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I DO TRY to be healthy, though, and live a healthy lifestyle. My brain health has been incredibly important for me the past few years as a teacher living a stressed-out life, overworked and underpaid, and as a woman entering her 30’s and dealing with change, or lack thereof, and societal pressures.
Without the outside pressures of work, a social calendar, bills to pay, and household chores, my stress levels go way down and I am more productive, my memory is sharper, and my inner monologue is positive and clear.
When I travel, I also eat way less than normal and walk a lot, so I always come back feeling fit and healthy.
The main reasons I eat less when I travel are because:
- I try to save money
- I get caught up in this or that museum or hiking trail
- I am stuck on a train
- I arrive too late to a new city to go to the grocery store
As I got better at traveling on my own I was able to prepare in advance for certain situations and avoid needlessly starving, but I also worked out some patterns that ended up being helpful to my brain, and body. But I can’t travel constantly, at least not right now.
Turns out, I was intermittently fasting and it felt good! Here’s what I kept doing when I returned to my 9-5:
No food (Or drinks! Except tea!) after 8 pm.
(Or 9 pm if you’re not a grandma like me who’s in bed by 9…) This was a huge change for me because I used to love eating cereal at night before bed. But I realized the milk (and any food to digest) was upsetting my sleep patterns.
Alcohol, too, really affects my ability to sleep through the night. So as soon as I realized that and was able to eliminate it, my quality of sleep improved, I woke up feeling refreshed, and I was cutting meaningless calories as a bonus.
Fast until 12:30 pm during the week.
That means that I was going about 15-17 hours without food Monday to Friday (and some Saturdays). That’s the definition of time-restricted-eating (TRE) in the IF model.
It didn’t feel like fasting most days, especially once I noticed a boost in my energy levels (contrary to what you might remember learning about breakfast being the most important meal of the day, most of the reasons touted for such beliefs are myths).
Eat the same amount of food at lunch and dinner as before.
I didn’t plan this, but it makes sense to note this here because many people are worried about overeating during the hours of eating. I am a teacher so I have to stay in my school, I don’t have time to order out, and I pack my own lunch every day.
When you pack a lunch with a specific amount of food and you eat it all, then you are done. No more food temptation and you move on with your day and you feel satisfied! (If you don’t, consider the types of foods to bring: more proteins, whole grains, vegetables, and some dairy.)
Drink more water in the morning.
LOTS more! It helps keep me awake, it sharpens my radar in the classroom, it keeps my skin nice, and I am able to focus!
I like coffee a lot, and I drink black tea too. Both of those are ok to have during fasting on IF as long as you don’t add a ton of cream or sugar. I just add a teaspoon of milk and a small spoonful of raw sugar. I don’t know if that’s technically breaking the rules but it’s my body, my rules. So, you do you, too.
Either way, after that first cup I still end up drinking lots more water to help keep me from getting jittery!
Maintain a morning yoga/meditation routine.
I like to get to school early to be ready for my students and feel calm and prepared. When I consciously decided to stop eating breakfast and do Intermittent Fasting, it gave me an extra ten minutes that I added to my yoga and meditation routine.
Doing a little bit of yoga and spending even 5 minutes meditating in morning really helps me focus, lower my levels of stress, and feel prepared for whatever the day is going to bring!
Be ok with falling off the wagon.
Truth: this first half of the month I have eaten breakfast most days. I plan to go back to my no-breakfast-fasting this week, now that I’ll be safely away from my ranging hunger pre-period self.
Also, recovering from the non-routine that is my two weeks of glorious freedom called winter break, I have slipped out of the practice and my stomach was a bit demanding the first week back. SO I ate breakfast, and I felt fine.
It’s completely ok to try Intermittent Fasting for a week or three, even a couple months, and then go back to a non-defined eating schedule. Let yourself feel what it’s like to try something different, and then take a step back from it for a while too.
Now that I plan to do intermittent fasting again I’m looking forward to:
being more productive in the morning
doing my daily yoga and meditation (instead of sitting at a table eating and playing Toy Blast on my phone)
feeling clarity and space in my brain (instead of the fog that comes with too many carbs or sugar too early in the morning)
feeling like I am making a healthy choice for my gut and my brain
Remember. Intermittent Fasting isn’t for everyone, it just happens to work for me. I have managed it in a way that doesn’t feel like restriction or dieting. It works with my work schedule and lifestyle, and I feel good when I do it.
If it works for you, too, that’s great! If it’s not your jam, don’t worry about it. Give it a go for a couple days or weeks if you want and see how it feels.
Recently, I have added Intermittent Fasting back into my life and I have paired it with eating VERY healthy foods from Daily Harvest (get your three free cups with this link!).
Daily Harvest a company that makes amazing superfood based smoothies, harvest bowls, and soups. They come frozen and are ready to prepare in less than 5 minutes.
Let me know your comments and questions below, I’d love to hear if you’ve tried it and how it went!