The holidays have come and gone. Maybe you started at Halloween and ate your way through Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (no judgement here!). The new year has arrived and so have the many resolutions we make every year at this time. You might have a resolution to lose weight or to get rid of that stubborn belly fat. Your resolution might be to get into the gym more often or just get your body moving thorough some kind of physical activity. Maybe you just want to eat healthier and clean up your meals. There is nothing wrong with any of those resolutions.  Perhaps the problem all these years has been not having the correct strategies to stick to them. 

A year ago today, I made a resolution to lose weight. I had just had my second daughter and was heavily overweight. I couldn’t move around easily, I was tired all of the time and I was eating all day long. I didn’t have the motivation to push myself to go to the gym. I was depressed and never thought I could lose the weight. So I did what I knew would make me feel good. I ate and ate and ate. After a while, I realized that I couldn’t continue down that path. I had to do better for myself and my girls.

As I was scrolling through Instagram I discovered intermittent fasting. Twelve months later, I’m down 80 pounds and feeling incredible! 

I didn’t do anything special. I didn’t purchase any special teas, memberships or plans. I decided that I needed to change my lifestyle in order to lose the weight.

It’s a new year and that means an opportunity to begin again, to start afresh, to make new choices. You probably have a long list of resolutions that you want to commit to. If you’re like most people, you might have a resolution to lose a few pounds, get healthier, finally get rid of that stubborn belly fat. No one person is alike, so no one strategy is the magic solution. You have to find what works for you so that you have a greater chance of being successful along your journey.

There are many strategies that can help you hit your goals. Here are a few to get you thinking about what might fit your lifestyle to help you tackle your 2020 health and weight loss goals.

Hourglass with an apple in the background
Intermittent fasting involves restricting the number of hours in a day that you eat, now what or how much you eat.

Intermittent fasting (IF)

This is a pattern of eating where you cycle between periods of fasting and periods of eating. You limit the hours of the day when you eat.

For example, you might skip breakfast and start to eat at 11 am. You have your lunch, an afternoon snack and then dinner. You might stop eating at 7 pm and start again the next day at 11 am. This method of eating, also called time-restricted eating or circadian rhythm fasting (when you eat during daylight hours) can help you lose weight by lowering your insulin levels and leading your body to burn fat for fuel (Seimon, et. al., 2015, Gabel, et. al., 2018). And you don’t even have to eat fewer calories each day to receive health benefits from intermittent fasting.

Fasting can also promote increased human growth hormone (Hartman, et. al., 1992; Ho, et. al., 1988) which facilitates fat burning and muscle gain. A recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that eating within a 6 hour period and fasting for 18 hours (in a day) has many beneficial health outcomes.

Fasting causes a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy (Cabo & Mattson, 2019). Once your body is relying on ketone-based (basically fat-based) energy, not only are you burning fat and losing weight but you are also experiencing all of the health benefits of fasting such as improved diabetic outcomes (Arnason,, 2017), improved cardiovascular health (Mattson, et. al., 2017), increased human growth hormone (Hartman,, 1992) autophagy or cellular recycling (Ohsumi, 2012), stress-busting and brain health.

There are several strategies you can use to intermittently fast:

1. 16:8 – This is the most common and the one that most people find easiest to introduce their body to. This is when you fast for 16 hours and have an eating window of 8 hours in a day. So let’s say you may open your eating window at 10 am and close it at 6 pm. This typically works for some people because they think of it as just skipping breakfast (or having a later breakfast) and having an early dinner.

2. 18:6 – This is similar to 16:8. The only difference is that the eating window is shorter. Sometimes people may start with this or decide they want to shorten their eating window if they feel the window is too wide.

3. Alternate day fasting or ADF – This is just what it sounds like. You fast on alternate days so for example you might decide to fast on Tuesdays and Thursdays so you end up eating on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

4. 5:2 or FAST DIET – With this option, for 5 days you eat regularly (so you might have 2 meals or 3 meals) and for 2 days you eat a meal that is under 800 calories (it was initially 500 but the founder Dr. Micheal Mosely has since revised it to 800 calories).

5. 20:4 or Warrior Diet – Allows you to eat very small amounts of low calorie foods within the 20 hour period and then you eat big full meals within the remaining 4 hours.

6. One Meal A Day (OMAD) – You fast for 23 hours and eat within a one hour timeframe. You decide when your one hour will be, but you want to try and keep it as consistent as possible so that you get all the benefits of fasting for 23 hours.

Whichever fasting strategy you choose will depend on what you feel will work best for your lifestyle and schedule. 

A keto diet can incorporate healthy meats and lots of vegetables and plant fats like olive oil. Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash.

Ketogenic Diet

Another very popular strategy has been the ketogenic diet. This form of eating involves incorporating very low carbohydrates and high fats in your diet. Eating this way forces your body into a metabolic state of ketosis. Similar to fasting, when your body goes into ketosis, it burns fat for fuel and ultimately leads to weight loss. 

The low carbohydrate, high fat diet has been shown to be effective in helping people lose weight (Westman, et. al., 2008). Another study found that people who were on a ketogenic diet lost 2.2 times more weight than those who were on a low-calorie, low-fat diet (Brehm,, 2003).

While the ketogenic diet may work for some people, reducing the percentage of carbohydrates in one’s meals may be challenging for others. Again, finding a strategy that works for you is the best key to success. 

Clean Eating

While fasting can help you lose weight without making you give up the foods you love, it is helpful to your weight loss journey to incorporate whole foods and reduce your intake of processed foods. Adopting a clean eating frame of mind does not mean that you have to give up burgers, fries and pizza. Intermittent fasting allows you to eat what you love while still being mindful of eating healthy, clean foods.  

Eating clean can also help keep money in your pocket. You can prepare your meals in your own kitchen knowing exactly what ingredients you are putting in your food. This leads to less processed foods and more whole, clean and satisfying meals. Here are a few tips on how you can easily incorporate clean eating in your everyday meals:

1. Cut back on your sugar intake – instead of eating a bowl of ice cream for dessert, make it a bowl of yogurt with some fruit and honey. You can always have the ice cream later in the week. It’s all about making quick and easy swaps.

2. Choose nutrient dense foods – Stop eating low fat, low calorie diet meals. Sometimes, these “diet” foods are filled with preservatives, artificial sweeteners or loaded with sugar. Load up on healthy greens like spinach and bok choy, proteins like chicken and beef, and complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, yams and brown rice, healthy fats like avocados and nuts. Fill your plate with whole foods that are satiating and keep you full until it’s time to eat again.

3. Cut back on refined carbohydrates – If you decide to follow a keto diet, then this should be easy for your to do. If you want to follow an IF schedule, it will be beneficial to reduce your refined carbohydrate intake. Things that can be found in the snack aisle in bags or refined white breads and pastas should be had in moderation, especially if you are working on getting rid of that stubborn belly fat.

4. Grab a glass of water – Before you head for the iced frappaccino (even if it’s keto) or the diet soda, grab a glass of water. Wait for a while and then decide if you really need that alternative drink. Sometimes you’re just thirsty and need to quench that thirst with a nice tall glass of H20.

5. Read Your Food Labels, Not the calories – Make sure you know what you are putting in your mouth. Good quality ingredients (ones whose labels you can read and understand!) will help you on your weight loss journey. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you can pronounce all the ingredients in your foods.

Does your food look like plants or animals you can recognize in their original form? Is it colorful These are good indications that you are “clean” eating. Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash.

Incorporate Movement

This is the first year that I have not had to make a resolution to lose weight. My resolution is to actually maintain and keep the weight off! That is because throughout 2019 I discovered intermittent fasting and have lost the weight through that method. Others have found keto and have found that to be a major success for them on their journey. Still others have combined intermittent fasting and keto and that has been a winning strategy for them. 

Regardless of what method you choose, incorporating some kind of physical activity will always help you along your weight loss journey. 

You don’t have to commit to a gym membership, but maybe you can commit to taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Perhaps you might try taking a stroll around your neighborhood after work for the next 30 days. If you do decide to join a gym, find some classes that you will enjoy instead of the classes that seem to be the most popular. 

You want to set yourself up for success and starting off on your own terms will help you be successful in meeting your ultimate goals.


At the end of the day, the scale does not tell the whole story. You may find that through intermittent fasting you are losing inches, your clothes are fitting better but the scale is stuck at the same number. Be patient. Your body is undergoing recomposition (King,, 2012). You’re losing fat and will eventually lose weight. Growth hormones increase as total body fat decreases (Clasey, et. al., 2001). This means that as you are burning fat and losing weight through intermittent fasting, your body is literally recomposing itself. 

Don’t compare yourself to other people online. Be your own comparison and track your progress as you go along. No matter what strategy you decide to begin, make it your own. You can do this!


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