**This is an explanation to my professor of the second module (or phase 2) of my weight-loss, optimal health online program. I’m currently working on my Master’s of Holistic Nutrition from Hawthorn University.**
Once a client is fully entrenched in Phase 1 of my Fittbodies Optimal Health Plan, I introduce the Phase 2: Boost Immunity formula. In this phase we build on the Phase 1: Alkalize steps with immune-supporting habits, paying closer attention to fasting, sleep, cravings for sweets, and holistic health.
I begin by encouraging clients to eat their meals within a small, condensed window of time, also known as Time Restricted Eating (TRE) (Longo & Panda, 2016). Scaling back the timing of their first and last meals gradually, by 30 minutes a week, allows the client to ease into a longer fasting window without feeling deprived. For example, if a client’s regular breakfast time is 7am and dinner time is 7pm, I would have them begin Phase 2 by taking 30 minutes off each side of their fasting window. They would therefore eat breakfast at 7:30am (at the earliest) and eat dinner at 6:30pm (most days). Of course there needs to be flexibility to accommodate work schedules and social engagements, but the aim is to achieve a longer fasting window 80% of the time. As the client builds confidence in fasting, we will lengthen the fasting window by another 30 minutes for a week. It may not be feasible to scale back dinner as much as it is to put off breakfast, so once a client finds an optimal dinner time for their schedule, preferably 2-3 hours before bedtime to allow for complete digestion, we hold that dinner time and begin scaling back the first meal only. Not only does this way of eating better coincide with circadian rhythms (Longo & Panda, 2016), but it allows the cells to undergo positive metabolic changes (Longo & Mattson, 2014). Ideally, we work up to a 16 hour fast with an 8 hour eating window over the course of weeks to months.
Physical activity is maintained during Phase II, with the challenge of exercising while in a fasted state. Stressing the body occasionally this way encourages hormesis and builds the body’s ability to adapt to stress (Mercola, 2013, https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2013/09/13/eating-before-exercise.aspx).
Phase II also encourages clients to eliminate refined sugar and artificial sweeteners and instead use honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and stevia leaf for sweeteners. We continue to work on reading labels with emphasis on avoiding products with added sweeteners. If a client has a favorite treat that holds a lot of emotional value for them, we’ll work together to find a healthier version that they can eat without compromising their newfound health. An example of this is my healthy “raw cookie dough” recipe, which is comprised of almond butter, MCT oil, plant protein powder, and bittersweet chocolate chips. I personally eat this, mixed in a small cup, instead of eating the white flour, sugar-laden traditional version, without feeling deprived.
Alcohol is also limited in Phase II, as alcohol metabolizes in the body as sugar. We scale back to consuming only on the weekends, and one-to-two drinks only (Cloe, https://www.livestrong.com/article/435315-the-effect-of-alcohol-on-insulin-resistance/).
Phase II begins the elimination of grains, including wheat, corn, oats, rye, buckwheat, etc. to see if it makes a difference in the client’s energy levels, mood, and sleep. Processed foods, such as crackers, pasta, breads, cereals, cakes, and cookies are avoided. Limited intake of home-prepared quinoa and black rice is acceptable as they provide fiber while creating less of an insulin response in the body (Goldman, 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/why-is-quinoa-good-for-diabetes), and (Price, 2019, https://draxe.com/black-rice-nutrition-forbidden-rice-benefits/).
I teach about our toxic exposure to potentially dangerous chemicals in Phase II, and encourage the client to purge their make-up, body-care, and personal-care products and cleaners and to purchase cleaner alternatives. Obsesegens, hormone-disruptors, and chemicals hidden in our daily routines wreak havoc on our bodies, resulting in hormone imbalances, weight gain, and other disease states. A great resource for finding “clean” alternatives is the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database (https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/).
I encourage clients to begin the practice of daily oil pulling as a way to detox as well during Phase II. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic practice in which a person swishes coconut, olive, or sesame oil for up to 20 minutes a day. It is purported to whiten teeth, reduce inflammation, boost immunity, and kill bad breath, among other things (Axe, 2018, https://draxe.com/oil-pulling-coconut-oil/). Clients start with 3 minutes a day of swishing, working up to 5, 7, then 10 minutes minimum, with coconut oil.
Finally, we work on both quality and quantity of sleep in Phase II. Rest is underrated, in my opinion, and so we work on emotional as well as physical aspects of sleep hygiene. This includes darkening the room for sleep by unplugging clock radios, night lights, or anything else that glows at night; plugging in cellular phones as far away from the bed as possible; using room-darkening window coverings; wearing blue light blocking eyewear at night; and avoiding digital devices for at least an hour before bedtime (Stevenson, 2013, https://themodelhealthshow.com/sleep-problems-tips/.) Moving up bedtime 30 minutes earlier each week is a goal, until a minimum of 7 ½ hours of sleep a night, on average, is reached. Use of a Fitbit or other sleep-tracking device is a great motivator, as sometimes we over-estimate the sleep we get.
There is a lot to this Phase II, and clients are allowed to take it as slowly or as quickly as they need or want. At the fastest, the above steps are implemented over the course of a week and maintained over a month or two before moving on. Those who choose (or need to) take it slower can incorporate one new step every week or two, progressing over the course of 2-3 months.
Individuals may experience some setbacks during this phase, including symptoms of detoxification such as irritability, nausea, fatigue, muscle aches, headaches, etc. Sugar cravings may ramp up before dissipating, and some may struggle with limited alcohol and grain intake. Longer sleep may take time, as will the transition to shorter eating windows, eating the garlic, and exercising in a fasted state. It’s very possible clients will get impatient if results don’t occur quickly enough, or if they regress at any point, so I’ll need to provide lots of support and reminders that this is a lifestyle change that will enable their weight to drop off and stay off over time.
Check-ins, weekly (or more often as needed), videos, and Facebook group support are key to success in Phase II. The initial “glow” of success with Phase I will diminish, and it is possible clients may feel more deprived of the foods and habits they love most during Phase II. Progress in this phase may slow down, or even seemingly stop, so I will need to provide reading materials, hand-holding, and testimonials from other clients to help them stay motivated through these changes.
Axe, J. (2018, June 02). Coconut Oil Pulling Is the New Flossing (It Stops Tooth Decay, Prevents Cavities, Kills Bad Breath & More!). Retrieved March 16, 2019, from https://draxe.com/oil-pulling-coconut-oil/
Cloe, A. (n.d.). The Effect of Alcohol on Insulin Resistance. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from https://www.livestrong.com/article/435315-the-effect-of-alcohol-on-insulin-resistance/
Goldman, R. (2018, July 23). Why Is Quinoa Good for Diabetes? - Healthline. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from https://www.healthline.com/health/why-is-quinoa-good-for-diabetes
Longo, V. D., & Panda, S. (2016). Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan. Cell Metabolism,23(6), 1048-1059. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001
Longo, V., & Mattson, M. (2014). Fasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications. Cell Metabolism,19(2), 181-192. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2013.12.008
Mercola, J. (2013, September 13). Why Exercising While Fasting Is Beneficial. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2013/09/13/eating-before-exercise.aspx
Price, A. (2019, January 30). Why You Should Eat This 'Forbidden' Food. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from https://draxe.com/black-rice-nutrition-forbidden-rice-benefits/
Skin Deep® Cosmetics Database. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2019, from https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
Stevenson, S. (2017, November 08). Sleep Problems? Here's 21 Tips To Get The Best Sleep Ever. Retrieved March 14, 2019, from https://themodelhealthshow.com/sleep-problems-tips/