Intermittent fasting is perfect for teachers during the school year. We’re too busy and distracted to think about food too much. It releases us from the tedious need to pack lunch and schlep dishes back and forth every day. It gives us more time to hit the bathroom and make photocopies. It’s awesome.
But what about summer vacation? As beautiful and freeing as the summer months can be, it can also be a tricky time for many of us. After nine months of our every move being dictated by schedules, bells and the demands of needy students, we suddenly find ourselves waking up to the sun instead of blaring alarms. Every day is a blank canvas of unstructured time. It’s amazing, but it’s also a lot of time to make choices that were not necessary while we were in school.
Here are my top 5 tips for continued fasting success during summer vacation.
- Establish a fulfilling morning ritual. This can be very individual. It doesn’t really matter how you start your day, as long as the very idea of it puts a smile on your face when you wake up. For me, I love to start each day with a steaming cup of black coffee on my sunporch. It’s an opportunity for me to ease into my day, see the sun come up and anticipate the day to come.
- Structure your time…but not too much. We’re creatures of habit and tend to get aimless quickly if we don’t plan a little bit. Think about what happens when you under plan for an 80 minute period and run out of material at the one hour mark. Nothing good. I like to establish a basic routine for most of my summer days, so I don’t spend too much time trying to decide what to do. After my morning coffee, I like to get in some physical activity. A yoga workout and a long nature walk always puts me in a good mood. Afternoons are for iced coffee and whatever I feel like doing. Reading? Writing? Movie? Mid-day date with my wife?
- Break the fast smart. It’s important to break the fast with something that we will make you feel good and set you up well for the remainder of your day and for your next fast. I find that the most effective way to open the eating window is to consume nutritionally dense, high fat foods, like cheese, nuts, olives or avocados. This kind of food is tasty and filling and doesn’t cause a rapid blood sugar spike and crash that creates a roller coaster effect on your appetite. Don’t like those foods? Choose something you enjoy, but make sure it works for you.
- Make your main meal a true feast. The evening meal is when you are likely to be consuming the bulk of your calories for the day, and many people - like me - close the window when it’s over, so it’s imperative that this feast is large, nutritious, DELICIOUS and fun. Plan for it. Shop for it. Absolutely account for specific medical requirements, but eat the foods you like and reject the ones you don’t. Life is too short to eat celery unless you really, truly love it, but does anyone really? Include desserts in moderation if you want. Some nights it might just be berries and cream, others might be a pastry you love. Make your main feast a joyous occasion.
- Be flexible and forgiving. Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle, not a diet. There are no hard and fast rules about how exactly to do it. You can’t really get it wrong, but you can have days that feel less satisfying than others. I still have times when I second guess a food choice and wish I could have a do-over, but I just let it go. Tomorrow is another fast, and your body can absolutely handle the occasional less than stellar meal. Also remember that summer is a time for fun. There’s no reason to miss that BBQ or picnic. Eating windows can move. It’s good to have routines, but it’s great to have the flexibility to enjoy your life.
I used to spend every summer plotting and scheming to lose weight before the summer months waned, and I had to squeeze back into work clothes...or even worse, buy the next size up. Intermittent fasting has given me the unbelievable freedom to truly enjoy summer and start each fall refreshed, healthy and ready to face new challenges.
The whole story of our personal transformation is in our new book, Unbelievable Freedom: How Intermittent Fasting Transformed Our Health and Happiness, available on Amazon using the link below.