Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fasting Day 112 - 117.4 Pounds

I'm still here and still fasting every other day. My BMI is 21.5 -- smack in the middle of the body mass index's normal healthy range (18.5 - 24.9). When I began alternate day fasting my BMI was (almost) borderline obese. It was a terrifying experience to feel so out of control of my own body. It seemed no matter how much I cut calories, ate healthier or increased my activity that my weight continued to climb. I ran into an old boyfriend from High School who thought it was ironic that I had turned into a chubby woman. He taunted me about how mortified I was about fat people and look at me now. I explained that my fear was because both of my grandmothers were morbidly obese and I didn't want it to happen to me. I've struggled with my weight as far back as I can remember.

Hairy Bread & Soy Sauce

Unless you're Jewish or Muslim, you likely have not heard that the amino acid Cysteine (extracted from human hair) is being added to bread as a dough conditioner. Besides the 'yuck' factor, what disgusts me is that we don't have any way of knowing where this hair came from. The Cysteine manufactures claim that it comes from clean barber shop hair; however there was an undercover news report of a soy sauce manufacturer that was using filthy hair collected from hospital floors and wherever (morgues perhaps?). Used sanitary napkins, syringes, condoms and other litter had to be picked through and removed by hand before the hair was sent for processing. Hair itself can be contaminated with drugs, mercury, chemo, and whatever else a person may have been exposed to before the hair was removed. It would be impossible to track exactly where every bit of the hair came from that is being processed. They can claim it's clean, but what really goes on when nobody is looking? There is an interesting article on the OU Kosher website as to whether or not Cysteine is "kosher". I haven't been able to eat a slice of bread since I learned of this practice. I think I'll start baking my own bread. Now ... where the heck did I pack that bread maker my mom gave me a few years ago?


tutufan said...

Muse: I just ran across your blog, and I've really enjoyed reading about your adventure. You have a gift for writing--it's very enjoyable to read.

I've been struggling with my weight pretty much my whole life and have tried many different approaches (15% low fat, total vegan, Atkins, you name it).

Like you, I'm frustrated with people (generally the thin) who spout the "eat less, exercise more" line. Being overweight sucks, and if it were even moderately easy to lose weight, we'd all do it. The truth is that we just don't know how this all works, and even the world's finest minds only see a few peripheral details.

Last year I tried an intermittent fast, though rather than doing a fixed alternation of days, I fixed my rate of weight loss (2lbs/week) and fasted on days when I was over this line. (I did also say that I'd never fast two days in a row, but that was never necessary anyway.)

Like you, I found this regime fairly easy to follow--easier, I think, than anything else's I've previously tried. I initially thought the unpredictability would be an advantage, but in practice it seemed to be a minus. (I got the idea from the novel The Dice Man.)

One downside: my wife hates the idea. It's somewhat inconvenient for her, but more importantly, she thinks that my mood is different on fasting days, in an unpleasant way. Not crabby necessarily, but more like spacy, tired, emotionally blanked. Not sure what to make of that.

I did this maybe five months and lost about 22 pounds. Unlike you, I wasn't eating particularly well--just doing the fast. I assume this is the reason for the smaller weight loss, though, as always, there's no way to know for sure.

Anyway, I guess it eventually got to be too much psychologically, and since I've (ugh) regained the weight.

This is frustrating, to be sure, but I feel like a have a slightly better handle on things each time around.

I'm at a point right now where I really have to lost weight, and I'm thinking about a plan, which is what led me here.

Fasting does seem like a key for me. Aside from being somewhat hungry, it actually feels pretty good (like the opposite of being bloated/overstuffed). I've seen some indications in the literature that food itself is "addictive"--i.e., that eating leads to overeating. That's certainly true for me, and one of the virtues of fasting is that it interrupts that cycle.

Anyway, once more into the breach for me. Thank you for making this blog--it's very useful. There's so little information out there that personal accounts like this are a real benefit.

Good luck to you on your continued fasts--you look great!!

Muse said...


Thank you for sharing your story and for your kind comments. I've never heard of the book "The Dice Man". I looked it up on wikipedia and it sounds interesting -- I'll have to track down a copy. It looks like it has inspired quite a few artists.

Someday we will find out why some of us have such a difficult time losing weight. Right now there is a tendency to just throw out the data from people like us by saying that we must be lying about what we eat. I find that hard to believe, considering I go over (and over and over ... ) in my head what I have eaten that day. On the brighter side, if there is ever a famine -- we will be the survivors -- and we'll probably still be chubby. LOL

My moods change on my fasting days too. Sometimes I am weak or irritable, but in general I feel happier and more energetic on my fasting days than on days that I eat. That makes it a little more difficult to fast -- having your wife not very keen on the idea. Have you considered trying the 'fast 5' approach that others have had success with? Where you fast 19 hours and than eat in a 5 hour window -- or some variation?


tutufan said...

muse: Thanks for your comment. Regarding "Fast 5", I may yet try it. I was favoring a full sleep-to-sleep fast before because there's a bit more natural discipline entailed--there's far fewer ways to cheat "just a little bit". Plus, it sounds like there might be just a little bit of evidence for a more substantial health effect for 24+ hour fasts. Anyway, I may yet try the "Fast 5" thing for the reasons you suggest...

Muse said...


I have found that I get much more benefits from fasting 24+ hours at a time like you said. (Actually ... more like 36 hours at a time.)

When I added protein/water shakes on my 'fasting' day, my weight loss slowed drastically and my happiness levels decreased. I also experimented with flax seed oil mixed in a couple of tablespoons of cottage cheese on my fasting days. Once again my weight loss slowed and I experienced a full blown depressive episode. I have since returned to only water, tea or coffee on my fasting days. My happiness has returned and my weight seems to be lowering again.

I'll take the occasional spaciness over depression any day.

Let me know how you do.


tutufan said...

You're very inspiring Theresa.

So, once more into the breach for me. Tuesday was Fasting Day 1. Straight ADF like you this time, 36/12ish.

Tuesday was a bit difficult, though perhaps not as difficult as committing. I've done several months of 36/12s a couple times per week, so I have some idea what I'm getting into. Like you, I consider this the easiest of the many regimes I've tried. Not really difficult on a daily basis, but challenging in the long run in a way that's difficult to describe.

Ironically, Wednesday morning I woke up and really didn't particularly feel like eating, like I could just continue fasting indefinitely. (Not planning to, though, because I feel less certain about the risks involved.)

My BMI is 33, so I have a long path in front of me...

Muse said...


I can understand how simply living one's everyday life can easily dissuade one from alternate day fasting. It's no fun sitting there with a cup of black coffee or whatever while everyone around you is eating and socializing. So much of human life revolves around meals and food. I admire your perseverance and willingness to start again. You can do this! A BMI of 33 is do-able. (or should I say undo-able?) If you ever need someone to commiserate with, I'm here.

When it seems like the road ahead of you looks too long, try repeating to yourself, "The time will pass regardless."