Fast November: Week 2

The plot thickens. Well, kinda. In the sense that I managed to keep a log for a full two weeks, then yes. And who would I be if I didn’t keep this riveting story going. Just remember, this is not in real time. But week 2 was real time…it was just then and not now.

Week 2 Fasting Log and Observations

Fast 3: Tuesday, 11/8

The weird thing here is that I looked forward to this fast, actually. Monday’s come with a lot of energy AND having two full days of eating gave me a lot of the willpower I needed to feel full both physically but also mentally.  So much of fasting is is mind over matter.  I am finding that I’m much more tolerant of straight-up black coffee…which is a real game-changer because I think even the tbsp of cream that Dr. Fung “allows” for fasting for weightless was making things not work.  The only way I take just a little liberty is that I do drink chicken broth during the fast and it’s just going to have to work.  Doesn’t seem to negatively affect and it helps me keep my mind right because it’s savory and feels like a meal.  Overall, this isn’t as much trouble as it was last week.

Fast 4: Thursday, 11/10

This is the one I was worried about because last week this seemed to feel taxing.  I did make sure yesterday to eat to full when I felt hungry.  Actually, I really made zero rules yesterday.  So when my mind said “make a berry crumble” you better believe I did it.  And proceeded to eat half of it…way more than I needed but it’s what I wanted and decided to honor that.  Otherwise, though, my meals had good protein and some vegetables so I didn’t sweat the crumble or the homemade chicken egg rolls at choir.

I’ll say this though: full had a new limit.  I ate to uncomfortably full a couple times.  This is a mind thing mixed a little with a body thing because I’m noticing when I do start to eat, I become (and feel) ravenously hungry AND then I eat very, very fast.  So, aside from being aware of this, I’ll let it play out before adding any new rules.  That said, by the time I started my fast again at 8pm last night, I welcomed it because I felt full enough that I considered never eating again.  So in some ways it was a relief.  

Last thing to note: I was DREADING getting on the scale this morning…that usual feeling of “I’m gonna be punished for all that eating yesterday.”  No. I couldn’t believe it but I kinda could–I registered, I think, the lowest weight I’ve been at in months.  I can’t be surprised about this since what’s happening with the recurring fasts is that my calories across a week are averaging out much, much lower than what I’m eating during my eating days.  So (and I’m purely, purely guessing), that my total caloric intake on Wednesday was probably 2800-3000 calories, given the amount of berry crumble I ate and I probably did reach about 120-130g of protein.  If I take the higher number, that means that the average for these past two days is 1500 calories…much lower than I’ve been able to accomplish on my own in a consistent way if trying to hit that calorie amount daily.  With a lot less pain, frankly.   

What I’m trying to do on eating days that I haven’t successfully done before is convince my body that food is plentiful and coming in SO THAT it doesn’t think it’s starving but experiencing periods of no food intermittently between periods of plentiful food.  I think it’s working.  I need to check the dates but this is the first weight loss movement I’ve had in probably 3-4 months while working for weight loss that entire time by restricting calories or carbs or both.

Fast 5: Saturday, 11/12

So, I’m in the middle of this one right now…actually not technically middle just yet and things are going as planned.  To forecast for Sunday’s break-fast, I had to start my fast earlier at about 8pm so at 3pm right now, I’m in the thick of it.  The phases I go through are fascinating.  First, I should consider just starting to fast earlier than not because I’m becoming used to not eating at night–I want to eat but I just don’t and it’s ok.  That combined with a full night of sleep and the majority of the work is by about noon the next day–mentally this makes it easier.

Here’s a couple of observations over this past week:
1a) working through the period between 2pm-6pm is SO HARD.  I both get hungry and it seems like there’s still a long haul to break-fast, which there is.  I’ve been trying to use my chicken broth at these moments to break up the mental fast and it works.  If I can hold out as long as possible but use that savory moment when the going gets rough, it’s a good thing. 

1b) 9pm is the real deal-breaker…if I can will myself past 9pm (maybe go to bed earlier than usual…anything to get the idea of food out of my head…I’ll make the fast.  9pm (or right around 24 hours) is when this reflex comes to obsess about food.  I do take it mindfully…and usually find that it’s less about actual hunger than it is about my mental state.  I’ll have some salty sparkling water or maybe broth to ease any “panic” and it I feel like I’m still way obsessing, I’ll eat.  Since I’ve started fasting, this has happened once.  I do think this is much more mind over matter than anything else.  It might be a sign of the regulating of hormones (hopefully) going on–there might still be mixed signals about starvation happening at a metabolic level.  OR, I might be more food addicted (or in a different way) than I’ve ever considered before and this is an emotional panic.  I’m trying to be aware but also take the “tough it out” stance unless it just starts to feel not healthy not matter what the cause.

2) Compared to last week, I feel much more energy during the day and I’m sleepier at a “normal time” (11pm-12am) than in general…not necessarily just on fasting days.  I’ve also been better about using Athletic Greens every day which I think is helping get those micronutrients and pre/probiotics in everyday.  Combined, it seems like my circadian rhythm is getting back in check.  Special upside: on break-fast days, I’m super excited to get up and get that protein coffee in my bod…which starts my eating window earlier so…I’m keeping that going as long as I can.

3) According to my sleep tracker, my sleep hygiene has improved…sometimes a LOT.  Especially on fasting nights…I’m getting deeper sleep (even though I usually stop eating by 9pm on eating days) and my bio-markers (like heart rate dip and HRV) are much better, sometimes significantly.  I’m chalking this up to perhaps an improvement in inflammation and better regulation of hormone, even including insulin.  By that second night, I’m typically in ketosis, even if at .5mmol, and this seems to be pretty restorative.

4) electrolytes are KEY to succeeding at this aggressive schedule of recurring fasts.  I’m noticing that when I feel headachy or even a little low energy on fasting days, a packet of LMNT or even just a couple pinches of salt almost immediately deals with the symptoms.  

Final Observations and Additions

Alrighty…this felt like a watershed week in that it was the full three 36-hour fasts and 5/12 fasts total which…is frankly more than I thought I’d make when I started this so that’s exciting. For this upcoming week, here are my thoughts:

I need to track more data
Listen, I’m a data nerd but I’m working on a hypothesis that I need to test out: I believe there will be cumulative effects from such frequent, significant fasts. In other words, I suspect I’ll get into ketosis faster as the month of fasts goes on. So, I need to track this data, which I’ve just set up. I’ll share what I’ve got as I go.

I’m going to start journaling both fasting and eating days.
I’ve appreciated what I’ve already tracked here but the narrative that I though would play out (“fasting is hard”) has actually been inverted in my experience (“eating is hard”). This won’t be true for everyone but for me, fasting is SO EASY. Is it challenging, yes. But I don’t feel crazy about food. The work comes when I can eat and what my decisions are there. I’m curious, also, how these food decisions I make on eating days also impact that data I’m going to start collecting here. So…them’s is the updates.

Stay tuned. Drink electrolytes!

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