My wife and I were born and raised in the Midwest.
And when it comes to our food, that means a healthy dose of cheese, meats, and fry grease. Some days, there won't be a single green thing on my plate. Other days, the only vegetables we eat are sitting on a pizza or resting between a taco shell.
We like junk food. Our fridge is almost almost stocked with string cheese or pickles or other snacks with empty calories . I have a hard time not stopping at every Taco Bell drive through I come across. We'll pick up a Little Caesar's Hot N Ready in lieu of making dinner every other week or so.
But, as we all well know, this is not a harmless pattern.
We can see the fruits of our fatty, sugary diets in our family members. Diabetes runs rampant in my wife's family. My dad had a heart attack a few years ago due to his poor eating habits. My mother-in-law lives with constant pain in her knees after years of carrying extra weight. My mom recently suffered a host of symptoms due to low potassium
With our younger bodies still holding on to our quicker metabolisms, we've avoided larger health problems. But we've already had a few problems come up as a result of our diet. A few years back, my wife was diagnosed with acid reflux , which no doubt started when we were eating Hot Pockets for lunch every day.
And then, there's the thirty pounds or so we've each gained since getting married (our metabolisms aren't what they used to be). One day, I saw a picture of myself from an unflattering angle and noticed a gut I'd never noticed before. I hopped on the scale and the needle spun around to 192 lbs (I'm 5'7", for reference). I'll leave the exact figures out of it, but my wife had a similar experience.
Seeing our weight at an all time high and warned by the poor healthy of our older family members, we wanted to take control of our diets.
We used several methods: we used a calorie counter to watch what we eat. We tried to add regular exercise to our routine (a challenge all its own). We tried Whole 30. And while each might have had some initial success, it was difficult to sustain for very long.
Then, we were introduced to intermittent fasting .
Instead of constantly counting every calorie that enters your body, you eat whatever you want five days a week. The other two days, you keep your caloric intake below 600 calories. And since we often forget about eating lunch anyway, intentionally doing that two days a week didn't seem like much of a struggle.
We watched a documentary highlighting its benefits and the science behind it. On its face, it seemed too good to be true: while most diets might allow one cheat day a week, the 5:2 demanded less time on the diet than off it.
But while other diets encourage your body to conserve calories and retain body fat, restricting your eating only two days sends your body into repair mode. The idea is that when you constantly give your body more than it needs, it gets spoiled. It wastes calories because it "knows" that more are coming.
When you withhold those calories, your body starts using up its reserves. Your body "activates," which strengthens your immune system, improves brain function—and even burns fat.
In the last two months, my wife has lost ten pounds. Only dieting two days a week. Without adding any exercise to her routine. Eating whatever she wants the rest of the week.
As for me, I haven't yet taken the plunge. My health could be better, but I'm not in discomfort. I know I could stand to lose a few pounds, but I'm not severely overweight. But if my wife's success is any indication, I might be able to give my body a huge boost without much effort on my part at all.
And you can't beat that.