The fasting and the furious

I’m not one of those people who live to exercise. On the contrary, if I could stay in shape, be healthy, and feel good just by laying on the sofa eating chips, that’s what I would do. Unfortunately, our bodies are made to be used. What a pity.

Luckily, when I do exercise, I tend to enjoy it a lot. Running has been my favourite workout for many years now. It’s not only the physical part, though that can be very satisfying in itself, but I really enjoy letting my thoughts wander as I slowly but steadily make my way through the landscape. It’s meditative. Running is also a very easily measurable form of training, there’s an overabundance of gadgets and services available for those of us who really enjoy charts. One of the biggest rewards I get from running is importing the data into various apps and seeing the graphs and statistics. Oh, baby …

Personally I run with a Garmin Forerunner 225. I import the data using the Garmin app on my iPhone, and it’s automatically synced here and there, most importantly to Smashrun.

After the summer I started working out in the gym with a personal trainer. Initially I wanted to strengthen a hurting knee and improve stability to become a better runner, but in December I shifted focus. I had been putting on weight during the fall, and not the right kind. I had also just signed on for a new job, and that was a perfect incentive to get into shape. I told my trainer Victor that the goal now was visible results. Specifically, I want to look good in a shirt. Project shirt was born. Victor has been really supportive from day one, both with food recommendations and a new completely revised training plan, and the results have already started showing. Not only have I lost weight, but I’ve also built good shirt-filling muscles in a pretty short time. I’m no Schwarzenegger by any means, but at least things have started happening, and it feels good!

My dear girlfriend has mentioned a couple of times that I eat really quickly, which I have to admit is true. She has also noticed I tend to get a bit anxious when I haven’t eaten in a while, which I believe is because I can get pretty tired and grumpy without food, and I just don’t want to go there. To hopefully appreciate food in a different way, and learn to be comfortable being hungry, she suggested I try fasting for a day every week.

The 5:2 diet and other intermittent fasting schemes got pretty popular a few years ago, mostly thanks to Michael Mosley I guess, but I’ve never felt tempted by them. This time I was in a bit more open-minded mood, especially since I’ve promised myself to work really hard, break any routine, and give up anything (at least for a while) for my shirt project. I immediately decided to begin the very next day.

Most people seem to eat around 600 kcal during a fasting day, and that felt like a good starting point. I already count calories for Project shirt using Lifesum, and it happens to have a plan for 5:2 or 6:1 intermittent fasting, so I was good to go. In the morning I had the Victor approved oatmeal with blueberries (~200 kcal), then I went to work. The plan was to drink a lot of water, and perhaps an extra cup of coffee, and I have to say the day went by pretty quickly. I was a little bit hungry, but I didn’t feel very tired or low on energy. When I got home in the evening I was hungry, but that’s pretty normal for me, and it wasn’t the hungriest I’ve ever felt getting home from work. In the evening I had two meatballs in tomato sauce, some whole wheat, and chick peas (~400 kcal). Since a put a little milk in my coffee, and also tried half of a Chinese bean pastry my girlfriend had baked, I ended up slightly above 600 kcal, but I think it was a pretty good first attempt.

When I went to bed I had a hard time going to sleep, this was actually when I could really feel I hadn’t had enough to eat during the day. All the water I’d drunk meant I had to go to the bathroom a couple of times, which also disturbed my early sleep. After a while I dozed off, and then I slept normally for the rest of the night. The day after, I woke up thirsty, which was a bit surprising to me considering how much water I’d had. Other than that I felt awake and in a good mood. I think I was actually hungrier the day after than on the fasting day itself, which was surprising to me, but sounds pretty reasonable when you think about it.

All in all it was an interesting experiment, and I plan to keep it up for at least a few weeks to see if there are any long-term benefits. Next time I’ll have a smaller breakfast to be able to have a bigger dinner. I’ll also eat my dinner later, so that I feel as full as possible going to bed. I’m not sure it will make me eat slower, but I think I will be more relaxed about not having eaten in a while, and that will probably be helpful at some point in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *