vitamin D, Garlic. May add more eventually.