Friday, September 23, 2016

44-Hour Fast

On a whim I went on a fast Wednesday night.

I’ve fasted a few times before, for religious and health reasons, going back twenty years or more. The last time I did was a while back, though, sometime during the summer of 2010. And none of these half-dozen fasts lasted longer than 24 hours. Usually breakfast-to-breakfast affairs.

So on Wednesday, after a very healthy dinner at 7:45 pm of mixed veggies and vinaigrette chicken, I decided to forgo the regular dessert after the little ones scampered off to bed. (In this case, dessert was a strawberry shortcake bar.) Three hours later, with no real decision to do so except, “Hmm, maybe I should fast – it’s been awhile,” I went to bed on a fairly empty stomach.

Thursday I woke feeling fairly normal. Not really hungry, as I can and sometimes do skip breakfast without any problem. Normally I don’t, and eat either my apple-oatmeal-cinnamon combo if I’m trending healthy or a bowl of sugary cereal if I’m not. But yesterday morning I abstained from food, and got the girls off to school and myself off to work with nothing out of the ordinary.

Work that day was low key, and I did experience a twinge of hunger every now and then, especially as lunch time rolled around, and it felt weird to read at my desk without a sandwich and a bottle of Diet Coke as companions. But there was no real headache, which usually signals sugar withdrawal for me, and no real hunger. Maybe 5-10 percent discomfort factor for both.

Important Note: I drank tons of water yesterday. I think close to a hundred ounces, based on how many times I refilled my water jug at work. No doubt this helped immensely. Also I took a “security banana” with me, kinda like a piece of fruit with the message: IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, PEEL ME! But I didn’t need it.

Last night I had a three-hour tax prep class. I was a bit worried that I might have a problem. I debated bringing the security banana with me but left it at home. Traffic stressed me out a bit, maybe jacked that headache up to a 15 percent level, but the class itself went by swiftly and relatively painlessly. I don’t eat in class but drink my bottle of water, so behaviorally I faced no difficulties.

Sometime during the day – again, this was kind of a spur-of-the-moment, non-thought-out thing – I decided not to break my fast that evening. The fact that I had the class right when I would be hitting the 24-hour mark probably influenced me. I like to do things in round numbers.

Got home around 9:30 to chatty children and a chatty wife. Fatigued from a long day, stressful not in itself but due to my self-imposed fast. I was achy, tired, hungry (my hunger too had jumped to 15 percent by now – not a consistent hunger, but a pang every now and then if I allowed my thoughts to dwell on food). Just wanted to read a bit in absolute quiet and then go to bed.

I finally hit the sack at 11, after a last minute decision to put out the trash and clean two fish bowls. My fasting tally at this point: about 27.5 hours without food, 19.5 hours of them awake.

Slept through the night without incident. BUT – woke up at 6:30 – 34 hours or so in – with a terrible headache. A headache of a type I’ve never really had before. So, in other words, it was nothing like a hangover. No, this headache was a fuzzy painful thing muffling my brain, making it hard to concentrate, hard to think, making everything – even just standing around and waiting – unbearable.
My discomfort level escalated to 50 percent.

But the kicker was – I had no hunger. My body was slightly achy, my head was abysmal, but I was not hungry. So, I rolled the dice, figuring that it all might clear up during the day (another calm one forecasted; this is my slow week at work). So I skipped breakfast for the second day in a row. Got the kids off to school and got to work a half-hour early.

With my security banana, I must add.

Now, yesterday I muddled through at perhaps 75 percent energy levels with 10-15 percent discomfort levels, mostly headachy-stuff and the occasional twinge of hunger. Today, in comparison, was horrible.

The morning was somewhat bearable, but I discovered extreme difficulty focusing on simple tasks, like entering data into a spreadsheet, having to go much slower than normal to ensure I was inputting hours and dollars on the correct lines. Not a great feeling when you do payroll.

Worked through lunch (couldn’t concentrate to read!), and then, around 2 o’clock, 42 hours in, I started watching the clock. I realized I wanted to leave soon, go home early (I made my hours for the week), and get some food. Not because I was hungry, but because after my “lunch break” my energy level dropped down to 50 percent and my discomfort level jumped from around 25 percent to 50 percent, then ratcheted up to 75 percent when I left at 3:30. All centered squarely on my brain.

During the day I experienced a whitish coating on my tongue – a common symptom of fasting – and an unpleasant metallic taste in my mouth. Is my body detoxing heavy metals? I wondered. Another common symptom of fasting is bad breath. Couldn’t tell if I had it myself, but I did notice nobody really hung out and chatted with me. I got paranoid that my breath reeked and my body odor turned funky – were toxins being expelled through my skin? – though in fairness to myself I prepared for these symptoms with liberal uses of mouthwash and a very thorough and soapy morning shower.

I felt better in the car and the commute home was no challenge. I did not pick up Patch from aftercare immediately. I went home, 44 hours in to the fast, and prepared to deliciously break it – with the most deliciously bland meal I could think of, having read many places that the break-fast meal needs to be very, very easy on the stomach:

I cut up my security banana over a piping hot four-ounces of steel-cut oats with generous heapings of cinnamon.

As I write this, seven hours after breaking the longest fast of my life, my headache has finally subsided. I continued to drink water all day and night, and had a veggie burrito – sans cheese and sour cream and meat – with the wife for dinner. I feel fine, and very tired.

Curious to know, not that I ever can, how my body healed during the fast. What percentage of the toxins stored in my body – from the environment, from processed foods, from sugar – were released? I did miss eleven meals/snacks, so my digestive system did have quite the vacation. Did that help? Did it help my pancreas, my liver, my kidneys, even my stomach? Did it help my brain, my heart, my bloodstream? I have to think yes, yes it did, the trial was worth it.

Will I do it again?


Longer next time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Be careful!!!