Perhaps it was the approach of my 40th birthday that made me want to try it. Or maybe it was because my skinny jeans were starting to feel more like a tourniquet. Regardless of the reason, I decided to try the Fast Diet.
The Fast Diet got a lot of buzz last year when Dr. Michael Mosley did a documentary about it for the BBC. You eat normally for five days a week and then restrict calories on the other two non-consecutive days – only 500 calories a day for women and 600 for men.
What intrigued me about the Fast Diet, besides weight loss, were the other health benefits the author claims, including a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. So Tom and I decided to try it together. “Let’s start tomorrow,” I said, feeling a rush of determination.
“Are you sure you want to start tomorrow? Let’s wait until next week,” he said.
“No, we should start right away or we might talk ourselves out of it,” I insisted.
So the next morning we began our one-day fast. I worried that the hunger might be overwhelming. I ate one honey and oats snack bar in the morning and then nothing but water the rest of the day. I planned to eat the rest of my 500 calorie allowance at dinner that night with a grilled chicken salad.
Around noon, there was some audible tummy grumbling but I pushed past it because by then I’d realized that the real problem wasn’t my stomach – it was my brain. Even though I wasn’t uncomfortably hungry, my brain couldn’t stop thinking about food. I felt like a kid and someone had taken away my toys – no restaurant lunch to look forward to, no fizzy soft drink over ice, no Girl Scout Cookies on my way through the kitchen. I wanted food because I wanted it – not necessarily because I needed it.
Nevertheless, by dinnertime, I was more than ready for that grilled chicken salad. It’s the first time my mouth has watered at the thought of lettuce. I was just about to sit down and eat it when the phone rang. It was my neighbor and she wanted me to pop over for a few minutes to meet a friend who needed to ask me some questions.
I told her I’d come over, but I grumbled about it to Tom as I parked my salad in the fridge and got ready to go. I walked next door and into the room where my neighbor said she’d be visiting with her friend.
“Hey neighbor!” I called out as I rounded the corner. But what I saw was not just my neighbor. It was also my mom, my dad, my friends, and behind me my kids and my husband. In an instant, my hungry brain tried to process what was happening. Is this an intervention, I thought. Have they gathered to confront me about something? But wait. I’m not addicted to anything besides Dr. Pepper and shortbread cookies. That can’t be it. And why would they bring balloons to an intervention?
And then it finally made sense – the balloons, the birthday cake on the table, the happy faces. The surprise party had truly taken me by surprise.
My mom made her famous Reuben sandwiches for my surprise birthday dinner, followed by cake and ice cream and all my favorites. So on the first day of my fast diet, I fell off the wagon in a big way. And oh, it was a glorious fall.
The diet can wait until next week.
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.
Author Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography