Holidays with family, January in France, March through most of May in Europe: it’s been a long period of some indulgence and little adherence to the time-restricted-eating schedule I’d grown comfortable with. I felt thick around the middle, having moved on from a few Christmas treats to a habit of morning pastry or bread and jam, along with almost daily chocolate (little, but still). I sadly realized I’d gone back to my set-point weight from before my keto and intermittent-fasting experiments in Puerto Morelos during Covid, when I dropped 14-16 pounds, getting (so happily!) back to college-days weight, 118-122. Had felt so good! I hate having regressed. Once in Türkiye, alone, I felt it was time to do a bit of fasting, wean myself from sugar, and try not to drink wine every day. Baby steps.
Just a few days after I got to Istanbul, Kristian managed to join me for nearly a week. Forget about limiting wine and beer or stopping chocolate, and oops, add chips. I have better discipline alone than with a friend. Choices, my own fault.
Chapter One: Istanbul
Fasting like old times – almost!
I was ready to do occasional 24-26 hour fasts and go nearly to OMAD, one meal a day, usually with mid-morning coffee first. Felt good. Felt healthier. I’ve always been able to go a long time between meals, and don’t feel I have blood sugar issues or blood pressure issues or – well, issues!
Then at one point, I’d fasted 26 hours, and broken my fast with a little meal of some vegetables and quinoa with ayran (Turkish salted yogurt drink) around 2 pm one day. Felt fine. Ready to go back to my OMAD plan with about 18 hours’ fasting a day. Next evening, I was going to the Istanbul Opera Festival. I got an email warning that we should allow extra time to get to Taksim that evening because of a demonstration. I thought it would be fun to go out for a meal in that area before the opera. I was planning to eat something first because that would be over 24 hours again, but I’d overslept, then got that email, I had things to take care of online … I ran out of time and ran out the door.
That email did not include the important information that the metro station at Taksim would be closed – and the station before it as well. The station after seems quite a hike, so I doubled back on the metro, got off on a bridge and started to walk. I was directed further on, but found no bus stop. Tried for a taxi, eventually shared one, and got dropped off in the tunnel under Taksim. Police were everywhere, and they had cordoned off a lot of the surroundings, including that tunnel area, but they all let me pass when I showed my opera ticket.
Up on the square, I found the whole area was closed down. Even though I’d left hours early, I no longer had enough time to find an open restaurant and eat anything. I’d been on transit close to an hour and walked about 45 minutes (uphill, natch!) before I got that taxi. And I had no idea where to go to find anything open because Taksim was a dead zone. Oh, well, I wasn’t feeling hungry, it just seemed time. So be it. The coffee bar in the opera house was the only place open, so I had a black coffee.
Then, in the third act of Andrea Chenier, I did not feel right. I was afraid I was going to pass out. Tried to focus and let it pass, but no, this was not good. I despise disturbances during a performance, but what if I did pass out, there where no one knew me? I’d been chatting to the Turkish fellows on my right before the performance and at intermissions. I opened Google translate on my phone and wrote that I had gone 32 hours without eating and was afraid I might be getting into a little crisis. Did they have any small bit of food? One came up with a small hard candy. I showed the same message to the three people on my left, and one also came up with a little lozenge. Never thought the eve would come when I would unwrap candies during a concert, but I was scared enough to do it. After half an hour, I felt more stable. I also felt better knowing that if I did pass out, people would know it was a lack of food.
Was it all about blood sugar? The sugar did help but I suspect that it was about electrolytes. My body should be good at using fat for fuel and be able to get by much longer without eating, but – well, age and electrolytes, need to be more careful. Have heard of putting salt in coffee. Hadn’t thought of it. Wish I’d tried it before the show, but I didn’t know then that I wasn’t going to stay okay. I always have the feeling – the illusion! – that I can just go on and on.
Well, wake up call. I didn’t intend two day-plus fasts in a row. Resolved to be more careful, eat lightly but more frequently over the next days, and then maybe once weekly 24-26-hour fasts again. And I started taking magnesium.
It’s tough, because before this one exception, I could say I feel really good with this sort of fasting. I like mostly OMAD, a 26-hour fast once a week, and non-fasting days now and again. I feel healthy and energized and like all is right. I’m not punishing myself! When I feel I need to eat, I do, no matter my scheme. But the lighter I am, the better I feel; it’s always been that way.
Chapter two: Antalya
A long travel day to the Mediterranean coast
I had planned to make my travel day a fasting day, but not after that experience. The opera evening was June 18 and I was leaving early morning on the 21st, to arrive around 8 pm. Long day, about 6 hours by train, then a taxi and nearly the same by bus, then a final taxi. I do try to not be too stupid, so I took some ayran and food along and ate a bit. Had I been staying put, I’d have eaten real meals.
Happily back in Kaleiçi again
I got settled into my hostel in Kaleiçi and had a beer and called it dinner. So, not yet reformed. The trip had been longer than expected, partly from 40 minutes with an incompetent taxi. Ten pm just felt too late to go out to eat because I wanted to sleep soon. In the next days I bought veggies, cooked quinoa to combine with them and managed to skip wine (or beer) as much as four days in a row. I went out to a few restaurants, including two Indian spots for veggie meals, and generally carried on in a normal fashion, OMAD with an earlier coffee or two. Feeling good.
I picked this area for a month’s stay because last year I found it the best place to swim. My first beach days last month, I found the water cold, but either it warmed a couple of degrees or I adjusted. Enjoying the sea again, wonderful.
The weather was getting hotter. My usual beach has been the eastern part of Konyaalti. Take a tram just four stops, walk a bit to a hairpin-curved road down to the beach – because here there are cliffs at the shore. It’s gorgeous. And they’re not huge cliffs, after all. At this beach there is even an elevator between the beach and the street level, and I would use it when returning.
I’d have coffee before going out, maybe nothing else or maybe an egg, planning to eat after swimming rather than before, right? And then one very hot day the elevator was broken and I had to walk back up; and it was the first time a terrible question popped into my head: am I getting too old to do this? Perish the thought!. When I’m at a good weight I feel I’m still 25, when ‘thicker’ still not more than 45 – except that I definitely take stairs like an old lady, very deliberately. I keep telling people of my upcoming birthday, trying to make it sink into this Queen of Denial’s unwilling brain. But this day I felt I was approaching heat-stroke status.
Sea access here in Muratpaşa, Antalya
I’ve been exploriing other sea access points along this shore. “Beach” is hardly the term for rock ledges and steps into the water. Because of the distance from main roads to sea level, they are all very challenging: not so bad going down but quite a slog returning. In this next gallery, I’m showing various locations east of Kaleiçi. (fyi, Konyaalti is to the west, the other side of the harbor.)
I’m re-evaluating Antalya vs. Alanya just now. I love the charm of Kaleiçi, like the city better than Alanya and certainly better than Side, and love the deep sea. But in Alanya, you walk level streets straight onto a beach and into the sea!
Hold on, and don’t hold a fast!
I realized that fasting, sunning and swimming do not mix, not in this level of heat, of 96 to 106 F. I’m not going swimming when it’s 104 or above because getting there and back is too much. I know because it was 104 my last beach day and again it felt borderline dangerous. Because I’ve felt so weak in the heat when I’ve had to climb hills or stairs (like 130 from a beach and that distance again uphill on a road), I now eat a fair breakfast before going anywhere. I am abandoning any schedule. I don’t need to eat a lot but I need to eat a bit more to feel stable in these conditions. Lesson learned in time, I think.