Intermittent fasting. Sounds benign, right? Which is a good thing because if it was called Starving for 24, Agonizing Hours I never would have tried it.
I was only really interested in fasting as a way to lose weight. Despite my mother's assurances that it is OK to be fat as long as I am happy, I would much rather find a long-term solution to keeping off the weight I have religiously gained, lost, re-gained, and re-lost, ad nauseam. But then I discovered the kicker—researchers are finding that intermittent fasting has a profound effect on aging. Eureka, right?
What else could I do but force my long-suffering husband to join me in starving?
OK, force might be a little strong. What actually happened was this: over dinner that night I jabbered ]about everything I had discovered and how intermittent fasting had extended the life of lab mice by an average of 50%. How in human studies it had lowered the risk factors for age-related diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and heart disease, and how incredibly easy it all sounded. All we had to do was pick two days per week and commit to not eating for 24 hours. Simple!
Turns out it's the self-denial that's hard, because if you’re like me, eating is right up there among life's greatest pleasures and to give it up kind of hurts, both mentally and physically. Mentally because I must deny myself an essential pleasure and physically because my body seems to believe I am hell bent on dying, which means on fast days my body throws a fit, screaming and begging and pleading to eat something, anything, RIGHT NOW, or else it will surely keel over dead.
So yeah, that part is a little bit harder.
What I also hadn’t counted on was how jacked up I would feel on the days I'm fasting, erroneously believing not eating would make me lethargic and sleepy, not amped up like a bird dog on uppers. It’s kind of bizarre, really; by mid-afternoon I’m so juiced I will have read a new medical journal, written a 1000 words, caught up on what’s trending in the publishing world, posted a blog, done the laundry, cleaned the kitchen, walked the dog, and prepped for dinner.
The first several weeks I wasn’t sure I could stick with it but now I'm at the weird place of looking forward to it, which really freaked me out—I mean, am I secretly into pain and never knew it? (But then I remembered I hate running, which is painful, so that couldn't be it.) What I like is the sense of control.
Not that I believe in guarantees, of course, but it does give me comfort to know I am doing what I can to achieve my goals, whatever they may be. And if it helps me lose those irksome extra pounds in the process, so much the better!
*For more on the topic of calorie restriction and it’s effect on aging, check out IF 101—The Ultimate Beginners Guide and Time magazine’s February, 2016 'Longevity' Issue.