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.
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