Before you go because of the title, please be reassured that this is not a preaching blog post recommending intermittent fasting as a cure for all life or health problems or other BS like that.
It’s just my experience with it.
The reason I started intermittent fasting last year is that I’ve been working from home for the past 7 years. And while it’s tempting to idealize that as making my own schedule and having plenty of time for being outside and exercising, most of the time working for yourself means very long hours and working weekends, exhaustion, burnout, and chaotic eating.
For me that chaos meant eating at my computer, small quantities but also small intermissions between meals. Though my eating habits at some point should be better characterized as snack more than meals.
A bit of context
2019 was a crazy year for me. For the first time since I started in 2007 work dissatisfaction settled in fully, with a sweet mix of disappointment, frustration, and a sprinkle of disgust. So much so that I wanted to shift gears toward gaming industry, either put my design skills to work and add 3D, or learn C++ and turn programmer.
My biggest concern became my state of mind, and funnily enough the last thing on my mind was how this would reflect on my body. Craziness sometimes makes you forget the two go together…
Needless to say one year like that took its toll on me. Especially because it didn’t come out of nowhere, it was just the climax point of about three years of dissatisfaction and boredom with what I do.
It sneaked up on me in time, and translated into a weight issue, and worsened mental state. Besides work, I now dreaded myself even worse. In hindsight, nothing is worth paying with your health, be it physical or mental.
My break point was October, when I had to visit my family (I’m not a German native), for the first time in 4.5 years. That’s when all the traumas came back and hit me in the face almost like they didn’t happen a lifetime ago. But “12 Days of Horror” (how I affectionately named my vacation) went by, and I returned home to Berlin with a strong decision of putting a stop to my decay.
Routine is the new black
…and always has been.
I started working out a schedule the very day of my return home. And it all started with something I had in mind on my to try list for a while: intermittent fasting.
Just like I started veganism, I started intermittent fasting on a trial basis and see if it’s a good fit. Given my previous record of purely chaotic eating, constantly eating small batches of food, I was sure I was going to fail this after a few days, and I will feel constant hunger.
Surprise, suprise… I didn’t. No joke, it was my biggest surprise. For the past 6 months I had 2 meals/day at 12AM and 6PM. Ok, old habits die hard and I must admit that the first 1-2 days I partially kept my old habit of very small meals, and that was insufficient. A little hypoglycemia set in and first night I went to bed feeling hungry.
But 1 day trial is not enough for anything, and I knew giving up so soon would be a huge mistake. Plus, for some reason Master Yoda was going on a loop in my mind with “Do or do not, there is no try” 😀 Craziness aside, I wanted to give my trial at least one week (worst case), preferably one month.
Low and behold, though, second day was better, and third was the charm. There’s nothing like a growling stomach to “teach” you. I started eating proper meals at the same hours every day, with no exception of between-meals eating. It sounds harder than it is really. It’s all in your mind.
Cooking 2 meals/day
Now I usually start cooking the meals 1 hour before eating time, and try to include as many nutrients as I can. For example I do eat a lot of rice (usually basmati or thai), but besides veggies I always include tofu and/or cashews, peanuts, or peanut sauce I make myself.
I’m a “Tofu forever” person, I love it so much that I can eat it simple, no marinade or condiments. But I do argue that condiments make a huge difference and I do bother to improve and experiment with my spices.
There was no miracle weight loss (about 3-4 kilos only), so if you were expecting me to throw some uplifting weightloss stats, I’m sorry to disappoint you with my honesty. But keep in mind that I’m still chronically sedentary, so there’s much to improve in that aspect. Also age is a factor. I’m in my 30s and find weight piles on when sedentary. I had no weight issues in my 20s.
The small weightloss din’t disappoint me though, as my goal was changing my habits. The win for me was the effect it had on my state of mind and tangentially on a few other life aspects.
I can plan my meals and my shopping now. I eat more wholesome meals. I function like an internal clock, and if I begin to feel hungry, I know it’s about an hour before meal time, and I have to start preparing. My body is not demanding sustenance frequently because of the inadequate intake, and my insulin levels have time to adjust between meals, not having constant little bump ups.
To do or not to do
Just like veganism, intermittent fasting with 2 meals/day is not a good fit for everybody. So I won’t end this with a wholeheartedly recommendation just because it was a great choice for me.
Maybe just give it a try, but just like veganism, don’t force it on your body if it doesn’t resonate with you. The scope is to improve your life and health, not make you miserable. But: don’t give up just after day 1, commit to a choice when you make it, and DON’T CHEAT!
Alternatively, you can have 3 meals/day. The thing is to respect the 8 hours eat + 16 hours fast rule. And NO snacking between meals.
Stay healthy & stay safe!