Fung Fasting Report #5: The Breakthrough Month

This was the month in which I broke through my 3-days fasting block.

Went four days easily and comfortably on just water, coffee, and a daily multivitamin, and I think I could have done five, but we had a roast that needed to be cooked and eaten before it went bad.

I fasted yesterday just because I felt like it, and the jury is still out on whether or not I’ll want to eat today. I probably will, but we’ll see. I don’t want my body to get complacent, or to have a regular schedule it can count on.

This was a month in which I dealt with massive stresses, both financial and technical, as we completed all but the clean-up part of getting the HollysWritingClasses.com site out of beta.

It was the month in which — if I were ever going to revert to the secret stress eating that, along with a one-time diet of gummy bears and Diet Coke, pushed me over (probably way over) 220 lbs — I would have.

It was a rough damn month from start to late middle. But it finished pretty well, and so did I.

Waist just prior to adopting keto and fasting: 42” (106.7 cm)

Waist today: 31” (78.7 cm) — 13” (33 cm)

But that’s just a number.

I look in the mirror and for the first time in years, my face is the “right” face — I see the person I was at 25, before my life took that first careening left turn into Bad Shitville.

I don’t look twenty-five, of course.

If you’re fifty-seven and you do, you’ve either made a deal with the devil or a plastic surgeon, and I’m not sure which would be more detrimental to you in the long run.

But I know this face. It has the right angles, the right plains, the right jaw. I have laugh lines around my eyes, but I’d already decided when I was a teenager that I’d rather have laugh lines than frown lines.

And from the point where I decided that, I’ve lived my life with that in mind, always looking for humor even in the middle of darkness and ugliness.

And while I have a lot of laugh lines, I don’t have any frown lines.

I know this body. It runs up stairs, and lopes across the parking lot. It launches me out of bed with a quick rolling snap, from lying down to standing with nothing in between. It picks up socks and underwear with its toes, flips them into my hand with a deft little move we practiced after seeing Matt do it when we first got together, and thinking that was really cool.

It moves the way I remember it moving — fast and smooth and without pain.

I know this brain. It wakes up in the morning ready to go, full of ideas and conversations, full of focus. Full of smart-ass commentary on everydamnthing.

I am more focused, quicker to accomplish tasks. I fall asleep easier. I wake up easier.

I’m fifty-seven, and I felt like THIS when I was twenty-five.

On food…

Feasting is nice on occasion, and we had our little 4th of July feast with Matt’s family, in which I ate vegan cookies with sugar in them without regret. (They were delicious.)

Cookies without guilt or regret. Imagine that.

I’m eating straight keto with fewer than 20 carbs per day on a 23:1 intermittent fasting schedule.

So one day of eating outside of keto in a month when I eat one healthy meal and NO snacks every day… except for the days when I fast is not a sin, or a cause for guilt.

It is a little moment of celebration in a life where celebration comes at the end of hard work, and focus, and dedication.

I’m still hanging in with my old clothes, because I HATE shopping, and the tucks I’ve done work — but everything is baggy, and even the smaller old clothes I had shoved into the back of the closet with that wistful “I used to be this size” stigma radiating off of them are now back in use, and are too loose.

I’ll eventually have to stop being a miser and go buy some damn clothes.

But not today. Probably not next month, either.

There is something wonderful about being both healthy and energetic AND too small for your skinny clothes, and besides…

I still have scissors and thread, and I know how to use ‘em.

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

19 comments… add one
  • V Stark Aug 3, 2018 @ 13:29

    I’m so glad it’s working for you!

  • Sylvia Nickels Aug 3, 2018 @ 10:09

    You have done so many people such a great service in sharing your health/food journey. Certainly me. I’m about twenty years older than you and also struggled for a lot of those years to ‘diet’, ‘count calories’, ‘eat right’ and so on with limited or yo-yo success. No real fasts yet, but I’ve been doing 16/8 eating for several months and have lost about fifteen pounds. I discovered I had been eating when I was bored and not actually hungry. The inches reduced and blood pressure stabilized at normal numbers before the pounds really began to show on the scale. I wear pants from the back of my closet that made me look like an overstuffed sausage for years. Thank you, thank you, Holly, for being not only a writing teacher without peer but such an inspiration in other areas.

    • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2018 @ 10:24

      That’s what I love about this. Age is not a factor. Ability to exercise is not a factor. TIME to exercise is not a factor.

      Exercise is GREAT for firming up your muscles and giving you that little euphoria boost you get (well, I get, anyway) after I’ve done push-ups.

      But it has nothing to do with losing the weight. THAT you can do without ever exercising once — and as someone who spent a full month locked her her computer screen while Dan and I have been pushing through the final changes to get HollysWritingClasses.com out of beta, sitting oh her butt 12 to 14 hours a day and never exercising once, and who STILL took inches off her waist…

      I’m the proof.

      I’m glad Matt found this, and I’m happy to share what I’m discovering while getting the body I like back, after years of yearning.

  • Christine Randall Aug 3, 2018 @ 0:45

    Well done Holly. My experience is going well, though slowly. I know what you mean about your face.

  • Kathy Aug 2, 2018 @ 18:30

    Thank you thank you thank you Holly!!!
    I found the Fung book in the library and devoured it!! It is amazing how we have been brainwashed that “not eating “ is bad. I love that I’m in control of my experience with food and what I eat. I have found great Keto recipes online that make me feel great to eat because I know they are good for me. And my body has responded by telling me I’m full after a few bites. That’s the best part, stopping eating before I’m stuffed to the gills…so empowering!! And being easy on myself when I don’t stick to plan, cause I’m in charge!!
    Thank you for sharing and changing my world!

    • Holly Lisle Aug 4, 2018 @ 20:16

      I’m cheering for you. This whole process keeps amazing me, and I’m delighted it’s working foryou, too.

  • Lizzie Merrill Aug 2, 2018 @ 12:48

    I’m so pleased this is working for you. You are such an inspiration to us all, Holly.

  • Judy French Aug 2, 2018 @ 12:35

    I too love hearing about your successes with weight loss. It is so encouraging. I find fasting takes practice, like training a new muscle. It gets easier. For the most part I’m doing 20-4. That allows an evening meal and bedtime snack. Some days it’s 16-8, and once in awhile I give in to more, but it’s so easy to get right back on the wagon the next day, unlike with traditional diets. I need to get stricter with keto style dieting. I’ve successfully done some 24 hr fasts. I’d like to try a seven day fast before this month is over. I’ve averaged a pound a week for July. I want to double that for August. I’m happy for your success. Thank you for taking the time to share it. Hugs!

    • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2018 @ 10:17

      “I find fasting takes practice, like training a new muscle.”

      Amazingly true. One day was never difficult, but THREE? Three was initially impossible. And then it wasn’t.

      Apparently if you’re twenty, however, like Joe (our final at-home kid), you can fast for the four straight days the first time you try it, and look at your parents, and say, “Okay. So what’s next?”

  • Christine Aug 2, 2018 @ 11:48

    I’ve looked at fasting, and I think I could — if I didn’t have to prepare food for other people.

    How do you get around that?

    • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2018 @ 11:36

      I’m a lame cook. I can steam and put butter on asparagus, though. (While I’m an excellent baker, baking is not a KETO activity.)

      I do food prep, Matt does the steaks and chops and other meats, and when we’re both not eating, the kid (Joe, who’s now 20) cooks his own food.

      Doing this when you’re not the only person in the house who needs to get healthy, and when you have a husband who is doing this right along with you, has made this really doable for me.

      But on the days when I’m not eating, I still help out, and I sit and keep the guys company while they eat.

      The thing you hold in your head is, “I want to live. This is what I’m doing to make THAT more likely.”

  • Betty Widerski Aug 2, 2018 @ 11:18

    Glad it’s working for you despite the stress. I’ve been trying 16/8 for a couple months. Not as dramatic results as you, but I’m also fighting against the effect of the anastrozole (hormone inhibitor) I’m taking post breast cancer – I consider that I haven’t put on more weight due to that (common side effect) a plus. And if I can get less sloppy about sugar it will be better.

    • Holly Lisle Aug 2, 2018 @ 11:28

      Hugs.

      The tongue cancer was the thing that got me on board with this.

      High blood sugar feeds tongue cancer and dysplasia. So for THAT reason, I stick to this like a crazy person — and my blood sugars live in the 60s and 70s all the time, without exception.

      I can’t guarantee that the cancer won’t come back. But this is the thing I can do to know that I’m doing everything I can to prevent it.

  • Susan Graham Aug 1, 2018 @ 13:48

    Hi Holly! I love hearing about your progress. I’ve been on keto a few months but I’m stalling due to blood pressure meds – beta blockers, specifically. My doc just changed me to a different one, so here’s hoping. I’ve just started a serious fasting routine. Not sure what to do if that doesn’t make a difference, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. In the meantime, stories like yours keep me going!

    p.s. Lovin’ the revision class! I’ve had a completed ms for the longest time and knew what the problems were but had no idea how to fix anything. About to start lesson 9 today. I’m greatly encouraged! Nothing like a plan, am I right?

    • Holly Aug 1, 2018 @ 14:59

      First, good luck with the beta blockers and the fasting. Definitely stay in touch with your doctor while you work through this.

      And I’m delighted you’re finding the revision class helpful. The process is tough — but toughest the first time, and a lot easier thereafter. I can’t say it ever gets easy — it hasn’t for me because I keep inventing brand new mistakes.

      But you’ll eventually have it down to a science.

  • Justin Jul 31, 2018 @ 12:53

    This has been so inspiring to watch you on this journey. I’ve struggled with adopting Paleo for something like four or five years, always backsliding when I would inevitably break and eat cookies or bread or some other Forbidden Thing. I devoured Fung’s books after your recommendations, with a constant line from one of my old Biochem professors ringing through my head.

    “Insulin promotes energy storage.”

    Controlling insulin has been key all along, not whether some food is “ancestral” or not. It’s been eye-opening. After reading the books, I can see now that fasting was the missing piece for me.

    I started doing 16/8 fasts, and have dropped about 7 pounds (I need to take some measurements). Skipping breakfast is effortless almost to the point of being ridiculous. I’ve stalled out a bit, and haven’t been Keto or anything like that, so I’m going to add in three 24-hr fasts/week and see how things go.

    I’m excited to continue!

    • Holly Jul 31, 2018 @ 14:08

      It’s amazing, isn’t it? I fought with my weight for years, struggling with diet and exercise, with counting calories, with doing everything right and failing constantly.

      And now, it’s simple, painless, easy.

      Kick ass. You can do this.

      • Jeannie Rivera Aug 2, 2018 @ 11:47

        Thank you so much Holly! Your posts about Dr. Fung came right when I need them a few months ago! I read them right after I came home for a five-day stay in the hospital for complications of Celiac disease that I didn’t even know I had! Dr. Fung’s fasting was just so freaking convenient at a time that I had re-vamp my entire life, kitchen and eating habits to eliminate any all gluten containing items. Eating once per day just simplified all of it! Then three weeks ago, I realized how easy would then be to switch to keto/fasting from my already gluten-free diet because I’d already eliminated most of those carbs! So, three weeks in…not too many pounds (I know step away from that damned evil lying scale) but I’ve also lost a crap ton of inches. Starting to feel great, more focused and energetic and OMG the IDEAS are flowing faster than I can write them in my crazy stories. NO more slug brain.

        And I too, have started to finally find the “right” face again! Thank you so much again Holly! Keeping doing all you, because you just never know when you will touch someone’s life at the precise moment they need it AGAIN. I just wanted to let you know that was the case here because we all need to know that what we do matters, and there are people listening.

        Hugs,
        Jeannie

        BTW: On a different note, I’m in my second MFA program and YOUR COURSE are better! Heehee!!! I’ve been so prepared. And only doing the programs for that mentorship and connections and because I am obsessive learner—OK, AND because LEARNING about writing is my absolutely favorite form of procrastination! 🙂

        • Holly Lisle Aug 3, 2018 @ 11:39

          “OMG the IDEAS are flowing faster than I can write them in my crazy stories. NO more slug brain.”

          Isn’t it amazing? I cannot BELIEVE how much better my brain works. How fast ideas come, how much I can accomplish, how much better my memory is.

          “BTW: On a different note, I’m in my second MFA program and YOUR COURSE are better!”

          I love to hear this. Thank you.

          “I just wanted to let you know that was the case here because we all need to know that what we do matters, and there are people listening.”

          And thank you. Knowing that sharing my problems and how I’ve overcome them has helped someone else makes it easier for me to keep doing it.

          That whole “dancing on the roof naked” thing is not the easiest thing to do. To be honest. To be vulnerable. But it’s the way we as human beings can make a difference to each other.

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