The time came for me to put a STOP to my intermittent fast...AT LAST!
It lasted exactly 4 long days, 19 hours, and 15 minutes.
BUT IT FELT LIKE AN ETERNITY! Remember that intermittent fasting (IF) experiment I started this past Sunday night at 6:00pm? You know, the one that respected low-carb author and expert Dr. Mike Eades had suggested at his blog last week? Being the nothing's-too-hard adventurer that I am, I decided to try it. Boy oh boy, what was I getting myself into!
All I have to say about IF in retrospect is UGH, UGH, and UGH!
Perhaps it would be completely unfair of me to not tell you the lessons (yes, there was something good that came out of this experience) I learned about myself in the context of my diet and health.
Here is a recap of a few things I discovered:
1. I noticed I was pretty addicted to caffeine still. That first day of fasting was painful because of the massive headache I had for most of the day. Once I got to Tuesday, though, the headaches had subsided and I changed my diet soft drink choice to Diet Rite since it has both Splenda and ZERO caffeine. This is a change that will remain permanent until I decide the time has come to give up all diet sodas. I'm not there quite yet.
2. I felt what it was like to be truly hungry again. My philosophy has been to NEVER allow myself to get hungry so I don't slip back into those old habits I used to endure, especially during my low-fat diet experience when all I did was have hunger pangs. But listening to my body is something beneficial to me now that I am at the stage where food temptation does not befall me anymore.
3. I realized just how important eating enough food to fuel my daily high-powered cardiovascular workouts really is. While I tried to keep up the same resistance and speed of my elliptical workout on day one when I was fasting, it just didn't happen. While I usually have a 13 resistance at 8.5mph, I had to back off to 7 resistance at 7.0mph to make it through the same amount of time I usually do. Of course, I burned less calories as well. What was worse was even on the days I COULD eat, the very noticeable LACK of energy persisted and did not come back until I ended my IF experiment. I'm still trying to regain my strength and endurance.
4. I found out what being ravenously hungry was again. After my second fasting day on Wednesday, I told my wife Christine that we would be going out to Steak & Ale for their all-you-can-eat Prime Rib special. When we have gone there before, they haven't been as busy as they were this week. So the steaks took longer to come to the table than they usually do. I was so hungry that I ate a whole plate of salad in just minutes, devoured the first prime rib, waited 20 minutes for my second and killed that one, too. Then my server brought me another one about 30 minutes later (after my food had settled a bit in my stomach) and I started to eat it when I got halfway done and...WHOA NELLY, I was full! Not just full, but REALLY REALLY FULL! As in, it hurt so much I had to take some Tum-ta-Tum-Tums and lie down for a bit when we got home. I was quite the ravenous beast!
5. Going without food for 24 hours for me is not realistic. My head was hurting so much on the first day from the caffeine withdrawals that I barely noticed how hungry and light-headed I felt. But by my second fasting day on Wednesday with the headaches gone, I felt like I was floating around my office ready to tip over at any moment. My body was lethargic and walking around was so surreal as if I wasn't in the living world. As hungry as I was, my co-workers kept asking me if I was okay because I wasn't my normal chipper self. And it's true. All I wanted to do was have some food and it would even be low-carb at that. But it was not permitted on my fasting days.
Call me a wimp for not making it through even one whole week on this intermittent fast experiment, but it was just not for me. Like Dr. Mike, I think the biggest lesson I will take from this experience is that I don't necessarily have to eat when I'm "scheduled" to. Our bodies are quite complex mechanisms and know when to give us the signal for providing nourishment. The fact is that our stomach can remain quite satisfied even when everyone else around us is chowing down on food because it's "time to eat." Check out this follow-up post about the intermittent fasting versus Protein Power that Dr. Mike addressed at his blog a few days ago for some additional thoughts about this.
Will I do an intermittent fast again? If you ask me right now, then the answer is a resounding NO! But perhaps I'll rework it some in the future and maybe move it from 6:00pm to 12:00pm which may work better for my life. I'm always open to trying something a little different like this in the context of livin' la vida low-carb to see if it makes a difference. And that's the final lesson I think we can all benefit from. Never get so comfortable in what you are doing that you lull yourself into a false sense of security about your weight. We are all susceptible to putting on some weight when we least expect it even when we have been doing our low-carb diet perfectly. Believe me, it happens, so be ready for it!
So, THANK YOU Dr. Eades for reminding me that livin' la vida low-carb is an ever-evolving concept that should be continually worked on to help lose and maintain weight while always striving to improve our health. For now, I will be returning to my omega-based diet plan again exclusively for seven days a week and NO MORE FASTING! Hee hee!
Another day of this would have had me screaming from the top of my lungs, "CALGON TAKE ME AWAY!" Or even worse, "TO THE FUNNY FARM, THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY, HA HA, THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY, HO HO, HEE HEE, HA HA..." Yikeseroo!
9-23-06 UPDATE: It seems I'm not the only one who didn't think too much of the IF diet--read another person's take on it at detoxify this!