Intermittent Fasting: My Weight Loss Journey

food_can_wait_before
Before, in 2012 at close to 240 lbs.

Maybe you’ll recognize yourself in these paragraphs.  Before I began practicing daily intermittent fasting, my day consisted of constant eating.  I would often delight in a morning cup of coffee, hot chocolate or tea with cream and sugar.  Before lunch time, I would likely have some kind of snack – sometimes a nutritious one like grapes or an apple, and sometimes a not-so-nutritious snack like potato chips, a donut or cookies.

By lunch time, I was ready to eat again and would likely grab a meal from the nearby cafeteria – a sandwich, maybe a salad, and on fridays, probably an order of fried fish.  In the afternoon it was time for another snack to hold me over until I got home.  During dinner time I would almost always have seconds, sometimes thirds, and late at night (I’m a night owl)  I would snack again on sweets like homemade cookies or bread and/or something savory like nuts, cheese or chips.

Although I enjoyed vegetables like zucchini, broccoli and cabbage, my favorite foods were white rice, bread and beans.  I never got tired of those and could, and often did, eat them daily.  I didn’t indulge in fast food that often, but even when I cooked at home, there was little concern for whether my protein of choice was fried, baked or stewed nor the amount of fat, carbs and calories I was consuming.

In short, I ate whenever and whatever I wanted to eat.

This eating pattern repeated itself over and over again, day after day and along with a mostly sedentary lifestyle working in an office, eventually resulted in my weighing 237 lbs by June 30th, 2014.  I knew it wasn’t healthy to eat the way I did, but I felt unable to control my appetite even after trying just about every natural appetite suppressant I’d heard of – Sensa, garcinia cambogia, raspberry ketones, and others.

I had tried dieting many times in my life and lost 20, 30, and even 40 pounds on occasion only to gain it all back, and then some. But now I was almost afraid to lose weight for fear of the initial weight-loss only leading to being even heavier in the end. I wasn’t fully aware of what I was doing to my body during the surges of calories I was feeding it; and, after a while, I didn’t care much.  After all, I didn’t have diabetes, hypertension, or any major disease and I wasn’t on any medication.  What was there to be concerned about?

I hadn’t always had such a nonchalant attitude about my weight.  In 2004 I had lost 40 pounds on the Atkins diet and kept it off for two years only to gradually gain it all back within a year of being off the low-carb wagon.  I began to think I should just accept being fat.

Obesity isn’t just a cosmetic concern. It increases your risk of diseases and health problems such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. -The Mayo Clinic website

Later that year, a visit to my doctor for a complete physical confirmed my relatively good health; but, he urged me to lose weight.  He told me that at this time in my life – my forties – I was at a critical stage during which obesity greatly increased the odds of acquiring a major health condition within the next several years.

In that moment I thought back to my parents.  My dad was diagnosed with diabetes in his mid-forties.  My mom was diagnosed with hypertension in her 40’s.  There was no denying the significant probability of my going down the same path if my lifestyle didn’t change.

Still, I didn’t know how to do it.  I’d tried low-carb dieting as well as low-fat diets with moderate exercise; but despite losing some weight with both, I could never seem to stick to either regimen in the long term.  Then, shortly after that physical, a seemingly unrelated activity led to a complete lifestyle change for me.

Although I am not a Muslim, I had always been curious about fasting for Ramadan and admired the commitment and discipline needed to go without food or drink from sunrise to sunset for 30 days.  I expressed my curiosity to a few of my Muslim co-workers and they encouraged me to try it.  My reasons for exploring Ramadan fasting were not religious, but rather psychological and spiritual.  Did I have the self-discipline to subject myself to a period of mindfulness and self-reflection, setting aside a routine of comfort and ease to foster a greater sense of gratitude?  That’s the question I asked myself as I thought about committing to the 30-day fast.

As the time drew near to start, I was ready to quit my experiment before it began.  I recall being scared, nervous and anxious to go without food; but that alone told me that I needed to do it.  My co-workers didn’t pressure me at all, but I felt a responsibility to at least try it.  Still, by the time the start of Ramadan came, I hadn’t fasted and didn’t intend to do so.  That is, until I happened to watch an episode of Naked and Afraid.

As I watched the contestants spend weeks foraging for clean water and food sources much like our ancient ancestors had to do, I suddenly felt no better than a spoiled child unwilling to give up her lollipop.   Certainly I could survive less than a day without food or water.  After all, if I changed my mind, nourishment was always within arm’s reach.

With so much fear and anxiety before starting the fast, I hadn’t expected to last a day, but to my surprise, not only did I last to the end of Ramadan, but the longer I fasted, the easier it became.  What’s more I had indeed learned a lot about myself, and developed a tremendous appreciation for access to clean water and nutritious foods— something I will never take for granted again.

food_can_wait_quoteAfter feeling so good, both physically and mentally, from the effects of fasting for Ramadan, I began exploring the health benefits of fasting and discovered intermittent fasting (IF).  I had not fasted for Ramadan to lose weight.  As a matter of fact, I had expected to gain weight from feasting at the end of the day. Like many people, I believed one should eat several small meals a day and never skip meals and that doing so was counterproductive to weight-loss.  But, I had lost 8 pounds by the end of that month and felt exceptionally energized and in control of my hunger.  There were clearly benefits to fasting and as I researched more I learned that there were even more pros than I had first imagined – one of them being weight loss.

I began fasting on June 30, 2014.  At that time I weighed 237 lbs.  That’s a lot of weight on any woman, but on my 5’5″ frame it was dangerous.  As of the writing of this post (a little over three months later), I am 22 lbs lighter and still working towards my goal of being at a healthy body mass index (BMI).

So far, daily intermittent fasting, a low-carb (non-ketogenic) diet a healthy diet focused on nutritious home cooked food, and 30 minutes of walking daily has enabled me to lose weight at a moderate steady pace.

Stay tuned.  And to my fellow fasters, stay strong.  We can do this!

All the best,

Mimi

Update!  Today is March 25, 2016 and it’s been about a year and a half since I began my journey with daily intermittent fasting.  As of today, I’ve lost 73 lbs – down from 237 lbs to 164 lbs today.  Although I haven’t measured inches consistently, I know I’ve lost several as I’ve gone from a size 18 to a size 10.

After hitting the 50-lb weight-loss mark in June of 2015, I plateaued for over four months until I began incorporating the Five Bite Diet along with Fast-5.  Within that week, I broke my plateau and over the course of a few months lost 24 lbs.  Unfortunately, I gained some of that weight back after returning to Fast-5 alone; however, it did help me break a plateau and eventually I began losing again.  I’ll be sticking to Fast-5 alone for the remainder of my journey to my goal weight of 135 lbs and a healthy BMI of 22.5.  I recently began incorporating a plant-based diet into my fasting regimen and so far I feel great!

At this point, fasting has become a solid habit for me and I’m very comfortable with sticking to my 5-hr window.  I’m excited to think that is the year I achieve my goal and begin maintenance.

Stay tuned!

Mimi

Mimi

Hi, I'm Mimi and I've lost 70 pounds (so far) through daily intermittent fasting or "scheduled eating." I'm committed to the fasting lifestyle and to making it as easy and fun as possible. (Yes, I said fun!) If you're on the fasting journey with me or if you're contemplating it, you've found the right place for information, tips, and support. You may also want to follow me on Twitter @foodcanwait or join us on Facebook at facebook.com/foodcanwait.

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Deej
Deej

Awesome story. I follow a very similar protocol, though I I’m probably lower carb than you (just generally feel better on low carb diets). Even though dealing with hunger is getting better, I still struggle with ravenous cravings sometimes. Do you ever have very strong appetite or hunger feelings during the fasting stage? And if so, how do you deal with them?

Food Can Wait

Deej, I rarely experience hunger during my fast, but I’m a year in now so even when I’m hungry it’s not a big deal. Distraction is the best cure but other than that, check out my post on saffron tea.

Christine Rousseau
Christine Rousseau

Hi Mimi,

You inspire me! Did you work out a lot in the process? I am 31, 5’7 and 222. I have tried it all, loose it and put it right back on. I stress over the work out part. What was your exercise routine?

Thanks!

Persona Non Grata
Persona Non Grata
Your blog is great. Your videos are good. Mimi what big eyes you have! You have a calm and friendly, appealing way about you. I have food intolerance and chemical sensitivity. That is how I found my way to fasting. When I couldn’t figure out what made me sick, I would stop eating for a while. Half of fasting is knowing that you can do it. I am retired and recently started fasting to recover from too many meals on a month long RV vacation. BMI @ 23.9 and going lower to see how I look. What is important is… Read more »
Food Can Wait

What a kind message! I’m always thrilled to hear from someone who has embraced the lifestyle. I couldn’t agree more. With all the encouraging research about fasting, it’s worth making it a part of our lives. I also agree that so many health issue can solved be getting the weight off and it’s so long liberating to be able to drop the weight by eating whatever you want “later.” Please keep in touch and keep me posted on your progress. And thank you again for the kind words and encouragement.

monika
monika

Hey i started IF yesterday and I loveeee it , i was on restriction diet (1200 a day 4 small meals and lost 35lbs within 3months but hit a major plateau) and IF seems to be just the perfect thing for me. I will keep it going. I feel so energetic ! Its awesome. And you look amazing!! You are such an inspiration for me !

Rich
Rich

I’ve been reading some of your articles/postings and just came across your “weight-loss journey”. I’m very impressed. You’ve achieved some awesome results, what an amazing difference from the before/after pictures. Keep up the good work. You are just a great inspiration for me to work hard at my next leg of IF ( very short eating window). Wish you continued luck.

Nancydd
Nancydd

You look younger! I’ve been reading a lot about IF benefits, and cell repair is one. I think it shows in your latest photo.

Food Can Wait

Thanks for the compliment, Nancy! Cell repair – autophagy – is my favorite benefit of IF. I do believe it helps us look and feel younger.

Seddit Guy
Seddit Guy

Where can I read more about IF and start it ?

Food Can Wait
Persona Non Grata
Persona Non Grata
Keep the great research articles coming. “Extended daily fasting overrides harmful effects of a high-fat diet” I found this enlightening. 70 year old friend and I got into an argument. He has a fatty liver and claims his doctor told him, it’s ok, don’t worry about it. I told him that he had better worry. That did not sit well with him. This article tells me the problem is that he eats all the time and is never hungry. Our latest house guest was a cookie carrying type II diabetic. I kept my mouth shut. As we get older we… Read more »
Rebecca
Rebecca

Hi Mimi, I just came across your site. I am dabbling with IF right now and your story is so inspiring. I am trying to lose 40 lbs. Have had high blood pressure for decades. I am trying to avoid diabetes. It runs in my family. My brothere is thin and has it. I eat pretty healthy, but I guess it takes time for our bodies to heal. Thank you for sharing your journey. Reb

Beth
Beth

Dayuuum you look good! I found your story while doing research on Intermittent Fasting for women. I am 53 years old, 5’7″ and weigh 224 lbs. I gave up sugar 3 weeks ago, and I never ever EVER thought I would succeed but I did and now I’m ready to go a step further for my health with Intermittent Fasting. You have inspired me with your story. Thank you!!

julie
julie

do you still drink coffee?

joan hsuean
joan hsuean

That is super awesome. I do it every 3 months. To be super honest, i get the worst headaches the first week. I am not sure if that’s normal for others but for me, it’s always migraine like. After that, I tend to feel lighter and it seems like my body is slowly trying to heal itself from all the toxins. I also normally take metformin to control my diabetes but it helps to reduce the toxins that come with it.

Pete
Pete

Hey Joan,

I have been doing IF for a few weeks and have had a headache for the past week. I assume it is tied to low blood sugar from not eating until noon and maybe drinking coffee in that span as well. You said it normally gets better with time or how do you cope?

Abe
Abe

Mimi, you are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing your journey here with other, and for being an encouraging voice.

I am very impressed with your results, and your discipline in sticking to your plan.

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