After skipping breakfast and lunch for a couple of weeks, my peers really started noticing and complimenting me on my weight loss. As mentioned previously, I did not own a scale, so I was not aware of how much I weighed unless I had a doctor’s appointment or used the scale in our locker room. Classmates would complement me in the hallways and ask how much weight I had lost and what my secret was. I never knew what to say, because I genuinely didn’t know how much weight I’d lost and I really didn’t feel like I was “doing” anything to lose weight. A few times, I think I stammered, “Uh, not eating?” But that never felt right either because I was eating! What I wished I had said was, “Listening to by body’s natural hunger cues and not eating just because it’s time to eat,” but of course it never came out so eloquently. Does it ever?
The term “intermittent fasting” did not exist during this time in the late 90s – at least not to my knowledge. The closest terms that I could think of to describe what I was doing was “dieting’ or “starving myself,” both of which were not accurate. I didn’t feel like I was “dieting” since I really wasn’t monitoring my food intake or counting fat grams, calories, or points. And I definitely wasn’t “starving myself,” because I still ate plenty of food. I just wasn’t eating it throughout my entire waking day, as I used to.
Another thing I noticed around this time was that my tastes and food cravings were changing. Fast food was not tasting nearly as good as it used to, and I found myself “craving” home cooked meals instead. During this time, my grandmother lived with us, which is common in Mexican culture, and she cooked for the family every night. Usually, I found her cooking to be bland and boring, but I noticed that after “fasting” throughout the day, her food was so incredibly satisfying. And this was not because I was so hungry that anything would have tasted good, otherwise, fast food should have tasted twice as good.
Instead, fast food started tasting, for lack of a better term, fake. Pizza was way too salty, and packaged snack cakes tasted chemically. I used to love eating junk food snacks when I came home from school. In fact, I used to stop at the closest fast food joint and order a couple of double meat cheeseburgers, or tater tots with chili and cheese, or onion rings, or fried chicken sandwiches, or a milkshake before I got home and ate dinner.
However, after a few weeks of skipping breakfast and lunch, I found that these foods weren’t hitting the spot for me anymore. I started craving my grandmother’s home cooking. On the rare occasions that she didn’t cook, I began experimenting with my own recipes too. I would make homemade lentils and rice, chicken noodle soup, or a giant chef salad with freshly fried bacon, boiled eggs, sharp cheddar cheese and thick creamy ranch dressing. <Cue my inner Homer Simpson: ”Aghhhhhh….”>
Before I knew it, Prom was coming up – gulp! I was still by no means “skinny,” but I definitely wasn’t 230 pounds anymore. It had been at least 3 months since I started IF’ing error, and I’d already had to purchase a whole new wardrobe, but I still had no idea how much weight I’d lost. Out of pure curiosity, I snuck onto the locker room at school to weight myself and see my results: 185 pounds…OMG. Although I was still technically overweight for my 5’6” frame, I was shocked to see that I had lost 45 pounds in about 3 months, without even “trying.” I wasn’t slaving away at the gym or counting calories or Weight Watchers Points; I was just not eating when I was not hungry.
Seeing my newfound weight loss on the scale felt better than I ever imagined! I always knew that I was overweight, but it never felt like something that I could control, so I never really “cared” about it. Now that I had tangible evidence that I could control my weight, and with such little effort on my part, what else was I capable of? That night I went home and did my first round of calisthenics on the floor of my bedroom while Conan O’Brian played in the background. If I could control my weight, maybe I could also firm up my thighs? My butt? My arms? My abs?! Could I get abs? Was that also a possibility? Of course it was! It’s amazing how losing 45 pounds can change one’s outlook on life.
losing 45 measly pounds can change one’s outlook on life