So I’ve been intermittent fasting for just under 2 weeks. It’s going well so far. Today I completed my first 18 hour fast. It actually wasn’t that bad. I have done the 16/8 split before (several years ago) and it seemed my body adjusted to that eating window super-fast this time. After a week 17 hour fast were the norm but I was having trouble getting through that last hour. Today I made it! The funny thing is I actually had my lightest meal at the close of my eating window rather than my heaviest meal at the end of my window. So I am excited to see where I am this time next week.
My nutritionist wants me to lose 4 lbs in the next for weeks. It is definitely an achievable goal but it will take some dedication and determination on my part. I’ve been actively trying to lose weight for a little over 4 months. More and more lately I find myself thinking on my old favorite meals. I miss having ranch dip and potato chips for dinner (totally wrong I know). I miss eating more than 2 slices of pizza. I want to have a drink-right now I can’t justify the calories in a mixed drink. I miss my old ways.
But I want my health more. Intermittent fasting is good for me. It makes me make better choices with the foods I chose. The resurgence of my rheumatoid arthritis symptoms has made diet and weight loss an even bigger priority than it was. And you know what? A protein smoothie with spinach and berries isn’t half bad. I actually quite like my anti-inflammatory concoction.
I’m still having an issue with emotional eating. I am also dealing with the bone numbing fatigue that comes with a RA flare-which means I eat mindlessly for “energy”. I just want to maintain the progress that I’ve worked so hard to achieve. I’ve decided to try intermittent fasting (IF) to control my desire to shove food in my face 24/7.
Since my goal is to prevent over eating rather than rapid weight loss I’ve chosen to place my eating window from 9 am to 5 pm. I will still walk in the morning for about 35 minuets to get my fasting “workout”. Hopefully next week I will see 0 weight gain-which will be a victory for me.
I’m not completely out of control but if I don’t rein it in I will be. As of Saturday I had lost 22 lbs since the beginning of my journey. I haven’t been this “small” in about 3 years. It’s a great feeling to be at a 3 year low but the bad habits and circumstances that caused my weight to balloon out of control threaten to derail me once again.
This blog isn’t about my chronic illness but the chronic illness is apart of my weight gain and weight loss journey. Before rheumatoid arthritis I was barely a size 6-I could probably have fit into some size 5 clothing at that point. I was working out for 1-2 hours every day. I was healthy.
Then one day my hands felt stiff. Then my wrist and elbows. My toes were swollen. My knees didn’t bend quite right. I woke up in pain. I broke down in the bathroom at work because of the pain. And then I had a diagnosis. Enter medications that didn’t work, sort of worked, caused weight gain, caused horrible side effects, and then finally remission.
When remission came I had developed a bad habit of letting food be my comfort. I refused to deny myself any tasty treat that I might want in the moment despite the fact the that my clothes didn’t fit and the scale reached heights I wasn’t comfortable with. As I tried to climb out of the whole I had dug for myself. I found (still find) it hard to regain the self-control and self-denial necessary to become healthy again. But I did. I began exercising again. My fast food diet was replaced by green smoothies and vegetables. And 3 years ago I was in the same place health wise as I am today.
But just as I was getting my stride 3 years I got a rude wake up call. Chronic means something never goes away. The unrelenting fatigue returned. Once again my joints began to swell. And I once again found myself struggling to make it through everyday life. And once again food was there to comfort me.
My medications were once again changed. I had more energy, less swelling, and less pain. I went to see a nutritionist. I began making health choices that would help me regain my health. But about 3 weeks ago something changed. Random swelling is back. I am stiff again. When I sit for prolonged periods of time I limp when I walk. As I type this my hands hurt. And today I went over my calorie count. Not because I was hungry but because I feel bad. My meds aren’t working. And I used food to cope.
I’ve worked too hard to let this tumble-down around me. But my options far as a medicine for a flare-prednisone- causes weight gain. I’m not at a point where I can’t function. It’s just harder than I want it to be. Harder than it should be. But that’s just life. Everyone is struggling with something that is harder than it should be. It’s just my cross to carry-but this time I will not buckle under its weight.
After last nights weight loss meeting I was feeling reinvigorated. I had my goal for the week, I had learned some nutrition tips, and I was more determined than ever to do the hard work necessary to change my lifestyle. Then morning happened.
I woke up with a horrible sinus headache. I also discovered that the stomach bug that had been circling around my department at work had decided it was my turn for the nauseous fun everyone else had been experiencing. My healthy eating plans went out the window. Instead of the barbecue tofu and vegetables I had planned to make for dinner tonight I opted for soup. On top of all of this my RA decided to join the party! If any day was to be a complete wash out today should have been the day. My own body seemed to be conspiring against me to derail my healthy journey today.
I had decided to make an early night of it. I had already put on my PJs. The bed was turned down. The new plan was to mindlessly watch tv until I fell asleep. But I paused, dropped to the floor, and did 10 push ups. No it wasn’t a calorie blasting workout. However it was SOMETHING. It was me saying to life’s inevitable downs that my health is a priority. When I can do more I will. But sometimes it will just be something-and I am fine with that.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I need help on my health journey. I took a good long honest look at myself, at my issues with my weight, and my relationship with food. The only conclusion was that I needed help. And I still need help. Everyday I fight to continue to go forward and not re-gain the small victories I have achieved. I am at a point in my journey where it is getting difficult. I want to settle for better instead of struggling for health. So I went to a weight loss support group tonight. Just to get back on track. I needed to hear that I’m not the only one who struggles. I needed to be reminded of what I am trying to achieve and to recommit myself to being the healthiest version of myself. Because I is ok to get help. There is no shame in needing support. All that matters is that I make my goal. And with help, I am sure I can be the healthiest I can be.
If I had to choose one word to describe how I have felt about my diet over the past few years it would be GUILT. I felt guilty over my food choices and guilty over my portion sizes. I felt guilty that I was just grabbing fast food, and most of all guilty of the way my poor choices were harming my body. I knew my family history of obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes. But I still chose to eat foods that would make it hard to escape my genetic predispositions. I also have my own health issues to deal with. I have rheumatoid arthritis-an autoimmune disease. Eating a diet of high fat, high meat, low fruits and vegetables did nothing to alleviate the symptoms of this painful disease. In fact, my poor diet probably made my efforts to achieve remission of my disease harder. The foods I was eating on the regular basis were highly inflammatory- the last thing I needed.
I have made small changes over the last few months. I’ve given up red meat and poultry. Even though I’m still adjusting to a pescatarian diet I can say that I feel better giving up some of the inflammatory foods in my diet. I’m not a big seafood person but I am trying to get used to consuming fish on the regular basis for the anti-inflammatory benefit they provide. I am slowly increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables I consume.
Do I still crave the unhealthy foods that I spent so many years eating? Yes. My mind still sees the unhealthy foods as I was consuming on the regular basis as familiar. When I try to plan my meals burgers, fries, pizza (which I still eat a few times a month) are the first things to come to mind. The fact that you can easily get vegetarian versions of these foods doesn’t make it any easier. But what is helping is that when I eat healthier the guilty feelings are not present. And when I fall off the wagon and decide that a veggie burger and fries is the best I can do for dinner I accept that. I am making healthier choices than I was before. I’m choosing to focus on progress rather than perfection. Lifestyle changes don’t happen overnight but I have a new determination to practice doing things differently. I am changing my relationship with food so that guilt isn’t in the equation-even when I “mess” up.