You’re going to call bullshit on this, but it’s no joke: I have started to crave apples. They taste as good as a giant slice of cake to me. It’s bizarre, I know, but they’ve become my guilt-free pleasure food — the thing I look forward to on weekends, when I used to look forward to, say, French toast dripping in syrup.
This is what the 5:2 Fast Diet’s done to me, and I’m totally fine with it. It’s the first thing that’s gotten results — while letting me actually enjoy my life. Also known as the Intermittent Fasting Diet, the plan’s pretty simple: You eat whatever you want, essentially, five days of the week, then stick to 500 calories or less for the other two days. (It’s 600 for guys.) As someone who’s tried and failed to stick to just about every diet out there — even the Cabbage Soup Diet, where you only sip sad, watery vegetable broth for a week straight — this one seemed doable. Just two days a week where I had to pay attention to calories? I could do that.
Early on, I decided to space out my “2 Days,” AKA my 500-calories-or-less days. Mondays are perfect for this diet. If you’ve gone out over the weekend and indulged in a few cocktails or sweets or whatever, it’s nice to hit reset at the start of the week. I like to think of it like giving my system a break.
My other 2 Day is Thursday, because I need a good two days before going back to eating 500 calories or less, and trust me, Thursdays are painful. They’re a drag, but that’s largely because of my own modification to the diet: I go super low-carb on those days. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are low-carb too, even if they’re high-calorie, and on the weekends, I eat what I want. I’m not a nutritionist or professional by any means; I’ve just found that a combination of low-carb and 5:2 works for me. It keeps my cravings in check, so when I crave something sweet, I reach for a Honeycrisp, not a plate of cookies. But it’s not so restrictive that I’m stuck with steamed vegetables and boring grilled chicken breasts for the rest of my life.
THURSDAYS ARE THE HARDEST DAY OF THE WEEK.
That said, I’m not going to sugarcoat it: My 2 Days are intense. For breakfast, I’ll have iced tea with a little half-and-half. It sounds weird, I know, but half-and-half has fewer carbs than milk, and it tastes like such a treat.
At lunch, I stick to two hardboiled eggs and five olives for the most part. Now that’s the kind of meal that’ll get you some side-eye and strange stares in the cafeteria, but I love it because it’s filling and it makes my life easy. A salad can vary in calories each time you make it, so I like that the combination’s roughly the same calorie count every time. It’s like a prepackaged meal without all of the crazy, unpronounceable-and-barely-decipherable ingredients that accompany prepackaged meals.
On 2 Days, I don’t have dinner. It’s something I’ve mentally prepared for, so I don’t miss it. Instead, when I go home, I have a giant glass of club soda. I love sparkling water or anything with bubbles in it, and as weird as it sounds, I actually look forward to that drink.
My 5 Days really vary. Anything goes on the weekends (bring on the burritos and margaritas!), and on my 5 Days on weekdays, I’ll typically have an omelette with cheese and spinach, a handful of almonds as a snack, and lunch and dinner will typically be chicken with green vegetables or a salad. Sometimes I’ll have Mexican or Chinese food and a light cocktail at dinner.
It wasn’t until I started the 5:2 Diet that I understood all those times people talk about changing your diet as a lifestyle, not a fad. It’s helped me get to a healthy weight and, best of all, maintain it, without having to restrict myself or exercise constantly to stay there.
I’M THE LUCKIEST PERSON ON EARTH IF THE THING I’M WORRIED MOST ABOUT IS HOW MUCH I WEIGH.
Now, I’ll be honest — sometimes I fall off the wagon and drop the diet for a few weeks, but then I’ll spend a week going super low-carb, and that’s often all I need to get back into the swing of 5:2. After seven days of avoiding all starches in sight, doing it for just two days a week feels easy.
IT’S SHIFTED THE WAY I THINK ABOUT FOOD.
The most freeing part about this diet, though, has been the mental shift. With most diets, I focus on counting calories or carbs or what I can’t eat. With this one, I’m not wasting all that time worrying over what I put into my body — and obsessing over how it will make me look and feel. My 2 Days are down to a routine, and so are my other weekdays, so when I do indulge, I don’t freak out about it anymore.
For years I struggled with my weight. As a kid, people called me “the weed,” because I was so skinny and tall. Then, in high school, I realized I was a little bigger than other people — that’s when my Cabbage Soup Diet phase kicked in. Off and on ever since, I’d been figuratively throwing myself against a wall, wasting hours worrying about my size. Then, one day, I realized what utter bullshit that was. I’m the luckiest person on Earth if the thing I’m worried most about is how much I weigh. I got rid of my scale, and I haven’t allowed one in my home ever since.
When I go to the doctor, I plug my ears when he weighs me. I don’t care to know it; I’d rather focus on my health. What do my blood tests say? How are my energy levels? I am not a size zero, and I’ll never be that. I’ve tried doing super low-carb all the time, but I can’t sustain it, and the depression and aggravation of fighting my body type just isn’t worth it, so fuck it. This is who I am. I’m the woman who eats two hard-boiled eggs and five olives for lunch twice a week, who loves her shape even if it’s not the size society deems perfect, and who genuinely believes apples are nature’s cake — while being fully aware of how cheesy that sounds.
I’ve let go of the mission to be a certain number, so I can focus on being a certain person. That’s what matters to me.