Last night I stepped on the scale at Publix just for shits and giggles and nearly fell to the ground in utter astonishment when the needle failed to reach 3-digits. I jumped up in awe, grabbed my chest, and turned around and looked at my partner in horror saying: “OMG. I weigh 98 lbs.”
Last Monday I went to the doctor and the scale told me I was 108. This would then mean that I have lost 10 lbs (maybe more because it was cold yesterday, so I weighed myself with all my layers including my coat) in a week. I have never lost that much weight in a short time period before and I have not weighed under 100 lbs in my adult life; not even in high school. Still, some would wonder why I am so surprised because (here comes the kicker…) I haven’t eaten anything at all in seven days, six when I stepped on the scale yesterday.
Now, before you shake your head at me or wonder what my problem is, or tell me I need to eat, do your research allow me to explain.
I started the “new year” with many things–a new layout, in the arms of the love of my life, and with a rejuvenated sense of purpose and renewed determination to follow my passion. (Blog on that to come later…)
I also started it on medication.
And if you know me, you know I am not one for drugs. Still, this fact contributed to my desired rejuvenation and with it I decided it was time to take real action. My body seems to have been purging itself ever since I finally went completely vegan and started cleansing. And in the final leg of this purging, my kidney fell victim to overload. Over the holidays when I was in Jamaica, I found myself with a kidney infection. (Gasp!)
Pain woke me up at 20:00 on Christmas night. I stuck with it all through the night, hoping to just make it until the sun came up and then maybe go to the doctor. But of course, you make plans and the universe laughs. By 4 a.m., when my partner could no longer bear to see me like that, and when I started to cry out in pain, he decided to take action. Within the hour I was on my way to a 24-hour clinic in Savanna-La-Mar and within two I had had pain medicine injected into my ass and some prescription antibiotics in hand. This was my wake up call.
After I came back to the U.S., I went for a check-up and found still signs of infection. I was given two prescriptions for yet more medication, and decided it was time to act. So I stopped eating. (This is contrary to everything mainstream society tells us is good for us, I know. But when have I ever been into what mainstream society says?) It’s been seven days now and what better way to explore the results than to come on here and write about it for the world to see.
Disclaimer: I wrote all of that to say, I did NOT decide to fast for any other reason than healing. I did not want to lose a single pound nor did I particularly expect to. And, of course, I am not endorsing this for anyone else. This was a personal and spiritual decision that I chose for myself after much meditation. I don’t do anything without consulting myself and my better judgment first. You shouldn’t either.
So what have I learned? My body, I have now been reminded, is incredible. I can’t stress this enough. I’ve lost 10 lbs of God knows what and I can barely even tell from a physical perspective. I spent some time in the mirror this morning trying to find what’s missing and I couldn’t. But yesterday my co-worker mentioned that my face looks thinner and that is what prompted me to go on the scale. In many ways I am so glad I did. Although I never started this with any intention to lose weight, I now look at it as having lost 10 lbs of backed up gunk that may have just been chilling on my intestines or wherever for years upon years, forgotten. I’m glad I have given my body a chance to catch up and clean out the stuff it’s been putting on the back-burner as a result of continuous feeding.
As it turns out, in modern society, we actually eat too frequently. And even then, most of us are overfed and undernourished. In fasting, you really give your body a break. You give it a chance to repair itself. It works so hard every day of our lives to filter out all the crap they put in our food that a little help can really go a long way. Yes, the body cleanses itself naturally, but once you put food inside of you, your body stops whatever it was doing (assimilation, elimination, or appropriation) and starts working on digestion only. If you’re doing this three, four, five, six times a day, especially despite the Circadian rhythm, you’ve disrupted it several times from doing anything to help you besides breaking down the newly ingested food or high-chemical drink. Compound this by decade after decade, chemical after chemical, and it’s no wonder we are unable to heal ourselves. It’s no wonder so many of us are constipated.
We give our bodies a break to sleep. We give our brains a break to relax. We take vacations. We have weekends off from work. Why, then, don’t we take breaks from eating too? We seem to forget that our insides are a part of us. We’ve compartmentalised and compartmentalised so much that we don’t believe a pain in our foot can be the physical manifestation of something that went wrong in any other part of our body. We are not a bunch of separate systems sharing the same space. The body is one system. The skin is an organ, too. Everything is connected. And everything works together. (It’s a shame so many of us choose to take a backseat when it comes to the health of our own bodies, yet we feed it trash and then expect it to never fail us. How will we survive?)
I have fasted for shorter periods in the past, no doubt, but this is my longest, and I will say I do not feel as if I have not eaten in a week. I am not weak. I am not lethargic. I am not even hungry. Day three was maybe my worst day in terms of how I felt, but since jumping over that hurdle it has been smooth sailing. And I believe we all have that plateau. Depending on how dis-eased you are or how bad/good your diet is, I think determines how badly you feel when fasting and how long it takes for your body to start sweeping. How much stored-up waste do you have inside of you? How long can you survive on that stored fat/sugar?
I did not fast on just water alone like some people do. I would not recommend for anyone to jump from eating lots of cooked foods to just drinking water. Since my focus was kidney and bladder detoxing, I have been living off homemade juices; three per day. I started out with just veggies–beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, lemon, kale, radishes–and slowly started introducing a little bit of fruit. I aimed to rid myself of uric acid and neutralise my overall acidity. Most of the weight passed through my pee.
Still, I am not a scientist. So for those of you who like to try and see the entire room through a keyhole, here are some scientifically proven benefits of intermittent fasting:
1. It helps reset your body to use fat as its primary fuel.
Mounting evidence confirms that when your body becomes adapted to burning FAT instead of sugar as its primary fuel, you dramatically reduce your risk of chronic disease. Ketones are released as a byproduct of burning fat, and ketones (not glucose) are actually the preferred fuel for your brain.
2. Fasting promotes human growth hormone (HGH) production.
HGH plays an important part in health, fitness, and slowing the aging process. It is also a fat-burning hormone, which helps explain why fasting is so effective for weight loss. One review study also showed that intermittent fasting caused less muscle loss than continuous calorie restriction.
3. It can lower your risk of diabetes as it lowers insulin growth factor.
High IGF-1, as well as insulin and glucose, increases your risk for cancer, and makes it harder to beat when you have cancer. Five days without food can reduce IGF-1 by 70%. It also, in rats, protected against kidney damage, one of the most severe complications of diabetes.
4. It can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body.
Inflammation is the body’s response to every and any type of disease. It is what causes us pain. Oxidative stress leads to aging and many chronic diseases. It involves unstable molecules called free radicals, which react with other important molecules (like protein and DNA) and damage them. Repairing damaged molecules is also good for your brain health.
5. It boosts production of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
BDNF activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, and triggers numerous other chemicals that promote neural health. It also protects your brain cells from changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Alternate-day fasting, can boost BDNF by anywhere from 50 to 400 percent, depending on the brain region.
6. It can improve numerous risk factors for heart disease such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglycerides and inflammatory markers.
Heart disease is currently the world’s biggest killer. Not cancer. Not police brutality. Heart disease.)
7. When we fast, the cells in the body initiate a cellular “waste removal” process called autophagy.
This involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time. Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, as a failure of autophagy to keep up with accumulated cellular waste is believed by many scientists to be one of the major causes of the chronic diseases associated with aging. Plus, it appears that fasting is harder on cancer cells than on normal cells. That’s because the mutations that cause cancer lead to rapid growth, but they don’t do as well when they are deprived of calories.
8. Helps with chemotherapy effects.
In addition to helping reduce the risk of cancer, there is also some evidence on human cancer patients showing that fasting reduced various side effects of chemotherapy.
9. It can help you live longer and look good doing it!
Naturally, if your body is in good condition, you’ll be around a lot longer to enjoy it.
Still, perhaps my biggest takeaway from all of this is a better understanding of my body and a renewed sense of confidence in its power. Through fasting, I have renewed my connection with myself and what I put inside, and I have a better appreciation for it all. Now that I know what I know, I am certain that fasting is going to be a regular part of my life cycle.
As usual, before you decide to do anything, do your research. There are ample reports and studies on the benefits–and dangers–of fasting. There is also a documentary called Eat, Fast, and Live Longer.
This blog is my testimony only.