Tuesday, January 21, 2020

It's not EZ to stay humble!

I only managed to maintain my fast today until 1:00 pm. However, I did learn today that Robert I 'the Bruce' King of Scotland was THE HUSBAND OF MY 11TH COUSIN FOUR TIMES REMOVED!  

I made it EZ-ily.

I made it through my partial daily fast to 4:00 pm, at which time I consumed a small plate of leftovers followed by a quarter-cup of cashews as a treat. Nothing, then, until dinner at 6:30 pm, which was about three ounces of roast beef and some vegetables in brown gravy from Sunday's pot roast--no seconds, no dessert, and nothing but water afterward. I met my goal for the day! While not EZ, it wasn't as hard as I expected, and I surely consumed fewer calories and less bulk than I normally do. Yay, me! I'm going to try the same tomorrow. I think I'll plan a regular breakfast and light lunch on Thursday then another partial fast on Friday. Saturday is likely to be a heavy eating day as we are having family over and I plan steaks and baked potatoes.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Breakfast was the EZ part.

Reference my last post: I have decided to try a fast. Nothing fancy or too challenging; just skipping two meals today then eating a (hopefully light) dinner at or after 6:00 pm. I want to start easy and work my way up to more significant fasting.

My plan for today was to drink only fluids (water, black coffee--nothing with sugar) and perhaps some bone broth mid-afternoon. If I make it to mid-afternoon. I have defined mid-afternoon as 2:00 pm. Right now, it's 1:00 pm. I have successfully skipped breakfast and, so far, lunch. Breakfast was easy (probably because I ate so much over the weekend.) Lunch, not quite so easy.

By 10:22 am I was beginning to feel hungry. By 11:00 am the hunger was VERY noticeable. 11:00 am is my normal lunchtime, so--habit. Plus, I happened to be in the grocery store at 11:00 am. Oh, my! The food looked and smelled so good! Poor planning on my part, but I was able to resist the snacks and sweets on offer there. I did probably buy a bit more for later than I would have otherwise, but not too bad.

I'll report back later to document my level of success or failure!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Fasting? But eating is so EZ!

Of late, much has been written about the benefits of fasting. You can easily find an embarrassment of riches of opinion and stories extolling the sweeping and unexpected benefits of fasting. Such is available online at sites such as Medium, Pocket, and Facebook as well as in scores of books and articles, both electronic and print. A recent perusal of Amazon found over 4,000 books available on the topic of fasting—a Google search identified over 50,000 references to fasting on Medium.com. Healthline.com lists six popular ways to fast: 

  1. The 16/8 method: you fast for 16 hours each day. I've often used the inverted 16/8 method where I eat for 16 hours each day;
  2. The 5:2 method: you fast for 2 days per week;
  3. Eat-Stop-Eat: you do a 24-hour fast once or twice a week. If you do it twice, does this also count as an application of the 5:2 method?
  4. Alternate-day fasting: you fast every other day;
  5. Warrior fasting: you fast during the day, eat a huge meal at night. This is particularly popular in the Middle East during Ramadan. and, finally;
  6. Spontaneous meal skipping: you fast when it's convenient to skip a meal. This is also known as the "I've got a life" method.
Depending on what you read and who has written it, the possible benefits are broad and deep. Claims include that fasting:
  •          Reduces insulin resistance;
  •          Fights inflammation;
  •          Improves blood pressure and controls lipids;
  •          Boosts brain function;
  •          Prevents neurodegenerative disorders;
  •          Reduces calorie intake while boosting metabolism;
  •          Increases growth hormone secretion;
  •          Delays aging; and
  •          Aids in cancer prevention and increases the effectiveness of cancer treatments.

Note that the listed benefits are “possible.” The science around fasting is not yet settled. And while there is a ton of anecdotal evidence and there are apparently supporting studies for many of the benefits from prestigious bodies such as the University of Michigan, Harvard Medical School, the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Phil. It is also easy to find published studies and opinion that claim that fasting can be harmful as well as unpleasant and can even worsen your breath and body odor. These negative claims come from prestigeous bodies such as the University of Michigan, Harvard Medical School, the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Phil. 

I don’t know if there has been an unusually large number of such articles directed to me in 2020, but it certainly seems that way. Perhaps it’s just the annual New Year’s Day resolution rush. There’s a good chance I’d find a similar spike in the publication and discussion of the benefits of less alcohol, regular workouts, running, meditation, ample hydration, and safe sex as well. For this New Year, I have made my usual resolution. I’ve even written it down: “Don’t make promises you can’t or won’t keep.

Still, my reading this year has me pondering fasting. Should I try it? Could it be right for me and my health? There are lots of reasons for and few against fasting.

Arguments For Fasting:

Since my retirement at the end of 2017, my weight has continued to creep upwards. I now weigh in the vicinity of 236 pounds and that’s too much. My muscles, bones, and joints as well as my heart, would be happier if there were less of me to carry around. Fasting may help with some weight loss. In a study published in December 2019, Harvard found that intermittent fasting, defined as severely limiting caloric intake for about two days a week, may be as effective for weight loss as long-term calorie-restrictive diets.

It could be good for others for a couple of reasons: (1) My professed religion teaches the value of fasting for a 24-hour period once each month. We are asked to abstain from food on one Sunday of each month then donate the cost of meals not consumed to a fund used to provide assistance to the less fortunate. The church uses these funds to operate a huge international welfare program which PBS called “the world’s best” in 2016. We are taught to fast with a spiritual purpose and to pray and study about that purpose during the fasting period. Other beliefs, spiritual and secular, also ask for self-denial, giving to others, and meditation, so this is not an unusual teaching. (2) In August of 2019, NBC News published an article by Dr. Samantha Cassetty claiming that the best way to protect the planet from the scourges of overpopulation is to simply eat less. CNN and the BBC have published similar popular science pieces. Lose weight and do good for others at the same time.

Fewer dishes to wash and reduced time grocery shopping.

So if I could lose weight, improve my health and my spirituality, and help others all in one action, why wouldn’t I? Irresistible!

Arguments Against Fasting:

The discomfort of hunger. That’s about it. A day of fasting isn’t going to have negative health impacts. Humans don’t starve to death that quickly. An old survivalist saw called The Rule of Threes said something along the lines of, “A person can survive three weeks without food, three days without water, three hours in extreme heat or cold, three minutes without oxygen.” I wouldn’t plan a fast of anywhere near three weeks in duration.

Still. I hesitate. Remember that poor impulse control I mentioned earlier? A lot of that plays very closely with my enjoyment of and appetite for food. I’ve never even been very faithful at fasting the one Sunday each month as I’ve been taught to do since my youth. And my New Year’s resolution? I don’t care for the idea of trying something that I’m not convinced I can succeed at. I’ve always been a believer that success builds success so I have often limited myself to things that I’m pretty sure I can succeed at. Why would I want to promise myself a fast if that is setting me up for failure? I ate today’s breakfast three hours ago and I’ve had a snack of cashews since then. And I feel hungry. And there’s food available…