Tag Archives: diet

A Chance to Start Over

It is difficult to reflect upon the past ten days because I am now eager to discover what the next few weeks will bring. I have a chance to change my eating habits, re-form my body and recharge my running as result of this cleansing I’ve undergone.  The post I really want to write will focus on the future – my expectations and my goals. But I promised an honest reflection on my experience and so here it is:

This fast was not hard. You might find that difficult to believe, but it is true. My memories of the hunger in the first few days, the mild headaches, the cravings and other minor side-effects are already fading. They vanish like the memories of pain and exhaustion during a marathon in which you cross the finish line exhilarated at achieving some long-desired goal.

Now I am going to qualify that “not hard” statement. Refusing to eat was the easy part. As I said in an earlier post, I even felt like I was cheating when I ate the few calories that I was allowed in order to partially fuel my daily run. Lots of things were challenging during the fast, but skipping meals wasn’t one of them.

“Give it up!” you say. “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”

And you are right; I need to come clean on the hard stuff. At times, the running was physical and mental torture. I tend to look on the bright side in my Dailymile posts, but here I’ll be completely honest and say that, while I was doing it, sometimes it really felt insane to be out there running at all.

Other negatives:

The sleeplessness of the first few nights was hard on my wife and left me more drained during the following day than I really should have been. This put a crimp in my enjoyment of some of the positive effects of fasting.

For almost the entire fast, I had a very low-level pain or tightness across the front of my body between my shoulder blades and under my neck. I got used to it and it often went unnoticed.

And yes, I was tired for most of the ten days. I attribute this to my running, which consumed a lot of calories and kept my body from fully engaging its “hibernation” mode. Maintaining the high level of mental and physical energy that I was asking was a strain. A lot of people who do these fasts report an elevated energy level and I did have periods of that, but they were not long-lasting.

Oh, I almost forgot. I had to wear a lot of clothes during the fast. My body did not want to waste any calories keeping me warm!

But that is it, and so I am in a quandary; a delicate situation where I want to be careful about what I say about the positives of the ten-day fast that I concluded last night. Many of the comments I received during the fast were in the line of “Fine for you, but I could never do that.” How can I disagree without encouraging a person to do something that, if not done properly, has serious health risks? Hence this disclaimer: If you have a screw loose like me and my posts have made you consider a fast such as this, do so for your own reasons, after careful research and at your own risk. Google things like “fasting for health” and “negative effects of fasting” and make your own decision.

On to the positives! The primary, overwhelming and, to me, most miraculous effect of this fast is the elimination of almost all joint and muscle pain in my body. The laundry list of aches and pains I have accumulated at fifty-five years old include: achilles pain, knee pain, IT band soreness, arthritis/stiffness in my fingers and wrists and a variety of other tiny ailments that bother me every so often. When you start getting old, you learn to accommodate and ignore this stuff. A lot of you are in the same boat, I’m sure.

I am working at the computer now and my hands feel better than they have in years. I can massage my achilles tendons and feel no pain at all. All of the little bodily burdens that I usually ignore…  seem to have disappeared. Once again, part of this is attributable to the reduced strain on the joints, tendons and muscles as a result of the lost weight. But I am now a true believer in the cleansing and detoxification effects of fasting.

Another positive is the increase in mental toughness I believe have achieved. It should mean good things for my running. Leadville again? Maybe. Maybe more.

Although losing weight wasn’t the purpose of the fast, the sixteen-plus pounds have allowed me to start over; to rebuild. Imagine you are a skinny sophomore in high school wanting to develop into a strong, fast athlete. I’m now at the same weight at which I started high school. Yeah, I am getting carried away here, but I feel like I have that chance again. If I eat right and follow the right exercise regimen, I can, even at fifty-five, be strong and fast again.

I have also felt very productive these past ten days. Not preparing and eating meals certainly gave me extra time to get things done. New ideas for stories and blogposts were delivered regularly into my mental inbox. So much so that I need to resist getting carried away with my posts. I’m learning to store them for a rainy day.

Getting the chance to improve my act from an eating/nutrition standpoint is another big plus. All that junk is cleared out of my system. It is up to me to keep it clean. This one will be the hardest to sustain. Even ten days is not enough to rewire my brain. I still love all the food I used to love. All that stuff that I KNOW isn’t good for me. And, despite the fast, despite Leadville, despite all the hard things I’ve done in my life, I’m not as strong as I’d like to be, especially in this area. How can I go ten days resisting all food and not be able to resist the bad stuff? It’s different, believe me.

As they say, I could write a book…

Needless to say, this post has gotten too long. Where’s my editor?

In conclusion (really?) I’m certain to do this again. Maybe it will even become my annual “Fall Cleansing”.

Feel free to comment or ask questions

4 Comments

Filed under Fasting and Health, Personal, Running

Running fast – Day 9, What’s missing?

This fast started as a water-only. I was allowing myself one banana a day to fuel the daily run that I was determined to keep as part of my routine. In the back of my mind, I suspect I regarded this as cheating. After six days, when the banana seemed to be a continuing problem for my stomach, I made the decision to switch to a juice fast. Now I really feel like a cheater. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, I drink five to six ounces of vegetable juice, about thirty-five calories each for a total of one hundred and five. And yet that little bit has eased my minor stomach issues and it apparently has triggered some type of resurrection, running-wise.

I went four and one-quarter miles today, my longest run since I started the fast. The feeling I had while I was running is hard to describe; the background feeling of being slightly numb was present, as it has been for several days. Of course  I was tired, but somehow I also felt stronger than I have for a while, even from before the fast. I’m now sixteen pounds lighter than I was the evening I started and I’m certain that is most of the reason. My legs are carrying a full ten percent less weight than before. Imagine wearing a sixteen pound backpack for a long time and then setting it aside. All the aches and pains that I usual have to deal with while running have been conspicuously absent. Everything that requires moving is a little easier, even if there isn’t much to fuel my muscles. My mile splits were 9:40, 9:13, 8:34 and 8:37. I did work a little harder, but even that seems like a good thing; I could work harder and not feel like I would collapse.

So, what is missing? The almost spiritual feeling of lightness and serenity that I had experienced in March has not been very strong. I’m certain that the main reason is that I am so incredibly busy with getting ready for the release of my book, interacting with the publisher, getting marketing materials ready, on top of all the networking, blogging, facebooking and other social media stuff. Add in the running, and I’m not giving my mind and soul as much time to cleanse as my body is getting. I think I’ll set aside some time tomorrow to just relax and let the joy of the final day of the fast soak in.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fasting and Health, Running

I am not alone

Some writers and runners are following my blog, but I’d like to get a few “fasters” to follow my blog and comment. I’ve tried going to fasting web sites and starting a discussion topic with no luck so far. Then it dawned on me to use the WordPress tag search. Goldmine! I was shocked to find so many bloggers who have done, or are in the middle of, ten-day fasts. I think I’m the only one on a water-only and also running, but all of their experiences are interesting and very similar. One fellow faster has already visited and commented and it is amazing how little things like that can help motivate during a journey such as this.

Many of the posts I read were by people doing juice fasts and I am considering changing to a juice fast and skipping the banana. Here I am at the computer and my stomach is making a fuss about the banana I just ate in preparation for my run. Maybe juice will be easier on my digestive system. It also may help me transition into a much healthier diet once I have finished the fast. I am determined to have healthier eating habits after a lifetime of a marginal, in terms of healthy, diet.

Ah! Blessed sleep! I got a full eight plus hours last night! I woke up many times, but didn’t have much trouble going back under. It is the second day in a row with sufficient sleep. I hope that will make this another higher energy day.

4 Comments

Filed under Fasting and Health, Personal, Running