Growing up I was always a big girl, I used to joke that I wasn’t heavy I just had big bones. I am fairly tall so I was generally able to carry it off well, but I never had a BMI in the ‘normal range’ and I always felt like I was one of the bigger girls.
My weight would go up and down, and I had my fat clothes and my skinny clothes. I love my food, and most diets involved cutting out the things I loved, so I was never able to stick to them for long. As a junior doctor ironically I didn’t really have the time to eat well or look after myself and lived on fast food, toast, and tubs of Haagen dazs.
By the time I had my second child in 2017 my weight had gone up dramatically. I weighed in at 100kg, giving me a BMI of 34.2, classing me as being obese. I felt sluggish, had back pain and had lost all of my confidence. I knew things had to change and tried to cut back on high calorie foods and tried to eat better, but being a mum of two children, especially one who didn’t sleep, saw me regularly reaching for digestive biscuits in the middle of the night.
When my daughter was only 10 months old, I was given the devastating diagnosis that I had a tumour. At the time the only positive that I could take from the situation was that it might help me lose weight, I even told my surgeon as I was signing the consent form that I would finally achieve my dream of being a size 10.
For a few months after my operation I was unable to eat any solids and lived solely on a liquid diet. I would have thought my weight would have plummeted, but it actually plateaued around the 85-87kg mark. Like many breastfeeding mothers I spent a lot of time on Facebook and came across a dedicated fasting Facebook group. I was awe struck by the transformations that people were having, and these were women like myself who had struggled to lose weight after having children, and felt like this was something that might work for me.
I have always been a grazer, and I was always that person at medical school who would faint in theatre because I felt like my sugar was dropping (it wasn’t, it just felt like it). I always carried a snack bar, fruit or sweets in my bag just in case, so I was particularly worried about feeling faint and lightheaded. I also fell into ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ camp. So one my biggest challenge’s was to overcome the psychological nature of not eating breakfast.
I started slowly, and over the space of about 2 weeks I found that it was pretty straightforward and I could comfortably extend my fast to 16 hours. I did feel hungry around the 12/13 hour mark but usually this lasted about 20 minutes. and I would keep myself busy. It became easier when I started fasting with my husband, we try to stick to the same hours, and encourage each other to stay within our windows.
During my fast I have learnt to love the taste of black coffee, sometimes I put sea salt in it to make it taste less bitter. And I drink plenty of water. My window usually opens at 12.30 with lunch, but I have found that depends on what is happening that day. If I am at work, sometimes we are so busy we don’t stop till about 1/1.30 anyway, and I don’t have time to worry about hunger. When I am looking after my children, I get so caught up with nursery pick up or running errands that it can be sometimes even be 3pm or 4pm before I find the time to eat.
Another psychological barrier I had to learn to overcome was eating just because everyone else was. As a society life is built around meal times, this is particularly true when you have young children. There are so many times I mindlessly pick and eat things off the children’s plate, not because I am hungry but rather I am bored/tired. Intermittent fasting has changed the way I view food and rather than eating food for the sake of it, I only eat if it’s in my window or if I am actually hungry.
It has completely transformed our evenings; In the past, and probably one of the main reasons I never lost weight was sitting every evening, with Netflix on eating a family size tub of ice cream/crisps/sweets/chocolate. Fasting has totally transformed that, our window will close no later than 8.30 and that’s it, if it’s not in the window we just don’t eat. We fully recognise that cheating, is just cheating on ourselves.
For me the weight has not only fallen off, its stayed off. It has also transformed the shape of my body. I’ve combined it with exercise and I am now more toned than I have ever been in my life. I have probably lost at least 15kg doing IF, but amazingly I have dropped 4 dresses. A year into this and my weight has begun to plateau yet my dress sizes continue to drop, and I suspect some of this is related to fat and muscle changes. My goal is to get to a BMI of 22.5. On the rare occasions that I do have breakfast or have a shorter window, I notice a big difference, I can feel bloated, uncomfortable and even nauseous.
For me, intermittent fasting has completely changed my life and the relationship I have with food. I love eating and now I am able to eat the things I enjoy without any guilt and still keep my body healthy. I find that it has also helped with my concentration, sleep and overall wellbeing. As a GP I work long hours, I exercise regularly and am constantly on the go with my children, intermittent fasting supports me doing this, rather than hindering me. Finally losing a life-changing amount of weight has not only transformed my body, but also how I feel about myself. I feel reborn and have a new found confidence, it’s reignited my passions, and for the first time in a very long time, I run towards challenges rather than away from them.
I hope this story inspires you to learn more about intermittent fasting and if you find its something that you would like to try then please read my beginners guide here.