Final: My 7 Day Water Fasting Experiment
My dream is that fasting becomes a part of everyday life for everyone
Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was taught about the basics of fasting, you know fasting 101? That it’s not bad for you. In fact it’s the opposite. It costs nothing, leaves you with glowing health, a brain sharper than a pen knife and a glorious sense of power and achievement. Fasting builds mental and physical resilience and longevity.
Wouldn’t it be great if most adults chose to fast on a regular basis to stay happy and healthy? For starters, the cost burden on our public health systems would be way less and it’d instil in all of us, a sense of responsibility towards our own health instead of popping to the doctor’s and popping a pill.
Wouldn’t it be great if……..?
I woke up just feeling so damn chuffed with myself. I smashed through what is normally my Achilles heel — Day 3 — AND I felt no hunger. In fact I felt nothing. It was weird. I was now in full blown ketosis and autophagy was on top speed, hoovering up my body’s inner clutter and rebirthing me anew. This was my chance to press delete on all those bouts of eating junk food, quaffing too much wine and gas guzzling those Haribos.
My poor teeth. My poor microbiome. My poor liver. No more. This was it. This was Day Four and I was going to swim in a seductive sea of serotonin. This felt sanguine.
STAGE FIVE = PROTEIN CONSERVATION (5 days after fasting starts). High levels of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) maintain muscle mass and lean tissues. The energy for basic metabolism is almost entirely supplied by fatty acids and ketones. Blood glucose is maintained by gluconeogenesis using glycerol. Increased norepinephrine (adrenaline) levels prevent any decrease in metabolic rate. There is a normal amount of protein turnover, but it is not being used for energy.
Today things got ugly. And fast. Yesterday’s dream was today’s nightmare. My body felt like glue and my brain was stuck in third gear or was that reverse? Who knows. What I do know is my patience was non-existent and food was all I could think about. Again. This wasn’t the whimsical contemplation of my favourite foods and how I would enjoy devouring them, no no no. This was me feeling explosively angry at not being able to eat.
Hangry didn’t quite cut it.
By lunchtime my head was pounding and I didn’t feel like doing ANYTHING. Me and my boy went to the gardens and whilst he played I just lay down on the grass and stared up at the trees feeling incredibly sorry for myself. It felt like I’d been out on a bender the night before and was now paying a heavy price with an almighty hangover. Except I wasn't and hadn’t.
How could not eating and drinking only water make me feel so ludicrously bad? All I wanted to do was curl up in bed with a hot water bottle and lie very, very still in peace and quiet.
I didn’t want to be mummy today.
I just wanted to close my eyes and make the world go away. To make matters worse this turned out to be one of those days toddlers get when they keep asking ‘Whyyyyyyy mummy’ about everything and they want you to play football and cars with them. Not today.
Instead we moseyed on back home and I let D4 watch TV for about 3 hours straight with his snacks at the ready, whilst I lay on my bed, not really enjoying the stillness but instead, being tormented by guilt for leaving D4 to fend for himself and hangry to the point of despair.
I gave myself a 2/10 on parenting today. Not proud.
Luckily I turned another corner today. This time my brain power kicked in at full throttle. My sense of confidence, clarity and change in perspective about so many things was to put it mildly, life-changing.
My BIG lesson from today was what I had learned over the years practicing vipassanna meditation, which is anicha — meaning the only constant in life is change. My 7 day water fasting experience had been such a rollercoaster. As life is. One minute you’re flying high, the next, life throws you a curveball and you feel as flat as a deflated balloon.
The way you respond is what determines your outcome. Really.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself and going into default ‘victim mode’ which I often do when things feel like they’re going pear-shaped, I knowingly responded differently. I made a decision there and then that I would treat me like I would a good friend and not as a critic. I would also start following my heart more, even if it meant displeasing others. From now on I would remember this formula on how I choose to respond to all things in my life:
EVENT + RESPONSE = OUTCOME
I was nearly at the summit of Mount Everest. I had done it. Truth be told after I made it past Day 3 it was far easier and the likelihood of me quitting was next to nil. Nothing of any significance happened today. I did consider carrying on but decided that it would take two to three days of refeeding carefully to maximise the benefits anyway before getting back to normal.
The 7 day fasting experiment truly improved my inner confidence, straight and simple. It had vanished into the dark cupboards of my life in the previous six weeks and now it was time to bring it back out. Refuelled and Reset. I felt really good. Content and cleansed from the inside out.
It hadn’t been easy. There were highs and lows, but overall the boost in my creativity, focus and drive led me to massive personal achievements. I finally managed to complete three chapters of my book and with it a proposal, which I felt happy to send out to potential literary agents. That book won’t write itself.
And without a shadow of a doubt it had made me a better parent.
Everything had slowed down a tad and I found I actually had the time and energy to really be with my son. I listened to him in a way that felt more authentic and real. He felt it too. He told me so. I was happier to do the things he wanted in the moment rather than steer activities to my liking. This was capped off by D4 being treated to some epic home-cooked nosh with all the extra time and energy I had on my hands.
And finally I had pressed the RESET button on how I felt about me. I came out the other side liking me more, flaws and all. Maybe I even loved myself a little. Corny as it sounds it’s true. I‘m usually my harshest critic and this experience laid my soul bare with nowhere to hide (here’s looking at you Haribos and wine) and plenty of time to show up for myself properly and complete a couple of things I had been willing myself to do in ages, but hadn't.
My self-esteem blossomed and I felt a new sense of awe about me
I did it. I completed 7 days of drinking water only. I’d finally asked myself what I wanted instead of what the world wanted from me. I felt alive and wild. I’d tasted freedom, and I wanted more.
Five Months On
For me it was an experiment well worth doing:
- I’ve only eaten Haribos twice replaced with eating nuts daily. In fact my diet is back to being super healthy all round
- I’m a fat burning machine! I only lost 2kg during the fast which quickly came back, though five months on I’ve lost 4kg without doing anything differently
- I’ve become way better at showing up and completing things I set out to do. Publishing these posts is one of them
- I feel happier and content in myself, more than I have done for a long time despite it being a challenging year for me
- My insulin resistance has gone and my tummy doesn’t resemble a Michelin tyre any longer
- My brain feels sharper and more focussed
- I’m definitely living more in the NOW and am a far better parent with stamina to do the job single handedly over many months at a time
- Doing the fast has lifted my spirits and confidence like you wouldn’t believe. I feel like I can do anything now!
A bientôt de te revoir
DISCLAIMER: Do Your Research Before Trying Fasting
If you want to do a fast, definitely spend some time reading up on it and proceed at your own risk. I am not a medical expert. I am not responsible for the decisions you make for your health. I’m writing these fasting articles based on my research and experience.
Needless to say pregnant, breastfeeding women and children should NOT undertake fasting. Also anyone with an underlying health condition should also consult a medical professional before attempting to embark on a fast.
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