Paula’s AC power tool: Fast-5
Weight lost: 40 pounds
Biggest non-scale victories:
- “Living an active life hiking and running 5K races with my family”
- “Hearing spontaneous compliments from my husband, “You look nice”
- “Living fit and healthy as a positive role model to my daughter and her friends”
- “Incredible amounts of energy”
- “Enjoying the power of appetite correction, in tune with my body and knowing when I’m truly hungry, so it’s natural and easy to stop eating when I’m full”
An in-tune appetite and growing up lean
Paula lived lean as a youngster. Guided by her finely tuned appetite, she ate food when she felt hungry and stopped when her appestat signaled that she had sated her hunger. Her family ate on a traditional three-meals-a-day (3MAD) schedule with dinnertime starting when her dad arrived home after 5PM. She remembers her dad occasionally teasing her when they’d go out to eat at a cafeteria. In the serving line, Paula would select from a wide variety of tasty-looking items for her meal. Her dad would say, “Only get that if you’re going to eat it.” He knew Paula—whose eyes were bigger than her belly, as the saying goes—would often throw food away.
Early eighties: when very thin was very in
Throughout her childhood and very active teen years, Paula enjoyed a healthy relationship with her body. Chorus and cheerleading kept her busy and every 3-4 years, circumstances gave her resilience a little extra workout as her tight-knit military family moved to a new location.
She recalls senior high school as the first time she started to become aware of body image. Her cheerleading teammates would explicitly question each other, “I weigh [some arbitrary number]. How much do you weigh?” And then as a matter of routine, the comparisons would continue down the line until each teammate had been rated relative to weight. With full attention focused on weight, appreciation for differences in body types didn’t enter the equation. Standing 5’ 3” tall, Paula weighed in at about 122 pounds and remembers, “The less you weighed the better. Very thin was very in and so if you were a curvy girl, that wasn’t in style.”
Body shaming free-for-all
Even among athletic elites, no amount of health or fitness has the power to stave off the relentless criticism of women’s bodies and Paula has certainly endured her share. She still remembers a boating excursion with friends thirty years ago that marked the first time she felt self-conscious about her body weight, “I remember exactly what I was wearing: a yellow 2 piece swimsuit. [A boy] looked at me and told me I was pleasantly plump. I didn’t like how that sounded.” Sometimes the sting of judgment lands as a backhanded compliment like it did shortly after Paula graduated from high school and moved to Fort Leonard Wood with her parents. She stopped by the barracks to say hello to some friends on her way to the gym. One friend told her that she had a nice body but she “needed to firm up.”
Intermittent fasting and appetite health — naturally
Under the influence of cultural messaging that idealizes a single body type, Paula ran the risk of feeling insecure. Lucky for her, she grew up immersed in a family that reinforced her independent thinking, strength and confidence. Awareness of her body image and weight gave her insight, but it didn’t turn a non-problem into a problem. Her appetite stayed in tune well into her early adulthood. Her natural eating schedule continued to align with an intermittent fasting pattern. When her body sent the hunger signal, she’d break her fast, most typically “much later in the day.” Paula didn’t have a name for her way of eating (WOE) at the time, but she knew it worked. Many years later, she would recognize the WOE to be an AC/intermittent fasting lifestyle.
Tumultuous twenties and pioneering forward to find her prince
Starting with a wedding at age 23, Paula moved through a rocky marriage, an uneventful pregnancy and a painful divorce to emerge as a single parent. When the dust settled, she had returned to her normal adult weight of 133 pounds “without even trying.” She also returned to the nurturing environment of her family home where she knew she could count on support and affirmation.
Paula divided her time between work as a part-time medical assistant and parenting. Over time, it became clear that finding a soul mate was not destined to happen by chance. Internet dating had not yet entered the mainstream, so Paula turned to old-school social networking. She placed an ad in the personals section of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and hit the jackpot. Bill answered the ad. They met for coffee on December 3rd and followed that with an “official” date on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Day sparkled brightly as Paula and Bill committed to getting married, a promise they fulfilled in February. Their whirlwind courtship led to an enduring partnership of 21 years (and counting!) and to a decision to have a child together.
Challenging conception. Pregnancy pounds. Taking control.
Although infertility treatments and a battle with depression stood between Paula and pregnancy, she prevailed and gave birth to her second child at age 36. Paula focused on caring for their newborn and 9-year-old, so she had little time or attention available for managing her forty pounds of excess weight. Paula tried the Sugar Buster Diet and a few other things, but none proved sustainable, so she “just went along with life content to be just the way [she] was.” Paula expresses admiration for Bill’s support, “Everyone should have someone like my husband, Bill. He has loved me through thick and thin and never once had said anything other than good things about my body. He never even suggested—even when I was at my highest weight—that I lose or do something about my weight. Never.”
A light bulb went on when Paula’s youngest child poked her belly and said, “Mommy, what’s that?” Paula remembers realizing at that moment, “I can’t control so many other things that come along with aging, but I can control what I put into my mouth.”
That’s when my journey to lose the weight began.
Paula tried “everything” including Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Intuitive Eating, the Raw Food Diet and countless others, but she couldn’t sustain any of them and still live a real, whole life, free from deprivation and nagging hunger. She wrote about “releasing weight” in her blog, and the words resonated with Angela, who had also embarked on a weight loss journey and had resolved to fast for breakfast and lunch for Lent. Paula and Angela buddied up and, together, they realized the benefits of intermittent fasting—weight loss, increased energy, freedom, power and control—and they both maintained the way of eating after Lent ended.
Discovering Dr. Bert’s Fast-5 work. Catalyzing growth of a healthy tribe.
Paula searched online and discovered the work of Dr. Bert Herring, the pioneer who wrote the first book on intermittent fasting, The Fast-5 Diet and The Fast-5 Lifestyle, published in 2005. Dr. Bert’s book reinforced observations Paula made during her Lenten fast and set her on a Fast-5 journey. She shared the discovery with Angela who journeyed along side her. Paula recognized the buddy system to be so critical for her success (and Angela’s too!) that she decided to build a community.
Ever the brave trailblazer, Paula contacted Dr. Herring directly and asked if she could start a private Fast-5 Diet and Lifestyle Facebook group. He agreed, joined the group himself and answered questions posed by community members. Over time, Paula transitioned the group moderation to Dr. Herring and his team; she continued to participate in the group and offer support as a community member. Paula ultimately released forty pounds of excess fat living the AC/Fast-5 lifestyle.
Maintenance. Setback. Coaching with Dr. Bert. Tweak. Recovery.
Paula reached her goal body and continued to enjoy the benefits of the Fast-5 lifestyle, especially appetite correction (AC) and maintenance of her healthy weight without effort. In 2015, a health issue arose that took her away from her AC/Fast-5 lifestyle temporarily. In the aftermath of a surgical intervention, she entered menopause and gained fifteen pounds of excess body fat. She celebrated the opportunity to return to her AC/Fast-5 lifestyle, but Paula felt discouraged that her post-menopausal body responded differently to the AC/Fast-5 regimen than it had prior to the surgery. She hit a plateau that seemed as if it might go on forever.
She looked to Dr. Bert for coaching and they discussed some tweaks that might put her back on the pathway to success. She implemented the simple changes and began to release the weight she had gained during her hiatus from the AC/Fast-5 lifestyle. To date, she has lost seven of the fifteen pounds she had accumulated and once again enjoys the feeling of moving through life well on her way to achieving her goal body.
Take it from a trailblazer!!
Paula has lived the AC/Fast-5 lifestyle for eight years with a brief hiatus during a surgical intervention that offered enormous insight into the power of the study of one. Paula shares her experience with hundreds of others who look to her for wisdom, support, affirmation, inspiration and accountability. She encourages them to trust their body and trust their thinking as they bravely embark upon their personal studies of one.
When people who are ready to lose weight ask Paula for her advice, she points them in the direction of the buddy system, a powerful asset for streamlining success, “I can help you. I’ve been there. If you practice this lifestyle and adhere to it, you can count on losing the weight— steadily, maybe not as fast as some of the more public diets out there—but you can count on losing weight and keeping it off and it will be one of the easiest things you’ve ever done.”