March 2017 – Summary of Results

In the month of March I lost 27.5 lbs. Basically I’m back to my “pre-sickness” weight, the body shape I had when I was still working a very physical job. When I went to the doctor with pneumonia and persistent asthma which wouldn’t respond to normal treatments in December of 2015, I weighed 284. I spent the first six months of 2016 in my bedroom, watching television, and the last six months weren’t much better. I packed on 28 pounds in 2016.

This morning I weighed in at 285.4 lbs, which means I lost another five pounds this past week. I did three 36-hour fasts in the past week, meaning I skipped the low-cal meal one typically eats on a down day with modified alternate day fasting. I’ve determined two things with certainty. The first is that drinking beer, eating ice cream or otherwise ingesting large amounts of carbohydrates on up (feast) days makes me lethargic on fast days — at least for about 16-20 hours after eating. (I think they make me feel hungry more often, too.) The second is that I have problems getting to sleep if I skip the low-cal evening meal, partly because I have more energy on fast days.

The good news is that if I wished to keep doing 36’s, these are both manageable problems. In the first case, I can limit eating and drinking carbs. In the second, I shouldn’t nap or relax too much on the fast day, so I’m tired when I finally hit the mattress.

That being said, maybe I should go back to consistently eating the 500-600 calorie meal. It does make sticking to the plan easier, and it banishes fatigue and sleeping trouble. I’m experimenting, here. I’ve been watching a lot of videos on YouTube with these body-builder meatheads who seem like they are pretty fond of their mirrors, but who nevertheless extol the glories of intermittent fasting: eating all their calories within a specified time window, say, six or eight hours a day. I might try doing that in the future if I get sick of ADF.

Another 35.4 lbs to go to hit my target weight of 250, and keeping weight off is the true test of any lifestyle change. But for now, I can congratulate myself on trying something new for a month and seeing good results.

ADF Day 30 – Photos

It is 9 o’clock in the morning and I have been awake since 3:45. I woke up with a headache yesterday and it remained with me throughout my fast day, which made me feel unusually oppressed and tired — though not particularly hungry — and I took a brief nap in the afternoon which probably threw my sleep off. I drove my daughter to school this morning and went to get the lab work the doctor ordered a few days ago: complete blood count, lipid panel, comprehensive metabolic panel and (for the first time ever — Hello, Middle Age) a prostate-specific antigen. I wonder if fasting for 36 hours will have an effect on the numbers.

Anyway I got home around 8, lifted weights in the garage for a half-hour, snapped some selfies, ate some breakfast and here I sit. While I am waiting to hear how my recent eating changes may have affected my insides, I took these pictures to document how this first four weeks has affected me on the outside. The photos on the left were taken before I started alternate day fasting. The photos on the right were taken this morning. Considering it has only been 30 days and I haven’t been pounding myself with hours and hours of exercise, I think the changes are noticeable, even if subtle. I’ll be really pleased if I can get enough weight off to run again without joint or tendon problems.

30 Days

30 Days 2

Day 28 – Four Weeks & Dr’s Visit

Saturday 3/25 was a fast day and instead of eating a low-cal meal in the evening I just kept going through Sunday morning, so that’s my second 36-hour fast. I worked in the backyard yanking and hacking vines for a couple hours, but I didn’t get especially hungry even after that exertion. And I didn’t notice a problem sleeping like I did the first time I tried a 36 — probably because I avoided taking a nap earlier in the day.

Sunday morning I snuggled with Sikki and felt closer to her: I’ve joked that we’ve been “growing apart” because of my expanding belly in the past year. But I felt like I could lay on her without smothering her into blue-faced oblivion. After church we took the kids down to Calabash to eat at Tony’s Pizza, a local mom ‘n’ pop with terrific pizza pie which is probably 600 calories a slice or something crazy. I ate five heavenly slices throughout the evening. There was no intestinal distress on Monday (yesterday) and no repercussions of any kind except that carbs make me tired whether I’m fasting or not, so I felt sleepy yesterday. At the 24 hour mark last night I made and ate a salad, but I really didn’t need it. It made me feel overfull. Maybe next week I’ll try doing real, serious Alternate Day Fasting — like not the “modified” kind where you eat a small amount on the fast days but a total zero-calorie day — just to see how I feel and whether I notice a difference.

I’m experimenting with all this, trying to figure out what works and, after the goal is met, how all these options might be used to keep the weight off in the long-term.

Went to the doctor for a check-up this morning. He ordered bloodwork, which I’ll get on Thursday morning after fasting tomorrow. Twenty pounds of weight loss confirmed on the physician’s scale. Not bad for four weeks.

Day 25

Yesterday I ate like a bearded Tolkien dwarf: lots of meat and ale. (There was also much dairy — ice cream, cheese, and Greek yogurt.) It was fabulous, and one of maybe two feed days since I started where I blew past my maintenance calories, landing somewhere pretty close to 4,000. The ice cream and ale were the slam-dunk. If I hadn’t consumed them, the count would’ve been closer to a more appropriate 3,000. I also ate a little longer than usual, ending just before 9 PM. I typically stop eating around 7-7:30 every day, regardless of whether it’s an up or a down day.

I don’t really believe in “cheat days,” but after spending the last two decades trying to force my body to do things without any thoughtful consideration whatsoever, I’m trying to listen to it now. Yesterday it was saying, Jam me with fat and protein. So I did.

Since my weight is dropping rapidly right now I’ve had adjust my “maintenance calories” almost weekly. As of yesterday I weighed 290.8 lbs, so after reconfiguring MyFitnessPal it recommends 2,890 cals for maintenance (weight stability – no gain or loss). Of course, on fast days like today I wouldn’t consume more than 20% of that number, or 578 cals. (Whenever I write “cals” I think of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, where cal was a nadsat word for crap. But I digress.)

I have in mind to do some yardwork today, basically trying to extract a pernicious system of vines that have been scheming to take over the entire backyard for the past two summers and which I haven’t had the strength to address. Hopefully it won’t be too strenuous, but it might be a good test of how my energy holds up while fasting and doing extended physical labor. The danger, I suppose, is that it will make me hungry.

ADF Day 24 – A Pound of Flesh

After yesterday’s toilet adventures, I slept, awoke, peed, and weighed myself. I’ve dropped another eight pounds in the last eight days. I now weigh 290.8 lbs, down from 312. If the new scale is accurate, I’ve lost over twenty pounds in the last 24 days, since starting this thing on March 1st. Or to state it sideways, I’ve lost close to a pound of jiggling flesh per day.

Boy, am I fat. That’s a lot, and maybe it’s too much, but I’m not sure I want to do anything to slow the loss, because I don’t feel like it. I’m following the modified ADF pattern in accordance with my reading and research, that’s all. I feel fine. And I like being able to tie my shoes without coming up for air. I like feeling lighter on my feet. I noticed yesterday that I’m having to pull my pants up higher like an old man, and I’m definitely tightening the belt. So I’m going to keep doing what’s working and trust that the loss will slow as I get down to a more reasonable weight; everything I’ve read and heard says that’ll be the case.

I made two changes worth noting this week. First, I resumed tracking my meals on feast days via the MyFitnessPal app, not because I’m concerned with eating too much, but to help keep a record of what I’m eating. I figure that data could illuminate trends regarding how I feel on fast days. Second, I went to WalMart and bought some Phase8 Protein supplement (by Muscletech). A scoop only has 150 calories and delivers 26 grams of protein. I decided to take it with my evening meals to try and prevent muscle loss while I’m eating so much less. I’m not worried about gaining muscle right now — I just want to keep what I’ve got.

ADF Day 23 – The Sharts

This fast day has passed well so far. I’ve been on my feet, productive, mentally alert and not concerned with food except for maybe two passing hunger pangs.

I’m trying to think about what I eat on feast days in relation to how I feel on the following fast day. For example, yesterday was so busy I barely had time to eat, and by 5 o’clock I was really hungry. I was 30 minutes from home so I got a combo meal from KFC: 3 chicken tenders, mashed taters, biscuit and chocolate cookie. I poured the drink out because it was Diet Pepsi, which tastes like fizzy gasoline. I guess I’d forgotten that since I don’t drink soda and hadn’t had it in so long. Anyway, the meal was around 1000 cals, but of course except for the chicken itself it was almost complete carbohydrate crap. Then I went home and had a bowl of ice cream around 7.

Today I had diarrhea. Nothing dramatic: just one occurrence and not like real sickness. But the last time I had diarrhea was around ten days ago when I ate five slices of Domino’s Pizza and two craft beers the night before a fast day. So I’m seeing a trend: crap begets crap. Yes, I can eat whatever I want on the feast days. But I have to keep in mind that some foods might make the fast day more of a trial — might make me more sluggish or sleepy, might cause more hunger hormones to make my stomach rumble, might give me the sharts. Must think ahead.

ADF Day 22 – A Mental Giant

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle all fasted regularly for the purpose of fostering mental sharpness. During yesterday’s fast I felt very focused and alert as I did research, went for a drive, washed the cars, and whatever else I did. Once I get into ketosis my face flushes and my hands get cold and I feel like a nervous electric energy in my core. It’s hard to describe. It’s like the feeling when you’ve had too much caffeine, but with less edge. Whatever the explanation, it makes me feel like I have heightened acuity up top.

I went for a walk/jog around 5:30 PM yesterday, just two miles. The tendinitis in my right heel is still nagging, so if I’m going to keep walking I guess I’d better stop being in a rush and just walk. It’s hard to do that though, after running off and on for almost my entire adult life.

I had a huge salad — about 500 cals’ worth — around 7 PM and felt overfull afterwards. Tomorrow I may have to make a smaller salad. I’m thinking about breaking up the salad routine with “breakfast for dinner” once in a while on the fast days: four large eggs cooked in butter only have 270 calories and provide a nice dose of protein and fat. If I was hungry after eating four eggs I could always have a salad. Or I could mix them, but I’m not sure whether I’d put the eggs in the salad or the salad in the eggs.

Anyway I weigh myself again on Friday, two days from now. I ordered a smart scale yesterday so I can start keeping better track of my weight from week to week on my phone. We have one of those old scales with a needle from like my grandparent’s day. It basically gets the job done but I think it’s just guesstimating.

It’s almost 1:30 in the afternoon here on my feed day and I just finished lunch — so I’m full — and I still have almost 2000 calories in the budget for the rest of the evening. If a person isn’t drinking soda or gulping down ice cream and cake I don’t understand how he could binge on an alternate day fasting regimen. You’d have to want to overeat.