Wednesday, June 11, 2014

10 Reasons I Fast Every Monday

Monday has been my fasting day for the last two years.

For 24 - 36 hours, starting every Sunday evening, I don't eat any food (but drink plenty of pure water).

This is also known as "intermittent fasting".

I realize this might sound like sheer craziness to some.

(It probably would have sounded ridiculous to me when I was young and knew it all, and prided myself on my ability to eat whatever I wanted without consequence. Oh, the wonderful naivety of youth!)

But there's plenty of good reasons why more and more people are turning to intermittent fasting to help them lose weight, increase their energy and break negative food cycles. Here's ten of them...

1. Every day, our body expends huge amounts of energy on digesting food. This is the reason you often feel sleepy/lethargic after a big meal. You're body has diverted it's energy to the digestive organs. 

It's been said that the amount of energy used in food digestion every day, is the same amount needed to run a marathon every day. Pretty amazing stuff! When we fast, it frees up all that energy for other things.

2. When freed from the burden of constantly digesting food, our body diverts energy into cleansing/detoxing. It starts clearing out old junk and toxins that are lodged in our organs and fat cells, and starts getting rid of them. This is the real reason that we may experience aches and pains or weakness while fasting. It's not because our body requires food, but a cleansing reaction as our body releases old gunk and toxins.

By the way, one (often overlooked) reason that some people can't lose weight no matter how hard they try, is because their body is storing toxins in their fat cells (in order to protect vital organs from coming into contact with them) and it's a survival mechanism for the body to hold onto those fat cells, thank you very much! Fasting and detoxing can help with this problem. 

3. Fasting turns a spotlight onto our relationship with food. You begin to realize that much of the food we eat is not out of true hunger, but out of social conformity, emotional dependance, boredom or addictions to certain foods. Fasting allows us to break that cycle and gives us a new perspective on food.

Naturally, it also makes you appreciate your food more!

4. Fasting helps to clear out stuck emotions and issues. I don't fully understand why this is, perhaps part of the cleansing process mentioned above, but fasting can bring bottled up emotions and issues to the surface so they can be acknowledged and healed. I try to be extra gentle with myself during fasting days.

5. Fasting allows our body to concentrate on healing. When we are sick or emotionally upset, we often lose our appetite, and this is one way our body tries to tell us that it needs to fast, and focus it's energies on healing.

6. Fasting encourages a feeling of lightness and stillness within, which is great for promoting spiritual growth. Fasting is a great time to practice meditation or simply sitting quietly with yourself and listening to your thoughts and sensations within your body (without all that grumbling and gurgling associated with digesting food and moving it along all those meters of digestive tract!).

So many of the great spiritual leaders down through the ages practiced fasting as a way to draw closer to God and transcend the physical plane.

I notice that I'm much more switched on to my body and can pick up on feelings and sensations that might have flown under my radar before. (Yoga is also great for developing body awareness.)

7. Fasting grows our self-discipline and confidence that we can control our impulses. I always feel a great sense of accomplishment when I successfully complete a fast.

8. Fasting promotes mental clarity, as our body purges itself of physical and emotional toxins, and diverts energy to mental processes.

9. Fasting allows our digestive organs to have a well-earned rest on a regular basis. Eating too much of the wrong foods, or just eating too much period, overtaxes our organs and wears them out prematurely.

10. Fasting resets our body's natural feedback system. When we eat whatever we want, whenever we want, our body is so busy struggling to keep up with the onslaught, it's cries for help (otherwise known as symptoms) go unnoticed. But when we cleanse our bodies, symptoms and feedback become more evident. 

In his book "The Miracle of Fasting", Paul Bragg tells the story of one woman who was addicted to cigarettes. He started her on a long fast, and said she was allowed to keep smoking, but she wasn't allowed to eat. By Day 3, her body was in serious cleanse mode and when she put a cigarette in her mouth, she felt sick and began vomiting. It only took a few times for this to happen before she was able to throw out the cigarettes for good, because her newly cleansed body was simply repulsed by them.

I won't lie, sometimes fasting is hard. Really hard! A 24 hour fast usually feels fine to me (apart from the occasional food cravings), but when I continue on for 36hrs, I sometimes experience fatigue and weakness (cleansing symptoms), but I've discovered that drinking a glass of water with 1/2 teaspoon of activated charcoal really clears up and discomfort. Oh yes, allow me to introduce you to activated charcoal, one my favorite remedies in my first aid kit.

Activated charcoal is an incredible substance, which has the ability to adsorb more than 100x it's weight in toxins, chemicals and poisons, and then carries it safely out of the body (via the bowels). This is why it helps with detox symptoms, by adsorbing the toxins being released from fat cells or organs and removing it from the body.

I usually end my fast with something "light" such as fruit or a green smoothie, before gradually transitioning back into heavier meals. I don't eat meat or wheat, so my "heavy" meals consist of vegetables and gluten-free grains or some dairy. 

This week, I'm doing something different. I didn't plan this ahead of time, but after I started my fast I had a really emotional experience (partly due to circumstances, but perhaps partly because of emotional issues coming to the surface during the fast) and simply didn't feel like eating, so I decided to do my first ever 3-day fast. 

As I write this, I've almost completed Day 3, and feeling fine so I may carry on and do a 7-day fast (Item #10 on my 40 Before 40 List). At this point, I don't feel any hunger or desire for food, and my energy levels are good. In fact, last night I only slept 3 hours (long story!), but I'm feeling fine today. I'm just keeping up my water intake, and taking some activated charcoal each day to clean up any toxins being released.

I'm just going to listen to my body and if I continue to feel fine, I'll go on for 7 days. I'm keeping a journal, and will share my experiences in a future blog post.

If you've never fasted before, please start off small and work your way up. Do NOT attempt a 3 or 7 day fast without building up to it (preferably 6 months or more of weekly fasting). If you have chronic or severe health conditions, you should speak to a medical professional before undertaking a fast. 

My first ever fast only lasted 14 hours, but I didn't beat myself up over it, I just made a commitment to go a little bit longer each week until I'd built up to 36 hours. Knowing that I have the self-discipline to do that is a powerful and priceless feeling.

You Might Also Like:
My Top 7 Most Useful Home Remedies
The Cure For Cancer...Is In Your Pantry?
A Diary Of Quitting Gluten (One Month Update)

No comments: