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I Remember My "Why"
My initial reason for trying intermittent fasting in February 2017 was to lose a little weight around my belly that I had gained after having two kids. My youngest was 3-and-a-half by then, and running, CrossFit, and eating a healthy diet wasn't working, and I just felt self-conscious.
After three months of IF, aside from looking leaner, I also experienced far greater benefits that were even more exciting to me than losing weight. Probably the greatest benefit was finally experiencing freedom from dieting - I could eat what I wanted, as long as it was in my feeding window, and I never felt deprived. I also had mental clarity, more energy for vigorous workouts and playing with my kids, better sleep, and, this is a big one: relief from the constant bloating and digestive issues I had suffered from for the past 20 years.
Intermittent fasting has become my way of life because it makes me feel so damn good. I've taken breaks from it and haven't felt great, so I always remember my "why" when I'm faced with the opportunity to nosh outside my eating window. I remind myself how it feels to be bloated, foggy-headed, have low energy and poor sleep, and to not feel my best, and that's truly my main motivation.
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I Keep My Plan Flexible
Of course life happens, so I also keep my intermittent fasting plan flexible. If I do a power hour CrossFit workout or a long training run, I feel more hungry, so I'll extend my eating window that day and eat 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Likewise, if I'm taking a rest day, I'll shorten my window.
If my kids surprise me and make me pancakes, I'm obviously not going to pass them up! Or sometimes I eat a huge lunch and I'm not hungry for dinner. The point is, I listen to my body and make intermittent fasting work for my needs and schedule. What's important to me is that intermittent fasting be something I can easily maintain for the rest of my life. So keeping my plan flexible and adjusting it as needed to complement my life makes it simple and easy to follow, which keeps me motivated to stick with it.
- 3 / 6
I Don't Restrict Any Foods
No carbs, no sugar, no flour, no fruit - been there, done that, and for me, the restriction only leads to bingeing. Life is too short not to bake soft pretzels with my kids, go out for dairy-free ice cream, or eat waffles for dinner. Food brings me joy and I never deny myself any foods I want.
If my husband brings home brownies from our local vegan bakery, I know I have something to look forward to later when my eating window opens. I appreciate food more with intermittent fasting because I actually take the time to thoughtfully prepare my meals and sit down and enjoy them.
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- 4 / 6
I Love to Cook
I have tons of cookbooks and am always drooling over recipes online (hello Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker!) to get inspiration for the meals I'll make. I try not to snack mindlessly or grab food on the go - eating time is a special time, and that makes it easier to delay my meals until my eating window starts. Why would I want to grab some lame salad out of a plastic container or a protein bar when I can go home and make a vibrant coconut lentil curry with homemade maple wheat bread? Putting intention around the food I eat and being excited about what I'm going to create in the kitchen is another way I stay motivated to do intermittent fasting.
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I Don't Use Food to Cope
Before I started intermittent fasting, if I was stressed, upset, or worried, I'd turn to food. Eating brought me comfort (and it still does!), but eating didn't solve my problems or make me feel better - it actually made me feel worse. It made me feel out of control because sometimes I couldn't stop my binges. Intermittent fasting taught me to find other ways to cope with my emotions, because if I was upset about a fight I got into with my husband that morning, it wasn't my time to eat and I had to find another way to deal.
Now when I'm overwhelmed with feelings, I go for a run in the woods or take a long walk. Writing in my journal also helps or talking to the person I'm upset with. I also found getting some time for me to do what makes me happy like playing guitar or doing Zentangle helps way more than going through the kitchen pantry. Learning to cope with my emotions in healthy ways is another benefit of intermittent fasting, and another reason I stay motivated to keep doing it.
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I Use an App
Every day I track my fasts on the FastHabit app (free), and it keeps me accountable and motivates me to stick to the eating window I planned. After dinner, I can start a fast and set the time I want it to end, and it counts how many hours I've fasted, and how many more I have to go. It also tracks the last 10 days, and seeing my progress streak is another motivator.
I started intermittent fasting (IF) three years ago, and I've tried just about every method possible from 16:8 (fast 16 hours and eat in an eight-hour window), to alternate day fasting (fast every other day), to 5:2 (fast two days a week). I've appreciated every method and found benefits for each, but how do I stay motivated to keep doing intermittent fasting?