What About Exercise When I Am Fasting?

One of the things I was concerned about when I considered trying intermittent fasting was whether I would have the energy to continue my morning exercise routine. I am by no stretch of anyone’s imagination an athlete, but I do walk every morning, hit the gym a couple times a week and have been experimenting with some HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training – more on that in a later post).

I was pleased to discover this was not an issue at all. My workouts still felt fine, and one of the unexpected benefits that I have enjoyed the most is my increased clarity and focus on days when I am fasting. In particular, the morning is now an extremely productive time for me – I get my best and most work done in the morning because my body is not burdened with the hard work of digesting food until I break my fast in the afternoon.

A little Googling supported my personal experience. Here is a quote from an author from The Power of Ideas who tried intermittent fasting for one month:

“Intermittent fasting has now become my way of life. It feels damn good and I find myself being clear and focused. My energy levels have sky rocketed. I used to always get that afternoon slump when I felt tired at about 3 PM, but I don’t experience this anymore.

Eating has also come to be an experience that’s enjoyed, rather than just food to scoff down as fast as I can. This has made it easy to keep intermittent fasting going.

Also, after a couple weeks, I decided to try exercising (running and weights) as soon as I woke up on an empty stomach. I thought I would feel light headed and faint from working out on an empty stomach, but the truth is, I had more grit and energy.

Research has found that there’s major perks to doing this: apparently it’s meant to supercharge your body’s fat-burning potential.”

Let’s put the notion that intermittent fasting will reduce your energy or hurt your workout routine now – in fact the opposite is true!

Why the Food and Pharmacy Industry Will Not Study Intermittent Fasting

Considering the amazing health benefits of intermittent fasting, you would think the food and pharmaceuticals industries would be interested in studying it. A portion of the transcript from a TEDx Talk by Mark Mattson, the current Chief of the Laboratory of Neuroscience at the National Institute on Aging may help to explain why:

“Why is it that the normal diet is three meals a day plus snacks? It isn’t that it’s the healthiest eating pattern, now that’s my opinion but I think there is a lot of evidence to support that. There are a lot of pressures to have that eating pattern, there’s a lot of money involved. The food industry — are they going to make money from skipping breakfast like I did today? No, they’re going to lose money. If people fast, the food industry loses money. What about the pharmaceutical industries? What if people do some intermittent fasting, exercise periodically and are very healthy, is the pharmaceutical industry going to make any money on healthy people?”

In a similar manner, the lies of “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and “You must eat five or six small meals a day” continue to be told. These ideas may be good for food company and restaurant bottom lines, but not your waistline!

Watch the TEDx talk below:

Intermittent Fasting Has Incredible Health Benefits

It is amazing to me now that I have been studying intermittent fasting that it is not that well known outside of the fitness crowd. I can think of no single other change (except possibly quitting smoking) that can have such an immediate and positive change on your life and health.

Here are 10 Evidence Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting:

  1. Changes the Function of Cells, Genes & Hormones
  2. Increases your Metabolic Rate, Helping You Lose Weight & Belly Fat
  3. Can Reduce nsulin Resistence, Lowering Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  4. Can Reduce Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in the Body
  5. May be Beneficial for Heart Health
  6. Induces Various Cellular Repair Processes
  7. May help prevent Cancer
  8. Good for your brain
  9. Prevent Alzheimers, Parkinson’s & Huntingtons’s disease
  10. Extend your Lifespan

What are you waiting for?

The Long Game

You are playing The Long Game. Remember the Weekday Fast is not a diet, it is a lifestyle change. You are not “on a diet” – you are taking control over your health and weight by making intelligent, informed and deliberate decisions on what foods to feed your body for optimum health, and when to feed your body so it can spend the majority of the hours in a week in “Restore & Repair” mode and a much smaller portion in “Digest & Store Fat” mode. This will not happen on it’s own.

By changing your relationship with food, ignoring the social queues from advertisers (Eat more! Eat Now!) , and sticking to the plan, you can accomplish your health and wellness goals while still being able to enjoy evening meals with family and nights out with friends.

Practice Mindful Eating. As part of becoming more mindful about your eating, you need to understand the differences between physical hunger and emotional hunger. Physical hunger is your body legitimately telling you that it is ready for some food. You can usually satisfy this with a relatively small amount of food. In other words, you can grab a handful of nuts or a small piece of fruit and the sensations of hunger will disappear within a few minutes.

This is why you should always have small, healthy snacks easily accessible. If you have a healthy choice nearby you are far less likely to satisfy your physical hunger with something that does not fit in with your long term goals.
Emotional hunger differs from physical hunger in that it comes on suddenly and in the form of cravings rather than physical signs. It can be triggered by stress or boredom, and you will usually crave some sort of snack or comfort food. if you give in to the urge it often results from mindless eating, and even worse the actual eating rarely relieves the stress or boredom that caused it, leaving you feeling guilty as well.

Anytime you feel hungry at a time that you were not planning to eat a meal, do these three things:
1) Ask yourself – am I really physically hungry, or is this just emotional eating? Was it triggered by a habit that I can change? (See the next section for more on habits.)
2) Drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes.
3) If you’re still hungry, have a healthy snack like a handful of almonds or 1/2 an apple
Remember – YOU are the boss of YOU. When you eat, it should be a part of your predetermined plan for the day, not because a plate of cupcakes suddenly appeared nearby.

The Importance of Habits. As you adopt the Weekday Fast lifestyle, you will likely have to change some of your habits. It is a very valuable exercise to step back and realize why you do many of the things you do and make the choices you do, and realize how many of those are actually just habits. Approximately 40-45% of the things you do every day that feel like decisions, are actually habits according to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit – Why we do what we do in life and business. It is a fascinating read that also shows you how to identify and change bad habits into good ones.

All habits work in a three step process – Cue, Response, Reward. It is nearly impossible to eliminate bad habits, but what you CAN do is recognize the Cue, and then modify your Response to a healthier one and still enjoy the Reward. Until you become AWARE of your habits and what your cues are, you can’t begin to change them.

I work from home, and I had a habit of walking to the kitchen several times a day and looking in the refrigerator and pantry for something to eat. After reading The Power of Habit, I realized that I was not doing this because I was hungry, but because I bored or needed a break from what I was working on. I realized the Cue was “I need to clear my head and refocus”, my Response was “go to the kitchen and rummage through the refrigerator and pantry” and my Reward was “taking a break from work”. It wasn’t that I was hungry, I just needed to get away from whatever task I was working on for a moment to clear my head and refocus. By modifying my Response to “fill your water cup and walk outside for a few minutes”, I still got my reward but the net result of my quick break was hydration and fresh air, not unneeded calories. And if I was a little hungry, drinking the water would fix that as well.

We are also going to develop some NEW, HEALTHY habits such as drinking water first thing in the morning and weighing every day. These are things you may not do every day automatically, but they will soon become a part of your daily routine. If you find yourself struggling with bad habits as you adopt your new lifestyle, try to ask yourself – what is my Cue, what is my Response, and what is my Reward? Now, what can I change about my Response, so I still get my Reward?


Start your day with a BIG glass of water…and keep drinking!

A key part of the Weekday Fast plan is to drink a good amount of water every day. Your body is made out of mostly water, so it is important to stay hydrated. Why drink so much water? It keeps you hydrated, flushes toxins out of your body, and keeps you full!

How much exactly to drink is a matter of debate among experts. Water needs vary by your weight and sex (men need more than women) but even the Mayo clinic says 3 liters for men, 2.2 liters for women. You may have heard “eight 8oz glasses a day” – that turns out to be almost 2 liters, which as it turns out is probably on the low side. Other experts recommend taking your body weight in pounds times .75 and drinking that in ounces. For a 200lb man that would be 150oz. Unfortunately, some people have taken it a little too far and there have been incidents of elite athletes dying from drinking too much – so don’t go overboard!

A panel of 17 experts from around the world collaborated and determined “In order to replenish the body with enough water without overwhelming the cells, the Institute of Medicine determined the ideal amount is approximately 16 8-ounce cups (3.7 liters) for men and 11 8-ounce cups (2.7 liters) for women.” Based on a lot of Internet searches, that seems to be current recommendations.

I drink a gallon a day almost every day. I have a 32oz souvenir cup from an Aggie football game that I use as my water cup and the first thing I do when I get to the kitchen in the morning is fill it up with ice water and drink it while I’m making coffee. I then have alarms set on my phone for 10:00am, 1:00pm and 3:00pm to remind me to fill up my glass. I know many people who carry a water bottle with them throughout the day and try to take a sip every few minutes. Here’s a trick: if you need to drink four glasses a day, put four rubber bands around your glass and every time you fill it up, move one rubber band from the top to the bottom. Do whatever works for you, but drink up! You probably want to finish drinking your daily allotment by dinner time so as to ensure…ahem…a restful night’s sleep. (And not too many late night bathroom breaks…)

If you need more convincing, check out this article about the health benefits of drinking water first thing in the morning, then waiting 45 minutes to drink or eat anything else. According to the author, early morning water therapy can “…naturally heal us from diseases like high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, autoimmune disorders, diabetes and migraines.” Sounds good to me!

Make a new habit that anytime you feel hungry, you take a good size drink of water. It will serve two purposes – not only to help get you to your daily goal of water intake, but also help fill you up until it’s time for your next meal. This is a good example of how to reframe a “bad” habit into a good habit. Remember with the habits cycle – Cue, Response, Reward.  (For information, see Charles Duhigg’s excellent book, The Power of Habit). The cue in this case is your stomach grumbles. The reward you seek is to quell the hunger pang, but instead of doing that with a cookie or a bag of chips, drink a glass of water. You still get the reward of not being hungry but without the empty calories of the cookie or chips.

Start your day with a big glass of water, and then keep drinking throughout the day!


Why the Weekday Fast works when diets fail…

The Weekday Fast plan is NOT a diet – diet’s don’t work. “Diets” mean you are eating things you might not like, while abstaining from foods you love, day after day. This sort of drudgery will never be a long term solution, because people simply do not stick to diets. And as soon as you go off your “diet”, any lost weight quickly comes back on.

In contrast, this is a LIFESTYLE change; I will follow this plan for the rest of my life, because it is “SEHR”.
For any plan to work it has to be SEHR – Sustainable, Easy, Healthy, & Rewarding.

A plan must be sustainable, or you can simply not do it long term. If you do stick with it long enough to lose weight, once you go off the diet you’ll gain it back. Therefore any long term lifestyle change has to be enjoyable long term, or at least require a relatively small amount of “less enjoyable time” to make up for the benefits. As an example, a vigorous workout may be hard in the moment, but after you are done, you feel great and a sense of accomplishment. Their are times on the Weekday Fast plan when you may have to abstain from a desired treat for a brief time, but the resulting outcome (good health and weight loss) will make it more than worth it.

A plan must be easy, or most people simply won’t stick with it. Our lives are busy – full of work, school, family, and extracurricular obligations. The next time a busy day comes along and you are running low on time, your complicated diet will be the first thing to go by the wayside. But on the Weekday Fast plan, you plan your day and week to make it easy — in fact you will spend less time and money than you do now.

A plan must be healthy, because your body is your one and only vehicle to transport you through this life. You have to take care of it, and that means making healthy choices and not doing anything that is harmful. There are plenty of unhealthy ways to lose a lot of weight, but if you damage yourself physically or deprive your body nutritionally in the process, you are not making a good decision towards your longevity. A healthy body will naturally return to it’s ideal, healthy weight. Our number one focus on this plan is getting healthy, the weight loss is a “happy side effect.”

A plan must be rewarding, or you will lost the motivation to continue with your new lifestyle. Tony Robbins famously pointed out that humans make choices for one of two reasons – to seek pleasure or avoid pain. If you are on a diet that requires you to eat foods you dislike or avoid foods you love, you are not going to be motivated to continue it long term. On the Weekday Fast plan, you get to eat the stuff you love, you don’t have to eat anything you don’t want to, and you will feel great and experience steady weight loss.

This plan is SUSTAINABLE because unlike other diets that ask you to change your eating habits for days upon end and probably forever, you only have to modify your behavior radically on two days a week. These will be your Fast 5/2 days which we’ll get to below. (Later on maintenance mode you will drop back to one day a week.) How many diets have you started with tons of enthusiasm and motivation, only to bail out of after a few days because it’s the same boring thing day after day and you miss your favorite foods? That’s not how it works on the Weekday Fast plan! Only on your two Fast 5/2 days per week do you have to abstain from eating whatever you want, but “There is always tomorrow”. Once you see that you are making steady progress, it’s easy to tell yourself “I choose not to eat ____ today, but I can have it tomorrow! (And the next day, and perhaps the next day….). Therefore, you do not have to give up any foods you love! Steak, pizza, chips or chocolate or ice cream, you can have it. You just have to make sure that you are eating reasonable amounts, at the right times, and that you are eating plenty of other healthy food too. (This is the “Live Your Life” part.)
I believe this is one of the greatest features of the Weekday Fast plan, and one of the most important reasons it is sustainable. You DO NOT have to adhere to the same boring routine and food choices day after day. Just as in real life, you have “work days” and “days off”. It’s called a “plan” because you have to plan. But once you develop a new habit to plan your day and your week it will become second nature, and that will be your natural way to eat. And once you realize that YOU are in control of your food choices and by following this plan, you CAN lose and maintain weight while simultaneously improving your overall health and reducing your chances of developing Cancer, heart disease, Alzheimers, the list goes on. You will enjoy a sense of peace about your body and weight that you may not have ever enjoyed before. That has certainly been the case for me!

This plan is EASY because…well because it’s NOT COMPLICATED. The guidelines are simple and you can start tomorrow. There are no special foods, powders, pills, or elixirs. There are no weekly meetings, monthly costs or time consuming and exhausting exercise routines. You simply change when you eat, and how much you eat a couple days a week. All you have to do is plan ahead for your week, execute your plan, and track your progress.
This plan is HEALTHY because Intermittent Fasting is healthy. In fact, that is the real reason to do it! Weight loss is just a “Happy Side Effect” of the Weekday Fast plan. As your body gets healthier and you reduce the amount of food you are making it digest to correct, healthy levels, your body naturally returns to it’s correct, healthy weight.

This diet is REWARDING because you will feel great as you get healthier and lose weight. You will not lose a radical amount of weight in a short period of time, but you will make slow, steady, measurable progress every week. Further, you will FEEL GREAT. After adopting the Weekday Fast plan, I feel better, sleep better, get up earlier and have more energy than I have had in many years. While I am fasting during the morning hours, I have a mental clarity that I have not experienced in years.

You Don’t Lose Weight to Get Healthy – You Get Healthy to Lose Weight! This concept here is really the revelation that changed everything for me. Once you understand this, you will have all the motivation you need to go on and stay with the Weekday Fast plan. In fact, it inspired me to create this document to share with all of you – because I realized exactly how powerful this idea this is. What follows is a very high level and general description, but for more information you can and should read the FastLife book by Dr. Michael Mosley.

Your body’s natural, healthy state is to be at a healthy weight. If you are carrying extra pounds, it is a SYMPTOM of the fact that you are not as healthy as you could be. There are other symptoms too – Cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, skin conditions, chronic headaches, digestive issues and many more. However your body has the natural ability to take care of itself if we will only allow it to do so. Unfortunately, western medicine tries to treat the symptoms of all of these conditions and diseases without addressing the true cause of the issues.

Very generally speaking, your body is in one of two modes at any given time – “Digest & Store Fat” mode or “Repair & Restore” mode. In order for your body to work, it must have energy. Therefore it must spend part of it’s time digesting and processing the food we give it to get that energy. When you eat, your insulin goes up, and this triggers your body to into Digest & Store Fat mode. Once it is in that mode, it is busy digesting food and storing fat, and does not do much else. So if you have an infection or skin rash or perhaps something more menacing like some Cancer cells, your body is too busy digesting food and storing fat to deal with healing your skin, or fighting the Cancer.

There are only 24 hours in a day. Think of it this way – Digest & Store Fat mode is like being at work. Repair & Restore mode is like being at home. If you only work eight hours a day, you have plenty of time to work around your house & yard, so you can keep it in good repair and looking great! But if you work all the time, come home exhausted and go straight to bed then go right back to work, you don’t have the necessary time to tend to things around the house. Soon it falls into disrepair, the paint starts to fade, the grass gets long and overgrown…if you’re not careful the city might put a notice on your door telling you to clean up your act or they’ll condemn your house! Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying “On their death bed, nobody ever wishes they’d spent more time at the office.”

By focusing on getting our body to spend more of the day in Repair & Restore mode mode, we are empowering the body to naturally get healthy. And, as a “Happy Side Effect”, you will gradually return to your ideal, healthy weight. This is why I will be on this plan for the rest of my life – because I want it to be as long of a life as possible and I know I need to take care of my body! Focus on your good health, and a healthy weight will naturally follow.


Welcome to the Weekday Fast blog!

Howdy all!

Well here we go, I decided to start a blog. There is a lot to come but I hope you will enjoy it. I have become somewhat of a fanatic about intermittent fasting, so I decided to write it all down to share.

I have been heavier than I would like for most of my adult life. Like most people who want to lose weight, I tried every fad diet that came along. Some worked temporarily, but I would always gain back the weight when I went off the diet.

This is different. It’s not a diet – it’s a lifestyle change. And the best thing is, it’s very healthy. In fact, the weight loss is just a “happy side effect” of the fact that your body is finally getting to a healthy state. Throw in dozens of studies showing that it helps prevent or reduces Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s…and a lot more.

Even better, this plan let’s you “live your life”. You behave during the week but weekends you do what you want.

I feel better than I’ve felt in years. I’ve got a lot more to say, so stay tuned!