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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Intermittent fasting – 5 months later

I wrote my memoir Starving Girl – my 30-day experience with the miracle of intermittent fasting in 30 days. 

Every day, I took time to journal how I felt about what I was doing, the challenges, rewards and impressions.  I wrote about hunger, body image and overcoming negative self-talk.  I was in uncharted territories, I mean me, the girl who loved eating and had been overweight most of her life was going without food for 16 hours a day and writing about it.  I was no expert on fasting, prayer or weight-loss.  All I knew about fasting was what I’d been taught by my Christian parents as a child: on the first Sunday of every month our family skipped two consecutive meals.  The money saved from not eating the two meals was given to the poor.  We were intentional about our fast, praying for those in our family or community in need of help.  With this concept, I was going to fast for 30 days, meaning skipping two meals a day.  I skipped breakfast and lunch and would eat from 4:00pm to bedtime.  Before bed, I’d kneel in prayer and start my fast for the next day.  Why?  This may be difficult to believe, but it was because God told me to.  I fasted on Sunday January 3, 2016, my typical best-effort once-a-month fast when I felt impressed to fast for 30 days.  I was told it would change my life and my life needed a lot of changing. 

At first, I tried to talk myself out of it.  Why would I feel impressed to do such a thing?  Was fasting for 30 days even healthy?  My once-a month attempts at fasting were pretty pathetic and usually resulted in either sneaking something to eat or having a bad attitude and complaining about how difficult it was.  Truth was I didn’t want to fast for 30-days, but throughout my life, through miracle after miracle and blessing after blessing, I’d learned to recognize God’s voice.  I couldn’t deny the inspiration to fast for 30 days came from Him.  He’s the boss.  I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t follow through with what I’d been instructed to do. Even on the most difficult days, even when hunger made me nauseous or when there was chocolate chip cookie dough right in front of me, I carried on. With God right by my side, quitting was never an option.

While fasting, I learned things about myself I didn’t know before like:

I learned I had a food addiction. 
I realized I had a negative body image and talked down to myself because I felt fat.
Although I thought I was grateful for food, I learned most of the time I resented food and blamed it for most of my problems.
I’d exaggerated my relationship with food.  When I thought I was starving, I learned there were people in the world who were truly hungry; even starving.
I didn’t realize how much food I had wasted throughout my life until I went without food. 
I lived in a constant state of either procrastination or rush and was never settled with myself.

Even with God at my side, fasting for 30 days was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done, but it was also one of the most rewarding.

The rewards were the following:

I was able to stop the negative self-talk in my mind.
I overcame my food addiction.
I developed a habit of praying every day, even multiple times a day for those in need.
I turned to the sweetness of the scriptures when I craved sweets.
I stopped wasting food.
I learned hunger was not something to fear or despise, but to turn to gratitude.
I became aware of my ancestors, those who’d lived before me who had gone hungry and was incredibly grateful for them.
I developed true empathy for the poor and prayed for them throughout the day.
I was able to give the money I saved while fasting to the poor.
I developed a relationship with God that literally brought me to tears.
I learned I am a child of God and I believe it whole-heartedly.
I learned to live in the moment.

Oh, I almost forgot because it’s not as significant as the other rewards - I lost 12 pounds.

After my 30-day experience, I continued fasting because not only had I learned to love it, but I discovered a term called intermittent fasting.  Believe it or not, what I was doing was healthy and promoted by many doctors and researchers.  Intermittent fasting concludes there is a pattern to eating and the body runs more efficiently when it consumes its daily calories in an 8-hour eating window.  I believe it is not promoted like it should be because nobody makes any money off it.  Intermittent fasting is free.

I continued editing my memoir; adding additional insights, stories and impressions.  It is now in the hands of a very talented miracle-working editor.

I just finished my fifth month of fasting.  My memoir is done and hopefully will be up on Amazon in the next month.  I’ll have a book launch on my blog soon, but I’ve learned so much more about fasting then what you’ll find in the first book.  The rewards keep on coming, as does the weight-loss so I’ve decided to start book 2 of Starving Girl.  Because I plan on practicing intermittent fasting for a year, I may also write a book 3 of Starving Girl

For many people, the most interesting part of intermittent fasting is the weight-loss.  Dieting is a billion dollar industry and people are desperate to get those unwanted pounds off.  I get this because dieting was the focus of my life every since I was a teenager.  That’s right, for 30 years I’ve fought this demon.  I will share my numbers, although I do this with one caveat:  fasting has changed my life because of the spiritual and emotional benefits, not because of the number on the scale.  I weight myself at my doctor’s office, as I do not keep a scale in my home.  I will not give the glory to the scale, but to my Heavenly Father.

 Before intermittent fasting:

After five-months of intermittent fasting:

I’ve lost 30 pounds, dropped two dress sizes and am running 2 miles a day.  I’ve incorporated a lot more exercise into my life because I love it and my body is lighter and stronger.  If it wasn’t for the spiritual growth, awareness and empathy I’ve developed, I don’t know if I would have ever learned to commit to a healthy eating plan, but this is it for me.  Intermittent fasting is amazing and now, it’s pretty easy.  I rarely feel hungry while fasting.  Prayer is essential, as is scripture study and giving to the poor.

I started a conversation on facebook about intermittent fasting and there were some haters.  Out of maybe 100 positive comments, 3 people voiced negative concerns.  I was told I was anorexic (yea, right!), needed therapy and should not be promoting intermittent fasting because I’m not a doctor or dietician.  Several people involved in the discussion defended intermittent fasting and voiced they had been advised by their doctor to practice the same thing.  Despite my insecurities, I combated the negativity pretty well and only wallowed for about a month.  I wondered if I should I keep my journey private, but when I was told to fast for 30 days, I was also told to write about my experience so I’ll share my story with the greatest of hopes to help others who struggle with the same issues.  You should talk to your doctor if you're considering trying it.  I'm ever so thankful for God's law of the fast.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Beach Vacation to Remember

Last week, our trip to California could have easily been called: Every good reason to stay out of the water.

It was almost like a curse with gray skies, hundreds of thousands of dead red crabs, riptide warnings, cold water and a great white shark attack on a swimmer at a nearby beach.  We could have proclaimed “This one’s for the history books, kids,” as we packed up and left, but with boundless energy and cousins joining us, we made it into one of our most favorite trips ever.

Last year while in Newport, I had a three-week old baby and was primarily on mom duty.  

You mom’s out there know how beach trips are – cooking, cleaning, packing, unpacking, loading the car, unloading the car, folding strollers, unfolding strollers, keeping sand out of the baby’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth, etc. Last year I had a hernia, neuropathy in my feet, back pain and let’s not forget a mound of belly fat so protruding, it left me unable to bend to tie my own tennis shoes.  I can blame most of these physical problems on my pregnancy (especially the belly fat) and I was in pretty poor health.  I remember one particular day trying to body surf and when I felt the pull of my hernia, I quickly realized my days of playing in the ocean were done.

This year, I went to Newport Beach with a completely different outlook on life and a new appreciation for my health.  Because of my five-month commitment to intermittent fasting, I could play, jump, body surf, even run up and down the cliff stairs over and over again (yes, I did this for fun) because I felt so good.  My belly fat?  It's almost gone.  It's like saying goodbye to an old friend you never want to see again, except that old friend was never a friend, but a big old jerk who eats all your nachos.  Yep, that's how I feel about belly fat (I'm telling you, intermittent fasting zaps belly fat), it was a big old nacho jerk.

This was the trip salsa was made of?  Did I mean to say dreams?  No, I meant salsa.  I made it every day with loads of avocado, feta cheese and cilantro.  Eden and I made a conscious choice to not comb our hair.

Canyon made a conscious decision to take only three-minute daily naps.  

Because his nickname is “Perfect” and he is the happiest baby I’ve ever been around, it all worked out because he was still happy and perfect.  The boys made permanent residence at the resort basketball court 

and only came up for food, sleep and when it was time to go to the beach. 

Because the counselor and I are both self-employed, it can be a challenge leaving work for play.  We both love, I mean LOVE our work.  If I don’t physically leave my house, I find it difficult to let go of my writing and furniture projects, but this year it was different.  Because of intermittent fasting, I feel so very present. I don’t feel rushed, nor do I feel the pressure of regret.  I don’t worry about what should have been done and what needs to be done.  I no longer feel hungry while fasting.  If anything, I don’t even feel like I put a ton of effort into it anymore.  I am intentional with prayer and purpose and have spent the last two weeks fasting for my dear friend Bill Mellyn and his family.  Bill passed away after being hit while riding his bike and my heart has been broken.  Fasting has played a critical role as I’ve worried, pondered and trusted in God.  Because of Bill’s passing, I have been very aware of my blessings, how precious life is and the beauty of the earth.  I had some necessary internal conversations with God about the meaning of life, the type of mother and wife I want to be and the things I hope to accomplish with my limited time here.

I spent so much time kissing the top of Eden and Canyon’s heads; they probably both have some permanent indentations.  Eden said her favorite part of the trip was coloring.  I watched as she colored The Little Mermaid and leaping dolphins with rainbows in the background.  I marveled as Canyon learned to walk, taking in each precious pitter-patter step as evidence of the absolute miracle it is to have a baby. 

Canyon loved when I turned on the noise maker to ocean waves.  It sounded just like the beach.

I watched with awe as the counselor, well, did anything and everything because he is just so loving and precious I find I must pinch myself.  

Yeah, he’s that great.