This picture is a perfect visual representation of the yin and yang of my IF life. In the mornings, I drink straight black coffee, no frills, no fanfare. In the afternoons, I love a high-quality espresso latte, creamy in texture from steamed whole milk, beautiful in design, sometimes with a fancy chocolate syrup flair. They are beloved to me, both for different reasons.
This ability to appreciate sharp contrast, to see the beauty in things that are very different, is one of the gifts that intermittent fasting has given me. I love the fasted part of my days as much as I love the feasting parts. I love my fasts for the inner calm, the deep hum of well-being, the clarity of living in my body without the noise and distraction of food. I love my feasts for all the richness, texture and pleasure that eating the right foods can bring to our bodies and our senses.
I was thinking about this as I walked this morning, bundled up in layers the 20-degree January air. Though we joke here in Maine that we have “June, July, and winter”, it is actually wintry and cold for 4-5 out of the 12 months, from November until March or early April. People tend to complain a lot about winter; after all, the snow causes treacherous driving, and deep, frigid cold creates a huge expense as we heat our homes. Winter weather is ultimately a reminder of the fragility of our lives: a matter of hours stuck outdoors below freezing can mean the difference between life and death.
But what about the beauty of these winters we endure? If you look out over a snow-covered field, you’ll see an expanse of pure white sparkling as though coated with diamond dust. I can’t think of anything more pristine anywhere. The sky is even bluer than usual against all that snowy white. The trees have an elegant simplicity, dark branches stripped of all their leaves, resting, waiting. Anywhere that water would have been moving, flowing, it is instead frozen into surfaces that look like glass but disappear as soon as the warmth returns.
Compared to summer’s lush, full, busy, humming-with-life-ness, certainly the winter pales in comparison, but it has its own wonder, its own gifts. Though the flowers are gone, so are the bugs that bite and the pollen that triggers sneezing (my own seasonal allergies have been totally healed by intermittent fasting, but that’s another story). Winter deserves more credit than I’ve given it. It has merits of its own, even as we become impatient waiting for all the green and the leaves and the blossoms to come back.
Fasting is the same way. It’s not just the absence of something, but the presence of something wonderful in its own right. It is lovely precisely because of the contrast to feasting. It has the same peaceful stillness that winter has. Like summer itself, the feast is lush, full, busy and humming-with-life. In this lifestyle, I get to both have distance from the fullness AND the opportunity to revel in it. Every day.
Winter constitutes nearly half my life as a Mainer. Learning to love winter as much as summer…..freedom. Just like learning to love fasting as much as feasting….Unbelievable Freedom.
To learn more about my transformation and that of my husband, Ryan:
To learn how to live an Intermittent Fasting lifestyle: