In the last post I talked about the benefits of intermittent fasting. This style of eating has demonstrated success in achieving lasting weight loss and improved blood sugars, blood pressure and blood cholesterol. It involves reducing caloric intake to 500 calories for women and 600 calories for men for two days a week by eating a small breakfast and dinner. I have been practicing this lifestyle for 6 months and enjoy this way of eating for more than just the physical benefits. I have found the sense of control I get from disciplining my mind to get through the brief waves of hunger a challenge for my mind over my body. The ephemeral waves of discomfort make me the master of my thoughts.
The Merriam-Webster definition of the noun discomfort is simply “an uncomfortable or painful feeling in the body” or “a feeling of being somewhat worried or unhappy”. Discomfort can mean both physical or mental unease. How often do we try to run away from things that make us uncomfortable and search for an escape from worry or unease? My initial automatic response to the wave of hunger is to grab something to eat. But then my mind takes over and it responds analytically telling myself that this will pass in a few minutes and to go drink some tea or water, which immediately calms the pang. Sometimes I’ll go for a walk which also arrests the stomach emptiness.
Physical and Mental Unease Can Be Controlled
Sometimes I have a hard time falling back asleep at night. My mind will fixate on different things depending on the stresses of the day. I might plan the next day if it’s really busy, or worry about a family member or situation. I might lay awake for over an hour until my mind takes control of my thoughts and makes the decision to STOP thinking! During those times I get back to sleep saying the loving kindness meditation that puts my mind at ease:
My I be filled with loving kindness,
May I be well,
May I be peaceful and at ease.
May I be happy.
Discomfort Is Opportunity In Disguise
If we can change our assessment of discomfort and look at it as a positive force that drives change then there is less fear and angst around the feeling. My intermittent fasting may cause brief moments of physical unease but it is an opportunity for me strengthen my mind and to bring self-discipline into my daily life. It gives me confidence that in this small aspect of my life I am the master. I am in charge. Each successful passing of hunger waves or putting myself back to sleep makes me stronger, more at ease with what life throws my way and more able to let go of the things I can’t control.