It’s humbling when we’re forced to practice what we preach. I knew from the beginning that losing weight through daily intermittent was going to be a long journey, and as time went on it got easier and easier to accept that. That is, until I plateaued.
Losing 50 pounds in 11 months was a very gratifying accomplishment. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops. It’s the most weight I’d ever lost in my life and it was achieved in a way that I know is completely sustainable for the rest of my life – consuming all of my calories within a five hour window.
However, after hitting the 50-pound mark, I became stalled (give or take a few pounds) at about 187 pounds. While everyone was complementing me on my achievement and assuring me that I look great and needn’t lose another ounce, I knew better. My goal is a healthy BMI within the normal range, and I’m not there yet. So, what to do next? Cut back on calories? Shorten my window? Exercise more? I tried (halfheartedly) all of the above to no avail.
At that point I thought I would have to push harder with exercise or cut calories from 1,600 down to about 1,200-1,400. But exercising consistently and reducing calories to that range consistently were both strategies I had never been able to stick to in the past; and, as I’ve said before, the best way of eating is the healthiest plan you can stick to for the rest of your life. Sure, I could get back on the treadmill and start running every evening; but I knew that treadmill would be collecting dust six months from now. I could cut back calories to 1,200 and go low-carb, but I knew that before long my intake would creep back up and I would be dreaming of enjoying a slice of homemade ciabatta bread. So, what to do?
I recognized that I was much better at fasting than working out, so I explored how to tweak my fasting to get my calories down consistently. This was difficult for me to think about. After fasting for 19 hours every day, the last thing I want to do is count calories, fat grams or even carbs. In fact, the flexibility of eating whatever I wanted was part of the appeal of Fast-5 and also part of the reason I had been able to stick to fasting for so long. But now it seemed like I would have to be more restrictive with my eating and I wasn’t happy about that. After all, even if I were eating 1,600-1,800 calories, that’s not all that much anyway – not compared to what I used to consume.
I started researching about caloric intake and ran across a Youtube video about the 5-Bites Diet, developed by Dr. Alwin Lewis. I had heard of the diet before from members of the Facebook Fast-5 group, but I dismissed it as extreme after a little Googling. Besides that, it’s a diet. And I felt my dieting days were over, thanks to fasting.
Nevertheless, my curiosity about 5-Bites had resurfaced after seeing the success of a few people in the group, and also after reading Dr. Herring give it a tip of the hat in his latest book “Appetite Correction.” These are people whose opinions I respect. Is the 5-bites plan a dangerous and crazy method to lose weight; or, perhaps much like intermittent fasting, could it be a medically sound solution to obesity that is not yet mainstream?
Still, even if I wanted to have just five bites of food during a meal, if I was struggling with cutting down my caloric intake to about 1,400 daily, how in the world was I going to be able to consume much, much less than that, even for a few weeks? Despite some hesitation, this time I decided to hear Dr. Lewis out, and I watched the interview. Without exception, every single one of my reasons for previously dismissing the plan – “It’s too extreme” “It’s dangerous to lose weight that fast” “I couldn’t limit my intake like that anyway” “It’s unsustainable” – each and every one of my doubts was addressed and resolved. So, on Sunday, October 11, 2015. I bought several Clif bars and began the plan combined with Fast-5.
Just as I’d heard, the first few days were the most difficult; although, since I had been used to fasting for over a year, it wasn’t that bad. By October 22nd, just eleven days later, I had lost 10 pounds, bringing me down to 178 pounds and total of 59 pounds lost! During my best months of Fast-5 alone, I had average about five pounds per month! That being said, I am not knocking Fast-5 as I still do it combined with 5-Bites.
Am I sorry that I didn’t jump on board sooner? Not at all. Now I find myself grateful for having the experience of fasting for a year and getting very good at it. If you’re doing 5-Bites, you have to go for extended periods of time without food, as fasting is essentially built into the plan. I was used to doing that, so there wasn’t a major struggle to adjust. I’m also grateful for that four-and-a-half month plateau. I now know that once I hit my weight-loss mark, I’ll be able to maintain it with Fast-5 and my new corrected appetite.
I know that people wonder how I can go so long without eating. Little do they know that it’s actually easier to not eat at all, than to limit your intake all day long with “six small meals a day.” It really is. The same principle applies to the low caloric intake of 5-Bites. After a period of adjustment (a few days, for most), it’s actually easier to eat a little bit, than to eat a lot more and stop. This is because eating less (and less frequently) resets your “hungerstat,” normalizing your appetite and controlling the desire to overeat. What a beautiful thing!
When I started the 5-Bite plan and began seeing results, I knew I had to share it in the blogosphere, but I was reluctant to do so. I knew that some would dismiss me just as I did others when I first heard about this plan. Nevertheless, I’m grateful for those folks who shared this method with me, and I have told myself and them that I would pay it forward despite the inevitable criticism. We fasters are quite used to staunch critics, naysayers, and doubters. It comes with the territory of practicing intermittent fasting – especially being someone who blogs about it.
That being said, if one human being on the planet reads this and moves, like I did, out of obesity, into a healthier weight range and more vibrant health, it’s worth being dismissed by others as crazy. I’m grateful for courageous doctors like Dr. Herring and Dr. Lewis, who aren’t ashamed to step out of the box to help patients who have struggled with obesity for most of their lives. That was me – struggling with obesity for most of my adult life, and now it’s not.
Still here? Good! If you’re thinking about exploring this method, here’s what I did, in a nutshell.
- I began practicing intermittent fasting on a 19:5 schedule consistently, eating whatever I wanted and just focusing on developing the habit of fasting until it felt like second nature. It’s now a lifestyle for me and I can’t imagine going back to eating several times a day.
- I did my research. I watched the interview with Dr. Lewis and read his book and researched his 5-Bite method with an open mind. Of course, I had already done the same with the Fast-5 intermittent fasting method.
- Early on, I joined supportive groups of people who are also following the plan and who are committed to it. I can’t stress enough how helpful this is.
We don’t call it a “weight-loss journey” for nothin’. I will continue to monitor how this strategy of weight-loss with 5-Bites and maintenance with Fast-5 goes and keep you posted on my progress. Rest assured, if there are any hiccups, you’ll read about them. But for now, I’m pleased with my progress and I feel great. I have a check-up coming up, so the numbers will have a story to tell too. For now, I’m glad to be experiencing the joy of being almost 60 pounds lighter. #IF4Life!