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Intermittent fasting – staying lean during lock-down

Firstly, I in no way undervalue how dangerous the COVID-19 pandemic is; we must absolutely acknowledge the contributions of all of those in a society struggling to keep things ticking over and who are courageously saving lives whilst frequently putting their own at risk: nurses, doctors, chemists, street cleaners, refuse collectors, all of those people working in supermarkets and all of those delivering food and other parcels, to name but a few. How lucky are we to have these wonderful individuals working so tirelessly to save lives and keep society ticking over and how differently must we value their contribution to the world we live in after this pandemic is over… governments must be held to account fully by the people who vote for them. Noting especially that so many UK health workers come from EU countries… exactly those some wanted to push back to whence they had come but who are now the most valued members of society!

As a fitness professional, I zoomed in on the importance of having a healthy attitude to what we put into our bodies during lock-down straight away. We cannot expend as much energy, as usual, no long walks, even reduced pottering around shops, etc. and as an outdoor sport is limited we aren’t burning up calories like we used to so a new approach is required. Why? Because morale can be negatively affected by weight gain so alcohol and chocolate to console ourselves in this confinement period are not the friends we think they are, but are rather a recipe for getting a little portly and becoming depressed…

From the outset, I took the opportunity to press the pause button to my previous high-speed way of life which tended to a slightly heavier after-work dinner (often out at a restaurant), or food on the go as I was on the go-go-go so much; I immediately shifted my focus on to: starting the day with a super healthy breakfast and then savoury lunch and then frequently skipping dinner by carrying out intermittent fasting for 16, 18 or 20 hour periods. Whilst not recommended for anyone who is ill or suffering from a compromised immune system, or the very young or very old, intermittent fasting for those who are otherwise completely healthy is excellent for sending messages to our bodies that we are giving them a rest. I recommend the application “ZERO”, as this has a counter to monitor your fast and it is extremely motivating to know that the fasting is going well.

So what is the result? Well after 28 days our household, consisting of myself and my husband have collectively dropped 8 kilos… which is a great start and extremely motivating; on top of that myself and my partner have done at least one to two hours exercise per day if not more… The saving graces include treading the treadmill that I ordered the day the lockdown was announced, being able to walk a dog three times a day (even if she doesn’t want it!) and making lunch a real focus sit-down family moment as well as daily Pilates classes with a special focus on core abdominal strength.

To start fasting it is a good idea to limit the time you fast to get used to it. On the first day, I recommend having an early dinner which is finished by 6:30 pm then start counting the hours until breakfast the next day… this should result in a 13-hour fast which is a good start… As the name indicates breakfast is literally breaking your fast from the night before so we are used to this every day already, so it isn’t as much of a game-changer as we might imagine. Then slowly make lunch later and skip dinner, until you’re confident to have lunch at 12 noon and wait a full 18-20 hours before your next meal. My husband enjoys his food and even he has managed to adjust to this change so if he can anyone can. Another advantage of fasting is it allows the body to focus on something other than digesting and absorbing food… which can be morally uplifting with all of the hard-to-hear news at the moment. The collective weight count is ignoring the dog’s 0.5 kilo weight gain as whilst she is relishing those regular walks her ability to beg with the whole household around has sneakily increased…

Cheat tip: If you’re super hungry and can’t handle a fast one particular day, you can always have a plate of vegetables early evening as a snack, e.g. broccoli or green beans and don’t forget to drink lots of water.


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