I have never been on a diet in my life. In fact, I would have to say that I’m strongly anti-diets. I’m definitely pro healthy eating but that’s a totally different thing, and there’s the rub. The diet mentality seems to be less about health and fitness (and certainly a lot less about happiness) than it is about numbers and fixation, and setting yourself up to fail. It’s the rubber band approach to eating, you focus so much on depriving yourself that you end up so strung up and stretched out that you ping back forcefully the other way and fall on your food in a frenzy.
So why is it, then, that I find myself sat here with the distinct sensation that my stomach is about to eat itself from the inside out and counting the minutes until my next permitted meal? Because I have finally lost the plot and caved in to the enormous pressure of the behemoth that is the diet industry? Surely not. Well, I hope not anyway. Perhaps I’m not the best placed to judge as I’m never at my most rational on an empty stomach.
But yes, I do *seem* to have jumped on the dieting bandwagon. This year’s craze is the ‘IF’ diet, or intermittent fasting. I first heard about it from a close friend of mine who is very excited because she’s finally found a diet that works for her (and believe me, she’s tried a few.) I subsequently read a big article on it in The Times and I’ve found out that many of my friends back in the UK (a lot of climbers and runners and sporty types) are all doing it.
The basis of the diet is that you eat normally (as in whatever you want) for three days then fast for one (defined as 500 calories for a woman and 600 for a man). The (admittedly pretty limited) research in on it seems to indicate benefits in terms of health and longevity (well, ok, in mice) but it’s even gotten people excited about the potential for using fasting in the treatment of cancer or for anti-ageing.
Now, while I’ve never dieted, I have performed a few fasts in my life. (Not that I’m one for extremes, you know.) I did a couple of total fasts for charity in my school days (24 and 48 hours without ANY food) and in adult life I’ve done fasts for health reasons twice (with subjectively great results both times). Plus, I was brought up Catholic and went to a convent school so the whole concept of fasting seems to be dialled into my DNA somewhere.
So, I’ll admit, this intermittent fasting appeals to me on a level that other diets simply don’t. And that, in brief, is why I find myself here in the condition I described above. Today I am embarking on my first flirtation with the IF diet (or, indeed, any diet.) I’m not even that bothered about losing any weight per se, maybe two pounds lighter would be my ideal climbing weight but I’m not going to lose any sleep over two measly pounds. I am, however, really interested to see what the experience of focusing more closely on my diet (intermittently, not all the time, not obsessively!) will be like and if it will bring me any other health benefits.
All I know for sure right now is that it really must be dinner time already!