Hi there, welcome back…to both of us! To say that it’s been a while since I’ve blogged is putting it mildly. It’s not that I have nothing to say, rather, I’ve been in one of those situations where I have SO much to say, that I have NO idea where to begin. Let’s start with a question Jim and I have been getting a LOT lately: “What are you two doing?” Normally, this would be a rather innocuous question, without much meaning, but in this case, I know what they’re asking: “How are you looking so much fitter and how has Jim lost so much weight in so little time?”
ANSWER: Nutrition…but not how you might think, and certainly not how most (all?) of us were taught.
Nutrition is a wide topic made up of misinformation, inconsistencies, and contradictions. There’s so much noise, it’s hard, if not impossible to know where to begin, therefore, I will begin with a brief summary of my own nutritional journey.
I’ve been eating low carb (Keto / keto-ish) for about three years. Previously, I’ve done the Adkins diet (version 1 and version 2), low fat, high protein, vegetarian, vegan, and Richard Simmons’ Deal-a-Meal (remember that one, it takes me way back to the days of infomercials, spandex, and teased hair). None of these worked for me for longer than six months, but each time I tried a new approach, I learned something new about my body, my lifestyle, and what I would and would not do for the long-term.
Interestingly, each of these plans always ended with the idea that you were expected to “go off” the diet at some point and then “just eat a healthy diet in moderation and your body will maintain the lean shape you have just gotten to.” Boo! Wrong! My body never maintained it, I had to fight for it every inch and pound of along the way. Anyone who seemed to not struggle with this concept (or not YET) always looked at me like I was crazy when I couldn’t maintain my weight loss. The simple, hard truth is there’s no way for me to maintain like this because our human bodies are designed to adjust to what we’re doing.
Yeah, I said it: Our bodies adapt to what we do with it, it’s called homeostasis. The body’s primary job is to maintain its homeostatic environment at all costs and that includes at the cost of your metabolism. Oh yes, your metabolism, that wonderful word that all guru’s like to throw around like it’s something magical, unchangeable, pre-destined, and fixed. It is magical in the way the body adjusts its metabolism to the environment it’s currently in. However, try going back to what you THOUGHT always worked for you before (you remember when you “were young” and could eat anything and everything) and you quickly find it doesn’t work that way after all. It has to do with that homeostatic environment that your body likes to create for survival and that’s what we’re going to address here.
Nutrition is such a difficult thing to broach in conversation because everyone (I mean everyone) defends their choices of what they consume and how as if their life depends on it (which to be fair, it really does, but not while we’re stuffing cupcakes and diet sodas down our gullets). Most of these defenses are excuses to give us permission to consume something that our body clearly doesn’t get along with (even if you think it does, it really doesn’t and over this and the following blogs I will be explaining why, and better yet what to do about it!). It makes it doubly challenging that what works for one person rarely does for another, but we try to blanket nutrition with a one-size-fits-all solution.
Because we’re human, we then follow up our own behaviors with judgment for those who clearly can’t / don’t maintain their bodies as well as we do — or at least it seems that way more often than not (fat shaming is a pastime for many people, especially on social media). This is nothing less than blaming the victim, it’s not right, but when it comes to nutrition science, the human condition and the state of our food supply, make no mistake about it we are all victims of the industrial food complex and those who profit from what you consume.
The good news, despite people who say “just accept it,” is your body is NOT designed to be fat all the time, it’s not “just the way you were created,” it’s also not choosing to accept who you are. Staying in the victim state IS a choice, but once that choice is understood, it is easy (really) to choose something else.
I am not a nutritionist, I am not a scientist, I am not the alpha nor the omega of this conversation. However, I have spent the last 30 years studying the human body, consuming (pun intended, of course) every bit of dietary information I could get my hands on, and putting to use every kind of nutrition advice I came across, no matter how contradictory to other advice I may have already read, seen, or heard about. In short, I’m a body-hacker, and my goal is always to be the best me possible.
Here’s the sad truth: Every one of those diets, techniques, and fitness things might have been okay for a while, but I couldn’t maintain them because I always had cravings that I just couldn’t kick….come on, admit it you do too. It’s why you’re reading a blog about nutrition written by a massage therapist and spa consultant – maybe, just maybe she’s going to drop some knowledge that’ll work THIS time (fingers crossed).
In today’s post-industrial-food society we have the ability and are actively encouraged, to eat whatever we want to, whenever we want to, however, we want to, wherever we want to. Food (and food-like stuff) is all around us, all the time, and we are encouraged to eat and eat and eat – six meals a day (three primary and significant snacks) is now considered “normal.” It’s not, and if you take a quick look at history, you’ll find it rarely was before World War II (this is a very rough time frame as many cultures were impacted by factory foods 50 years before this and some only as recently as the 1960s).
It’s all about the forgotten SCIENCE (not art, not religion) of Eating windows (more popularly, if erroneously called intermittent fasting for those who want to Google more after this article). “WHAT?!? You mean you’re STARVING yourself?!?” Nope. Not even close, in fact, Jim did the math, we’re both eating MORE than we did just a few months ago…but we’re doing it LESS often and with MORE joy.
It began with a random conversation with family friend and world-class Magician Andrew Baerlocher on a visit to town in February. He mentioned he’s been doing really well with an eating window and weight loss. To be fair, he’d been talking to Jim about this off and on for a couple of years, and Jim flat out ignored it. This time was a little different, however, as he had both of us in the room and was able to lay out references and studies and books (Jim is all about the books). Andrew was adamant we at least look into it, and as we’ve all been friends for 20 years, we figured it was polite to at least watch a couple of YouTube videos and read a study or two.
Jim and I looked at each other and right after he left we dove in with digging up as much research as we could about eating windows and intermittent fasting. There’s a LOT, and not all of it is good, valid, or based on hard science…but a lot is, and there’s more coming out every day. This was about three months ago and we haven’t looked back. It’s hard at this point to remember a time when we were eating our three meals a day plus snacks if we got hungry. This intermittent fasting / eating window thing easily just became our thing, as we studied fasting protocols more, I quickly learned WHY it was so easy to stick with: the longer I use a shortened eating window as my choice of eating style the easier it becomes. My cravings have all but gone away (I have a potato chip hunger I have tried to shake for decades with little success which no longer affects me).
This is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.
What am I doing? I simply eat within a specific eating window, which changes by the day (I do this to keep my metabolism always guessing what’s next, which is easy because my schedule is nuts). That eating window is influenced by how I’m feeling in my body, about my life stresses at the moment, AND how much time I have on my hands. Some days the eating window is 8 hours long, some days it’s 1 hour long. But as a rule, I try to not eat for at LEAST 16 hours (this is because of something called autophagy which I’ll dig into more soon).
The secret little beauty about eating windows is, I’m not constantly fixing the next meal. I have my coffee in the morning, make my electrolyte drink to take with me (water, salt, potassium, and lemon juice), pack some tea to take with me and off I go. Easy peasy. It’s been great! I’ve saved so much time not making meals, grocery shopping for meals/snacks, and cleaning up after I make them. I haven’t yet noticed any money we’ve saved, but we did heavily invest in teas in the beginning because I think both Jim and I thought eating windows were going to be harder than it is. It isn’t hard at all.
Jim and I are coming at this from different directions for our own health reasons, but here is what has happened so far. I have lost at least 8 lbs and two dress sizes, all of my clothes look too big for me. This is the first time in over four years that the scale has budged. My skin has become softer. I look younger…the fountain of youth maybe? I have more energy, more focus and more awareness of what’s going on in my body (a blessing, and a curse). I have virtually no hunger — at least not the way I’m used to experiencing hunger. If I do feel like I need something, usually water quells it. No. I’m not kidding, just water. If it doesn’t go away with a few distractions, then I eat. When I do eat, I eat a balanced ketogenic diet (more on this soon as well), but I’m not able to eat as much and as such have to choose wisely, i.e. nutrient-dense foods to get the most out of what I am eating. But during my eating window, I eat the same number of calories I always have, I’m far from starving.
Jim’s coming from a very different place than I am. After retiring from the Air Force, Jim’s weight climbed rapidly (go figure, he was special operations for a chunk of his career and was used to constant physical exertion). Due to several injuries along the way, it simply became too much for him to run all the time, and eventually, as of 2017, he topped out around 330lbs (Jim is 6’0” and can hold a lot of weight well, but that’s a lot for anyone)! For years, he tried everything, more exercise, less calories, this diet and that…nothing worked, or didn’t work for long. In 2016 he started seeing a personal trainer (Lannie at Impact Fitness) and dug into more dieting. It was a slow roll, but over two years he lost about 25 pounds, was much stronger, and certainly looked better…but he was still over 300lbs if barely. Since we began eating windows (not quite 3 months ago), Jim has lost 35 pounds without changing a single thing other than WHEN he eats. Same workouts, same calories, same crazy work schedules…just following an eating window. This is all well and good but having lost 60 pounds since the last time he bought suits is putting a serious, if welcome, crunch on his clothing budget. Even better, he’s aiming for 200lbs by Christmas, and honestly, I see no reason he’s not going to do it. Yeah, it’s that easy.
This is not anywhere near enough information to pass along, so there will be a Part 2 and 3 for sure…maybe more. If I’ve piqued your interest and you too are interested in looking good and feeling great, the resources you choose make a HUGE difference. Dr. Jason Fung is a doctor of nephrology out of Canada who researched these results based on his diabetic patients and got the ball rolling with his book The Obesity Code, even if you aren’t diabetic or obese you WILL get a lot of information from this book. The Guide to Fasting, also by Dr Fung, breaks down what to do, how to do it and why. But you do not have to spend a dime, he gives it all away for free on his website and lectures on YouTube. You need spend nothing.
I also recommend, YouTube channels for Dr Eric Berg, Thomas DeLauer and there are several Ted Talks with fantastic information too. Know you are not alone. If you too have struggled with your weight, are confused about what you should and shouldn’t eat, when to eat or why, you are NOT alone and these resources above can be your first step in learning more about your body, what you want to put into it, when to put it there and why. It will change your life. I know, because it changed ours. Good luck on your journey and please reach out, post below, and let us know how it’s going for you. I’m a sucker for success stories. :o)
That’s the Rub,