Note: Do not fast unless you have experience and guidence. I did this after doing intermitteen fasting for a few months.
It’s 1:28pm. I haven’t eaten since 9pm last night. I just spent forty minutes in an infrared sauna sweating my balls off. Felt amazing. Tons of energy. Decided to cook a meal to save for later when I can eat, tighten the vice. No problem. Until right now, it’s hitting me, hard. The crash. But instead of sitting in it and allowing it to win, I grabbed my laptop and went to the nearest coffee shop to write this. It will give me fuel, hoping to share my experience to help others. Okay, at least it will distract me.
Let’s back up a little bit. To like seven years ago when I first discovered CrossFit and tattooed Roman numbers from a scripture on my left arm that basically says, your body is a slave to you, not the other way around. It was the first time I ever pushed my body that hard. It was the first time I wasn’t a slave to my body. I made a decision. My body followed. I also had a roommate at the time. He was a Chinese Christian man who did a 24 hour fast every once in a while. He said it was a spiritual thing. I thought he was fucking nuts. In a good way, Sam, if you’re reading this. Yes, I could move my body and push it physically but I could never not eat. I remember even saying it out loud to him, dude I could never do that!
But here I am today, nearly 17 hours in without food. Only water, two cups of coffee, and coconut water. And it’s not that bad. It was actually a last minute decision. I didn’t know I was going to starve myself today. I’ve been playing around with intermittent fasting, skipping breakfast and not eating until 1pm for a couple months now. I like it. I feel clear, light. It’s been good. But last night I went out to dinner with a friend and I came home with a stomach ache. When I woke up, my stomach was still slightly upset so I thought why not leverage this and just do my first 24 hour fast. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. I’ve just been scared, to be honest.
I know for many, this is not a big deal. But for me, discipline with food has always been a huge weakness of mine. My parents owned a burger shack then a Popeye’s Chicken when I was growing up. Food was plenty and always around me. Really bad greasy food. And if I ever had a craving, which was pretty much every day, it was satisfied within 30 minutes. Just a phone call to mom before she left. Therefore, I never experienced the feeling of hunger. This basically means I’m a child when it comes to discipline with food.
As a therapist / life coach I tell my clients to lean into discomfort, get comfortable with the uncomfortable because that’s where growth and a stronger version of you lives. I want to practice what I preach so I decided to hold the mirror up today and not to just check my hair.
My first learning.
It’s all in your mind.
It’s not the actual not eating that’s the challenge. It’s the not thinking about eating that’s the challenge. Whatever you feed grows. A life rule. So the more you think about eating, the more your craving spreads until it’s like an out of control virus and you break. And the more you tell yourself you’re hungry or “straving”, the more you set off your panic, fight or flight. Now your body thinks you’re dying and it’s in survival mode. This is good and bad news. It’s good because your body is now burning the “bad stuff” to survive. But it’s bad it’s in fight or flight instead of being calm which creates anxiety and panic.
Pulling back and relating this to life. We experience a version of this state daily. Whenever we feed our worry, we go into a subtle fight or flight panic state. So we have to control our mind. Basically calm the fuck down. A great way to do this is to distract yourself with an activity. Like go on a walk. Do the dishes. Or go to a coffee shop and write blog about how you’re straving yourself for 24 hours to learn something about yourself. Or the best way in my opinion, meditate. Whether you just got dumped or you’re in the middle of a crazy workout, go back to your breath and your monkey mind goes back in it’s cage. Practice this as much as you can. The more you practice, the faster the monkey gets locked up.
I had to stop. I was feeling light headed. I notice that there is an ebb and flow to the “suffering”. It comes in waves. I caught my breathe, swam passed the panic and resistance, and now I’m totally fine. It’s like running, the first few miles are the toughest. But when your body gets used to it and your mind is elsewhere, you adjust. It gets easier. The lesson here is your body will go a lot further than you think it can.
I’m cold and emotional and the only thing in my stomach is hope! Why the fuck did I do this?! No lesson. Just emotions. I guess that’s the lesson. FEELINGS ARE NOT FACTS!!! Haven’t eaten in nearly 20 hours.
Okay, it’s just a long movie now. That’s all it is. 3 more hours. I feel dizzy, a bit light headed. Gonna go for a walk.
I’m at a Starbucks sipping decafe coffee. My third coffee of the day. After a 40 min walk, I had to sit down. But the walk was helpful. I listen to some meditation music and imagined my tingling body eating all the bad shit for energy. That visualization was everything. It kept me walking. It’s not feeling hungry. It’s the dizzy lightheadness now that’s the challenge. The lesson here is how powerful it is to change your state. Even if it’s just a brisk walk. Also, the power of your imagination and what you choose to think / believe. Had I walked aimlessly thinking about food or how weak I felt, I probably would be laying face down on someone lawn right now. We can choose to change our state and thinking any time we are stuck or struggling. There is power in it. Tony Robins jumps in ice water every morning.
Home stretch. First, I’m really happy I did this. I wish I hadn’t done it on a Friday night. But nonetheless, I’m glad I stuck to my guns. I was laying on my coach, sitting with this experience, meditating, and I felt a moment of clarity. A bigger than me moment. What many would call a “God” moment. In a second, all the panic was gone. No more staring at the clock. Thinking about how much I’m going to eat in 30 minutes. The urgency and panic I was feeling from this little fast seems suddenly was so small and insignificant. When minutes ago, it was my entire world. And I had the revelation that all the chaos and anxiety and stress we feel as humans in our daily lives exists because we are so focused on things that don’t really matter. I’m not saying bills and all the shit we have to deal with daily isn’t real. But we blow it up. We drown it in, and lose ourselves. If we gain the abilty to sit through things, no matter how uncomfortable, long enough to find our breath and core, they won’t have the power over us like we allow them to. We will be free. And that’s how I feel in this very moment. Completely free and clear. Did my hunger go away? Of course not. But it’s no longer the center of my world. I am. It’s peripheral.
I pushed one minute just to make sure I crossed the finish line. I know for many, this is nothing. People fast for days. But for me, it’s a big deal. It’s my first time jumping from the plane. And I’m proud of myself.
Okay, the biggest take away from this experience was the actual experience itself. Whenever we give ourselves a new experience, there is room for a shift. In that shift, beliefs change. Beliefs about ourselves, the world, and what’s possible.