The Surprising Results of Fasting – A Six Day Experiment
Sometimes our world moves a bit too quickly for us to enjoy each moment in the fullest sense. So slowing down now and then can be a good thing. I recently came off of my first ever fast. And yes, it did slow me down among other things. Between the two days of drinking veggie shakes before and one day after, I did not eat solid food for nine days. It’s no picnic so you need a reason to fast.
A little background. I have not eaten beef, pork, or lamb for the past four years. This year I have finally eliminated poultry from my diet. This raised my energy level and provided some rest and relief for my internal system. I became ill about three weeks after initially eliminating meat, but it was a function of my cells releasing stored toxins into my blood stream. Since then I have felt great although I have put on a few pounds over the past few years. Maybe I replaced the meat with carbs. Not sure, but I have been on a cardio rampage all year, but shedding pounds has been a slow process.
But I digress. Fasting was an amazing experience. Here is how it worked with a few highlights and insights, Guy’s Guy style.
To prepare for fasting I consumed only protein and veggie shakes for two days. On the third day I drank a half-gallon of water and sea salt and eliminated anything and everything in my colon. Hello, fasting. For the next six days the only thing I consumed was a powdered mix of maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and lemon with water. It tastes like it sounds. Weird.
The First Three Days
For some odd reason I found myself watching shows on the Food Network and The Travel Channel that focus on preparing and eating mega portions of meaty, indulgent dishes. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Man Vs Food, Bizarre Foods, and Chopped streamed endlessly across my flat screen. I also found myself almost instinctively popping up and walking into the kitchen for a snack that I would not be having. It was habit. I realized that a good portion of my eating was from habit. I came to the conclusion that I was a nervous eater with little sense of portion control. These epiphanies were breakthroughs. I looked in the mirror and saw a glutton looking back. I was determined to take charge of my eating habits once and for all. For context, I’m in pretty good shape, having run three marathons over the past decade along with pounding out about a million push-ups. Plus, I walk everywhere in Manhattan so at 5’10” and 185 pounds, I am no couch potato. I am a Guy’s Guy who likes to indulge in tasty food and drink every now and then. But, I wanted to get a handle on my waistline and my perspective on food. How did I feel? Not bad. I was hungry the first day, but my body had plenty of stored resources to work off so I quickly acclimated to not eating. My tongue was coated and my body odor was heightened. I still did cardio–an hour on the elliptical trainer every day. Sweating felt tremendous.
Days Three Through Six
After three days I dismissed the possibility of eating and remained committed to my maple, pepper, lemon mix. That was my reality. I noticed how many restaurants there are in New York each time I walked down the street, but I did not consider entering them. I was in the zone. I noticed a visible change in my body. After three days of fasting your body starts burning off fat. I was getting smaller. I am sure the cardio helped. I did not feel any less strength during my workouts and I felt good so I stuck with the program. I was still watching the food shows and was now craving those burgers and fries I had given up years ago. My wife, who has fasted before and was fasting with me, told me that this was due to the stored fat in my cells releasing the residual toxins from the meat into my bloodstream. Whatever. I craved a big-ass bacon cheeseburger.
The End and the New Beginning
By the fifth day I was planning out what I wanted to eat following the fast. No decisions, but it was fun fantasizing. I decided that for a rookie, a six-day fast was pretty good. I had lost weight each day and looked visibly different from days four, five and six. On the final day my wife and I took an all day spiritual workshop in New York led by Paul Selig. It was a ninety-five-degree Saturday in Manhattan and I wondered why I chose this over the beach. But after a few hours, I was very pleased with my choice and it was a great way of wrapping up the fast. Afterwards, we walked to the West Village and happily ordered veggie smoothies to break the fast. Sip, sip. Mmmmm. Had to begin slowly, but by the next evening we were ready for a light meal. All in all I lost fifteen pounds. I looked good. My eyes were bright and clear and I felt great. And, I learned a lot about my habits. I’ve gained a few pounds back, but I have a better handle on my eating habits and I will fast again. I am working to eliminate sugars and unnecessary carbs from my diet and have cut waaaaay back on alcohol. The bottom line is I feel more calm and relaxed. And I no longer crave those burgers I saw on TV! I know people who’ve fasted for forty days, but I’m happy with my first six-day experiment. I do not necessarily recommend fasting for everyone, but for me it was a worthwhile journey.
Guy’s Guy of the Week: Mahatma Gandhi, for his 21-day fast for self-purification in 1933.
What benefits will fasting give you? Try it.
Image courtesty of Getty Images.