When I started my Whole30 back in April, my friend Lisa messaged me to tell me what her husband, an Army doctor, had discovered in his search for diet success. He started eating only during a 3-4 hour window, from around 4:00-8:00 PM, mainly vegetables and whole grains, with meat once a week. He lost 25 pounds in 3 months, and he said it only took him about 2 weeks to adjust and not feel so hungry.
Well, of course I immediately rejected that as insane because I could never imagine going without breakfast, much less not eating most of the day! My thought was, "I'd rather look pregnant . . ."
As swim season started out, we had practices in the evening for the first 3 weeks. That meant we had people swimming from 5:30-7:30 every night, and it made dinner really tricky. I had already not been eating after dinner, and after a few days it dawned on me that it really would just be better all around if I could have dinner ready (and me be done eating it) by 5:15, when we needed to leave for swimming. This meant I had to start thinking about dinner by like 3:30, so I felt like my afternoon was really cut short, but that's what I started doing.
Well, it was only a short hop, skip, and a jump in logic to wonder what would happen if I shortened my eating window on the front end too. I really wanted to be able to eat whatever I was making for the family to eat for dinner, because it was hard enough getting everyone out the door at 5:15, and I couldn't deal with making a separate thing for me. So I started backing up my first meal of the day until lunchtime, and eventually to around 1:00, so I was eating only between 1:00 and about 5:15--closer than I had ever dreamed of being to that 4 hour window. Of course, I was NOT eating mainly vegetables and whole grains, with meat once a week! I ate a cupcake to celebrate Nathan's birthday, and some things like that, but only in the afternoon.
At first it really was hard. I thought about food pretty constantly, and I felt like I was just spinning my wheels, not really accomplishing very much, until I could finally eat (and that was back when I was starting to eat at 11:00!). And then once I felt full, I only had a brief window of time to do things before I had to start on dinner. It was choppy. But that did eventually get better, although I don't know if I would say I've completely "adjusted". I lost another 2 pounds, which is not incredible, but remember, I was eating things in the afternoon that were not particularly healthy, and I was eating regular stuff for dinner, even the occasional slice of pizza.
Things kind of took a turn for the worse as we switched to morning practice. I knew we don't usually eat dinner so early, so I started trying to move my window of eating later in the day, like from 3:00-7:00. That was *really* hard. Again, all I could concentrate on was food, and since I started eating so late, there was really no time when I got lots done!
The good thing about morning practice is that I walk every day while Micah and Faith are practicing, but that bad thing is that means I'm not doing the Bow-flex weights anymore. And also, I'm finishing my walk by 8:30, but then I still have hours to go before eating, so I am definitely hungry and not focusing extremely well after that (but surprisingly not light-headed or any other symptom of crashing blood sugar, not even a headache). Also, once I finished eating at 7:00, I still felt really full by bedtime, and I didn't sleep as well. Plus my kids seemed to engage in a coordinated attack on my sleep, by Drew and Verity crying for several nights at random times for no discernible reason, and by Jonathan needing to go to the ER until 4:00 AM. Several days of poor sleeping resulted in a mouth full of cancer sores, including one on the back of my throat. I thought I had strep throat because my throat was so sore!
I stopped feeling so good and healthy, and in fact, I was slightly nostalgic for the "good old days" of Whole30. I never thought I'd have a rosy memory of that month, lol. I did more reading about intermittent fasting, and it seems I'm probably doing the 4 hour window thing a bit wrong, because it seems like Lisa was describing the "Warrior Diet", which has a lot to do with your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and in fact you really are supposed to eat before bed, to help the body recuperate. I honestly felt a lot better eating in the 1:00-5:00 window, though. I will say that I no longer miss breakfast, and I've even been able to make a 4 hour trip to Bethesda for doctor appointments, go to Sams and Walmart, and do a lot of other things without eating breakfast, and I actually feel just fine. It's really going past 1:00 that gets hard for me, so I am probably going to lengthen my window so I start eating then again for the next little while.
I'm sure eating a Whole30 diet and having a short eating window would be a great combination, but the whole point of me trying something different was so that I didn't *have* to eat paleo all the time, especially as we do some traveling. So far I haven't really found anything that seems really sustainable, long-term and during the school year especially, except for my plan of eating a paleo breakfast and lunch, and then a regular dinner (and eating it as early as possible, I guess). I never thought I'd ever be able to only eat during a 4 hour window, though, so I have to say I am pretty proud of myself. This has definitely been an interesting experiment in eating patterns! I've noticed I don't eat as many vegetables as I did on Whole30 because 1) I'm not eating them with breakfast, and 2) by the time it is time to eat, I often just heat up leftovers because I am *so* hungry, instead of making a big salad or whatever. I know I need to increase my intake again, and I think that probably starting to eat at noon or 1:00 will help with that. I shall continue experimenting!
Oh, I should also mention as far as results go, that I have not lost a single bit more around the waist, so this post-10-pregnancies tummy is going to be incredibly stubborn, I'm afraid. I have lost inches on my thighs, but who really cares?? No one looks at them and asks me when the next one is due!