Introduction to my 14 Day Fasting Journal
You read that correctly, October Fast, not Oktoberfest. I started this month with a 14 day salt water fast. This is the first long fast I’ve been able to do for a while and it was wonderful. By “salt water fast” I mean that I ingested no food and drank a saline solution of sodium and potassium, along with all the plain water I felt like having.
I vlogged about it on YouTube:
I talk a lot about why I’m fasting and how it works, but I’ll go over some of that again in this post. I will update this post every day of my planned 14 day fast, starting with today, October 22nd.
Today I am starting a second two week fast to end the month of October. A final October Fast.
I love October. I don’t really know anyone who doesn’t. To me it’s always felt like a second New Year, a chance to reset goals and renew expectations as the seasons change and academic and theatrical organizations beginning preparing for fall and winter in earnest.
I feel a power that comes to me when October arrives. So despite my struggle all summer to do longer fast, especially to break through the three day barrier, I felt that the top of October was the right time.
My work and life schedule have helped. I don’t have to drive my car as much for work, and my work is fun and low stress. I can get through the three day hump, the hardest part of fast for me (besides refeeding as I’ll mention) while staying busy but not getting too tired.
I broke this last fast on October 15th against my own wishes, but I was in a very vulnerable place and got pressure from a few close family members. I was vulnerable because I’d added in a period of dry fasting inside my salt water fast. I now know that dry fasting is emotionally and physically challenging enough for me that it can be enough to make me cave.
See, I wish I’d been able to complete 100 hours of dry fasting (I made it to 94 hours), and return to salt water fasting for the rest of the week. I really wanted to do 21 days in October. But it’s ok. I ate for the next seven days, including a great family party where I enjoyed good food and the company of those I love best.
Here is the video of me breaking my salt water fast with the end of the 94 hour dry fast:
I get pretty emotional. I love fasting. I love that feeling that overlays everything I do and think from about day five on. I truly missed my fast for the week that I went back to eating. There are spiritual and mental benefits, or even blessings if you want to think of it that way. It is hard to let those go.
Today is the 22nd of October. I am going to fast for the next ten days, to finish my October Fast ritual. At least, I’d love to make it a yearly ritual. A time of power and realignment as the world turns from producing life to resting.
Here is the video of Day Zero:
And here is the video for today, Day One:
I’m going to do a short video like that everyday of this fast, just like the first one I did this month. It was an amazing accountability tool. I knew people were watching. Even if it was only three or four views per video, I knew there was someone waiting to see what I would do and say the next day.
This time I am also going to blog here about my fast. I’ll include my physical and mental experiences, and some of the research and anecdotal stuff I’ve read or watched.
My first goal with sharing is to first motivate myself. I REALLY need help getting through the first three days.
My second goal is to educate people about fasting. It is safe, healthy, effective, and normal. It’s our messed up medical system and government subsidized food industry that says going for more than an hour without food will kill you.
My third and biggest goal is, naturally, to lose weight. What else? I’m not going to pretend it’s not. Yes, there are amazing health benefits, I can point you to a million articles and videos on autophagy and various kinds of healing that fasting enables.
But I’m not going to pretend I’m in this for some ephemeral “perfect state of health.” I love dancing and I want to look good doing it. I have a goal weight where dancing is easier, jumping takes less effort, its easier to lift my leg higher, I still have energy, but I feel good about my inner thighs. Seriously, who doesn’t want that? Really, deep down, doesn’t everyone want to be physically beautiful? I never felt I have been. I’ve always been just a little too big. At least for a dancer. So, keeping in mind I still need to do some trial and error (aborting my fast early is an example) I’m going to pursue the body shape and composition I want in the safest, healthiest way there is.
So here goes.
Today was SUPER easy. I had plenty of food last night at my family Halloween Party. I’ve been refeeding from my first fast all week. My liver and muscles are full of glycogen. It will be day three or so as those stores start o run out that fasting will be hard for a while. Then my body will flip into burning body fat, and I’ll be off.
Staying busy, not getting too tired, and, for me, staying out of the house without definite work to do, make fasting easy.
I want to share my favorite scripture on fasting:
Isaiah 58 (KJV)
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.
3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours.
4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward.
9 Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity;
10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day:
11 And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
The rest of the chapter is about the Sabbath, which is wonderful. God promises all these wonderful physical and spiritual things if you fast. I’m using this as one of my primary arguments against those who would say it is unsafe and unnatural. Most religions have preached fasting one way or another. But as a society addicted to sugar, we can no longer conceive of a 24 hour fast without pain, let alone a three week fast or more in pleasure, comfort, joy, humility, and health.
I’ll write more tomorrow about how Day 2 feels, and some particulars on how fasting works. I’ll keep making my YouTube videos too and put the links here. I will share this link on Facebook periodically, but I know some people are tired of me ranting about this, and I’m tired of being discouraged from it, I won’t be there as much. Besides, I need to make room on my Facebook for my Libertarian rants.
Here is the video for day two:
Feeling good today besides my back pain. This pain is not from fasting. I get it periodically when I don’t stretch and roll enough after classes or biking. I’m actually hoping that fasting will help with any inflammation that may be going on.
Before when I have fasted I have let myself think about food. I sort of enjoyed the anticipation, but this set me up badly for refeeding. I stayed obsessed with food even though I wasn’t fasting.
So while I’m still interested in food today and will be for most of tomorrow, I am trying to be aware of this interest, and redirect my mind to my refeeding plans. My plan involves both what I’ll eat and when, and I have been rehearsing it when I notice I’m thinking about various foods.
If anyone reading has questions or comments I’d be happy to address them in this post. Just let me know one way or another.
Here is the video link to Day Three on YouTube:
Its longer, I had some dance footage from the week before. I ate for those seven days. If I can get through the next seven days, I will have only eaten for seven days out of October. That has been an interesting way for me to think about it.
I watched a couple of YouTube videos of other people who do long fasts, searching for information and motivation for my eventual refeeding. I know that I need to not obsess about food while I fast, even about the good things I plan to break with. I know I need a firm plan of when I’ll eat and exactly what. And I know I need to keep the eating window small. I’ll still fast that morning.
Today has been pretty easy, but I’m still glad I have this post and my videos keeping me accountable to real people. That has been so powerful. I wish I had made my fasting goals and time lines public sooner.
I was able to have a slow morning at home and get some reading and other work done. I don’t feel hungry and I haven’t needed to drink water constantly. When I do get thirsty I have a few sips of salt water and some plain water. In the past I have drunk a lot of fruit tea. I found that the various flavors stimulated my appetite, so I’ve only been having peppermint tea in the evening, since the flavor has an appetite suppressing effect for me.
I can gauge my energy by how easily I get winded when jumping in ballet class and by how easy or hard biking up the hill from my work down town is. One Monday, Day One, biking home was easy. I was home before I knew it. I’ll see how I feel biking home today. My back pain isn’t letting me jump very much, but I had plenty of energy for teaching my little ballet students last night. When I get into deep fat burning mode, I’ll have more interesting energy ups and downs as I process my body fat.
Here is the short video for day five:
Here is my ice bath video:
I’m basically going to share what I said in the shorter video.
Life for most humans for thousands of years was a forced cycle of feasting and fasting. So desiring to feast is a natural and wonderful thing. But we don’t balance it any more with fasting or famine. We have food, usually of inferior quality, all around us all the time, and we are constantly partaking, even if we aren’t really hungry. Food is now a drug that we use to combat fear, boredom, anxiety, real physical pain, sorrow, disappointment etc. When food is a drug it can’t also function as celebratory element in a joyful social situation.
We are told, again, by government subsidized food companies, that we need to eat ALL.THE.TIME. I can show a bunch of articles and videos on why this is bad. The short reason is that your insulin is chronically raised, leading eventually to insulin insensitivity, which leads to a myriad of health problems. Physiologically when we are eating all the time we bounce from satisfaction to satisfaction, with very little anticipation. Want to really enjoy a simple meal? Try fasting for just ten hours.
So many people, including myself, are to some degree, sugar addicts, or junk food addicts, so we can’t even get to a place where we are actually FOOD hungry; we are just sugar hungry, or processed food hungry.
We don’t know how to feast because we don’t even know what real hunger is.
Which is really sad. Especially with November coming up, and the Thanksgiving Holiday. How are we to feel grateful for the simple things like good food if we hardly give it a second thought, except to satisfy the hourly craving?
When you have fasted for three days, any food seems amazing. When you have fasted for seven days, you realize that wanting food is all in you head. It is 100% mental. Unless you truly have a body fat percentage in the single digits, you don’t NEED to eat. You WANT to. And isn’t that one of the biggest lessons we try to teach children? The lesson that makes responsible adults? Knowing the difference between a need and a want and choosing to act for long term benefit instead of instant gratification? That is another reason I want to do another hefty round of fasting for November. What better way to appreciate food, family, and all that comes together for Thanksgiving Day than by balancing the feast with a fast? How is our Thanksgiving dinner even special if we have been over eating or eating our feelings all year?
Fasting will humble you. I have found just how weak I am, both in learning to fast and in failing at my refeeds. I am weak. I am an addict. When I fast I can’t hide in the fridge with the mayonnaise from my fears and frustrations. I MUST face them. I MUST take action, either in my own head or in real life. I thought I was pretty tough because I study ballet, I have run two marathons, I served an LDS mission, I earned a music degree, and I live in Utah where winter is THE WORST, and I’ve biked to work all year around. But fasting has shown me another place where I am soft and comfortable. It has shown me that weak place that has kept me over weight with bad skin for years. I still have a long way to go to grow stronger in this area of my life.
I have had a few people who are very close to me and whom I love very, very much, express worry at my goal to complete a second 14 day fast. Thank you for your love and care. I am so happy I have you in my life.
But until any one who would question this can honestly debate me over a two week fast, I challenge that one to first complete a two day fast. If you can do that, we can have a conversation. Until you have had a taste of the joy of fasting, don’t try to discourage me.
One more great thing from today: I play the piano for ballet classes. I had some wonderful moments while I was playing today and yesterday where my brain was so free and on fire. I felt so creative with my playing, and I was reading a book between combinations with out ever loosing my spot or missing my cues from the teacher. Ketosis is awesome for the brain. I love how my brain feels running on body fat.
Here is the video for day five. Finally a short one:
Feeling good. A little stressed, I have some work for my business that is going slowly because of other people but also because I have been putting things off. And I need to run out the door in a minute to go teach some ballet and tap lessons.
I don’t really tap any more. But they are young kids so we can have fun together.
My energy feels really great. Very level and focused. Despite getting up late this morning and moving slowly to try to help my back, I have got a good handful of things done both around the house and on my computer.
I’m SO glad I made it past the first three days. I can now enjoy fasting again. I can enjoy the calm steady energy, the extra time I don’t have to spend with preparing food and doing dishes (though I did do dishes for my husband last night; he was out of spoons, bowls and forks) and I can enjoy the continued weight loss.
I have a small collection of “thin” clothes. I think a lot of women do. I periodically put them on to feel how far I have come. A few things don’t quite fit yet like they did last time I did a lot of fasting, but most of them are coming along.
We are getting in to chunky sweater and flannel shirt season, but there still comes a time in ballet class where you just get too warm to keep all the layers and you have to see what that leotard looks like.
Some times I wish I didn’t dance and I didn’t care. But I also try to keep in mind that this isn’t just for the short term. There are many studies that indicate fasting and/or caloric restriction can increase lifespan. I want to be 120 and still moving and exploring the world. Who knows what I’ll be able to experience, with technology moving so fast?
Fasting is wonderful for the Now and the Far Away Someday.
Here is the video from Day Six:
Today was rough. I was tired and my back has kept hurting. We had ballet class and Snowflake rehearsal for Nutcracker. I’m frustrated that I can’t jump right now.
I was asked to play for another community concert, so while still wearing my bun and my leotard under some yoga pants I played the triangle and the crash cymbals.
I squeezed in a nap before going to the LDS temple for a session with my husband. For non LDS types, its kind of like going to mass. Ritual and a lot of standing up and sitting down. But it was relaxing and I was able to feel some of the spiritual effects of fasting too. I was feeling grouchy because I was tired and I was also feeling really judgmental about all the sick fat people I saw all around me. I was seriously not seeing humans, I was seeing sick, fat food addicts every time I saw someone overweight. It was a pretty ugly place. I was not being a good person.
But as I settled into the ritual and peace of the temple I realized that 1. I too am a sick addict and just because it doesn’t show as much on my body doesn’t mean I have complete control over my relationship with food and 2. These wonderful people all around me, both in the temple and the ones I saw outside, are all humans and children of God. They have things that are not going so well in their lives, just like me, and for some of them this shows physically. They also have things in their lives that are going wonderfully well, and many of them are very happy, or at least happy a lot of the time. I need to be more grateful for all the things that are going well for me, even if right now I feel like this fast is a little hard today.
I just need to go lie down. The peanut butter jar is calling to me and I am working so hard on my visualizations and meditations for continuing this fast till the end and breaking it EXACTLY how I want to.
So for any one thinking of starting to fast, please know it is a lot like learning to run. Its hard some times, gives you a high some times, is extremely rewarding, but also has these awful hours or even days where you really don’t want to keep going.
I seriously would have quit tonight if I didn’t have this post and the videos that I know people are reading and watching. Thank you for your comments and views. I MUST remember that my desire to eat right now is ALL IN MY HEAD. My body is fine. It feels fine. I don’t even have a headache.
I can’t even pin point where the desire to eat is coming from. Not my stomach, my muscles, not even my mouth. Its my food addiction telling me that since I’m tired and a little frustrated with life, I need to eat something to calm down. I want to destroy that aspect of my relationship with food. Food will not be my drug.
Here is the video for Day Seven:
In the video I share my favorite scripture on fasting from Isaiah 58. I copied it up above, but in the video I read through and talk about the different ideas and my interpretation.
Mostly, I felt a little chided while reading this today. I have been getting defensive about my fasting, and I was definitely grouchy because of it yesterday. The chapter starts out with the Lord’s people asking why He has not heard their prayers despite their torturing themselves with fasting.
I have been asking why people can’t see the good in what I’m doing with my fast. The Lord answers that fasting is supposed to bring about many kind of physical and spiritual blessings and that if you just complain about being uncomfortable, you won’t be able to see them, or see Him as already being present in you life. I already know fasting does wonderful things for me. I need to be humble and not judge other people based on their lack of experience with fasting.
This reminds me of the somewhat non Christian or non religious idea of mindfulness. Fasting definitely demands mindfulness, especially if you don’t want to break your fast early. If I had not had this post and my videos for accountability, keeping me mindful, I would have come home from a long tiring day and eaten half a Costco jar of peanut butter. But what I see this morning is my mindful ability to self reflect is stronger. I wouldn’t have had that insight today without the challenge and success of yesterday, as uncomfortable as it was.
I think God does want us to be mindful. That is why so many faiths have a tradition of ritual and cycles of remembrance and celebration. God doesn’t want our days to just fly be in pursuit of our daily bread. He wants us to find joy and satisfaction along with the pain and disappointment that always accompany learning.
Let me tell you a little bit about Time on a long fast. It does seem to slow down. The first half of October felt so long. Not because fasting was making me miserable, but because it made me very aware of my body and the media I consumed and my interactions with people. I had to plan my behavior around eating situations. I had to hold out during family meals. I had to thoughtfully and kindly defend my choice to fast to different people in different ways.
Imagine a day where you have to wear an uncomfortable or ugly outfit AND be in a lot of social situations. That day will feel longer than a day spent at home in your jammies. Even if I was alone most of the day while fasting or didn’t have to defend my fasting out right, I still had to deal with it every few minutes or hours as thoughts of food or discomfort popped up.
This doesn’t make the longer days unpleasant. I had a wonderful time with my family, I had relaxing days and rewarding days where I worked hard at my job, my teaching, and my dancing. But fasting made me more aware of more of my minutes.
I have been trying to implement a meditation routine for the last couple of years. It is hit or miss. Some weeks I meditate for a good ten minutes every day, and I always feel great. Then a late morning will come along, or an especially early morning, and I lose the habit.
A long fast is a way to ensure I stay thoughtful, even if I don’t summon the discipline to sit and meditate several days in a row.
Here is the video link for Day 8:
Despite my long lecture yesterday I have continued to be grouchy and over sensitive about fasting and it has bled into other aspects of my life. Mostly, my poor husband gets the brunt of it. I can be polite to people on the surface all day long, I don’t feel like I was hard to be around at church yesterday.
But I did avoid going to family dinner at his mother’s house. I had a good excuse, I played in a community concert that evening, but I had time both before and after the concert to at least go greet my mother in law and my husband’s brother and his family. But I didn’t. After refusing Halloween candy, left over wedding cake and other wedding celebration goodies (a couple in my ward was married yesterday) for almost all of my time a church and having a nap cut short, I just didn’t want to deal with people that I really do need to be nice too.
So today I’m trying to be better. I have been kind to my spouse, and I’m sitting at my workplace waiting to start work, and I don’t really have to talk to any one, just play the piano. I get to do this for the rest of the evening.
My challenge tonight will be to treat my husband kindly and not bring up fasting or politics. It is silly because he is supporting my fast and we mostly agree on politics. I just get mad at the world in general and take it out on him.
I’m hoping this week will also be pretty easy, the way the fourth and fifth day were. I can be on my bike for most the work week (driving is another thing that adds stress o my life) and I’m getting a massage on Saturday! That should help with my back pain.
But my back feels better to so far today. Something else to be grateful for. I was able to jump some today in my morning ballet class. Not completely without pain and I didn’t jump high. And I still don’t have an arabesque on my left side, but it was better today. I’m hoping fasting and my massage and a little more rest and stretching will heal it up all the way.
Day Nine (?)
Here is the link to the day Nine video:
The question mark means I ate. I had two cucumbers last night. I’m REALLY frustrated that I broke my fast, but I was in such a yucky place. I think I did ok considering my usual lack of restraint with my refeeds. But I’m upset. Not so much at myself as at the situation. My head hurt, despite having all my salt and water. My body hurts. My back felt worse through the day. It was just rough.
And after eating the cucumbers, I was able to get to sleep more easily than I have in several days. That was amazing, and very much needed.
See, since day six I haven’t been able to find my fasting high. My eneihas been low, so I haven’t done my usual morning workout, I would walk part of the way home instead of bike, and I didn’t do extra movement if I didn’t need to.
I’m doing this from my phone today by the way, so there may be more errors than usual.
So this morning I got up and did a GREAT workout. Best I’ve done for a while. I guess hoping in part to undo the “damage” of eating last night.
This goes to show how much of this is mental. Two cucumbers shouldn’t shouldn’t have given me all that energy. But I found it in myself.
I still actually feel fasted today. Still a little light headed if I stand up too fast, still alert, and, unfortunately, still a little irritable.
What do you think? Can I call this day 9? Or am I back on day 1? Either way, I’m going to continue October Fast and fast through today and tomorrow.
I have some plans already for November. I want to fast as many days as I can.
For now, I know I’m going out with my husband on the fifth. That’s one day.
Then I know I’ll be with my family for Thanksgiving for three or four days. So that is at least four or five days of eating.
Of course I’ll need to monitor my body fat levels, my energy, my work and social obligations, and my dancing.
I am very interested in experimenting with the carnivore diet. If I do need to eat more than those days in November, I would like to try eating a variety of quality animal products (no dairy for now) both cooked and raw. I already love sushi, so I’m good for raw salmon and tuna. I’ve been researching beef tartare and I have an excellent meat and fresh eggs source.
I was listening to some motivational fasting videos this morning. The guy reiterated again and again that you have to be strong to get what you want in life. And you need to evaluate what you want. Will it really make you happy, or cause you more stress? I know I want a strong lean body. I’m assessing my work and social situations more these days because fasting really makes you question what you NEED and what you want.
I’ve filled a box to give to DI (the Utah version of Good Will) because I know now I don’t need all this stuff. I need health and my dancing and some clothes.
I’ll end here for today. One more day of October Fast, and whatever mistakes I’ve made this month, the successes have already been wonderful. I’m already looking forward to more strength and motivation and power for November Fast.
Here is the video for Day Ten:
OctoberFast is over. It did not end as planned. I need more fasting experience to know what went wrong and how I reacted to it. I’m not going to call total failure, some really good things happened. It’s ok if it didn’t match what was in my brain.
Happy Halloween by the way. I love this holiday. My favorite is when I play for it teach ballet classes and the students dress up. Dancers have asuch a sense of style, no matter what they decide to be they are still ballerina classy.
And if course now the holiday season take soffbin earnest. I saw Christmas stuff out a week ago…
I’ve already talked about my plan for November. In brief, I want to fast all but 4 days total. If I do need to eat more, and I admit that is very likely, I want to experiment with the carnivore diet. I’ve been reading about it a lot and I’ll share it here and in my videos as the month and hopefully my November Fast progress.
I’m really going to miss cucumbers.
Unless I need to eat some kind of vegetable.