With every new year comes that first big reveal one summer starts: The sun begins staying out later, the days get hotter, and eventually there comes a time when you have to get into your bathing suit for the very first time of the season.
For a lot of girls, it’s a very liberating feeling. But for others like myself––who are more likely to pull on that same one-piece suit from the last two summers and then scream in horror at the mirror––the feeling just is not as thrilling.
I have the same routine each year, by the way. In the winter, I eat like a grizzly bear about to hibernate for the cold season and pack on the pounds. Yet when May rolls around, I realize that that is the body I have to hobble onto the beach on, and I freak.
So this year, I decided to take the bull by the horns and try a new diet called “intermittent fasting”––a term that has been trending like crazy these past few weeks. It entails splitting the 24-hour day into sections by actually fasting for a set amount of time, and then consuming all your calories for the remaining few hours (until your eating schedule resets again).
There are a few different ways you can do this, but one of the most popular methods is to restrict your eating to a daily 8-hour window. By doing this, you’re basically starving yourself for the remaining 16 hours of the day, which is said to quickly burn fat and lose weight.
The idea of “fasting” kind of alarmed me a little at first, but when you think about it, people actually fast all the time. There are plenty of religions that require doing so throughout their respective calendars, and many species do so out of habit when they are feeling sick (kind of like when you have the stomach bug. Not necessarily the right time to Postmates a meal from Raising Cane’s). And when you think about it, you technically fast every night while you sleep (depending on how many hours a night you sleep, that is).
And that is how I decided to try to beat the system––by allotting my time to “fast” mostly after bedtime. I decided to set my eating schedule from 12pm – 8pm every day.
I was pretty convinced that this “16-8 method” would really work for me. I had already been sleeping through or skipping breakfast altogether most mornings, so the new diet wouldn’t change too much. Besides, I had read online that you could still drink coffee and tea during your fasting period, too. How hard could it be?
Well, I am happy to report that the diet did work out for the first few days, at least. Waking up later in the day definitely made it easier to postpone my first meal of the day, and squeezing in my final snack or dessert before 8pm wasn’t terribly hard to do. And it might have been all in my head, but for those first few days, I did feel a bit more energized than normal.
Yet like most things that occur in my life, my new dieting plan slowly began to spiral downward. I was kind of getting used to eating from 12pm – 8pm, but at the same time, I started to notice the negative effects of my new diet very quickly.
After a while, it actually became fairly difficult to try to sleep until noon every day of the summer. I know, sleeping in late into the day does sound like a dream, but it’s just not practical. And on the days I was up and out before 9am or 10am (for work, usually), it was even harder to convince myself that a cup of coffee was a substantial breakfast.
And during the hours of the day when I was allowing myself to eat, I somehow never found the time to. It was tough to squeeze in a considerable meal or two while at work, and on the days I wasn’t at work, I was always busy.
On one day in particular, I spent the morning out running errands and at the gym (with nothing in my stomach before leaving the house). By the time I had made it back home, it was past 3pm, and I had inadvertently been starving myself for almost 20 hours. I’ll spare you the bitter details… but it was not good.
On top of all of that––and this I am a little ashamed to report––I love my late night snacks. I know it’s not good for me, but I really do love to snack on some popcorn or a piece of chocolate late at night with a good movie on. It’s not something I or anyone should turn into a nightly routine, but there was no room for a once-or-twice-a-week slip in the diet plan, and that frustrated me.
Intermittent fasting turned out to be just too strict for my wild and crazy lifestyle. What can I say?
It’s a sweet idea, but the 16-8 method really only works if you eat right at noon or closely after, and of course no one ever really tells you that. You also need to eat several small, nutritional and well-balanced meals––foods like protein-packed quinoa bowls and roasted vegetables that no one like myself really ever has the time to make. All this, while staying well-hydrated on top of it. Who would have thought, right?
So after getting sick and getting kind of annoyed with the whole thing, I took the whole idea to heart and decided to create my own version of the dieting plan. I’ve decided to only practice the 16-8 method on the days where I really know that I’ll have time for it (and can plan ahead). I try to eliminate my late-night snacks for the most part, try to space out my meals as best I can, and try to opt for a wholesome brunch when and where I can.
If we all create our own dieting routines depending on what works best for ourselves––rather than relying on Internet trends to tell us what and when to eat––I think we’ll all be alright.