If you’ve been reading along about my journey to steward my physical health, you know why I’m starting my year of stewardship with losing weight: this is, for me, as much a spiritual issue as it is an issue of diet and exercise.
Today I want to talk about how I’m approaching the challenge to steward my physical and spiritual health, here in the early months of 2019. For the past 4 weeks, I’ve been participating in the FASTer Way to Fat Loss.
Like I mentioned in Part 2, my previous attempts to make radical, sweeping changes in my diet or to adopt ambitious exercise regimens have only produced temporary results. I believe this has been the case for two reasons.
- They required too much change too quickly, triggering my all-or-nothing mindset (which always ends up boomeranging from “all” straight back to “nothing,” as I detailed in this Instagram post.)
- They didn’t address the underlying, spiritual components which truly lie at the heart of my struggle.
It’s no surprise to me, in retrospect, that the solution I’ve found involves the idea of fasting.
Fasting has great health benefits, but it’s also a spiritual discipline, designed to strip away the things in our lives which would take God’s place, and draw us closer in dependence on Him. It’s exactly what I need to be practicing as I take on 2019’s challenge to root out the idol of comfort which has taken over my heart and my body.
The FASTer Way to Fat Loss
I first heard about the FWTFL from Angie Elkins, of the chatologie podcast. I enjoy following Angie on Instagram, and last year I noticed her posting occasionally about this thing called the FASTer Way. She offered photos of what she was eating, which looked like quite a bit of food! And over time, I could see just from her photos and videos that it seemed to be working for her.
Back in September she encouraged any of her followers who were interested to reach out for more information. I did so, only to discover that the program was more expensive than I was able to manage at that particular moment.
But I kept watching.
Then, in December, Angie released Episode 80: Healthy Beginnings in 2019, featuring her FWTFL coach, Amberly Deavors.
I was already praying about and pondering what I should do regarding this issue of my weight and health, how I should respond to God’s prompting that this was a spiritual stronghold in my life I needed to tear down. So I eagerly tuned in to the podcast.
Y’all, before they were even half-way into the show, I was crying.
Both ladies, each in her own way, spoke directly to where I was: tired of how I looked and felt, but completely unmotivated to try anything else; tired of starting plans only to end up failing; tired of strategies which proved too complicated to sustain long term; and finally, with the realization staring me in the face that I was dealing with a spiritual battle, not just a weight issue.
They talked about aspects of the FWTFL which seemed too good to be true: a system that didn’t require me to buy special products or supplements; a program that would teach me how to craft my own meal plan, using foods I already liked; a way of eating and exercising which would be sustainable long-term, not just a quick, temporary fix.
I approached Dave with all the reasons I felt this would be a good fit for me, and we worked it into our budget. I signed up to start the 6-week Boot Camp on January 7 and put it out of my mind as we enjoyed the holidays.
I’m not going to lie, as January kicked off, and the information about the plan started becoming available, I began to panic a bit. It seemed daunting and overwhelming. But I kept returning to what Angie and Amberly had said on the podcast: this was a plan that was actually NOT difficult. They sounded like they had been in my shoes, and had found a way to move forward in health. I decided to trust them, and trust the process.
Why I’m Loving the FASTer Way
I’m 4 weeks into the program, and I must say, they were right. For the first time, I feel like I’ve found a sustainable plan.
Here’s what I love about it:
- I can eat carbs! (Dave and I tried going “keto” for a hot minute last year…I could not hack it. Girl’s gotta have some bread, y’all!)
- So far, the actual foods I buy at the store and eat every day haven’t changed significantly. Turns out, the food itself wasn’t the problem so much as my portions, the combinations of foods I was consuming, and WHEN and WHY I was eating them.
- There is no meal plan which I’m required to follow. I understand why this might seem like a “con” rather than a “pro” when you’re paying for a diet or exercise program, but to me, this is HUGE. I’ve mentioned before that I’m something of a picky eater. Pre-made meal plans NEVER work for me, because they’re always at least halfway made up of foods I simply do not like. (For example, salads. I hate salad. I always thought this meant I could never be healthy, or if I was going to be healthy, I’d always hate my food. I was WRONG!)
- Rather than feeling restricted, always looking at things in terms of what I can’t eat, this plan is like being on a treasure hunt for things TO eat. It’s teaching me how to add the right components to my diet, rather than beat myself up for eating things I “shouldn’t.” It’s taken the value judgement of foods being “good” or “bad” completely off the table (pun intended.)
- It provides accountability. I am what Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework calls an Obliger. I have a really hard time meeting expectations without outer accountability. This program has offered me two levels of accountability: I check in every day with a coach and a support group about how I’m doing. Additionally, since the cost of the program came out of our family budget, I feel a sense of accountability to Dave to maintain my participation so as not to waste our resources.
How It Works
While the specifics of the program constitute proprietary information I’m not allowed to share, I will tell you it includes Intermittent Fasting and Carb Cycling.
Basically, you eat during a limited window each day, and fast the rest. A couple days a week follow a Low Carb (keto-style) diet, while the other days alternate between “regular” and “lower” levels of all the necessary macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fat.)
There’s no calorie counting and no weight checks.
The workouts are offered in tiers, from beginner to advanced, and the coaches encourage slow and steady progress, rather than pushing yourself too far too fast. At their recommendation, I didn’t even start working out until the second week, and then I modified the beginner workouts by cutting them in half.
There is encouragement and support, rather than shaming and condescension. This one is big for me. One thing about Obligers: we react well to outer accountability…but only up to a certain point. Past that point, we are prone to something called Obliger Rebellion. Plans or courses, even online, which say things like “it’s so easy! Just push a little harder!” when I don’t feel like it’s easy or like I have anything else to give, make me feel dumb. And feeling dumb or embarrassed will push me straight into rebellion faster than you can blink. This program has been the opposite. There is real acknowledgement of how difficult making these kinds of lifestyle changes can be. The celebration of small victories and slow, steady progress is so refreshing.
Finally, the program utilizes easily obtainable apps for your phone or computer. Other than having a small food scale and my measuring cups and spoons handy, I haven’t made any major changes to how I cook or prepare meals. Eventually, I will need to adjust some of the foods I eat on a regular basis if I want to continue seeing progress. But having the leeway to make substitutions slowly, one at a time, is much less overwhelming than a massive pantry purge and restock.
How I’ve Felt
I’m so thankful I heard about this program! I believe God’s timing is always perfect, and I can see clearly how His nudges to my heart worked in line with my regular podcast listening habits to bring the FWTFL into my life at the exact right time.
I won’t pretend: the first week was a bit overwhelming. There’s a learning curve, and since I was in the habit of eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it, all the focus on my food got to me a bit at first.
I did, however, make it to Day 5 before I cried (which I reported as my “WIN” for that week.) I weepily whined to Dave, “I don’t want to do math or science, I just want to eat without thinking about it…..and yes, I realize that’s precisely how I got here!”
But other than a couple days of overwhelm, I’ve felt really good!
I’ve survived a child’s birthday party, two MOPS meetings, and four weekly Hyphen potlucks (with brownies!) without going off plan. I ate moderately, and stayed within my parameters, without feeling deprived or hangry.
The program likes to celebrate Non-Scale Victories, and some of mine so far have been a friend noticing changes in my appearance and asking if I’m losing weight, and being able to button two skirts which wouldn’t button three weeks ago.
But the biggest happened just this week, when a bout of anxiety hit out of the blue while Dave was working nights and sleeping during the day. In the past, this confluence of events would have been a prime opportunity for me to secretly binge on sweets, or to numb out with pasta in privacy.
But I didn’t do either of those things.
I stuck to my plan, having some of my most successful days yet, even in the midst of emotional upheaval.
That’s a victory if I’ve ever experienced one.
If any of this sounds intriguing to you, and you think you’d like to sign up, I’d appreciate if you’d do so through my affiliate link, here! I’m not an employee of FASTer Way to Fat Loss, but if you sign up with my link, I will receive a referral bonus which I can use toward my next round.