The overarching theme of my May was intermittent fasting. Having initially started my program of time restricted eating for a period of two weeks at the end of April, it was so beneficial I first extended it to four weeks, and then to six. Only being able to eat during a certain window of time brought a number of challenges, but overall, I found the benefits to significantly outweigh the negatives. When I started intermittent fasting I weighed 94kg, by the last day of May I was down to 90.2kg.
Although I am writing an article which goes into more detail about my experience as an intermittent faster, considering it was the dominant theme during my month of May, I will explore some key points—hopefully whetting your appetite to delve into my article and learn more.
Whilst my initial decision to start time restricted eating was to lose the excess weight I’d carelessly gained over Easter, I don’t attribute my weight loss purely to intermittent fasting. Limiting when I can and cannot eat simply gave me a framework around which I could manage my diet more effectively. I’ve always been a bit of a nibbler and quite often would have a few squares of dark chocolate, or a handful of nuts off the clock. By defining the period of time within which I can eat—I stopped this happening for a large proportion of the day.
In addition to limiting when I ate, I was also careful to manage what I ate. Throughout the whole process I tracked my food in MyFitnessPal. I ate around 2300-2500 calories a day. With a total daily energy expenditure of around 3200kcal, I was always in significant deficit—which resulted in weight loss. Keen to retail muscle mass, I upped my protein consumption—eating around 200g protein per day (around 2.5g per kg of lean muscle mass).
It was hard, there’s no escaping the fact that there were times where I came perilously close to breaking my fast. But, I didn’t. I’m so proud to say that for the entire duration of my fast, I stuck to it. I only ate between 12:30 and 20:30. I chose these times because I could still have a quick, protein-rich meal after the gym in the evening. By 11:30 in the morning I was really hungry, but I stuck it out.
If I had to pick just one benefit of intermittent fasting, I would say it was the mental strength and self-discipline it instilled in me. Whilst before I may have cheated a little here and there—with these strict rules in place I felt a duty of honesty to myself. Otherwise what would be the point in doing it at all?
Something which galvanised my determination and gave me a lot of really great advice, was reading Michael Matthews’ book ‘Bigger Leaner Stronger: The Simple Science of Building the Ultimate Male Body’. Quite a title to live up to, but in my opinion, it certainly did. I’m reviewing the book and will go into greater detail there. But in summary, Matthews told me a lot of what I already knew but added more detail and context on top of it.
I took a lot from reading the book, which although he doesn’t touch on intermittent fasting, I attribute a lot of my success during that period to advice gleaned from Matthews. I certainly saw my body fat drop and my strength increase by following his guidance. I think the most influential tip I took from the book was to lift heavy, within the four to six rep range. If I can’t manage four reps, the weight is too heavy and if I can easily do more than six, it’s time to lift heavier. With this in mind I saw my strength sour, moving up from 22.5kg to 30kg on incline dumbbell bench press in a matter of weeks, to use just one example.
The first half of the month was taken up with feverishly finishing content and ironing out teething problems with the FitKno website, before I finally announced it to the world on the 17th May. What a relief that was, after spending the past five months building the site and creating content—I could finally show the world what I’d done. There was a late night on the 16th, as I worked through until around 01:00 to get everything perfect before scheduling social media posts.
There are two sides to what I do with FitKno, clearly most of you see the fitness side of things. My passion to eat well, work out and get enough rest—conditioning my body to be in the best possible condition. But, there’s also the blogger side to me. I am driven to create well-written, engaging content people want to read. I believe that in all aspects of life—appearance is everything. Therefore, I am obsessed with making sure that the branding and web design is exactly how I want it to be. With everything being the right colour, shape, size and in perfect alignment. Along with my regular job and family life—there’s a lot to keep me busy.
Towards the end of the month there were some raw memories as we remembered one year ago when we took our last family holiday with my dad on a cruise around the Baltic Sea. It was a great holiday, departing on 19th May and returning to Southampton on 4th June, it was 16 nights of sheer pleasure as we visited the delightful ports of Oslo, Copenhagen, Visby, Gdansk, St Petersburg, Tallin, Riga, Klaipeda and Skagen. The cities were delightful and made further enchanting by the unseasonably hot weather we had for that part of the world. Every day the temperature was at least mid 20s, we rarely saw a cloud and never a spot of rain.
Each day, I’d be thinking ‘oh, we’d be in Copenhagen today’ or any of the ports. Even without the tragic passing of my dad last August, I’d be reminiscing on this holiday, because we really had a great time. The fact he’s no longer with us made it all the more poignant. I miss the holiday and I miss him.
Keen to get as much cardio in as I can, I started running again this month. Running fasted, first thing in the morning was a great way to accelerate the loss of body fat. As well as weighing less, looking leaner and lifting heavier weights, I can see progress in my athletic performance too. Last winter I could run the 5km route along the canal near my house in 26:26, by the end of May I got that down to 25:15. I can’t wait to break the 25:00 mark, which will be averaging less that 5 minutes per kilometre—something I’ve never managed to do over that sort of distance.