Most health conscious people have heard of the benefits of fasting as of late, and many good souls have had noble intentions of completing a fast – at some point. This was me as well, although my motivation was driven primarily by weighty spiritual convictions, not “weighty” body concerns lol. (Ultimately I DID carve out inches nicely and exactly where I needed them in a few days, and I am mostly convinced that I made the spiritual progress that I was seeking. For now.)
What follows is the in-depth account of each of the five days of my first fast, in case anyone has some inkling that they too ‘should probably’ do a fast, and would like to see what the average person is up against…..
I started day one with an immediate sense of deprivation, knowing that tea and water was all that would await me and carry me through the morning. Mid-morning I made a carrot juice and ravenously knocked it back, feeling a pang of guilt for not limiting myself to water only. I struggled for a bit with deciding on whether to commit to water only or allow juices, but eventually settled on the words of a very prominent holistic doctor with the same faith as myself, who advised that one can have apple or cranberry juice as well as apple cider vinegar, herbal tea, and honey on the fast. I ended up expanding his suggestions to include any vegetable that I had on hand. This first day was challenging but not anywhere near as hard as I thought it would be. I had no faintness, nausea, headache, or any discomfort other than moderate gnawing hunger. In total, I had two carrot/green pepper juices (made in my juicer), water, and black tea with honey.
I was exhausted and slept for 16 hours that night. Did I mention this was vacation time? (I would never, as a newbie, have had the fortitude to fast while taking myself through a normal work week, but that’s just me.) That evening I had my usual monster-laden dreams. This one featured, toward the end, a large white snake on the ground that tried to wrap itself around me (I escaped) followed by a crocodile that was less aggressive but still after me….as I recall.
Day two was normal level energy and moderate hunger, coupled with some vague satisfaction that I made it through a whole day. I started the day with a carrot juice, and was eyeing the tomatoes in the fridge. I felt bad wondering if I was allowing myself too much juice. But I REALLY wanted to see if I could juice those tomatoes – hey, it wasn’t giving in, it was a SCIENCE EXPERIMENT!! I had to see if fresh tomatoes would juice in my juicer. Happily they did, and that juice was some of the best flavor I have ever had – I wanted about a gallon of that tomato juice. In fact, after I knocked the half glass down, I really wanted some of the pulp in the top of the juicer. What a waste, perfectly nutritious tomatoe pulp right there, and I was supposed to throw it away??? I was literally two steps toward the garbage can when I stuck my finger in a hunk of tomatoe pulp. After a second of tasting the tomatoe pulp, my head screamed, “NO!!! You can’t eat anything!!”, and I spit the mush out before I technically swallowed anything solid.
My temptation wasn’t over. The honey was staring me down on the counter. I had been boiling water for tea, and planned on putting the honey in the tea. I really wanted a teaspoon of honey, and mentally flogged myself for this thought. Finally, my head relented and said, “Don’t beat yourself up, you’re not eating for God’s sake!!” and with that I ate a huge teaspoonful of honey, instead of putting it in my tea. The rest of the afternoon went smoothly as I remembered the words of the fasting doctor, explaining that when you feel hunger it’s just the stomach secreting acid, and to dilute it with more water. I did just that, and made it to bed that night with a vague satisfaction that my food-loving self made it through day two in successful self-denial.
Sleep was extremely fitful that night – I felt like I had a lot of energy, a restless type that didn’t want me to sleep. The next morning, day three, I got up at a normal time but was exhausted due to being up most of the night. Because I had nowhere to be, I let myself fall back asleep at 8:30. What followed was one of the most disgusting dreams I have ever had. (Entertainment value demands that I share the disgusting piece of content in this writing, even though I’m really sorry in advance lol.) I dreamt that I was in my bathroom looking in the mirror, when suddenly something started poking out from the side of my face. I thought, “Oh great, I have a freaking parasite.” What came out was a worm, a white worm like a mung bean sprout, poking out slowly for a couple of inches, and then, appallingly, retreating back into my face – just below my cheekbone. I was distraught (imagine that) but the thing came out again, seconds later, and this time I grabbed it. I pulled and pulled and pulled, and prayed to God to help me get it all out, and pulled and pulled and pulled, disgusted, horrified, and determined – ’til all twenty feet of this thing lay in a spaghetti pile on the counter. It was all out – and the dream ended. Like I said I’m so sorry about having to subject any reader to the above scenario lol but unfortunately what the writer is saddled with must end up on the page!!!
The good part about this questionable experience is that when I woke up I felt really good – noticeably “clear-headed” like a weight had been lifted, my perspective was bright and airy, and a pile of unknown debris had been vacuumed from my head. I could only assume that whatever that disgusting thing was symbolic of, it wouldn’t be bothering me anymore.
Not only was I clear-headed, but I had pretty good energy and was also a bit antsy and ADD, so I decided to go running. I was proud of myself for running while starving. At 1.5 miles I started to feel a little bit weak and off – and having visions of passing out while onlookers commented on what kind of idiot would run while fasting, I decided to stop and walk the remainder of the way home. I was also reminded of my tendency to slack if I feel I have made a valiant effort elsewhere, as in “…well I ran five miles, so I can have this macaroni and cheese”. Knowing me, I would have extra honey and juice if I completed my run, so it seemed extra wise to cut it short. Surprisingly I wasn’t terribly tempted by the food in the house other than a couple of sidelong glances at the containers in the fridge, followed by a swift “NO!” in the caverns of my now clear head. I had a juice of two apples and 3 celery stalks, and one cup of tea with honey. I went about the rest of my day feeling satisfied that I had persevered, and the gnawing hunger had diminished to a relatively low level. At 12:25 pm I had a surprising craving for burnt rice. At 4:00 pm, I kind of wanted a BLT. But I was in control, and reached for more water. I vowed to never take food for granted again.
While in my room drinking water and thinking, I had a cool spiritual experience. I suddenly sensed the very intense presence of Jesus – a flash of awareness just to my right and by me, life-size, almost visual but not quite literal – undeniable but just beyond the plane of my physical senses. I was overwhelmed by this and knelt down on my knees to pray, extremely appreciative that I would be visited on such a personal level. I wanted Him to stay, and though in my heart I know He DID stay, the “vision” wasn’t prolonged. As I write this I’m acutely aware that many reading this will have different spiritual beliefs, none at all, anger at the subject, or maybe were only interested in the physical/nutritional aspects of fasting. This is all perfectly fine, I am just writing about my fasting experience in its entirety, which involved the mental, physical, and spiritual.
The rest of that evening was uneventful but marked by my continual wondering where I stood, if God was pleased by this physical denial or if it was enough, what was going on spiritually, and how long I was supposed to continue. Later that evening, I’m not going to lie – I was wanting food again with more of an intensity, craving colors and flavors like I hadn’t before. But I got myself to sleep that night and slept free from traumatic dreams or distress of any kind.
Day four started out much like the others, but the carrot juice was even less satisfying, and hunger was moderate – despite the fact that according to what I had read, my hunger was supposed to have basically dropped off at this point! My experience was the opposite, and by late day I wrestled with going on. I beat myself up for being weak, then prayed, then rationalized, beat myself up again, and the cycle continued throughout the day. Extra intense cravings and visualization of all of the delicious healthy dishes from vegan Youtubes I was previously eyeing permeated my existence. I decided that never again would I fill my body with the lazy and salty choices that I sometimes copped to out of an atrophied mindset regarding nutritious food prep. The next time I ate, it was going to be plant-based culinary HEAVEN. Cranberries; walnut/apricot salad; vegan pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, pesto & artichokes; salmon with a sesame seed crust and baby leaf lettuce with arugula salad; strawberries with maple syrup, cashews and granola – I wanted it all!! I just. Wanted. Some. Flavor….. I was hungry and weak, much like the way I felt over a decade earlier after completing my first half marathon – spent, and craving stuff that I previously thought was disgusting – like peanut butter. I told myself NO, and went to sleep that evening with uneventful dreams.
On day five, I was starting to lose whatever had kept me going before, and I wanted food. The cravings continued as I wrestled thoughout the day. Pieces of warnings from the fasting expert that I had been listening to started cropping up and taking root in my mind. “Start small.” “Don’t go into your first fast unprepared.” “When you’re weak and not praying enough, you’re in trouble.” Well, I didn’t know if I was in trouble, but I ultimately decided at about six p.m. that I would eat, that my first fast was over, but not the habit of fasting. Whether I copped out of weakness, mind games, or simply made a wise decision at the time, I have no way of being sure. I do know that it was a success regardless.
I was ravenous. I started out with a tomato. Then I made a baked potato – a large one at that. On the potato I put olive oil, plain yogurt and french fried onions. It was good, but didn’t quite match the punch of the food that I had dreamed about in my fast food/flavor/fantasies. Not satisfied after the baked potato, I made another baked potato and laced it with the same toppings, plus another tomato. I was full now, but couldn’t help but feel that that meal was a bit of a let down lol. I made a mental note to make sure that after my next fast, my kitchen will be filled with awesome food.
Regarding the physical transformation of my fast, I have to say that I was floored to have lost the stubborn inches that I had been working on for years. I looked good – and the funny thing is I didn’t even notice it while fasting. Apparently deprivation of the physical takes you away from noticing such things? I don’t own a scale, but the achievement of a flat defined stomach, loss of 1.5 inches around waist and skinny thighs was freaking awesome. My usual annoying morning eye puffiness was gone, and a younger look emerged.
In summary, I will say that my first fast was a success, and I plan on fasting regularly going forward. I feel in control knowing that at any time both fitness and mental/spiritual renewal are really right there for the taking, like low hanging fruit on a generous tropical island – all you have to do is reach out and grab them. Reaching your goals is really not an arduous climb to the top, but is a matter of just surrendering your physical addiction (hunger), re-filling your body with life-giving sources (water, juiced vegetables/fruits) and trusting that your creator will do the rest. I now know that hunger is just a food addiction and I know that I am capable of not being a slave to it. I believe that one should start slow however, probably just a day fast at first as you need to build your psychological strength, or endurance muscle. By starting out small you also will know what to expect at each point in subsequent longer fasts. I am not sure what the duration will be of my next fast, either one or three days but I intend to keep an online journal of my experience. My motivation for such is to not only purge my psyche and create a permanent recording to serve as a benchmark for progress, but to also possibly inform or entertain those who are thinking of fasting for their own experience.
Thank you to anyone who made it through this admittedly lengthy post!! 🙂