The shiny glow of a new year and a fresh set of resolutions brings with it a trail of shaky diet and weight loss tactics that are the reason the second Friday in January has been dubbed Quitter’s Day. One of the biggest health journey mistakes, and one of the main reasons people get discouraged and give up, is putting too much focus on a singular number and losing sight of the wider picture.
When it comes to nutritional strategies with meaningful health benefits like mental clarity, reduced inflammation, better sleep, and, yes, weight change, intermittent fasting (IF) is one of the fastest growing, science-backed approaches to optimal nutrition and metabolic fitness. It’s simple enough that even a beginner can understand (and stick to) it with the right mindset.
After deciding to start or recommit to intermittent fasting to kick off a new-and-improved year, here are five mindset hacks to lock in your intermittent fasting goals.
Focus on health benefits of fasting beyond the scale
Newsflash: The scale isn’t a reliable progress tracker. It’s natural for weight to fluctuate throughout the day or week due to a variety of factors like hydration, water retention, inflammation, foods you ate the previous day and many more.
Additionally, the healing that you need to get to a healthier state happens invisibly within your body before reflecting outward changes (like weight loss) that are more visible indicators of progress.
Ultimately, your weight is not an accurate measure of your level of health by itself. Other indicators of wellness like blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and more reveal a more holistic picture of how your body is reacting to the nutritional changes you’re making through intermittent fasting.
Track small wins
There’s a lot going on during a fast beyond potential weight loss long-term. By becoming aware and keeping track of other health benefits of intermittent fasting, you’ll not only get a better grasp on how your body is adjusting to IF, but you’ll stay motivated and encouraged to continue. It’s called the progress principle: The more frequently you experience positive progress, the more likely you are to remain productive in the long run.
Consider these non-scale wins as you track your overall intermittent fasting success:
- Feeling more alert and energized
- Feeling less bloated
- Experiencing fewer cravings
- Sleeping better
- Seeing skin improvements
- Having fewer digestive issues
- Noticing your clothes fit better
- Observing reduced inflammatory symptoms (like arthritis, IBS, etc.)
Manage stress and sleep
Sleep and stress level are two foundational building blocks for success in holistic wellness. Stress and poor sleep have the potential to disrupt more obvious things like mood, memory and energy, but also internal functions such as hormone regulation and appetite.
In particular, a 2012 Harvard Medical School study found healthy adults who slept an average of 5.6 hours per night for three weeks had a decreased resting metabolic rate and increased glucose levels after meals, increasing the risk of obesity and diabetes. Sleep deprivation has proven to disrupt the daily fluctuations in appetite hormones and is believed to cause poor appetite regulation.
Sleep quality is just as important as the length of time spent sleeping, too. A study found that by stopping eating three hours before bed, sleep quality improved more than other variable limitations like no screen time, blue light, caffeine or alcohol.
If you’re looking to maintain your fast and also help your body work at optimum wellness levels, you should:
- Aim for seven hours of sleep each night to allow your body time for optimum rest and regulation.
- Find an outlet for stress relief that works for you to minimize disruption in your body’s healthy processes.
Move your body
While physical movement is a way to help you manage stress, daily activity is a catalyst for overall wellness improvements as well as intermittent fasting benefits. And exercise doesn’t have to be anything complicated or expensive. A simple walk, stretch or play session to move your body will magnify your efforts immensely. Here are a few ideas to get you on the move.
- Take the stairs.
- Use a standing desk.
- Take a walk during conference calls.
- Play with your kids or grandkids.
- Spend active time with your dog.
- Park farther away from entrances.
- Stretch while watching TV.
- Bike instead of driving.
Push through even if you think you’ve failed
It’s easy to think that intermittent fasting is an easy, fool-proof answer to meet your healthy New Year’s resolutions, but although the science is simple, the practice is only as effective as your mindset. Bumps in the road are inevitable (even for experienced fasters), and should be built into the fasting plan that aligns with your lifestyle.
Beyond planning, it’s important to make sure you’re set up for success when the cravings and hard days happen. Arming yourself with a personal coach and craving support aid like Citravarin are surefire ways to fortify your mindset and attack the day so you’ll feel satisfied and confident in sticking to your intermittent fasting resolution this year.