I've had a weight problem all my life. I never ever, ever thought I'd ever get a handle on my weight. I could never understand why I balooned so much. I ate and exercised the same like the thin folks. In fact, I would work out six times a week, doing RPM (spinning classes) and the weight would not budge.
Around 2012, I began researching aggressively about why weight loss wasn't happening for me despite implementing all the 'right advice'. At that time I was at my worst -- nearly 95kg in weight and I was tired all the time.
What I discovered was this: All the diet advice out there was wrong. I realised that weight loss was all about the hormones, and what we eat influences our hormones to a huge degree.
Following the Paleo diet helped me shed significant amounts of flab, but not enought to get me out of the chubby zone.
Truth was, I liked food too much to control my carbs 100% or eliminate wheat from my life, so my weight would yo yo depending on how strict I was. I briefly was a svelte 65kg in 2012, but gained almost 15kg by the time I returned to Malaysia in 2015. I wasn't as bad as I was in 2012, but I was by no means in my best shape. By 2016, I more or less resigned myself to forever having to watch what I eat.
How I ate
But in Sept 2016 I started experimenting with Intermittent Fasting. Now, I didn't do this to lose weight. I mostly wanted to prevent diabetes, which haunts my family, and I heard that it was a great way to do it. The idea was to eat in a small window of time instead of throughout the day (say 12-14 hours like many Malaysians would!).
Initially, it was tough. I was ravenous by 10am. But over time, my body seemed to get used to it and I only got hungry by 1pm. I didn't change my diet at all, however. I just changed the time I ate.
I was pleasantly surprised when my waist started shrinking. In fact, I would steadily lose an inch a month, a feat that was startling to me as I didn't really change what I ate.
The only thing I changed was to stop my midnight binges at McDonalds. I made my last meal at 8pm, and only starting to eat around noon or 1pm. I didn't purposely set out to eat at 1pm either - it was just my current schedule.
However, I think I didn't do IF properly in the early days. For one, I didn't feed my body the nutrients it needed but instead binged on cakes and sugar-laden deserts on my "feeding" day (a day where I purposely overate). It's important to eat nutrient-rich food during IF because since you eat in a compressed window, you have less opportunities to eat food. You could easily end up starving your body, and if you give it empty calories, well ... it won't be happy. Also, I carried I didn't listen to my body. I sometimes forced myself to fast until 4pm to 5pm. Doing this was not beneficial - not for my sanity, not for my body.
I wasn't sure if this sparked a storm in my body or not, or was this a pre-existing condition, but around December I suddenly started having digestion issues. In January I decided to really get serious with nutrition and began what my colleague describe as the "no wheat, no sugar, no soy, no joy diet" - mostly to get rid of the joint pain. (It's really not as terrible as it sounds, though initially I thought the same lol.)
My joint pain improved a lot, but it took some tinkering to eat in a way that would not upset my way-too-sensitive tummy. And because my tummy was so sensitive to nearly everything, I found myself eating rather unadventurous foods. I ate a lot of rice porridge, for one. Yes, my diet wasn't low carb high fat (couldn't digest loads of fat well), or even strict paleo. I suppose it was Perfect Health-ish (developed by Paul Jaminet). (In fact, I became really comfortable with Perfect Health way of eating during this time and am now eating this way.)
So, needless to say, from January to June, I wasn't focused on weight loss at all. I was more concerned with getting rid of pain and to get my digestive health back. I wasn't tracking my weight, nor was I really taking a look at the mirror, believe it or not. So when I started getting compliments and questions about my "huge weight loss" I was frankly baffled and a bit freaked out. (Am I sick?) When I finally weighed myself, I discovered that I had lost 15kg-17kg since September last year and I didn't even realise it!
But you know, I think when you cut out all the harmful stuff and add the good stuff into your diet, and you implement IF correctly, weight loss will happen. It should!
What I do now
I no longer do 'radical' IF now. I start eating at 12pm, and end my meals at 8pm. If I feel hungry earlier I eat. If I am still hungry at 10pm, I eat. I just listen to my body now. My only rule is not to eat four hours before bed time. My tummy hates it. (Goodbye McD midnight binges!)
All in all, I'm grateful that I was able to lose the weight I thought I'd never be able to lose. I now know exactly what to do to control my weight. How ironic that all this happened when I stopped expecting it to happen!