Even though fasting has become very popular among fitness aficionados, it is still a daunting and foreign concept for some people. No, you will not die because you are starving yourself. Studies have shown that intermitted fasting is good for you and has several health benefits. Done properly and mindfully, intermittent fasting will help you lose, or maintain weight, and even break a weight loss plateau. It will improve many facets of your general health, save you time and money and provide you with consistent yet flexible nutrition, health, and a wellness regime.
To get you started on your fasting journey I have some helpful tricks and tips to make your experience as productive, user-friendly, and successful as possible.
· Focus on flexibility. Rather than getting upset about not eating, focus on the flexibility of intermittent fasting and how much time you are allowed to eat in moderation rather than being on a relentlessly restrictive diet.
· Remember who you are. Be mindful of your likes and dislikes, your emotional triggers, and your relationship with food. You need to drive the intermittent fasting bus – not the other way around!
· Remember your goals and appreciate the process. Getting used to fasting and implementing it as part of your lifestyle is going to take time. Appreciate the journey and do not keep asking “Are we there YET!?”
· Fasting is the best way to activate your suppressed hunger cues. Learn to listen to your body. Intermittent fasting will give you the opportunity to identify what physical hunger feels like, then you will be able to tell when emotional hunger strikes.
· It is easier to accomplish a fasting period starting with a morning time frame, it takes a while for your body to “wake up”. So by the time you notice you are hungry, you would have probably been halfway through your fast.
· Try to be extra productive in the morning and stay busy. The less time you have to stop and think about food the better you will get through fasting.
· Leave your house. Get away from any temptation, the fewer visual cues you have of food the better. Especially if you are new to fasting.
· Prepare your next fasting meal. It does not help your weight loss efforts to run to the nearest KFC and order a family feast for yourself when you are allowed to eat. Prepare a healthy meal to break your fast.
· The key to intermittent fasting is all mental. If you can stop listening to the negative voices in your head full of preconceived notions, you will gain the calm clarity necessary to navigate your fasting journey to healthy feeding.
· Make fasting suit your lifestyle. When will it suit you too fast? In the mornings or afternoon/dinner time? Choose a time that makes it easy for you to stick to your fasting plan.
· Don’t overeat. If there is one thing intermittent fasting should teach you, is that there will always be another opportunity to eat. Learning delayed gratification eventually teaches us how to deal with food cravings and make better choices about food in our weight loss journey.
· When you eat, practice eating slowly and mindfully. This goes hand in hand with overeating. Delayed gratification is a beautiful thing, when you do eat don’t gobble it down, no one is going to steal your food.
· Track your results. Tracking is useful in helping you figure out what’s working and what’s not working. This will help you decide where to make adjustments and modifications.
· Make sure you stay hydrated and avoid salty foods before your fast starts.
The bottom line is that fasting is very possible and actually very normal. Children "should" go to bed at 8 pm and mine get up at 6:30 am, well 6:50 am if we are lucky. Sometimes we can push that snooze button right past 7 am. So if you see me in my gym clothes at the school drop off you will know it's been one of those mornings. Anyway, that's redundant information, my point is that’s 10 hours without food!!
It’s all in your mind. Developing an intermittent fasting mindset is your biggest key to success. Here is the thing – if you start your fasting period and 5 minutes into it you are thinking “I’m never going to get through this, I’m already hungry!” Looking at your watch neurotically counting down the seconds till you can eat. Then you have already set yourself up for failure. My bet is you won’t last 30 minutes. Negative thinking will only sabotage your efforts. Before you start a fast write down 5 positive thoughts and stick them to your fridge, your laptop, or your water bottle! Anywhere you can read them. If you are thinking “I’m feeling stronger, I don’t eat when I sleep, I can do this” chances are you will in fact succeed.
In the words of the sociologist William Thomas, “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” Interestingly, this holds equally true for mental scenarios!