Fasting for beginners

I talk about a wide variety of subjects on this blog and food is one of them, but this this the first time I have openly talked about dieting or fasting.

Truth is I have fasted for a while.  On and off.  My most significant and successful (not to mention healthiest) weight loss has always included some element of fasting and I wanted to get back to it. Of course when I started it wasn’t called anything.  It was just ‘not eating’ and it was mainly bought about by stress or poverty, or in some cases the fabulous appetite restriction that comes from a keto diet but the fact is, it helped regulate my eating habits and resulted in a weight loss that felt healthy and was sustainable (at least until I started eating badly again!)

I’ve been a fan of low carb eating for a long time.  Weightwatchers and other calorie restricted (yet, eat anything you want) type diets have never worked. My body type needs fat to function properly and does not do well on carbs – even so called healthy ones.

That said, its been a long and stressful 4 years. I won’t go into boring details but there has been a lot going on in my personal life and while I don’t believe I should use that as an excuse, there is no doubt that I have let my health and weight run away with itself.

To compound the issue, I have seen a huge increase in the symptoms I suffer due to fibromyalgia and endometriosis.  Both conditions had been in remission since pregnancy – so much so I thought they were cured – but sadly they have come back, resulting in a vicious circle of pain which prevents me from having the energy to look after myself properly and means that exercise is simply out of the question.  In the past I have just found a way, and got myself out the door for a run, but these days I have a small child to look after and so his needs come before mine.  By the end of the day I am running on empty and nothing quite soothes the soul as well as a couple of hours on the sofa with a bottle of wine.

Anyway.  On a positive note, from somewhere, I found the motivation to get myself back on plan. I’ve never really left the low carb world, but I was ‘treating’ myself to far too many non compliant foods and sadly together they are a recipe for weight gain.  My nemesis is fried potato – so I would order the steak and pick at the chips, or snack on the crisps when we visited friends for apero.  All seemingly innocuous but actually a big problem when combined with the high fat foods I love.

So I cut the lot out and spent two good weeks on low carb high fat and started to feel better almost instantly.  From experience, the chronic pain has always felt better on a low carb high fat diet, but has almost been eliminated if I incorporate fasting so that’s what I decided to do.

Starting with skipping breakfast and lunch (unless of course we go out for lunch in which case I skip dinner) I found myself fasting from between 16 and 23 hours on a daily basis with no problem and no real hunger – until about an hour before I knew I was due to eat.

In the first week I saw a great loss.  My clothes felt a little better immediately and I saw a 3 kilo loss on the scales.

So I decided to go one better and try my first ever long fast.

With Tony away in London for a week and no real social engagements to speak of, I embarked on a 7 day fast and kept a journal throughout.  It’s a long read, but I hope that others, thinking of doing something similar will gain some benefit from my experience.

My fast was water only, although on a couple of days I did have a little home made defatted stock and I had coffee every morning.  Some people advocate taking extra minerals and others don’t even take in water, but for me this was enough.

I decided to record my experience and here it is:

Started at 8:30pm Weds

113kg

Day 1: Thursday

20 hours

I often fast for up to 23 hours so this feels like the end of a pretty normal day, skipping breakfast and lunch – however usually I am getting hungry, thinking about food by now and planning dinner.

The knowledge that Im about to eat is probably what makes me hungry on a normal day but today I don’t feel any desire for food at all. I’m not going to eat, so it isn’t even on my radar.

I’m home alone for this week apart from my 6 year old son so I only had to feed him breakfast (he has 2 boiled eggs every school day and I never eat breakfast so I felt nothing this morning) and then dinner when he came home which was leftover roast chicken with some pasta and a sauce made from veal stock and cream.

I have to say – Ive just realised – I didn’t really notice the smell of the chicken or the stock at all. I wasn’t remotely tempted to snaffle a bit of chicken like I usually would.

The chicken carcass is now in the slow cooker with some pork bones that Id kept, and that will be a stock too. I’ve prepared these in case I need something – and it should save me fridge surfing!

I feel ok, but I was already keto when I started. I have drunk a lot of water and herbal tea, and Im conscious that I will need to have a little salt before bed as I get cramps if I dont add salt to my food. I have magnesium tablets available as well if I need them.

Today has been a good first day. I plan to have a shower and an early night once my son is asleep.

One thing Im pleased about is that I was pretty hardcore low carb before I started.

Without that I would have found this a lot harder Im sure.

Started at 8:30pm Weds

SW 113kg

CW 113kg

Day 2: Friday 08:00hrs

34 hours fasted

This morning st about 32 hours fasted I woke up in pain. Not hungry at all but every occasional ache and pain I used to get in isolation seems to have visited at once! My abdomen feels bloated and gassy – with a ‘gas like’ pain in the right side, my back kidney area aches, the shoulder pain I often get was back too and a pain in my knee joint… but that was it. I suspect these are areas of inflammation that are being effected by the detox and hopefully beginning to heal. My kidneys and liver and also likely to be working to clear the toxins. My sinuses are a little blocked too, but that could be hayfever!

Yesterday (according to my tracker) was ovulation day. Usually I am very aware of that because I feel it, but I felt nothing. I use the tracker for my periods because Im useless at remembering, and I only care about ovulation because it causes me some pain and its good to know that the pain has a reason, but yesterday I felt nothing which is very unusual. Perhaps the pain I am experiencing this morning is actually from ovulation? But it feels so different.

I have fibromyalgia and endometriosis but there was none of the pain I associate with either of those conditions – which stands to reason for me as I often find those conditions all but disappear when Im fully keto or fasted (or pregnant!)

I was also a bit woozy when I woke up – but that passed immediately after I got out of bed.

It’s warm here at the moment. We live in the south of France and the weather is very pleasant. I get terrible night sweats (an endometriosis symptom I think) but that didn’t happen at all last night. I slept well and was comfortable. I also woke before my alarm and didn’t feel the need to roll over and grab the extra 90 minutes sleep!

I weighed this morning and my weight is the same but it’s only really been a few hours so I don’t expect miracles and Im possibly holding onto water. I feel bloated, but I’m wearing a dress that used to make me look pregnant and today it hangs a little better so although I dont feel it, my upper abdomen is less bloated.

I had intended to post only once a day but I think I will share this one now and then post again later!

Update 3)

Day 2. Friday evening

44 hours fasted

Within an hour of waking, most of the pains I described earlier had gone. The gas pain turned out to be just that and over the course of a few hours that disappeared. I dropped my son off at school and found myself in the supermarket topping up with ice and fizzy water (I must research further on the effect of fizzy water. I drink a lot of it, up to 3 or 4 litres a day sometimes, alongside still water) and happily carried 12 2 litre bottles back to the car – feeling strong ! 💪

The day passed without too much to comment on. I did get a little heartburn but nothing too serious.

I worked all day without feeling any ill effects, and had a mental clarity and alertness that I haven’t felt for a long time.

I felt no hunger at lunchtime and in fact I did think to myself that if someone offered to buy me lunch then I would honestly answer that I am not hungry.

Lunch is quite a thing here – the French love their lunches and we usually eat out about twice a week. Lunches are large – 3 courses – but if we eat out then I don’t ever eat dinner, although I usually prepare a cheese plate or soup for my partner and I may be tempted to pick at it.

Anyway. Its Friday evening here in Europe and I’m cooking my sons dinner without a pang or any desire to pick. We have a long weekend ahead with a public holiday on Monday but on Sunday I have guests. They are just friends who are passing by, and the usual practice is to provide apéro – a few drinks and light snacks. As I said yesterday, I had intended to break my fast for that and go back on Monday but Ive now made a decision not to.

I will prepare food and drinks for everyone else and enjoy a glass of sparkling water with ice and lemon – while letting them think Im on the gin. They definitely won’t notice as long as I keep their wine topped up!

Food wise I feel very strong right now and don’t think I will feel deprived while they eat. I plan to offer carby treats that I would never eat anyway, so that will help (cheese and charcuterie is my nemesis so crisps and blinis hold no power over me!) and I will simply enjoy the sunshine and the conversation.

I plan to watch a little YouTube inspiration this evening and have another early night.

Update 4)

Day 3. Saturday evening

73 hours fasted

Woke up this morning after an incredibly restful sleep. Zero pains at all, no gas (yay!) or kidney pains, and just a very dry mouth which was cured with a swig of water. Usually I wake in the night to drink but not last night. It was 5:05 and I had no need to be awake for hours but I was up and alert.

Once my son woke up we threw on some clothes and walked the the local bread shop. Its France and thats what we do! Then I came home and made him bacon baguettes for breakfast. Even I am impressed by how untouched I am by the smell or sight of food.

I weighed after I’d done my usual ablutions and Ive dropped a kilo which is good to see. I wonder if I haven’t experienced an intense initial water loss because I was keto before. I actually lost 3 kilos the week before I started this, and was already doing daily fasts so perhaps there wasn’t that much water to lose?

I’ll keep weighing daily, and see what it does. Sometime in the afternoon I went to the toilet and had a very watery BM. It was very unremarkable and not remotely uncomfortable but it made me realise I haven’t had one since I started fasting. I wonder whether that happens on a regular basis with a long fast or not? After that, I developed a headache. The first since I started fasting and although I fixed it with a mugful of stock and eventually 2 paracetamol, I wonder if the two things are connected. Perhaps there is some sort of purge going on?

Despite this, I have had lots of energy. The weather was rainy which the garden was grateful for but not my son! Id intended to spend the day in the garden while he splashed in the pool but instead I spent part of it in the studio working on a film for a client, another big chunk in the bathroom recording make up demos and the other part in the lounge talking to him and playing. I also did all the cleaning and tidying! I felt like a Tasmanian devil racing around getting things done! Its great!

Another uneventful day for me. No cravings at all and apart from the headache and the unexpected BM there was nothing unusual about my day until about an hour ago when I started feeling a bit woozy. I had another mug of stock with some salt and that really helped so Im ready for bed now – feeling normal!

After this fast is over on June 8th, Im looking to the next one. I’ll be sticking to OMAD after this and keto, but will do another 7 days from June 20th. Tony goes away again then and its another long one. Its also the day after my birthday and makes a very good incentive not to come off keto just because Ive turned 42 (although champagne and wine doesn’t count!)

Update 5) Day 4

Hours fasted 94

SW 113kg

CW 115kg

Honestly. Before you read any further… look at those weight numbers! 👀

I was actually at 112 yesterday and today I am 3 kilos up. Now we all know that I can’t have gained fat on air and water so if anyone reading this takes anything away then it should be to ignore the scales. They mean nothing! It also shows that the body does all sorts with the water you take in and that we should probably let it. It knows far better than we do what we need. Bottom line? Water weight will always impact what the scales say and sometimes that could be enough to make you quit a diet or have a ‘sod it’ moment which sets you back weeks.

Today I watched food shows on the TV, cooked snacks and food for apero with friends and then served it to them, along with lots of rose wine while I sat and drank fizzy water with ice and lemon and pretended I was on the gin. Noone cared – least of all me.

Physically I feel no different to a normal day. Mentally I feel completely balanced. I don’t feel deprived or like I am battling something like a fasting warrior. Im just ‘doing it’ in a rather dull, unremarkable way. The only thing I have to be aware of is absentmindedness and the force of habit when cooking. Im so used to tasting as I go that it is hard to not pop something into my mouth!

So its not yet automatic and I still need to think about what Im doing. But apart from that, it feels like meals and eating are just something that other people do. Very strange, yet very reassuring and Im glad Im recording it now because I bet I won’t believe this when I try to do it the next time!

Approaching 100 hours, over half way and very confident that I will continue for the remaining 70 hours until Tony gets home. I’m actually a bit sad at the thought of breaking the fast in 3 days. But I don’t want it to be a ‘thing’ when he is home and meals and lunches out are one of the things that we love to do together (which explains the excess kilos Im carrying!) so I don’t want to lose that. But I will make better choices and I will continue to 24:1 keto and with one eye on the calories.

Anyway. I have work to do this evening so I am getting on with it! Happy fasting all!

Update 6)

Day 5

Hours fasted 120

Sw 113kg

Cw 113kg

So I’m back to my start weight! 5 days of water and air and the number remains unchanged. Once again I urge you to ditch the scales.

Most people on a diet would be really distressed to see this happen, and its a recipe for losing motivation and eating something carby, ruining it all when the whoosh may be just around the corner.

The scales are not a concern to me but I am fascinated by their response to my fast.

Today has been another dull, unremarkable and very surprising day! Full of energy, I have cleaned yet another cupboard, done a tonne of work plus the ironing and Im still awake at 10:30. Usually Im flagging by now!

With Fibro I often have crash days where I just cannot go on and feel like Ive been crushed yet that hasn’t happened at all this week.

Im actually starting to wonder if there is something that I eat a lot of which is causing the Fibro? I mean right now I have zero symptoms at all. Im considering going for a run tomorrow to see if I can!

Today food was cooked, people around me were fed and life continued as normal. Long may that continue!

Update 7)

Day 6

Hours fasted

Sw 113kg

Cw 112.5kg

Well, I weighed in this morning at 500g down. I haven’t been monitoring the smaller amounts but decided that today I would start. So, Im lower than when I started which means things are moving.

Im not bothered by this number as I repeatedly state – but I am recording it so that it helps others and it helps me understand what my normal is over the course of a week long fast.

In an effort to see if I look any different I took a photo of my face today to compare with another from a week ago. The difference is minimal however I think I look slightly bigger now than before. Im certainly retaining water at the moment for whatever reason (I can’t gain fat on air and water after all!) but I remain convinced my body knows best and will release it when it can. This is the first break Ive given my body for many years and it is probably taking a while to catch up.

Today, for the first time I felt odd. First of all I felt hungry. My tummy rumbled for the first time, although I note that I didnt have an appetite – just a physical symptom of hunger. At the time I was in the supermarket, looking at household products (and we don’t get the smell of food in our supermarkets so Im sure it wasn’t just a reaction to the proximity of food!) I also started to feel woozy. Slightly woolly headed and almost drunk, sickly and in need of a sit down. I finished my shopping (slightly afraid I may pass out!) and sat in the car with some water for a while before very carefully driving home.

While shopping I had purchased some pigs feet and a ham hock to pressure cook. I want some more good quality stock and you get a lot of gelatine from a pigs foot! I also wanted some high quality food in the fridge for when I break this fast and the meat and stock will make a good soup or terrine.

I considered that I perhaps should break my fast now, but then I decided not too. This could be the precipice – the point at which my body starts healing and releases the water – and I could be so close to realising some of the real benefits of this fast.

I came home and had some more water, a cup of salty broth and a sit down and the feeling soon passed.

I’m starting to look ahead again and think about how I approach both my refeed and also the 10 days or so that follow. My 7 days ends at 21:30 on Wednesday evening and Tony is home in the early hours.

Later, feeling fine I cooked the ham hock and pigs feet so I have a fridge full of jiggly stock!

Tomorrow is my last day. My 7 days officially ends at 21:30 tomorrow so just over 24 hours left to go until I can say 7 days fasted. I won’t eat before bed though and so will probably continue fasting until lunchtime the next day so for at least another 15 hours. I still feel strong – despite today’s wobble and I am looking forward to starting my next fast from which I plan to do from the 20th June (the day after my birthday!)

At the moment I am trying to get my head around the whole emotional aspect of this fast and how I feel about fasting and my relationship with food. I don’t fear eating again, but I do want to maintain in control and I think that will be harder than fasting has been. I’m planning to be very strict HFLC and I will be logging calories and my macros as well.

I am going to continue weighing for a while. Not for measuring my progress, but for understanding how my body reacts not just to the fast but also to the refeed process.

Final day!

Update 8

Day 7

Hours fasted

Sw: 113kg

Cw: 111.8kg

Down a 700 grams this morning – as expected following yesterdays wobble! Very pleased about that and its good to see the scales move.

My fast finished at 21:30 this evening (Im in France and it’s now 22:00) and I gave myself a mug of stock and a cup of tea before bed (where I am now!)

So. Tomorrow, when I wake up, Tony will be home (his flight lands in about an hour) I will weigh myself and do the school run as usual, then wander to the market and meet a friend for coffee. I still won’t eat until lunchtime but I may have a mug of stock to coat my stomach before lunch hits it.

I’m busy planning meals for the next few days now. I don’t want to go wild and undo all my good work so I know constant vigilance is required!

Refeed Day

Update 9

SW 113kg

CW 111.8kg

Work up once again way before the alarm! The lack of sleep really doesn’t seem to have done me any harm and I simply am tired at night and awake during the day.

Today we will go out for lunch. Tony is home and so we always do and he doesn’t know about the fast.

For lunch I had a light salad entree and then a steak with a little salad – and I ate about half of the leave and all of the meat!

We came home and I didnt eat another thing.

No mad clamour for food. No issues when I did eat. Just feel like a normal person.

Update 10

2 days after my fast ended

SW 113kg

Post Fast weight 111.8

CW 109.8kg

Quick update this morning as I have stood on the scales. After a re feed day I have lost another 2 kilos!

 

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