Fasting results

As I expected when I had started, fasting is a very personal and introspective activity. Here is the good and (mostly) bad of last week’s 5-day juice fast.

watermelon

Melonscape (Some rights reserved, Josh Liba)

One can fast for a cause, but I would speculate that people who fast ultimately learn mostly about themselves, delicacy, and harmony. I wish there was an easy way for me to put this into words; poetic expression is not one of my gifts. I may need a few more days of recovery to reflect on an epilogue.

Here’s the Feel Good (à la Gorillaz): Up until the last 24 hours of the fast, I felt relatively healthy. When I’m not fasting, I generally rate my wellness at a 9 or 10 out of 10. During the fast, I mainly hovered between 7 and 8 – I never felt like my body was in danger or that I was going to faint. The highlight was on Thursday night. If I hadn’t felt so tired earlier in the day, I may have gone out for a jog, but I knew better. I guess that was my last shot of endorphins.

If I ever decide to do this again, I’m going to make fresh grape juice every day. Fresh apple cider is also to die for. I’m ready to make some mixed drinks from the stuff on a regular basis – haven’t tried it yet, but will definitely look up some recipes.

I’ve always been a fan of eating small portions of food – this experience strengthened that belief. I realize that my general lack of enthusiasm over food (not counting dessert) isn’t normal, but I do believe that everyone can appreciate the wonderful worldwide food variety without overeating it. Unless you’re a body builder or a professional athlete, as an American you can probably live off half of what you normally eat. Try setting your “appetite thermostat” lower and I bet you’ll get used to it within a month… but don’t forget to exercise, too! (Try the hundred pushups training program: ten minutes a day.) Speaking of exercise, I’m glad to say that I’m back to 100% strength again today – looking forward to a Bowflex workout tonight.

In my last post, I laid out my plans for the fast. Here’s how it actually went (it gets kind of graphically disgusting in parts). Sadists will enjoy this – I’ve already mentioned the positive aspects of the fast – the rest just a big test of will. Honestly, unless you’re planning on fasting, don’t bother reading on. I include so much detail mainly because it’s hard to find journal-like accounts of fasting like this online. I guess people are too proud to share? The Bad (à la U2):

Monday, Sept. 5 (Labor Day)

Last solid food is an apple around 2pm. Kroger 100% Apple Juice, Juicy Juice 100% Cherry mixed with Brita water (or work water fountain), and occasional chamomile/lemon tea (cooled to room temperature) for the remainder of the fast. Didn’t weigh myself, but I’ve been around 149 lbs lately. 5′ 10″

Tuesday

After 24 hours, I started noticing very quick whiffs of the foods I craved. First salt water flush (only works with uniodized salt) around 8pm. After about 90 minutes, it literally flushed me out after three trips to the restroom. By the third trip, it looked like stomach acid was all I had coming out. Lovely.

Wednesday

After this second morning, my teeth remained coated with a sticky film for the rest of the week. I brushed three times a day, but just about any time I clenched my teeth, they’d stick together a little bit.

I generally don’t mind the hard seats (Flickr photo from Eric Harmatz) on the bus, but I really noticed it on this third day.

Back ached a little for the rest of the week and it was probably my left kidney that started bothering me from time to time from this point.

Cold at night and wore pajamas for the next four nights.

Thursday

I woke up at 4:30am (alarm usually set for 6). I could almost control my dreams on this morning as I dozed on and off for the next hour; don’t believe I’ve ever experienced anything like it. Nifty.

Incidentally, the bus this morning smelled heavily of urine. I’d never smelled it so bad (everyone on the bus was extremely uncomfortable because of it). Yay.

Around 1:30pm, my inner right quad muscle twitched for about ten minutes. It did the same for about 30 minutes later in the evening. Electrolytes?

Tired afternoon, energetic evening.

Friday

Felt about the same as the past two days. Tried another salt water flush, but even just remembering the taste from Tuesday night made it impossible for me to swallow the whole cup. I vomited about halfway through (luckily I had anticipated it and was by the commode). The waste was a urine-green liquid with mucusy yellow filmy bits, likely the juice concentrate that I could not digest. I had nothing that I could eliminate from the other end. Describing excrement is not easy! I am reminded of my Holocaust Studies professor (Geller) in college who used “shit” to describe every horrific outcome of the worldwide genocide in the 40s.

Legs had been tired all day, but even my arms were sore as I went to bed. Very uncomfortable and took a while to fall asleep due to the soreness.

At this point, I was ready to quit, but I’d read that if you don’t feel better after a day, you should stop. It hadn’t quite been a day, so I decided to see how I felt on Saturday.

Saturday, Sept. 11

Jon, Nathan, and I were invited to a neighborhood pig roast. I would have declined, but I wanted to get my blood flowing and meet more of our neighbors. It’s probably less than 1/4 mile to Roland’s barn, but the two hours we spent walking there, standing and talking, and walking back just about did me in. I had noticed when I went for a walk on Thursday afternoon that my calf muscles were tensing up – they did the same by the time I got home on Saturday, as well.

As I had expected, I was getting pale, and my lips were purple, too. Jon and Nathan were concerned – I should have had them take a video as I was apparently carrying myself as a starving person, as well. I had been hoping for better mental clarity at some part of the week, but my sharpness got worse, if anything. I blame everything (wink) on the nutrient-poor concentrated juices that I mistakenly assumed would be good enough to keep me going for a week.

I had ridden out the past 24 hours, but I felt no better. It was time to stop. Since it was the weekend, there was more time to make fresh-squeezed juices every few hours until Sunday afternoon when I started eating solid fruits (that first bite of an orange was absolutely delicious) and raw spinach leaves. Not sure how accurate the scale was, but I lost at least 7-10 lbs (scale read 139 on Sunday morning). Monday, I returned to civilization and had my first, rather humble, bowel movement. By day’s-end, I was able to down a 1/2-portion meal for dinner: bulgogi!

  • Woah! You went straight for the real stuff at the end of this. I've never been able to fast more than 24 hours. Perhaps I'm not as mentally strong as I'd like to think, but it's hard to be an available mom and go without protein. Lol. I commend you for the effort and the detailed account. I wish I would have done the same for my detox. I've never been one to shy away from sharing the yucky details in an effort to create information for others going through the same. I think I just felt too miserable to care.

  • jrminkel

    Thanks for experimenting on yourself, JJ. This is good info for when I become a Muslim and have to fast for Ramadan. Now could you scope out Mecca for me?

  • Misery loves company.

  • Absolutely. Hajj is my middle name.