I had once fasted during Ramadan- it was in winter in Egypt so the days weren’t so long- you only have to go from dawn to dusk, and dusk was about 5.30pm so if you lay in bed in the morning- as I did- it wasn’t too hard. But it wasn’t easy either, for me, day after day for a month. For one thing eating and thinking about eating and preparing food and talking about food take up a fair bit of one’s day. Strip it out and all that extra time can be disconcerting. It certainly doesn’t help you remain resolute.
And then there are the headaches. Some fasters get hungry. Not me. I sometimes even felt slightly full. But I did get nasty headaches- especially at first- probably caffeine withdrawal- but still not a great thing to look forward to.
Fasting is common to most religions, in some form or another. One perspective I agree with is that some religious practice started as a health practice which then became ritualised, its original meaning lost. Could the health benefits of fasting have been known in more traditional times, and only now are we rediscovering them?
Then, after conversations with friends Ramsay Wood, Polly Gates and Rich Lisney I decided, what the hell, do a three day, four night fast and see what happens. Instead of the Ramadan style of fast where it is nil by mouth- no water even- my rules would be a little slack: I’d be allowed black tea, maybe a little coffee, diluted juice, one thin soup a day and fruit teas and of course a ton of water. No solids at all though for the whole period. I’d heard of a guy who had built a patio while on a thirty day water-only fast and this put it all in perspective. Let’s do it!
I also watched this:
But only after I’d started. It was fascinating, hard to disagree with.
My motives were to activate the self-healing properties of the body which are supposedly and fairly convincingly I think, shown to be inhibited by eating too much. I know I eat too much. I have a spare tyre- the worst kind of fat- and it’s something I wanted to deflate for sure.
So, DAY ONE:
I had a big lunch the day before I started, including wine. This made having no breakfast on day one of the fast easy. I bought two cans of readymade 'frappacino' and a small container of organic ‘super nutrient’ juice and headed home to do two hours of gardening- weeding mainly. No problem doing work but then in a wave it hit me- I felt awful! But carried on digging and then felt fine. I knew the key would be the same as dealing with any pain- wait out the waves- nothing lasts forever at the same intensity.
Working, I found I naturally moved slowly like a fieldworker in a hot climate. I planned to use the coffee and later tea to smooth away the headaches. And it seemed to work. Until after lunchtime when I again began to feel fairly awful. I drank a fizzy water and lots of still water, lay down for a bit and took an aspirin. Felt a bit better. Head was manageable. I poured a tiny amount of blackcurrant smoothie into a glass and then added ten times as much water. I could feel my brain sucking in the small sugar hit- anything that tastes that good must be wrong! I managed a few barbell lifts- about the same power as I have without fasting, but I do it more slowly.
I read a lot and then watched a useless western on TV. My eyes hurt but it's manageable.
Glad to be able to go to bed about 10pm.