Bismillah Hir Rahman Ir Raheem
Peace and blessings be upon you all
Assalam Alaikum, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe. Since it’s been a year of me following through a personal schedule of intermittent fasting which has worked for me Alhamdulillah, I thought I’d like to share with you how I went from a body weight of 71kg to 59kg in around 3 months time, and what I learnt from this schedule.
I’d like to clarify that this is not a post for the ‘ideal body shape/figure’ or how to look ‘more beautiful’ according to the aunties that keep taunting you that you don’t look pretty enough, clothes don’t fit or look pretty on you or you won’t get good rishtas because of how you look. If you’re looking for answers to that, know that you are beautiful just the way you are, and life’s not all about superficiality and beauty.
I didn’t follow through this schedule to ‘look prettier’. Last year in college, we were studying the module Nutrition and Metabolism. In one class, we had to measure our BMI so we had our height and weight measured and then used the formula ( Weight(kg)/Height(m2) ) to calculate it. Normally, BMI value above 25.0 indicates obesity and I found out mine was 26.5!! Hence, that day I decided that I wasn’t going to have a head start in being an easy victim of cardiovascular diseases so I decided to work on reducing my weight. To clarify, I reduced my weight for my health, not appearance.
I tried exercising before having breakfast, such as going out for a jog after Fajr prayer as that is the ideal time to break down fat in your body, but considering how medical college already drains my sleep (in addition to having the tendency to spontaneously fall asleep after 8pm), I chose not to deprive myself any further (I did go for an hour long walk everyday to walk the dogs in the evening) . Instead, I focused on what I could conveniently control: my diet.
MY DIET PLAN
In this plan, I chose to incorporate two crucial aspects:
- My medical knowledge at the time to ensure my diet was always (or mostly) healthy.
- A pattern of Intermittent Fasting, following the 16:8 ratio (i.e eat for 8 hours, fast for 16 hours)
There’s also another tiny aspect I incorporated where I didn’t want to exhaust my body’s energy digesting food at night, linked to the Sunnah of Prophet (SAW):
3. Don’t eat after 8pm.
- MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE
For the first point, in college we learnt that our body doesn’t directly need carbohydrates from meals. This is because the biochemical processes involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats is such that a lot of proteins and fats are converted into carbohydrates when they are in excess. Hence, if one consumes less or no carbs, one’s body will use more fats to produce energy, hence reducing fat in the body resulting in weight loss. This I did by not consuming roti/naan, potatoes and pasta, having less rice and bread with my food, avoiding junk food, cold drinks and boxed juices, etc.
Furthermore, after eliminating carbs, the next step was to reduce (not eliminate) fat intake in one’s diet so that there is less fat in my body in the first place but enough for my body to function as fat is essential in many process such as forming membranes of all the cells in the body and in synthesising steroid hormones such as oestrogen, testosterone, progesterone, Vitamin D & A which are vital for the body. I reduced my fat intake by avoiding as many fried food as I could. That meant not having French fries at home or at college when I was hungry, avoiding junk food, wiping fried food on kitchen towels to reduce excess oil intake, etc.
Hence, what was left was a relatively high protein intake in my diet, so my bowl of food had more beef and chicken than rice and roti. I did add a good amount of gravy to the food. That helped as protein is either used or removed from the body, not stored, plus I think it helps to think that I grew some muscles from it………
Furthermore, as I wanted my diet to be as healthy as possible, I had a fruit and vegetable salad, along with some fresh juice if available, in between my major meals.
To summarize, this was my average meal plan:
- Breakfast: Bowl of cereal (Corn Flakes and Koko Krunch), One slice of garlic bread with fried egg and kebab/Burger patty or Chapli kebab sandwich.
- Snack: Vegetable salad and fruit salad or any available fruit, and fruit juice. Soup, if it’s really cold.
- Lunch: Whatever meal is available but eaten in a bowl with around 2 tablespoons of rice/no roti or naan, some gravy and a generous amount of protein. This is enough to fill half of the bowl.
- Evening Snack: Same as previous snack, in case any of them wasn’t consumed then.
(Yes, I skipped dinner as I came to know that I can live without it, and it’s not really good to have late dinner.)
2. INTERMITTENT FASTING
As I mentioned previously, I followed the 16:8 ratio of intermittent fasting as it was easier to remember and control on a daily basis. My eating time was from 12pm to 8pm. That means breakfast at 12pm, lunch at around 3 or 4pm and snack in between and after lunch. Hence, I had a healthy diet that was good for my body, while eating within fixed hours so that my body could get enough time to finish off all the carbs and break down the fat.
It was tough at first. Due to college, I had breakfast at 7am but I didn’t eat any snack at college, apart from having a proper lunch when I went out with friends so that lunch at home was exempted.
Initially, I had dinner but at around 7:30pm. With time, I adjusted my lunch time to later than normal and had evening snack at 7:30pm, instead of dinner. Later on, as I got more used to this schedule, my entire day’s meal was done by 5pm so the ratio was adjusted to 19:5.
Then considering the third point, eating after 8pm was a definite no so the diet really fit me. As a result, after following this diet for 3-4 months and regularly monitoring my diet, my weight gradually reduced till I had an adequate BMI of around 24.0! As of today, my weight is 58.5kg which makes my BMI 21.8!
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The best part about this diet for me was that I didn’t have to spend money order any specific fancy meals, or drive Mama and my maid crazy with my eccentric needs. I had everything that was made in the house but with a few adjustments here and there. Hence neither I nor anyone was bothered with my meal plan (sparing anyone the pain of making me rotis). In addition, I wanted a plan that I could follow for a long period of time so I wanted a convenient lifestyle change that I could not give up due to it being boring or impractical.
Later on, when I reached my ideal weight, I made my plan flexible so that I could add a few potatoes, an occasional roti, or eat a few things before 12pm or after 8pm whenever I felt like it or an occasion demanded it, such as someone’s wedding. So by the end of the day, my weight was constant and I enjoyed life.
WHAT I LEARNT FROM INTERMITTENT FASTING
So how did I benefit and what did I learn from starving myself for so many hours? I learnt:
- Food isn’t everything: I know that considering all the food pictures I’ve posted on this post, along with my Project 365 posts, that I’m quite the foodie. However due to this plan, my life didn’t have to revolve around food all the time. There were fixed hours of eating and after that, I was able to spend my time and energy on things that mattered, that needed my attention.
- Patience and Self-control: Knowing that I couldn’t eat before or after the fixed hours helped train me mentally not to indulge in my desires. I can easily avoid eating anything even though my body may be craving it. Although eating excess food isn’t that dangerous, but there are many other desires one can be pulled into if one doesn’t develop self-control such as smoking, drinking, partying too often, zinna, etc. so practicing this and patience in the simple things trains my mind to practice this on the big things, so that I control my desires, instead of it being the other way around.
- Importance of Sacrifice: Truly one doesn’t do good or grow in life without sacrifice. You can’t take up a good habit without having given up the habit opposite to it, a bad habit. You have to make changes in your life so that you can truly evolve into a better person. In this plan, I accepted sacrificing a bit of my pleasures that existed temporarily at that moment, for the bigger picture; being a more healthier, fit person for a long future.
- Self-love: Before I started this plan, I was often told by family members that I was fat and that I needed to lose weight. That didn’t really bother my self-esteem but it was very annoying to hear it so often. When I found out my BMI was high, I thought that what they said wasn’t wrong. I was fat but then I realized that ‘fat’ is the wrong word to use. ‘Obese’ is the right word so that that shows that the person said it out of concern for my health, not their perception of beauty. Hence, with everyday that I worked on my weight, I strengthened my resolve that I was doing this for me, not anyone else. For my health, not anyone’s expectations. So I built up more confidence in myself and my ability to succeed in my endeavors.
- There’s always a personal road to reach the same outcome: Social media is a media of constant bombardment of tips of having a healthier diet, to lose weight, look more beautiful, etc. and trying everything can drain one’s mental and physical health. One should realize that those are all suggestions. Not every plan works for everyone. Maybe this plan may not work for you, so don’t be hard on yourself. Take it one step at a time and see what works for you, or make up your own plan like I did. Through this, you can choose your own straight road to reach the same destination. Weight loss is a personal journey, not a race!
I hope this blog post was helpful for you all. If you’re wondering why I posted all these pictures of scrumptious and decadent meals, it’s to show you all that you can achieve the outcome of weight loss and enjoy all the delicious goodness in the world as well!
If you wish to share your diet plans, weight loss journeys or any tips you’ve come across or learn to achieve a healthier lifestyle, do mention it in the comments. And have a cupcake while you’re at it 😉