Yesterday was a milestone in my health journey; one year to the day since I began following an intermittent fasting lifestyle, along with changes to my diet and exercise regime. What a difference a year makes!
I am down almost fifty pounds and at fifty-seven (almost fifty-eight), I feel strong and fit again after struggling with weight my entire life. I have tried most every diet plan out there but nothing worked long-term, leading to yo-yo fluctuations and tremendous frustration. I always had the best of intentions, but stress often won out and I made poor choices in how and what I ate. I’ve always loved to exercise, but shoulder surgeries caused me to reduce the variety of what I did and slow down my efforts. I was an unhealthy mess and ready to give up, thinking there was no solution. I was tired of fighting it and tired of beating myself up over weight.
I had read about intermittent fasting and decided that I would give one more try to achieving a healthier body and lifestyle. Lifestyle was the key; diets don’t work and I am living proof of that. I have lost lots of weight over the years; I just never could keep it off. I needed to find something that I could do for the long term that didn’t make me feel deprived.
I began the new plan on December 2nd, for once not using the mentality of ‘I’ll just enjoy the holidays and start after the New Year’ and my best friend Diane joined me so that we could encourage each other along the way (she’s done an amazing job!). I decided that I would make some dietary changes, getting rid of most sugars in my diet and overall trying to focus on food as fuel for my body instead of a reward or comfort in stressful times. It wasn’t easy at first, and the fasting periods were tough. I adjusted and found the rhythm that worked for me through trial and error and the weight began to melt away.
In March, the pandemic hit with a vengeance, upping stress levels for everyone and changing life indelibly. Intermittent fasting gave me something positive to focus on in the midst of all of the fear and sadness and I kept going, continuing to tweak my exercise and diet, adding in more kickboxing, longer walks, and cycling. I began to really see changes in my appearance and in my fitness level and that spurred me on. I told myself that I didn’t have to exercise every day- just today, and allowed myself Sundays off to enjoy homemade blueberry pancakes with Dan. Habits became ingrained, and I used the Life app to track fasting and eating windows and MyFitnessPal to track food and exercise. Having something so positive and affirming to focus on during the pandemic was a godsend, for sure.
I am under no illusions; I know that I will have to continue to eat and exercise this way to maintain my weight and I know how easy it is to slide back down the rabbit hole. Here’s the thing, though; this is a way of eating and living that I enjoy and that makes me feel good. I don’t feel deprived and really resonate with this lifestyle. That will be the difference from all of the diets that have come before; this is not a diet but rather a lifestyle change, with habits ingrained after a year of hard work. I have stopped focusing on a goal of being ‘skinny’, but rather a goal of being fit and healthy. I can’t maintain skinny; I can maintain this.
I am grateful that I’ve had tremendous support from my husband and my best friend all along the way and that I’ve had this time away from my usually too-busy schedule to focus on my health. I’m continuing to tweak things in my diet and add new fitness challenges to keep changing my body in positive ways. I am not skinny and don’t care to ever be. Healthy is where it’s at, and that is my goal. One day or day one- we all decide. I’m so glad that I finally chose ‘day one’. I wish you well in your own health goals.