Fasting is my newest experimental interest (obsession?). While it may seem foolish to intentionally go without eating I think there is a lot of value in this ancient practice. It really speaks to me on a few different levels.
First, our bodies and minds (but I repeat myself) evolved in a world where famine was inevitable. We have mechanisms in the body that not only work to address periods without food but actually work better in fasted states. We did not evolve to have access to glucose 24/7 and it taxes our internal systems to be constantly in a feasted state. It is beneficial to my health to fast from time to time.
Second, it is a good Stoic/Buddhist practice. If free will exists, then I want to exercise it. I don’t want to be a slave to a few molecules of sugar or a pleasurable sensation. Food is a tool that can serve many important purposes, but like all tools it can be dangerous if used improperly. Far too often I’ve turned to food in times of stress or to get pleasure, I let the food take control of my actions. I don’t want that to be the case, I want to have a healthy, happy relationship with food and fasting helps me accomplish that.
Third, I love experimenting on myself to see what I’m capable of. I jump into new things just to see how it feels and to break myself out of my comfort zone (comfort is my number one enemy). I don’t want to look back at my life and think “dang, I wish I would have tried that” … I think that thought process will be inevitable but at the very least I don’t want to see much wasted, stagnant time. Fasting is an experiment to see how my body reacts. Can I work out without food in my belly? What happens when I don’t eat for a few days? What times or situations do I struggle the most with food? What are my stressors and how can I handle them without hummus? My life is a test against myself and the ideal me.
Lastly, the studies showing the long-term health benefits really speak to me. I’m almost 40 years old and I know that if I want a chance at a healthy heart and mind later in life then I need to start building healthy long-term habits now. I’ve seen members of my family and friend’s families face diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and other health issues that accompany age sooner than necessary. I don’t want to be a burden on my family and I want to be able to enjoy as much life as possible, and that means taking responsibility for my health now instead of later. Fasting is a tool to help me with that. Studies show that it helps with treatment and prevention of obesity and cardiovascular problems and slows aging. There may be future studies that bring these results into question, but with the best information I have available it seems that fasting is a great regular practice to add to my health routine or, at the very least it is not harmful when done responsibly.
I’m currently about 36 hours into a 42(ish) hour fast and I actually feel really good. I’m no longer hungry (but I was yesterday) and I have a fair amount of energy. I also have a sort of mental, euphoric high. My mind feels at the top of it’s game (which is another evolutionary feature, we get sharper as we have access to less food). I’ve been doing the 8/16 Intermittent fasting pretty consistently for quite a while now and I think that was necessary to get me comfortable fasting for over 42 hours, and I’m glad I’m at this point. I think this will become a weekly thing for me.
Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backward? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Wanna become penpals and send each other letters in the mail?
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Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Also, I wrote a book about a cross-country bicycle ride I did!
“Wandering Oak: A Rite of Passage”