Do you fight your weight or stubborn fat pockets somewhere on your body and are you curious about Intermittent Fasting? Are you tired of the battle? After years of fighting weight and fat, I found two things that truly helped me and I’m ready to share them with you! I’m starting with my weight loss journey today and I’ll follow with Part II, the machine that helped me, as well.
Recently my son brought up a discussion at dinner. His question…. If you could change one area of your body, what would you change? For decades, that answer for me was my endless battle with fat on my body. Since my teenage years I have dieted, counted calories, reduced carbs, exercised intensely and so much more. This has led to endless ups and downs in my weight and many, many hours of frustration! What have I tried? What was my timeline? Follow along and see if you have had similar challenges. If you just want to read my solutions, scroll way down the article.
I was an active teenager who spent most her time outdoors…a cheerleader who played volleyball for some time but had a great love of music and spent much more of my time in choir, playing violin and participating in music theater. My whole life was spent on the go.
My mom was great about feeding us food at home and we seldom ate food out. She also worked three jobs, so I acquired a knack for cooking great dishes due to her working so late in the evening. I even won a magazine competition at 17 years old where a recipe of mine was eventually published. I say this not to brag but to help you understand that my eating habits were not terrible. Most of our meals consisted of meat, vegetables and healthy sides.
From about 16 on, I noticed that my thinner friends could eat so much more food than I could without consequences. And even at 16 I had to truly watch what I ate in order to not gain weight, which is no fun for a 16 year old girl. Prior to graduation I really lost some weight by severely reducing my carbs but by the time I hit college, that was nearly impossible to maintain.
I truly had a fantastic time in college, and unfortunately it showed quickly on my waistline. My “freshman 15” eventually became my “junior 30.” In other words, I was easily 30 lbs too heavy on my 5′ 5″ frame. The college lifestyle (due to living in a dorm) of campus or fast food and the addition of beer had a terrible side effect upon me. I sporadically dieted, finding respite in low calorie/low fat dieting, the trends during that time frame, which provided me temporary and unsustainable weight loss.
Additionally, I used some birth control which had severe negative side effects for my weight. I’ll never forget running into an old coach from high school and him congratulating me on my pregnancy…OR my best friends mother telling me “that I’d be so beautiful if I just lost some weight.” All these times led to serious insecurities about my body that I’ve lived with my whole life. My entire college experience is filled with yo-yo dieting with no long term benefit.
Post College Work Life
That yo-yo dieting continued throughout the first years of my working life. I had a job with most of my time spent traveling which is not a great scenario for a person trying to keep weight off. I also was an insanely hard worker and didn’t take time to exercise on the road, as most nights I was crashing into a hotel bed after 16 hours of work for the day. At this point I gave up the fight for awhile and allowed myself to be heavier than I’d like because I was just tired of the battle.
One of the worst weight times in my life occurred after pregnancy. The hormones of pregnancy were horrendous to my weight fight. I gained 70 lbs with my first child even though my eating habits were still not that terrible compared to most. And then I got pregnant again when my first child was only 9 months old. Needless to say, I did not lose that 70 lbs prior to becoming pregnant again. I was not the girl with the cute baby bump photos as I felt awful during this time.
This was a BRUTAL time in my life. The combination of two babies, plus a job and total exhaustion led to the second time in my life I just gave up the fight with my weight. By the time I hit this point I was carting around 218 lbs on my short frame. Unfortunately for me when I was ready to lose the weight, I chose another path that did not benefit me in the long run.
In my youth, the most effective diets included abstaining from sugar and most carbs. This would have been the best solution if not for the ever changing thought that fat was the culprit for fat. Additionally this practice, similar to keto dieting, doesn’t have a high success rate. Most folks cannot keep it up forever and the weight comes back. Also calorie counting in my youth was a huge practice for me. It worked but it had to be severely restricted for me to have weight loss.
My college dieting included the fad of “low fat” eating. Lots of chemical laden artificial sweeteners and “low calorie” foods were part of my dieting. Additionally, there were tons of packaged foods and not much real food. Truly this kind of dieting doesn’t satiate your body, and you are hungry all the time, perhaps even under nourished. The addition of alcohol was treacherous, as well.
After endless failing with low calorie or low fat or low carb eating, I decided to try the HCG diet. It was a trendy diet at the time that included hormone drops or shots and eating 500 calories per day for 28-40 days. This was the first significant weight loss I had my whole life but the results didn’t maintain for long. Generally I went 6-8 months between HCG sessions only to have my weight eventually return. Additionally, I’m convinced that the hormones were quite detrimental to my body in the long run. The worst part, though, was that after some time, the diet stopped working all together. By my last round of 500 calories a day for 21 days, I had zero weight loss. I was regularly working out intensely through this whole time of my life, as well.
Medical Issues Contributing To Weight Issues
Starting around the birth of my second child I began researching a ton of information about how hormones effected weight. In this window I learned that I might be highly estrogen dominant, contributing to the fact that I couldn’t eat like most “skinny people.” After finding a doctor and testing my theory, it turned out that not only was my estrogen high, but dangerously high, like increased breast cancer risk high… I worked with several specialists over time to correct this, but it wasn’t till I was 40+ years old when someone actually find a way to control it. My functional medicine doctor (a term not even around at the time) was the first person to find and correct my out-of-control estrogen. She also uncovered another major issue that I had been unknowingly fighting my whole life.
More on estrogen dominance/progesterone ratio:
Throughout my whole life fighting with diets, I have wondered why my skinny friend could out eat me without consequence. It turns out that the answer may lie in the pancreas. New research has found that many folks with perfect H1C levels (the test that measures for diabetes) can have major issues fighting their weight due to excess insulin produced in the pancreas. This high insulin makes our bodies store carbs instead of using them for fuel, making us over-weight, under-nourished and extraordinarily tired. I talk to women all day and have directed them to get this checked (it’s not a lab that most doctors pull every year,) only to find a significant number of women suffer from this issue.
Want to learn more about Insulin Resistance?
A Word About Doctors – They Don’t Know Everything
I need to say that most of the things in the last two paragraphs WILL NOT be found by a traditional doctor. Most doctors do not pull labs for or even understand insulin resistance. This was proven by a recent visit to my daughter’s pediatrician. She’s been struggling with similar issues to me since the beginning of her cycle. I asked her pediatrician to check her insulin, and they didn’t even know what lab to request… they had to ask ME! Normal insulin numbers run under 19 and when my daughters lab was run she came in with insulin numbers at 87!!! The doctor then called and said she’d never seen this before and didn’t know how to address it. So I took her to my functional medicine doctor.
Additionally, most OBGYNs don’t understand that estrogen isn’t just about the estrogen number but about its ratio to progesterone. I say all this, because it is important when looking for a solution to these issues to find someone that SPECIALIZES in hormones and insulin. I find that to be only about 5% of all doctors in these fields.
My Final Weight Loss Solution
Time, medicine and science have finally brought me to a place of freedom from a lifetime of weight issues. By working with my functional medicine doctor I have finally found balance in my hormones using natural hormone therapy. I have also gotten my insulin numbers into the normal range using traditional medicine.
But the actual DIET that helped me lose weight played a big part in the solution as well.
After hitting a wall after HCG dieting and not wanting to gain all my weight back, I had a long discussion with one of my clients who works as a diabetes doctor. She suggested I look into 5/2 Dieting, also called Intermittent Fasting. They had been studying it successfully at the University she worked at and found the weight loss rate excellent and the ability to keep the weight off relatively effective.
There are two main suggested paths to Intermittent Fasting. Either 16/8 or 5/2.
16/8 Fasting is usually done by eating all your calories in an 8 hour window each day, leaving 16 hours of “fasting” every day. It isn’t effective for me but works great for lots of folks. For more information about 16/8 Fasting check out these articles…
My fasting preference is 5/2 Fasting. In 5/2 Fasting you eat limited calories just two days per week (not in a row). And eat whatever you want during the other five days. For my dieting weeks I ate 700 calories or less on two busy days during the week. The other days I ate what I wanted when I was hungry and tried to listen to my body to tell me it was full.
With no restrictions on the types of calories I could eat, I found it a super easy way to exist. I used my self-control to limit my intake twice a week knowing I could eat the next day whatever I wanted. If I was struggling with hunger at night, I’d just keep busy or head to bed, because the next morning I could eat again. But I only exercised self-control TWO DAYS a week!! However, over the weeks of the diet I found myself getting full so much faster on my regular days that I suspect I began to eat less beyond my fasting days.
What did I eat on my fasting days?
Whatever I felt like… usually a homemade Latte for breakfast and chicken broth or an egg for a late morning snack. Many times an organic frozen entree for lunch or veggies and protein of my choice. Soups were often a great option. The same might fall for dinner. But the craziest things I ate sometimes was like two pieces of fried chicken from a fast food place. A half a burger with iced tea and no fries… or other crazy options. I just tracked my calories using the MyFitnessPal app and budgeted what I ate all day. Once again, I only battled through a single day!
What did I eat on the other days?
Whatever I craved, sometimes even dessert for the first time in my life. My only rule was to listen to my body. Especially paying attention to the feeling of “full” and stopping when I hit that level. I must reiterate that I was assisted by my body using my calories well due to my doctor helping me with my former hormone and insulin issues.
How much weight did I lose?
I lost 37 lbs the first time I did Intermittent Fasting over 8 months. Later I lost 25 lbs again after menopause began making my weight creep up. Although, I had only gained 12 lbs from the beginning of menopause but I took control of it quickly and lost weight easier than ever.
This is my chart from the last 12 months. I started my last round of dieting in April of last year so you can’t see my start weight (the website will only show me 12 months), but these are my raw results!
Is Fasting Healthy or Safe?
Our bodies were designed to fast as part of our existence! There are many benefits to fasting, as well. Your mind functions better. You sleep better. There are studies showing reduction of Alzheimers, diabetes and some forms of cancer by fasting (see resources below!)
Do I still fast?
After I reach my goal, I stop fasting completely.
How long does the result hold?
I held my first weight loss for nearly 3 years without dieting at all. I carried with me the ability to eat less by listening to my “fullness” and didn’t do ANYTHING else, including not working out during that whole window. I’ve held my second round of weight loss for 5 months and haven’t done anything differently. I have begun working out recently (but only once or twice per week) due to wanting to be a good example to my children. I have not lost weight from working out but feel more toned and healthy.
Is there any other secrets to it?
No, just two days low calorie and a good method for tracking your calories. For women it’s suggested to do 700-800 calories. For men 800-1000 on those days.
How often do you recommend weighing during the diet?
Once per week on a day after fasting. I recommend tracking your weight in an app too.
So that’s my tale of yo-yo dieting and finally getting healthy and feeling amazing. I cannot express to you how much less time I spend worrying about my weight and the way my body works. I also have way more confidence on a daily basis. Stay tuned for the next chapter in my story… How Two Devices Helped My Confidence and Progress On My Weight Journey.
I hope it helps you find the solution you have been looking for!
-Jennifer is a blogger, mom and owner of Elemental Esthetics in St Louis, MO
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