This blog post is meant to address a ton of questions and messages I (Shannon) have received about my weight loss, especially since I posted the blog, “How I Rebuilt My Wardrobe By Spending No Money After Losing Over 75 Pounds”. I knew there would be questions, but that blog was really dedicated to one subject, and I didn’t want to take away from the topic of the no-buy year with weight loss, even though I knew what was coming. 🙂
If you have stumbled upon this blog post by searching for weight loss, or intermittent fasting, welcome. We hope you will mingle around our website a bit. Weight loss is not a topic we discuss traditionally, though wellness, and enjoying life and the adventures that life brings is, so it is fitting that we address the elephant in the room. So, let’s get to it.
How Did the Intermittent Fasting & Weight Loss Journey Begin?
As I mentioned in the Wardrobe Rebuild Blog Post, I started my wellness journey at the beginning of Covid, in a serious manner. I could really feel the anxiety hitting when things started shutting down, and frankly, shit started getting real. With the extra time at home, both Gerry and I walked, and boy did we walk. We called them our Sanity Walks and we didn’t skip them. There were days when rain didn’t allow walking outdoors, and we literally walked the inside perimeter of the house, just to get the steps in. We made sure to walk and track 10,000 steps/day no matter what, and we still do, to this day. The more walking we did, the more I started seeing some weight loss, though, it really didn’t start happening a great deal until I implemented intermittent fasting and other wellness factors, but we’ll get to that.
When Did Intermittent Fasting Come Into the Picture?
First, if you aren’t familiar with intermittent fasting, or (IF), it is an eating pattern where you switch between eating and fasting. You still eat a normal amount of food, you just do it in a smaller eating window. Studies show that IF improves mental clarity and concentration. It lowers blood insulin and sugar levels, improves fat-burning abilities, lowers blood cholesterol, and activates cellular cleansing by autophagy. Many fast for spiritual growth. It is an ancient tradition that many believe will make you stronger, and ultimately, a far freer, happier person. For the purpose of this blog post, I am just going to tell you about my experience. Again, I am not giving advice, just telling you about my own situation.
Prior to Covid, in 2019, I stumbled upon Sumaya Kazi and loved reading about her journey with intermittent fasting. I read her guide, watched her videos, and started her 60-day Lifestyle Challenge. My choice was the 4:3 style, which had me eating 4 days during the week and fasting 3 non-consecutive days of the week. I was inconsistently successful, and let’s just say that it didn’t work for me in the long run. Not eating for 24 hours when I am traveling, wanting to go out with Ger, or friends, was just too difficult for me. Sure, I could have been better about scheduling, because a ton of people are successful, Sumaya for one, but for me, this style didn’t work. So, I dropped it.
What Intermittent Fasting Style Worked For Me
When that damn honey badger Covid hit, and I started losing some weight by walking, I wanted to control something, because that’s what I do. 🙂 I started meeting virtually with a holistic nutritionist, integrated more of a plant-based diet, and began tracking my food so I could get a better idea of what nutrients I was getting and not getting. Without boring you with the details, I like seeing every single bit of macronutrient and micronutrient that I am getting, especially protein since we are not meat eaters. I love telling the meat eaters in my life how much protein I get. It is usually more than they eat. Plus, I get it straight from the source- plants, just like the animals that they eat.
I am typically not hungry in the morning, so I started listening to my body, being mindful to eat when my body told me it was hungry. I found that I didn’t want to eat anything until around lunch, though I love having black coffee or black or green tea in the morning as a ritual, so I continue that. The routine of starting my eating at lunch was working for me.
Gerry and I like to have dinner earlier than most. We end our work day, and begin prepping dinner. We like to start the dinner process, then either have wine or a cocktail, and I usually end my consumption of anything by 8pm. This is usually due to digestion, not even related to IF. I have always had stomach issues and a doctor told me that if I stopped eating or drinking at 8pm, it would help digestion, so voila! I started realizing that the IF 16:8 style was working for me if I opted to stick to that. So, unplanned, then sort of planned, I integrated that into my daily habit. Meaning, my eating window is 8 hours, and I fast for 16 hours.
If you’re thinking that 16 hours is a long time to fast, don’t panic. Remember, 8 hours of that, you are more than likely sleeping. Plus, I drink a ton of water, and I have black coffee and/or black or green tea. It really just feels as though I don’t eat breakfast. Again, this is just my practice most of the time. I just got back from vacation where I did whatever I wanted. For example, breakfast was a piña colada (or three) by the pool, or an actual breakfast at one of our fave spots. We also had pizza at midnight after a day of drinking. Sure, I came back and felt every bit of it, but I had a post-vacay detox, and was good to go! As Gerry says, and I think a lot of other really smart people do as well, “everything in moderation.”
I’m Not a Stickler
Look, just because I tell you that I utilize the IF 16:8 plan, start my day eating at noon, stop at 8pm, doesn’t mean I live and die by that plan. Sometimes, especially when I hear a great breakfast place has opened, I don’t deprive myself, even when I’m not on vacation. I love my Posty wine (still waiting on that brand collab, Post Malone), everyone knows that. I live my life. However, I still track my intake and I try to stay around 1200 calories/day. There are days that I go over, and I am not going to beat myself up for it. I just get it together the next day.
What I have noticed is that, prior to my wellness journey, I just wasn’t paying attention. As much as I am a control freak, I still didn’t eat meat, thought I ate healthy for the most part, I just didn’t pay attention to the amount of sugar, fat, and “extras” that I was bringing into my body. I wasn’t being mindful, at all.
There are many schools of thought in the IF world, and Sumaya would probably disagree with my plan that I limit what I eat, even during my eating window, but I have decided that this wellness journey is mine, and it is working for me. I feel great. Plus, the proof is in the pudding. We’ll get to that.
I use the LoseIt app, but you can use any tracking app such as My Fitness Pal, Cronometer, Nutritionix, etc. There are tons of them. Just find the one that works best for you, should you choose to go the tracking app route. I also use my Fitbit to track my steps.
Proof is in the Pudding
I just completed my annual blood work, and I thought this was the perfect time to compare it to my bloodwork from a year ago. I wanted to discuss some of the changes that were trouble spots a year ago, and they all improved.
Glucose– *Glucose screens for diabetes by measuring the level of glucose (sugar) in a person’s blood.
In 2020- my glucose was 103. HIGH
In 2021- my glucose is 93. NORMAL
A1C– *A1C test is a common test that measures how much sugar has been in your blood over the previous few months. It’s used to diagnose diabetes or determine how well a person with the disease has been managing their blood sugar.
In 2020- my A1C was 6.2. PRE-DIABETIC
In 2021- my A1C is 5.5. NORMAL
LDL– *Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol, is a major cause of heart disease. It is called “bad” cholesterol because it picks up cholesterol from the blood and takes it to the cells. A high LDL level is related to a higher risk of heart and blood vessel disease.
In 2020- my LDL was 143. HIGH
In 2021- my LDL is 119. HIGH, but almost in the normal range. #MAJORGOALS
HDL– *HDL is called the “good cholesterol.” It’s good because it carries away other kinds of cholesterol, (including LDL), away from the arteries. An increased HDL is considered to be optimum and a protection against heart disease.
In 2020- my HDL was 54. LOW
In 2021- my HDL is 66. IDEAL/OPTIMAL
*Information provided by the Cleveland Clinic.
Note, that my lab work included many other factors, but the previous year’s report had flags with these four areas, which is why I am pointing them out in this discussion.
I am not a doctor, but what I can do is look at the evidence of what I have done in the past year, and look at the studies that show that the lifestyle changes that I have made, contributed to these changes. I also know that our minimalist lifestyle plays a huge role in my wellness- physically and mentally. It should be noted that I have only mentioned the weight number once, earlier when referencing another blog post, but for medical reference, in the year since the last blood work, my total weight loss was 78 pounds. My NP has expressed that the time frame in which this weight loss has occurred, as well as the way in which it was lost was safe and my body has responded very well. She is very happy! 🙂
There are a ton of other factors, tips, and recommendations that I could give you with all of this, that were helpful to me, but you have to find your own way, and also, this would be more like a novel than a blog post if I went on. I did find Sumaya Kazi to be a wonderful resource, but I also found my holistic nutritionist to be a gem. Plus, my nurse practitioner who I see for primary care, my therapist is wonderful, exercise is key, meditation is paramount, all of the tools, the pieces, they all fit together to work in this puzzle of wellness for Shannon. Believe me, this puzzle isn’t a simple one. It is a complex one that changes constantly, so later, you may find me telling you that IF is no longer working for me. Who knows!?
Please, no matter what, just take this as information. Do your own research. Make your own lifestyle adjustments with the help of professionals you trust and do your due diligence in background checks. With that being said, if you would like referrals for resources I have used, you can find them in this blog post, in past blog posts, or message me and I am happy to send them your way. No matter what, enjoy this life that you have, and do your best to have longevity. Make it adventurous.
Update- as of August 2022, I am now using the Oura Ring and app to track my activity, sleep, and overall wellness and have found it to be a much better tool for my wellness journey.
*Medical Disclaimer- Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website. Please also review terms & conditions.
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