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  Opinion   Columnists  13 Sep 2020  Shashi Warrier | JFK, yoga, and intermittent fasting

Shashi Warrier | JFK, yoga, and intermittent fasting

Shashi Warrier has written fairy tales, thrillers, a semi-fictional biography, satires, and a love story. Besides writing, he teaches strategic communication at a business school.
Published : Sep 13, 2020, 5:52 pm IST
Updated : Sep 13, 2020, 5:52 pm IST

The shop that supplies most of its contents, incidentally, is the JFP, or Junk Food Paradise

Week after week of staying put, with large and regular meals and plenty of snacks in between, turned my waistline into a sort of coastline. Representational Image
 Week after week of staying put, with large and regular meals and plenty of snacks in between, turned my waistline into a sort of coastline. Representational Image

In every home that my wife and I have occupied since our marriage, and in all the homes my parents made while I grew up, there was a piece of furniture that held a group of airtight plastic or steel containers, placed fairly high up, outside the reach of a child.

If you opened any one of those containers, you’d find a bunch of opened plastic bags containing biscuits or deep fried bits of joy, or junk food.


I call this bit of furniture, which you will find in practically every middle-class home, the JFK, for Junk Food Kupboard. It has one branch in the fridge, in a box that contains pieces of cake, chocolate, and other sweets, and a second in the freezer, the home of ice-cream.

The shop that supplies most of its contents, incidentally, is the JFP, or Junk Food Paradise, which we will visit shortly.

Yoga, I believe, is one of the forms of discipline that most people give up regularly. I believe this for two reasons.

First, it was Google that told me, so it must be true, like everything else Google tells us. Second, I know how tough it is, for I very nearly gave it up some years ago.


I managed to hang on to it despite the creaking of aged limbs and so on, so I even got a bit smug about continuing my practice in the face of all these difficulties. My weight stayed more or less the same for a decade or so.

The lockdown changed all that. Week after week of staying put, with large and regular meals and plenty of snacks in between, turned my waistline into a sort of coastline.

By the middle of May, I had developed an equatorial bulge, and the effort of getting into my clothes left me breathless. Worst of all, the roundness was spreading. I upped my yoga practice, but to no avail, for it only made me hungrier and fatter.


At the end of May, when I discovered I could no longer shoehorn myself into my loosest pair of jeans, I decided to go on a diet. Wondering what kind of diet to go on, I turned once again to reliable old Google, which came up with something — after searching through a gazillion sites in a micro-second — that sounded about right.

Intermittent fasting.

You restrict your eating to a six-hour period every day, during which you eat whatever you like. During the remaining 18 hours, you fast, your only intake being plain water or tea without sugar or milk.

I’ve been doing this for some weeks now: I eat only between eight in the morning and two in the afternoon. So let share with you what my day looks like.


I come awake, without an alarm of any kind, by half-past-five. Under the new scheme of time, this is 150 minutes AM (Ante Mealtime), with each minute feeling like an hour. I finish my ablutions, feed the pets, two dogs and a cat, and take the dogs for a walk.

Back home, I prepare the next meal for the dogs. The clock now stands at 105 AM, and the minutes are getting longer.

I bring out the yoga mat and start on my regular practice, which used to take about 45 minutes before I started fasting. When I roll up the yoga mat afterwards, I discover that it’s 75 AM, so I’ve finished my practice in 30 minutes. Amazing how supple fasting makes you!


Casting about for ways to fill in the remaining minutes, I clean out my desk, reply to emails and WhatsApp messages, and remove all the junk files from my laptop and phone.

I go through the news channels, Indian and foreign, and am disappointed to find that none mentions my fast. It’s now 45 AM. Amazing how efficient fasting makes you!

The remaining minutes pass like blocks of concrete. 1 AM finds me at the kitchen door, watch in hand, and when that last dreadful minute is past, I charge for the JFK, there being no time to cook a proper breakfast.

Eleven minutes later, the JFK is sadly depleted, and needs replenishment.
After a short nap, still pleasantly full, I replenish the JFK. I hop onto the bike with an empty backpack and ride out to the JFP, a couple of kilometres away.


The owner greets me with delight, tells me that he will give me a 10 per cent discount on all my purchases, and shows me three different kinds of savouries I haven’t tried before. I take a packet of each, besides the regular stack. I buy another couple of packets of fried nuts. For unexpected visitors, you see. The backpack feels very heavy when I pick up. Great exercise for my shoulders, so it’s all good.

Back home, I restock the JFK, and, needing refreshment, try one of the new savouries. Excellent! I return to my study and sit down to work, but spend most of the time wondering about lunch. Fasting certainly gives you an appetite!


After a long and pleasant lunch that would feed an Ethiopian family for a week, I return to the fridge.

A couple of minutes before the end of my eating window, 2PM under the old scheme of time, there is still a cup of vanilla ice-cream in the freezer, and I manage to finish it just in time.

Since I believe always in looking to the future, the time is now 1080 AM, of which I will spend 480 minutes sleeping, and dreaming of food.

After three weeks of this, when I still can’t get into my jeans, I visit the weighing machine, and discover that I’ve put on four kilos! So now I’m wondering why they call it intermittent fasting and not intermittent feasting...


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