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Does “Fasting” Mean I Can’t Eat?

GUEST BLOGGER: Mariane Johnson Hayes

The first time someone mentioned “Intermittent Fasting” to me I’m pretty sure I laughed. It sounds so bizarre. Like, why would I fast? I’m not overly religious. I don’t feel well when I don’t eat. I get a little manic when I don’t know when or what I’m going to eat next. I fixate. Not eating is not an option. Not for this fat girl. I can usually still eat when I’m sick. In fact, the first thing I do to test the waters of whether or not I’m still sick is try to eat. 

I remember even as a child being fixated on food. My dad was a thin guy. Sometimes in his care for an extended period of time, I would quickly become ravenous. He would finally say at 4 or 5 in the afternoon, “Hmmmm I don’t feel well, I don’t think I’ve eaten today”. And even in my child’s brain I’d think this was lunacy. I’d been coming to the end of my rapidly fraying rope since lunch and the man couldn’t even remember when he last ate.

I remember coming home from school to my parent’s store, my dad would be on the phone and I’d tap him on the shoulder to say hello and he’d hand me a dollar bill for the vending machine in the back. Oh, the joy! Dr. Pepper and donut sticks were my jam back in the day. I’d forgotten that until just now. And only 50 cents each. I must have been about 10 years old and even then I didn’t want anyone to see that I’d gotten donut sticks, so I would go in the bathroom to enjoy my prize behind a locked door, alone. I remember being told to get something good for me out of the machine like Nabs or those twin brick oat bars that you could chip a tooth on. (In case you don’t know what Nabs are, here in the South that’s what we call those packs of neon orange cheese crackers with the sweet peanut butter filling, and I remember clearly thinking that they were a ‘good’ choice.)

I remember shame very, very early on. 

Shame about my body.

Shame about my choices and desires.

Shame about shopping the Pretty Plus collection at Sears with my mom after her stop at Added Dimensions. True story.  Real names here, people.

The only respite from the shame caused by eating came when I was eating. As a kid, no one ever said to me that what I ate or when I ate was an issue, only that I was fat and that was an issue. My grandmother came twice a year and immediately went to cutting up carrots and celery and set about slimming me down as she baked her world famous yeast rolls. I hated when my grandmother showed up, but in the end I adapted and just got sneakier. The Schwann’s man came and went and I got sneakier and sneakier. I got a bra when I was 10.

Sneakier and sneakier.

I moved out of Pretty Plus and had to buy my 8th grade dance dress at the dreaded Added Dimensions instead of The Limited like my friends, and I’m pretty sure it was a Mother of the Bride dress. Oh, the horror. Prom dresses had to be special ordered and thankfully Lane Bryant came along and I could shop somewhat in the “mainstream.” At least the store name wasn’t Added Dimensions or “Fat Lady Clothes” anymore.

So now, as an adult and having children of my own, I realize I’m in a deep, dark hole with repercussions reaching far beyond the route of the Schwann’s man of Holly Dr.

Far, far beyond donut stick and Dr. Peppers.

I have counted more Weight Watchers points than you’d even believe. I started walking every. single. day. Three to five miles, even in the rain, because I was petrified that if I stopped even for a day, I wouldn’t begin again. Beginning is always the most difficult, and if you’ve been overweight for long, you’ve probably had your share of beginnings and starting over again.

Weight lost. Weight gained. Same old story.

One day someone mentions keto. It makes no sense to me. Absolutely does not compute. Carrots are health food. Yogurt is health food. RAISINS ARE HEALTH FOOD, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD!

Bacon bad.

Apples good.

Eggs bad.

All that cholesterol!? And corn is good, but no butter. Who knows where to start? I’d choked down a million and a half dry, boneless skinless chicken breasts by this time in my life and was pretty sure I knew what a diet looked like. But did I? My weight sure hadn’t changed. My energy level was awful. I felt drained all day, every day regardless of my activity level.

It started to dawn on me that I was wrong. I think of the Michael Keaton movie “Mr. Mom” where the woman says to him in the school drop off line, “You’re doing it wrong.” Oh, my gosh, am I doing it wrong? I think of all the skim milk and low-fat dressing and reduced-fat Cheez It’s I had so lovingly and diligently counted out into a Ziploc bag, and I feel sick. Where did it get me? It always got me right back to where I had started.

I start keto. I do it wrong. Still don’t get it. Everything about this way of life and eating is so foreign and new, and I feel like I have to hide it because no one will understand why the fat girl isn’t eating a salad and why she ordered a steak with butter instead! Makes no sense, right? I watch Butter Bob on Youtube and think he’s obviously a quack. No way that’s right! He’s not a doctor.

I’m starting to get the hang of this keto thing. Realizing what carbs actually are for the first time and how food in my body is broken down as sugar. I do some more research and find Ask Nurse Cindy. End of story. Mind blown. I’m in ketosis and vacuuming the floor at 7 am. Maybe there’s something to this keto thing after all? I read anything and everything I can get my hands on and people in my life start noticing that not only am I losing weight but that my mood and overall affect has changed for the better. I’m not quite as grumpy. I’m sunny. I’ve never been sunny.

Well, to my point. You can’t keto for very long without hearing about Intermittent Fasting, or IF as the pros call it.

Ok, wait. I just got this keto thing down, and now you don’t want me to eat…at all?? Talk about not making sense! I’ll starve! I’ll get sick! I’ll waste away to nothing!

Hooooold your horses.

Look at all this fat on my body. Dr. Fung says I can use this for energy? For fuel? I read a book and I understand about 75% of it because even as a Registered Nurse, The Obesity Code isn’t an easiest read. Thankfully, my best friend has been researching keto/IF for well over a year and she fills me in. She hasn’t shared before? Even to her, keto seemed so wrong it was almost like a secret.

I have a fasting friend. We start a group on Facebook so that we have a place to talk about keto and IF where we won’t be judged or feel shame.

I often talk about alcoholics and drug addicts as being in my same family as a food addict. I truly believe this. So many of the compulsions are the same. Unlike an alcoholic or a drug addict, though, I still have to confront my drug of choice, and three to six times a day according to my doctor. I can’just not buy alcohol. I don’t have to look at cocaine and decide not to do it. 

But I have to look at my demon all day every day and use my own ceaselessly failing willpower to avoid it.

My willpower has almost always let me down. Nearly every single time. She’s really the worst, like, ever.

You wouldn’t expect an alcoholic to hang out in a bar and ‘decide’ not to drink. No way! You’d expect him to stay as far away from a vodka tonic as possible, for his own well-being.

Food. Is. Everywhere.

All day, every day I have to stay vigilant to resist the temptations and make difficult and sometimes emotionally charged choices. What do I do when I’m sad? Mad? Lonely? I get so tired of the battle, tired of the constant conflict of my inner voice, and I give in to the addiction. I’m just tired of thinking about what I can’t eat.

So, just what if I decide that it doesn’t have to be that way?

What if I make the choice that I don’t eat, at all, instead of having to make these constant choices and call on my old friend will power? I can CHOOSE NOT TO EAT. And it’s good for me!

Again, mind blown. I realize I can use intermittent fasting as a tool for suppressing my constant drive to fight against my own health. I can realize for the first time in a long time what it feels like to really be hungry. I text my bestie after 12 hours to commiserate about being hungry and we remind each other how our brains are lying to us and we aren’t really ‘hungry,’ just feening for the usual high. I realize very quickly I’m sleeping better. I have more patience with my kids. I feel like someone stuck a battery in my back. I step on the scale and have only lost 6 pounds, but my wedding ring falls off my finger.

If you are at all considering or attempting a ketogenic and IF lifestyle, you will recognize very early that the scale hates you. Your scale is not your friend. Throw that piece of junk in the trash and move on. Through a process called autophagy my body is changing shape as my fat cells wait to be dissolved because they do not yet believe that THIS time is THE time, that I won’t fill them back up with carbs and sweets. I’ve baited them thousands of times before and they know better now. I have to realize that the number on the scale no longer matters and how amazingly freeing is that?

No more scale. I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU SAY! You don’t matter. I’m not doing this for you, scale!

The less I eat, the better I feel.

The less often I eat, the more of a chance I give my own body to use all this garbage I’ve stored as fuel and to make me smaller. Even more importantly and unbeknownst to me prior to my keto education, I’m relieving my body of all the visceral and very unhealthy weight around my vital organs and undoing years of damage to my systems and tissues by constantly bombarding my body with inflammatory substances and insulin. I can control the addict by finally not making constant difficult decisions, but by abstaining from the thought process all together.

Today, I fast.

Tomorrow, I eat good, real food that my body can use as fuel.

Easy. Make a plan. Be prepared. Push your limits. You can do this.

It is actually easier, I promise. I know how crazy it sounds at first, I’ve been there, but it is so unbelievably worth it. Learn about your body. Learn to read your own body. Nothing ever changes, unless you change.

I never eat breakfast anymore. It’s a given I’m going to fast at least 16 hours a day. Finally, this thing that is good for me is routine and I dare not stop because like my daily walks, I’m terrified that one misstep will derail the whole train. I want to feel good. I want energy. I have to NOT eat sometimes.

There’s plenty of fat stored on my body, I’ll be fine.

Please don’t take any of this as blanket advice, you may not have the fat stores I do and need to consult a physician before making any decisions about your health, but again to the fat girls, IF is my new jam. My new high. Take that Added Dimensions! You have to give your body a break from the constant assault of insulin; you have to stop poisoning yourself to feel it. Dr. Ken Berry says, “It’s not so much what you eat, but what you stop eating.” I implore you to try.

Try 12 hours at first.

Work up to 16, then 18 and then maybe even 24.

You will feel a sense of accomplishment and power like nothing else. You are in control of you. You are in control and nobody is hiding behind the bathroom door eating donut sticks! I’m fasting. It isn’t an act of passivity; I am actively choosing to fast. I’m not just “not eating,” I’m fasting. If you’ve never experienced the energy provided by ketones, I’m telling you, it’s unlike anything you’ve ever tried that came with a price tag or out of bottle.

It took me 38 years to figure all this out, in part because we are all under the impression of some pretty heinous untruths about human nutrition. I think back to some of the answers I put down on tests in Nutrition in nursing school and shudder about all the whole wheat I’ve eaten because I believed it was good for me. Well, again, better late than never and I’m on it now. I won’t be a fat girl forever. I decided I didn’t have to be. 

Get hungry for knowledge. Watch every video Ken Berry MD,and Ask Nurse Cindy and poor, NOT-a-quack Butter Bob has because they are laying it down in a way anybody can understand and are passionate about helping people see the truth about what is healthy. Push the limits of what you think you can understand. It isn’t rocket science, right?  In the age of technology and the internet, there are innumerable  resources you can access for absolutely free. Join a page. Get a fasting friend.

I know I am on a journey and far from my destination, and I’m not completely sure I even have one. But, I know where I’m headed and that’s brighter and sunnier than I’ve ever imagined. I feel good. I give good. I get good.

I really have to watch how much I talk about keto now. I know the people in my life are getting tired of hearing about it, especially the ones around me who are still letting carbs and sugars run them down. I notice a few people in my life gaining weight and I’m so proud and happy that for once I’m the one losing it. I feel sad sometimes thinking of that little girl in the bathroom, hiding her donut sticks and Dr. Pepper. I feel sad that no one back then knew what I know now and I wonder how differently my life would look now if they had. I am fixing my son an omelet for supper with some avocado and water. Gosh, I hope he eats it.





Mariane Johnson Hayes is a 38 year old mother of two. She works full time as a Hospice Nurse and is the co-founder of Keto Connection #KCKO. She has lost 80 pounds since beginning Keto and is passionately dedicated to spreading the knowledge and power she has gained since beginning the Ketogenic way of life.  She is the author of the blog called Keto for Fat Girls and is the inventor of Keto Bands.

Royal weight loss for the woman willing to work for it from a woman who has.

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