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Fasting 5:00 to 9:00
Written April 23, 2018


For better health, I've made three resolutions, involving exercise, fasting, and diet.  However, I follow them only part of the time, according to the dictates of the clock or the calendar.

Often I'm tempted to break one of my arbitrary rules.  That's when my better angel flies in and says “Be patient.  In a short time — 12 minutes or 12 hours or whatever — you'll be free, because the taboo will expire!”  And I am dissuaded.

Like many senior citizens, I wake up early in the morning.  On most days I'm not required to report to a job, but I'm up well before 6:00 anyway.

I turn on the radio and enter 31 to 61 minutes on a timer.  (That's half an hour plus a minute for each day of the month.  Don't ask; it's a scheme invented by my better angel.)  While the timer counts down, I take a brisk walk, pacing the floor.

Walking for an hour seems too long.

But Tuesday will be the first of the month, and then you'll be allowed to cut back to only 31 minutes.

After the first half mile, my body is fully awake and functional.  Beyond that, I continue for exercise, thinking about the day ahead or doing small chores that don't require sitting.

I'd like to sit down.

Just keep pacing another 12 minutes, and then you can.

When the timer goes off and I do allow myself to settle in at the computer, I drink a cup of black coffee.  I used to eat something for breakfast at this point, but I don't need to.  I have discovered (from fasting prior to medical procedures) that I can survive without food in the morning.  One time I got involved in a project and didn't eat for 22 hours.

When I learned about “intermittent fasting” last December, I decided to try it.  David Templeton writes, “Throughout human history, fasting has been more norm than exception.  People ate only when they found food, sometimes going without food for days.”  And increased hunger led to increased energy levels and awareness.

Fasting is said to throw a “metabolic switch.”  With less blood glucose to turn into fat for storage, the body begins burning fat.  According to neuroscientist Mark Mattson, “intermittent fasting reduces levels of inflammation, diseases of aging, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

Early in the morning, I don't break my fast with any calories until around 9:00 AM typically.  Afterwards, gradually tearing myself away from my desk, I leave my apartment for a late lunch.  I visit a restaurant around 2:00 PM, after the noon crowd has cleared out.  (Weather permitting, of course.  After I worked a December 30 basketball telecast, it was so cold on eleven of the next eighteen days that I decided not to venture outside at all.)

And lately I've become a semi-vegan!  By that I mean that on odd-numbered days, I eat fruits and vegetables and grains and tofu, but no animal products.  I have no desire to deprive myself forever by swearing off meat and cheese and eggs permanently, so my veganism is only a half measure.  On even-numbered days I revert to omnivorosity.

I'd like a tuna melt.

Not today, but you can look forward to having one tomorrow.

Upon returning home I begin my overnight fast, eating nothing after 5:00 PM typically.  I move a marker on a magnetic board to 5:00 PM, alongside a notation of 9:00 AM.  That's when I'll be allowed to break my fast after abstaining from food for 16 hours — two-thirds of the day.

I want a snack.

Not in the evening.  Drink some herbal tea or something, turn on the TV, and you'll be asleep within an hour or so.

I'm doing pretty well at following these rules, with occasional exceptions.  They've led me to consume fewer calories.  I've lost 11 pounds in the last six months.  I've bought a smaller belt.   My A1C is stable at 5.3%, thank you very much.  And my BMI is now below 30, so I'm no longer obese, merely overweight.

Of course, I'm still not down to the healthy BMI of 22 that I had fifty years ago.  To conform to the dimensions on my 1968 FCC license, I'd not only have to regrow four inches taller, I'd have to lose an additional 27 pounds.  More feasibly, I could retain my present height and lose 37 pounds.

Will my tricks with the clock and the calendar help me get there?  Not likely, but not impossible.  Stay tuned.

You know, fasting for 18 hours instead of 16 might yield even better results.

Let's not get ridiculous.



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