The Plan

The fasting regimen I chose was Alternate Day Fasting, a technique popularized by a University of Illinois-Chicago nutrition researcher named Krista Varady. Varady’s studies showed that alternating a fasting day where you eat only 500 calories, followed by an anything-goes eating day led to the same weight loss as a daily calorie-restricted diet. And for many people, having one very restrictive fasting day followed by a nonrestrictive day is easier to comply with than the continual calorie counting required by most diets. In fact, instead of being a diet, once you get into the rhythm, Alternate Day Fasting begins to feel like a lifestyle – one day on, one day off. My sister-in-law had followed Alternate Day Fasting for a year and a half to great effect and in fact has turned it into a permanent lifestyle. I myself had dabbled in it but had gotten derailed multiple times (summer vacation and Christmas, I’m looking at you). With the purple force propelling me forward, this seemed like the perfect time to dive in wholeheartedly.

I am someone with at least an average amount of willpower. As evidence, I present to you the fact that I write books, and while that always sounds like a good idea in theory, in practice, you find that you’re halfway in and you’re standing in quicksand with your hair on fire and you realize this was a horrible, awful idea. It takes an act of tremendous willpower to push through to the finish line while slogging through the aforementioned quicksand and feeling the flames nipping at your head. I quickly recognized that feeling of pushing through during my first days of fasting. Every day in the mid-afternoon, a time when I often find myself rummaging through the pantry in search of a crunchy and salty snack, I literally would have to slap my own hand and say, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” and launch myself out of the kitchen. Fasting not only required willpower, but also necessitated continual presence. And by that, I mean, you cannot allow yourself to mentally disassociate from your body while your hand reaches for the bag of tortilla chips. Dammit, Eckart Tolle. You were right about the “the power of now” thing.

Here’s my plan on fasting days. I normally crave variety, but in the interest of not finding myself rummaging around the kitchen trying to figure out what to eat, I usually eat the same thing every fasting day. Sometimes I change up the dinner, swapping a salmon patty for a chicken patty, or brussels sprouts for green beans, but otherwise, I stick to this menu:

Breakfast: Coffee with almond milk creamer (35 cals) and 5 gluten-free chicken nuggets (165 cals). Total: 200 cals

Snack: 2 cups Skinny Pop (80 cals)

Dinner (I often eat this around 4pm): salmon patty (170 cals); brussels sprouts (1 cup = 40 cals). Total: 210 cals

Daily Total: 490 cals

Spartan? Yes. Kinda monotonous? Also, yes. But the rewards are rich for those who want to go. Tune in tomorrow for more on that!

TOMORROW: The Best Part of Alternate Day Fasting? The Night Before an Eating Day

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