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12 Ways Intermittent Fasting is Helping Me Maintain My Weight Loss.

For those of you who may not know, I am a weight loss surgery patient from 1995! I lost 125 pounds that first year and what a ride it was!  Through the years, I have done fairly well to maintain a good healthy weight, but not without constant and consistent effort. I have a commitment to my Success Habits and on a good day I own them all! Other days, sometimes weeks, sometime seasons, not so much. I have made my own way by learning about my own unique metabolism, my personal likes & dislikes, and I have come to know what works and what does not work for me in my bariatric life.   

I have turned to our Back on Track Program at times and found good success. I have also learned and incorporated a variety of “clean eating – whole food” plans as well as embracing fast metabolism programs and more. Seems that different things work at different times in my life.  Perhaps you have found that as well.

Recently, I started studying Intermittent Fasting. I’ll not share any particular type of program, but encourage you to do as I did, and simply google the words, then read, study, learn from what makes sense, and discard the rest.

For religious reasons, I have often fasted monthly, but for the past 4 weeks or so, I have been doing 16:8 Intermittent Fasting. It looks like this:  I STOP eating at 8:00 pm each night and do not eat until noon the following day. And I must say it has been easy and effective. I have lost weight and I feel so much better! Here are some of the benefits I am seeing.

  1. Simply NOT eating eliminates the endless banter in my mind regarding what do I eat, what did I eat, when do I eat, how much do I eat? It is so simple and has been easy for me throughout the varied schedules of my life. Honesty, it’s quite peaceful.
  2. I drink all the water I should be drinking; I just do it primarily during the 16 hour fasting break when I am not eating – sound familiar? Don’t eat and drink at the same time? I have a renewed love for a warm cup of herbal tea, or a glass of ice cold water with cucumbers and mint. Drinking is far more satisfying.
  3. I am sleeping better. I have always been a good sleeper, but late night eating has often kept me awake, caused me to have weird nightmares or wake up groggy.
  4. My mind is clear. During the morning hours I feel more awake, alert and focused. And that has to be good! I am an old school dieter from way back and missing breakfast was taboo. But, the health benefits of allowing your body time to rest, are incredible. (I’ll let you read up on that).
  5. I feel healthier. You know, not puffy, bloated or heavy. My hands and feet are not swollen. I suspect that if you struggle with your weight, you know how that feels. You also know how great it feels to be in control and healthy.
  6. After 25 years as a WLS patient, I had lost a bit of that ‘full feeling’ on a small amount of food. Well, its back! My portions had gotten a bit out of control, but after fasting for 16 hours, I simply cannot eat as much as I had been. Cool!
  7. We know from our years of experience and research that mindless grazing can be a huge challenge for many. But imagine what 16 hours of no grazing at all might do for you.
  8. During my ‘eating window” from noon – 8 pm, I know to eat good foods; primarily protein, fruits, vegetables and whole grains, but I have not been too obsessed with what I am eating. I maintain that Intermittent Fasting can enhance any food plan that you are on. Success Habits, Back on Track food plan or whatever works for you.
  9. I am more in tune with my body. More regular, if you know what I mean. I have taught for years the importance of listening to our body’s signals. Intermittent Fasting, has slowed down my tendency to frantically eat my way through my hectic life and provides me with the opportunity to be still and listen.  
  10. Being the frugal (hear cheap) shopper I am, I simply can’t beat FREE! This has cost me nothing but study time. Of course, I need to buy some new clothes.
  11. As a weight loss surgery patient, I seem to be getting more bang for my buck. Intermittent Fasting, along with my surgical tool, has brought me back to feeling in control, on track and succeeding.
  12. It is sustainable! I don’t feel like I am on a diet, being deprived, or anxiously awaiting the time that the agony is over, and I can get back to eating what I want. It simply works for me, at this time, and in this place and I don’t see any end in sight. 

Bootstrap Your Way Out of the Winter Blues

We are in the midst of a rocky mountain winter! We live in the Wyoming woods, and I mean really in the woods. We love all seasons, and winter is no exception. The snow is beautiful, our views are spectacular, and winter sports are fun, but this year, it just seems to keep on falling. We may be looking at a record! As the snow piles up, our driveway and road get narrower and narrower, and it gives the feeling of the world closing in on us, a bit.

I work hard to stay upbeat and positive but a few weeks ago, my energy level was way down, I felt drained of my creativity, I didn’t want to do anything, go anywhere. I wasn’t accomplishing, dreaming, reaching, achieving.  I was in a “funk” (yes I went to school in the 70’s) My mood was well, blah!

The best way that I have found to describe how these unwelcome and sometimes unproductive spells is the “doldrums”.  This word came to mind as the perfect word to describe how you may feel at one time or another. As I began to write this article, I took a second to look it up in the dictionary and sure enough… the ‘doldrums’ were exactly how I was feeling. “A dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.”

Now, I have always believed in bootstrapping. That is, that each of us has all that we need within ourselves to meet any challenge, accomplish any goal and pull ourselves “up by our bootstraps” shake it off and step it up whenever we need to.  It was my inner strength that I turned to a few weeks ago for a shot in the arm and a kick in the seat. I am feeling and doing so much better now and honestly quite proud of myself for bootstrapping my way out of the winter doldrums. If you ever find yourself down and try these three steps:

1.  Do something kind. Take a moment to stop feeling sorry for yourself and look around. You will find so many who are worse off. Friends, neighbors, family members and even strangers who could use a kind word, a smile, a little note in the mail, or a helping hand. I learned of a neighbor who had broken her hand and was in a cast. I stopped by her home for a visit and gave her a loaf of zucchini bread that I had made. She smiled, thanked me, andI” felt better. Go figure!

2.  Do something hard. Nothing is better for our own self-esteem and our mood than to accomplish something hard. It may not be hard for someone else, but if it is hard for you and you do it, well that’s a mood changer. My husband and I recently learned how to play pickleball.  It is fun and I love it! It is mostly played outside, but I knew with a little searching, I could find the pickleball enthusiasts who play all winter long. And, I did! Playing with these talented competitive, 3.5 players is hard! Not just the game, but the emotional stress of being the new player, the rookie, the one that each person would only play with and against only once. They are kind and welcoming, but we all know that playing with them is great for me but does not challenge them much, and that is what they come for. Still I go, several times each week and I am getting better and better! Can’t wait for summer pickleball.  It is good for me in so many ways. Plus, I simply feel better because I followed through on something that was hard for me to do. Yeah!

3.  Do something you have been putting off. If you are like me, you have a to do list that seems to never end. Things I like to do always get done. Things that I don’t like to do, continue week after week to get pushed to the bottom of the list. Going to the dentist is one of those things I avoid. I needed to have a check-up, no big deal, but I also need to have a molar pulled. No fun. But, I did it, I made myself pick up the phone, make an appointment and KEEP it! I did and you know what? I feel even better!
I am confident that you too, have all you need to bootstrap yourself into a better mood, an improved situation, a new outlook. When you find yourself down and out like we sometimes do – give these three things a try. Do something that is hard, do something that is kind and do something that you have been putting off. Trust me, you will be feeling better soon!

Colleen Cook is a successful weight loss surgery patient from 1995. She is the President of Bariatric Support Centers International and a sought after speaker for both bariatric patient events and professional conferences. She is the author of the internationally acclaimed, # 1 bariatric best seller, The Success Habits of Weight Loss Surgery Patients

No Tomorrow?

Well, the world did not end this week either! I am glad about that, how about you? It seems that whenever a year ends, or natural disasters abound and cosmic events like this year’s eclipse, or the spooky cools super moons show up, people start to talk about the end of the world. Of course, most of us do not know when our lives will end, but if we did…

I have always wondered if I would make any changes in my life, do things differently, or refocus my priorities if I knew my life would end on a specific day. I don’t know that I would. I learned a great lesson from my grandmother many years ago. At a young age she was told that she had a hole in her heart that could not be repaired. She was told day after day, week after week, month after month and even year after year that she had just a few days left to live.
My grandmother, Pearl, lived each day as if it were her last. She spent her time reading and studying. Gathering family around her and telling stories. She called family members often just to say hello and to let them know of her love.  She was careful not to offend. If she did, she quickly apologized. Her priorities were clear to all – faith and family. What a wonderful example to follow!

On Christmas Eve this year we lost a very dear family member after a short (thank goodness) battle with ALS. (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). It came on quickly, destroyed her body one muscle at a time, and she was gone. She knew there was no cure and it was moving very fast. She knew that she would likely not live but a few months more. Once she received and understood her fate, she immediately planned for her husband and daughter’s life without her. She made the decision to donate her body to the University of Utah for research. She had had polio, cancer, and now ALS. No doubt, much will be learned from her generous gift. Then, she planned her funeral service. I have been asked to speak. I am honored and challenged by this request.

I can’t help but ponder her life, her death and contemplate what I might have done in the same situation. What if there were no tomorrow for me? I often wonder if it will take our being told that we only have a few weeks or months to live for us to spend our time on that which is most important? Are our lives “in order”? Would we have any regrets if today was our last?

Well. It appears we have a new year ahead of us. “Day by day, minute by minute, second by second we went from where we were to where we are now. Time never stands still; it must steadily march on… This is our one and only chance at mortal life—here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not.”  Thomas S. Monson (Who passed away January 3, 2018). 

As far as we know, there will be many tomorrows for us. May we all use this time, this season, this new beginning to re-focus, re-evaluate, and re-commit to those things most important to us in our lives. So, if tomorrow never comes…