Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Fasting Diary: Three Days In Review

I just finished a three day cleansing fast this past week. As I had posted in a previous blog ("Three Day Cleansing Fast"), I drank a lemony water mixture (along with plenty of plain water) for three days, without food. I kept a running diary of how I was feeling both physically and emotionally on each day. Here are my memoirs of those three days. . .

D a y  O n e
My first day without food. A Wednesday. A day that I work in my office. Tomorrow, however, I will be working from home, so I'll be interested to see how the days compare.

I made it through (Phew!). I was actually only slightly tempted to put food in my mouth, but the thought quickly vanished when I reminded myself of what my purpose is in doing this fast.

What is my purpose in doing this, anyway?

Oh yah. . . to cleanse my body. Basically, a detox. I had been feeling that my eating habits were getting a little out of control for some while now, and I wanted to do a good cleansing to help get myself back on track.

The morning was fine. Of course I had a few hunger pangs here and there, but not too bad. Oddly enough, around 11:00 a.m., I had my biggest food craving of the day. It doesn't help that many people in my office decide to eat at there desks around this time. So, I had to deal with some pretty strong food smells. I just kept busy with work. Often throughout the day, as I was faced with little pangs in my tummy, I could hear my yoga instructor in my head saying, "feel it, acknowledge it, and let it go", as if he was trying to talk me through an uneasy pose. This was tremendously helpful.

I started observed my hunger pangs. I would watch when they would start, how they would feel, and how they would travel in my body. This, of course, was all fascinating to me, and is certainly unique to each person. I also observed my urination patterns. Well, let's just say, I went a lot! As the day progressed, I did find my urine becoming more clear. Woo! I was on my way. About halfway through the afternoon, I found out that Darren and Emma, who had decided to join me for the cleanse, did not make it through Day One. And that's ok. I told each of them, that this just isn't for everyone. Generally speaking, it was a busy day at work, so before I knew it, I was sitting on Bus #27, making my way back home.

Today really seemed to be a day of reflection for me. Throughout my day at work, and especially on my bus ride home, I thought about how I've been living my life, and the choices I've been making. Mostly when it comes to food, but this certainly extends to other areas as well. I had been succumbing to every dietary whim no matter how unhealthy (I think I ate ice cream at least three times last week!). My glutinous behaviors need to come to an end. I thought about Buddha and how he teaches us that self deprivation is good for the soul. Self denial is a means to spiritual enlightenment, afterall, and I have not been practicing that much lately.

And then I thought about those of us that don't have a choice about not eating. I wondered if the hunger I was feeling, felt different to them. I am pretty sure that it does.

By the time I arrived home, I believe my family had finished dinner, and I was thankful. I played a bit with Otto, and soon it was time for him to go to bed, and me alongside him. I went to bed hungry, but I was fine. I was just proud that I made it through Day One, more than anything.

{Total Lemon Water: 60 oz  / Total Plain Water: 100 oz}

D a y  T w o
I woke up this morning feeling a wonderful sense of serenity. I can't express just how gentle I awoke, but it was quite wonderful. And not the least bit of hunger. Today was Thursday, and I was working from home. Dottie and I walked Emma to the bus stop. The morning was glorious. There was a faint fog and a slight mist hanging in the air. The temperature was perfect, and it felt good to be walking out in it. I was happy. By the walk back, the hunger was rising and I was determined to not let it take over. I got in the house, grabbed my laptop and a Nalgene bottle full of lemony water, and headed to the upstairs office to start my day early. I got into my working groove just fine. But as the day wore on, I started to feel hungrier. Today, it was harder to just let the feeling pass. I was holding onto it for whatever reason, and I was suffering for it. I also felt much more anxious today. Almost like I was bored with this and it was enough already. But I kept my focus on my work, and luckily, I had a lot to do.

Perhaps it was the lack of two 90 minute bus rides, but I found that I did not philosophize about what was happening much today. I was more in a coping mode. I found that I was clenching my jaw, and breathing deep throughout the day, as the hunger would come to me. In retrospect, I'm pretty sure if I could have just rationalized my hunger pangs a little better, as I had done the day before, I would have fared better physically.

To be quite frank, I also noticed that I was urinating less today.  But then again, I was drinking less water. However, I am proud to report (and I apologize if this is sharing too much), but I finally had a bowel movement today. A pretty normal one I'd say, and I'll leave it at that. By lunch time, I was having a hard time focusing, and decided to get my mind off the lunch hour. I treated myself to an express pedi, and within forty minutes, I was refreshed, and back at work. That was probably the best thing I could have done today. It really got me out of my head. . . and my belly!

Later in the afternoon, a wave of sleepiness came over me that was almost overwhelming. I didn't lay down and nap, but let's just say, I certainly could have! I knew I should have been drinking more water throughout the day, but I just didn't feel like it. The thought just turned my stomach. But I am sure the lack of water was probably contributing to my fatigue.

By the end of the day, the troops were milling about the kitchen, formulating a plan for dinner. Before the grill was even fired up, Otto was in his stroller and we were walking the neighborhood. It felt great to be outside. Otto dozed and we took our time. By the time we got home, dinner was over and I was making preparations for bedtime.

A few times in the evening, my family saw I was having a hard time. They suggested I stop, since I'd come so far already. I appreciated their concern, but decided to hold steady my course and stick to my plan. So again, I would go to bed hungry. But yet again, the feeling of hunger was overshadowed by the feeling of pride, for having exhibited great fortitude, when faced with the challenges of the day.

{Total Lemon Water: 45 oz  / Total Plain Water: 80 oz}

D a y  T h r e e
Again, I woke up this morning in the most peaceful way. Just lovely. I wish I woke up so gently every morning! And again, no feelings of hunger. Today was my last day on the fast, and it was Friday. Today, I will take the #27 bus into Hartford. I had a rough day yesterday, but I knew today would be better, because I was almost done. Up until today, I had not experienced any headaches. Just some irritability yesterday. Well, sure enough. . .they showed up today in full force! I had heard that the headaches will come as you are releasing toxins from your body. All day I had them. I also had a sharper little pain at the base of the back of my skull. This was interesting, and it is something I will investigate further. Today I was met with a lot of positive vibes. Compliments from friends telling me how great I was doing, and even a compliment on how wonderful my skin looked. How about that? That was enough for this gal. . .I was gonna make it! 

Now don't get me wrong, today had it's challenges. First off, on Fridays, my firm provides a bagel smorgasbord for the entire office. Not only did I have to contend with the wafting aroma of toasting sesame seeds and warm cinnamon everywhere I went, but I had to look at nearly every person in the office traipsing around with a bagel hanging out of their mouth! And it wasn't until today that the urge for coffee really hit me hard. Everywhere I turned, all I could smell was hot, rich and delicious coffee. So again, keeping busy, and fighting off the headaches with more water was my plan. Luckily, I didn't have nearly the trouble I had yesterday, getting all my liquids in. My tummy felt generally better. I did notice, in addition to the headaches, my urine changed from being previously clear, to being cloudy. I put two and two together, and made the assumption that my body was truly flushing out more toxins. 

By lunchtime, I had to get out of the office. It was a nice day, so I took a walk around the block, and sat outside for a bit. You feel different when you are on a fast. You are in a zone. What "zone" this is, I cannot say. But you are in a bit of a limbo of reality. You are observing people and their actions from a different point. Not so much from the outside. . .but almost.

I went back inside and finished up my day. I had decided that I would eat that night, since technically, I had completed my three full days of fasting at 7.00 p.m. When I got home, dinner was almost ready. 

It feels strange to end a fast. It was a strange way of living for a few days and to see it end is . . well, I don't want to use the word "sad", so I will just leave it at "strange". It is a journey that I was on, all by myself, from within my own body. It is a personal journey that nobody else can really understand or relate too. I am reminded of the saying that is to the effect of "Every man must do two things alone: he must be born alone and he must die alone". 

And he must fast alone.

{Total Lemon Water: 60 oz  / Total Plain Water: 80 oz}

I have been tightening the reigns on my eating since my cleansing, which is easy since I find that I am feeling full more quickly now. Once I broke the fast, I was instantaneously delighted with the array of dietary options at my fingertips. Although I am sure it will be a short-lived appreciation, as I know how quickly complacency sneaks up on us. I am feeling good in the days immediately following my cleansing. While the headache remained for a day following, mentally, I feel balanced and serene. I am surprised at how differently I experienced this cleansing, from the ones I've done in the past. I am older now, and find that I am reading it from a more emotional, rather than physical, perspective.

Will I do more cleansings in the future? Probably. Will I put a stop to my "glutinous" behaviour? This, I am starting to see, is all relative. After Buddha popped into my head on Day One, I decided to revisit some of the writings of "Siddhartha", a favourite book of mine written by Herman Hesse. As I was flipping the pages, I came upon one particular passage that stood out and spoke to me in regards to my fasting experience:

"...he joined a group of five other wanderers like himself. They told him he should fast - eat very little food - and then he would find the truth. So Siddhartha ate just one bean a day, or one grain of rice. He became very weak and ill. One day a milkmaid went past and offered him a bowl of milk. He drank it. Then he ate some food and began to feel strong again. 'From now on I will take the middle way. I shall neither starve my body nor feed it too richly, but will eat just what is needed and no more.' The five wanderers could not believe that Siddhartha had broken his fast and left them."


  1. Excellent job! I love your style of writing! I make a big pot of cabbage soup when I need a cleansing which is quite often :) I add every veggie in sight. Sometimes I go shopping special for it-that can be fun. I like to add salsa for a bite, most recently turnip. If I am 'hardcore' I do just the veggies, but sometimes I add tofu, beans, chick peas, brown rice. Depends on my mood and how bad I've been :) (oh for the carnivores I separately add kielbasa, burger or ? to theirs-they will usually eat it at least once ;)

  2. Thanks patty -- good idea!
    Although it's hard to think about soup in the summer. I wonder how it would be pureed . . a la gazpacho??!

  3. Thanks for this post. It isn't easy to find "what's going to happen" information when reading about cleanses. I am looking forward to undertaking one myself in a week or so!