Joshua Keel

Intermittent Fasting: Week 1 Update and New Outlook

August 12, 2014

I promised this update on Sunday, and here it is, Tuesday, and I’m just now sitting down to write it. Apparently I still have a lot to learn about keeping my word. But mostly I think I was ashamed to write this, because here’s the painful truth: I fell flat on my face more than once in the last week.

For the first day or so, everything was fine. I felt pretty hungry in the morning, but I’m tough, I could handle it. I thought if I could just make it through the first few days, maybe a couple of weeks, I’d adjust and it would become easier. Unfortunately, we never got to find out. The hunger became more and more intense, especially at night, for some reason. I’m having trouble remembering which, but on either Tuesday or Wednesday night of this last week, I was almost out of my mind with desire for food. I just wanted to gobble everything in sight.

Let me tell you, this was kind of scary for me. This is my binge mode. This is what I used to do almost every day, and was a large part of how I became obese. I felt like I was losing my grip. I didn’t completely let myself go (I ended up eating at maintenance calories or slightly above, instead of in the deficit I was aiming for), but I was pretty surprised and disoriented by the experience.

The next day I decided I would just pick myself back up and start again. No big deal. It was just one day. The show must go on. And things were fine for a day or so, but on Friday, the same thing happened again. Crazy nighttime urges to eat. And again, I gave in, albeit moderately. I felt guilty for doing so, and was reminded of all the times I have given in before, losing control completely. I felt suddenly vulnerable, no longer the master of myself, prone to being swept along by whatever urges come my way. And I realized I couldn’t do this right now. I’m not strong enough.

So Friday night was the end of my “30-day” IF trial. I wish I could say I was a super-disciplined, unassailable fortress of will, but I’m not. I’m a frail, fearful human being. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about why this happened, about where my mind was when I started this experiment, about my mental and physical health and what this whole project of weight loss, physique development and health is really about.

And I realized a lot of it is about how much I hated being obese. How I allowed it to limit me, scare me, shame me, hurt me, and nearly kill me. It’s about how much I despised my body and how desperately I wanted it to change. And how all of this grew into an unhealthy obsessive relationship with diet and exercise. There’s a constant push in me towards perfection, many times with a myopic disregard for the long-term health consequences for either my psyche or my body.

So I say all of that to say this. I’m taking a step back. I’m taking several large, deliberate steps back toward self-compassion. I’m lightening up on myself. No more calorie deficits for a while. I’ve even stopped counting calories. I want to love my body and treat it with the respect it deserves. Trying to force my body to change by sheer will and effort reaches a point where it is counter-productive. For me, having been in a caloric deficit for the better part of a year and a half, that point has been reached. It’s time for love and acceptance now. It’s time for rest and recuperation. It’s time to celebrate life and the progress I’ve made. It’s time to de-stress and live a little. It’s time to sigh a deep, long sigh of relief from the overwhelming stress I have created.

And what a sweet relief it is.