Fasting During Busy Times

My Experience Fasting During Busy Times at Work

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

Fasting During Move-In

Recently, I continued my on-going self experiment with fasting by trying some multi-day and intermittent fasting during my busiest time at work, Move-In! Move-In for Residential Life at a College or University means long hours, and often times physical work, and time on your feet. It is a very rewarding experience when executed correctly, since a great experience is delivered to students and families as they move-in to their home away from home for the year. Most likely, your job or occupation has a season similar to move-in.

Why Fasting?

The main reason I decided to give longer fasting a try during move-in was convenience, and energy management. Longer hours during move-in can create many challenges, one of them being less time for basic necessities such as meal planning and prep. One meal a day (or longer) fasts eliminate the need for prepping and packing meals for your extended work deal.

Preparing for the Fast

The busiest time of move-in was between a Wednesday and Sunday, so the fasting was lined up within this date range. I made sure that I had plenty of wholesome food options for dinner at home, that required little prep time to create a meal. Other preparation steps I took were related to hydration. I made sure that I had packets of an electrolyte drink for work, which contains some stevia but no sugar. The electrolyte drinks were to help me stay hydrated and assure proper sodium intake, given I would not be eating during the day. *If you are striving for a water only fast, you’d need to hold the stevia.

Drink Options During Fast

Beverages I allowed myself during fasting windows included:

  • Water
  • Green Tea
  • Electrolyte Drinks
  • Black Coffee

Food Options During Eating Windows

My meals during times I was eating for move-in mostly consisted of the following groups:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit (Avocado mostly)
  • Meat
  • Dairy

I did my best to significantly limit any grains or processed foods during the eating time frames.

Fasting and Eating Windows

Here is the day by day breakdown of fasting vs eating, Wednesday-Sunday during move in. The work day range in this time frame was 11-13 hours.

Wednesday: 22 hour fast, meal around 6 pm

Thursday: No meals, 24 hour fast, continued in to Friday

Friday: Meal around 7:30 pm, around 48 hours total fast

Saturday: 22 hour fast, meal around 6 pm

Sunday: 22 hour fast, meal around 6 pm

The Experience

I found that the days I had one meal per day, I had a very easy time managing my energy even with long hours at work. Since I was constantly busy, I did not experience any hunger at work, and did my best to stay hydrated. Additionally, I did not experience any feelings of hunger going to bed with no meal on Thursday. It was a particularly long, hot work day with physical work, and I was more focused on hydration and my work than feeling I needed a meal.

I did break my 48 hour fast on Friday, after another long, hot day of working outside. At that time, my body was telling me it was time for a meal. I think the combination of energy expenditure, potential for stress at work, and less sleep made continuing the fast beyond 48 hours less sustainable at that time. However, I was very impressed that I was able to maintain my energy levels with a multi-day fast, despite all the factors mentioned above.

Top Fasting Tips

Please note, what I have been doing is not a zero to hero guide to fasting. I have been doing my own experiments with intermittent fasting for over a year at this point, and I would not have been successful if I started by doing a multi-day fast during move in. If you want to start at the beginning, do some research on fasting protocols, and maybe try this:

  1. Stop eating at 6 pm, have only water after 6 pm.
  2. Do not eat a meal until 6 am the next morning, have only water or black coffee if you are up early.
  3. You have just fasted 12 hours!

This may seem basic, but late night snacks, and caloric beverages at night will break your intermittent fasting. What has worked for me is to try the approach above, and continue to push out the time of day to eat my first meal, while staying hydrated. Hydration (with water), and sometimes supplementing salt can be very important to success in this area. For more information about fasting, google search Dr. Jason Fung.

Be mindful of your overall stress load during times you are fasting. Fasting by nature is a hermetic stressor, and combining fasting with other stressors (work stress, lack of sleep, physical work/exercise, emotional stress) may diminish the potential benefits of your fast.

Assuring hydration and proper sodium intake has also been very helpful for me on my fasting journey. If you are fasting, you need to find ways to get sodium into liquids, such as what I did with the electrolyte drinks this week. Lack of proper hydration and sodium intake can actually create hunger signals within your body, which can make fasting a real drag.

When you are fasting, make sure you are eating wholesome, nutrient dense food during windows of time when you eat. Just by the nature of eating less often, you will be consuming less food when you are intermittent fasting. When you do consume food and break your fast, you want to avoid foods containing:

  1. Refined Sugar
  2. Refined/Processed Grain
  3. Processed Seed Oils (vegetable oil etc.)

Eliminating foods with the above ingredients will leave you with nutrient dense options such as meats, vegetables, fruit, dairy, whole grains. Breaking your fast with chips, pizza, and beer is very likely to diminish any potential benefits, and leave you feeling even worse. Foods with ingredients above in addition to being less nutrient dense, tend to be less satiating (satiety is the feeling of being full).

In Closing

Based on my experience, I plan to use fasting as a tool during busy times more often. I am very interested in a longer multi-day fast, but probably would not do so during my busiest time of the year based on the stress factor mentioned above. I hope this helps, happy fasting everyone!

Summer Reset-Part 2

Wrapping up a 2 week Pre-Summer Health and Fitness Reset!

Program Summary

This post is a summary of a 2 week experiment I am trying to help reset my health and fitness habits and routine before summer. Features of the program include daily exercise, a vegetarian keto eating plan, and intermittent fasting. For more details on my plan and also a list of foods I will be avoiding, please take a look at my previous blog post for the introduction and week 1 summary.

Video Summary

Here is a quick video to summarize this program, with special emphasis on how my multi day fast went.

Top Tips

I have some great tips to offer based on my experience with this plan! Take a look below:

  1. If you are watching what you eat in any way shape or form, make a plan before you go out to eat. It is possible to find something for any dietary needs or choices, but you do need to make a plan in advance. Look at the menu of the restaurant you would like to go to, and also the nutrition facts if they are available. Do not be afraid to ask questions or make special requests when you order.
  2. Choose real food. By eliminating 3 highly processed ingredients as part of my plan (sugar, processed oil, grain), I was left with more wholesome, real, unprocessed food options.
  3. Exercise Outside! Doing some of your exercise outside, especially during summer just makes you feel better, it’s fun, plus you get some natural vitamin D production!

Week 2 Meals and Fasting

June 8

Morning: Black Coffee, water

Around 8 am: Bulletproof coffee (coffee with butter and coconut oil)

At work: Water, green tea (1)

Around 5 pm: Coleslaw made with veggie slaw mix, avocado mayo, sriracha sauce, salt and pepper, apple cider vinegar. Olives and sliced cheddar, mixed nuts.

Fasting Window: 14 hours. Bulletproof coffee breaks a fast.

June 9

Morning: Black Coffee, water

At work: Water, green tea (1)

Around 5 pm: 2 fried eggs topped with cheddar cheese, coleslaw with sliced avocado on top. Mixed nut butter with coconut flakes and hemp hearts.

Fasting Window: 23 hours

June 10

Morning: Black Coffee, water

Around 9 am: Bulletproof coffee

At work: Water, green tea (1)

Around 2 pm: Coleslaw with sliced avocado, 2 fried eggs with cheddar cheese and diced tomatoes. Mixed nut butter with coconut flakes and hemp hearts.

Fasting Window: 15 hours. Bulletproof coffee breaks a fast.

June 11

Morning: Black Coffee, water

At work: Water, green tea (1)

Around 5 pm: 2 egg omelet with cheddar cheese, with sliced avocado and diced tomatoes on top. Mixed nut butter with coconut flakes and hemp hearts.

Fasting Window: 28 hours

June 12

Morning: Black Coffee, water

Around 12 noon: Chicken kabobs, steak, cheese, Coleslaw.

Around 6 pm: Chicken kabobs, marinated olive and cheese.

*did have meat, and 2 scotches today, so a little out of compliance for my plan.

Fasting window: 19 hours

June 13

Morning: Black Coffee, water

During the day: Water, iced coffee, “fasting margarita” (fresh lime juice, salt, water, ice).

Around 5:30 pm: Quick broth made with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, chili powder, water.

Fasting window: All day.

June 14

Morning: Black Coffee, water.

During the day: Water, green tea, ice coffee, fasting margaritas.

Around 5:30 pm: Quick broth made with salt, pepper, poultry seasoning, chili powder, water.

Final Fasting window: 60 hours. Bulletproof Coffee Tuesday morning June 15.

Week 2 Exercise

June 8

Total Gym Row- 12,13,14

Ab Wheel Roll Out- 10,10,10

Reverse Crunch- 10,10,10

Pull Up- 5,7,7

Kettlebell Swing- 53 lb 14,15,15

Stretching and foam roll.

June 9

4.9 mile run, no stops, 48:00 minutes.

*note about my run loop, the distance is what my phone tells me. When I time, I know the distance is the same, even if my phone is not correct on the exact number.

Stretching and foam roll.

June 10

Deadlift- 135x 5, 155x 5, 205x 5, 225 x 3,3

Pushup- 14, 12, 13

Hang leg raise- 10,10,10

Dip- 5, 6, 7, 8

June 11

4.9 mile run, no stops, 48:06 minutes.

Stretching and foam roll.

June 12

Stretching, foam roll, active rest.

June 13

Morning run, around 3.5 miles.

Yard work, about an hour.

June 14

Morning walk, 50 minutes, about 2.5 miles. Stretching and foam roll.

I chose a walk for today to try and give myself the best chance to keep my fast going. For me, weight lifting tends to make me hungry soon after.

Program Before and After

Before (Photo)

After (Photo)

Weight Before: 207.2 pounds

*Weight before was taken immediately after a weekend away with lots of treats and little exercise. This being the case, the number is slightly higher than typical for me, baseline is more like 200 pounds.

Weight After: 196.0

*I did take a weight at the mid-point of my plan, as well as the end, mid-point was 200. I add this to point out that the majority of weight lost was before the multi-day fast, and likely due to cutting out the junk after a weekend away. A multi-day fast will likely result in some weight lost, but there are many other potential health benefits associated.

This is purely my opinion, but if weight loss is a primary goal, starting by keeping food journals is a more sustainable approach than jumping in to a multi-day fast. Someone accustomed to eating 3-5 (or more) times per day and/or consuming processed food will not have built the metabolic flexibility to be successful or have a pleasant/sustainable intermittent or multi-day fasting experience. Once again, check out Dr. Jason Fung for more information and science behind all things fasting.

Waist Circumference Before: 4th belt loop. This is my own measure, no tape needed. 3rd belt loop is not good, 4th belt loop is ok, 5th is better.

Waist Circumference After: 5th belt loop.

Program Compliance Grade

I’ll give myself a solid 90% grade for this 2 week program. Given I can count the days I slipped up on 2 fingers, I’d say I did very well. The multi day fast was a significant achievement, and a great learning experience.

What is Next??

Well, first I plan to enjoy family vacation! I am going to make myself a plan to include some intermittent fasting, body weight exercise, running, and stretching as part of the week. Of course, I will be having some treats, but I do feel coming off this plan will keep moderation.

I will be looking for inspiration for future experiments which I can turn into blog posts or series and share with you. Until next time!

A Two Week Summer Reset

My Plan for a Quick Pre-Summer Health tune up

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Why a Pre-Summer tune up?

I am choosing to identify a block of time to lock in some healthy habits and patterns related to nutrition and exercise. Periodically, it can be beneficial to identify some time to do this, especially if you find that the business of life is starting to dictate some of your choices related to your health and fitness routine, rather than you choosing your own priorities. Why 2 weeks? For me, I have 2 weeks before our family vacation, and a want a little bit more flexibility to have some treats on the vacation, while still getting benefits of this plan. For me, 2 weeks is a manageable amount of time set some positive patterns.

Additionally, I have been noticing that my nutrition is not as dialed in as I would like it to be. Reaching for some snacks, maybe a weekday drink or two…we’ve all been there, right? There are a lot of excuses or potential reasons why I have seen some slippage in this area, for me I’d say mostly work has been very stressful. At the end of the day, I am responsible for my health and wellbeing regardless of any circumstances or excuses (valid or not), that I may have. I see this is a great opportunity to get my routines back on track before the summer.

What is the plan?

Based on some of my previous experiments with different nutrition plans, I am going to try to weeks of a vegetarian keto diet plan, with intermittent fasting. Vegetarian can still include eggs and full fat dairy, and I am interested in the challenge of not eating meat for a small window of time. The way I have done keto is moderate protein, so not eating meat might make this macro-nutrient number a little bit easier to reach. For those not familiar, keto diet plans mean very low carb, moderate protein, and high fat. Please see my previous blog post if you want to see how this plan went for me previously.

Will I be counting calories or macros? I will not. I am going to draw from my previous experience and “eye ball” portions, and macros. My main focus is going to be elimination of certain food groups during this 2 week period. Counting marco-nutrients and measuring portions can have its place, it is just not going to be part of my current plan. When eating real food and cutting grain and sugar, I’ve found portions to be more intuitive.

Dates will be June 1- June 15. At the time of posting, I have already completed one week.

For my fasting protocol, most days will include a 16-18 hour fasting window, some more, some less. Additionally, since I have been working on fasting for a while and have some experience, I want to include one 48 hour fasting period in my two week plan. Fasting is allowing for only black coffee, unsweet tea, water, and salt, nothing with significant calories (black coffee has a few calories, but does not break a fast). Please note, what I plan on doing is not a zero to hero guide to intermittent fasting. If you want to start at the beginning, do some research, and maybe try this:

  1. Stop eating at 6 pm, have only water after 6 pm.
  2. Do not eat a meal until 6 am the next morning, have only water or black coffee if you are up early.
  3. You have just fasted 12 hours!

This may seem basic, but late night snacks, and caloric beverages at night will torpedo your intermittent fasting. What has worked for me is to try the approach above, and continue to push out the time of day to eat my first meal. Hydration (with water) and sometimes supplementing salt can be very important to success in this area. For more information about fasting, google search Dr. Jason Fung.

What is not allowed?

Aside from what I will be including in my plan (keto and intermittent fasting), I am going to give myself a strict list of food and drinks that are not allowed as part of my reset, to help break up any patterns I want to change.

Not allowed:

  1. Meat (hence vegetarian)
  2. Processed seed oils (vegetable oil)
  3. Processed or added sugar
  4. Grain
  5. Artificial sweeteners
  6. Alcohol

I find that creating categories of food or ingredients that are not allowed makes guidelines easier to follow. For example, grains and processed oils eliminate thousands of different junk snack foods. Rather than bullet listing all the different junk food I am not allowing, I can read the ingredients list to see if any of my food categories on the naughty list are contained. For more information on decoding food labels and finding problematic ingredients, please take a look at my previous post on the topic.

Exercise Plan

My plan for exercise is going to have some flexibility, but also some routine that I will hold myself to during this 2 week program. Here are some guidelines I will set for myself, while following training logs:

  1. Weight training, at least twice per week.
  2. Run/jog, twice per week.
  3. Planned exercise, 5 times per week.
  4. Days with no planed exercise, move or stretch.
  5. Exercise outside, at least twice per week.
  6. Daily stretching and/or foam roll.

Program Goals

Given that this is a very short program, I do not have any weight loss or fitness goals. My goals for the program are as follows:

1. As close to 100% compliance as possible to food guidelines.

2. Exercise or move daily.

This is a program about discipline every bit as much as it is health and fitness for me.

Stats to track

I will track certain markers to see any notable changes or progress during my two week plan. Here are before stats:

Photo

Waist circumference

4th belt loop (my own measurement, 3rd not good 4th ok, 5 ideal).

Weight

207.2 pounds, taken post morning walk. Also of note, at the time of the photo I was just coming off weekend away with lots of indulgence and little exercise.

Best Run

4.9 miles, 51 minutes total.

Week 1

Summary [Video]

Here is a video summary of the program outline, and how week 1 went for me.

Week 1 Summary

Tip of the week

If you are going out to eat, make a plan. Look at the menu in advance and see what meets your personal dietary guidelines. Some restaurants have nutrition facts available online as well. My only deviation from my dietary guidelines was because I didn’t make a plan before going out to eat.

Meal Logs and Fasting

June 1

Morning: Black Coffee, water

At work: Water, green tea (1)

Around 5 pm: 4 fried eggs topped with cheddar cheese, avocado 🥑 and diced tomatoes. Roasted seaweed. Macadamia nuts.

Fasting Window: 23 hours

June 2

Morning: Black Coffee, water

Around 8 am: Bulletproof coffee (coffee with butter and coconut oil)

At work: Water, green tea (1)

Around 5 pm: 4 scrambled eggs with cheese, diced tomatoes. Avocado with sliced olives. Seaweed snack. Coconut flakes.

Fasting Window: 14 hours. Bulletproof coffee breaks a fast.

June 3

Morning: Black Coffee, water

At work: Water, green tea (1)

Around 5 pm: 4 fried eggs topped with cheddar cheese, avocado 🥑 and diced tomatoes. Roasted seaweed. Macadamia nuts.

Fasting Window: 23 hours

June 4

Morning: Black Coffee, water

Around 8 am: Bulletproof coffee

At work: Water, green tea (1)

Around 5 pm: Keto bowl with mixed nut butter, coconut oil, coconut flakes, hemp hearts, and salt. Macadamia nuts. Diced avocado. Roasted seaweed.

Fasting Window: 14 hours. Bulletproof coffee breaks a fast.

June 5

Morning: Coffee, green tea, water 💧

Around 12 noon: Bowl of tomato soup, wedge salad with blue cheese while dining out.

Note: I had a bit of a keto fail with the soup, because I definitely tasted sugar in it. Next time, I’ll ask, or look up nutrition facts online if available. Also, the salad came with bacon, so not vegetarian today.

Around 4 pm: Coconut flakes. Olives, pickle, cheddar cheese 🧀

Fasting window: 18 hours

June 6

Morning: Coffee, water.

Mid morning: Lots of water, ice coffee, seltzer.

Around 1 pm: Guacamole made with avocado, garlic, dice tomato, jalapeños, salt and pepper. Cheddar cheese, Olives, pickles. Macadamia nuts.

Around 5:00 pm: Sliced mozzarella cheese with tomato 🍅, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Fasting window: 20 hours

June 7

Morning: Black Coffee, water

At work: Water, green tea (1)

Around 5 pm: Sliced mozzarella with tomato, avocado, and olives. Roasted seaweed. Mixed nuts.

Fasting Window: 23 hours

Training Log

June 1

Morning: Foam roll, 50 minutes of walking, around 2.5 miles.

June 2

Pull up 5,7,8

Total Gym row 10, 12, 12

Lots of stretching and foam roll due to sore right hip flexor.

June 3

Morning: Foam roll, 50 minutes of walking, around 2.5 miles.

*Did not run due to tight hip flexor.

June 4

Push up- 13,14,13

Deadlift- 135×5, 155×5, 205×5

Dip- 6, 9, 7

Stretching and foam roll

June 5

30 minutes weed whacking outdoors, stretching.

June 6

Morning: Run, unknown distance, a little over 1 hour.

Mid morning: Mow lawn, around 1 hour. Stretching and foam roll.

June 7

Morning: Foam roll, 50 minutes of walking, around 2.5 miles.

Compliance Grade for Week 1

I’m going to give myself a solid 95% compliance to my plan, my only slip up being going out to eat with no plan on Saturday June 5. Other than that, all meals met my guidelines. Additionally, my fasting was on point, and I had variation to the fasting window over the week. I was able to exercise or move daily, and meet all exercise guidelines I set. This is very encouraging, I’m excited for one more week!

Looking Ahead to Week 2!

One more week to dial in before it is family vacation! I do want to stay motivated to finish my program strong, and also make myself a plan for vacation so I can keep some of the nutrition and exercise momentum strong on our get away. I want to come back from vacation feeling more relaxed and generally better than when I left, so I will need to make a plan to not overdo the treats, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep and rest.

Additionally, I will make a plan for my 48 hour fast during week 2. Initially, I am thinking about targeting the weekend, and complete my extended fast towards the end of the program. Cheers, see you next week!

Bullet Proof Coffee- A Recipe

How to Make Coffee to Super Charge Your Day, Hold the Sugar

What is Bullet Proof Coffee?

It is important to note that Bulletproof Coffee is a brand, which manufactures and distributes coffee and other health focused products. This company/brand came up with the concept for the drink “Bulletproof Coffee”. Bulletproof Coffee (the drink) is a high fat, sugar free coffee drink which has become popular in some health and fitness circles for its potential benefits. The basic formula to make this drink yourself is to combine brewed coffee with grass fed butter, and medium chain triglyceride (MTC) oil.

Start with the Coffee

Any good Bulletproof coffee starts with, you guessed it, good coffee. I will be framing out this recipe the way I make it, but any coffee or brewing method can be used.

  1. Grind your coffee beans. Grind yourself some whole coffee beans, either for a brewing pot or individual cup. Fresh ground coffee always tastes better, in my opinion.
  2. Use clean water. The quality of your coffee beans and water will contribute to the quality and taste of your coffee. Some type of filtration for your water is necessary, do not just use tap water to make your coffee.
  3. Prepare your grass fed butter and MCT oil. An easy and affordable source of MCT oil is Coconut oil. When purchasing Coconut oil, look for virgin, unrefined coconut oil. Refined coconut oils may have their structure altered due to heat used in processing, and you will find they do not have the same smell and taste of coconut. I use one tablespoon of each for 1 standard cup of coffee, placed in the cup so the drip coffee melts both during brewing.

4. Add sea salt. I like to add sea salt (a few pinches) for flavor and electrolytes. Optional at this step, you could add spices like cinnamon for flavor.

5. Combine all ingredients. For this step, use a milk frother (a few types pictured below) or a blender. This is important to whip the drink and combine the MCT oil and melted butter into the coffee. If you do not take this step, you will end up with a butter oil slick on top of your coffee, which is not very appetizing. I usually spend about a minute on this step.

Compare to other Coffee Drinks

Nutrition facts for the drink you just made are (approximately):

  • 230 calories
  • 0 grams protein
  • 0 grams sugar
  • 25 grams fat

Compare to nutrition facts of a coffee drink you may order from a chain:

  • 410 calories
  • 12 grams protein
  • 49 grams sugar
  • 13 grams fat

(The above sample is for a small)

Why Bulletproof Coffee?

Drinking a bulletproof coffee may provide you more sustained energy, and help you feel satiated (full) throughout the morning. This is due to the combination of good quality fats with coffee, and no sugar. The standard cappuccino drink or coffee with cream and sugar is going to trigger an increase in blood sugar and an insulin response, which will actually make you hungry in a few hours.

If you are going to try bulletproof coffee, based on my experience I recommend trying it as a stand alone drink. So, substitute this drink for your usual morning coffee, and don’t eat breakfast for a few hours. If you combine a bulletproof coffee with a meal containing carbohydrates, you will likely get a similar result to the sugar coffee drink.

Can I add Artificial Sweetener?

This is your discretion, there are pros and cons to adding artificial sweeteners. Personally, I prefer to make this a savory drink rather than a sweet one, but everyone’s taste preferences are different. The pro to artificial sweetener is it makes the drink more palatable for some. Potential cons include putting an artificial ingredient into your body, and also that artificial sweeteners can trigger an insulin response in your body.

Give it a try!

I hope this guide and recipe for Bulletproof coffee is helpful, give it a try and let me know what you think!

Happy (Healthy) Holidays

A Blog Post all about How You can make a Plan to have a Happy, and Healthy Holiday Season!

Photo by Oleg Zaicev on Pexels.com

Jingle All the Way! Catching Up on the Series

If you are brand new to my Blog or this Holiday posting series, welcome! This post series is the final leg in a series about breaking the Holiday Cycle of adding pounds and inches to our waist from October- January 1, and making a New Year’s resolution to essentially undo the damage. If we are not careful, this can be an annual occurrence.

This blog series is a case study format, I made a Holiday Health plan for myself and documented my progress. For more information on this topic and ideas to make your own Healthy Holiday plan, please see my previous post.

These posts were broken up into a series, so please also see my Thanksgiving post to catch up on the first month of the Holiday Season. This will show how November went for me, and also tips I share from my experience.

Summary of Tips, Challenges, and Highlights [Video]

My Top Tips for Healthy Holiday Success

During the program, I included a series of tips and strategies that worked well for me, I invite you to take a look at them below and hope they may give you some ideas or inspiration.

Intermittent Fasting: Put simply, intermittent fasting is going period of time without eating or drinking anything with significant calories (black coffee has some calories, but does not break a fast). There are potential metabolic benefits to fasting, and it is also a strategy to help manage your overall intake of food in a day. If you eat breakfast at 6 am, Lunch at 12 noon, dinner at 6 pm, and have late night snacks after dinner, your overall intake of food/calories will likely be higher than if you manage all meals within an 8 hour time frame each day.

The basic concept is to have a 16 hour fast, and an 8 hour period in which to eat your meals; this protocol can be adjusted to incorporate a longer fast and shorter eating period as well. The style I used this week was one meal a day (OMAD) intermittent fasting.

This is something I have in my dietary toolbelt because I spent some time building this metabolic flexibility while trying out the Keto diet for 30 days in September. If you started off trying to manage with one meal per day, it may be quiet uncomfortable if you have not spent some time trying out fasting and adjusting. If you wanted to give intermittent fasting a try, here is an idea:

  1. Eat dinner at 6 pm after a normal day, no late night snacks.
  2. When you wake up, do not eat breakfast, only have black coffee, tea, or water (no sugar or artificial sweetener.
  3. If you get hungry before 10 am, drink plenty of water.
  4. Eat your first meal at 10 am.

You have just fasted 16 hours!

I found that utilizing intermittent fasting a few days per week (especially the week of a holiday) helped me operate with slightly fewer calories than I need. This slight calorie deficit to (hopefully) help balance out the holidays that week.

Hydration: Hydration is important with any nutrition plan, but especially with intermittent fasting. Your body will sometimes send signals that indicate hunger, when actually you are thirsty and just need some water. And when I say hydration, I mean pure, clean water…you can have other beverages during the day, but the majority of your fluid intake should be water. Here is a helpful previous post on Hydration.

Eliminate Trigger Foods: Trigger Foods are foods that you are unable to stop eating once you have even a little bit, and they are different for everyone. It doesn’t matter if the food is “healthy” or not, what matters is your ability to control intake and stop eating the food. Mixed nuts may be considered “healthy”, but for me they can be a trigger food, so I avoided them during my Holiday plan.

Eliminate (or greatly reduce) Grain, Added Sugar, Alcohol: This is a strategy I picked up during my Whole 30, and found that there are exponential returns on your health and energy levels when eliminating these food and drink groups. If you think of your trigger foods from above, I bet you a vast majority of them either have grain, or added sugar (or, you have a harder time controlling the trigger food if you have a few drinks).

Make the Weekend Winning Time! Use the weekend to get even more sleep, spend more time meal planning, and do some fun movements and exercise. If you party, drink, have treats, and stay up late on weekends (every weekend), you take away progress you are working towards.

Exercise on the Holiday! Even if you are going to have your favorite treats on the Holiday, make it a point to move and exercise. Do something that is fun and meaningful for you; walk, run, push up, pull up, lift weights. Make exercise and movement part of your celebration, you will feel great, and rev up that metabolism before your big day!

Theme your workout for the Holiday to give you extra motivation. If you like to run, go for a jog Thanksgiving morning and call it the “Turkey Trot”, for example. I used “Jingle (Kettle) Bells” and featured Kettlebell or Barbell exercises on all weight training days, as my theme for December.

Stick to your plan. You made a plan to be healthy during the holidays, make sure you stick with it! No late night snacks on Tuesday, no drinks and delivery Pizza on Wednesday before Thanksgiving Thursday (for example). If your plan is to dial in your nutrition every day except the Holiday, stick to your plan! Part two of this tip is immediately get back on your plan after the Holiday. Allowing the same habits to stick around for another week can be bad news for your goals, so get back to it!

On the Holiday, Eat what you like! What I mean by this is when you are deciding to enjoy a Holiday, or any particular meal, eat the foods you really like. You have already decided that it is ok to indulge a little bit and have some treats, but there is really no need to add foods to your plate that you consider to be just “ok”. For example, if you love Turkey and Mashed Potatoes, but can’t stand green bean casserole, skip the casserole! Do not worry about counting calories on the Holiday, but do consider that eating foods you don’t really love fills you up unnecessarily, can make you uncomfortable, and take away from the enjoyment of the day. Another example of this is eating things simply because they are there, like appetizers. Apply the same logic, if you really like the appetizer being served have it, if you don’t, skip it!

Exercise the Day After. No matter how you feel the day after a Holiday, get up and do something. Even if it is as basic as a walk, getting up and exercise the day after helps renew your commitment to health and wellness. The trick is, make a specific plan. In your plan, include what you will do for exercise, and when you will do it…if you leave it open ended “I will do some type of exercise the day after Christmas”, you are much less likely to follow through as compared to making a specific plan. I found from my experience that when I knew a workout was coming the next morning, I didn’t over indulge quite as much as I might have otherwise.

Sleep. Make sure you focus on quality sleep is part of your routine to be happy and healthy during the holidays. Sleep is low hanging fruit when it comes to getting some excellent benefits related to your energy levels and overall healthy. Strive for at least 7-8 quality hours per night.

How I made My Plan

To make my plan, I thought specifically about how I wanted to be performing, looking, and feeling on January 1. I thought about what I would need to do for exercise, and how I would need to eat to achieve the desired results.

Tips on Getting Started

(Adapted from a previous blog post)

  1. Make this winnable! I am using my plan as an example, not as a template for you. You may look at my routine and goals, and think “no way am I doing that, way too intense!” You also may look at my exercise routine and think “Dom, those lifts are weak sauce, need more  intensity!” Start with where you are, make goals to get better, execute your specific goals and plan so you can win.
  2. Write it down! You have to write down your goals, and write down your progress towards them. If you do not track goals and progress, you won’t have a sense of direction or accomplishment, and most likely lack motivation. You cannot hit a target that you cannot see.
  3. Make time! You need to make time in your week to grocery shop, meal plan, meal prep, and exercise. Add this to your calendar like you do a work appointment, or it will not happen.

My plan was to focus on maintaining my frequency and intensity of exercise through the Holiday season, and to not gain weight or belt loop holes in between November-January.

My Specific Goals

I made myself some specific, measurable, realistic goals to hold myself accountable during the Holiday season. These were goals I made back on November 9, which held fairly consistent from November 9-January 1 with a minor adjustment in the Cardio goal.

  1. Make sure that added Sugar, Grain, and Alcohol stay in the treat category (once per week max), focus on whole, unprocessed food being dietary staples.
  2. Keep weight on the scale, and belt loop the same, or improve them (I don’t want to have to loosen my belt on January 1, compared to November).
  3. Assure that my weekly frequency of cardio exercise stays the same, even when the weather gets colder.
  4. Add volume (reps and sets) to my upper body, body weight exercise routine of Pull Ups, Dips, and Push Ups.
  5. Assure to wear blue light glasses before bed each night, consistent bed time, strive for 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

The plan also included a weekly check in on these major goals, to see how I was doing, and any adjustments I may have needed to make to stay on track.

My Daily Journal Structure

*A word about my daily journals and routine. The main reasons I include my daily journals in this series are as follows:

  1. To show an example of what a daily journal can look like and hopefully spark some creative thinking and ideas for readers.
  2. To hold myself accountable…writing down my food intake and exercise/activity on the internet is a big motivating factor for me to follow through on my goals.

My daily journals are not intended to be a prescriptive program for readers to follow, this is simply what works for me. Whether it be my exercise routine, what I eat, or when I eat…it falls under the umbrella of “this is what works for me”. If you are interested in any of my rationale behind my meal timing and planning, I would invite you to take a look at my Thanksgiving post, sub heading of “Dietary Strategies I Use“.

Below is a sample of one of my daily journal entries and the structure I followed:

Monday

Exercise: Nordic Track, 60 minutes, 3.70 miles (no “ski poles)

Food and Drink:

Morning: Coffee, water.

Around 7:30 am: Black coffee.

During work day: Plenty of water, 2 green teas.

Around 4:30 pm: Spicy coleslaw made with slaw mix, olives, chopped garlic, hot pepper, dressed with salt, pepper, avocado mayo, apple cider vinegar, sriracha sauce; 1 can sardines; 1 sliced avocado; 1 cup air dried kale chips.

My Before and After Stats

Timeframe of all stats and photos: Date of Before is November 9, 2020, after is January 1, 2021.

Photos:

Before
After

Weight:

Before-201.6 pounds

After- 198.0 pounds

Both photos and weigh ins were taken after morning cardio, to keep conditions similar.

Belt Loop: 

Before- 4th (4th is ok, 5th is better, 3rd is not good…higher belt loops=lower waist circumference)

After- 5th belt loop

Cardio Frequency: 

Before- At least 2 walks (or equivalent) at least 1 jog (or equivalent) per week. Best run of a 4.9 mile loop, 48:30

After- At least 3 Cardio sessions per week, 60 minutes in duration (Nordic Track Machine).

How did I do?

Overall, I was very happy with accomplishing the goals I set for myself during the Holidays. The week between Christmas and New Years had a little bit of slide when it came to diet (reflected on the scale), but I did stay consistent with my exercise routine.

During the Holidays, I found it very beneficial to have nutritional guidelines to keep myself on track, and also to have exercise goals for motivation and accountability. I hope this blog series was helpful, and gave you some ideas you could apply to a New Years Resolution, Summer Vacations, or Next Year’s Holidays!

Until next time, stay Healthy my friends!