Eating is a State of Mind: The Fasting Mindset

Warning, I’m about to wax a little philosophical, even spiritual, but I believe this is one of the most important aspects of any lifestyle change.  When I tell people how I’m losing weight the reaction is almost always, “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” Daily fasting, like everything that requires commitment, calls for a particular mindset – an established attitude.

“I could never do that” isn’t a surprising reaction to me because I felt the same way before I tried IF.  It was only after watching an episode of Naked and Afraid that I figured if those folks can spend three weeks days without food, ecstatic to find nourishment in worms and roasted snake, why wouldn’t I be able to manage with at least 16 hours of water.  I gave it a shot and, to my surprise, I survived.

What was even more surprising was that fasting was relatively easy.  All day, as I went about my usual activities, my only concern was staying hydrated – no figuring out what to eat, no counting calories, no estimating fat grams or sodium content.  What’s more, somehow I was still able to concentrate and get stuff done.  In the beginning, toward the end of my fasting time, I experienced a little “hanger” (hunger + anger) and “brain fog” but these conditions were short-lived and certainly tolerable when I realized they are the symptoms of becoming “fat-adapted.”  My body was adapting back to a mostly fat-burning machine instead of the mostly sugar-burning machine I had forced it to be for years.

Despite my positive experience early on, it still requires a certain mindset to stay motivated and committed when the scale bobs up and down a little, or when I’m invited to lunch with colleagues and just drink tea.  For me, the daily fasting mindset can be summed up in one phrase – eating is a state of mind.  What does this mean?  It means that fasting requires being mindful (intentionally non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment) of your entire being – your body, your emotions, your motivators and even your fears.  It means that social norms don’t have to control when, what and how you eat.  Most of all, it means that you are already empowered to live a healthy life by deciding to live a healthy life.

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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Vivin Mathew
Vivin Mathew
Thanks for putting down your experiences with IF. How long did it take you to adapt to the IF protocol? I have been doing it a month and notice many of the same social and familial reactions that you write of. My personal concern is that from the 14th to 16th hour i am constantly looking at the clock waiting to start eating, bringing down work productivity. The other feeling i have at the end of the feeding window is this desire to eat till bursting since i know i will not eat for another 16 hours. Hopefully these feelings… Read more »
Food Can Wait
Thanks, Vivin. It definitely improves over time, but there are times I still clock watch. Distraction is key. Do whatever it takes to get your mind off the clock. Get up and walk. Get on the phone with someone. Make a list of activities you will do during those time. It’s helpful to plan ahead. After 15 months of fasting, I rarely experience strong hunger pangs. Even when I feel a little hunger, it’s not a big deal to me. It helps to talk yourself through it. “I know I’m not really hungry so calm down.” If none of that… Read more »
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