Intermittent Fasting for the soul


Intermittent Fasting...

Recently Art of Manliness posted a guest post describing, among other things, "intermittent fasting". As a paraphrase of the idea, I'll quote from Mike O'Donnell's post on AofM:
Integrate your own periods of feast and famine. What does that mean? Maybe you need to take some days off with lighter eating through out the day (less calories). Or you could also fast some days skipping breakfast or longer, but always eating at some point later in the day (this is called IF, or intermittent fasting). It’s also important to add in the feast part and have larger meals (like at dinner) when you have the famine part, as it’s not about starvation. Whatever you choose, your body best responds to a continually changing environment. Optimally you want your largest meals in the hours after your main resistance training workouts for the week, when your body is primed to maximally take in nutrients. Remember if you want to lose weight it still boils down to insulin control and calorie deficit, not how many meals you eat.
Mike is talking about the relationship between (1) how much and when you eat and (2) your weight and muscle capability. If you fast intermittently, you keep your metabolism flexible in terms of what it does with the calories you take in. If you vary your exercise similarly (not mentioned in the above quote), your muscles will be able to do a wider variety of things.

This makes some sense to me. I started working out for the first time this year, and I've gradually added exercises and watched my body get used to the old ones. At first my legs would feel worked-out any day I did a cardio routine on the bike trainer. Now they don't, even if my heartrate gets to the same level it used to. But if I change from the nearly constant resistance of the cardio program to the rapidly changing resistance of the "hills" program on the bike, it kicks my ass. At least for now.

...For the Soul

For a long time I've been pondering how to keep myself flexible on a personal level - my relationships, my interests and habits. After a long period without change, I realized there were problems, and I abandoned all my habits. I changed everything, frantically. I've been searching for a middle ground. I think that intermittently stressing myself may be the answer.

I think it works with people's brains. If you get out of school and then never take any kind of formal training or classwork, you'll lose your mental flexibility. It will become more difficult for you to solve problems, even problems that aren't far outside your established learning. If you do push yourself a little, even with something like a personal hobby that requires you to figure things out, you'll do better.

I think--I hope--that it works for relationships too. I've let myself be way too lazy. I've stuck with the same old friends, and even failed to do my part to keep up those friendships. I have to build new friendships to remind myself how it works, what it needs, why it's important, why it's fun. I've stuck with the same old habits and activities, and let myself stay in a comfort zone that didn't challenge me. Those old activities just became rituals; they lost their luster and I didn't even notice. I need new pastimes, new interests. Something as simple as taking a different route to work can force me to be more present, to be more aware of my surroundings. It's less safe, but that's the point.

Welcome to my future past. There is no plan. I want to live, and life is risk. Everything in moderation--including moderation.