I don't blame you for thinking to yourself, why in the world would I choose to do that? I'm with you.
Our every instinct tells us to avoid starvation at all costs. It's our most basic instinct...feed the body for survival.
Doctors and health care practitioners are constantly telling us about eating the right things on a daily and regular basis to stay healthy.
So why have there been so many studies and information put out there about the benefits? And why do so many people I admire in the health and wellbeing sphere go on about it so much?
Okay, full disclosure...having thought about doing a fast many times before I dismissed the idea as being too difficult. And so even though my curious mind was interested, my self preservation mind thought better.
So why now? Interestingly the lockdown gave me the space and time to focus all my energy on this one thing. I had also been feeling a bit low and completely absorbed and distracted by technology, since my entire business has been moved online.
I felt like I needed a shift, and sometimes the only way out is to go deeper in!
I took this as a personal challenge on impulse control and mental stamina, but there are some legitimate health benefits to doing this...
Here are some of the health benefits:
1. Autophagy: is the body’s way of cleaning out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. This happens less as we age but the process can be stimulated by periods of fasting. This may be the most important thing that occurs during a fast.
2. Takes your body into ketosis, this is where the body starts using fat and ketones as an energy source and helps you to maintain muscle.
3. Increases your Metabolism: Studies show that a 3 day fast can increase metabolism by up to 14%.
4. Most cardiovascular conditions are caused by high blood sugar levels and insulin levels, fasting helps keep these low.
Here are the reasons not to do a fast:
Don't do it! If you are trying it to loose weight. Think very carefully about the reasons you might do such an extreme thing to your beautiful body.
If you have any pre-existing health conditions (mentally or physically)
If you take medications for diabetes, hypertension or other conditions.
You should know that I have no pre-existing health conditions nor am I on any kind of medication. I also stopped drinking coffee about a month ago and I live on a 100% plant based diet at the moment and I have a daily meditation practice.
All of this I believe helped make the 3 days a bit more manageable and relatively safe. I didn't really know how my body would respond?
The following is a break down of the how I spent the 3 days:
Friday Day 1 : Tech Detox and Silent Fast
I decide that the first two days I would test my ability to be fully present to the experience by turning off and storing away my phone and laptop and any electronic distractions. And I also let my housemates know that I would not be speaking to them for 2 days.
I really did not experience any major feelings of hunger on day 1 considering my last meal had been an apple at 8pm the night before. I read afterwards that its quite a good idea to not eat a carb heavy large meal before the fast to help prepare your body.
I did feel quite tired and spent most of the day meditating, tidying, reading, napping, doing restorative yoga and taking a slow short walk in the evening.
The thing that felt most challenging was some kind of tech withdrawal which was not that surprising. My brain wanted a distraction and my daily routine has me on social media, writing emails, whatsapp'ng, and youtube'ng all the live long day.
I really didn't miss speaking with people in fact I quite enjoyed it.
I went to sleep around 9:30, had no trouble falling asleep and slept well.
5 500ml bottles of filtered water
5 500ml of warm water.
Saturday Day 2: Tech Detox and Silent Fast
I woke up around 6:30 feeling hungry and started thinking a bit more about on this day. I had more energy and felt less sleepy. And so I cleaned my bathroom, did some laundry. My body felt a bit achy and I also felt quite light headed.
I decided to go for a longer walk, I thought I could go further but go slower to spend some time. Energy levels while I was on my walk depleted quite rapidly.
I started having doubts about being able to go for a third day as I felt really low and the thoughts of food were starting to pervade my mind. But I had a something to look forward to on the third day which kept me optimistic, so a gathered morale and geared myself up for one more day.
I went to sleep around 9:30 and again fell asleep quite quickly and slept well although I was woken up by one of my housemate's coming home late in the night.
7 500ml bottles of filtered water
7 500ml of warm water
Sunday Day 3: Water Fast
Like a child excited about Christmas morning I woke up, practiced meditation for 45 minutes and then promptly turned on my phone to see all that I had missed in the past 2 days. Which wasn't much to be honest. But being able to get back to some tasks was a welcome distraction. I felt quite low energy and light headed but had a great sense of being fully aware of my body from the feeling of my heart beat and my breath.
I completed some work and spent the day resting a bit, chatting with housemates and teaching a restorative yoga class. After which I felt much more energised and a little bit excited, probably at the prospect of eating again on the next day. I could already imagine how sweet that first sip of the smoothie I was planning to make would be. I went to bed later on this night probably because I was watching a movie and I also noticed that I did not sleep nearly as well as on the previous nights.
3 500ml bottles of filtered water
3 500ml of warm water
3 500ml warm lemon water for it's cleansing effects
It is much easier to get through a day when you have the normal daily distractions, though I don't know if I would have been able to recognise the full potential of my will power had I done this without taking that initial tech break.
What I learned:
1. I am far more capable than I think.
2. I have a technology dependancy, which I was also able to overcome. (Briefly)
3. I am deeply aware of the privilege I have, and though this was tough it was self-imposed and I have the ability to choose it or not.
4. I am so grateful for the nourishing food I give to my body that gives me the strength and energy to do the things I love.
I am grateful to my friends and family who supported me while I was doing this little experiment.
By the way: that first sip of banana, maca, peanut butter, oat milk and cinnamon smoothie on the 4th morning was probably the most intensely delicious thing I have ever tasted! : ) It made me quite emotional.
Like the Irish proverb says "Is maith an t-anlann an t-ocras" Hunger is a great sauce!
I would love to connect with you, send me comments, questions and feedback.
Follow me on instagram for daily health tips @awaytolivewell
Linkedin: Ana Maria Conneely
Youtube: A Way to Live Well you can find my vlog about the experience here
Ana Maria xxx