"The goal of fasting is inner unity." - Thomas Merton
I have always been intrigued by fasting and how to improve the discipline and increase the will power of the mind over the desires of the body. I want to preface I did not fast for weightloss reasons. It was for spiritual and mental health reasons. I also wanted to see if it would help beat fatigue. (Disclaimer: You should consult your healthcare provider prior to fasting and this is in no way a substitute for professional medical advice)
I have never gone 24 hours or a full day without eating. Thankfully, my good friend of 20 years, who also joined me on the 9-day novena where we abstained from drinking coffee for 9-days, decided to join me. She also has never gone a full day without eating. I do not think I could have gone a full day without eating if she wasn't there to tell me how amazing I am. ;)
Benefits of Fasting
Before I started I read the book called, "The Complete Guide to Fasting." by Jason Fung MD. (link) (Excerpt from the book regarding benefits listed on the right) And it inspired me to fast due to the bold claim made by Dr. Seyfried that an annual seven-to ten-day water fast could be a useful tool for preventing cancer. I also watched, "The Science of Fasting," on amazon prime which was equally inspiring. (link)
Prior to Fasting:
1. Know your triggers for weakness. Know prior to when it might be stressful and prepare to distract yourself during that period. For me I knew from 5-9pm would be very difficult. I gave my husband a heads up so he knew I would be avoiding the kitchen in the evening. And I had my best friend on speed dial.
2. Stock up on essentials. You can drink as much Kombucha, Organic Bone Broth, tea, and coffee as you want. Find some good books. You want anything that will distract you. For me we had not watched the final season of This is Us and that saved me for a good hour. Thank you NBC.
3. Team up with a friend. You will want someone you can reach out to that will encourage you to continue when it gets hard.
4. Make a prayer intention. Start your fast by offering it up to God. Ask Him to guide you and to receive your prayers. Fasting can be a very powerful tool and it often brings the soul closer to God.
6-10:00pm: I had a beer, bacon cheeseburger, and french fries because we went out to dinner with friends. The last thing I ate was about 20 sour patch kids at 10pm because I am super healthy. I wanted to start my fast off with a bang. ;) I finally stopped eating at 10pm.
Before I started I offered up the entire fast to God and made a special prayer intention.
8:30am: 1 cup of coffee, splash of cream
10:00am: 1 cup of cold water
2:00pm: 1 cup of cold water and kombucha
5:00pm: 2 cups of organic chicken bone broth and kombucha
6:00pm: 1 cup of organic chicken bone broth
Frantically texting my friend... I'm hungry. I'm hangry. I want to eat. Surprisingly I was very patient with my children and never yelled. Maybe it was because my brain was diluted due to all the water I was drinking.
WARNING: If the fast is making you crabby or a bad parent you should probably eat something.
7:00pm: Pray Rosary and start putting kids to bed. Baby needs bottle. I tell my husband to make it because I can't be in the kitchen.
7:30pm: Bad headache. Thinking about carrots and hummus and snickers bars. Drank a cup of water. This is when my desire to eat was at its highest. I couldn't stop thinking of food, so I tried my best to stay away from the kitchen.
8:30pm Baby crying and needs another bottle. It's my turn. I look around the messy kitchen and decide to make tea. I also prayed outloud, "Help me Lord," and thought of my prayer intention.
8:45pm: We started watching final episode of This is Us. Consuming good content was essential in eliminating my thoughts about food.
10pm: Fell asleep dreaming about food.
3am: 2-year old wet her bed and basically never went back to bed. I think I got up 5 times to put her back in her bed and she never stopped crying. I eventually fell asleep on the floor next to her bed around 4:30am.
6:45am: I woke up crabby because of the sleep deprivation. I think I would of been better if I got a full uninterrupted 8 hours, but as a mother I would have to wait 18 years for that to happen. So I just had to push through.
7:00am: Drank a cup of coffee with a splash of cream. Lots of prayer requests asking God to help me get through the next 90 minutes and getting kids off to school. Every parent deserves a parade every time he/she gets the kids out the door. And there would be no candy waiting for me this time around.
9:00am: Tired. Fatigued. Shaky. Drink a cup of hot tea.
9:30am: Euphoria sets in. Start to feel clear, focused, and surprisingly energetic.
10am-noon: Work productivity was efficient and consistent. My mind felt calm and clear. This period is hard to explain but I felt lighter and not frazzled or overwhelmed like I usually do. I didn't even have to look at my to-do list. It's like the neurons in my brain were finally connecting on their own.
Noon: Meditated for an hour. It was like my brain wanted to meditate and sit in silence. This was proof that I knew the fast was beneficial. I could meditate clearly with very little distraction and was not fidgety. For example, I always start my meditation with, "Come holy spirit." Deep Breath. Deep Breath again. And then I meditated on a pink rose. I could see the petals and definition clearly. Normally in my brain I have to see it twisting and I can never make out the details. And the movement of the rose was always necessary in order to eliminate all of the distracting thoughts. I can't even meditate for a minute without either falling asleep or being interrupted by 10 other thoughts. For some reason the fast helped my brain be more focused.
1pm: Getting hungry again. At this point I was almost 40 hours into my fast and my body wanted fuel. I was trying to decide if I push through another day to reap the benefits of the oxidizing cells. (see notes at the end)
4pm: Kids are home.
5pm: Time to eat. I shared a spinach salad with a half naked 2-year old. I also ate bread with butter, chicken and rice and celebrated with a cinnamon roll for dessert. I also had to end the ritual with more sour patch kids at 9pm.
Next day: I feel fantastic. Clear. High Energy. Good mood.
I researched why the clear brain and stable focus and this is what I found -
"Fasting increases circulating levels of several neurotrophic factors, biomolecules that support the growth, survival, and differentiation of neurons. The result is enhanced network plasticity (critical for learning), increased stress resilience and increased mitochondria (i.e. increased cognitive energy). Fasting also reduces oxidative stress (and thus, inflammation) in the brain both by stimulating the removal of damaged molecules and stimulating production of endogenous antioxidants.  All of these translate to meaningful improvements in brain performance." (Source)
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