My Experience with Intermittent Fasting

Hey, tribe,

I’d love to share explanation of what happens to the body while fasting. This not-so-new lifestyle “hack” has been a part of many culture’s lives for various reasons including to detox the body and to achieve mental clarity for meditation and spiritual practices.

While fasting, similar to when you're weight lifting or stretching, there's an element of breaking down the muscles on a cellular or tissue level in order for them to build themselves up stronger.

The dead cellular matter is then scooped out and new proteins can be created for health promoting benefits like decreased inflammation, better digestion and higher brain function, in addition to the weight loss benefits for which fasting is most popular, and in particular intermittent fasting.

We know there are different methods of fasting, but the two most effective ways as listed in this article by Human OS (my new online obsession): it can either be a single day fast (eating only 20% of your average daily calorie intake) or a daily fast (eating for only 8 hours of the day rather than 15).

I chose the daily version, eating only between the hours of 10:00am and 6:00pm. It’s not as hard as you’d think! My experience has been a noticeable difference in elimination - much more frequent and reliable! And that’s all I’m going to say about that. As someone who has suffered from digestive issues since I was a teen, I’ve learned to appreciate these subtle changes in my body.

Benefits I’ve seen so far…

Energy! There has definitely been a clarity of mind and lack of grogginess that comes with fasting, probably due to the fact that my body uses less energy at night and during the day to digest food. I do sleep better at night when my stomach isn’t filled to the brim and bloated. I can actually get through a 14 hour workday without any caffeine!

I enjoy my morning (decaf) coffee (in my adorable new pint-sized Chemex) or any other liquids I enjoy consuming during fasting hours - like Mama J’s loving green juice - that much more slowly because I’m freed up from having to make breakfast as one of my daily morning activities. I have a pretty full morning routine already and I love that I now get take my time with my spine dance and meditation and I get to sip sweetly and pour again while writing my morning pages and filling in my activity matrix, staying mindful and connected to my energy levels before heading out on my commute to the city. And not having a full belly in the morning makes me travel lighter!

Weight loss? Maybe a little… being a tall girl and very active I’ve hovered around the same weight for years. However, I believe that I am eating less by letting go of snacking and the elimination of the unnecessary 2nd breakfast (hello, croissant lovers!). As long as you’re organized and always have a fridge full of prepared and semi-prepared food, you can get all the calories you need (1600-3000 per day for an average adult) in a day without seeing dramatic changes in weight. Though if that’s the goal, I know that some people who fast will eliminate breakfast altogether and eat only 2 meals a day instead of 3.

Productivity has improved… When I get to break-fast, I thoroughly enjoy taking a mid-morning break with a light and healthy snack after I’ve logged about an hour or so worth of email catch-ups and scheduling for the week ahead, often before anyone else has a chance to get to their computer or workplace for the day. This is much easier to do when you have the option to work from home or in a flexible work environment, which is important to me in feeling successful. It makes me feel like I’m staying ahead of the day, rather than chasing time. Post-breakfast, I might have an herbal tea to pace myself for another couple hours of work on a particular project or set of tasks before lunch. I’m loving the herbal berry essence by Davidson’s found at my co-working space.

While my meal times are spaced closer together, it feels like I get full faster and won’t need as much food to sustain me in my most active times of the day. Therefore, decision-making during meal times are not spent on an empty stomach, which can sometimes lead to poor food choices that have an immediate gratification. Post-dinner at 6pm, I’ll have a full evening ahead to connect, digest, move, read, relax, take a bath, or whatever my heart desires. This only works if you go to bed early, otherwise you’ll go to bed and wake up starving. It’s all about playing with your daily rhythms and finding out what works best for you.

I’d love to hear your experience with fasting or feel free to email questions! I know folks who have been fasting for years! And if you want to learn more about intermittent fasting and other health hacks, I recommend subscribing to the podcast created by my family, Dead Set on Living. <— featuring voiceover by my talented hubs, Kyle Guglielmo!

Questions, Comments? Write below or email hello@lillimarkle.com.

Enjoy today & travel gently,
Lilli

greenjuice

Truth is in the Name

Following along the themes of the Yamas as the first limb in the 8 limb principles of yoga, the second of the Yamas is a simple one but not always easy. Some of my favourite asana postures are like this too. They challenge the mind and the body to work together.

We’ll be exploring the idea of Satya, or truth, as it pertains to the way we express ourselves both outwardly and inwardly.

Kali Mudra

Kali Mudra

Pose: Crescent Lunge
Mudra: Kali Mudra
Mantra: Sat nam (“My name is truth”)

  • From standing, step the right foot toward back of mat. Allow the left knee to bend toward the big toe. Ensure the pelvis is stable.

  • Come into Kali mudra, named after the fierce goddess Durga, bringing hands together with all fingers save index fingers interlaced - index fingers represent the sword of Durga, who slays illusions.

    • Both Kali and Durga are manifestations of the goddess Mahadevi

    • Durga represents the empowerment that enables us to stand in our truth

  • Inhale to lift the hands overhead

  • Exhale to lower them to heart level while visualizing the sword cutting through whatever causes you to be inauthentic (words, clothing, actions, habits)

  • Chant mantra Sat nam (“My name is truth”)

This time of year (if you’re living in the North-western hemisphere) we notice the days getting colder and darker and we learn into our comforts. It is a time of year where we can allow unhealthy habits to develop that deplete us or we can stoke the fire from within using fierce discipline and face our truths, no matter how uncomfortable or ugly they may be.

Whether we relate to the idea of mythology or not, the energy of Durga (often depicted in a menacing image holding many weapons while riding a tiger) represents our inner battles with duties/responsibilities, seeking happiness, values, forgiveness over mistakes - both personal and those of others, as well as other circumstantial challenges we face in life. Each weapon she yields represents each category of the struggle.

Image from India Currents

Image from India Currents

Focus of the Month: Ahimsa, from the 8 Limbs of Yoga

If you’ve been in a yoga class or teacher training and hear about the guiding philosophies that go beyond just the physical practice (Asana), then it’s probably in reference to the Yamas or the Niyamas. These principles were written thousands of years ago and once considered mandatory vows for any yoga practitioner.

They can be difficult for the modern practitioner to embrace in a secular, contemporary society. In the same vein, yoga was developed for adolescent boys to teach them to sit still with discipline and to strengthen their bodies for the arduous work ahead of them. Now, more than half your average yoga class is practiced by women and even more classes are created for women, like pre- and post-natal yoga.

My suggestion, as I review just a couple of the meanings from the 1st Limb of Ashtanga Yoga - The Yamas - would be to consider these “rules” less as directives and more as reflective tools that allow us to deepen our self-awareness in yoga class and beyond. These practices can have deep and long lasting effects, whereas the physical practice only takes you so far on the path.

For example, violence isn’t just firing a weapon; it may also arise in the harsh ways we treat ourselves (like pushing too hard in class to keep up with or compete with classmates). Or, non-possessiveness could be interpreted as letting go of old grudges.

by_yamas.jpg

The first of The Yamas is Ahimsa, which means Non-Harming.

Rather than trying to explain, my teaching style is to bring it into the senses immediately - to feel - starting with the physical body in the Asana practice.

Pose: Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I)
Mudra: Padma (Lotus) Mudra
Mantra: Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu (“May beings in all reals experience the feeling state of ease”)

  • From standing, step the right leg back towards the right edge of the mat, spiraling the right heel down so the foot is grounded

  • Bend the left knee and guide the right hip toward the left big toe

  • Bring hands together at the heart with fingers apart, in the gesture of Padma (lotus) Mudra

    • Drawing inspiration from the purity and perseverance of the lotus flower floating above the muddy waters of desire, fear and attachment - the feelings that cause us to lash out at others or ourselves

    • Meditate on the namesake of the pose: Vira means “hero” or “warrior” and bhadra means “with great virtue”

    • Apply concept of non-harming with fortitude and grace of a warrior

    • Attune warrior energy toward the virtues and peace and non-harming of yourself, others and the environment

    • Chant: Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu (“May beings in all reals experience the feeling state of ease”)

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I). Photo by Annaliese Godderz.

Virabhadrasana I (Warrior Pose I). Photo by Annaliese Godderz.

Padma (Lotus) Mudra. Photo by Joelle Ng.

Padma (Lotus) Mudra. Photo by Joelle Ng.