I recently did a 5 day water fast for lent. It is the third year in a row that I have done it, and each year the results have been similar.
Firstly I should say that I did a lot of research before doing it and made sure that I was well informed. You should too. It is not for everyone. Certainly those with diabetes, low blood sugar levels, pregnant, children and the elderly. In fact if you are at all unsure you should seek the advice of a Dietician or Doctor before trying it.
That said, it is of course a very natural practice. Probably the oldest form of diet, (although that isn’t the reason for fasting) practiced across nearly every religion and culture. Regular fasts would of course have been a necessity in the days before cupboards, fridges and shops.
So my experiences:
- Day 1 – fine.
- Days 2 and 3 were tough. I felt sorry for myself. Continually questioned my reasons for doing it. Doubted myself and was humbled. I sent lots of little ‘arrow prayers’ and asked for strength. They worked. It came, I got through.
- Days 4 and 5 I felt fine. In fact better than fine. I felt light, humble, clear and clean in thought and body.
- It was one of the most creative weeks I can remember. Hugely focused. I literally cleared a, ‘to-do list’ that had been hanging around for months.
- I continued my teaching, training and home schedule with no change. There were times when I felt tired, but not when I needed to be active. My gut feel is that the body conserves energy better when nothing is on making you want to rest, but provides energy when you demand it.
- I didn’t feel hungry once. Not in the slightest. I thought about and desired food of course, but that is different to huger.
- I had some headaches and heartburn. My feeling was that it was the body needing more help to flush itself out, so I drank more water than normal and they went away. the heartburn immediately and the headaches shortly after.
- Weight loss. I didn’t do it for this reason, but I lost 14lb (6.5kg) I put a few pounds on the week after naturally.
The build up is important:
I couldn’t have done a 5 day water only fast without lots of smaller ones in the bank. I had been doing short weekly 12-36 hour fasts for a few years before.
They always made me feel light, clean and energised.
If anyone is thinking of doing a fast, gradually is the key, and as I said above I would advise doing your research and taking personal responsibility.
For me it works. Short sprints of willpower give me strength. Each successful fast lessens the power that food has over me. It strengthens the spirit and cleans the body.
Personally I find that short fasts coupled with a sensible approach to eating are much easier to manage that a lifetime of willpower requirement in sticking to any kind of fad diets.
I gently introduce fasting, along with the breathing, movement, relaxation and posture elements of Systema, as part of a holistic package, on the 28 Day Systema Challenge programme. You can read more here: http://www.matthill.co.uk/28daychallenge
It starts gently once a week for four weeks building confidence and knowledge to a 36 hour fast at the end.
There are five key elements – the keys to healthy living:
- Systema breathing practices.
- Tips and exercises to Improve sleeping habits and practices.
- Information around proper hydration.
- Nutrition plan and the gentle intro to fasting.
- Daily Systema exercise video illustrating a different Systema exercise each day to improve, strength, fitness, breathing, mobility, health and skill.
The benefits are profound and go way beyond weight loss.
Give it a try. It may just be the thing that works for you in controlling appetite, weight loss and an unhealthy relationship with food.
My sincere wishes for your health and training.
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