6 weeks of intermittent fasting by a woman

Six weeks ago, I started an intermittent fasting eating schedule. I wanted to lose some belly fat. From what I gleaned on the internet about intermittent fasting, when we go longer than usual without eating, our bodies burn fat for energy instead of the customary fuel source, glucose.

Feeling some hunger is also in line with the experience of most humans throughout history. They put on fat from feasting, and when food was scarce, they felt hungry and burned fat. Hunger was part of their lives, and the human body is designed for occasional fasting.

After reading about various configurations of going without food (some fast 1-2 days a week, some do 12-hour daily fasts, etc.), I decided to go with a 16-hour daily fast, 7 days a week. Breakfast is the easiest meal for me to skip. I do more physical work in the afternoons and need energy for that, and I enjoy unwinding with dinner. So from 8 pm until noon I would fast. A good chunk of that time, I would be asleep — a natural 8 hour fast. So really, I only had to abstain from eating the first few hours of each day.

Continue reading

A hero’s journey: lessons in reversing diabetes

Note: This is a summary of Phyllis’ return to health after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. To read her four-part story, start with Part 1.

“The adventure of the hero is the adventure of being alive.” ~ Joseph Campbell

The path to healing autoimmune disease is not a well-worn path, but it can be done. If it’s possible for Phyllis to reverse her Type 2 diabetes, it’s possible for others. Many people still treat autoimmune diseases as intractable — believing they can only cause a steady prolonged decline, and there’s nothing you can do about it except take the prescribed medications and wait for disability and death.

Even doctors, as Phyllis learned, don’t always offer counsel that lifestyle changes can improve health.

I wanted to look at Phyllis’ sojourn as steps she took on her life path where she learned to choose those forks in the road that led her in the direction of better health. Continue reading

The mindful diet

First. Let yourself get hungry. Abstain from eating so that you feel hunger. Check in with what your body is feeling every so often for an hour after you first feel hunger. Notice whether the sensations stay the same or change.

Drink water and notice what happens. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. Learn the difference.

Savor these sensations. They are wisdom from your body. They are real, present sensations. Hunger for them. Trust them. You may have been ignoring them. You may have trouble recognizing them.

(Don’t worry. If you are reading this post, you will not die from hunger in one hour, or thirst, although your mind may be telling you differently. Your mind has been conditioned to mindless eating. That’s what is changing.)

If your mind starts thinking about food, write about it. Make a list of foods you daydream about. Evaluate this list. Is it good for you? If not, could something else satisfy you — a hug, a walk, dancing?

Notice the difference between what you feel with your body and what your mind is doing. Each way of being has a signature.

What would your life be like if you only ate after you fully and consciously felt hunger? Would you eat at certain times, or might the times vary? How often do you really need to eat to maintain or improve your health?

Second. Eat. After an hour of hunger and its sensations has gone by, eat. Eat some food that is healthy. Eat it slowly with an eye to noticing the sensation of satiety, of having eaten enough.

Do not eat with the goal of cleaning your plate. Give yourself a small serving.

The goal is to really notice eating and “enough”. Take one bite. Chew it. Taste it. Notice as many qualities of the taste as you can. Swallow.

Take another bite. Chew, taste, swallow. Move your arm slowly as you pick the food up with your fork or spoon or fingers and bring it to your mouth. Chew slowly.

After the third bite, pause for a minute. Notice the sensations in your stomach. How have they changed? Do you still feel hungry? Do you feel less hungry?

Remember that your empty stomach is the size of your fist, and your full stomach is the size of both fists. You don’t even have to fill your stomach to feel satiated.

Eat ten bites and notice your stomach sensations.

You might decide to stop then, or you might decide to eat 15 or 20 bites. But stop when you’ve eaten less than you would mindlessly eat.

Then see how long it takes for you to feel hungry again, and do it all again.  It might mean you need to have food available as you go through your day, perhaps some nut butter, a banana, an avocado. Just enough to stave off your hunger pangs. You could eat half a banana or avocado, or a teaspoon of almond butter.

You might also think about where the food came from, plant or animal, soil, rain, sunshine, farmers, and all the places it has been and hands it has passed through to get to your mouth. With gratitude.

Third. Do this often. It’s a great way to lose weight, because it’s portion control, but more importantly, it gets you back in touch with your body, and it extends your experience of gratitude and connection to the planet.

Also, if you are only eating when hungry, and only eating enough to stave off hunger for a couple of hours, you will want every bite of food you eat to be nutritious as well as delicious. No HFCS, please.

And that’s it. I’m posting this to remind myself that I can eat like this, because I have put on a little more weight than I’d like. I’m having a small cup of quinoa tabouli for breakfast, then it’s off to work.

Wise words about loss and presence, joy and gratitude

My young, wise Facebook friend Arpita Rose shared this quote. I thought it was so amazing, I wanted to share. I added to my Favorite quotes page too.

You will lose everything. Your money, your power, your fame, your success, perhaps even your memories. Your looks will go. Loved ones will die. Your body will fall apart. Everything that seems permanent is impermanent and will be smashed. Experience will gradually, or not so gradually, strip away everything that it can strip away. Waking up means facing this reality with open eyes and no longer turning away.

But right now, we stand on sacred and holy ground, for that which will be lost has not yet been lost, and realising this is the key to unspeakable joy. Whoever or whatever is in your life right now has not yet been taken away from you. This may sound trivial, obvious, like nothing, but really it is the key to everything, the why and how and wherefore of existence. Impermanence has already rendered everything and everyone around you so deeply holy and significant and worthy of your heartbreaking gratitude.

Loss has already transfigured your life into an altar. ~ Jeff Foster

Losing 155 Pounds: It’s Not About the Food

I want to share Katie Raver’s blog post about how she lost 155+ pounds in less than 2 years. Katie did some things differently than most people do who want to lose a lot of weight.

  • She sought out real people who had lost over 100 pounds and kept it off for 10 years or more and asked how they did it. She found a very few people who met those criteria and discovered that their methods were similar. She realized that no matter how weird or extreme their methods seemed, if it worked for them, it would work for her.
  • She decided to follow an eating plan that kept her from having to make a lot of decisions about what, when, and how much to eat. Before, she had a lot of inner turmoil about making food decisions. After, she just followed the rules because they work and produce results.
  • She had a compelling personal goal that was greater than (and not directly related to) health or weight that motivated her.

Check out the whole post here: Losing 155 Pounds: It’s Not About the Food.

The most effective diet tip of all

Get in touch with your hunger.

That’s all. Just get in touch with your hunger.

How long has it been since you actually felt hunger? We live with abundant food all around us, but our bodies haven’t evolved much from 10,000 years ago when the human species was hunting and gathering its food, feasting in times of plenty and going hungry in lean times.

Many modern people go for years without ever feeling hungry, so that when it does happen, they don’t know the sensation—and if they do know it, they gobble food down to avoid feeling it as quickly as possible. Feeling anything has become something to be avoided.

Many people eat according to the clock, not according to their stomachs. And we wonder why we have such an obesity problem. It’s not just the HFCS. It’s not being in touch with our bodies, with our hunger, with what “enough” actually is.

If you feel stuck with unnecessary weight or a poor diet, if you’ve used food to numb your feelings while comforting yourself, try this:

Postpone your next meal until you feel hungry and really notice the sensations in your body of feeling hungry.

There are wonderful wise lessons to learn from feeling hunger that can help you live a healthy life that you actually experience and enjoy first-hand.

  • You can allow yourself to feel hunger and know that you are going to survive. You are not going to starve to death from a little hunger (even though your mind may be telling you so). Death by starvation unfortunately did happen 10,000 years ago and sadly still happens even now, but it’s pretty rare in first world countries. How much discomfort is actually there, on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being excruciating discomfort? Can you feel it as simply sensation without judging it as painful?
  • You can recognize the signature of feeling hungry. How do you know it’s hunger? Where in your body do you feel it? Feel it for 5 or 10 or 30 minutes. How does it change—does it ebb or constantly get more intense? Do you forget sometimes that you’re feeling hungry? Can you distinguish between feeling hungry and feeling thirsty? What happens to your hunger if you drink water?
  • You can experiment with how much food, and what kinds of foods, you can eat to no longer feel hungry. After fully experiencing your hunger, eat three bites of food slowly, savoring the taste and the mouth-feel and thoroughly chewing each bite before swallowing. Wait one minute and notice your hunger again. How has it changed? Now eat three more bites and notice. Notice how many bites of food you need to eat for your hunger to go away, and notice how long it stays away before it returns.

You can totally play with eating in this way! A couple of weeks of eating like this is quite refreshing after mindless eating and pretty much guarantees that just by being in touch with your hunger and eating accordingly, you will drop a few pounds.

More importantly, you may feel more energy and gratitude for your life.

~

Caveat: When is it not a good idea to play with hunger? When you have issues with your blood sugar. If you are diabetic or pre-diabetic or have hypo- or hyperglycemia, or get really shaky when hungry, you need to take extra good care of yourself and consult a knowledgeable professional first.

New alternative for sedentary desk work: the FitDesk

Since I’ve posted before on how prolonged sitting is unhealthy and how to counteract it, and I’ve promoted standing desks, I want to bring this to your attention (and thanks, Shelley Seale, for bringing it to mine).

This is on the heel of news that sitting less could add two years to your life expectancy.

It is a stationary bicycle with a desktop attached to the front of it. You can pedal and keep your leg muscles active, improve circulation, burn calories, circulate lymph, move cerebrospinal fluid, and more, while working or playing video games!

The FitDesk X Compact Pedal Desk is for sale on Amazon for $249.99. Amazon will cross-sell you a comfy bicycle seat and a laptop/iPad holder to go with it.

The seller offers a full refund (plus shipping) within 30 days if you are not satisfied with it. (Hint: Save the carton.)

One thing I really love about Amazon is reading the customer reviews. This product gets an average of 4.5 stars from 111 reviewers (all gave it 3 to 5 stars). Here are what some said:

  • A grad student in an online program lost 10 pounds the first month (30 lbs. over six months) using this product. She raves about the product being sturdy and quiet (quiet enough to use in the same room as a sleeping spouse), and about the customer service. The 2011 model has a timer/calorie counter/speed/distance monitor like stationary bikes at the gym.
  • Another reviewer mentions the great customer service: “Steve, the inventor of FitDesk, will answer your call or email himself. Some day he’ll probably have a huge company because this is such an awesome invention and then he won’t have time to talk to customers himself, but for the moment, he’s the best customer service rep you’ll ever talk to because he believes in his product and is doing everything he can to make it even better.”
  • The critical review rated “most helpful” gave the product 3 stars and said the exercise bike is not that great, that it’s hard to get a consistent pedaling rhythm. This reviewer is also an avid mountain biker who also regularly rides exercise bikes at the Y.

It sounds like it won’t compare to serious exercise bikes, but the whole point of it is not getting a strenuous workout but rather getting a light workout over time while getting computer work accomplished or playing video games.

Okay, okay! I want one! I’m drooling at the thought of cycling while writing blog posts! Would be awesome to have one at my next corporate stint.

The FitDesk weighs 33 lbs., holds users up to 250 pounds, and has a “seat extender” available for tall people. It is easy to fold up and move.

Also, there may (or may not, since the product is being continually improved) be issues with the electronic monitor, and I couldn’t get the straight dope on that.

The company has a video showing the product in use:

You can “like” FitDesk on Facebook (where they offer discount codes and giveaways) and follow @fitdesk on Twitter.

~~

Follow-up on 7.13.2012: The maker of the FitDesk has offered to send me one to try out! I love it! Will post on the experience, with photos!

 

Wheat belly

Modern wheat is not good for anyone, according to Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, a new book that differentiates the wheat of today from the wheat of yesterday.

In this article on BoingBoing, Davis outlines how modern wheat has been genetically modified even since 1960 into a product that may be the real cause of the surge in obesity and diabetes.

He recommends that not just people with celiac, gluten-intolerance, and wheat sensitivity give up wheat. He recommends that everyone do so. If you’re wondering why you can’t lose weight, look at your wheat consumption. Rather than being a “healthy whole grain,” it might be working against your health instead of for it.

I don’t know the science and haven’t read the book, but I gave up wheat about four years ago, and I can tell you that it’s getting easier as more people jump on the no-wheat bandwagon. More restaurants offer gluten-free menus, and grocery stores offer more gluten-free foods. Gluten-free bakeries are even opening and doing well. Bakers and chefs are experimenting with alternatives to wheat flour and creating good new recipes.

Here’s what Davis says:

It is therefore my contention that eliminating all wheat from the diet is a good idea not just for people with gluten sensitivity; it’s a smart decision for everybody. I have experience in my heart disease prevention practice, as well as my online program for heart disease prevention and reversal, with several thousand people who have done just that and the results are nothing short of astounding. Weight loss of 30, 50, even 70 pounds or more within the first six months; reversal of diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions; relief from edema, sinus congestion, and asthma; disappearance of acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome symptoms; increased energy, happier mood, better sleep. People feel better, look better, eat fewer calories, feel less hungry, are able to discontinue use of many medications — just by eliminating one food from their diet — ironically a food that they’ve been told to eat more of.

Davis recommends going without wheat for four weeks:

If the health benefits of a wheat-free diet sound hard to believe, why not conduct your own little experiment and see for yourself: simply eliminate all things made of wheat for four weeks — no bread, bagels, pizza, pretzels, rolls, donuts, breakfast cereals, pancakes, waffles, pasta, noodles, or processed foods containing wheat (and do be careful to read labels, as food manufacturers love to slip a little wheat gliadin into your food every chance they get to stimulate your appetite). That’s a lot to cut out, true, but there’s still plenty of real, nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruit, nuts, cheese and dairy products, meat, fish, soy foods, legumes, oils like olive oil, avocados, even dark chocolate that you can eat in their place. If after that 4-week period you discover new mental clarity, better sleep, relief from joint pain, happier intestines, and a looser waistband, you will have your answer.