If you are like me, you are eternally curious. You want to know the who, what, when and wheres but above all you always ask why, even if your answer to the question is frequently why not. You’re like a little kid that failed to properly mature so you constantly find yourself acting impulsively and saying yes to absurd ideas. The upside is that you do some crazy things, like run marathons or move to new cities without a job in hand, but the downside is that sometimes crazy can equal stupid.
Depending on who you ask, I just completed 130 hours worth of stupid. A week and a half ago, while waiting in line with my wife to get in to a free screening of Alexander Payne‘s film Nebraska, which everyone needs to watch even if only for Bruce Dern‘s Oscar worthy performance, I had her read an article I had read on the T about fasting. I was already excited by this article and, after quickly reading it, she seemed unimpressed. Undeterred, I stated that it sounded awesome and that I was going to do it. Have you ever seen a concerned grumpy face? I sure have.
The fast I was going to embark on was a water fast. This does not mean no water but quite the opposite. It means that I would only be drinking water. That means no other liquids and definitely no food and, obviously, little physical exertion. Smart person that I am, I added a few other things like no drugs, no shaving, hot water only baths i.e. no soaps etc and presumably more sleep. I viewed the water fast as a reset button. A reset to my bad habits, like addiction to coffee or overeating, but also as a break. Do faces really like razors or stomachs ibuprofen?
To be honest, more than anything I was just curious what it would be like to actually not eat, a thing that I very much like to do. I forget why but my parents had our family fast on liquids for 12 hours or so and kid that I was, it was impossible. I was curious how it would feel but I was more curious to see if I could do it. So, against the advice of anyone that knew, I began the water fast at midnight at 12am on Sunday night, shortly after inhaling a donut that a friend was kind enough to bring to me. Game on.
To my own surprise, day one was surprisingly easy. I’m not sure why but I didn’t crave coffee or get a caffeine headache as a result of not drinking it. It wasn’t until later in the day that food my wife made, and ate quietly through the glass doors of our bedroom, that I even got hungry. It helped that I was quite tired but with NFL games to watch and depressing fantasy scores to check, I survived the first day with ease.
This day was went well until late afternoon. With my wife off work for Veteran’s day, we hung out most of the day until I had the brilliant idea to go for a walk. I had read that walking or yoga, not the P90X version, were okay to do and I felt great so I coerced my wife to walk with me. All the beautiful fall colors of Boston were in full bloom making the walk wonderful. Taking pictures here, exploring new streets there was fun. After returning home, showering and settling in, my head began to hurt. I was dehydrated. Stupid walk took away my excess out-of-nowhere energy and my water with it. I did think about quitting but I went to bed early and thanks to soft pillows, all was well. Also, my first true food test was earlier in the evening when my wife ordered take out pasta. She said it was to not cook in front of me and tempt me with smell but man on man do I love take out, especially a kind we never order and that I could still smell.
I woke up feeling great and after doing my usual 9:30 weigh in on a semi-accurate scale that also lists body fat % and water %, the day was on. With a recently re-activated Netflix account, a social media webinar and my trusty cat Revere, the day flew by. My eyes were definitely much more sensitive to light and energy levels were low but through tiredness but closed eyes and naps helped out a lot. I even went to bed at an early for me 10pm bedtime, This wasn’t an easy day, especially with leftover take out pasta begging me to eat it but since my minimum goal was to get through at least three days, it was mission accomplished part one to get through and I’m happy to say I did.
After feeling sleepy at times the previous days, I no longer felt tired. Maybe my body was getting used to water but nonetheless, I had more energy, not a ton mind you but more than before. The curious thing was that I wasn’t hungry. Sure I avoided the kitchen unless I was refilling my Burt’s Bees 100ml plastic water bottle but I didn’t have a craving. Well, unless anyone ate anything on any program or film I watched. Never has food on a television screen seemed so good. For some reason I’ve always hated when characters leave the table and their food, in films but now it seemed like a waste. When my wife made Trader Joe’s meatballs that evening, I was seriously wanting to quit right then and there to eat one glorious meatball but my willpower surprised me again. Anyway, the worst part of the day was soreness. Even lying down was uncomfortable and sleep did not come easy but eventually it came.
Much like the day before, I felt better on this day than all the other days. My body, and mind, were bouncing back. I was still randomly sore, like having body fever where you feel weak but don’t feel poorly otherwise, but it wasn’t as bad as the day before. I even participated in two social media webinars, cleaned the house in my usual Monica way and played with Revere. Food cravings were still way down, water intake was continuing to increase but overall I felt pretty good though I wasn’t going to be foolish and go for a walk or anything.
On the final day I wasn’t sure if I would stop or not but I decided that after the weigh in, I would stop. I did so because even though I was close to the six-day goal, I felt good about what I had done. I thought about stopping at 7am so I could complete a 127 hour water fast but I figured I’d keep the weigh in schedule. So at precisely 10am today, I drank a glass of orange juice and with it an Omega 3 and Calcium pill. Let me tell you, it was the most delicious drink I’ve ever had. The pulp was textured and wonderful, the cold orange liquid seemed to fill my completely like a saline injection. Heaven. I planned on eating an apple as well but I was full so now I have something to look forward to, that and sushi tonight near my grad school alma mater Emerson College.
I expected the water fast to be difficult both mentally and physically and it was certainly both. I impressed myself with the strength of my willpower, which I feel is quite low, and I learned that my body can take a lot. I’ve already put it through a lot, from being heavy when younger to doing P90X, Insanity and all kinds of races but I think this water fast round was the best for it. For my body, this was more of a new beginning but for my empowered mind is the true victor. When you have energy to do less, your mind works overtime and reflection becomes second nature. I truly feel renewed inside and out.
As for physical changes, my skin feels healthier, the whites of my eyes are whiter and my nails are clearer. Every morning, during my weigh in, I would always lose body fat, lose pounds and gain water percentage. In total for the week, my body fat is down 3.7%, my water % is up 3% and I lost a total of 13.2 pounds. Crazy. After an intense and unhealthy year of grad school, this water fast has restored me physically and mentally. I have a greater respect for the power of water, myself and my willpower. Question is, will my next all in insta-yes challenge be rewarding? I sure hope so.
- ‘Nebraska’ Is a Gentle and Funny Film (rollingstone.com)
- Water fasting benefits (waterfastingweightlosstips.wordpress.com)