It doesn’t matter what it is – whether you start intermittent fasting, a new diet, or a fitness program –
There’s always a reason “why” that gets you from, “I’m thinking about it…” to jumping in headfirst when it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes.
The most common reasons “why” tend to be triggered by your weight or your health – fasting for me was no different.
Having said that, actually choosing something as a lifestyle comes down to more factors than just weight loss. You have to see yourself not only continuing with it for the long-term, but enjoying the process as well.
I’ve been fasting for over two years now and looking back, there wasn’t just one reason I decided to give it a shot. In fact, there were five very distinct memories that stand out in particular. Not only did these internal drivers push me to begin my intermittent fasting lifestyle, they are the pillars for my consistency and success with my fasting routine to this very day.
Here are the Top 5 Reasons I Started Intermittent Fasting:
1. Unhappy With My Body Image
No surprises here, right? As I mentioned before, this is definitely the most common reason people try new diets or lifestyle changes. Of course, health should always be the number one priority, but in addition to that…
We want to look good.
I don’t want that to sound vain, selfish, or in any way make you feel guilty for wanting to improve your body image, because the truth is, how you look has a lot to do with how you feel. The old cliché of “look good, feel good” rings true for most of us. I know for me it did.
I was lucky enough to have never dealt with any serious weight issues in my past. In fact, if you had looked at me walking down the street, you might think I was in decent shape or was at the very least, somewhat healthy.
But I wasn’t.
And I most certainly didn’t feel healthy when I looked in the mirror. My diet was up and down, going what I thought was “ultra-healthy” for about week, before burning out, binge drinking on the weekend, and ordering late night pizza and Chinese food until I passed out. This wasn’t just a one-time thing – this was a cycle.
Eat healthy -> Workout -> Burn Out
Order Take Out -> Drinks on the Weekend -> More Unhealthy Food -> Feel Guilty
Start Over -> Eat Healthy…
Sound familiar? Even still, it wasn’t being stuck in this cycle that really made me wake up and motivated to make a change. The real moment happened one morning as I was taking a look at myself in the mirror before getting dressed.
It was then that my girlfriend uttered the two words no 25-year-old man without kids ever wants to hear…
Nah, just kidding – here’s what she really said:
“You’ve got a bit of a Dad Bod babe.”
It was kind of funny when she said it, and we both laughed, but she was right. I was well on my way to having a certified Dad Bod.
A Dad Bod is characterized by looking like you might work out when you can, but with no focus on nutrition or no time to be consistent. You begin to put on fat in all the stubborn areas…love handles, face, arms – until before you know it, there’s no more Dad Bod.
Now you’re just overweight.
To be clear, if you’re a father of small children and have trouble finding time to focus on your health and fitness, I get that. That’s actually a legitimate excuse.
You’re raising and taking care of other human lives…
What’s my excuse? 25 years old, sitting on the couch on a Thursday night, about the crack open another beer and order some wings?
Sorry Dad Bod – can’t have it.
It’s too early, I’m too young, and I don’t look or feel the way I want to. It was time for a change, but I needed to find something I could stick to…
That’s when I discovered Intermittent Fasting. Lauded as an amazing tool for fat loss, I was definitely intrigued, but also skeptical as I was with many fat/weight loss solutions.
However, after doing a little research on the fat loss effects of IF, not only was my skepticism significantly lowered, I also discovered the four other reasons that made me want to start fasting immediately.
2. Energy Levels Were All Over the Place
I didn’t truly understand this until I’d been fasting for a while, but the food you eat (combined with when you eat it) has a HUGE effect on your energy levels.
For years, I was woefully unaware of this fact.
My energy and focus had always been an issue, or so I thought. Struggling to wake-up every morning, fueled by a steady stream of caffeine and carbohydrates until I finally made it lunch, usually “starving” and ready to scarf down a big sub, burger, or heavy lunch of some kind.
Post-lunch afternoons we’re even worse. Drifting off into a food coma and snacking on sugary treats our office conveniently (or should I say, unfortunately) had everywhere I looked. By the end of the day, I had to decide if I was going to suck it up and go to the gym – or plop myself down in front of the television after a “long” day of work.
It was usually the latter.
I assumed the issue had something to do with my sleep patterns and the food choices I was making, but I didn’t know why. What I failed to realize was that while my food, lifestyle, and habits were all factors, my crazy up and down energy levels all came back to one thing: Hormones.
Through my research, I discovered that fasting helps balance and regulate many of your hormones, most notably improving insulin sensitivity and increasing HGH levels.
However, I also learned it had an amazing effect on regulating your hunger hormones – Leptin & Ghrelin – in conjunction with a healthy, low-sugar diet.
Because of my diet and horrible sleep patterns, I was constantly spiking my blood sugar levels. Not only was this causing me to produce excess insulin, but my Ghrelin levels we’re consistently elevated making me feel “starving” most of the time, while still experiencing the roller coaster feelings of buzzed and lethargic thanks to my horrible food intake.
When I first heard about fasting, (aka going 16+ hours without food) I thought if anything, my energy levels would be even worse during the fast given I didn’t have any food in my system. Another myth that turned out to be untrue, as I later discovered that fasting actually has an energy-boosting effect.
Fasting with a healthy diet allows you to balance Ghrelin and Leptin levels, so that you feel hungry and/or satiated at regular times, never going too extreme in one direction or the other.
Not only that, but you’re able to adapt to using your own fat as fuel, rather than spikes in glucose, which provides a steady-stream of focused energy throughout the day.
This fasting thing was sounding better and better by the minute.
3. I’ve Never Been a Big Breakfast Person
When I was younger, I used to skip breakfast all the time. I honestly just never felt hungry when I first woke up. But whether it’s our parents, doctors, the media…one thing has always been ingrained in us since childhood.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
And because this had been repeated to me for so long, later in life I started forcing myself to eat breakfast every morning.
My usual go-to? A granola bar, some fruit, and maybe a breakfast sandwich. Oh, and don’t forget the coffee filled with cream and sugar – the key to any successful day. Even as I was doing it, it never felt like something I wanted to do, but in order to be “healthy” and start my day off right, I had to have food in my system.
This is why the idea of intermittent fasting clicked almost instantly for me.
Forget about all the benefits for a second. Just learning that skipping breakfast has zero detrimental effects to your body’s muscle, metabolism, or hormonal functions was an absolute game-changer. Throw in the fact that there are additional benefits that come with fasting was the icing on the cake.
Benefits of maintaining muscle mass, an increase in fatty-acid oxidation and insulin sensitivity aren’t just my opinion on what fasting can bring – they’re research-based facts.
And for me personally, once I learned that skipping breakfast was actually a legitimate option, I knew it was the lifestyle for me.
So remember, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day, but the meal that breaks the fast definitely is.
4. I’ve Always Liked Having Larger Meals
I think anyone who has looked to improve their health and fitness in the past has tried the six small meals a day.
Does anyone at this point really think this matters?
I’m not saying that eating six to eight meals a day won’t get you jacked or is unsustainable – for many people it is very sustainable and the eating pattern of their choice. What I am saying is there’s now some very straight-forward research showing that meal timing and the size of your meals has no effect on your metabolic rate.
At the end of the day, it all evens out.
This is because when it comes to weight loss, if you burn more calories than you consume, you’re going to lose weight. This remains the same whether you eat six meals, three meals, or one big feast at the end of the day.
Fasting gave me the ability to get massive, filling meals, while still maintaining a caloric deficit. This is because you are eating the same amount of food, but rather than spreading it out in small chunks throughout the day, you can condense your window to only a few hours.
On top of that, I was also able to adjust my window based on my activity level and my changing schedule, making it very easy to implement for different situations.
Eating bigger, more satisfying meals and still lose weight? Sign me up.
5. It Fit In With My Lifestyle
I’ve said this and talked about it multiple times, but I think the biggest thing that sets fasting apart from other health trends or diets is that it’s completely flexible and adaptable to your schedule and lifestyle.
This is where “long-term & sustainability” terms come into play.
When choosing anything to better yourself in a way that lasts, the number one factor is whether you can picture yourself adhering to whatever you choose day after day.
Maybe fasting is one of the healthiest things you can do.
Maybe the ketogenic diet is incredibly healthy for your body and brain.
Maybe weight-lifting is the best way to burn fat and build muscle.
None of that matters if you can’t stick to one of those diets or programs consistently. The best thing that you can do is experiment, learn, and push yourself to try new things. That’s the only way to discover what works for you and your goals – and what doesn’t.
Fasting worked me, and I’m willing to bet it can work for others too. If you’re at all interested in giving it a try or just want to learn more about the benefits – make sure to check out my Free Beginner’s Guide and all the other content on this blog.
Your health is a process – might as well make it enjoyable.
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Thank you for reading.