Time to celebrate one year of fasting.
Started after watching the documentary on Dutch TV, July 2013. Main reason was to improve blood values and blood pressure. Not so much weight loss as I expected not to lose too much (start BMI 25.01 on the tracker and stable for many years, never was more than that). Really felt that the idea presented to MM was brilliant in it’s simplicity. No fuss about what to eat, just stick to the calories. No daily calorie counting as well: just eat as you used to do on normal days and just eat ‘very little’ on fasting days. Never bothered to count if calories were exactly 600 on a fast day, just made sure I was really fasting. Never bought a book, as I could not imagine how someone could write a full book on ‘how to eat 600 calories a day’. Just gave it a try out of curiosity.
Took from the documentary that the idea was to have two consecutive days of fasting, so that is what I did. Three small meals a day, as I really was feeling I could not do without breakfast and lunch. Taking some food is the first thing to do when getting up. Drinking cappuccino, tea and water, just as usual. Water as a regular drink on fast and non-fast days (did that already before fasting started). Learned from the site that most do single fasts, but had no trouble doing consecutive, so kept on ‘getting the fasts out of the way’ and enjoying a ‘non-fast weekend of five days’. Kept on doing my usual biking to work (20 minutes) and once or twice a week low intensity sports (running, ice-skating). Apart from that I live a ‘sitting’ life.
Fasting proved to be ‘a piece of cake’. The hunger feeling was there (hey, how else would you expect it to work), but was bearable. No real side effects (no headaches, feeling feeble or dizzy or anything), just the occasional ‘cold feet’ from the reduced energy supply (works fine for losing water, shows nice on the scales, but doesn’t help in the long run). The psychology of fasting feels really good. It feels nice to be working on your health. It feels wonderful to see results. It feels great to experience that something that used to be ‘an ordinary, standard meal’, is now turned into a real treat. Just eating the things that you used to do is valued so much more! It feels good to get supportive reactions from the people around you: perhaps some scepticism in the beginning, but they notice the results as well! Many felt fasting a good idea and took a chance themselves.
In two words: it works! Kept losing weight and belly fat on a rate I would not have perceived possible. Lost 10 kg. in 3 months and reached my goal (64 kg). Set a maintenance range of 64-62, as there was still a little belly fat to lose, but the rest of my body was getting pretty skinny. Never went above 63 afterwards. Never felt the need to break-off or skip a fast (just do-it). Blood pressure is about 10 points lower than before, blood values have improved significantly after 3 months of fasting (new measurements are due in one month time). Celebrated reaching my goal by putting on my wedding outfit from 28 years ago (when I was young (25) and ‘athletic’). It felt as if I bought it ‘on the day’. Could not have thought of a better metaphor for what 5:2 has done for ‘body and soul’.
It’s flexible and it’s easy. Reducing the number of fasts when reaching goal resulted even in a 3 months period without fasting. After that it’s more or less 1 fast a week, skipping them in some cases in order not to get below my lower limit. The psychology of being able to ‘press the button’ in order to do away with any weight gain gives the assurance that I will not leave the maintenance area. Always felt that the brilliance of 5:2 was not only the easy way of losing weight (any ‘diet’ can do that), but the real benefit is in it’s sustainability as a maintenance strategy. Switching ‘on’ and ‘off’ and having longer ‘fasting holidays’ provide control without the need for sustained willpower. Pretty sure I will maintain, or as our royal family would say: ‘Je maintiendrai’.
Discovered the forum after a few weeks. Can’t say that ‘I could not have done it without the forum’, but it does make it a lot more easy and so much more fun! After one year I can truly say that being a ‘faster for life’ has become part of my ‘identity’. Something that started with ‘I’ll give it a try’, turned into a project that played an important role in my daily life (during weight loss), and changed into a part of me. Maintenance is the stage where your project should end, as projects do, to be turned into a real way of life. This forum is part of that. If I would be asked to do a scientific study on the factors that explain the success of a forum like this I would sketch a theoretical framework that contains as elements: it should have a ‘critical mass’ of a large number of active and enthusiastic participants; it should have a number of knowledgeable ‘experts’ that provide informative advice; it should give ample support to overcome the difficult moments that many participants will encounter; it should be friendly, patient and warm, yet mildly correcting any possible ‘slip of the tongue’; and above all: it should have a true sense of humour, presenting the members with everything between a hardly noticeable smile and a loud burst of laughter. In one word: it should be a ‘community’. Needless to say that this forum meets all these conditions and more! If I were in charge of a public health organisation or a health insurance company, I would know where to put my money. Surely this forum is much more effective than any expensive public health campaign. Unfortunately, I’m not in such a position. The good news is: even without support we (mostly you), have shown that we can pull this thing off together and the forum is vibrant as never before. Looking forward to the next year and many more to come.