Hi, Russell here. For years I’ve been struggling with weight loss and eating healthy. I’ve never been a conscious eater, eating anything I desired. This was completely fine when I was in my 20’s. My girlfriend enjoyed cooking, and urged me to eat. She thought that I was entirely too thin (about 130 pounds) I was an unhealthy thin. She cooked all of the time, shoving a plate in front of me just about every time we were together. Eventually my metabolism slowed down from all of this eating. Finally, I started gaining weight.
When I turned 30, I hit a wall. I went from 130 pounds to 217 pounds by 32. It was like I hadn’t looked in a mirror for 3 years. One day I Looked in the mirror and “wow” I looked completely different. I didn’t really care because the type of work I was doing was a desk job. I wasn’t active. I was happy spending most of my free time lying on my girlfriend’s couch, eating delicious, nutrient void food anytime I wanted it. We played putt putt from time to time, but that was it. I also enjoyed drinking beer quite frequently.
In this article i’m going to show you how I went from being unable to play basketball with some friends, and that’s when I realized… I could barely walk, much less run. Going from there to building a stronger, healthier body.
I spent the better part of my 20’s life eating junk food. I couldn’t do many of the things I enjoyed doing, playing football and basketball, and an occasional round of golf. Most of my life I was a skinny kid who couldn’t gain weight, now I was struggling to find a way to drop pounds.
In 2005 I got serious fitness. I started working out regularly 3 to 5 days per week lifting weights and hard core cardio. I was eating better and getting into good, very good shape. Years past I’d fluctuated from 190 to 210 pounds. But I had gotten into a good pattern of eating well and working out. I had made it down to 155 pounds. I felt better than I had in 10 years, in better shape than I was in my 20’s. I felt great! I played basketball, Football, soccer, worked out, all the things I wanted to do but were unable to because of lingering issues that came out of a being sedentary. But then something happened.
A few years later, 2008 I got married, had children, and settled into a beautiful life. Once again I’m eating delicious food every day. My wife is an outstanding cook of delicious Jamaican dishes. I had this every day. I still worked a job that involved sitting. Add to that I was starting to become less active. Eating dishes such as Ox Tails and rice, Curry Chicken, all of the delicious, and highly fattening foods that Jamaicans eat on a regular. Without the mobile always-moving lifestyle that is required to counteract the effect of calorie dense fatty food I quickly mushroomed.
I ballooned from a svelte 155 pounds on the day of my wedding in 2008 all the way up to 227 pounds! All on a 5’6 tall frame. I was married and happy and eating. My wife was happy to feed me as she appreciated someone enjoying her cooking. But one day she looked at me and said, “If your going to eat like a Jamaican, you’re going to have to start working out.” I looked at her appalled thinking, “what are you talking about” I looked in the mirror and saw myself… a far cry from the workout kid golfer who walked all the time just out of practice. I suddenly remembered that my daughter often called me “spongebob”. I had settled back into the habits that put me in this position before. But things got worse.
I went to my doctor for a semiannual physical. Things were going ok I thought. I got on the scale, 227 pounds, not great… she checked my blood pressure… 155/110. She checked my sugar level, 280, checked my BMI 37% cholesterol… alarmingly high. As the Dr blurted these numbers out to me I started thinking, I’m going to really have to start working out again” My Doctor came back into the room with me and said “Russ, these numbers are horrible.” I have 3 prescriptions that I should be giving you right now. One for the High blood pressure, one for the high cholesterol, and 1 for the high sugar level.
In my family tree are diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and high cholesterol. I was naively disappointed at my numbers. I was in denial and defiant about having to take meds. I told my Dr, “I’m not going to fill these prescriptions!” She said, “Then Russell, the next I see you will be in the hospital if you don’t make drastic changes in your life”
So, there I was… a 3 month timeline. Either lower my blood pressure and weight, and sugar level, or start on a downward spiral toward dependence on medications to live out my days and likely shorten my life. I had been told that I had onset diabetes, and high blood pressure, and a dangerous cholesterol level that my Doctor contemplated admitting me to the hospital.
I had been on several diets throughout my life. This time I’m in my late 40’s. I’m living a sedentary, laid back life working at a desk. I was determined not to succumb to a prescription. But what was I going to do? I wiped the dust off my jump rope, and elliptical machine. 14 minutes per day on the elliptical in the morning, and 20 minutes on the jump rope at night 3-5 times per week.
I was also skipping meals; No dinner at night and a reduced calorie eating pattern in the day. No more Oxtails with Rice, with chocolate cake for dinner and dessert. No more fried chicken after 2pm. Only vegetables at night if I got hungry. I started skipping breakfasts as well. I really did not have time for breakfast anyway. But this started something to happen.
When I started skipping meals, about a week after my dr’s visit, something started to happen. Just a few days after skipping breakfast my weight dropped 8 pounds from 207 down to 199. My energy level went up too. I was always told to have something for breakfast so I was a little paranoid about what damage I might be doing to my body. I thought I would not be able to function without a morning meal. But the opposite was happening.
That was just the beginning. The pounds started melting away. It was hard to notice at first look, but my pants were getting loose. I was using beltloops that I had never used before! One of my coworkers said “Wow Russell, are you trying to get skinny?” I thought “is she kidding?” I was slightly offended but chuckled and said… yes, I am. She replied “it’s working” I was shocked! Did she really mean that? I was in a not so regular routine of cardio and weight lifting… and I thought it must be working. So, I ramped up my workout.
Week 5 rolled around (just before Christmas) and “pow!” I hurt my leg while working on my car, a transmission fell on my leg. I could barely walk. There I was, a week before a major eating holiday, and I couldn’t workout. I can’t express how sad I was thinking that all of the progress I made working out could come screeching to an end if I did what I always do during the holidays and that is “eat in excess”
During the Holidays, my family and I get together and we cook and we eat. Lots of delicious food. Everything from Jamaican Cuisine to Classic soul food American cuisine, with all of the fixings. I could not work out so during a weeklong vacation I kept my routine of skipping breakfast, eating a lunch and no meat during dinner. Week 6 my weight went down even more 191 into week 7. I came back to work on week 8 and many coworkers commented “Wow Russ, you’re losing weight, and you’re working out too” Well I hadn’t worked out in over 2 weeks due to injury, but I was still losing weight!
Moment of discovery (Week 9)
One day at work a coworker of mine who is a fitness fanatic (self proclaimed) was standing in a break area with me and I struck up a conversation.
I mentioned that I couldn’t work out because of my injury, and that I was skipping meals to try to compensate. He said “oh, you’re doing intermittent fasting? I al well do intermittent fasting” Now this gentleman is in very good shape so I’m listening to him.
I asked, “what in the millennial world are you talking about? I just said that I skipped a few meals because I was afraid that I would gain the weight I lost while working out.” He said “ha… well when you skip meals like that you’re allowing your stomach to empty causing a process called Ketosis to take place, when this happens and your stomach is empty, your body burns fat as fuel which keeps you alive.
Nature gave us a system that is built to survive in periods of food drought” He continued “When the glycogen levels are depleted and your body needs energy, it turns to the fat stores in your body and you lose weight” I asked “Isn’t what I’m doing bad because I’m burning muscle when starving myself like this?” “NOT AT ALL” he said (I’ll call him Jimmy”) Jimmy continues “In fact you do lose small amounts of muscle, but also your body is replacing the old muscle with new cells, a process called Autophagy” “intermittent fasting also increases your mental acuity, and changes your overall body composition, do some research on it!”
“Oh, I will Jimmy! You’d better believe I will” “Check out Dr Jason Fung, and also check out Fledge Fitness on Youtube” Jason said. YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE I WILL
That conversation took place January 2018. After that conversation, I dove deeply into the IF
world, listening to videos and reading articles about fasting and Intermittent fasting.
This was such an eye opener that changed my life. Week 11 and Week 12 and I weighed 177 pounds! I had lost 30 pounds in 12 weeks, my blood pressure was normal, and my sugar level is regularly in the 80’s. (sometimes low 90’s)
My body composition is improving, my long-term energy is through the roof, and I feel energetic throughout the day, more than I did when I was 20. I finally have something that I can do the rest of my life. No more diet programs, meal kits, none of that. For the rest of my life I am an intermittent fasting practitioner. I haven’t yet reached my goals, but I am well on my way and it is easy! My libido is at all time high levels. I have much more strength, endurance, and overall increased power levels since involving fasting in my weekly food plan.
Focused on improved health
There are many types of intermittent fasting. Here is where I say that this is the best piece of nutritional information that I have ever learned. EVER!!! Obviously fasting is not for everyone, and if you are considering it please do your research. If you are slender and have a low BMI, this this will not help you. Make sure that if you are considering fasting consult a medical professional. Preferably an MD who knows about fasting and its effects on the body. Youtube channel creators like Edward V at Fledge Fitness or Dr Jason Fung map out the information that will help many people gain valuable knowledge about one tool to battle certain health challenges.
Fasting is still a very controversial subject. It is not widely known or practiced or acknowledged in western medicine. We do heavily rely on prescription medication. As we age we will have our fair share of prescribed meds, my personal goal is to keep that to the lowest possible number.
Effects on skin and healing
Among the many positive benefits, I’ve experienced through fasting is my skin is vastly improving. Scars I used to have are fading or have gone away completely. My skin tone is evening.
Losing weight with intermittent fasting is by far the easiest, most flexible and organic way of losing weight than any program on television or the internet. It’s also the most effective. Integrate intermittent fasting with any program or fitness routine that you are currently considering or doing. You don’t have to do anything special with intermittent fasting. The only thing you’re doing is drinking water when it’s time to eat. Simple as that. It’s what you’re not doing is the only thing to be concerned with (not eating).
Intermittent fasting is not for everyone
While I realize that I would encourage everybody, anybody who is overweight or has a fat surplus, learn about Intermittent Fasting. What it can do for anybody who has excess weight they would like to get rid of. You don’t need a magic box of food, a food plan, a weight loss guru, a television celebrity or anyone else to help you lose weight and improve your health. Intermittent fasting has changed my life.
Intermittent fasting is a new concept based on a pattern of eating based on theory about life when hunting for our food. People tell you, “Fasting is dangerous, if you go without food you will die!” My question about that opinion is “how in the world did we survive so long when we did not have access to food?” also, how that that young man in Europe survive almost a year without eating any food? (article hereà https://www.businessinsider.com/angus-barbieri-382-days-without-food-scotsman-fasting-starvation-obesity-2016-10” )
Dr Jason Fung would be the leading researcher about Intermittent fasting, however there are many fitness trainers that have grabbed this knowledge and are publishing the message about the wonders of IF. My favorite content creator on IF is fledge fitness.
I started off at a weight of 207 when I started fasting in November, 2017. At the time of this article I am 188 lbs (September 9 2018.) 19 pounds on 11 months is not a mind blowing number. What is wonderful is the change in body composition I have experienced while intermittent fasting. I do not eat the ideal diet even now. If I were eating a high quality diet I would have lost way more than 19 pounds. There are many methods of Intermittent fasting.
· OMAD = One Meal A Day
· 16/8 = 16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating
· 20/4 = 20 hours fasting, 4 hours eating
· 5/2 = 5 days eating, 2 days fasting
These are the popular methods of fasting that I know about. The best thing about fasting is that you can use it with any other diet. You can use many different variations in combination if you’d like. My personal method is the 5 days eating, 2 days fasting IF regimen. Typically on Tuesdays and Thursdays I fast.
The best part of intermittent fasting is that you can cater your routine around your life. The key is to spend hours of time where your stomach is empty with zero food other than water. The empty stomach is the goal so that your body can experience ketosis.
My fasting regimen
On Monday evening around 8pm is when I eat my last meal preparing for my Tuesday fast. After Mondays meal, I eat zero, nada nothing except water all day Tuesday and break my fast on Wednesday. That is 8pm Monday night, to 9am Wednesday morning. 35 hours without food in my system.
Wednesday, I eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. My 3 meals never equal more than 2,200 calories.
· A typical breakfast for me on Wednesday is just a cup of coffee, but I add heavy cream and lots of sugar(my favorite 300 calories.)
· Lunch is likely a fast food meal at Popeyes (1200 calories)
· Dinner is calorie dense as well, usually a “Meat and 3 type of dinner” with bread (700 calories)
Wednesday night I finish eating around 8 or 9. From that point I know that I will not have any more food until Friday morning for breakfast.
Thursday – WATER ONLY …(sometimes a cup of black or green tea or black coffee with zero milk zero sugar)
Friday morning is exactly like Wednesday, 9am cup of coffee with cream and sugar high calorie, nutrient void, but my body is eager to receive food.
That’s it, all of the weekend and non-fasting days I eat all of the things I like.
Food tastes better
When you engage in intermittent fasting, food tastes so much better when breaking a fast. Part of it is mental being without food in your system for so long. Your body also resets your taste
buds, your sense of taste is keener, so food taste better.
Knowing is power
Now that I know about the benefits of Ketosis and having an empty belly, I practice Intermittent fasting all of the time, not only on my fasting days. I spend many days skipping meals, skipping breakfast sometimes. I realize that I am attacking the fat stores in my body when I skip a meal and drink water instead.
There are many resources developing as we learn more about the health and diet benefits of fasting even with this knowledge in it’s infancy. I would highly recommend watching Dr Jason Fung Tedx talk about fasting.
This article speaks mostly about fasting as a diet, however there are many studies being performed that explore the many other health claims about fasting. I personally have experienced,
- Weight loss
- Stabilized Sugar level
- Stabilized Blood Pressure
- Improved Cholesterol levels
- Better looking skin
- More Energy
- More acute thinking
- Better quality sleep
I am not a doctor, but I would recommend that everybody who has a fat surplus on their bodies research and consider intermittent fasting. If you have a BMI over 30% chances are your Dr is concerned about your weight. Intermittent Fasting (sometimes called IF) still very uncommon, but there are many scientists and researchers who are embracing the idea of performing trials on Intermittent fasting at least.
New way of eating
Intermittent fasting has changed my life for the better over the past year. Next year for me will be even better. I’m going to get more serious about my eating habits. I will employ a steady workout regimen. My goal for April 2019 is to have a 6 pack! I will implement Intermittent fasting for the rest of my life.
My current weight is 187. This leaves me 17 pounds over my target goal weight of 170. As long as my body composition is improving I don’t care about weight. I will keep aiming for my target weight of 170 for now. Also the difference between November 2017 and September 2018 is night and day. This year I’m going to practice a regular workout routine, so that I can keep improving my conditioning.
I hope that sharing my story helps inspire someone to look into and ultimately practice intermittent fasting. It has changed my life and I think that it effectively addresses any challenge that we experience wanting to lose excess weight.