As Australia’s first professional Instagrammer, travel photographer Lauren Bath has been very open about her physical health challenges. She’s shared her personal health journey, along with her travels across the globe, with her dedicated audience of over 400k followers on Instagram and other social media platforms. Here she shares her story about why intermittent fasting has worked for her and how you can make it work for you.
As a full-time travel photographer and Australia's first professional instagrammer, it wasn't uncommon for me to take over 100 flights per year to work with tourism boards and brands. In fact, over the past eight years, I've been paid to work in over 250 destinations around the world. In a lot of ways, it is a dream job. But it hasn't been a dream for my waistline.
Why intermittent fasting worked for me
When my weight skyrocketed due to too many hosted meals on the road, I began researching long term solutions to curb my expanding waistline. I wanted a solution that would work with my lifestyle and allow me to indulge whenever I wanted but still improve my overall health. Intermittent fasting (timing your meals between periods of fasting) kept being suggested to me by friends and colleagues. So, weighing in at close to 90kg, I finally decided to give it a try, and I've never looked back.
I've been fasting now for more than two years, and this is a practice I plan to maintain over my entire life. Not only did fasting help me to achieve a healthier weight, it also gave me mental clarity, confidence and a boundary around my diet that has helped me to feel in control of my eating.
Six tips to help you start intermittent fasting
There's a vast amount of information on intermittent fasting on the internet, but these are my top tips for people just starting out on this journey.
- Research the different types of intermittent fasting and choose a type that suits your lifestyle. Popular methods include the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally five days a week and restrict calories on the other two, and the 16:8, where you eat normally for eight hours a day and fast the other 16. Because of all the travel I do, the 16:8 suited me better. I didn’t like the idea of being on the road working on a calorie-restricted day, especially if a client wanted to host me for a fabulous meal!
- Find a way to make intermittent fasting a lifestyle choice, not a diet. The 'diet' mentality can set you up for failure in the long run, mainly because healthy habits (and results) often fall by the wayside when you're no longer ‘on a diet'. Intermittent fasting is said to have many long-term benefits, such as reducing your risk of Type 2 diabetes, weight loss and maintenance and improving metabolic processes (find some of the research here) so why wouldn't you make that a long-term choice?
- Don't look at intermittent fasting as a magical cure for everything! Although weight loss (and healthy weight maintenance) are well-known benefits, it's still possible to be very unhealthy when practising intermittent fasting. If you use intermittent fasting as a way to eat whatever you want when you aren’t fasting, you might find yourself in all kinds of trouble if you ever stop this practice. Try to stay conscious of eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables (and yes, nuts like macadamias!) while you are intermittently fasting.
- Ditch the milky, sugary coffees and switch to long blacks! A long black is widely considered to be an acceptable beverage (meaning, it doesn’t break your fast) during a fasting window. It takes about two weeks to get used to the change, but you'll appreciate having something hot to sip on towards the end of your fast. Plus coffee is a known appetite suppressant, which helps you to keep going to the end of your window.
- Break your fast like a king or queen! There's nothing like celebrating your wins in life and achieving a daily (or bi-weekly) fast is cause for celebration. Preparing a delightful spread to reward yourself for your choice can be an incredible motivator for long term success. I live off macadamia nuts as a snack and add them by the handful to my meals!
- Sate yourself. When you start to see the immediate results of fasting, it's easy to become addicted and take the practice too far. Restricting calories or fasting for more extended periods will speed up weight loss but won’t be sustainable in the long term. Also, you don't need to! Make sure to eat until you're full, choose healthy foods and eliminate deprivation from your diet vocabulary.
There is a growing body of evidence that shows the importance of including nuts within a healthy diet without negative effects on body weight (read more here). Has intermittent fasting worked for you? How do you fit a healthy handful of macadamias into your daily eating plan?
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