Everyone’s method and definition of self-improvement varies. Mine is put quite simply.
Seek to do things you never thought you could ever do.
Being open and trying new things always results in growth as an individual. Why? Well you’re purposely putting yourself at ground level in unfamiliar territory and now there’s nowhere to go but up to the top floor. You have to go out and research into unfamiliar topics in preparation for this new challenge, otherwise you’ll fail, badly.
Over the past few months I found myself taking food for granted, overeating and just shoving it down my mouth like nothing. I used it as a way to cure boredom. Never really spent time appreciating what I was eating and just how lucky I was to be in the age and living in a country where food was so accessible.
The little self-improvement bell started ringing, what I was going through was an opportunity for growth. What can I do to resolve this unhealthy habit / mindset of food?
I kid you not, the day after as I went on YouTube, I seen a thumbnail of a video about water fasting. We all know sites like Google and Facebook keep track of your searches which allows them to generate suggested content but this wasn’t it. Maybe they have psychics that can read us from the comfort of our devices and we don’t even know it (would be a great Black Mirror episode)!
Anyway, after watching the video, I knew this was the solution. I’m sure there were other ways to go about this but I always lean towards the drastic and cold turkey challenges. Classic example is me going straight to vegetarianism and soon veganism after being a religious meat eater who would never touch fruits or vegetables.
I soon conducted my own research and watched as many videos about it as possible and sought out personal anecdotes. Who am I kidding, Reddit was my source of truth (j/k).
I was a bit hesitant at first, but I started to think about the hunter / gatherer age.
As humans, our ancestors have been around for about 6 million years (modern form of humans, about 200,000), while agriculture has only been around for 12,000 years.
Surely there were times when a human had to go days without nothing but water?
We are now far from that and live in a world where food is widely accessible. Soon we became conditioned to think we need to eat every so often. The whole idea of breakfast, snack, lunch and dinner (dessert after if your parents were awesome).
Not only has our relationship with food been conditioned this way, but our body as well.
Sometimes when we miss one of our meals of the day, we feel crappy and empty. Nothing bad is really going on, its just that our body has been conditioned to expect some food at that point in time. Now it’s freaking out because you’ve failed to provide it.
I wanted to break this conditioning, so water fast it was.
I’ll list some benefits of water fasting and then we’ll jump straight into my experiences for each day.
- Having no calories in your system soon results in your body using your fat stores for energy, this not only results in fat loss but boosts the process of losing fat if you’re working out.
- Increases insulin sensitivity due to less fluctuation in blood sugar levels.
- Improves body repair, recovery and healing from decreased inflammation.
- Lowers your stress levels, decreases blood pressure and rejuvenates the body.
- Increases immunity due to better cell resistance.
- Enables reduction in cancer cell proliferation.
- Slows down aging and cognitive decline.
- Lowers the risk of heart disease (reference).
- Solves digestive problems such as gastritis, irritable bowels, constipation, diarrhea, gas, dyspepsia, and loss of appetite.
- Also an opportunity for emotional and spiritual introspection. People have found that have greater control over their thoughts and diet after completing the fast.
Throughout the whole day I felt fine physically. This was no surprise as I would of still had energy stored from the food I ate the previous day.
Mentally however, it was hard. My mind kept telling me to eat something, I had urges. This was the consequence of ignoring what I had been conditioned to. My mind was screaming at me asking why the in the world I haven’t eaten in 36 hours. I knew this was going o be more of a mental battle than anything.
Woke up feeling like a well oiled machine that was ready to take on the day. Come afternoon, complete crash. Lack of energy and was going through a little light headedness. Even walking was a real conscious effort.
5 days prior, I had worked out my shoulders at the gym and I woke up to find that they were really sore. I assume this was because my energy stores were depleted and the muscles now no longer had something to use to recover.
I wasn’t hungry at all but still did have an appetite for food.
Started to feel energy coming back to me. I think my body was starting to realise what was happening and therefore started using my fat stores to use as energy. I didn’t have an appetite for food at all.
What was more interesting is that my sense of smell had heightened, I could smell food from afar and it was quite potent. I walked out of work with a workmate and smelt something really strong, it was some kind of spiced dish and it smelt amazing. I asked him if he could smell it too, to which he replied ‘nope’. I soon hopped on a train and as my carriage passed a few restaurants I could smell food! I take the same train everyday and this had never happened before. I arrived home to find my parents having dinner and I could smell the dressing from the salad (are you kidding me?). I felt superhuman.
I woke up feeling awesome, but from 12pm onwards I started to decline. Soon by 5pm, I was just exhausted and felt like I could be sick. When I got home I took a cold shower and everything was okay again. Cold showers are basically a life hack I use and I’ll talk a little more about it towards the end of this.
This was the best I had ever felt since fasting. The past days I had thought about food and was looking forward to breaking my fast, but today, food was last on my mind. I did feel a little bit uncomfortable at times, my stomach felt really tight and felt like if I had consumed anything, it would pop.
Towards the end of the day I was overwhelmed with a sense of happiness because I had stuck it out, because believe me, there were times I thought ‘what are you doing to yourself man’. Also, people at work thought I was crazy and I was actually starting to believe I was as well. Was going to just end it early.
Still woke up with great energy like yesterday and again, food was last on my mind. My appetite for food was non-existent. I was actually contemplating extending my fast by a couple of days but knew it was time to end. I spent the day going to my local grocer and markets to buy food in preparation for breaking my fast.
It was a nice and lifting experience, not in a sense that I knew I would be eating food again soon but that I was starting my relationship with food again on a clean slate.
Only a couple of items here but heres what I did to ensure I made it to the end of the 7 days.
I’ve been taking cold showers, morning and night for about two years now but this little hack came in handy more than ever before during the fast.
In a nutshell, cold showers:
Lowers your cortisol (stress) levels.
Gets your metabolism going.
Kickstarts your body as it needs to work to get your body temperature back up.
Gives you a great sense of alertness.
Don’t isolate yourself from food
Just because you can’t consume it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. I found that the smell and aroma of food helped me greatly, it was kind of like a motivator for me to keep going. Knowing what I was missing out on now, but what I’ll soon have again.
I’m so happy I did this water fast, I’m writing this as I eat a watermelon and oh my is it ever so sweet.
A benefit of the water fast was that you have greater control over your thoughts and this was something I definitely experienced. I had recently been losing my sense of presence and wanted to gain that back. This fast helped.
I plan to take advantage of the fact that my body has been completely cleaned out and detoxified by being much more conscious of what I eat and how much I eat. I plan to cut out as much processed food as possible and substitute it with whole foods.
I know people will definitely ask about my weight loss. I started at 75.8kg and finished the fast at 72.3kg. So 3.5kg was lost, which is insane for 7 days. I’m quite high in body fat, maybe 15–18% and therefore did notice quite a difference. However, the purpose of this fast wasn’t for me to lose weight, this was just a bonus.
Please note, in no way is this article meant to serve as a guide or motivator for readers to start their own water fast. Please conduct your own research and see your doctor beforehand.
Hope you enjoyed, happy eating!