Though I’ve been fasting for a LONG time now (well over five years), I still remember how scary and weird (and exciting) it was in the beginning! So I thought it would be a nice idea to share what I wish I knew before I started!
Here are the top 10 things that nobody tells you before starting fasting for the first time.
I hope they help you on your journey to losing weight and feeling your very best!
1- You won’t starve
The first thing you need to know is that you will not starve or enter “starvation mode” from fasting 16 hours a day (or even more.)
Especially if you have a long history of overeating and thus have ample padding by way of body fat (the way I did!)
I remember when I first even brought up the idea to my husband, he made me feel silly for even considering it.
He thought I’d go into starvation mode, that it would be unsustainable, I’d ruin my metabolism and all sorts of other stuff.
For a while, I believed him, but then I did my research…
The first book I read was The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung, and it was so eye-opening!
I learned that fasting would absolutely NOT starve me and that it would actually be beneficial to my body in many other ways.
So I’m glad I didn’t listen to my husband’s advice!
I’ve now lost over 40 pounds and kept it off through the years, and you can too!
2- It’s still possible to overeat
The next surprising thing I learned was that it’s still possible to overeat even if you’re only eating between 4 and 8 hours of the day.
I don’t know why, but for some reason, I felt like if I was skipping a meal and then doing exercise on top of that, I could eat whatever I wanted and still lose weight.
This was true to a point.
But much like literally any other weight management plan out there… it’s all about calories in and calories out.
You can have too many “calories in” in even just one meal if you don’t play your cards right.
So make sure you’re at least somewhat mindful of this straight out of the gate!
3- Counting calories = more weight lost
This one is kind of a no-brainer, but it took me some time to get on board with the solid truth.
Counting calories isn’t necessary if you’re at least somewhat mindful of what you’re eating.
But if you’re willing to go that extra step and log what you’re eating (even loosely), you can see HUGE results!
I’ve used MyFitnessPal and LoseIt! as my calorie counting apps (both are great choices!)
But honestly even if you don’t want to log every single morsel you put in your mouth, just being mindful of the fact that calories DO matter will help you make better choices when it comes to losing weight.
You can even keep a notepad in your phone and write quick notes of what you ate.
Even writing “oatmeal for breakfast”, “McDonald’s Big Mac, large fries and coke for lunch”, “Chicken salad for dinner”, “3 cookies at work” will help you start to pay more attention to what you’re doing.
A little effort goes a long way!
4- It’s hard at first
I’m not gonna lie – those first few days of fasting are hard as heck!
For me, I was used to eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.
Even when I was dieting before, I would change what I ate, but eat it whenever!
It was not uncommon for me to be on a diet and cut out sweets, but then have a sweet tooth and eat a bowl of sweetened oatmeal with nuts and fruit at 9 o’clock at night.
That bowl would be technically better than binge-eating ice cream, but that’s over 500 extra calories just before bed that I’d be packing on!
But I never went to bed hungry!
Going from that to cutting off ALL my food at 7pm, then not eating again until 11 the next day was hard… but get this… it was only hard for about three days!
After that, it got easier and easier…
And now I routinely fast for 17 or 18 hours without even thinking about it.
Nobody prepared me for just how hard it would be at first though.
I want you to be prepared for it!
5- Weight loss isn’t linear
One thing that bummed me out at first was the unsettling discovery that weight loss is not linear.
No matter what you do!
When you first start intermittent fasting, you can lose up to 5 pounds in your first week. Sometimes even more depending on where you’re starting.
I lost 10 pounds during my first month of fasting and was floored by how great it was.
Then the second month I lost a little less.
But the whole time it wasn’t exactly linear.
So, I’d lose a few pounds over a week or so, then go up some. Then stall out. Then lose a little more.
It was always up and down, up and down.
And I don’t know about you but I tend to get really frustrated without consistent progress.
But that’s the way it is (especially for women with our fluctuating hormones and what not.)
I think I just got so excited in the beginning I expected this crazy landslide of weight dropping – but nope…
That’s not how it goes!
6- It’s not enough long-term
Another thing that I wish I knew in the beginning of fasting was that fasting alone may be enough to get you started.
But eventually, your weight will plateau for good if you don’t gradually overhaul your entire lifestyle.
My weight loss journey was long and hard.
I’m only 5’2 and I peaked at 196 pounds and struggled for years to get even below 185!
I did a 10-day detox to jumpstart my weight loss and that got me to around 177 (losing 8 pounds in 10 days was awesome)…
So by the time I started fasting, I did have a headstart.
But all of this was quick, rapid action without much long-term thinking.
I was rolling with wave after wave of fast success without really overhauling my lifestyle for the long-term and I would up getting stuck again anyway!
Now, I’ll say when I got stuck that time (before eventually going plant-based and developing a sustainable movement plan that I enjoyed) I was at least in the high 160’s range.
Which was STILL huge!
I mean going from 196 to 167 and being “stuck” there felt like success – for a time.
But no matter what I tried I could NOT go any lower than that without intentionally changing.
I want to be honest with you because so many people think intermittent fasting is a magic pill – and it is!
But it has its limits.
You can only get so far without taking the next steps.
But the beauty of it is that with fasting you can take your time on those next steps, do them gradually, and the weight will continue to melt off!
It’s a beautiful journey and I love helping everyday people just like you navigate through it! 🙂
7- You won’t be perfect
Next, I wish I knew that no matter what the goal will ALWAYS have to be progress over perfection.
I LOVE starting new things fully prepared and ready to go. Knowing I’m going to crush it and do everything just right and get pristine results.
But then maybe after the first few days life hits and I mess up.
I don’t know why, but for some reason, I thought my journey with intermittent fasting would be different somehow.
I thought since it was “just not eating” for a time, I could do it 100% perfect and that’s that.
Listen… things happen!
Birthdays, anniversaries, vacations.
Bad weeks at work, sick children, mood swings, menstrual cycles…
You can’t stop life from happening and sometimes you WILL eat later than you want, or earlier than you want, or skip a weekend (or even two weeks) and you know what?
It’s ALL okay!
You have to keep going, celebrate your successes and your wins and learn from your mistakes or even build in some wiggle room for you to breathe and enjoy being a human being!
Once I learned and discovered that there’s no such thing as perfect when it comes to building a better body and living a better life – it freed up so much emotional energy and things got much easier for me.
I encourage you to adopt a similar philosophy when you start fasting.
I know it’ll help you out!
8- Tracking is critical to success
Next, I wish I knew how important tracking was when it comes to fasting.
One thing is that it’s so helpful to note down when you start and stop fasting each day. That’s great for accountability.
But also another way it helps is that you can build a chain of success!
Once you see that you’ve tracked and met your goal every single day for the past 13 days, you’re less likely to want to break that chain, right?
I know I was!
Tracking my fasts is something I do even to this day now that I’m at my goal weight.
It takes seconds and once you make it a habit it’s just a no-brainer.
Track your fasts!
You’re welcome. 🙂
9- Don’t compare yourself to others
Another thing I had to get over was comparing myself to others.
I used to follow people on Instagram who had what I felt was the ideal body type.
I’d see how they were eating and how long they were fasting or what type of diet they had.
How bendy and flexible they were, how toned they were… and feel awful about my own journey.
When half the time they had a body type that I would NEVER even be able to achieve (I’m 5’2… these girls were LONG and lean… not gonna happen lol!)
All that comparison did was make me feel awful about my own journey and it also drained me of energy.
So if there’s one thing I wish I could go back in time and tell myself, it would be to focus on MY OWN journey, not anyone else’s.
Focus on what makes you happy and feel good about your body – no matter where you’re starting from or how far you have to go.
Because your body has carried you so far in this life. It’s an amazing thing and deserves to be celebrated every single day!
So ditch the comparison and focus on your own journey – you’ll go so much further that way. 🙂
10- There are so many other benefits
Last but not least, there are so many other benefits to fasting than just weight loss and it’s really hard to see at first.
My ONLY goal with anything I’ve done whether intermittent fasting or transitioning to a plant-based diet or even adopting a workout routine that I enjoy was to lose weight and look good.
But man… there’s so much more behind all of these things.
The things that slim you down and make you look and feel sexy are also the things that tend to improve your life in other ways.
Since fasting I have experienced the following benefits:
- Sleeping much better
- Much more energy
- Saving money on food
- Mental clarity
- Better relationship with food
- Understanding hunger cues
- Delayed gratification
- Better digestion
I’m sure there’s more but that’s just off the top of my head.
Maybe if I LOOKED for that information someone would have told me.
But I don’t think I cared lol.
I just wanted to be skinny.
These side benefits are so great and I think they contribute to your overall experience in life.
You can be slimmer and still be very unhappy, you know?
But that’s not what I want for myself OR for you… so I’m all about sharing things that can help as a whole person because you’re more than just your body! 🙂
So there you have it – ten things I wish I knew before starting my fasting journey.
Intermittent fasting has been SUCH a life-changing experience for me over the years.
It’s been such a long, hard process of being an obese person trying to make it to the other side of the rainbow.
And if you’re in the same boat as I was, trust that fasting can help you get there a bit easier.
I hope sharing my experience can inspire, uplift and motivate you to invest in yourself, know you are worth it, and take action to get the results you want.
You got this! <3