Some Observations on Water Fasting

29 Jan
true story.

true story.

Zomg it’s a Lollipop Tuesday.

I’ve picked up a few ducklings in the new year, so if you’re unfamiliar with Lollipop Tuesday shenanigans, you can read up on them here.  Or if you’re too lazy (and I suspect like me, you are), I’ll just tell you that in essence, Lollipop Tuesdays are Tuesday posts in which I recount something new that I recently tried and very often end up sucking at, which is why I’ve dubbed the post for a sucker.

Lazy long time subscribers everywhere are going “oooooooh!”

You’re welcome.

And so allow me to regale you with my most recent foray into the unknown: fasting.

I’ve always been curious about fasting.  It’s mentioned in church from time to time, I occasionally read about it in health-related articles online, and I specifically remember visiting my grandmother when I was young and discovering a book on fasting on her bookshelf, much to my surprise.

My grandmother is against everything except Jesus and  gardening, so finding a book on what I presumed would be a controversial subject was surprising to me.

My run-ins with the subject have been intermittent but longstanding and so on January 1st of this year, I decided to commit to a 7-day water fast. My reasons were more spiritual than health-related. I’d been chewing on the idea for quite some time and realized that the majority of my struggles are tied to a lack of self-control. I bite my nails, I blab out whatever I feel like saying whenever I feel like saying it, I have a tendency to rage and cuss while driving, I can eat an entire pack of Oreos in ten minutes without batting an eye…the list goes on to my deep humiliation.  I figured I had quite a bit to learn from the practice of abstaining.

So abstain I did.

Let me tell ya: if you want to see how much food you mindlessly put in your mouth, actively attempt to abstain from eating for a few days. I can’t even count the number of times I caught myself shoving little bits of nibbles in my face pouch over several days. While I was cooking dinner, while I was cleaning out the fridge, while I was unpacking groceries… that’s a lot of mindless gobbling. You know what else I noticed? That without food or drink, there is little to no reason to get together to see people you know. Or at least, people I know. It felt like every day someone was asking me to go get a drink, to come over for coffee, to go out to dinner – I swear to the Good Witch Glenda that Dave accidentally asked me out to dinner and ice cream every single night that week. 

Since I didn’t really know what to do in social situations in which I could not busy myself with food, I just turned everyone down – which worked out pretty well for me since I kind of hate social situations to begin with. By the fifth day, it wasn’t really doable to go out anyway since every time I stood up I got dizzy. I admit that since everything I read said to be careful to watch for your “fainting point”, I nibbled a bite-sized piece of bread at that point and it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever put in my mouth in the history of putting things in my mouth.

Aside from dizziness, hunger pangs, and difficulty mustering the energy to get through an entire load of dishes, side effects included crankiness, lusting for taste, and constructing elaborate lunches and dinners for Dave.  In fact, he thoroughly enjoyed my fasting week.  It’s his theory that because I was food deprived and in a perpetual lust-state over the simplest of sustenance, I loaded his meals with uber deliciousness.

He’s right; I did. I stuffed his lunch sandwiches with all sorts of freakalicious things. I bought random gourmet concoctions at the supermarket.  I pinned a record number of recipes on Pinterest.  And I frequently asked Dave to breathe the hot stench of whatever he was masticating into my nostrils so that I could get off on the smell.

The first time he didn’t hear me, the second time he thought I was joking, and the third time (subject: movie theater hot dog, location: showing of The Hobbit) he whipped out his serious voice and told me I was grossing him out.

Now, I’m sure there will be a crowd of folk who fly off the handle about the dangers of fasting and whatnot. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinions, but I’d like to note that I was carefully monitoring my health throughout and was sure to arm myself with as much information as possible so that I was well-prepared.  As I see it, the most dangerous thing about fasting is that it feels bloody fantastic to see how quickly you lose weight. I lost a little over ten pounds in seven days and remember at one point thinking that I could understand a little better the mentality behind anorexia.  Please, please note that I’m not saying I “understand” anorexia and that I fully acknowledge that folks who suffer from it are not fasting and are not well. I’m just saying that there was certainly a temptation once I’d become accustomed to the hunger pangs and the look of my body in the mirror to consider how this was the most effective dieting technique I could possibly imagine – and that was a little scary for me.

Naturally, you gain it all back afterward. Or at least most of it.  I followed suggested guidelines by very slowly incorporating new foods back into my diet over the course of five days.  Though I did this more for the spiritual benefits than the health, there were still some health-related perks to be mined from short-term starvation. For example, since before the fast I was accustomed to splooging the contents of Hershey chocolate syrup bottles directly into my mouth, these seven days were a great way to re-calibrate my taste buds.  Bananas actually taste sweet again.  I can savory the subtleties in flavor and nuances in dishes.  Healthy food is actually pretty darn delicious when you’re actually hungry, and after realizing how scrumptious bites can be if they’re truly savored and appreciated, I’ve upped the ante on my healthy diet for the past several weeks and have thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’ve also slowed my eating way down, most likely as a result of needing to chew every single bite post-fast until it reached a safe liquid consistency. At first I was kind of grossed out by that, but then the fat girl in me realized that the longer the food is in my mouth, the longer I can savor the beauty of its delicious tastes. 

I used to eat so fast I’d nip a finger here or there so this was a pretty relevatory moment for me.

It also turns out that getting a chance to see how much better I looked with ten less pounds of fat on me helped me visualize myself as, well, not so fat.  That’s been a pretty great motivator in my newfound Fat Ass 365 Project wherein I imagine myself as a healthier, less jiggly version of myself that won’t suddenly disappear when I wake up and eat breakfast the next day.

Speaking of which, I need to go get my Jillian Michaels on. Two more days left of 30 Day Shred Level 2. And when I’m done I get to eat some food!

Giddy up, porky. 

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11 Responses to “Some Observations on Water Fasting”

  1. lorification January 29, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    Wow, I had no idea that you did a 7-day fast! Kendall mentioned to me that you did a “7 day water fast” and I interpreted that as you having given up water for 7 whole days. I was really confused about why you’d do that, and thought that there’s no way I’d do that! Interesting how I’m more willing to consider a 7-day fast from food than from water.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Like

    • Jackie February 7, 2013 at 2:09 am #

      I wasn’t really telling people because I did it for spiritual reasons and you’re not supposed to trumpet it 🙂 Water Fasting is sort of a stupid combination of words 😉

      Like

      • lorification February 7, 2013 at 8:51 am #

        Of course 🙂 It’s just that I was unfamiliar with the term “water fast,” so when I heard it, I assumed “fasting from water” which is crazy!

        Like

  2. craftynail January 29, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    Dang girl! Now i kinda wanna starve myself too!

    Like

    • Jackie February 7, 2013 at 2:08 am #

      I’m going to try to laugh at this and hope it’s not a cry for help or a terrible message to me that I’ve improperly inspired people to go without eating. OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?!

      😉

      seriously though, allow me to repeat for safety’s sake that you gain it all back.

      Like

      • craftynail February 7, 2013 at 8:33 am #

        No worries… I’m still a chubbo! You haven’t corrupted my mind 😉
        -Jacqui with a Q

        Like

  3. knotrune January 30, 2013 at 6:24 am #

    I’ve tried a gentler kind of fasting where two days a week you eat just a couple of hundred calories, that was hard enough! I can’t do a full fast like you did because I have pain medication which has to be taken with food or you risk stomach ulcers. I’m hugely impressed you managed this!

    Like

    • Jackie February 7, 2013 at 2:07 am #

      I feel like it would be so hard to eat at *all* and expect to return to fasting. I tend to be an all or nothing kind of gal when it comes to commitment so that seems killer. Thanks for sharing, and for saying hello.

      Like

  4. pegoleg February 1, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    This is really interesting. I don’t think I could do it. I can’t believe you were actually cooking and packing lunches and being around food in general while not eating at all! And yes, I do think it’s kind of dangerous, so I’m glad you’re OK. But it sounds like a fascinating experiment.

    Good luck with the rest of your plan for World Fitness domination – my money’s on you, Jackie!

    Like

    • Jackie February 7, 2013 at 2:04 am #

      thanks, peg 🙂 that means a lot from someone who reinvented herself as well. kudos!

      Like

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