Intermittent fasting is the practice of regularly consuming all your daily food and drink, except for water (drink as needed), within an 8 hour period such that on a 24 hour cycle, you fast for 16 hours. Regularly consuming all of your daily food and drink within less than 8 hours could certainly count, though likely unhealthy if much less time, though I don’t know what qualifies for “much” because I’m not a nutritionist. On the other hand, consuming all of your daily food and drink in a stretch much longer than 8 hours starts becoming questionable if you were intermittently fasting to a sufficient degree to get the health benefits from it. Those would include not eating as much, weight loss, insulin control, better sleep from not eating close to bed time to force the body to digest while sleeping, and so on.
I don’t have a real problem with eating mostly because I exercise and I think a lot. Yes, I said think. It uses up a lot of energy! I don’t have insulin regulation problems. My weight can get just a tad higher than I want if I don’t train for a few days, like due to extreme cold as I am an outdoor exerciser, and continue to eat as if I did. However, I can bring it back down easily enough, like pressing the button in the elevator near the top of the Empire State and waiting for the ride. But that is not ideal to have to shift gears like that any time exercise or other lifestyle patterns change.
Where I saw I could change my eating habits is with the late night “snack” in my night owl lifestyle, where I usually eat a decent sized bowl of sugar and salt free Shredded Wheat, with soy milk, about an hour before bedtime, only to have breakfast again about 9 hours after I finish said “snack” that’s a breakfast for some. I do this because I feel like I have to, not wanting to go to bed hungry and wanting to have enough energy the next day. However, I know the latter is not true. I know I can do without the late night “snack” and run at least a half-marathon the next morning without breakfast! It wouldn’t be nearly the best half-marathon I could run, by any means, but I never do anything near that strenuous in the mornings these days, under COVID restrictions without normal marathon races to train for in Canada. As for the hunger, I was confident I can train myself to ignore that and help my sleep, which is my #1 goal for the decade and my top two resolutions in 2021, by not having my body work harder to digest new food as I try to fall asleep, then while sleeping. I’d also sleep better not having new food in me to refresh my fuel supply!
If I were able to eliminate my fourth meal of each day before bedtime, intermittent fasting could be within reach, even if not technically intermittent fasting. My schedule with after work running workouts lasting sometimes until 7:30 PM, meaning no supper and food prescribed for immediately after to help the body start recovery faster, would not be feasible for proper intermittent fasting of 16 hours without food as I would not eat again until lunch the next day. I would also be eating only 2 meals on training days and 3 on other days, which would neither be consistent, nor good for me because I can’t operate on 2 meals per day, even if huge meals that are not great for me. As a result, I will simply do my best version of intermittent fasting that will hopefully get me some of that benefit, but the more guaranteed benefit of a more consistent eating habit. That would be fasting at least 12 hours at a time spanning each consecutive pair of days from night to morning, which is a big increase from about 9 or 10 I had been doing up to December. This month, I’ve been trying it out and I think I can make it work for 2021, even through the higher intensity summer months.
I will need more time to experiment with this, especially with workout load changing throughout the year, so I won’t frame it as a percentage of days where I fast for at least 12 hours a day. Rather, I will frame it as average number of hours of fasting per day to be greater than 12 continuous hours a day. My guesstimate where that average might have been for 2020 and years before is probably around 9 to 9.5, so it will be a huge improvement!
So with all that in mind, this was what I filled out in my printable Resolutions Planner you can download to try to plan your resolutions, if you wanted!
What’s your resolution idea?
Do an approximation of intermittent fasting by averaging at least 12.0 hours without food or drink (besides water), per “day” (spanning evenings to mornings).
Why & for whom are you doing this?
For my health of more consistent eating, and my sleep goals via better bedtime conditions of not digesting food, that will benefit myself others as it will allow me to bring my best energy, for what sleep can contribute towards that, to all that I do and all with whom I interact each day.
How will you know when you’ve succeeded?
If my average daily fasting period is greater than 12.0 hours per day.
Why did you choose the target you chose?
12.0 hours is not only a decent sized changed from my lifestyle on the matter prior to 2021 (about 9.0 to 9.5 hours guesstimate), it is also practical due to my numerous weekly after work running workouts that can last until 7:30 PM, sometimes 8 PM, and needing food immediately after for better recovery. I should be able to do this for days without early morning workouts, usually only weekends, but we’ll see if it will be enough to buffer what might end up being shorter fasting periods for those tough workouts, especially if I do marathon training long runs again in 2021 with races possibly being held again should COVID spread be sufficiently controlled.
What must you habituate to achieve success?
Drop the late night “snack” routine that is a breakfast equivalent for some!
How will you form the new habit needed?
This more of a persistence thing than a habit. It’s obvious I will be aware not to eat. I will just need to learn to ignore the hunger, which seems to be manageable from my trial period in December that included morning workouts, though not as tough as the summer ones will be. I may need to plan supper more effectively as well, though it’s not like I’ve been eating poor quality suppers.
What exemption from your habit will you allow?
None. The flexibility is in how I measure this, to be an average of 12.0 hours of continuous fasting rather than set percentage of days with at least 12.0 hours of continuous fasting. I will try to keep the fasting durations fairly even between the days, rather than doing 16 one day and 10 another, but may end up doing 13 most days and 10 one or two days a week for some of those workouts. We’ll see. I estimate I should still be able to average 12.0 hours of continuous fasting daily with a decent effort.
How will you track your progress?
My customizable daily tracker spreadsheet that I share online for people to use should they want to track some of their progress.
How will you be held accountable?
I have the data to hold me accountable, and I will donate $10 for every 0.1 hours I fall short of the 12.0 hours average of continuous fasting each “day” (spanning evening to next morning per “day”), to a cause I won’t name that I highly disapprove. Considering I averaged about 9.0 to 9.5 hours per day previously, from my estimates, that could be anywhere from $250 to $300 if I only end up reverting to my lifestyle prior to my December of trying.
What are your levels of success?
For continuous fasting, each “day” (spanning evening to next morning per “day”), I will average:
- Gold standard = at least 12.0 hours per day;
- Silver standard = at least 11.5 hours per day; and
- Bronze standard = at least 11.0 hours per day.
Putting it all together (aka writing a clean, final copy)
- I will average at least 12.0 hours per “day” (spanning evening to next morning per “day”) of continuous fasting (no food or drink except water) in 2021, with at least 11.5 hours being the Silver standard and 11.0 hours being the Bronze standard.
- This is for my health and improved sleep quality and quantity from having my body not digesting food much while I try to get to sleep, and during sleep, which will allow me to bring my best energy towards what I do, and all I interact with, for what sleep can contribute to that.
- I will accomplish this by eliminating my “fourth meal” of the day in my current dietary routine that is my usual late night “snack” that is the equivalent of breakfast for some.
- I won’t need to habituate anything as much as be persistent to ignore the hunger pangs late in the evenings to get sufficient fasting on many nights, and find ways to adapt and minimize fasting time for days with tough morning workouts rather than evening ones, especially once the weather gets warmer.
- I will track progress using my daily tracker.
- I will hold myself accountable, and donate $10 for every 0.1 hours I end up averaging below the Gold standard average of 12.0 hours of continuous fasting “daily”.
- There is no exception of days that will be exempt from this tally. I will have to accommodate and adapt should I need to have shorter fasting periods for days with tough morning workouts.