Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Further Fasting

This is now week 6 of the Intermittent Fasting, and it isn’t getting a lot easier.  Having said that, compared with watching what I eat 24/7, it isn't that bad!  It has also had some amazing results in that I have lost 10 pounds!  No diet that I have ever been on in the past has achieved that sort of a result in such a relatively short space of time.  My body fat percentage has also gone down a few percent, which is a great result too, and shows I am not just losing muscle but am losing some of the lardy stuff clinging to my waist and stomach.  I am comfortably back in my size 10 trousers and feeling much better about myself.  I will be happy with just a few more pounds off, then aiming for long term maintenance, however, I am going on holiday next week, and am unlikely to spend the week off food and alcohol.  Hopefully a couple of fasting days on my return will rectify any overindulgence. 

Two of my male work colleagues have also been following the Intermittent Fasting plan 2 days a week and, like me, they have had some great results.  It is good to have other people to compare rumbling tummies and drool over our other colleagues' sandwiches.  There are, of cause, the well-meaning know-it-alls who like to share their deep nutritional knowledge gleaned from a mixture of alleged "well-known facts", TV adverts, cornflake packets, and what their mother told them.  I have been told on more than one occasion that missing meals is bad for you, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, your metabolism slows down if you go too long without food, blah, blah, blah....  It is difficult to challenge conventional wisdom, however what we are being told about what is good / bad for us is constantly changing as science advances and more research is done into every aspect of what we eat, drink or inhale.  When you cut through all the variety of diets on offer (eat more/less fat/carbs/protein; eat grapefruits, eat only raw food, eat for your body 'type', etc, etc), the overriding factors for successful weight loss are simply eat less and move more.  This doesn't have to mean living every day constantly counting calories and resisting all the nice things we like but are so bad for us.  Our weight isn't determined by our worst or best eating days - it is determined by our average intake over time.  Therefore, by severely restricting intake to around 500-600 calories on 2 days out of every 7, that will provide the body with a calorie deficit over the week of around 2500-3500 calories (dependent upon your sex, weight, activity levels, etc).  Depending on the intake on the other 5 days, this deficit can either be used to balance out any small over-indulgences (the type that tend to slip by un-noticed, but result in a gradual upward movement of the scales and the waist size), or, for those struggling to lose weight, an overall weight loss with relatively low effort.

Research has been carried out and, although still in early days, appears to be demonstrating many other health benefits that can be gained from periods of fasting, including improvements to blood sugar levels, reduction in ageing hormones and improvements to the brain.  It has also been proved that the body doesn't go into starvation mode after missing one or two meals - so the metabolism doesn't slow down.  People have been fasting for religious reasons for centuries, and have felt many health benefits that have not been recorded widely until fairly recently.

A few articles about fasting:

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Further Fitbitting

I’ve now had the Fitbit for 5 weeks and I have to say that it is still surprisingly motivating trying to meet the daily targets of 10,000 steps and 10 flights of stairs.  I am still a bit obsessive about checking the tally at various points during the day, so have taken to wearing it clipped to my trouser pocket, thus avoiding having to fumble down the front of my top to locate the device in the deep depths of my bosom.  Choosing to take the stairs rather than the lift has become second nature, and this works really well at work where I work on the third floor and have to go to the ground floor a few times a day.  I also choose to walk more when the opportunity arises, such as the just under a mile round trip to the bus stop to pick up my son.  I am quite disappointed when it’s pouring with rain and I have to take the car.  If this happens, I now jog up and down on the spot in the bus stop until the school bus arrives.  I don’t know what the motorists going past must think, and it is a main dual carriageway!   If it gets to bedtime and I am sitting at the 9k mark, I run around the house until I get my count up to the magic 10k. 
The Fitbit is not without its flaws, however.  It does exhibit some inconsistencies and strange counting that can skew the logged results.  The first time I noticed anything odd was on the first week-end I had it when we went out for the day.  This was to a “Truck driving experience” (a Father’s Day gift for DH who strangely prefers the idea of driving large trucks to speeding around a race track in a Ferrari....).  This involved an hour or so in the car, followed by a short walk from the car park, a bit of waiting around, 30 minutes or so in the truck (DS and I were allowed to sit in as passengers), and then returning home.  NO climbing flights of stairs or steep hills.  So, when I got home, I was most surprised to see an email from Fitbit giving me my “50 floors in a day” badge!  When I checked the results, it showed that during the time I had been out, I had climbed 68 floors.  More detailed checking of the times I did all this climbing (the display on the website breaks the activities down into 5 minute slots), showed that all that stair climbing had been done whilst I was sitting as a passenger in my husband’s van.  A bit of research on the Fitbit forums shows that driving can frequently log steps and floors, so to get around it you have to record a log of the driving activity.  A bit of a faff, but once I had done this, it wiped out all the erroneous flights of stairs and a number of steps that had been recorded.  More annoyingly, I have to remember to do this every time I make a trip in my husband’s van. 

Another quirk is that the number of flights of stairs it logs when I go from the ground floor to the third varies between 4 and 6.  There are, as you would imagine, 3 flights of stairs between the ground and the third floor.  The first floor is a mezzine floor, so the first flight of stairs is shorter than the others.  Flight 2 and 3 are split in half by a small landing, so technically each could count as 2 flights.  I would probably expect a consistent count of 5, however I sometimes get 4, sometimes 5 and sometimes 6!  What accounts for the difference?  Does it depend on whether I bounce up the stairs enthusiastically, or whether I drag myself slowly??  A mystery.