My 12-day fast

Cynthia Castelletti
Dec 12, 2019 · 17 min read

NB: Everyone reacts to a fast in their own way and my experience described in this article is personal. I talk about it to share it, but I don’t force anyone to fast. If you decide to do it, make sure you make some research beforehand and don’t neglect the preparation before, during and after.

Also, listen to your body. Some will feel more or less weak compared to others. Some will have more or less heavy symptoms. Some will feel that their bodies can continue until the end of the fast or that they must stop before. Do not force anything but know how to understand your body’s signals.

In addition to getting information in advance, never fast alone, especially if you have no experience and if you do not know your body well! Ideally, be surrounded by a relative and talk about it around yourself (I advise you to talk to people you trust who will respect your experience and be there for you if necessary).

The idea of talking to your entourage about it is important so that they respect your fasting period and they will not try to disturb you for any reason. They may also check in with you to make sure you don’t need any help. Finally, you will be able to ask for help, if necessary, from people who are aware of your fast.

For the second time, I am about to fast with water (water fasting). After my first experience (back in June 2016, during 7 days), I feel ready to do it again.

I would like to make it clear that I am ready because fasting is not something that can be decided overnight. I mean, the idea may come overnight, but it requires preparation.

As for me, since my first fast (in 2016), I knew I would do it again. I have found and chosen the right time while being in Bali (Indonesia).

This time, my goals are a little more precise and I’m less into discovery. I aim for 10 days or ideally 12. If my body feels like continuing, I may continue, but again, I don’t want to push too hard either. If I get to 12 days, I’ll be happy.

I don’t do this in a particular centre because I don’t need or want to be supervised. I have notified all the people I know in my guesthouse and my friends in Bali or elsewhere. Basically, many people are aware of my fasting and I made sure to explain my mood swings and weaknesses during the total duration of my fast i.e 10 to 12 days.

Why fast again?

The main reason for me to fast again is my colon. It has been more than a year (I haven’t counted exactly) that I have colon pain that can be very intense i.e waking me up in the middle of the night…

For those who know me, I’m not that sensitive to pain so, yes, it’s very painful and uncomfortable. I don’t know when or how long my seizures will start….

I have passed several tests from which no concrete diagnosis has been made: “You have gas”, “your intestine may be too long or too lazy”, “take these pills when you are in pain to relieve the discomfort”…

Under normal circumstances, I am not in favour of drugs and I rarely take them (although if we had access to quality food, drugs would be useless but that is another debate).

However, here, I tried to take the said drug (Debridat) and, yes, it relieved my pain but did not solve my problem.

In other words, I don’t want to hide my pain but rather to treat my problem at its source and in the long term.

After many tests without diagnosis and loss of patience, I did my own research and I think I have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

I can’t be sure of anything but the symptoms are here and stress doesn’t make things better because it encourages seizures…

All I have to do now is make a thorough examination to get a final verdict (I hope). To be continued…

In the meantime, I believe in the effectiveness of fasting and here are the reasons why I do it:

  • I want to cleanse my intestines and rest my colon,
  • I want to cleanse my whole body (I’ve been eating very badly lately),
  • a long fast (more than 10 days) will bring me more benefits (for my body and mind),
  • I want to take up a new challenge in favour of my physical and mental condition,
  • I listen to my body that wants, needs and is ready for this fast,
  • I would like to lose fat and maintain a healthy balance in the long term by adjusting my diet.

The environment during my long fast

I decided to do it here, in my guesthouse in Bali, because I am all alone and very well surrounded.

It’s easy to isolate myself because I have my own bedroom and it’s also easy to see people if I feel like it.

It is also another environment knowing that I had fasted for the first time in France, with my parents who had kept their food routine. Besides, it didn’t bother me at all.

This time, in Bali, I have the sun, the pool, the massages at my disposal and enough to keep myself busy at work so I know that it is a healthy and ideal balance to take care of myself.

In this regard, I am convinced that it is extremely important to choose the right environment for fasting.

I had two completely different experiences between my first fast (7 days) and this one (12 days). It is not the duration at all that marks a real change but everything else. My feelings, the environment, the events, the circumstances, etc.

With this second experience, I know I can last much longer than 12 days but for a longer fast, I think I would need a completely different environment. Perhaps for a longer fast, I would certainly be better off being more isolated. Anyway, to be continued….

With regards to the environment of your fast, you will appreciate having support of any kind. Throughout my preparation and fasting, the owners of my guesthouse, the staff and my friends were constantly watching over me. Really, constantly.

Not only were they interested in my experience, but they made sure that I was not in any danger.

Also, on my fourth day of fasting, I was upset by trifles. The problem is that during a fast, all your senses and emotions are vulnerable. So, as far as I’m concerned, the slightest annoyance exhausts me. So I took the opportunity to eliminate several people around me who were not doing any good to me. (Something I recommend you to do even outside of a fasting period ;-) ).

This fast is MY experience, MY “little” moment of well-being and I refuse to be disturbed by negative people or negative thoughts.

On a much more pleasant note, on the last day of my fast, I found 2 coconuts on my small table. Made, the owner of my guesthouse, took care of making them available to me. Him and his wife, Mama Ayu, were particularly interested in my fasting experience. They continuously encouraged me and congratulated me by telling me that I was a “very strong woman”.

They told their whole family and neighbors who see me now as a superwoman haha!

Anyway, I told Made that I was going to break my fast with a coconut and asked him where I could find the best ones. In the end, he offered them to me. That’s very thoughtful of him! I am so touched and happy to have been so supported by such caring people. As for the days when I didn’t want to talk or see people, I stayed locked in my room so I wouldn’t get disturbed.

The rest of the time, I talked a lot with the people around me here. It’s encouraging to talk to people who are interested and who really support you, believe me. You can’t expect that for sure and it’s normal that not everyone is necessarily interested. But when somebody shows interest in your experience, it really feels good!

A brief summary of my 12-day water and dry fast

Yes, finally, I mixed fasting with water and fasting without any water. I’m going to explain you why.

I did a fast for 12 days. I consumed a lot (even too much) of water in the first few days (wrongly thinking it was necessary and important) and then I gradually reduced it by drinking only when my body felt thirsty. In total, I drank water for 10 days and I did 2 days of dry fasting.

During a fast, the tongue goes through different aspects and that’s why I took a picture of mine every day. The photos speak for themselves. The more the tongue is charged (covered with a white liner), the more it means it’s in the cleaning phase. Once it turns pink again, the cleaning is finished.

You should know that some people may have tongues that get colored other than in white (depending on how ‘dirty’ your body is).

I checked my urine carefully so when it was too clear, I figured it was “not normal”. A body that cleans itself must have more or less dark urine…

I did some research on the Internet and realized that I needed to drink less water. Why? Because my kidneys were working for nothing. Basically, they drained the water I drank but didn’t clean my body thoroughly.

Once again, at the end of my fast, I could have continued but if I decided to stop, it was for several reasons:

  • I wanted to stick to my 12-day goal,
  • I felt that my body was sufficiently cleansed (pink tongue and normal urine),
  • I was looking forward to a more active lifestyle,
  • I didn’t want to fall into a phase of starvation,
  • (I was tired of that unpleasant breath and taste in my mouth haha!).

On this 12th day of fasting, I was absolutely not hungry. I am not surprised because having already done a fast in the past, the feeling of hunger really disappears.

Every day, I saw or heard people eating. Also, for those who know Bali, there are constantly smells of food in the air. I greatly appreciated these smells without being hungry and I find it interesting and pleasant especially for me who loves food! :-)

I also watched a lot of recipe videos on the internet and they didn’t make me feel hungry at all. It was just nice to watch them. I swear!

However, there is one important point I would like to mention: I’ve noticed that I was obsessing about food when I was drinking water. I had the feeling that drinking water called for food, especially during the phases when I forced myself to drink.

In other words, next time, I won’t force myself to drink water if I don’t want to. Once again, you have to learn to listen to your body. I’m still learning.

On the other hand, in dry fasting (without water), no thought of food crossed my mind. Sometimes the food would even disgust me. This is one of the things I find interesting about trying different types of fasts.

It makes sense when I think about it now, but at the time, I didn’t pay attention.

Also, I confirm that fasting with water is (way more) easy. On the other hand, when I tried dry fasting, I felt challenged. Without water, I felt much weaker and I felt pain in my:

  • back
  • kidney
  • head
  • tired and heavy body

From my research, it seems that these pains are normal. Their intensity and location may vary from one person to another. However, I reckon that I struggled in accepting and tolerating these pains. I really didn’t feel well…. That is why I preferred to alternate my 2 days of dry fasting in between my days of water fasting. And that’s also why I limited it to only 2 days of dry fasting.

By drinking water again, it was much easier. However, dry fasting is said to be more effective than water fasting (I have done a lot of research but my sources are all in French so there’s no point sharing them with you here. However, if you happen to read and understand French, then please feel free to take a look at my original article here including the sources: https://www.zetravelerz.com/2019/04/faire-un-jeune-de-12-jours/.)

1 day of dry fasting would be equivalent to 3 days of water fasting. (I speak hypothetically although I am convinced of this given the reactions of my body.)

Next time, I will try a dry fast for 3 or 4 days in a row while fully resting. Why? Not to encourage the desire to drink water and to really let my body clean itself properly without requiring additional effort.

Small observations during my 12-day fast

  • Frequency + type of urine and possible stools: no stool during the whole period of my fasting. Urine not very loaded and relatively clear when I drank a lot (or too much) water. Urine loaded but normal the rest of the time (dark orange).
  • Observe my body outside and inside: pasty mouth, bad breath, dry lips and a slight underarm smell.
  • Observe colon: no colon pain except around days 10 and 11 of my fast.
  • Bloating, gurgling: no bloating but gurgling and gas sometimes.
  • Oily skin when I woke up: especially in the first few days, much less or not at all afterwards.
  • Daily weight control + measurements.

Periods and hormones during my fast

Short part dedicated to women.

Luckily, I chose well the time to do my fast and now that I’m thinking about it, I suggest you to avoid doing a fast while you’re having your periods.

Why? Because without any surprise, when we’re losing blood (and depending on the quantity of blood loss and the intensity of the menstruation pain), we’re weaker. I’m not teaching you anything here. I haven’t done a fast while having my periods yet but if you’re a beginner, I think it’s wiser to do it before or after but not during.

As for me, I didn’t have any hormonal disorder following my fast and I got my periods at the exact estimated date (the 6th day of my food recovery). My PMS were the same as usual (stomach and back pain).

I felt 2 discomforts: the first time, I almost fainted one day before my periods (5th day of my food recovery) and the second time, I fainted on the third day of my periods (8th day of my food recovery).

I should specify that I was in the middle of my food recovery but I was still struggling to eat so my portions were really (too) small… I had a lack of energy and my periods made me feel weaker.

I (hardly) managed to handle the first discomfort but for the second one, I fainted and I know why: too much effort as soon as I woke up + not having had enough food between my intermittent fasting + the heat + my periods.

My body didn’t have enough energy because I didn’t eat enough, plus, I was doing an intermittent fasting too long compared to what I was eating.

The food descent and its importance

My food descent was a little messy and I’ll explain why. I only prepared it for six days. Normally, it should have lasted 10 to 12 days i.e as long as my fast. As soon as I arrived in Bali, my appetite had already decreased a lot so over these 6 days, I was already not eating much. In the end, it wasn’t a problem at all for me.

The day before my fast, I did my purge with Nigari (magnesium chloride). This thing is filthy and I had already taken it during my first fast. However, it is effective.

All this to say that you should never start a fast by stopping eating from a day to another. Frankly, it makes sense, but I prefer to make that clear. To do a long fast, you must accompany your body little by little, before, during and after.

Some examples of cold pressed juices during my food descent and my food recovery. Cold pressed juices are excellent because all the properties of the fruits/vegetables are preserved. I’ll let you do your research on that. ;-)

Food recovery and its importance

Food recovery can be difficult (more difficult than fasting itself) because you have to control the urges and desire to eat too quickly and to skip the steps.

It must be gentle and progressive, just like the descent.

After 12 days without swallowing anything but water, as soon as my body rediscovers other flavours, the feeling of hunger will start again. And that’s where you have to be careful and go gradually.

I chose to break my fast with fresh coconut water. What could be better than 100% natural to give to your body after 12 days of fasting? My last day being a dry fast, it was ideal to give my body back some good coconut water.

I continued with cold pressed fruit/vegetable juices, broth, etc.

However, after fasting, do not stay on liquids for too long because the body needs consistency. You have to vary, little by little.

Some people recommend eating several times a day depending on hunger, but I would rather join Thierry Casasnovas in avoiding snacking all day. I don’t know if there really is a universal rule since we are all different. So I’m going to talk about what’s right for me.

I don’t usually eat several times a day and it’s not a rhythm I want to take because it doesn’t suit me.

As a result, I prefer to eat once a day (or even twice a day depending on how I feel and what I want too). To that, I add cold pressed juices and that sounds fine to me.

The food recovery is an extremely important step in a fast. First, your body has received absolutely nothing outside of water or even nothing at all for a long time. It would therefore be completely inappropriate to give it back solid food right away. You can always test it, you’ll see how it goes.

Think of a baby. Well, after a fast, you’re like a baby. You need to rediscover the food little by little without rushing your body.

Then, if you rush your food recovery, you risk ruining all the cleaning and effort you put into your fasting… Too bad, right?!

Finally, this recovery should allow you to (re)take a balanced diet that can be beneficial to you.

Fasting to lose weight

So fasting to lose weight can be a good and bad idea.

The bad idea is not to respect the gentle recovery of food and to eat again without control after a fast. There, you will regain your fat (or even more).

The good idea is to respect a gentle dietary recovery and maintain a healthy and balanced diet.

So let’s make things clear right away: I’m not a vegetarian, nor a vegan, nor anything else (I respect everyone’s choices but I specify my own). I love food, I love eating and I will continue to eat everything I love.

However, given the pain in my colon, I will monitor the foods that trigger my pain to reduce or eliminate them. The main purpose of my fasting is to reset my counters and to properly empty/care for my intestines to take care of them.

Now, just because I’m going to eat a pork chop or fries doesn’t mean I’m going to get fat. No. However, it is the quantity of these dishes that will make me fat if I go beyond the limits. I am perfectly aware of this and I know exactly when I go too far.

For example, last winter, I had a great time (in every sense of the word) with my family in the mountains (that’s where I gained weight). With my cousin’s divine white wine sausages, raclettes, red wine, tartiflettes à la tome des Bauges, and so on…. Clearly, I’m not going to stop it! That being said, everything is about quantity and there, I clearly went beyond the limits in the quantity of food haha!

I also think that I could do a short fast to rebalance all this (like the principle of intermittent fasting after all). But that doesn’t mean you have to eat like crazy.

So the key to controlling the amount of food is to take the time to chew each bite well and not eat too fast! This is so logical, but this rule must also be applied.

Once again, we are all different, so it is up to each of us to adapt in our own way.

I’ve always had a complex relationship with food and I’m familiar with the yo-yo dieting… That being said, I don’t believe in any diet. Anything that involves any frustration will not give you any good results in the long term. And I can guarantee you that, since I paid the price for it!…

Let’s go back to fasting to lose weight. In other words, an intermittent dry fast is ideal for losing fat. But you shouldn’t eat too much nor abuse your body the rest of the time.

Here is a summary of the weight and cm I lost during my fast and in total:

March 24 is my first day of food descent in preparation for my fast. April 22nd corresponds to my first day of reintegration of all foods, which is the official end of my fasting and food recovery.

In purple, it is the period of my fast of 12 days, from March 30 to April 10 included. I was losing ±500g a day and started to stagnate when I realized that I was drinking too much water. It was while I was on a dry fast that I lost weight again.

On April 22nd, despite my food recovery, my weight didn’t change and I’m delighted. I thought I would gain weight again but I think I have found a pace that suits me. I now do an intermittent dry fast of at least 16 hours (ideally 17 hours or 18 hours). And I eat two meals a day.

Obviously, it allows me to stabilize myself and I feel very well. To be continued in the long term…

In conclusion

I am happy to have done this fast and I will do it again. Now, the hardest part remains to be done: taking care of my body and mind through my diet and on a long term basis.

My intermittent fasting

For now, I will continue my intermittent fasting which suits me very well but the only difference I will apply is to switch to dry fasting.

In other words, during my intermittent fasting phases, I will not drink water to allow my body to cleanse itself and rest but also to burn my fat.

Over 24 hours, I keep my 8-hour window during which I can eat and the remaining 16 hours will be devoted to my dry fast. Until now, I used to fast between 5pm/6pm and 9am/10am. I will remain flexible on my schedules according to my desires and unforeseen needs. The important thing for me is to keep this rhythm of intermittent fasting. If I can expand my fasting window and reduce the feeding window, I will do so without hesitation. The most important thing is that it suits me and is beneficial to me.

I hope that my feedback will inspire you and make you want to learn more on your side. Again, I’m not an expert, but I do my experiments on my own scale. I am committed to finding solutions that suit me to take care of myself. I share what I get from it, but my case is not universal.

Thank you for taking the time to read me.

Take care of yourself. :-)

Translated by myself from my original article in French that you can find here on my blog.

Cynthia Castelletti

Written by

https://cynthia-castelletti.com/ & www.notmad.fr & www.zetravelerz.com Quelques articles en français & some articles in English ! :-)

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