Like camping, fasting (except for religious or political reasons) has always seemed to me as utterly pointless. After all, if God had wanted us to go without eating for an extended length of time, he wouldn’t have given us a duodenum, jejunum and ileum.
But being stranded on a weight loss plateau had become frustrating for me. I had rid my diet of almost everything with more than 35 calories a serving. Well, I had rid myself of bread and bread-like products, potatoes, rice, desserts, etc. I’ve been existing on vegetables, fruit, eggs and protein. And coffee. Some dark chocolate. I’ve not gone hungry, however. But I wasn’t losing weight. My extra weight had adhered to me like barnacles to the hull of a ship. It was going nowhere and was happy hiding underneath loose clothing.
The other morning I listened to an NPR program, which featured a young woman who had stalled in her weight loss efforts. She was sitting next to me on the plateau. I could hear her stomach growling. She was that close.
Doctors came on the program to talk about dieting and what happens when a person plateaus. Apparently, those of us who have fallen face down on the plateau and cannot get up must try to trick our bodies into believing that we truly are still trying to lose weight. We’re not on a weight loss vacation, self! Screaming at yourself doesn’t help, by the way.
One of the doctors recommended switching to a new physical activity. So, I could no longer count on my daily walks to lose these stubborn last few pounds. I guess the pounds have come to enjoy these little walks of mine. They like coming along for the ride, smelling the flowers and watching the birds. HEY, I never offered to be a tour bus for you globules of lard!
I considered a different kind of exercise. Would Zumba be worth it, as it had been for the woman on the program? Can I lose weight while stumbling over my two left feet and shimmying in my awkward, embarrassing and unrhythmic manner? This requires study. Frankly, I think I’d rather try tearing up the pea patch or scraping around the bottom of the pickle barrel. I don’t have to wear Spandex to do those activities. I haven’t the energy to think about it now, though.
Another doctor came on to extol the virtues of intermittent fasting. I listened intently, first horrified, then intrigued. It was working for the people who were using that method. If you give your body the chance to rid itself of things it’s familiar with—grilled cheese sandwiches, Honey Bunches of Oats, Fritos and toast—then the blubber dining at that particular café will also leave. Sadly, I am too hungry and weak right now to surf Google for the specific physiological mechanisms that are at play when one fasts intermittently.
Because I’m fasting. This is my second trial of it. I heard the NPR program on Monday and tried fasting that day. I had my usual couple mugs of coffee that morning around 5:30-6 am and then I consumed nothing until 6 pm that evening. Oh, at around 10:00 am that morning, I did discover that drinking water was essential to prevent fainting. Fortunately, I learned this before my head hit the keyboard.
Miraculously, the water worked. I purposely avoided drinking any more coffee for fear of hurting a coworker who might inadvertently wander within the vicinity of my teeth. I had a difficult 45 minutes around 9:30 am till 10:15 am or so. The stomach growling was insistent and nearly deafening. I prayed my cubicle neighbor wouldn’t hear the rumbling, gurgling and roiling. I had a moment of panic when I realized that I would not be eating until dinnertime. I began thinking about food. A lot. Could this hypoglycemia-prone woman manage a day without food?
But lunch came and went without a whimper from me or another chorus from my guts.
At some point in the afternoon, I realized that I felt quite good. I had made it. I even took a short couple of walks during the day. Remarkably, I didn’t pass out on the walk home. And I didn’t rush into the house and consume an entire loaf of bread or the first Boston Terrier that got to the door.
So, on Wednesday, today, I decided to try it again. It’s 3:19 pm now. I’m alert. I’m not shaking. I’m not hallucinating. I think. I discovered that this time around I didn’t think about food all morning long. My computer mouse no longer reminded me of a Hostess Ho Ho. And, at lunchtime, when my nerdy coworker showed me his plate of tacos, I didn’t even feel compelled to smash them into his face.
I plan on trying this fasting thing intermittently. Perhaps not every week, but at least a couple times a month. The doctor recommended the 5-2 method. I’m just a little too hungry right now (3:41 pm) to Google it. I don’t know if fasting will help roll me off this plateau. But these are desperate times calling for desperate measures. Zumba isn’t included in those desperate measures. Yet.
P.S. When I was studying anatomy to get my Occupational Therapy degree, the only way I could remember the order of the intestinal parts was by singing it to the tune of “Doo Wa Diddy” (made famous by the Exciters).
“Here she comes just a’ walkin’ down the street, singing duodenum, jejunum, ileum!”
Mock me, but it worked.