What I learned from a 4 day water fast…
So you might be asking, what is a blog about a 4 day water fast doing on a marketing/business blog page?! Great question! It’s because some of the fittest and some of the unhealthiest people I know are business owners, and it’s interesting how differently we all cope with stress.
I’ve always been pretty committed to good health – physical, mental and emotional. And having lost my husband to a massive heart attack a couple of years ago, I’m even more committed to health and sharing of information. So after a few very stressful months I just felt like it was time to have a physical detox, and by water fasting, you are removing from your body all the backed up toxins that your body stores (mainly in the colon), and to activate the process called Autophagy, where the body recycles old parts to create new parts. Studies have found that autophagy can lead to a decreased risk of cancer, heart disease and alzheimers. Other studies found that autophagy can increase longevity by regenerating our cells.
For me… I was doing this for the health benefits, but also as an experiment to change my attitude towards food and stop eating for comfort, which is such a common thing in Western society where we have an abundance of choice and volume of food. I grew up in a family where we were rewarded with food! If I did well in my dancing exams, I got a full pavlova to myself, and I ate it too! It’s extremely fortunate I have a good metabolism, but this kind of attachment to food is unhealthy so I wanted to cleanse myself from the notion of ‘needing’ food other than to sustain myself and fuel me with healthy options.
I am also practising mindfulness very seriously, newly practising yoga and meditating, so I wanted to be more congruent with my newfound appreciation of the Eastern practises and living a more Buddhist way of life. And just to ensure that you don’t think I’ve completely gone all zen and not my normal self… I wanted to drop a few kgs after putting on some weight when I gave myself a good dose of adrenal burnout this past year.
So what is a 4 day water fast? It’s when you stop eating any kind of food, and only drink water. In my case, each morning I had a large glass of hot water and some lemon juice squeezed into it. And that is it for 4 days. Please understand that I am NOT a doctor or anything medical, and this has all come from my research via Dr Google and chatting with friends. Consequently, there are people that should never contemplate a four day fast, including children, pregnant women, elderly, people with heart or thyroid conditions, diabetes or blood pressure concerns.
BENEFITS OF FASTING:
- 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
- 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.
So here’s how I went, day by day on my 4 day water fast…
DAY 1 –
Friday. My first official fasting day! It’s always a challenge when you know you can’t eat for the next 4 days, but in reality, it’s only a short time and I love the notion of mind control and being in charge of my thoughts and challenging myself.
I weighed in at 65.2 kg in the morning, and went about my normal day. I did some work, went to the chiro, and then headed to play an hours worth of tennis with a new group. I didn’t feel any hunger until around ‘lunch time’ after the tennis, but just got stuck back into my work. Towards the later part of the afternoon I did feel a bit sluggish and thinking a bit about food, but I have a very strong attitude and pushed it out of my mind. It really is mind over matter.
I went out that evening to the local pub with some girlfriends. I was interested to see that I was feeling very vulnerable and a bit insecure for some reason. I was noticing how much people bond over food and alcohol (which I was having neither) and I wanted to be anywhere but there. Not because I wanted to eat and drink so much, but I wasn’t feeling the vibe at all and starting to get quite tired. I went home at 9.00pm, and chilled out for an hour before heading to bed.
DAY 2 –
Saturday. I woke up at 6.00am feeling quite ‘normal’ except for the bad breathe feeling, and headed out to early morning yoga. It was great to not feel gassy/windy at all but I was still feeling quite vulnerable and a bit emotional, far more intensified since I had stopped eating. It really showed me how much I comfort and reward myself with food. (Not having that as an emotional crutch left me feeling really exposed.)
I was also very careful to drink enough water. I was at Cronulla so went for a lovely walk (slowish) along the esplanade and found a beautiful spot on the coastline and had a great coaching call with my performance coach – I was very in tune with my feelings and feeling very clear. I then watched my sons play soccer for a few hours and headed home in the late afternoon, admittedly starting to feel pretty tired and light headed. Not very hungry at all surprisingly.
The biggest symptom was actually how cold I was feeling, I did feel like my thermostat was really out. Once I was home around 4.30pm I felt like I’d hit a brick wall with energy levels and became a lounge lizard for the rest of the evening (which I never do!) and went to bed at 10.30pm after falling asleep during a movie. I just pretended that dinner didn’t exist and the kids helped themselves to food. I was feeling exceptionally tired and weary, muscles are sore, most likely from the yoga earlier in the day and feeling a bit nauseous. Very, very happy that I didn’t have to go anywhere as I don’t think I could have.
DAY 3 –
Sunday. Woke up naturally around 8.00am, but did not want to get up out of bed at all. I was quite lightheaded and feeling very ordinary – almost hungover. I weighed myself and I was 63.2kg. My goal for the fast wasn’t weight loss, but admittedly it was great to shed a couple of kgs that had crept on over the past year.
I read a bit, then dozed on an off until about 11.30am. My bowel was really feeling a lot of pressure and I felt nauseous when I got up, but no bowel movements, which I found disappointing because the whole point of a fast is to clear your body out of toxins… and so far that hadn’t happened! (Although possibly a compliment to my current healthy eating, no land-based meat for the past 5 years, next to no dairy and no caffeine for many years.) My bad breathe was almost back to normal, and apart from a couple of burps that’s all the toxin movement I’ve experienced for the full 4 days!
It was a gorgeous day so I dragged myself downstairs and did a little gardening and some sweeping out by the pool, but got very lightheaded when I had to pick it all up so gave up on that idea! I did a long meditation around 2.00pm which was more awesome than normal and had some fantastic visions of things I want to do in the near future. I journaled some amazing stuff for over an hour – with some real clarity around some old issues. I was really focused and although I have a constant weird feeling in my stomach and light-headedness… I was able to give awesome attention to what I was doing and I loved that. It’s just good to not move too much!
Meal times are the weirdest. I just work through or keep busy. Time is going so slow without the distraction of eating or preparing food for my family! They are just on DIY until I return to eating. I did want to go out today to a market to see a friend’s stall, but there’s no way I should be driving unless I need to! So, it was a day at home for me!
I don’t feel so vulnerable or emotional by Day 3. And I fantasise a little about food, but all very healthy food, not junkie sugary treats which is interesting. Hunger isn’t the problem when you’re fasting, it’s incredible when you turn your mind to it that you can literally switch it off, it’s the fatigue and the sluggishness that I’m having the issues with. The evening was very cruisy, I read until about 9.30pm and then went to sleep, something I never do!!
DAY 4 –
Monday. I woke up during the night a couple of times but went straight back to sleep. Very animated and crazy dreams. Got up at 7.00am and felt a lot better than the day before! Although I do note that my heart is really racing, I measured it and while I was resting it was 90 beats a minute, and then slowed down to 80 beats. Which isn’t really a resting heart rate!
I weighed myself, now down to 62.4kg, so that’s pretty much 3kg weight loss in just over 3 days.
I had a very productive day working. Thankfully I was working from a home office and I got some very good work done. I have read that before that brain fog really lifts and you become really productive, and I’d say I was more focused than when I am eating. It’s just the lack of energy that is surprising me. Last time I did a four day fast I was out and about on Day 4, driving the car and taking my kids and dog to the beach. This time, I am nowhere near as enthused to do anything but sit at my desk and work.
Happily, I’m not thinking too much about food. I was considering that I might go another day, but I had meetings the next day and just couldn’t risk feeling that drained. By 6.30pm I tucked into a bowl of pumpkin soup and some buttered toast. It tasted good, but nowhere near as ‘celebratory’ as you would think! It took about half an hour to eat it. I got to bed around 10.00pm (which is early for me) and woke up the next day ready feeling pretty normal! I didn’t feel like going for a jog, but aside from the weariness, everything felt quite normal. I waited until 11am before I had my home made fruit juice (my usual breakfast) – because it’s not wise to hid solid food straight away. And by and large, Tuesday was a very normal day and I ended it at yoga in the evening.
I did this fast about 5 years ago when I was still eating land-based meat but I don’t think drinking caffeine. The first day was just as easy. The second and third days were rough. And the fourth day was a breeze. So not all that different… except… my bowel movements! From about Day 2 they were quite exceptional and my body was releasing A LOT of toxins. There is no way you would want to be away from the house for that period. And my breathe was a lot worse.
So this time around, leading up to the fast I had been eating a lot more salads, vegetables and fruit for a long period, and fish once a day. I haven’t drunk caffeine in years and cut down my sugar a lot before the fast so I didn’t get the terrible headaches. I have also been intermittent fasting for about a month where you eat for an 8 hour period only – I usually eat/drink breakfast at 11.00am and try to have dinner by 6.00pm. So what has pleasantly surprised me is the great state my body is actually in, because I didn’t not have any bowel movements at all after my initial evacuation of the dinner I had the day before. It was actually a little disappointing, but I figure it’s great that my body isn’t storing all of these toxins and I’m so committed to staying healthy and looking after myself as I approach 50, that I will commit to doing this 4 day fast every turn of the season.
SPECIAL NOTE: I’ll repeat, I’m not a doctor, have no medical training and doing this purely of my own back. If you want to do it yourself, please do not do so because of my article. Do your own research, there are lots of warning signs that tell you stop straight away.
So there you go, my 4 day water fast summation! Hope it inspires you to do some of your own research and improve your health, because as business owners, we are exposed to incredible pressures and unique stresses that many people just don’t understand. Here’s to your good health!
If you want to speak with Melissa in greater detail about how to get more out of the content you are creating, and how to have a functional website, blog, e-newsletter or marketing plan that will enhance organic SEO, then please contact us and we can have an obligation-free chat.