What Did I Learn

What did I learn from doing the fast. There are a number of things

What I observed What I would do differently
1. My habit of going to the fridge was not based on hunger it was based on based on a stress response. I need to be careful about that and remind myself not to eat for the sake of eating.
2. There is no requirement to eat on a schedule. Obviously, if I can go 14 days without food, I can make it to 5 pm without raiding the icebox once an hour. This actually leads to the next phase of my nutritional plan as compared to the fast but essentially you need to establish limits and then measure yourself against those limits.
3. As much as I felt really good on day 4 of the fast I feel amazing today. While on the fast 40-45 walks were doable but did involve some fatigue. On the next fasting cycle (I am going to do this again) will be limiting aerobic activity to about 30 minutes per day.
4. Muti-Vitamins and Salts are essential. All the other junk I was using were basically a distraction but on the next go around I’m going to make sure that I have potassium, sodium, and magnesium available every day after the third day as your muscles need those salts in order to function properly.
5. I tried to drink 4 L per day but on some days that just wasn’t possible. However, sometimes you need to force yourself to drink. Minimum of 3 L of water per day. There were a few days I barely managed 2 L of water and it showed the next day in terms of fatigue, muscle tightness, and other small signs. Next time would definitely ensure that I drank at least this amount per day.
6. I thought I was prepared but essentially I wasn’t.

Things I didn’t need to be including:

  1. CoQ10 and other metabolism boosters – your body will do just fine without their help.
  2. Water Filtration System with mineralization – your body will release heavy metals as part of the detox process (you will taste them after about day 7 or 8).
  3. Apple Cider Vinegar. There was no appreciable difference in using versus not using it.
  4. Soda of any kind. I know some articles suggest using ginger ale to calm a queasy stomach but it really doesn’t seem to work.
What I would have available before starting a fast again.:

  1. A good tongue scrapper. Your tongue will build up plack throughout the process. You’ll probably have to do this about twice a day after day 4.
  2. A good mouthwash. You’ll need this at least twice a day. Should be doing this anyways but just saying, your friends will appreciate you more.
  3. Multi-Vitamins (once a day)
  4. Half and Half Salt (1/4 teaspoon taken in small amounts throughout the day)
  5. Spring water – Mineral water is too metal intense. Your body is going to be releasing heavy metals throughout the process as evident by the metallic taste in your mouth after the first week.
  6. Herbal tea for the first 4-5 days. After that, your taste buds will change and you really won’t feel like drinking anything but water. Avoid the fruit herbal teas.
  7. A Heating Pad. Back pain will be part of the experience and having a good heating pad will do wonders for helping to cope.
  8. Headache medicine – This one you need to be careful about. You will get some headaches. In my case, they were mostly mild and didn’t need medication but I’m also subject to severe migraines. Obviously, consult your doctor. What I did was take about 1/4 the dosage I normally do when I thought I needed to and that seemed to work okay. Thankfully I didn’t have a full-blown migraine during the fasting period.
  9. Good Walking Shoes. Walking during the fast is definitely going to help but not 5-10 mile hikes. If you are breaking a sweat or huffing and puffing you are overdoing it.
  10. Anti Acid Tables. I got some acid reflux during the fasting period. This helped a bit.
  11. Emergen-C. Initial cramping around day 7-8 will probably be due to intestinal material that needs to be expelled. While a laxative might work, I found that Emergen-C with the excess of Vitamine C helps act as a laxative as it is water soluble and will help with the elimination problem. I found that one a day for the days I had mild cramping was sufficient.
  12. Epsom Salts. Apparently, a good way to get magnesium is to just soak in it. It also supposedly helps the body detox through the skin rather than dumping some toxins into the digestive tract. Next time I do a fast I’m going to include one per day and see if that delays the onset of the intestinal cramping I got on day 13 (assuming I go that far).
  13. Electrolyte Drink Bottle. This is for breaking the fast. You will want to have this on hand so that you aren’t trying to run to the store if you suddenly find you need to break your fast early.
  14. Baby Food. Again for breaking the fast in a hurry. Baby food doesn’t contain all the chemical garbage that is found in most adult food. You’ll want about 4 x 7.5 oz jars available of beef, pork, or chicken – not the pureed fruit ones. If you need to quickly break the fast this will give you needed nutrients without shocking your system so long as you eat them slowly. About 4oz every 2 hours.
  15. Clear Your Schedule. You need to get more sleep than you normally do. So if you are used to 6-7 hours a night, plan for 8-9 hours. Also, plan to go to bed earlier. I just may be me, but I found that I was waking up earlier in the morning.
7. There seems to be a big difference between pushing through pain because you have something to prove and being stupid about it. For example, the initial mild stomach cramps around day 7 were related to removing waste from my system. A bit of laxative help and the problem disappeared (no pun intended).

The cramping that started on day 12-13, however, were intense and a good sign that it was time to stop.

When to stop: There are a few things that should signal where you should stop the fast and go into your emergency rations for fast-breaking.

  1. Light-headedness, Faint, or dizziness.
  2. Acute pain that does not disappear after a day or two or continues to get worse. You will have mild discomfort – I’m not talking that type of pain like achy muscles. We are talking unbearable, can’t sleep, type pain.
  3. Heart pounding or erratic. This one should be obvious. This could be as simple as not enough hydration or it could be more serious. Stop immediately and if necessary to seek medical help.
  4. Hunger. I can’t speak to this one as part of the reason I am over 300 lbs is that I can’t tell when I’m hungry verses not hungry. But apparently, there is a distinct separate sensation that you will get on a fast letting you know its time to switch back.
  5. Once you have dropped 5-10% lean muscle mass. This is the one I was hoping to get to and didn’t because I stopped early on my fast. What I found during the fast was that I was consistently losing lean muscle mass along with fat. It wasn’t a lot, about 2.5-3.0 lbs in 2 weeks. Discounting natural body water, I had started out at 54 lbs of lean muscle mass to begin with. While I have no scientific data to back this up, from an analytical perspective, it seems that losing more than 10% of your natural lean muscle mass in any one fasting is potentially dangerous. So ideally, my stopping point, barring any other factor, should have been once my lean muscle mass dropped to 49 lbs. Then get onto a decent nutritional plan, do some strength training to build the muscle back up, and at that point do another fast.
8. I did the fast alone. Not in the, I have no friends, sense of the word, just that many youtube videos of people who have done this type of a fast have made similar comments in that “no one cares you are doing a water fast but everyone will tell you its a bad idea“.

At the same time doing a fast is an intensely personal experience. Almost every religion has at least one period of fasting as part of spiritual cleansing throughout the year. I’m not religious but my feeling is there is likely some type of species advantage to fasting that has been lost throughout the ages and which survives today mostly in the form of these religious traditions.

First off, I’m thinking I want to research more into the history of fasting and see where the custom came from outside of the religious connection.

Second, while I had not told certain loved ones I was doing this for fear that they would not understand, I’ve since come to learn that, now that I have reached this point, a few of them would have been there for me. You get so many emotions and feelings running through you especially as you get more into the 2nd week. I think next time that having their emotional support to go through this is important, even though technically it is not necessary.

9. As much as I had researched the idea of water fasting beforehand, I had set uninformed goals. So the idea that I could go 500, 800, 1100 hours on a fast was based in part on listening to the stories of other people who had done similar fasts. First off, I have a better sense now on where to set goals when doing another fast. Second, I need to admit to what I don’t know. For example, I don’t know if the cramps on day 13 were my body telling me it is hungry or if it something else. I do know that after a day of eating again the cramps went away. So I’m thinking it is not an ulcer or such as the pain would have been persistent after.

In fact, I was sorely tempted to being water fasting again this morning. Instead, I chose to start building up a keto nutritional plan as this was part of my long-term plan anyway. It is just happening 2 weeks ahead of “schedule”.

Just the same, when I try this again I’m going to set more realistic goals based on how my body feels and by watching my lean muscle mass rather than trying to get to 30 days simply because I’ve seen a pile of other people get to 30 days.

I definitely think it was worth doing. From my perspective having gone through it once already, every day after day seven needs to be based on your physical and emotional well being, not some artificial goal.

This is truly one of those things where the only person you are competing with is yourself. And not even then.

 

 

 

 

Eating Better
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