How Intermittent Fasting Saved Me…while Slowly Killing Me

post banner cavemanfeast How Intermittent Fasting Saved Me…while Slowly Killing Me

 

Today’s post is brought to you by an amazing individual I know whose Paleo moniker is The Paleo Angel.  Outside of the Paleosphere she is just an incredibly cheerful and giving individual named Kaleigh.  Read below to understand her difficult journey and how she overcame it.  Thank you Kaleigh for being so brave to share this, I hope it helps many women or men struggling with the same issues.

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In January 2010, I had topped the scale at 163lbs. Up until that point in my life, I had never seen anything over 140. I made a common move of most women and joined Weight Watchers.  Through that, I lost 30lbs at the most, but started teetering around 135-138lbs.

 

I was not in shape, I was starving myself via calorie restriction, I was eating whatever my “points” allowed for, which was over-processed junk, I had insomnia and no energy. 

 

Fast forward to May, 2011: I discovered a CFL1 trainer who told me I should consider eating Paleo. He gave me a general idea of the lifestyle and left the additional research up to me. I was intrigued. I read up, I bought the books, I got a very full understanding of the diet. Within week one of Crossfitting and Paleo, I lost 7 pounds. A majority of that happened to fall off my waist. The workouts were tough, but I kept with them.

 

I grew to love Paleo eating even when my weight loss stopped. I slept amazing. My skin started to glow, my teeth were whiter, I was at peace and a happier person in general and I adopted a LOVE for Paleo cooking and discovering and creating great meals that were truly nutritious and delicious.

 

I loved that I never counted or weighed a thing. I loved that I ate main meals and snacks and “points” were a thing of my past that I’d never turn back to. Through Paleo, I became a better Crossfitter, a better sleeper, a better worker, a more positive, energetic person,

A BETTER ME…

The Paleosphere is filled with information on intermittent fasting. I had come across so many articles praising it. I listened to people at my Crossfit Box talk about their success with some intermittent fasting, (all men). I thought to myself “no way, I love my breakfast…couldn’t skip that…and come to think of it, I like to eat every so many hours… I’m not sure how I would do this?!” So, for a while, I thought it was something I might re-visit at some later point, but I didn’t see how or why I would approach it.

Fast forward further to June 2012. I’m now a year into Paleo, a year into Crossfit. At this point, I’m eating very strictly Paleo and 21-Day-Sugar Detoxing and post 21-Day basically avoiding fruit (maybe a handful of berries once a week), honey or paleo-ized foods. Do I have a rocking six pack and a rock hard ass? No. Am I actively losing weight? No. Am I FEELING like some days my pants are a little snug and other days they’re a little lose? Yes… I consider talking to someone about nutrition. My pitch: “I eat Paleo. I eat very little sugar-including fruit or “paleo” sugars like honey or maple syrup. Love my meats-fatty cuts or lean, always eat my veggies…and bacon. Why do I feel like my body isn’t responding to this when I am Crossfitting 6 days a week?!” Let me stop here.

This is where my mental health took a turn for the worse.

Suddenly instead of being focused on my health and fitness goals (which were to be healthy, feel great via high energy, quality sleep, mental clarity and to get stronger and be a part of a program that will help me live a longer quality life),

I was focused on my body image.

I started digging for any program that would get me this “perfect body”. I wasn’t concerned with how I felt, my general health, etc, I was concerned with my looks. Apprehensively, Leangains was a program that was explained to me on a high level. Again, it was up to me to look into it if I was going to be serious about it…and I did… I obsessively researched it.

What is Leangains? Leangains is a program that requires a 16 hour fast daily with an 8 hour eating window. In that 8 hour window one has x amount of calories that must be tracked as well as x amount of macro nutrients that should be hit as strictly as possible. On a workout day this means lots of carbs, nearly no fat and moderate protein. To “cut” AKA lose weight, you eat only +10% your TDEE. On a rest day one would eat high fat, low carb and moderate protein and caloric intake is reduced 30%.

 

Every day you are calorically deprived.

                                 Every day you wait to break the fast.

 

Then you feast; large meals that feel like a huge, very uncomfortable binge. You are stuffing thousands of calories down your throat; 60-80% of calories were suggested in your FIRST meal alone. I did this. I thought there was no way this “binging” would help me get this perfect body….but after week one I went from 133lbs (which note: was a pre-menstrual weigh in) to 127.8lbs. Immediately, this fueled me to continue.  The first 2 weeks felt like I was binging daily and it was not fun. I continued to lose weight and inches and people started noticing. Someone actually said to me, “WOW! You look like you lost like…six pounds! You look amazing!” At that point, I had lost 7, she was dead-on and she was telling me I was looking fabulous. I wasn’t feeling the most fabulous.

I started to notice zits popping up a little more often. After week 2 the “binge” feeling was gone, instead, I counted down the minutes until I could shove pounds of food down in one sitting. I started adding in foods I hadn’t eaten in a year: bread, oreos, ice cream, bagels… anything that I could “enjoy” on workout days because it fit my macros. During this time, I flaked as “The Paleo Angel”… I stopped blogging about my awesome meals, I started talking about my break up, my troubles and my readers probably wondered how a very positive, upbeat blog about Paleo eats became a blog about “Hi, I’m Kaleigh and this is everything shitty about my life”, or

 

“here is my defensive, ranting blog about insert excuse here as to why I’m totally ok wanting a 6-pack and going through crazy means to get it”

 

My blog was my Paleo baby. Something I just HAD to do because I felt Paleo changed my life and my health in so many ways and I wanted to share and HELP people. Instead I started polluting my blog with my obsessiveness over how starving myself for hours a day will get me lean and insisting everyone do it too. My defense: hey, Mark Sisson said it’s healthy! We all know Mark would not condone this sort of destructive behavior…

So I was already a damaged mind, in denial and alone. There were days I would eat off Leangains… these days included me raiding my refrigerator, going to dinner with friends and ordering apps, drinks, dessert and still wanting more.

My appetite could never be satisfied.

 I was suddenly experiencing anxiety.

I never slept.
 

Pre-intermittent fasting I was in bed by 9pm, sometimes 8pm- out cold, and up and refreshed by 545AM.  IFing I was laying in bed at midnight and tossing and turning for hours and going to work and doing a head-bob all morning because I couldn’t stay awake. I only did strength training and I did it alone.

 

I no longer had a group of Crossfitters cheering me on, experiencing my PRs, helping me through my weaknesses, motivating me in a POSITIVE direction.

 

Instead, anytime I didn’t get heavier on a lift, I’d leave the gym and my day would be ruined. I would cry many days. I still didn’t have abs. I was “plateauing” on losing anything, I was weighing myself twice a day,

I was obsessing over what I would eat next,

the next hour,

the next day,

the next week, the next month

and wondering how it would all work in achieving this “perfect” body.

By week 8, my chin was breaking out more. By week 9, more, by week 10, I had legitimate acne; large cist-like monsters just hanging out under my skin. A bumpy, unhealthy face, tired eyes, no energy, what my mom called a “depressed” state of mind. My hormones were ALL out of whack.

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While I am fighting to get to sleep on warm September night, I find myself thinking about my diet, my weight, my looks, this horrible acne… and it dawns on me… The cause is the effect of intermittent fasting. I quickly remember Stefani from Paleo For Women’s CONCERNING POST I read months before about the negative effects IF has on women. I grab my computer and re-read. I start balling my eyes out. Everything Stefani wrote was everything I had been experiencing. I had let my health go and let bad body image take over.

 

My desperateness for perfection led me to drastic intermittent fasting and my body was rejecting it.

 

It was begging for me to listen to it, feed it when it wants to be fed and not to “think” about it. A few paragraphs back, you might recall I was just a girl who had main meals and maybe some snacks. I didn’t think about it. I nourished myself properly. I listened to my body.

I decide I have to immediately share this with my facebook following so I post an update about my epiphany. My phone buzzes…it’s George, Civilized Caveman, a text pops up “I’m proud of you”. I knew George had read my update. I knew weeks ago, George called me out on being on a destructive path. I knew George was right.

 

 I made a decision that night that this was no longer my “dark secret”; these crazy thoughts of what I’m going to eat when and how much and how it’s going to make me fatter, thinner, stronger, weaker and how I can have very low body fat ASAP.

 

The next morning, the first thing I did was shop at Trader Joe’s. I got all my Paleo staple-favorites: bananas, berries, bacon, eggs, dark chocolate, chicken wings, a roast, steak, sweet potatoes…etc. I called my mom and invite her over for my favorite breakfast that I have been ignoring for 10 long weeks- bacon and eggs and tell her I need to talk. I ask my best friend if she can come later so I can “confess” to her too. This was no longer going to be my secret, I needed help before this spiraled into something far more dangerous. I was knee deep in quick sand down a path of an eating disorder and wrapped up in severe body image issues. I cry, again, and explain to my mom by simply stating, “I have very scary body image issues”… I tell her how I think and how food, weight, and need for perfection have consumed my life. My mom listens, tells me it has concerned her and she walked out of my place that morning, taking my scale with her. There is no scale in my house to obsess over. Feeling immediate relief just sharing my “secret” and my moment of clarity and out-cry for help, I instantly feel ready to tell my best friend.

 

She listens, she understands, she doesn’t judge me harshly; she confirms she is there for me, for anything and wants me to be healthy.

 

My struggles and my problems are no longer a secret. The horrific physical and mental repercussions intermittent fasting brought to the table 10 fold are now something I am both so thankful for and regretting. I am not proud I took this road, I realize I am light years away from the once healthy me I was just a year ago, I realize this is going to be a brand new journey in finding health, but I am excited to work on me, to look into therapy and to having a support system. I regret not listening to my body, not being patient, letting another woman’s “perfect body” make me feel less perfect, less beautiful and ultimately lead me down a dark road. I can only hope sharing my story will spark something in other women or men like myself and stopping the cycle.

I hope to bring my blog back to life, to start enjoying the Paleo lifestyle that once was the best thing that ever happened to me and most importantly to start accepting and loving myself.

Here is a picture of Kaleigh, 5 Days, after ending her fasting and eating properly again, Face = ALL CLEAR and she is Happy!!!!!!
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Comments

  1. You are SO right – that the poster kids for IF are all men. I see it work much less often in females. We are just wired differently. I tried the leangains approach in the past with zero success. I’ve now been successfully IFing with the Renegade Diet method, and this is much better for me as the focus is on *health* not the chance to eat a whole cheesecake – which, tbh is the main reason that the 16/8 method appeals so much to me.

    Thank you for sharing this! There needs to be more talk about the dark side of IF.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this story. I have a history of eating disorders, and IF sent me on a pretty bad spiral as well. I got to what I perceived as a perfect body, but I was a girl obsessed, counting every carb going for longer and longer fasts (2+ days), and feeling like an utter failure whenever I gave into hunger and ate, usually massive amounts. Letting go of that control and power you feel from IF is so difficult.

  3. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing this with everyone. I personally have had my first binge purge session in over 5 years, after just a little IF ing. That was just last weekend. I needed this post. It helped me realize I got control before and I will again. This time after only one session and not 6 years of insanity. Your strength is to be admired and I appreciate you sharing your struggles with everyone.

  4. Mary Beth Elderton says:

    Wow. I don’t think I would ever be able to do all the counting and obsessing involved in any “diet plan.” I am a bit *ahem* older and have always been conscious of eating well—the trouble was that my habits were based on mainstream understanding of what I now call “The American Diet.” Now that I know how–let’s be nice and call it “incomplete”–that information has been, I am trying to learn what foods are really good and how to eat them. Thank you for the information about this approach.

  5. Thank you for writing this. I remember during the early days of my involvement in the paleo community, I mentioned that IF did not work well for me. Many were sharply critical, and made some really offensive comments. IF has become the poster child of bad bro-science. The men who demand that this technique work for all really need to take a look at how they are being in the community and learn to modify their behavior.
    I have read other comments about your post here, and they seem to be very critical of your behavior, suggesting that your behavior on the diet was suggestive of your underlying mental state and not from the diet itself. I do not agree with that position.

  6. You are amazing and strong. Thank you for writing this post with such honesty.

  7. Wiw! What a great and timely post! I was a former amateur bodybuilder, and from that developed some incredible body image issues, as well as neurotic weighing of not only my foods, but myself as well. I started Paleo about a year ago, and lost a bit if weight, but nothing outstanding.

    I then started Leangains and even joined a Facebook group for women IF’ers. Most of these women were young and very lean. I was middle aged with a spotty weight and exercise history. There were some middle aged women there, but they were definitely the outliers. I too noticed that IF appeals to mainly the young, lean and metabolically healthy crowd.

    I had some early success with LG, but was not sleeping, also had breakouts and experienced abnormal menses. I became even more neurotic about my foods.

    I totally agree. It’s back to “Paleo a la Robb Wolf” for me.

  8. Jonathan Swaringen says:

    Have you read Jack Kruse? I really like his stuff. Tons of blogs on tons of different topics.

    http://jackkruse.com/brain-gut-12-dare-to-disagree/
    http://jackkruse.com/brain-gut-6-epi-paleo-rx/

    I highly recommend the whole thing…some parts are a bit hard to understand but its interesting.
    1-5, 13, 14, 16 would be a good start.

    Body by Science seemed pretty good as well as The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living/Performance

    Just mentioning those as they were recent reads.

  9. Leea Browning says:

    If I’m not reading wrong did you say you were fasting every day? If that’s the case I thought even Mark Sisson said once a week. I was doing it and felt pretty good and have been told by a personal holistic dr. friend that a once a week 16 hr fast is good for the body. Maybe every other week. I’ve always had an awful time with fruit and just plain sugar. I even made a comment to George post on a cookie that had chocolate chips in a recipe that I try not to even buy them cause I’ll eat the whole bag. lol
    Good luck on your journey!

    • Yes…everyday…not at all what Mark condones. I was doing a program called Leangains. Led to some destructive behavior. Glad to be healing :) thank you

  10. Thanks for this post! I thought I was the only one that IF didn’t work for (yes, I read ALL the blogs of successful MEN IFing). IF was horrid for me and didn’t produce anything but a whacked out adrenal system. Still trying to heal from that. I eat no fruits, grains, wheat, sugar and very minimal sugar and have gained 20 pounds from my last HCG round (another thing that whacked me out!)

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Wow, Cyndy! Crazy what the effects are on some of us, huh? Here’s to our HEALTH!

    • Erin Findley says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Kaleigh! I’m in recovery from binge eating disorder (pre-paleo) and the few bouts I have tried of intermittent fasting have been disastrous. I’m so glad to see that you are back on track for what makes you feel good and healthy!

  11. I’m so glad you wrote this article! I recently hit a plateau in my weight loss after 1 yr of Paleo and 24 lbs lost. I started to think more of body image and cut carbs to the extreme with no avail. I tried IF and carb-backloading but my sleep became really messed up, I got searing headaches, and had zero desire to workout. After 1 week I knew it wasn’t for me. After reading an article from the Healthy Home Economist, I added more coconut oil to my diet and let myself eat more carbs after reading a Paleo For Women article. My sleep returned to normal, my skin looked better, and my moods stabilized. It’s stressful to think about which macronutrient I should eat when…now I just get my spoon of coconut oil with my meals and let the macros fall where I feel comfortable. After 2 days of adding coconut oil, I lost 3 lbs effortlessly. I think the stress of “needing to lose weight!” drives us further from our goals.

    • Cassandra- you’re right! I havent thought about my weight now for a little over a week. I thought this week would be a struggle and I would be missing my scale that was taken from me. I dont. I dont miss living by some # and letting it effect my mood, my day… if something is a lil snug… i put on something else! Honestly, since just going back to eating when i wanted, more regularly i havent “felt” like ive gained weight at all… i actually feel really good. learning to love myself and appreciate my health has been great

      • I’m glad that you have detached yourself from the scale…we are more than the number it shows us! I have to remind myself that, as a woman, my weight (especially due to water) fluctuates over the month and that is totally normal. Women come in different shapes and sizes…super thin to super curvy…and all can be healthy. We need to be our biggest advocates for respecting those differences. I have come to respect my hips and thighs because I know that the extra fat there can help me have healthy babies someday, so with that regard I am perfectly healthy and that makes me happy! When I think about health from that standpoint, six packs seems less important.

  12. Sounds like you made it important, and worried about it. When we go to extremes, we get the balance that comes with it: misery. I just got off ZC/Carnivore + Leangains, and that was a hot mess. Not much energy to do things other than work out and watch TV. Remember, it’s all an experiment and it’s about understanding the resistance and forms we get day to day, without turning the desired result into a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: rather than ego tripping on the goals, we can travel disidentified with an interesting AIM. You can have your 6 pack abs and eat them, too. Just continue to observe, discover (creatively comprehend) the relationships between food, rest, activity and fat burning, and you’ll get there. In other words, learn how lipolysis works, and see if it’s worth the effort. The trick is making it effortless. ;)

  13. thank you for havuing the courage to speak out about your condiiton! i truly feel that this will be an enormous help to so many! btw, YOU LOOK AMAZING and don’t ever let anyone make you feel different!! :) <3

  14. Thank you thank you thank you for sharing your experience AND your epiphanies. I completely understand how an attempt to be “healthy” can start to conflate itself with “thin/fit/ripped/etc.” Even without an eating disorder, a person can start to internalize disordered thoughts and behaviors…and once they creep in, they can open the door for more and more destructive thinking and actions.

    I myself started the Paleo thing thinking that I needed to change the way my body looked…and I was fortunate to realize that, while I wasn’t getting more ripped or losing weight or whatever, I was feeling better and healthier than I ever had in my life–and that, for the first time since I became an anorexic 11 years ago, I felt truly full.

    Your story is incredibly inspirational, and I hope that other women (and men!) who read it see the value in what you’ve shared: admitting to yourself that your lifestyle has become unmanageable and then REACHING OUT FOR HELP is so difficult, and so beyond necessary…I’ve been working on using my own blog to build a network for others who struggle with disordered thinking about body image and food, but obviously it’s not possible to reach everybody in the world…it’s just a matter of being the resource for the people who want to be reached.

    Thank you, again, for showing others that it’s possible to be healthy without giving in to destructive thinking.

    Best,

    Kaila

  15. Kaleigh –

    Thank you SO much for sharing this. This is EXACTLY what happened to me. I started IF’ing and soon my body image was number one priority — I had extreme body dysmorphia and a nagging voice inside me was telling me I was ugly and fat even when I got in size 0 jeans. My hair started falling out, I was weak and miserable. Plus, I felt the need to control EVERYTHING. I would eat breakfast and a light dinner, usually about 1200 calories/day. I was lean and thin and thought I should be happy, and then I lost control. Soon, I was binging once/week, then it was every other day. Soon, it was every day. The sugar and gluten demons attacked, and I lost the paleo lifestyle that I had once thrived on.

    I’m trying to get back on track now — killing the carb/sugar cravings — by eating lots of fat, meat and veggies. It’s been a struggle so far though, and I’ve gained a lot of weight back, so there is the nagging voice still telling me I need to restrict/fast etc. to lose the weight again.

    I would love to hear your advice on how you get back on track and over the hump of cravings, carb flu, bad body image, etc. Thank you for sharing this. I’m glad I’m not alone.

    • The funny thing about me too is that I’m in a size 0 as well… i was “proud” when my size 0′s felt loose… sad. Honestly, I have done so well just letting go of this because I know how much I just miss things like: sleep, happiness, mental clarity, clear skin. To me it was reason enough to get back on track and over the hump. I somehow have gotten in a GREAT mindset where I really am listening to my body. I KNOW when i am satisfied, and I dont need more food… I eat breakfast daily, I feel like it starts me off on the right start (no mid-morning starvation)… I like a couple eggs and bacon…sometimes with a side of some full fat greek yogurt with 1/2 handful of fruit. Learn when you’re “bored” vs actually being hungry. I just had dinner (steak and brussel sprouts with bacon)… i felt like I wanted a “treat” so…i broke off a square of dark choc and let it melt in my mouth. It was perfect. Just enough to satisfy my lil craving. So dont ignore your cravings! If you want sweet… go for a banana…an apple…berries, dark chocolate… etc.

  16. I appreciate this post so much as I’m currently going through the same issues. Going paleo has definitely helped with digestive issues I’ve had and helped me stay leaner, but I’ve always wanted to lose just 5 more pounds (I’m vain, what can I say). I first started just trying to restrict myself, a habit I had adopted from my early college “1000 calories a day diet”. That didn’t work, as I’m too much of a foodie. Then I tried Zoning to help control my portions but I became obsessed with measuring my food. Then came IFing. Worst thing to ever happen to me. It seemed okay at first but then turned into an obsession as I anticipated my next meal. To mask my food issues to family and friends, I have always said my dietary habits are my way of experimenting with different ways I can eat healthy when in reality, I have the most unhealthy relationship with food. IFing became a punishment, something I had to do so I wouldn’t gain weight. Really, it was a way to starve myself and occasionally binge but call it ‘healthy’.

    IFing may be great for some people. I’ve read about some amazing girls who do it on the reg and have great experiences with it, so I thought I was just being a pansy. Your post really resonated with me as I’m still struggling to find my healthy relationship with food. For now I’ll just stick with paleo and try to listen to my body rather than my vanity.

  17. It’s wonderful that you were able to tune in and know what your body was telling you. I wish mine would talk to me. After gaining 20 pounds on low carb/primal/paleo, I’ve given up and just about resigned myself to the fact that nothing is going to work and I’m just going to be fat. I eat only when hungry, and that’s gotten to be about a half a meal a day. That’s the only way I can keep from gaining. Maybe I’ll try Whole30 sometime, see if that works.

  18. I’m glad you are back on track and healthier. That “IF” you did sounds nothing like what I have been doing since February 2012. The program described in this article would make me uncomfortable.

    1 or 2 days a week, (I decide), I go from, dinner on, say a Monday evening until dinner Tuesday evening without eating. Only water, plain hot or cold teas or coffee. I do not eat grains, and don’t consider myself “Paleo” or anything else. I eat what I want when I eat. I choose to eat lots of fresh food and buy organic when I can. I don’t have an eating window, I just don’t care for processed food. My last doctor’s appointment (September 10th) was stellar. I am 49 years old. According to my doctor: My blood pressure is perfect, my “bad” cholesterol is dropping every visit, while my “good” rises. My A1C for blood sugar, “could not be better.” Her words. I train high intensity, short duration with 80% body weight exercises with training programs that I write myself. This is just my version of fasting. YMMV.

  19. Great story.

    My question to you: Why wouldn’t you continue to eat Paleo, while doing IF?

    I predict that your altered hormones and acne were a result of “stuffing your face with oreos” or “eating anything that would fit your macros”… and not specifically due to your 16 hour fasts and 8 hour eating window.

    I definitely agree that IF is not for everyone, but perhaps you should have tried IF on a Paleo diet?

    • Exactly my thoughts.
      Why would create a metabolic nightmare for yourself doing IF with crap nutrition. Go Back on IF with a Paleo approach, I bet youll feel great.

      • Of course it’s important to eat clean while IFing, but here we talk about food obsession. I’m on Paleo (it was Whole 30 first and I’m generally eat the same way now) and Leangains for already 9 weeks and experienced absolutely the same!
        I’m couting minutes till my first meal of the day and after I eat it I count at what time I’ll have the next one. Or sit and think about what I will eat… I don’t weigh myself but I am very very disappointed with the way I look, hate what I see in the mirror. So I had to stop looking at myself in the mirror because whatever I would never be happy what I see…. It’ terrible, this mess in my head and I just don’t know what shall I do.
        I’m very happy for you, Kaleigh, that you managed to find your way from it. But as for me I just really don’t know where shall I start. Half of me understands that this is unhealthy, this obsession about body image and foods, and wants to change something. I’ve missed my period which means that hormones in my body are totally imbalansed!=(
        But another part speaks for Leangains as it works for so many. (But these are mostly man!)
        Please, I need an advice. Really lost and don’t know what to do….

    • I answered this previously and will again… i only did that shit for about a week… then i went Paleo with my IF as i DID first blame the food…but NOPE even Paleo, I was BAD. EVERYTHING was bad. I am happier now NOT doing that.

  20. Wow! What a crazy experience, but glad you got it straightened out.
    I love IF as a whole, but the Lean Gains protocol of eating the ginormous post workout and breaking your fast made me into an absolute slug. My energy was great from skipping breakfast, but I wanted to sleep after gorging on a few lbs of food.I felt like a puffer fish the rest of the day and was forcing myself to eat, but I was eating a clean plan.
    I then started reading Jason Ferruggia’s Renegade Diet of combining a Paleo approach with probiotics, intermittent fasting, and back loading your carbs. Post workout was basically a small meal with maybe a banana, low carb the rest of the day with smaller meals, then feast at night with almost all of my carbs. My sleep was better, workouts improved, etc.
    I’m about to start Keifer’s Carb Backloading program which is similar to Renegade, but pushes a very high glycemic carb load (several hundred grams worth) post workout ideally around 6PM and lasting for a few hours. Julia Ladewski from Girls Gone Strong had an article discussing her success with CBL.
    It seems females have a harder time with IF, but it also seems to benefit those with those who focus more on strength workouts rather than endurance (including CF).
    Whatever works!

    • i did all strength while doing leangains… I really missed CF, though. I’m happier just to be back with my CF gang and getting back to what works for me…which really isnt searching for some program to make me thinner, toner, etc…

  21. Did you ever think about writing an ebook about it?

  22. I’m so sorry that you had to go through this. I’ve got a rocky history with food and disordered eating. I have LOVED Primal because of the 80/20 rule. It allows me to do my best, but not beat myself up for the times when I eat something that’s not optimal. I think I’m the nicest to myself, now, than I ever have been and I love that.
    I tried the IF stuff a bit, and found that it was NOT for me. I seem to sail through 50-100g of carbs a day, but if I skip breakfast and only have lunch, I’m an emotional mess by early evening. I’m not hungry at all, but I am depressed and anxious and just awful to be around. Yuck. I don’t even know if it was having any positive impact on my weight, but I can definitely say that it was having a negative impact on my moods. Sorry, but it’s not for me. Good mental health trumps ripped abs every single day. Period.
    Good luck to you on your recovery.

  23. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I have been contemplating fasting so I can try and achieve a better body and because of your honesty, Kaleigh, I see that this is no road to travel and that I myself may have some body issues as well. I think we all do to a degree. So proud of you. You are beautiful and so brave!

  24. Erik Schneider says:

    Kaleigh,
    I’m glad your figuring out that a “prescription” doesn’t always work for everyone. I too get frustrated when I follow a program to the T and it doesn’t give me the results I was looking for. You know the Paleo guidelines, follow it to how your body feels, and forget about everything else. By the way, it always blows me away when I see good looking people that have image issues, but it seems that it happens more often than people think. I’m married, but not blind, let me tell you “YOU”RE HOT!!!” Don’t ever think otherwise.

  25. I appreciate your story, I tried IF a few years ago and it DID NOT work. I fell into this whole too but Im blessed that I somehow got myself out of it, I took a lot of thinking and journalism for me to come to that realization.

  26. What a phenomenal post. Thank you for sharing and articulating this all too common situation so beautifully. I battled an eating disorder for five years and have been in recovery a full year and just recently discovered paleo. I feel a whole new level of food freedom I never knew existed. Many people assume that “eating paleo” is a “diet” and therefore totally unsuitable for someone like me with ED history, but I’ve never been mentally healthier.

  27. I had a similar experience with IF years ago, eating whatever I wanted as long as it was within my eating window, mostly macaroni and icecream! lol. Like you, I become very obsessive and felt horrible every day. Recently though, I got back into IF combined with paleo and I feel amazing. I hate having to make and eat breakfast and lunch during my work day and have adapted to where I don’t even get hungry until around 5PM though, so it just works for me, but definitely not for everyone. It’s truly amazing how different everyones’ bodies are when it comes to diet and exercise.

    I hope you continue to listen to your body and focus on being healthy. By the way, I think you are absolutely beautiful!

    • It is amazing how each person is so different. I’m so happy to hear you’ve modified and found a healthy balance in your life and thank you so much for your kind words… makes my day :)

  28. Wonderful, brave post. I worry about the whole IF thing sometimes, mostly because it seems to work for me & I’ve also read about the potential side-effects for women and wonder if I’m doing the right thing for my health long term. I was never a natural breakfast eater (brunch was more my style), but when I quit carbs and became fat adapted I naturally adopted a sort of IF routine – only I’d never heard of IF. I just wasn’t hungry eating as much fat as I was. I would work out in the morning, have a whey protein shake with cacao and about 4T of coconut oil, and then I just wouldn’t feel hungry AT all until late afternoon when I would have dinner. I worried that I wasn’t eating enough, but I wasn’t hungry. Then I read about IF and it was like a lightbulb went off in my head and I stopped worrying. Maybe because I have coconut oil in my protein shake (and a little more before bed in my hot raw cacao drink), I’m not really eating IF anyway. I don’t know, but most days it feels very right Sinai don’t worry about the pedantics. Some days, esp. weekends when we eat together all day as a family, I eat more, and I feel this is good balance. I’m not trying to lose weight (and I don’t need too), I just want to be happy and healthy. Sometimes I have some nuts if I’m hungry in the afternoon – but that usually ruins my appetite for dinner which is essential nutritionally, so I try not to do that too often. Sometimes I have a big fruit salad with lots of double cream. Basically if I really want something I met myself have it, but distinguishing between what the mind wants, and what the body needs is a tricky business. I’ve never been a breakfast eater so this way of eating feels very natural to me. And I think because I’m eating so much fat (coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, butter, animal fats), and I’m not eating any sugar, grains or flour of any kind, or anything processed, my hormones, skin, and mental health seem to be fine. Better than fine actually! I guess we’re all different and we all need to do what fits right for us. I am always mindful that I’m sort of still experimenting to find my right fit, and I need to be objective when considering the results, so if things change for me I will remember this post!

    • I think the very MAJOR difference between us 2 is that you are listening to your body. The “natural” IFing is just that-NATURAL. for it was not…and i believe its why it messed with me more n more as time went on. I felt like it “worked for me” at first-but that was as far as losing weight went- nothing else “worked” (losing sleep, losing my glow, energy, etc). I was a breakfast eater… so skipping that on the regular and working out with an ounce of food in my system for up to 20 hrs on somedays wasnt ok for me. I think your approach (and mind set) to listening to your body and eating accordingly is exactly what healthy eating habits are. I hope to be there 100% someday soon.

  29. Thank you for sharing your story! While I know that all of us as women can relate to the body image issues, the biggest thing I got out of your story is that WOMEN ARE UNIQUE! Our hormonal patterns, body fat distribution, and ability to nourish life make us biochemically different from men. Hoping to start seeing more research on how paleo / IF applies to women…

    • I agree! And no man or woman are the same! I see women do Paleo and crossfit for a month and they’re in sick, insane shape…for me, I was getting caught up in that. Why them and not me?! I dont want to compare myself to other women! I am me, and I work hard in the gym and I try to maintain a healthy way of eating and I’m learning to love THAT and let go out my “imperfections”

  30. ” bread, oreos, ice cream, bagels… anything that I could “enjoy” on workout days because it fit my macros.”

    perhaps it was your poor choice of training day carbs that caused the problems and not IF. If you were to retain your clean paleo eating ways while fasting 14 hours a day, I’m sure you would have found a different result. Still, IF is not for people who struggle with eating – and your biggest meal on training days should be post workout, not necessarily the first meal of the day – and should consist of at least 50% of your calories in LEAN protein, good quality carbs and low fat. Martin outlines a number of protocols for differing schedules on leangains.com. I’m sorry you had such a negative experience.

    There are more than 3000 women in my FB group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/fiercefitfearless/, who have had positive experiences with IF, but with slightly differing approaches. Some can get away with eating garbage carbs and using IIFYM, some can’t tolerate gluten or too much processed sugar and stick with more primal carbs. Perhaps it’s because women have so much more going on hormonally that we have to tread lightly and experiment to find what works for us as individuals. I’m glad you feel better.

    • I Was part of that group and un-subscribed. I should make it clear that my “unclean” eating maybe last 2 weeks of the 10. I thought the food choices were also my problem so i adopted paleo/leangains. After 10 weeks I was a complete disaster. I see that this program has worked for many, but I also can look and see toxic posts on that page of women who went through binges…or bragged about their massive PWO meal… I really dont think a binge of any sort is anything to be proud of. That is my personal opinion now. I dont want to obsess about carbs, fats, proteins, etc. I want to eat whole, real food and be happy. No more counting, no more burden…and no more acne! But to each their own…for ME…it was destructive.

  31. There don’t seem to be too many on here with a positive experience of IF. I’ve been paleo and IF’ing for pretty much a year now, mainly I go with it during the week, and on weekend I love a morning breakfast.
    IF to me is not about weight loss, or body image, it’s about feeling good. I think clearly in the morning when fasted, I have great energy (though I will admit, it does take me a little longer to get going when I wake up) and it makes me appreciate my first meal of the day WAY more than I ever used to.
    I don’t overthink it, I just do it, it’s a way of life now. I also don’t follow a high carb/low carb strategy, I eat whatever I fancy and just keep a general eye on trying to make sure the foods I’m eating through the week will be giving me what I need.

    Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you, it was a great article though, extremely interesting and I’m glad you are in a better place now.

  32. Kaleigh, first off, thank you for outing yourself…you’ll never regret living your truth, even when you wish it were a different truth. I think so many of us struggle when paleo and Crossfit only get us so far. I’ve come to realize that is when the real work begins…when we really do learn to embrace the bodies we have for what they can do, not how well they conform to current standards of ideal beauty. For me, the journey began when a paleo challenge threw me into a mental tailspin. Suddenly, I was adding up points, and deducting points, and, like you, looking at the scale and ignoring what is already knew. I ended up feeling so foolish because I was letting arbitrary and external influences define me. It took a few months to find myself again, but no journey is wasted. Now, I’m not tempted by new interpretations, nor exhortations to go strict. My body really can be trusted to do the best things. Good luck and have faith…you’ll be fine.

    • SO happy to hear that you escaped the mindset we sometimes get stuck in. I am REALLY glad I caught it as well and I was pretty deep in. Every day I dig out a little further and start seeing the light… It’s like a WOD really… an ass kicker, but always worth it in the end :) Thanks so much for your kind words

  33. Thanks for sharing your story and congrats on finding your way back!

  34. Hey there,

    first of all I’m glad to hear you’ve got your groove back and are happy with an eating and training system that is working for you.

    I am a fan of using or at least exploring IF as a tool for de-stressing about food, making your relationship with food better and given the multitude of ‘IF styles’, I like the flexibility it can give to people.

    One of the quotes that stuck with me early on from the Leangains website (when people were hitting Martin up for the ‘exact’ details, the secret formula etc) was the following

    “My diet is far from rigid. I don’t plot out x grams of y macronutrient to consume on z days, but have a general strategy depending on requirements (i.e workout days are higher carb, but not necessarily high carb, rest days are lower carb etc). It’s a lifestyle approach these days.”

    The flexible, stress free, healthy approach that works for you is the answer. For some it might be through IF, for others it isn’t.

    Thanks for sharing, I hope others can learn from your experience and not end up on the same path :)

    James

    • Thanks James! I do think escaping the rigid is a good thing. For me, that also meant no more “waiting to eat”…when I’m hungry, i chow! plus i LOVE my bacon and eggs before work in the AM :)

  35. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this. This is incredibly timed with how I have been feeling about myself lately. I have been consistently eating <100 (and even <50) grams of carbs a day for awhile now; even quit dairy and alcohol for a bit. Did I have a perfect flat and toned stomach? No. Did I lose weight? No. In fact, some of my clothes were tighter. I keep seeing all of these Paleo people (men and women) who within a month of eating Paleo (I'm arguably 6-7 months in) have toned bodies. I'm SO glad to hear another woman's perspective on body type and what Paleo is REALLY about (eating the right way for our bodies and health) rather than picture after picture of before-and-afters that make me feel like I'm doing something wrong. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • I feel like we’re kindred spirits! I have thought the EXACT same thoughts as you. Why does woman A have a rock hard body and she eats paleo 80/20 and maybe works out 2x/week… The truth is all of us our different. Maybe ill NEVER have a crazy 6 pack…so what! I am healthy and strong and I feel amazing. I am not obese, I have no health issues, I am young and I have GREAT support via my paleo site, my friends, family and my boyfriend… my life rocks! And here I am getting caught up in other peoples “results”… I’d so much rather just do right by myself and learn to love me and love my healthy eating and love my crossfit workouts…and let go of ego. It’s so much easier said than done! But let’s get there together!

  36. Thank you for opening yourself up in this very public place. The Crossfit Community is here to support you thru the good and the bad times. Never forget that, best of luck to you on your new health endeavors.

    • Couldnt agree more! I am so so SO grateful to people @ my box who have reached out unselfishly and said so many kind things. I love that I am a part of it and back to taking classes rather than working out by myself!

  37. Kaleigh, THANK YOU so much for your post. I am coming up on 6 months Paleo, and I had fallen into an IF rut, as in I didn’t have an appetite for food anymore, literally NOTHING sounded good, and I would go whole days on 3 chicken leg. Now I know as a result of my lack of appetite and really accidental IF I have been having TERRIBLE breakouts, I have pimples and boils on my face and neck. Because of this post I am going to make it a point from now on to try and put something in morning, noon, and night, to help balance my hormones.

    • It’s nuts how it messed with my skin…absolutely nuts. Get on a pattern of healthy portion sizes and delicious foods! I have such a love for Paleo eating and getting really creative with spices, sauces, different cooking methods… makes it fun and yummy! I used to host “paleo dinners” for my friends too it was an awesome way to eat up and socialize.. my friends never minded either! I plan on doing those again!

  38. Such a shame that you took such a destructive path to IF. It really can be a great tool, if used properly. I don’t IF every day, don’t even try. I’ve found that on my lifting days, I need to eat a little pre-workout, and IF just doesn’t work 3 days a week.

    I cringed when I read how you were stuffing thousands of calories in your face when you hit your eating window. Is that really what Leangains recommends? I experienced a bit of compensatory overeating when I first started, but I haven’t done that in a very long time. I just eat until I’m satisfied, and if my body needs more calories than I’m giving it, it’ll let me know. Thank God you’re back to letting your body tell you what it needs instead of following guidelines set by someone you’ve never met!

    • It is disgusting…. it really is. And yes… my PWO meal was 60-80% of my daily caloric intake which was anywhere between 1300-2200… scary stuff. I believe in listening to what your body wants. For example, this past Sunday, I wasnt hungry for lunch at all. I ate breakfast around 10 and then dinner around 5. Technically a small “fast” but a NATURAL fast… I just try to listen now :) baby steps to recovery.

  39. amanda longmore says:

    Thank you Kaleigh! I have been going through the same thing and have been driving myself crazy because I have not been able to eat at my calorie requirements for about two weeks now. i have been going over! But when i first started I felt like I was stuffing myself. I have been moody and frustrated and just dont look and feel as well as I use to. I have become obsessive and complusive about food and have been binge eating for two days and feel like crap. Too many grains and sugars have crept back in and its time for change! Thanks for being so open and honest. I know it works for some people but I think for some of us it can turn into something physically and emotionally destructive! Listen to the caveman, he seems wise and …. you two look cute together!!

    • First, I am so glad I am not alone! I am happy for anyone it works for that can adopt it safely, for me (and it seems for you) it is so unsafe. Caveman is so wise…however we’re both in happy relationships! We will be lifelong friends though I am sure!

  40. Kaleigh, thank you very much for your bravery. I have also been drawn in by IF and the idea that it can give me the “paleo body” that I feel that I should have. I will soon be 50 and my hormones are a mess. My weight is creeping up, I get rampant acne and I am exhausted. I just want to relax and eat real food when I am hungry and stop when I’ve had enough. I am going to be brave too. Enough is enough.

  41. Well i certainly sympathize with U and am glad you have backtracked and r back on track, but i have read Mark Sisson’s posts on IF and it certainly does not sound anything like what U were doing. I am female and I go from around 8:30-9pm to usually 1-2pm before i eat without the side effects u experienced, but i have wonderful coconut oil in my coffee & the fat keeps me happy & healthy…good luck

  42. Wow…as someone fairly new to Paleo (6 months) i had considered IF to jump-start the benefits of weight loss. I thank you for changing my mind. Thank you for sharing your story, your struggle and your success on realizing there was a problem!

    You look gorgeous to me!

    God luck on your continued journey!

    • Andrea… I’m glad I could change your mind about getting “crazy” about searching for new results.. just keep at your healthy ways! I really do think it’s the best. It’s so easy to get impatient… I struggle with that too. And thank you! It’s always nice to hear someone thinks you are beautiful- esp when you aren’t feeling your best

  43. Thank you so much. So many days I feel so crazy with my obsession with what I eat and my body image. I constantly think about how I look and what I’m eating. One bad meal can lead to me swearing I’ve gained weight and look different. One minute I’m happy with my body, one meal later I’m fat. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming and tiring to feel like that and I wish I could just forget it. Paleo has helped me some and I feel more upbeat, healthy, in control and energetic. It’s honestly just so comforting to know someone else has those issues too and it helps me to let go of all of it just a little bit. Again, thank you for airing your innermost feelings because I now know I’m not alone! :)

    • Its so refreshing to see I am not alone either! We all have to face our demons, and also face our accomplishments and love ourselves! I was seeing so many negative effects (physical and mental) from my destructive thinking. My mom says to repeat this mantra: The universe wants what is best for me…

      So i’m just living a healthy life and letting things go…i already feel better. I hope you can have less destructive thinking days as well! I know it’s a hard habit to kick!

  44. Found this via Caveman’s FB share.

    You have earned me as a new follower.

    Kudos to you and please, please, please document your return (and subsequent flourishing) as you will be helping SO many in the process

  45. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I’ve struggled with body image issues for decades, and as a recovering anorexic, reading this really resonated with me. I’ve been eating Paleo for over a year and have never felt healthier, and while I’ve considered IF a few times, I’ve never actually tried it because of my past eating disorder and my addictive personality. And while I know IF works well for others, after reading about your experiences, I think I’ll steer clear of it altogether. Thank you again!

    • Oh Lia… I’m so humbled to read this. I would say IF is a dangerous road to go down for a recovering anorexic. Paleo is a GREAT choice for your health (and mine!) Strangely, although I can’t say I was anorexic, or bulimic, I do feel like I had an eating disorder and I was very deep into it. I feel like I am also in recovery. Everyday is a new day of healing… I have good days and bad, but I am learning to love myself and listen to my body!

  46. Thank you!! This past year I went from my typical Primal eating to a more destructive eating disorder of fasting and binge eating. I was depressed working out, not feeling motivated, forcing myself to do it with my heart no longer in it. I would starve myself and then eat with guilt, my health has taken a nose dive since then, zits, lack of sleep, cranky and depression and much much more. It’s hard to say that I have a problem and I’ve been struggling to get back where I was, but I actually fear the foods I used to love and I can’t seem to feel healthy about my food choices at all. I’m happy you were able to be aware of what it was doing to you before it got too out of control, and I hope I can make the same turn around you made. Good luck and God Bless (((((hugs))))) <3

    • Dawn, everything you said is everything I went through. It is so hard to let go of over-thinking, I know…but I know now, from experience, it HAS to be done to stop the cycle and it feels better. I find being occupied and busy with other things keeps me sane. I love to cook! So i do that lots…sometimes I make batches of goodies and share them with Crossfitters or my co-workers…and I’ll allow myself one too! I do what my body tells me… if it says eat… I eat. if it says I want sweets! I have a few strawberries…etc. I dont “think” about it… I just listen and respond. It’s not easy…but i already feel better! I hope you can get on a healthier path as well! I know how hard it can be!

  47. Interesting. I have had much better experiences with IF – particularly with the 16/8 LG general model. BUT, I have heard that women struggle more with it. In fact, I believe Martin Berkhan noted on his site that he recommended only a 14-hour fast for most women. Also, I ignored any LG macro recommendations, and instead just continued to eat in a general Paleo style, but with more carbs on workout days (all post-workout). Kind of a mix of LG with the recommendations of Dr. John Berardi.

    At any rate, I think people generally need to experiment with the good information out there, and then tweak the protocols based on how they feel and the results they observe. My 2 cents.

    Glad you have found something that works well for you.

    • I always say trial and error…for me it took a while to “catch up” with me…but it was toxic. To each their own! Health is my main goal now :)

    • I too, am following this same approach… 16/8 Paleo-style. I have only been doing this for a week now, but I feel fine. I think that IFing (personally) helps me to control the amount of food I eat per day. Having a shorter designated time frame to eat in actually leaves me feeling satisfied. I feel like I get fuller quicker, eating the same sized Paleo meals I would eat before trying IF. I also feel much energized in the morning while I fast. I could be wrong, but I believe Martin @ LG said that IF can be sometimes psychologically harder for women than for men. I have not had the urge to binge like crazy on crappy processed foods. But like I said, I have only been doing this for a week now (and I am nowhere near the size of Paleo Angel!) so I’m not sure how valid my opinion can be. What I have learned in my weight loss journey is that not all woman’s bodies respond equally to the same methods. I’ve seen many womens testimonies of IF working for them and also many who got nowhere with it. All I know is that I feel great right now, so I plan to keep at it and see what happens :)

  48. Thank you for sharing your struggle. I think there are many of us who struggle with the same issues. It is hard to feel like you are fueling your body correctly and feel amazing, yet to still ignore that voice in the back of your head that still thinks you should have a 6 pack. It’s hard to come to terms with your body. We have to remember that we all have a different story, and we can’t possibly all look alike. I admire your courage in telling your story, and in taking the higher road to health even if it means abandoning your 6 pack. Thank you again for sharing, this is something I really needed to hear right now :)

    • Leslie… so awesome to read this. It took a lot to admit I had an issue and face my demons. Every day is a new day of healing. You’re right- we are ALL different. I will continue on a path of fueling my body with whole foods and doing what i love– cooking and crossfit!

  49. Thank you so much for sharing.

  50. This is such a wonderful post; I completely identify with Kaleigh. I try day after day to overcome my crazy body issues, the constant negative self-talk, the strong desire to have a body free of imperfections. I don’t want to be mean to myself, but it’s a hard habit to break. I would be so sad if I have a daughter someday that felt about her body the way that I feel about mine. I hope that I can continue to improve how I treat myself and remember that I am beautiful, strong and AWESOME JUST THE WAY THAT I AM!!!!!

    • Karla– TOTALLY agree. I love that I’m not “alone”… Lets face it, we all have insecurities…but so many of us really need to just love and accept ourselves and focus on the many GORGEOUS things inside and out. Body image is a mother f… but I’m really re-building a relationship with myself…not easy but everyday I get better :) I hope the same for you!

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