“Fasting as Penance” was the title of a chapter in my elementary or middle school book. I was intrigued by the words ‘Fasting’ and ‘Penance’ and didn’t know what they meant at the time, so had to look them up. That is probably why I still remember the title. The story was about Mahatma Gandhi, who used fasting as a atonement for the things that were happening with his disciples during the ‘Satyagraha’ movement.
But relax, I am not, going to talk about Gandhi, or penance or fasting as a penance. But I do want to talk about Fasting. Fasting is encouraged in many religions(oops religion again!) as a spiritual practice. In Sikhism, it is actually discouraged and i believe the reason is that one should not deprive their body of its needs. I totally agree with that statement but problem these days is overabundance of food and lack of self control. If depriving your body of food is wrong, so is overindulgence. Food, specially unhealthy type, is easily accessible, and hard to resist unless you have put some mental restrictions on yourself. Also, we eat by the clock rather than by our hunger cues. I have been there and stayed there for a long time and was unhappy that even when i was working out and eating healthy, i couldn’t see any change in my body. Being a health fanatic, i keep reading about food and health topics and got to know about Intermittent Fasting. It sounded interesting and i had nothing to lose, except the extra pounds!
Intermittent Fasting(IF) is fasting for (ideally)16 hours and eating only in the 8 hour window. There is no restriction on what foods your can eat but you will of course benefit more if you stick to healthy foods. I started slowly with fasting window of 11-12 hours and can usually do it now for 14 hours, 4-5 days a week. I found that it were my food habits that were hard to break. I was so used to eating something in the morning while making breakfast and lunch for my family. My brain would say – “the food is right here, why are you not eating? 🙂 Now I tell my brain that I am not hungry just yet. Fasting has taught me self control and definitely put me more in touch with my body’s hunger signals. So, previously, even when i was eating healthy foods, i was eating too much of those.
I have lost close to 25 pounds in the span of about 9-10 months. I didn’t change my exercise than what i was doing before starting IF. I was walking/running and doing Zumba here and there . In addition to losing the extra pounds, few other health issues have slowly disappeared and my stamina has increased.
A little disclaimer here – I am not trying to promote one or the other way of eating. Also, I understand that different strategies work for different people, but again, you have nothing to lose. In numerous studies, fasting has been associated with other benefits like preventing Type 2 Diabetes, lowering the risk of heart and brain diseases and slowing down ageing(who doesn’t like that!) . Your body is your very first and the best birthday present, take good care of it!