Many people often do some kind of detox after the excess of Christmas and/or New Year but I continued in the festive spirit in to the early days of March! Since my bicycle accident last month I haven’t really been able to do any exercise so last Monday I stopped eating chocolate, crisps, junk food etc but it wasn’t until Tuesday that the idea of doing this water fasting entered my mind.
As the name suggests, water fasting is where you don’t eat any food (not even chewing gum or breath fresheners!) and only drink water (no tea or other drinks) for a time period. Medical advice generally suggests anywhere from 24 hours to three days as the maximum time to go without food. When I started this challenge on Thursday morning (March 8th) at 11:11 am (*) I was really only thinking to do 24 hours.
A former colleague of mine did it for 72 hours a few years ago which was when I first heard of such a thing. I was really interested to hear her experiences and the idea of cleaning out one’s system and that was the main reason I did this experiment of sorts! I’d like to be able to say I did it for spiritual or weight-loss reasons but that’s not really true although I was very curious to see how many kilos I lost. People who know me are probably saying I only did it to save a bit of money!
Experts say such fasting can help reset certain biological processes and reinvigorate your health. Furthermore, it encourages weight loss, reduces body fat, lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and may even slow ageing and reduce the risk of serious conditions. I don’t really believe any of that too much but I do like a challenge!
I spoke to a co-worker about it on Wednesday and he also said he’d done 72 hours last year and that I should build up to the fasting slowly. I had been reducing my portions and increasing gaps between meals (definitely no snacking!) not that six hours or so between breakfast and lunch is really much preparation. Most doctors agree that healthy humans can go up to eight weeks without food as long as they have water. Unless you get stranded on a desert island, I really cannot see any reason to voluntarily put your body through all that!
For three days zero calories entered my body unless toothpaste has any. That was the only non-water thing I consumed and to be fair I did brush my teeth more than usual to help compensate for the lack of any other taste. I’m no stranger to giving up alcohol or unhealthy food for over 100 days but I’ve never done anything like this. My original idea was just 24 hours and to maybe attempt 48 and 72 hours in later months but my impatience got the better of me and I decided to push on and see if I could do it sooner rather than later.
Less than two hours into the fasting and I was already feeling a little faint and shaking a bit but that really was just nerves from the task ahead! Two of the most difficult hours were actually just five or six hours in when I had a sizeable break and would normally have eaten a late lunch during that time. Once beyond missing that first meal it really did become easier and that’s when I realised I could actually do longer than intended. Three days became the target and I then decided to just round it up to 75 hours.
The mornings were a little strenuous for brief moments and sleeping for a decent amount of time proved difficult too. It is said that you should do such fasting when the body doesn’t require too much energy but on the middle day it was more difficult as I had no work to take my mind off it. I really was fine and felt good when I was at teaching and could focus on something else.
For the 75 hour duration I recorded many details including toilet breaks, water bottles consumed and I even made notes throughout day one to record my thoughts and feelings. Such notes became less and less as I went on and very little was actually written down for the last two and a bit days. Signs of hunger really were quite limited once I was really up and running. My stomach rumbled a bit now and again but only for a few minutes here and there. Headaches are often predicted to happen during such diets but I only had a couple of brief dalliances with such symptoms. The weight fell off me in the first 24 hours, way more than I ever expected, but it calmed down after that as my body got conditioned to such a lifestyle. Now it’s all over I really have to make sure this experience doesn’t set the precedent for rapid weight loss in the future. I have no doubt I will put most of it back on in the next few weeks!
All I could think about during these last three days was the challenge and food! It certainly made me realise how much food organises your life! We are all so entrenched in the idea of having three meals a day and it is such a habit of society in believing that is the right way. I remember reading ahead of our trip to Vietnam in 2013 that the locals tend to just eat when they’re hungry rather than being dictated by the clock. Of course I’m not going to change my ways after this challenge but it did open up my eyes to how far the human body can actually be pushed. However, food really is one of the great pleasures in life and to do without would be very dull indeed!
Toilet Breaks: 37
Water consumed: 12 litres
Weight lost: 3.2 kilos
(*) Pocky time in Japan as four of these chocolate coated sticks standing up looks like 11:11)