Recently I decided to engage in a 3-day water fast. The beginning of something I will maintain and increase regularly… Below is a brief history of me and the purpose of this fast… I wish to demonstrate the immense benefits of water fasting from a psychological, emotional and physiological vantage point… Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this…
I regularly engage in 24hr water fasts, intermittent fasting and every day I practice eating for 8 hours of the day and fasting for 16 hours of the day. This looks like roughly 12-8pm eating and the remainder of the time is simply fasting. In the period that I eat, I do not eat to consume maximum calories, but rather as I feel, I pay close intuitive attention to what the body wants and how it wishes to execute that desire… The purpose of this particular 3 full day water fast is multifaceted in its approach.
Some background in to my current lifestyle…
- I do not take pharmaceuticals
- I do not drink alcohol (rarely)
- I do not take drugs of any kind
- I eat predominantly a raw food diet.
- I do eat cooked food and I do eat animal products, including meat (Not often though). When I do eat meat, it is mainly fish. From a physiological wellness point of view when I do eat other meat, I ensure its source and conditions is of the highest quality.
- I occasionally have grains and dairy (rarely). Dairy presents itself in either raw milk or sometimes-organic cheeses.
- My food is sourced locally and is chemical free
- I avoid packaged and tinned foods where possible – within reason here
- I exercise daily – combination of strength training, Olympic weight lifting, ‘Crossfit’, boxing, running, cycling, ocean swimming or whatever I feel like.
- I am in the sun daily and swim in the ocean at least 2 x per week – I live very close to the ocean
- I have no known illnesses
- I visit the WC 1-3 times daily
- To my knowledge I have no intolerances or issues digesting food
- I juice vegetable and fruit juices daily
- I grow my own vegetables also
Historically, I used to eat a lot of meat, grains and dairy, especially meat – up to a kilo total per day… This has stopped for a number of years now. I have altered my lifestyle habits to mirror the information, research and practical applications I have engaged in and been exposed to over the years. This is not about wrong and right, I am simply on a personal journey of self experimentation and wish to share my experiences with the world, so that I may assist others in their own journey by being an example of a potential path to tread, whilst also gaining feedback from others and their experiences and what works for them. I am open to evolving my habitual patterns of behaviours and experimenting in new postures. I am not rigid in my ways and also realise that personally some of the practices I engage in today are present because of habit and entrenched ideology that I have not yet released… This will come though…
What I wanted to and expected to achieve regarding the water fast:
- Cleanse the body,
- Revitalise the organs,
- Detox slightly,
- Give the digestive system a rest,
- Rest the body from processing fats and proteins,
- Break down toxic cells,
- Reduce unnecessary fat,
- Purify the blood and
- Rest the body in general
*Note: I realise that some of the above would only be partially achieved over a short 3 full day period of water fasting. Simply conditioning the body and mind at a steady pace…
Basically I wanted to physiologically enhance the efficiency, strength and resilience of the body. I also wanted to pay respect to the body by allowing it to rest from digestion and place the body in a varied state of being, one that it is not accustomed to.
Secondly (but probably equally as important) I wanted to observe the psycho-emotional effects of fasting. I chose to observe closely the way I behaved, thought, reacted to particular circumstances, spoke and payed careful attention to my physiological behaviour also. During this time I exercised. A smaller percentage of this exercise was conducted at high intensity (high intensity defined as high heart rate interval training both with considerable external load and volume of movement patterns executed); the remainder of the training was much lighter, decreased in time-spent training, slower and with greater recovery periods throughout the session. The intent was not to destroy the body here, so that it had to fight hard to repair, but rather allow the body to rest and function as close to routine as I usually do, hence the decision to continue training but to a lesser degree. To begin with, this was only a 3-day water fast. I will progress from here, once a month performing a water fast and increasing it by roughly 2 days each time I engage in the fasting process.
Below you may find some feelings and thoughts observed as I progressed through each day…
AM: Just hungry, although I don’t eat until around 12pm every day, knowing that I would be without food for 3 days, made me perceive to feel more hungry… Interesting this, how anticipation or anxiety of an event can affect the present moment. Is it perhaps better then to simply be more spontaneous in one’s life? Would this lessen the opportunity for future thought to influence the present?
PM: Hungry, just hungry, focused, clear in my head. A little dizzy in the evening though, I assume after an intense training session. Not much reflection or thinking here, just a little hungry
- Sore tummy, just hungry, thinking about food quite a bit.
- Feel good.
- Energy levels high.
- Focus is very strong.
- Body is sore from training (perhaps due to lack of nutrients to assist in recovery).
- Very productive today.
- No training today, chose to rest and allow the body to repair internally and heal.
- Lots of thinking today. Mind on food.
- Attitude clear, not agitated, not aggressive, I thought I may be, but I am calm and collected.
- A little dizzy at times, lower blood pressure, a little disorientated, but fine.
- Interesting concepts that have entered my mind revolve around not chewing, not being social and eating with family, etc. Breaking these habits have caused me to reflect on the perceived important cultural values we place on these events.
- Going against an instinctual drive to basically survive is also an interesting concept to contemplate… Consciously stopping oneself to eat is going against survival instincts…
- Deep reflection on those who have no food, deeply connecting to this reality emotionally and spiritually. Tears in my eyes in regards to the greater respect I have for eating food, having access to food and the social pillars of strength and support food brings in to one’s life. Deep levels of gratitude consume me regarding the fortunate position I am in with the food I have available to me…
- Reflecting on the importance of food and the role it plays in our lives.
- Finding more time to ‘do more’ in the day, as I do not need to prepare food. This is interesting… My life is now not revolving around food, not controlling me as such…
DAY 3 (last day – eating in the evening)
- Did not have the best sleep last night, went to bed hungry of course and woke up at 1.30am a little disorientated…
- Woke up in the morning fine, meditated as I do everyday with no issues.
- Very productive again today.
- Also trained again today. Not high intensity, but enough to know I am moving. Felt fine during and post this
- Very focused and attention span solid today, was very productive during the day.
- Again, a little disorientated, almost being under the influence of alcohol, but feel fine.
- For some reason I felt immense gratitude for all the relationships I am in, all of them are presenting meaning to me (more than usual). Also, an immense appreciation for the woman I am with has engulfed me. For this I am grateful. Perhaps removing food has provided greater insight and clarity in to my thoughts and mind…? I would imagine of course though that after a certain period it may be counterintuitive and the mind would become foggy. But there is a point that the mind remains sharpened and quite active and responsive. I believe I am in the midst of this now and what I mean by that is that it is as if I have a hyper awareness about my surroundings and environment. Still working through this mentally…
- I actually broke the fast with some fruit and raw food, un cooked desserts I had made earlier that day.
DAY 4 (The following day)
- I must admit, a little nauseous the better part of the day, but functioning fine, feeling fine. Trained at relatively high intensity and this felt good.
- Eating as per normal, mainly raw foods and super foods (well all clean food is super).
I feel great. I know and feel I can fast for much longer, for now though this is substantial. Next month I will fast for 5-7 days. The health benefits of fasting interest me deeply, but it is also the psycho-emotional plane of existence I wish to enter. It is this realm that I wish to delve in to and push boundaries of internal understanding of self in relation to the ‘outside world’ and my inner being…
My plan is to fast for a minimum of 3-4 days every month. I will do this for the health benefits it provides. I will build upon this and perhaps once per year or every two years, fast for lengthened period of times, perhaps up to 30-40 days. I will research this deeper, reflect, feel and condition myself. I wish to enter a state of being within myself that challenges me at every level. Ascetic practice interests me, but not to the point where I tip the scales towards this process being extremely damaging to my body and causing long-term and severe stressors to my being. This will be a slow engaging process that I will approach in a methodical and intuitive manner.
This is a personal journey and I can only speak from my own experiences. I do not advocate, nor suggest anyone do this. If you choose to, be well informed, confident, have an open mind and consult with an expert/professional prior to engaging in any fasting processes. Remember, there are many paths to the top of that mountain. Water fasting embraces one of those paths. That path being an avenue to self-awareness, greater insight and discovery in to self and a deeper understanding of life… SS.