The above picture is me at 18 years old winning a natural bodybuilding competition in Western MA. That was years ago. I weighed about 185. Now I am 35. I am sharing this photo to demonstrate that I have some experience when it comes to the topic of diet and exercise.
After years of high stress, travel and desk jobs programming computers, my weight ballooned to 285 (100 lbs overweight!). With the addition of my young son last year, I began to lose hope that I might ever return to a normal body mass. To make matters worse, once I hit 30+ I noticed a distinct slow-down in my metabolism which made many of the techniques which I used to employ to drop weight less effective.
How I Used To Lose Weight
The 18 year old me, pictured above, had spent the previous 12-16 weeks eating nothing but meat and vegetables as well as protein shakes while also wrestling for the Amherst High-school team 5 days per week. I also engaged in regular cardiovascular and weight training. The amount of work and self-control required to lose weight using these methods was significant. It was also expensive and time consuming.
After attempting to lose weight “the old way” on several occasions, I began to realize that these techniques were simply not compatible with my current life and work schedule. I needed something that was cheap, effective, healthy and realistic.
Intermittent Fasting To The Rescue
Out of exhasperation, I began researching for something more potent to use to change my body composition. This research lead me to Intermittent Fasting. Last summer (2017), I embarked on my first experiment. I began eating two small meals per day, once at 1pm and another meal at 7pm. Gradually, I began to include 24-hour fasts once or twice a week until finally I migrated to multiple back-to-back 24-hour fasts, eating one meal per day.
The results were spectacular and immediate. I dropped 22 lbs in two months and have kept it off since. If you are unfamiliar with Intermittent Fasting, the idea is to time your meals to ensure your body spends more time in a “fasting” state than in a “fed” state. There are many tactics and strategies employed by people which you can find by researching online, I won’t detail them fully here.
After two months of Intermittent Fasting, I noticed something odd. Either through lax practices or adaptation – The weight losses stopped. Even 36 hour fasts did not seem to produce the results they once had. Things got busy so I stopped Intermittent Fasting, vowing to revisit it in the future.
Doubling Down On Intermittent Fasting
This January I began Intermittent Fasting again and noticed the same phenomenon: It simply wasn’t working anymore. It wasn’t necessarily that the fasting was problematic (I now find it easy to do), it was that I simply can’t trust myself to regulate my eating. If food is put into my hands, my animal instincts take over and I inevitably over-eat and regain anything I had lost. I also felt that my body had adapted to fasting and become more efficient with calories, causing the results to decline.
As a result, I have decided to double-down on fasting by embarking on a series of protracted fasts. When I say “Protracted,” I mean “Greater than 7 days.” After doing research about other people’s experiences, the potential medical downsides and ways to avoid common pitfalls, I decided to test my first 8 day fast.
I am currently in the 5th day of this fast and have seen my bodyweight from from 256.6 down to 245 already. As a result, I have decided I am going to extend this fast out past 8 days, perhaps as long as 30-40 days. Simply put: This is the year I am going to return to a healthy weight.
In coming weeks, I am going to be going into more detail about protracted fasts and how to manage them while still maintaining health.