I Just Did A 3 Day Fast. Here’s the Top Lesson I Learned:
It is Sunday Morning, I just finished my workout, and I can’t believe I just went 70 hours without any calories! Last night was my first meal since Wednesday, I had vegetable soup and some spelt toast to break the fast.
The fast itself was challenging both mentally and physically, but got easier each day and overall I didn’t suffer. At no point in time did I feel ill or in danger, I stayed well hydrated including salts throughout. Coffee was there, but less than usual. I did light exercise such as walking and yoga.
I don’t have the luxury of a Vipassana retreat, Adva and I have three small children whose needs require constant attending. So real life happened and I’m glad it did. I don’t feel I was extra irritable, if anything more calm, although my wife may have a different version if you ask her! I definitely confronted some primal emotion around hunger, but I feel I learned a lot about myself in a way that I can’t explain.
Before I start, let me preface by saying that nobody should take on extreme activity such as fasting without prior experience and you should always consult with your doctor first.
Fasting should not be used for weight loss as it will not work in the long run.
That being said, the medical benefits to prolonged fasting are well studied and documented. Fasting will refresh your immune system, kill precancerous cells, and reduce destructive hormones while increasing the good ones. These are all among the many benefits of fasting.
But none of those were my main goal in this. Mindfulness was.
The more I learn and experience, the less dogmatic I become about any particular diet or method. I have become convinced that the key to long term sustainable health and body weight is a combination of eating whole foods, mostly plants, along with mindful eating (and living). In other words, developing and awareness of, and paying attention to, the signals from the body. (I am ignoring exercise here, which is obviously a critical piece, but that is beyond the scope of this essay.)
Fasting MAY help you set the reset button in your relationship with food by allowing you to be more mindful of your emotions around food. Since the fast, I have felt that I am paying closer attention to eating the right foods, in the amounts that my body needs. The good news is that you can do this without fasting. In fact, that is the recommended way!
This was my main motivation in this fast. To cultivate an attention to the signals coming from my body.. To stop eating mindlessly. To be aware of the pleasure in eating delicious food instead of stuffing my face with it and missing all of the spectacular pleasure in the gift of good nourishing food.
To pay attention when the body says “enough” instead of trying to beat the system by guzzling down the whole plate. You cannot imagine how intricately connected is the body system which controls hunger and satiation. When you’ve had enough to eat, the all-powerful kidneys release infinitesimally small molecules which travel throughout the body talking to other organs, while the fat cells communicate directly with the brain. It is a sweet symphony for those fortunate enough to stop and listen. If this remarkable system were to God forbid break down, you would be in grave danger.
So let’s thank our bodies for keeping us alive. Let’s show our gratitude by respecting our bodies (and the Planet itself) by not overconsuming. Let’s begin to have a healthy relationship with our bodies and the environment.
I offer you an easy exercise which takes about 5 minutes. Put away your phone. Take an apple, any color. Look at it. Eat it slowly. Try to chew each bite 30 times. Feel every stage of digestion from the flavors exploding on your tongue to the feeling of satisfaction as your body takes it in.
Enjoy the ride.
P.S. My gym is closed for group classes but I am taking a limited number of Personal Training Clients. Send us a message at 054-313-2568 if you want to talk. I would welcome that.