Hi! My name is Kate. I'm in my early 20's and currently pursuing medicine. I found this site and forum very inspirational and would love to share my experiences with you all. I'm grateful for all of your perspectives, constructive criticism, and your time considering my viewpoint.
I'm 142 pounds at 5'6'' and in relatively good shape. I get exercise in the form of jogging and walking 4-5 miles a day and strength training in the form of Ashtanga yoga most days of the week. My weight is level and has been for a quite a few months now. The majority of the time (95%) I don't drink alcohol, eat highly processed foods, or eat a high fat or high sugar diet, and I avoid dairy and meat although currently I consume them more than I'd like. I spend a lot of time right now preparing healthy food for my family. I make my own nut butters, research nutrition, get exercise, go to the grocery for fresh fruits and vegetables almost every day, go to multiple grocery stores to be able to buy all organic, and cook at home every night. I am constantly on the prowl for great healthy recipes and try something new almost every single time I cook. We don't go out to eat except for sushi maybe 2-4 times a month, and family gatherings. I eat mostly seeds as my main caloric content (hemp primarily, also chia), a cup and a half of fresh fruit, and I try to get five servings of vegetables a day although sometimes I'm severely lacking in that department. I also mix it up with nuts, fish, lean meat, brown rice, eggs, a glass of wine, aloe, and cacao. I am just becoming aware of my daily caloric intake, I have never truly tracked it but am coming very close to knowing all the serving sizes and caloric content of everything I eat. That's a huge hurdle for me! I also am finally coming to terms with the fact that I don't have habits similar to almost any Americans that I know; being counterculture is sometimes challenging.
I went to a weight loss group supervised by physicians through the hospital I worked for 2 years ago. Through what I learned, my basal metabolic rate (BMR) is 1400. Although my weight at the time was 168 lbs, which was down from 178 lbs the month before. My BMR, they said, will probably be around 1200 calories or slightly lower once I dropped 20+ lbs, which I have. Meaning that for me, 1000 calories in a day would be reasonable if I were trying to lose weight and not doing additional exercise. I would never eat below 1000 calories in a day, unless intentionally fasting, which I would not do more than once per year unless it was less than a 24 hour fast.
These days, I aim for 3 servings of fruit a day (about 100 calories, or 1 1/2 cups), 5 cups of vegetables (35-150+ calories depending), and 12 tbsp of hemp (700 calories, heck of a lot of protein, 60 g fat) as my standard daily basics for my eating habits. Total that is 835-1000 or so calories, which I build off of. How much I add of course depends on if I am trying to lose or maintain and if I exercise that day and how hard. If I were trying to maintain I would need to reach 1200 calories for the day and add 100 calories per mile jogged/walked and a couple hundred calories for an hour of yoga. My goal is 6 miles a day and an hour of yoga, and so I would actually be eating about 2000 calories a day. 2 hours a day of exercise is a lofty goal however I want it so badly I would give up my indulgent sleeping habits to make it happen.
The bad and the ugly (beware!):
1) Horrible GI Issues: I have severe gastrointestinal issues. I won't go into these in detail but they range from vomiting to bleeding, being blocked up to the opposite, and flora imbalances. My grandfather had esophageal cancer relatively early in his life (due to acid reflux), and my mother had to get her colon surgically rebuilt at the age of 30. My first cousin has IBS and my aunt and another first cousin have struggled with the same issues...literally my whole family! All of these people were within their ideal weight ranges (BMI of 20) and consistently exercising. Some are vegan and none eat fast food, drink soda, eat candy, drink alcohol or eat high fat/processed diets. All of them exercise daily. I am hoping that giving my system a break plus being very observant of how my body reacts to certain foods after the fast will help all these issues.
2) Issues with food: I have hangups similar to those that Celes shared. Those include guilt when not eating when someone else is eating and succumbing to pressure to eat from friends and family, even when not hungry. I tend to mimic those around me and overeat when they are, almost to make them feel better. That is ludicrous and must stop! Also I am working on fear from not eating every few hours which was instilled in me by well intending folks who didn't know what they were talking about. Discovering fasting has been extremely eye opening. I'm from the deep South in the USA, and our gatherings always tend to center around food. I want to move away from this, like establishing outings where we go hiking or biking or walking instead of just eating and drinking alcohol! I also would love outings centered around music, art, theater, dance, lectures, anything besides just sitting around and eating. I often find food-centered gatherings rather dull, and I always find alcohol-centered gatherings dull!
3) Re-establishing a fresh routine: I'd like to cut dairy out of my diet entirely. Also I'd like to give up eating things that I don't know what's in them, eating fatty meats, white carbs, wheat, drinking too much ever (very rare already though), not being aware of caloric intake, and eating any highly processed foods. I have to make sure that I get at least 70 ounces in water every day. I want to give up feeling deprived when I don't eat junk. It isn't deprivation at all. I also have to make sure I get my cardio exercise every single day; it's medicine for me. Also, I spend so much time exercising and gathering/cooking food, that I tend to find the day is centered around this. This will only get worse when we have children! I want to have quicker routines for preparing delicious food. It should be part of my unconscious daily habit, executed quickly and effectively. Ideally most of my time would be free for studying medicine, my true passion. Mostly I want vibrancy, to feel bouncy and energetic during the day and like I can tackle anything. I have had a huge amount of fear throughout my life regarding almost everything and it's time to put it behind me for good.
4) General emotional homework: I find myself living a life that has all the essentials for happiness but I will allow myself to be overcome with sadness or anger for no reason. My extended family (not immediate family I don't think) has had serious emotional problems in the past including but not limited to depression, alcoholism, anorexia, schizophrenia (I think), suicide, paranoia, alzheimer's, OCD (I think)... you get the point. I have never had any of these issues; I have been thoroughly evaluated by psychiatrists and psychologists for some of the majorly awful events. Although, I am sure that I have the capacity for all of these illnesses. I choose to be well. I realize many of these problems are associated with seratonin and endorphin problems, which can be affected by a proper diet and consistent exercise routine, as well as a sense of purpose. General health is one of the cornerstones for self actualization so that's why I'm starting at square one. I will not be doomed because of how I was raised or my genetic makeup. Every second I make a conscious choice of what I am thinking about and expending my energy towards. I look forward to thinking more about this as I move through my fast.
The details on fasting:
I have fasted before for weeks at a time but never a true water fast. When I was younger I did a "diet soda fast" which is disgusting, and I'll probably have to pay for that this time around. I have also done fruit and vegetable fasts which were good but on an unconscious level I knew they were not true fasts. I have also 'fasted' in the form of only eating fruits and vegetables during the day and waiting until the evening to have a big meal for a few months. These things have been helpful and have enabled me to lose around 30-40 pounds in a couple of years and keep them off. Within the past 2 weeks, after reading a very prominent Harper's article on fasting, I discovered water fasting and feel like it truly is a great option for giving myself a chance to heal internally figuratively and literally. I have some fear associated with the water fast, since mine will be unsupervised. I don't have the money to go find a physician or naturopath to observe me. I also have some extremely vain fears of being less attractive after the fast, since at the moment my measurements are awesome to be perfectly honest. I love the way I look on the outside, it's the inside that needs some help! I would never let myself go under 123 pounds, so I will have to stop the fast if I get to that weight before the 21 days are up.
One question I have is, will I continue losing weight after the fast? Since I will re-introduce fruit slowly at first, then veggies, then ease into smoothies the first week and then onto fish and such, will I lose weight that week? Like I said I do not ever want to go below 123 and would rather stay at 128.
Historically my most energetic weight was at 128 pounds, a BMI of 20.8. I do not think weight is the end-all be-all of health, and certainly if I get to maintaining 128 with proper diet and exercise and still don't feel entirely energetic then I should look to other possible problems, including emotional ones. I have more baggage than you can imagine, including horrible past eating habits and heart wrenching emotional experiences. When I was a child I had access to all the candy, chips, and awful fats like icing that I could want, and I constantly indulged in these. I started to change my habits in high school, but completely devolved to my childhood habits in college. Drinking too much alcohol in the past has no doubt stored a great number of toxins in my system. I shudder to think of everything I'm storing in my excess fat! Despite my unfortunate past, I am the kind of person that truly desires enlightenment and being totally present in the moment. I won't let my past or vision of my future ruin my present moment. All this requires is awareness and letting go of fear. Achieving happiness is really more simple than it's made out to be, in my opinion. I will be meditating on being totally grateful and present in every moment as I make my way through my water fast.
I have the complete support of my fiancé, I am not starting school back up for another two months (I'm in between semesters), and I don't have anything on my calendar for the next three weeks. I am prepared for a long journey which will last months. Rebuilding and renewing after the fast will be challenging because I am getting married May 5th and all the family celebration will involve lots of decadent, expensive food and wine which will be hard to pass up. However I feel committed to my health and happiness and realize that passing those foods up is the most pleasurable thing I could do. The temporary indulgence leaves me with nothing, I don't even truly desire those foods. I resent them. I want to start my new life with my husband with a fresh and repaired body. It just so happens I have stumbled upon this method at a time when my life is changing so much and I am so happy to have found this forum. I expect my journey to be challenging, uncomfortable, scary, depressing, rewarding, enlightening, joyous, uplifting, and eye opening. Introspection is one of the ultimate forms of human expression and I look forward to doing much of that over the coming weeks.