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Intermittent Fasting: The Saga Continues

Click here and here to get caught up with my story of how I’ve begun an Intermittent Fasting (IF) lifestyle.

At the end of Day 3, about three hours after I finished dinner, my stomach began to growl. It continued growling, all the way until bedtime. That was only four and a half hours after the end of my dinner, but, have you ever had your stomach growl for an hour and a half straight? It’s hard to ignore.

But ignore it I did, because I never felt my blood sugar drop.

It was hard to go to sleep, and I didn’t sleep as well as I’d been doing since I started Intermittent Fasting. But the next morning, Day 4, I was able to go through 7:30 (three hours after getting out of bed) without feeling much hungrier than I had the past two days.

At 7:50, I ate a spoonful of coconut oil. Pure fat isn’t fast-breaking food because of how it’s metabolized, and it’s supposed to keep your blood sugar in balance.

Supposed to. But, just like adding fat to a meal has never helped me feel satiated or kept my blood sugar level, neither did it then.

On top of that, I began to experience fibromyalgia shortness of breath. That’s when you feel like you can’t catch your breath, or take a deep breath, even though you must be getting enough oxygen because you don’t get lighthearted or dizzy regardless of how long the annoying sensation goes on.

I’ve experienced this I don’t know how many times during the past three years, on a conventional eating schedule at the time, so I should have just chocked it up to hormonal imbalance. But I couldn’t help wondering: am I messing up my thyroid function by the fasting? Or, at least, by not eating as soon as I feel my blood sugar dropping? Maybe it’s because I’ve been at a calorie deficit for the past few days, and my body hasn’t adjusted to it.

Maybe my body won’t adjust to it and I’ll never be able to fast longer than sixteen hours.

As it were, I broke my fast at 8:36 – a little over sixteen and a half hours – with a half frozen banana.

I.F. is so hard for a reactive hypoglycemic to step into.  Though, per what I’ve read, reactive hypoglycemia takes place around three hours after eating, and what I experienced that morning was fasting hypoglycemia – neither unhealthy or dangerous.

(The next bit I wrote the next day…)

And then, I got nauseous.

But before I get to all that pleasant stuff, after writing the above, later in the day I found an article that stated that people with reactive hypoglycemia don’t use fat and protein efficiently for fuel.

Oh. That explains a lot.

Except for all the people I’ve discovered in YouTube comments, claiming to have been healed from Reactive Hypoglycemia with a Keto I.F. diet. My thoughts about that in a later post.

Back to the day when coconut oil did nothing for me…not too much after eating the half banana, I realized that it was not enough to make my body happy. My blood sugar remained low. So I ate a few almonds, my go-to which had always previously done the trick in leveling out my blood sugar.

But by the time my husband came home with the groceries a bit after nine, I was feeling more desperate than ever. I’d put food into my stomach; now, it was screaming for more. By the time I got to plucking the grapes from their stems to put into a bag to freeze, I was feeling shaky and weak, and a little out of breath. So I ate a few grapes. Stupid. If there is one fruit that sends me into hypoglycemia, it’s grapes. Usually, I can eat around a half cup with no ill effect. But this, of course, was not a usual situation.

Within minutes of eating the grapes, I became nauseous. By then, it was almost time to make my smoothie, but I didn’t want to eat any amount of it if it was only going to come back out.

So, I waited. It took over half an hour, but finally, I felt like I could keep food down. Another hour after working on the smoothie, and the symptoms of low blood sugar had evaporated.

What I finally figured out

That evening, my meal was much more filling than the previous day’s dinner had been, even though the calories were about the same. And the next morning, I made it to the seventeen-and-a-half hour fasting mark before eating…with only mild symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Could it be that the volume of food it has to work on is more important – or at least, equally important – to my stomach as to how many calories I consume, when it comes to the “distance” I can fast before hypoglycemia hits?

Maybe. There were a couple of other things I did differently the next morning that I believed helped sustain my blood sugar levels as well.

I’ll write about them in my next post. And tell you anything new I learn from my, for now, ongoing dinner-volume experiment.

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I Jumped In With Both Feet.

The other day, I shared my new journey into intermittent fasting.  I also shared that I have reactive hypoglycemia, and that therefore, per some experts’ advice, I was going to start out slowly, add in a half hour once a week to my fasting block.

Except, that wasn’t working. First, I have a lot I want to get done in the mornings on hot summer days, and having to change my schedule every week was going to stress me. At least a little.

I like my routines, and I like them to change as infrequently as possible.

Second, I desperately want my body to get back into balance and restore itself as quickly as possible. That wasn’t going to happen as long as I was just easing into the fasting-feasting schedule slowly.

Also, I know my body. Though it’s been a long time, I have done several twenty-four hour (and longer) fasts before, and I know that the urgent hunger pangs that come after not eating for the first hour after I wake up dissipate after the second hour.

Those pangs, by the way, have nothing to do with hypoglycemia. A hypoglycemic episode brings on irritability, weakness, lightheadedness, tingling in the extremities, and/or nausea. The hunger pangs a non-faster experiences first thing in the morning is their digestive system revving up for the food it’s used to getting early in the day.

I’ve read that once a person has done intermittent fasting for around a solid week, their body gets the clue and stops begging for food as soon as the person gets up in the morning.

I’ll let you know as soon as that happens to me. 😉

Reactive hypoglycemia can only happen if a person has eaten two to three hours earlier. So a person with that issue is unlikely to have an unhealthy blood sugar drop in the morning – unless they got up at four or five in the morning to raid the refrigerator!

For those reasons, the day after I published the post about my new IF journey, I decided to see how long I could go. By around eight, I’d decided to break my fast at ten. At the eighteen hour fast mark.

The IF experts say that 18:6 is one of the ideal fasting:eating ratios in order to reap the maximum benefits.

The first day.

Somewhere between 8:30 and 9:00, I did begin to feel a little bit of tingle in my hands. I ignored it. Maybe not the healthiest, but I figured if I wasn’t fainting or nauseous, I could hold out.

I did. I began eating my smoothie at around ten o’clock.

Never did a smoothie taste so good!

It wasn’t the exact same as my previous smoothies. Instead of four bananas, it had two and a half. And it had three fewer tablespoons of nuts and seeds. To my very pleasant surprise, I was able to polish it off in about an hour and a half without taking much of a break in between half-cup servings. I’m pretty sure it was the lesser banana, rather than the fewer nuts and seeds, as my body has been trying to tell me for over a year that it doesn’t want that much fruit in the morning – even though previously, I consumed the bananas over about a four-hour period.

My next meal was around four hours later, and I was actually hungry for it. I wasn’t bloated the entire day. Hardly any burping. And because the lowered estrogen levels in my body, I’ve developed more food sensitivities, so I burp way more than is “lady-like” these days.

The second day.

The next day, I still had tingling – maybe more – for an hour and a half before I ate. But I made it until ten o’clock.

It was as though I’d gone right back to my new normal – discomfort, slow digestion. I did add an extra half banana to the smoothie to see if it affected me, but I’m 99% sure the problem was the strawberries I had this time. I’ve suspected an intolerance to them in greater measure than a half cup – I put one cup in that smoothie – and sure enough, my digestion got so messed up that I wasn’t even hungry for my dinner several hours later. And I couldn’t finish my smoothie in one fell swoop, like I had the day before.

How could I be so sure it was the strawberries? Well, let me say first that my body did complain about the extra half banana by having me reel from the sweetness of the concoction. But how I knew the reaction mainly came from the strawberries was that all-too-familiar fuzzy sensation that burgeoned inside my mouth while I was about halfway through eating it.

The sensation comes whenever I eat more than a handful of raspberries, or more than a half cup of strawberries.

Then, my hormones freaked out.

That afternoon, I couldn’t count the number of hot flashes I had. They were interspersed with cold flashes, and alternating hot and cold flashes hadn’t happened since I started taking the (good) He Shou Wu. I had zero energy, and my digestive issues were going well beyond what my morning smoothie, which I finished hours ago, should have been causing.

About an hour after forcing myself to eat my last meal, my energy came back, my stomach felt better, and my body temperature leveled out.

I think my body’s having to adjust to the new eating schedule. That my hormones might get more out of balance before they get back into balance.

I’m publishing this post on Day Three. As of now, I’ve decided  to stick with an 18:6 schedule for thirty days. In the meantime, I’m using this blog to journal my journey, so I’ll let you know how it’s going every few days. I’m eagerly looking forward to the barley grass juice powder I ordered the other day, but it’s not going to be here for almost a week. Sipping on a glass of it from about eight o’clock on will be my “legal” way of keeping my blood sugar up without having to break my fast.

See you on the next update!

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The Beginning Of A New Journey

For the last several years, I’ve been crying out in my spirit to God, “Please take this misery away from me!” The misery being a boatload of perimenopause (and now, menopause) symptoms.

I’ve also been screaming in my spirit, “I’m so SICK of forcing myself to eat!” This actually relates to the first, because one of the most obnoxious and quality-of-life-degrading symptoms has been an increased sensitivity to all the foods I’ve been somewhat sensitive to for my whole life, as well as sensitivities to foods I’ve never had a problem with before.

Consequently, I’ve done a lot of experimenting and jumping through diet hoops for the past five or six years, trying to figure out how to fit in all the calories I supposedly need daily without being in constant discomfort in my abdomen.

Eating has become a downright drudgery.

Two prayers, one solution

I first heard about intermittent fasting (IF) when we still lived in the suburbs from a Paleo-ish podcaster/blogger. He said you’re supposed to not eat from 8 p.m. through noon the next day. I could never do that, I thought. I’m hypoglycemic!

And then he went on to say that if you’ve ever had an eating disorder, you shouldn’t even think about trying IF. Well, I was out, then. Whew.

But during the past few months, the idea of somehow being able to eat less and still be healthy and not get as skinny as a willow branch (I’ve been underweight my entire adult life, except when I was pregnant and breastfeeding) loomed larger and larger in my mind, niggling at my brain until I grew completely frustrated with how I was eating…and how, no matter how hard I tried, most days I had some sort of digestive problem.

See, from late 2020 to early 2021, I actually, for the first time in ages, consistently enjoyed eating. Also, my hot flashes had completely disappeared, along with most of the other hormonal imbalance symptoms. The reason was that I’d begun taking the anti-aging Chinese herb known as He Shou Wu. Originally, it was to stop my hair from thinning and graying. It helped with both, but because it increased my estrogen levels, it helped with everything else, too. Most notably, the anxiety. And the digestive issues.

And then, I ran out of the herb, and so did the company. I tried two other brands of He Shou Wu, and they didn’t work.

I’d gotten spoiled. Had experienced the joy of life when my hormones are more or less in balance. So when all the symptoms came sneaking back, I grew desperate. At first the desperation was to find another brand of the herb that worked as well as the first.

But after failing at that twice, I remembered: no health challenge is caused by the deficiency in a drug, herb, or essential oil. I was either deficient in a nutrient, or something was off about my diet.

My diet which consisted of ten or more servings of fruits or vegetables, no meat, and soaked nuts and seeds.

No packaged meals or snacks. Ever.

What could I possibly be missing?

And then, out of the blue YouTube started recommending that I watch a Fred Bisci video that I knew I’d already watched several years ago. Fred Bisci is a man in his early nineties who has been eating only raw foods since the 1960’s, and since the ‘70s or ‘80s has primarily lived on salads loaded with sprouts. He also runs many miles every day, and frequently fasts.

Finally, I re-watched the video. I’ll stick it at the very bottom of this post, if you’re interested. Suffice to say that for days afterward, I got stuck on the idea that he’d known two guys who’d lived (or were living) into ripe old age, very healthy, eating only one meal a day.

That seemed impossible goal, though I’d recently read about a monk who ate only one bowl of beans with olive oil for many years. Not appetizing. Still, I couldn’t shake the idea out of my head. I kept asking myself how a person could possibly get the calories they needed, let alone the nutrition, in one sitting. Even someone with a strong stomach would be hard-pressed to eat 2,000 calories of nutrient-dense food within the period of an hour or two.

But what if these guys weren’t eating anywhere close to 2,000 calories for their one meal? Or consuming close to 100% of all the vitamins and minerals?

What if, in fact, the conventional three-plus-meals-a-day lifestyle was not only wrong, but unhealthy? What if, somehow, God had created our bodies to efficiently utilize nutrients much better than most diet and nutrition pundits have been teaching?

Some intense online research led me back to intermittent fasting. And this time, I was open to the possibilities. Especially after reading an article that listed balancing hormones as one of the health benefits of IF.

This led me to search, “menopause and intermittent fasting.” I found an article that encouraged women my age to do IF because the practice promotes the production of a chemical which, in turn, induces the production of estrogen and progesterone!

I was convinced.

Almost.

There was just one more eensy, weensy detail.

I have reactive hypoglycemia.

To oversimplify it, reactive hypoglycemia stops just short of pre-diabetes. The reason I’d been eating small meals with snacks in between since my late teens was that if I didn’t, my blood sugar levels would crash. I would get irritable, lightheaded, and desperate for food.

So, deeper went my search. Which led me to this article.

Done. I was sold.

Actually, by that point I’d already tried the 16:8 fasting-to-feasting hour ratio…and failed miserably. So I dialed it back to 14:10, finally landing on 4:00 p.m. as the time that the final morsel of food for the day went into my mouth (we got to bed at 8:30 in our house; don’t ask – long story). But somehow, I instinctively felt that the longer I could fast, the more benefits I’d glean from the lifestyle.

I was right.

Subsequently, I re-discovered Eric Berg’s channel where he uploaded a video teaching that if a person has been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, they can do IF, but they have to gradually work their way up to a 16:8 time ratio. And after their body has fully acclimated to that, WHOOSH! No more hypoglycemia. So they can extend their fasting periods even longer.

But I’ve kind of only shown how IF is the answer to one prayer, the hormonal imbalance. What about the cramming food down my throat issue?

The human body is more amazing than you realized!

Turns out, God created our bodies to adapt to a consistent eating schedule. He also created our bodies to actually reuse proteins and fatty acids when a person fasts for more than fourteen hours a day. As well, they utilize vitamins and minerals much more efficiently, so a person practicing IF doesn’t have to obsess over getting 100+% of all the vitamins and minerals…unless they notice a particular deficiency syndrome.

Of particular importance for underweight me, if an IFer does not need to lose weight, and ends up consuming fewer calories than they’re “supposed” to in order to maintain that weight, the body adapts to that, as well, slowing down metabolism to meet your actual caloric consumption so that you don’t end up being blown away by a slight breeze.

Below Fred Bisci’s video, I’ll stick Eric Berg’s video addressing that topic.

All that to say this…

God answered two prayers with one fell swoop.

Intermittent Fasting.

A new journey. And not just a journey of retraining my body about when it gets food and how much. The journey is going to be as much about – nay, more about – unlearning everything I’ve learned during the past two and a half decades about health, healthy eating, and food. That’s going to be a lot harder than the actual fasting.

Oh, and by the way, if you’re tempted to leave a comment about how IF is “bad” for women, watch this video.

I am now up to a 14.5:9.5 fast-to-feast ratio, heading toward 16:8 within the next month or two, depending on how quickly my body adapts, with probably an eventual 20:4 day thrown in once a week. And, yes, you better believe I’m going to be on the scale a couple of times a week, making sure I don’t lose weight!

 

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Anybody looking at me and my husband from the outside would think we have a pretty prosperous life. We retired in our early forties, live on a beautiful spread, have a nice home, and can afford healthy food.

But material prosperity can’t buy peace of mind or joy. We’ve been lacking something much more important. Rather I’ve been lacking something much more important. I am slowly learning not to judge others’ hearts. And this blog is to share my spiritual journey, no one else’s.

I’ve been learning a lot since God forced me to sit down and relax in February. I’ve been pressing into His presence like never before, have hardly consumed any books or podcasts, except some classic Christian works, have watched only a fraction of YouTube videos that I used to watch – and none from any of the channels I’m subscribed to.

And so, God has finally had a chance to dig into my soul and reveal things about me.

One of the biggest revelations?

I have not walked humbly before my God.

I have not waited on Him to lead me, instead making my own plans and asking God to bless them.

A-hem: Mostly, He hasn’t.

I’ve been letting my mouth run off, criticizing and judging everyone and every situation who doesn’t fit my ideal, and snapping at both husband and son. I’ve allowed anger and resentment to fester toward certain situations. I’ve been committing a few minutes of my day to devotional time with the Lord, but mainly just to help with my anxiety (oh, and do I have something to say about that! In a future post).

I’m 51 years old, and just now finding out that for most of my adult life, I have calling myself a believer – and believing myself to be an especially devoted believer – yet I’ve harbored a rebellious attitude toward my Lord.

And I think I’m not off to say that most Christians these days are the same. It doesn’t take outright sin to walk in rebellion against God. All it takes is to not live in the moment.

Which most of us don’t do. We live in either the past or the future. I’m not going to get into all that in this post. Suffice to say that the vast majority of us are harboring negative emotions, and they come either from past experiences or worry over the future. Usually a combination of both.

Most believers certainly don’t spend more than a few minutes a day sitting quietly before the Lord, if that. Many Christians don’t even have a prayer life, and those who do, mostly spend it yapping away asking for this, that, and the other, instead of just sitting quietly and letting God work inside their soul.

It’s that quiet work that reveals His will, the next step He wants you to take. It’s that quiet work that reveals where you’ve stepped out of His purpose, and what you need to do to step back into it.

During the past few weeks, I’ve realized that whenever I’ve complained, planned, gotten angry, gotten anxious, judged, criticized, and gotten involved with a huge project that felt like a hundred root canals each day that it took to complete (most of my novels, and many of our homesteading projects), I have not been submitting myself to God’s will. I have not been humble. I have not been seeing the Almighty for the Almighty that He is, in all His holiness. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve lost sight of His holiness and my consequent lowliness.

If I walk in humility, I walk in perfect trust in God, and perfect submission to His will. Which means that I allow Him to lead me each moment of the day, instead of inventing goals to achieve and plans to complete. Instead of riling myself up thinking about an upcoming conversation I’m determined to have with J in which I will take him down a peg or two. Instead of following a path that some self-made guru has declared is the way to success.

When I walk humbly with God, moment by moment, I keep my mind set on Him. I don’t make excuses for my failures. I don’t get mad at Him because He’s God, and He could have prevented XYZ from happening. I don’t complain. About anything or anybody. I don’t judge. I don’t fear.

I don’t do any of that when I walk in humility, because I’ve stepped down off my false throne, where I think I not only know better than God, but believe myself to be superior to my fellow fallen humans.

Instead, I am continually grateful for the good He pours out in my life, and I trust Him to walk with me – even carry me – when troubles come along. I trust His Word where it says He works all things together for good for those that love Him.

And no matter what’s going on, whether enjoyable or difficult, I live each moment with Him, listening, paying attention, and acting only as I feel Him so lead.

That’s the key to spiritual prosperity. Humility. Because it’s the only attitude to have that will enable you to shed the shackles of the world, the snare of pride, and begin to see and walk in the life God has for you.

And in that humility, you realize that the only place to live is in the present moment.

It’s the only way to experience 24-7 peace and joy. No matter what.

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I May Never Write Another Novel

I’ve been writing about how the Lord’s been dealing with me about ceasing to go after money, and seeking Him, instead. And in the post where I confessed that I wrote a particular one of my series purely to make money, I was still in self-deceit.

The painful (to me) truth is, every single novel I’ve ever written, I wrote for the primary purpose of making money. If God got some glory from it, hooray. If someone received some level of blessing from it, whoopee.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to engage in any activity in order to make an income…if you truly need the income. But I’ve been out of God’s will pretty much ever since my now fourteen-and-a-half year-old was around two. In fact, I remember a day, after I’d started to try to make money with a blog, that I was out pushing B around in his stroller and I felt a strong impression – undeniably from Holy Spirit – that I was supposed to be focused on raising my child, not trying to build an online business.

Wow! The freedom that infused me at that moment! The excitement and joy at the prospect of not having any other responsibility than to take care of my child.

And so, I obeyed that implicit command…for about two days. Then I went right back to not trusting God, and forcing myself to blog and make videos.

Understand, at the time my husband had grown weary of his geek career. Sharing his pain, I wanted to retire him from it. A couple years later, we talked about the possibility of him retiring super-early, but most of our nest egg was his retirement, and our initial thought that it wouldn’t be a good idea to pull money out of that fund.

And we were also afraid that another 2008 would occur.

Even after we learned about the Permanent Portfolio, I was still convinced that my money-making efforts would be required for J to be able to quit his job (it wasn’t, as has become abundantly clear during the past seven years since he left it).

This was with the Lord regularly nudging me that A, I didn’t need to try to make money, and B, we were supposed to retire super-early.

I just couldn’t get myself to believe the saying, “Where God leads, He feeds.” It was too scary.

Let me just say it plainly: I’ve been disobeying God for over a decade.

And here you thought I was such a great follower of Yeshua.

A few of you precious readers have either left me comments on this blog, or sent me e-mails, to encourage me to keep writing (and that’s to mention all the positive reviews). I appreciate that you’ve enjoyed my work, but I need you to understand that during the past five years or so, I have several times seriously contemplated giving up all my online business activity. Including self-publishing novels. Each of those times, if you had cornered me, I would have admitted that I felt like the desire was probably coming from God. That He was leading me to quit.

But each of those other times, I would plow through. And grow more and more disheartened with the time and effort I was spending on the books, as well as growing increasingly frustrated with not being able to make marketing and advertising work like so many other self-published authors have.

Crafting a story felt like drudgery. Editing felt like drudgery. Guilt plagued me every time I asked J to do the final proofread, and to create a book cover. And marketing was the most heinous activity of all.

One of those times when the process was feeling like I was having my teeth pulled and fingernails pulled out at the same time, I actually threw a fit (I was still suffering from anxiety at the time, so fits happened). I shouted to J that maybe God wanted me just to spend all day being a housewife and in prayer. The words oozed anger at God, because being “just a housewife” and prayer warrior didn’t sound fulfilling.

I had gotten fully sucked into the self-improvement lie about purpose and calling, fully sucked into the worldly idea that you’re not somebody until you’ve made a name for yourself. Or, that you’re not productive unless you’re producing something tangible for the world to see.

Yeshua has delivered me from all that. I’ve done a 180, and would like nothing more than to spend the rest of my days in what I am, here and now, coining as The Contemplative Family Life.

Beyond blog posts, at this moment I have no desire to write. I have no desire to make videos. No desire to try to make money in any way.

At this moment, I couldn’t care less if I never read (let alone write) another novel again in my life.

At this moment, I desire to spend as much time with the Lord as I can. To be the best mother and wife that I can. To take care of our home the best I can. I am hungrily devouring the written Word and various classic spiritual works.

In other words, I am in a major time of transition and transformation. What my writing life will look like on the other side, I have no idea. Because I’m finally living life the way every human being who wants to be at peace, should live.

I’m living one day at a time, one moment at a time, and letting God handle the rest.

And it’s not scary at all. Because I finally trust.

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