Phew! Feeling pumped today and I know it's cause I made it through 3.5 days (do not discount that .5 thank you) of Fasting. I was prepared to allow my self some juices and did have 1 or 2 a day when I knew I needed a little kick of energy to get me through. But most of the time it was water, water with lemon, hot water with lemon, more water and then some peppermint tea!
Fasting differs for everyone. The purist form of fasting is abstaining from food and liquid. This is pretty insane to do unless needed for a medical reason or if you're Jesus. The most usual type of fasting is just abstaining from all food and just having water. On the first day of my fast I made it through to dinner quite easily (you'll hear why later) without anything but water. I probably could've gone the whole day but I knew I had training the next morning and wanted to have enough energy to get me through. (I did, and felt great afterwards although my PT did take it a little easier on me knowing I was fasting).
There are a whole variety of "fasts" where you just exclude certain foods or liquids that you know are a struggle, temptation or unhealthful to you: such as a chocoate fast, soft drink fast, coffee fast, sweets fast, meat fast, and a popular one is the Daniel fast (no meat, delicacies, etc - just fruit and veg). All of us have probably tried one or two of these over the years as an accompaniament to diets we've been on and whether they've been successful or not, they are a good excercise in discipline and leaving the desires of the flesh behind you.
Juice or liquid fasts are very popular because they still provide you with a fair amount of nutrition to help you get through your normal day while still denying yourself the foods you'd normally "chew". And this would be the one I would recommend for a 2 - 3 day fast. It's not easy but it's totally possible and incredibly healing to your body and mind.
So why did I decide a fast was needed? There were a few reasons. The main one (and which got me started on the whole idea) was that our church was having 40 days of intermittent fasting and prayer as things have been pretty heavy going there for awhile, and this is an incredible way of really focussing on God and putting other junk out of the way to clear your head, mind and spirit to hear His Word. It's a very biblical practice and so I wanted to be a part of it. (See this link for more info on Fasting and Praying) Everyone was encouraged to fast for all of the last Saturday in the lead up to a time of thanksgiving and celebratory lunch on Sunday. So I wanted to do all of Saturday but I knew I would need a little more time than that to "clear" my mind and totally turn my back on my utter obsession with food to even hope to hear a whisper from God! Besides, my body needed a good detox to boot as well!
So, yes, I also wanted to fast for Health reasons as well. I knew that with the holidays and probably over the last few months I hadn't been eating as well as I could have been and had let some rotten things creep back in. I was experiencing a little pain again in my hands and feet and knew that if I didn't intervene in my diet again, I could maybe slide back into some nasty symptoms. The reason why water fasting is so great, is that it gives your poor overworked body a chance to use all its effort on healing your body, organs, blood etc where needed and doesn't have to use energy to digest, eliminate food. (For further info see this link.)
On Wednesday, we went to Seaworld and I had my first ice cream in like FOREVER. It was Norgen Daas and it was delish but it only took a little while before I had a raging sugar headache. We had great fun but I was exhausted by the time we got home and seeing it was State of Origin night (3rd deciding game - very exciting) we ordered pizzas for tea. I don't know how much I ate but around 9pm that night I started thinking "this is disgusting! Just eating for the sake of eating, and then eating way too much. I've had enough food to last me a few days .... easy." Hence, I began to toss round the idea of starting the fast on Thursday and carrying through till Sunday. I was so sick of not reading my body's signs well and ignoring the "full" feelings and just getting lost in that whole "eat whatever, whenever" ideal. So that was settled!
How did I survive? The toughest times were definitely at night when I had to cook dinner. The first night I was all inspired and it didn't bother me planning lamb chops & mashed potato for dinner, but then while watching that sizzling fat - I almost grabbed one and started chomping. Let me tell you there was lots of finger-licking during the dishing up and clearing up. Friday night I copped out & told hubby to take the kids to Subway. Meanwhile I imbibed in a mousse/juice: lime zest & juice, lemon zest & juice, avocado and banana - HEAVEN! On Saturday night it was just baked beans & toast (had a HUGE day) but I think I snuck in 5 beans when unconsciously licking the spoon after dishing them out. Gosh, it's hard. And I do believe the trick to this is maybe having a nice thick juice just before the meal time so at least you're not feeling massively ravenous.
During the day it's easy to be distracted so I would just take my glass of lemon water around the house with me wherever I went so I could fill up on that whenever I felt hunger pangs. However, you do feel VERY tired ....... oh, the tiredness on the first day is almost crippling. The second day is also hard, but by the 3rd & 4th day I felt heaps better. So, the trick is.......do NOTHING! Make sure you haven't scheduled a whole lot in and make sure you get to laze around a little. The best thing I found was having a quick snooze in the sun, and every day I did this on the lounge by our pool. The sunshine seems to really reenergize you. I would also use this time to soak in God's presence and meditate on Him and listen for anything I was meant to hear. Of course your mind wanders, but I did still get a lot out of these "quiet" times.
And don't forget to go to bed earlier, this isn't actually very hard as you really are waning by the time the kids get in. I'm normally a 10:30/11pm bedtimer but for all 3 days (and the 2 after) I was very happily esconced in bed by 9:30 at the latest. And boy, did I sleep. Blissful. I do have to admit that on the 2nd and 3rd day we fit in a lot because the kids were still on holidays, and I found my exhaustion caught up with me on the Sunday and Monday. I literally couldn't operate after 8pm both nights so still enjoyed early nights.
And of course you need prayer and continual mind conversations to keep reminding yourself: "IT'S JUST FOOD!" You must concentrate on the fact that you are putting the needs of your spiritual life ahead of the desires of your flesh. It pays to be prepared and even though we had a birthday party, a trip to the movies (I just brought along a peppermint tea) and various outings with the kids: they were probably the easiest because you could mentally prepare yourself for what was ahead and "gird up your loins"!
I also had to stop watching cooking shows ...... I readily admit I am food-obsessed so this was all part of breaking the "addiction" so to speak. It wouldn't have helped anyway, but I still found my mind constantly wandering ahead with excitement as to what I could cook for our next meal. Oh, it was quite crushing to know I didn't have that to look forward to ..... but, "IT'S JUST FOOD!" I filled up those times with listening to worship music, and reading. I did away with cookbooks & magazines and immersed myself in a fascinating Francine River's novel that actually, even more, enveloped me in bible stories I totally drank in, learnt from, and really found incredibly encouraging. So, it's also wise to prepare ahead for your leisure time as well!
Breaking the Fast. For me, lunchtime was the perfect time to break the fast. I usually fast during the morning anyway, so I could really look forward to a delicious lunch. I went to the organic markets in the morning and revelled in picking up lots of glorious goodies (fruit and veg) to imbibe in once the fast was over & to also create some dishes I was taking to the church lunch: roast veg cous cous (not for me) and a strawberry and spinach salad (just for me!). I knew my stomach probably couldn't cope with anything crazy greasy or heavy afterwards, and besides, I wanted to be really mindful as I went back into eating. So this is what I broke my fast with:
Fresh, light & zingy. It was just 1 punnet of organic strawberries (YAY! They are in season) sliced, 1 bag of organic baby spinach leaves, a handful of chopped walnuts, 80g of crumbled goats chevre or fetta cheese, and a normal olive oil & lemon juice & dijon mustard dressing with some poppy seeds added for some crunch. Perfect end to the fast, and introduction to eating again. I kept it light-ish for dinner as well with a beef thai salad, minus the noodles, plus some avocado. And I'm yet to have a coffee ...... still!
I cannot tell you how alive and energetic I felt on Monday morning. I went off to gym no troubles at 5:15am, and then planned and executed a fantastic interval walk/run around Burleigh National Park - 2.5kms in total. I'm still trying to listen closely to my body and heed it's hue and cry. And the biggest thing I learnt: don't let idols creep into your lives and take over time from God - even if it is JUST FOOD!