Fasting Fridays

I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed your body weight go through a yearly cycle? Some people say they always lose weight in the summer, for example. My body definitely goes through a yearly cycle. Every summer I gain weight and every fall, I lose it. Most years I go up and down ten to fifteen pounds. I’ve been on this cycle since I started teaching. There are two contributing factors to the weight gain. The first is that I am home not working in the summer and therefore, eat more. The second is that I am under no stress. In the fall when I go back to work, I suddenly find myself very busy with little time to eat, and suffer enormous anxiety which causes my body to drop weight, usually within three to four weeks. I am often down fifteen pounds by the end of September and can maintain that weight until the holidays. Once the routines of the classroom and workload are established, the weight slowly builds back on between November and August. Of course, I hate the stress and anxiety, but I love the weight loss. What I really love is not feeling hungry. Once I get busy, the adrenalin kicks in, my metabolism gets a jump, and I never feel hungry. It’s easy to keep a healthy weight if I rarely experience hunger. Once I start eating more, however, I find that I get hungry more quickly and then eat more and more often.

Lately, my favorite jeans are just a little too tight, and I find myself wishing that I could feel less hungry, so I decided to fast. Now, this is a break from my normal thinking. I don’t diet. I can’t. I’ve tried, but become completely obsessed with food, so this is not a diet. This is a fast. Not a spiritual quest, just a fast – a reduction in calories so I can get back to not needing to eat so much. I am clearly not an expert on these things, but I am listening to my body. When my weight is down, I tend to eat very little during the first part of the day and normally don’t find myself hungry until about 2:00 in the afternoon. If I have an apple, I can be sustained until my early dinner time of 5:00. So, I’m thinking, I need to find a way to break the hunger – I will fast.

I have no idea about fasting, but the idea made sense last Friday. I drank my regular morning cup of coffee, and had my favorite decaf unsweetened Chai throughout the day. The warm tea helped me feel full and fight off carb cravings. When I got home from work, I had a small bowl of soup. That’s it. For some reason, it felt right. It seems like my body needs to be deprived of carbohydrate calories, and when it is, the craving for them decreases.

I often look at dietary guidelines in shock. How can we eat three meals a day with a snack in between? I would be as big as a house if I did that. Again, I am not an expert, I am only going on fifteen years of self-study and what my body tells me, but I think our bodies need a lot fewer calories than recommended, and I don’t think it’s bad to deprive ourselves of food sometimes. I feel more healthy and am more comfortable when I have days of lower caloric intake followed by days of normal eating. Here’s another little dirty secret of mine: I hate eating breakfast, but don’t tell Health Partners. To keep my co-pays at this year’s level, I have to report everyday to my WELLNESS check what I ate for the day. They counsel me on healthy eating! The healthy eating tracker asks if I eat breakfast, and I always click the “yes” button even though I don’t have my apple until my 12:40 lunchtime everyday! They don’t say what time breakfast has to be consumed! If I eat breakfast at say 6:30 or 7:00 a.m., I am starving by 9:30. If I don’t eat breakfast, I am only mildly hungry at about 12:30.

So, I have decided to make Fridays a fasting day. The fast will begin Thursday evening with a no-carb vegetable dinner like a big salad or vegetable soup. Friday will be a day of low-calorie liquids, most likely tea, and a light dinner. The rest of the week I will eat normally, but I am going to try to back off the carbs a little each day and focus on vegetables and fruits.

I am not going on a diet! I know what you’re thinking. It’s just a fast on Friday. One twenty-four hour day – starting on Thursday.