From my own personal experience and the experiences of many of my clients who try to quickly lose weight for an event, drastically changing your diet or fasting schedule can have disastrous results and can ruin your long term success.
So please think twice before doing it!
What Happens When you ‘Try’ to Lose Weight?’
This is a typical sequence of events many people experience when trying to lose weight to a deadline:
- You’re fasting regularly and have been steadily losing weight and you’re also enjoying the fact that you can now eat your favourite foods and are no longer obsessing about certain food types. So all in all, you’re happy with the result so far.
- Although your weight loss is gradual and you’re not at your ideal weight yet you’re very happy with what ifasting is doing for you as a long term weight loss method.
- Unfortunately you have a wedding or a beach holiday coming up very soon and at this rate you don’t think you’ll get to your goal weight. Uh oh! What do you do now? Is it time for some drastic measures?
- Although you know you can lose weight fast (but in a non-healthy way) if you really wanted to, you know it’s not a good idea because you don’t want to undo all the great progress you’ve made and your new-found healthy relationship with food.
- You might think “OK i’ll just add on some more fasts or fast for longer and also cut out certain foods just for a couple of weeks so I can get to my goal weight“.
- Then, because of the fact that you are now ‘on a diet’ your subconscious brain goes on a rampage to protect you from what it recognises as ‘starvation mode’ from your past experiences with crash dieting.
- Your old feelings of anxiety and agitation return and you start to find it harder and harder to stay in control and stick to your fasts. You start thinking about food more and more and therefore the prospect of losing weight gets harder.
- By the time you reach your deadline not only have you not lost the weight you wanted but you’ve put on a little extra weight and you feel mentally exhausted.
One of my clients who we’ll call ‘Marie’ was a chronic crash dieter and weight fluctuator for years. She was doing really well with intermittent fasting and had only been fasting for a couple of months when this happened to her.
Marie was a Type C eating personality so she was really enjoying the psychological benefits of ifasting.
She started with daily fasts but found that it made her overeat so she switched to two 24 hour fasts a week which was working really well for her.
She was already noticing some weight loss (even though her weight had fluctuated a little bit at first while getting used to eating her favouite foods again). But most of all she was enjoying the fact that she had lost all of her food ‘anxiety’ and knew that if she kept up her ifasts she would be able to gradually get to her goal weight and keep it that way for good.
Then came the game changer. Her husband bought her a surprise trip to Tahiti for her birthday….. and the trip was in 2 weeks!
Normally she would plan ahead for such a trip and the ‘old Marie’ would have crash dieted so that she felt confident in her swim suit.
Of course she wanted to continue on her steady path of weight loss but she also didn’t want to feel overweight on her holiday. What to do?
She started doing full day (36 hour) fasts a week instead of 24 hour fasts and cut out all her favourite foods. Inevitably this caused her to overeat after the fasts and to get tired of fasting pretty soon. By the time her trip came around she ended up putting on 4kgs and was well over her ideal weight for her trip. In fact she was the heaviest she had been in a while!
You may know about the phenomenon (which I mentioned in my book ‘Intermittent Fasting for Women’) where if you are forced not to do or think something your brain will automatically make that thing more desirable to you and will inadvertently cause an obsession with that thing.
It’s human nature and our brains are wired that way.
So you can see here where this comes in to play in this situation, and why so many crash diets are doomed to fail.
The second you tell yourself you’re on a diet the more you think about food and eating.
It wasn’t until we discussed this phenomenon that she understood why this had in fact done more harm than good and if she had just left her fasting schedule the way it was she would have in fact been slimmer. Not to mention less mentally exhausted!
After that incident it took her a few weeks to get back into her fasting schedule again which can often happen after ‘fasting burnout’ if you try to do too much at once.
I saw her a few weeks later and she was sticking to her usual schedule. She was not only finding her schedule easy and painless to do but was at the goal weight she had hoped to be at for her trip to Tahiti!
So What Did we Learn From This?
- It doesn’t pay to stray from your fasting schedule. You’ll lose out in the long run.
- If you made the promise to yourself never to be on a diet again, stick to it! Not only for your mental health but also because you will probably start obsessing over food or like Marie, you could end up gaining weight.
- The more you set ridiculous restrictions on yourself the more you’re likely to over eat. People who do this repeatedly can develop Binge Eating Disorder and those that do can run the risk of not only being overweight but being obese later in life. What’s the point in being slim temporarily if you risk of becoming obese later?!