Have you ever voiced disagreement with your doctor or any doctor? It’s one of the most intimidating feelings ever. There’s little ol’ you offering your opinion in response to someone with many years of education on the human body and often a few decades of experience working with people just like you. But, as someone once told me, doctors are only “practicing” medicine. As much as we’d like to believe the opposite, no one can really master it. Every person is different and each individual presents a unique set of variables, some of which will never be known.
There will always be someone for whom the ground-breaking study didn’t work. There will always be someone with an adverse reaction to the medication that’s saved millions of lives. And, of course, there will always be plenty of people who just can’t seem to stick to the plan regardless of the benefits. There will always be outliers and you or I may be one of them. Perhaps in a good way.
With that in mind, I take issue with any doctor who proposes a solitary cause and cure for any condition, especially for obesity – be it a plant-based diet, a sugar-free diet, gluten-free living, a ketogenic diet, a low-fat diet, or any other nutritional strategy suggesting everyone do this or that – and, yes, that includes intermittent fasting.
That being said, I also have a problem with any doctor who rules out a strategy that may in fact be viable. This brings me to the most important philosophy I’ve learned during my fasting journey – what Dr. Bert Herring has taught so many of us – that is, you are a “study of one.” In practical terms this means that, if you’re going to fast, you’re going to have to figure out the time, duration and other specifics that work best for you and you’ll likely have to determine this by trial and error. Of course, that all takes time. It may take months before you realize that a five-hour window works better than an eight-hour one. But time shouldn’t be a factor. We’re in it for the long-haul, remember? It’s a lifestyle now, right?
Conducting this study of one also means that you have to accept the possibility that fasting may not work for your health goals. (I know, I don’t want to think about that either, but it’s a possibility.) You should also be open to the fact that fasting may actually work for you despite the fact that you may not be an ideal candidate for IF. Imagine that?
Here’s a real world example of the latter. My father turned 80 this year. He has been a type-2 diabetic for at least the past 30 years with complications of the disease. Given his age and condition, on paper, he is likely someone who would be discouraged from practicing intermittent fasting by most physicians. However, after nearly a year of fasting, his A1C looks better than it has in many years and his doctor now describes his bloodwork as “outstanding.” Had he not taken the time to explore his study of one, he would not be reaping the rewards of improved health and wellness.
It’s not uncommon these days to witness people fervently adhering to a dietary philosophy. But, perhaps just as common are those who base their actions on what’s worked for others. We’ve all seen the questions – “Will I still lose weight if I eat (fill in the blank)?” “How much weight will I lose?” The answer is the same, regardless of the question – you will only know what works best for you by finding out for yourself.
“I am a study of one.” Remember that mantra. Keep it in the forefront of your mind. It is the most important principle I’ve learned from my fasting journey. And that’s saying a lot.