Some of you have started to notice and comment that I’ve lost weight. It’s interesting that nobody noticed the difference in my appearance until I’d shed around 10kg (22lb).
Last October I realised that my weight had been creeping up for 3 years, and given my middle age, being the weight I was when I gave birth to my son 12 years earlier, wasn’t good for my health. I also have a family history of high cholesterol to contend with and carrying extra weight is also a risk for cancer and many other diseases.
It was time to take some action, I’d been thinking about it for some time, but I find every day calorie restriction very difficult. But after being inspired by one of my clients who had lost 8kg in a couple of months using the intermittent fasting method, I did some research and decided to give it a go. I watched Michael Mosley’s Eat Fast and Live Longer documentary (you can watch it below), read the book The FastDiet: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting
and in mid- November, started eating the 5:2 way.
BBC Horizon 2012 Eat Fast and Live Longer [Full Documentary] from Djabernin on Vimeo.
If you haven’t heard of 5:2 – the concept is this. Five days a week you eat normally (not pigging out, but regular, healthy eating, with a few treats and wine here and there). Two days a week you eat 500 calories each day (these are your fasting days). I usually fast on Monday and Thursday, but if something else is on, I’ll swap my days around during the week. I limit my alcohol intake to weekends, the same goes for any desert too!
Now, fasting can seem quite difficult and when I first started I noticed it much more, but the beauty of this plan is that even though I can only eat a small amount of protein and a bunch of vegetables on my fasting day (I love a beef or chicken Pho, or roast chicken breast rice paper rolls, or sometimes just a piece of chicken or steak and a lovely big salad for my dinner), I can eat that piece of chocolate the next day when I’m not fasting. I’m terrible with diets, just can’t deprive myself of everything nice all the time (and in fact, the minute you tell me I can’t have something I want it all the more), but intermittent fasting allows you to have your cake, just not every day.
Interestingly now I’ve been fasting twice a week for a few months, I’m finding it easier and easier. In fact, these days I don’t eat til dinnertime on my fast day – that way I get to have a lovely dinner (I’m a dinner fan, never been a breakfast fan), and I get all the other health benefits of fasting (there are loads, lower cholesterol is just one of them). In fact, I decided to go off my cholesterol medication and see if in a few months this plan would lower it, and it has – not quite as low as I’d like yet (but I’ve not been taking any omega 3 which can also help), but now at the top end of normal which is much improved.
I’ve been tracking my weight on the CalorieKing app that I use to calculate calories in my food on fast days (I don’t track my calories on ‘feast’ days) and you can see my loss has been fairly consistent (with a slight bump here and there). One of the benefits of fasting, is that it shrinks your stomach, so usually the day after a fast day, I’m not as hungry as I would have been anyway, and I’ve become much more conscious of my unconscious consumption (like when I eat a bit of something I’m preparing for the kids, or when I automatically reach for food, rather than ask myself if I’m actually hungry, or is it just eating from habit).
I’ve now had to have a bunch of my favourite clothes altered to fit me, and have been expunging my wardrobe of all my other too big clothes that I don’t love enough to alter.
Last year on an airplane to the USA, I watched the other Michael Mosley documentary: The Truth about Exercise (you can watch that below too), and it inspired me early this year to start adding some HIIT training to my exercise routine.
The Truth About Exercise from Chef Central on Vimeo.
You can read more about HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training as outlined in FastExercise: The Simple Secret of High-Intensity Training if you’re interested.
To tell you my exercise plan:
- 3 times per week, I sprint, fast as I can for 3 bursts of 20 seconds (with a minute of walking in between each sprint).
- 2-3 times per week I go to the gym, walk on incline on the treadmill for 30 minutes, then do some weights, yoga or whatever else I feel like.
Now up until February, I’ve never been able to jog for more than 8 minutes without stopping and feeling my lungs would explode. Early last month, after only 3 weeks of Fast Exercise, I got on the treadmill at the gym and jogged for 20 minutes, fairly easily. I was stunned, but the HIIT must be working!
I do try and exercise on the mornings of my fast days – that way I can burn up the 500 calories I’m going to eat that day before I’ve eaten them.
One of the realities of this ‘diet’ (it’s a lifestyle) is that once you’ve finished losing weight, to continue to have the health benefits you need to keep fasting, but one day a week instead of two (6:1). And even though sometimes I mentally really want to eat on a fast day, I also really appreciate my fasting days, particularly if I’ve had a bit of a big, social weekend with lots of eating and drinking. I feel so much healthier, I’m now in the normal BMI range (I was in the Overweight category) and have lost 11% of excess body fat. I still have a bit more weight to lose (I store a lot as back fat and around my stomach, which is particularly unhealthy), but I’m finding this new way eating so easy and the results so impressive, it’s just not hard to do!
Congrats! So satisfying to find a method that works and stick to it.
It’s great Lisa to have found the easiest way ever for me to lose weight and gain health without feeling deprived! My stomach is rumbling now as it’s Thursday fast day, but I know that means my body is about to eat up some more of my unnecessary fat!
Imogen, you look fabulous..10 years younger! The hair color really suits you and I’m excited for you and your healthy journey.
Thanks Dottie – I feel much better! My brother has type 1 diabetes, so I’m always wary of going down that path!
Congrats on the weight loss. You do look amazing.
I must say, I think this weight loss method is something I’ve always done naturally.
I’ll have days where I just either don’t have time to eat or don’t feel like it, so I don’t. I’ve always been a big person for listening to your body! It will tell you when it wants food.
Thanks Jess! I’ve never been a non-eater – wish I was! Never one of those people who could just ‘forget to eat’.
You look great, Imogen. I knew it wasn’t just your hair that was making the difference!
I have just embarked on 5.2 this week and today is my second fasting day, so it’s great to hear how well this has worked for someone else. The appeal to me is that I do some travel and entertaining as part of my job, so I need a plan that’s flexible enough to work out around my schedule without having to explain why I’m not eating a 10 course Chinese banquet with clients in Hong Kong.
I need to lose a few kilos from a health point of view as I have a poor family history of diabetes and early heart attacks. But I know the underlying motivation is more aligned to vanity!
I found that I was really tired on my first fasting day, but I was pleasantly surprised that I couldn’t finish my usual lunch the day after my first fasting day. I think finding your own rhythms are what will make this work for each individual over time.
Yes – my fasting habits have changed since I started. I used to eat breakfast and dinner, now I just go all day til dinner as I find when I eat it actually makes me hungrier and think about food more, while if I don’t, then the hunger pangs rise and fall away and I stop thinking about it. I find if I can keep myself busy it’s much easier!
You look great! I figure it never hurts to develop healthier habits, even if weight isn’t an issue.
The older I get the more I appreciate my health. Particularly as friends and family around my age are starting to succumb to diseases.
Looking so great Imogen. Agree with the above comments that you do look younger – must be the hair and the weight loss and off course happiness is a huge bonus too.
Thanks Debbie! Most kind.
You look wonderful (but then I am prejudiced – I always thought you looked great! May I ask where you got that beautiful necklace? I really love many of your necklaces but don’t always see such great ones around.
Which necklace Rebecca? The one over the grey jumper is I think from Lovisa, the one in the pic below – November is from Diva I think, and the Feb picture I made that myself.
I buy them from everywhere – Diva, Lovisa (cheap accessories stores) Target, Big W etc. plus I make some too. I love having fun with cheap costume jewellery!
You look fabulous!! Very inspiring!!! I might give it a try 🙂
Imogen, you look healthy and I love your new hair color. Thank you so much for sharing your diet and exercise regimen with us. I would like to try it!
Give it a go Jane. It’s worth reading the book before hand.
You look fantastic. I have tried 5:2 a few times without success. My downfall is dinner and cooking for my husband and kids. How do you manage that? Do you all eat the same thing? If I cook a normal dinner I know it’s way over the allowed amount. Any tips? Kind regards Paula
This is why I tend to eat only dinner. I cook kids and partner the same as me (though he has been on it too with me) and then I leave out the extra carbs – so I may do a roast chicken with veg or salad. I don’t eat any of the potatoes and only eat the breast meat (weight it out). It’s easier if you do something simple like that where you can just leave part of the dinner out for yourself than try and do something completely different.
I’ve been watching this particular diet for a while now as the idea of fasting fascinates me. I must admit that the very thought of being hungry is rather a foreign and somewhat uncomfortable feeling:) My brother and sister-in-law do it and swear by it. Great to hear that you’re feeling fab xo
It’s not always the most fun Jay – but it get results and it’s way easier than having to count calories every day!
Well done you! I did 5:2 last year and lost 5-6kg over 3 months. I’d dieted through calorie counting the previous year and found it a difficult slog. I wasn’t expecting 5:2 to work for me, like you I *never* forget to eat and I wake up hungry but after a few fast days I found it much easier to delay eating as long as possible (I usually last till 3pm) eat a small snack and then save the rest of the calories for dinner. I like the flexibility and despite not managing 2 fast days every week I averaged about a 1lb a week (0.5 kilos) I’ve just started it again to get rid of the 3kg I put on over Christmas/Winter!
Wow – great work Cali!
I’m so happy for you! You look stunning! I’m looking into the Gabriel method of weight loss. He also recommends the same type of exercise you are speaking of. I still ride my exercise bike, but every few minutes I pedal like there is something after me, just for 30-50 seconds. I also do that when I’m doing my WATP videos. I’ve only started the program a week ago. I have about 20 kilos to lose and am down about 2 already. He recommends adding nutrition, so your body is getting what it needs, then you don’t get as hungry and eventually you find yourself craving nutritious food instead of empty calories. So, it isn’t a diet as it doesn’t limit your eating, just adds nutrition and crowds out empty calories. He also has several visualizations with music in the background to help you relax and turn off the fat switch in your brain. When your body is under any threat (stress, sickness, certain medicines, etc.) it inhibits the production of lepitin in the brain and can send your body the signal to gain weight, as it would if you are in a famine or under the stress of severe cold. Diets can send that signal to the brain, that you are under restriction and must conserve energy and calories. I would think that fasting could do that too, but I’ve read so many good things about fasting. There are so many benefits to the body and Jesus instructs us to fast and pray, so it can’t be bad for you. I’m just investigating this new method right now and giving it a try, but I do want to add fasting to my life in some measure. 🙂 I love your hair and your new slim self. I’ve learned so much from you and appreciate you very much. I saw the ring on facebook. Are you engaged? If so, when is the wedding going to be? Keep up the good work! ~Helen
I’ve not heard of the Gabriel method. The fasting, as it’s only intermittent and you eat normally in between, stops your brain from going into the “fast, hold onto fat” thing that it does in regular diets.
Yes there is a ring, the wedding will be sometime in the next year – very small – nothing fancy, it’s the 2nd time for both of us.
Great that you’ve found a way to eat healthy that works for you.
Imogen, you look incredible girlfriend! 10KG is A LOT! We do pounds over here so that’s like 15lbs (I suck at Math). You look so radiant and happy 🙂 Keep doing your thing and those rice paper rolls look yummy btw.
Thanks Ruby! It’s actually 22lbs! I went online and did the calculation.
I’ve experimented with IF (14/10, Fast Five) in the past. It worked, but I haven’t kept it up. I liked the two Mosley documentaries when they were broadcast in the U.S. I may give 5:2 a go.
I find 2 days a week manageable! Some people do 4:3, but I think that’s a bit much for me.
Inspirational. Very interesting that the fasting days became easier. I really believe in the importance of habits – once something becomes a habit we can just keep doing it e.g. the more you exercise, the easier it becomes to do more exercise.
The high protein diet doesn’t work once you stop it, low fat doesn’t work if you have too many calories, daily calorie counting becomes very boring…This regime has the advantage that you can have dinner with the family without anything special.
Like many women I started dieting as a teenager and have put on weight and taken it off at regular intevals ever since. Almost all diets say that you don’t have to be hungry, but that is just not true if you want to lose weight. This one makes sense as often on social occasions we feel we have to eat what is offered and it makes sense to compensate for over-indulgence on non-social days.
Thank you for motivating us all with such a great example of having a goal and perseverance. You looked great before and now look positively radiant.
Your determination is
You look great! I’ve been on the 5:2 diet for almost a year now. I’ve lost the weight I wanted and have now moved to 6:1 (eat normally 6 days a week, 500 calories 1 day). It’s not really a diet, more of a way of eating.
Yes – it’s a whole new lifestyle rather than a diet. Glad that it’s worked for you too!
Hi Imogen. Congratulations to you. I could see you had lost weight but I didn’t want to comment (some weight loss can be due illness). I noticed you looked “different” when you posted the article about your hair colour:-) Keep up the good work and I hope you reach your target soon.
Thanks so much Yvette!
You look fabulous. Both before and now.
I want to thank you for how much your insights have helped me cull and organize my wardrobe.
I was not sure of my body shape and filled my closet with the usual white and blue button downs with dark trousers ‘cos that’s what a petite gal is supposed to wear to look mature. and put together. I thought I was short-waisted and avoided tucking in or belting.
From you I learnt that I acutally had balanced proportions with a “hip shelf”. I embraced my figure 8 shape and dark winter colouring. I was doing it all wrong.
I just culled my wardrobe of everything flared and with A-lines, started wearing thin belts and have donated all the button-downs that looked boxy or square. All the pale washed-out colours went out and the bright jewel tones, blacks and whites are my friends. I feel fabulous and would like to say a heartfelt “thank you”.
You really get it.
Wow – thanks you so much for your lovely comment!
I second Yvette’s comment, I noticed the weight loss, but didn’t want to say anything, just in case it was health-related. You look amazing and congrats on your engagement!
Thanks so much Tamara!
Ditto the immediate 2 comments above re weight loss. You look happy and healthy! Thank you for the link to the 5:2 video. I just finished watching it and am intrigued enough to give it a go! I turn 50 this year and though I’m healthy, I want to keep it that way and also help prevent brain aging. Alzheimer’s scares me to death. I’m curious about a few things –
1. How soon after beginning 5:2 did you start exercising? A month or 2 in?
2. Do you exercise on your fasting days?
3. Do you feel like there was a big difference in the rate of weight loss once you added HIIT or did it stay about the same?
4. Do you count your fast day as beginning after dinner one day and going until dinner the next so as to get in 24 hours? Or do you just say nothing to eat from midnight to midnight?
Congratulations on your engagement! I don’t do Facebook so I missed your ring. You will make a lovely bride.
1. I as already exercising but not doing HIT
2. Yes I exercise on fast days if I can (doesn’t always suit my schedule) I do it in the morning rather than late in the day
3. My weight didn’t change so much with HIT – but my fitness level has improved markedly
4. My fast day starts from post dinner on Sunday night and ends Breakfast on Tuesday morning – with 500 cals eaten in between
Thanks Imogen! I’m going to start on Sunday!
Imogene, congrats on going for a positive change. Did you find that your body shape type changed as you lost weight?
Sadly no – I still don’t have a waist (it’s just a smaller version of an H) as my rib cage and hips pretty much sit right on top of each other, so there is no room for a waist.
Thanks for this post! I watched the video on Friday, read Mosley’s book on Saturday and had my first fast day yesterday. It makes so much sense to me. The rebel in me hated counting calories so in the end no diet worked. This 5:2 does not feel like a diet, it’s a strategy, not only for weight loss but for health improvement benefits too. Until you posted the video I never heard of this approach, so thanks again. I feel it might be life changing. By the way, breakfast never tasted as good as it did this morning 🙂
That’s great Marianne – the rebel in me just can’t stand the sense of constant restriction! Hope it works for you!
Amazing transformation! 10kg is not that easy so its quite impressive. I’ve lost 5 kg over two months just by doing IF….but a more daily LeanGains style IF instead of taking two days off. It worked! Loved the surge in energy during the day…people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day but I never felt better when I skipped it and just had lunch instead a little later on. I also kept a good deal of positive body images on my Pinterest profile to serve as inspiration. 🙂
I want to congratulate you! I started the mid February, 2013. By the end of May, I had lost 30 lbs.!! I had tried everything you can think of for a decade. Finally success with this plan. Near the end when I had plateaued I would alternate weeks of 5:2 with 4:3.
It is a great plan you can “do” forever. You don’t have to cut anything out and it is completely flexible if your job involves travel and dinner’s out/entertaining.
My one tip is soup! It really makes me full while not having many calories, even the cream based ones. During the summer I lived on my own “Gazpacho”. I would chop approximately 1/2 cup of sweet onion, grape tomatoes, Persian or pickling cucumber and avocado. I sprinkled garlic pepper and sea salt over the veggies. I would add a drizzle of avocado oil and a splash of lime juice. I then poured a chilled 6 oz of V8 juice. Refreshing and filling!
Good luck & keep up the good work.
Yes I’ve done a bit of soup on my fasting days! Not my most favourite food but can be a good option. Great work by you – 30lbs is a lot!
You really do look fantastic. I just thought your new hair color was that flattering! Lol. You’ve inspired me too. I read this post yesterday, and I’m starting my first fast today. I grew up fasting for religious reasons (no food or water for 24 hrs), so this feels like a breeze (water and 500 cals, nice!). Thanks for the information!
Congratulations Imogen! I can back you up whole heartedly, my husband and I went on this diet just over a year ago and we have both kept the weight off. We will continue this way of living forever as nothing else has been so ‘permanent’ before for either of us. (I am 60 and my husband is 68).
Cindy – love that it’s worked so well for you and your husband! Are you doing 6:1 now?
Actually we still follow the 5:2. We could probably manage with the 6:1 but it is just habit now and we don’t mind. Truth be known we probably need the 2 days fasting as we don’t hold back on the 5 days. We even stuck to it whilst on holidays for two months last July/August – it doesn’t seem to register as a ‘real’ diet when it is only for 2 days a week. I think that this is where the success lies as it doesn’t feel restrictive when you know that you can have whatever you want tomorrow.
Hi, thanks for the post. I am struggling with my weight and you’ve given me some hope in renewing an ongoing struggle. Thanks for your informative post.
Congrats on finding a system that works for you! Goodness knows it’s not easy. You look fantastic, Imogen!
You look fabulous, Imogen! Well done!! I am also on the 5-2 food plan and have dropped a few kilos. It has also helped me to cut back on the daily glass of wine. I have gone off alcohol at present, and feel the better for it.
Glad to hear that Marie!
Hmmm got me all inspired to give it a go… I’ve got terrible knee & feet issues & have been unable to exercise for years. Hence the number on my scales steadily creeping up & up. I’ve also been a yoyo dieter for years. But this gives me some hope, so will watch the video over the weekend for further insight & inspiration. You do look fab – new hair, new body inc new boobs! Well done Imogen! 🙂 x