Q and A: The results of fasting

I’ve had a few questions about fasting recently, and how it affects me. So here’s a bit of a Question and Answer session 😸

I’m not a doctor, so all I can really comment on is how I feel when I fast, and the effects it has on me.

Physical benefits: I feel more alert mentally, and have lots more energy. My eczema disappears, as do my allergies (I’m an allergic sort of person) after about day 2. I just feel better and clearer-headed.

Weight loss: I generally lose about a pound a day when I fast, and I tend to keep about half of that off long-term (I’m much lighter than I was a couple of years ago when I started to improve my health).

Losing junk food addiction: I also find that any longer than about 3 days of fasting and junk food loses its appeal. Over the last two years of smaller fasts I’ve gone from eating junk probably 3-4 times a week to very seldom. And I feel better for it!

Why longer fasts?: I find fasts of a few days at a time much easier than the intermittent fasting that is all the rage right now. I tried intermittent fasting, and it always felt like I was deprived. I never got into the swing of it. I also never experienced the spiritual / emotional / mental benefits with intermittent fasting that I do with longer fasts.

Secrets to fasting: Drinking lots of water and tea helps. I think a lot of what we imagine to be hunger is actually thirst. Also, keeping busy makes things easier, especially for the first 48 hours (which are the hardest). I go for walks and also cleaning the house seems to be a thing I do when I fast.

Will I keep fasting?: Absolutely. I still want to do a much longer fast. My goal is 40 Days. I’m a long way short of that!

Other fasting experimentation: I’ve just started a new semi-fast. I’ll have a smoothie a day (1 cup blueberries, 1 cup milk, scoop of collagen and a scoop of whey) and Metamucil when I need it, as getting constipated seems to be a problem with me for the first couple of days of a fast at least. I’ll blog as I go and report back 😃

Would I recommend fasting: Yes, but be aware that I’m not a doctor and what works for me may not work for you. But I find the benefits are far stronger than any other health interventions I’ve tried.


Semi fasting

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know I’ve been experimenting with fasting.

I love the way fasting makes me feel: I’m more alert, I lose weight, and any brain fog disappears. I feel healthy, and my mood stabilizes. I feel calm and positive when I fast.

However, there are some big downsides.

My kids worry when I fast. My daughter in particular doesn’t understand it. All she sees is Mum not eating, and she gets scared I might be sick.

There’s also the social aspect. It’s hard to go out for lunch with friends and not eat. Or to bake with my kids and not even try what they make.

So I’m going to try semi-fasting from today.

Total calories per day: less than 500, and ideally zero. Water and black / green tea only. Food to consist only of soups and smoothies.

I’ll track how I go 😃

Day 8: Back eating

I broke my fast, and am eating again. Part of the reason (apart from missing food) was I had really bad constipation.

I did do a saltwater cleanse a couple of days in, but I think retrospectively I should have done it a day before fasting rather than during it.

Anyway, problem is resolved now (I hope that’s not TMI!) 🙂 My stomach ache has stopped, and I feel back to normal.

So what next? I still want to do a long fast. I like the way I feel when I fast – my head is really clear and I feel really alert.

So I’ll eat normally for a few days, and start another fast next week.

The results? I lost about 3 kgs / 7 pounds. I’m happy about that, and hopefully it’ll stay away.

More importantly, I feel more in touch with myself and my Higher Power. I feel calm and happy.

So, yes, I didn’t achieve anything like 40 days, but I have hopes of doing so in the near future.

Day 7: Crazy busy at work

I’m still fasting and very busy at work. I really need a break!

It’s going okay, but I feel like I’m ready to call it quits, take a break, then come back to it. It’s not because I’m crazy hungry or anything – I’m just feeling like I need a break from it.

Fasting isn’t hard so much as challenging. It’s more a mental game than anything. There’s so much food just lying around in our society. At work there’s chocolate and sweet stuff, and at home there’s, well, everything. It’s always visible and available. Avoiding being tempted is hard.

I’m pretty familiar with fasting. I’ve done it plenty of times before. I’m familiar with how it feels and the mental struggle. It does get easier when you’re used to it, but it’s never actually easy.

Weirdly, I like the way fasting makes me feel. I feel more alert, and not drugged out on all the sugar. It makes me realize how dopey eating normally makes me. I don’t think I’m particularly dopey, but food definitely is like a drug to me – a coping mechanism to deal with the world.

When I take my drug away, I feel empty, bored, stressful. Then I want my drug back again. Fasting makes me realize how much of a food addict I really am. It’s absolutely central to my mental well-being.

OA is right. I’m a food addict. Food is an emotional, social and mental crutch to me. I don’t want it to be. I just want it to be food. I want to be sane and abstinent. I want the centre of my life to be those people I care about, rather than what’s on my plate.

My goal with OA and fasting is to know myself and my Higher Power intimately. To understand. I’m not at that point yet, but I am feeling more aware than I was before of how brutal the truth is about me and food.

I hope some of this makes sense!

Day 6: Back at work

I’m back at work today, and really wish I weren’t.

It’s slow, and as it’s school holidays, there’s not much work coming in (I work in education).

I’m feeling fine. Weirdly, I feel quite cold, and normally the office is overheated. I don’t know if it’s me or the thermostat!

Over the last few days, I’ve lost the taste for lemon juice in my water. I’m preferring the water straight. Still drinking plenty of tea, and enjoying that, but the water I like straight.

I can feel that I’m starting to lean out. My jeans are fitting better, and my tops are starting to look a little too big. Like I’m slopping around in my big sister’s clothing.

It doesn’t feel like a Tuesday. It feels like Monday. The long weekend has confused me, and now my week feels out of whack.

As expected, there’s a lot of chocolate sitting around the office. Easter eggs everywhere. There’s a small part of me inside that wants them, but for the most part, they’re not bothering me at all.

One thing I’m finding helpful is watching the TV series Alone. It’s about people who go off and live by themselves in the woods for as long as possible. Last man standing wins half a million dollars. They deal with bears and cougars and wolves, and they don’t eat a whole lot.

Watching everything they’re going through makes me feel better. After all, I’m warm and clean and dry, and I can see my family all through this. All those things make a huge difference. It also makes me a whole lot less likely to grumble about how hard it is. My life is pretty darn easy, to be honest. It’s just a lack of eating that I must push through. I know I can do this.

So yes, I’m feeling good. The tea and water help a huge amount, and it’s not so much me being hungry, and me missing food and the happiness and distraction that eating brings. It gets raw when you don’t eat. You naturally turn inwards, and spend more time thinking and meditating.

Day Five: Easter Monday morning

It’s Easter Monday morning, and I’m feeling fine.

A bit of a cold, but otherwise normal. I’m a little bit constipated – the salt water cleanse did nothing the other day – so last night I took some metamucil in the hopes of clearing things out.

I don’t have a lot planned for today. Will possibly do some digging in the garden, and I have three pumpkins that need to be made up into soup.

I’ll also go for a walk, listen to an OA podcast, and do some reading. I really wish I had this week off work, but I have next week off and am looking forward to that. It should work out that I’m on leave just when things really get tough with the fast. Ideally I’d have liked to have the entire time off,but that was never going to happen. 40 days is a lot of leave.

Day 4: Early morning on Easter Sunday

It’s early morning on Easter Sunday.

I slept well again. I haven’t had any insomnia at all over the past week – sleep has been good quality, and plentiful.

I’m also not feeling hungry. I could eat, but I’m not any hungrier than I might be at this time normally.

In fact, that’s what I’ve found – and continue to find – the strangest thing about fasting.

You would think by now, four days in, the hunger would be intolerable. But it’s not. It’s very manageable.

I do find myself thinking about the fact that I’m fasting and missing meals, but it’s more about the upset to my routine than about any sort of suffering.

I don’t feel like I’m suffering.

Probably the hardest thing is managing to fast with my family present. My daughter wouldn’t understand, and I’m not sure my son or stepdaughter do either. The last thing I want to do is worry them.

But when you don’t eat, you really don’t fit in.

Families come together at meal times, and when one family member isn’t present, it’s noticeable.

Day 3: Dinnertime

I definitely get hungry according to the prompts around me.

I’m sitting here in the living room, and because I’m not confronted by food, I feel fine.

But when I was preparing dinner for my kids, I was feeling pretty hungry. Except not really. It’s difficult to explain, but the hunger signals are still coming from outside of me, rather than from the inside. My body doesn’t need food. It’s like my mind needs food, not my body.

Fasting is a funny thing to go through. On the one hand, it’s all about the food.

On the other hand, it’s about everything except the food.

I’m doing this to heal my body, and to move deeply into my spiritual self. I want to learn about myself. I want to understand myself. I want to know what makes me tick, and why.

To be honest, I also love the feel of fasting. It feels great. Or it does at present. I can almost feel myself healing. Everything I’m doing feels right.

They say days three through five are the hardest. I think Day One was harder than now, at Day Three. I’m pretty much getting into the groove of it now. And I’m enjoying watching the weight pour off of me. That’s a real bonus!

I don’t know when I’ll finish this fast. I don’t know if I’ll make the full forty days or not. This is a challenge against myself and nobody else.

Tomorrow is Easter. We have family coming over. I don’t want to eat. Fasting makes you realise how absolutely central food is for our culture. But I don’t want to offend anyone. I don’t want to upset anyone. I just want to continue my fast.

I’m right on the cusp of getting to the great part of fasting. Once you get beyond the gate of fasting (as some like to call it) it’s meant to be pretty cruizy and enlightening. I want to get to that space.

I think I can do it. I just have to set my mind and my body to it.

I want to do it.

Day 3: Feeling great

I’m feeling good.

Yes, I’m aware that hunger is there, but it’s not bothering me particularly. Drinking a LOT of water helps, and I’m doing a salt water cleanse this afternoon, to clean out any leftover food still sitting in my system.

To do a saltwater cleanse: Two tablespoons of salt dissolved in warm water, with a splash of lemon juice to make it tolerable.

Fasting is helping me to think about my spiritual self, and my relationship with food. I eat too much, and I eat the wrong things, and I’m hoping to change that.

Attempting a really big fast like this one is a bit scary, mainly because I’m worried I’ll fail.

But really, is any fast that does us good ever a real failure?

I don’t think so.

What I do know is my journey is only at the beginning 🙂

Day 3: Weigh in

Its Day Three and I just weighed in. I’ve lost 2.6 kgs, which is about 5.7 pounds.

That’s amazing.

I’m not someone who loses weight easily. I joined OA back last July, and for a long time I didn’t see much results at all. Then my weight started to reduce… slowly.

However, although it’s working well for me, maybe the water fast is the kickstart my body needed.

Since joining OA, I’ve lost 7.2 kgs, which is about 16 pounds. I’m happy with that, because I know it’s not coming back. Slow, steady and permanent.

I’m also not worried about losing too much weight on this fast. I’m currently borderline obese, and I can comfortably lose a lot of weight before I get to my goal weight.

How I feel this morning: I feel good. A bit crampy, as my period has started, but not particularly hungry.

I guess I expected to feel much, much hungrier. The last time I did a water fast – over a year ago – I got very very hungry, and spent much of the time fixating on food.

This time hasn’t been like that. Instead, I’ve been quite comfortable, and surprised by how straightforward the fast has been. A bit of a headache yesterday and the day before, but that’s resolved for now.

I’m also feeling very calm. Just settled in my emotions. That might change as I progress, but for now it’s appreciated.

Day 2: Evening

I’m feeling good.

Not particularly hungry, but smelling my family’s dinner cooking was a bit hard.

Nothing much to report. The headache has all but gone, and I’m feeling fine. No other issues.

I hope I’ll sleep well tonight.

Day Two: Lunchtime

It’s the middle of the day, and I’m not hungry.

I’ve been quite thirsty, so I’ve been drinking a lot. I also slept really well last night – 11 hours! I must have needed it.

Side effects: I’ve noticed I’m a bit grumpy, and I also had a bit of a headache last night. I don’t know if it’s related to the fast, as I’ve never had headaches when fasting before. I’ve still got a low level headache, but I don’t want to take any painkillers, as this fast I want to learn about myself and my body.

I spent the morning digging up potatoes, and just enjoying the sunshine outside – it’s beautiful weather for Good Friday.

So far I’m enjoying the fast, but it’s early days. And I know from experience that the toughest parts are the afternoons over the first few days.