I am a mother of a young child, early 40’s, career woman. I sit most days and struggle with losing 10 pounds – I lose 5, gain 7, or lose 3, gain 2. My workout schedule is pretty good. I try and do cardio 4 days a week and strength training several times a week as well. It’s my diet that is my obstacle.
I have tried intermittent fasting for the past week, eating only between 4pm and 8pm, although I know there are other options such as fasting for 24 hours twice a week. So far, it has worked for me! I have lost 4 pounds in just 9 days. I find that if I eat breakfast, I am hungry all day. But if I don’t eat breakfast or lunch, and I eat a snack at 4 and then dinner around 7, I feel hunger pains, but they go away and I am actually a lot less hungry. Also, I sleep better at night. Do you have any experience with this, or advice?
I am not a dietician or a trainer who prescribes this kind of diet, or any diet for that matter, I don’t have any expert advice but I have live advice and here is what I do know from experience. The reason intermittent fasting works is because it puts your body into ketosis, which is when your body will burn its stored fat, resulting in weight loss. Some people swear by it, but I don’t. Why? Because in my opinion it is not a way to live your life. And as successful as it is in instant weight loss, anyone who I have known who has used this method eventually stops and the weight usually comes back on.
This type of diet is a good way for people who are very overweight to jump start their weight loss, but these individuals need an exit plan once they decide to start a more realistic diet and way of living. This type of diet is also effective if you are someone looking for quick weight loss, like before a beach vacation or maybe your wedding. Think of it like a bad flu. You stop eating because you’re throwing up. The weight will come back on just as is does when your flu passes.
Here is my suggestion for you if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with hunger pains. Lose your 10 pounds by this method, if it is working for you. But as soon as you meet your goal, and not a pound more, stop. You absolutely can’t go back to the way you would eat before this diet. You need to make big changes, and they need to be sustainable changes because it is obvious that your way of living before this was not working. For the first couple of weeks start eating normally again. Have a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner and a snack or two in your day. Breakfast should be a serving of protein, a small serving of grains and some fruit. Lunch the same, except switch the fruit for vegetables and dinner should be protein and veggies. If you can starve yourself all day on your fasting diet then you can have the willpower to follow a healthy diet. Your body will also go into ketosis when you cut out sugar (glucose) completely. If you limit yourself to protein and low glycemic foods and vegetables you should experience the same type of effect as fasting.
After you have readjusted to eating somewhat normally again then it is ok to have your “treats” once in a while. And by once in a while I mean maybe 2 or 3 treats a week. That translates to one glass of wine, one dessert and one “grab and go” coffee bar meal when you’re starving and you have no other options. See, that will happen in life: moments where you just need to eat something and the only place nearby to get food from is not exactly the healthiest of options. If you don’t allow yourself to have moments like this then you are setting yourself up for failure because life isn’t perfect all the time and sometimes the dessert is just too good to pass up.
Another option for you is to every so often go back onto your intermittent fasting program, which a lot of people do. Every couple of weeks you can spend one to three days where you fast, just to keep yourself in check. Again, this is not how I live but we are all different, so if you like it and it works for you I’m not here to stop you. You just can’t stay on a fasting program forever.
Also, you have to up your workout intensity. “Trying to do cardio four days a week” is not enough. Wear a heart rate monitor and get yourself into your upper zones for at least 25% of your workout. Increase your weights that you lift too because if you do not progress or overload your system you are wasting your time. Wake up with a bit of muscle soreness in the morning. It makes you feel alive! Every workout you do should be a challenge and you should leave it feeling accomplished.
I have been in this business for a long time, and I have helped a lot of people succeed. I have seen what works and what doesn’t and I see people spend years yo-yoing from diet to diet. I see people, especially women, in a constant battle with themselves, their weight and food. Where I see the most success is when individuals find balance. When they learn how to live, they learn to incorporate exercise into their lives, and they learn to include wholesome and healthy food into their diets. They learn when and when not to make the wrong choices. They stop judging who they are based on their weight. They learn to be happy.