I completed a 12-day water fast on October 14th, 2017. Today is December 6th, 2017; I am ready to reflect on my experience. I will focus on: the time leading up to my fast; the fast itself; and the impact the water fast has had in the 53 days since completion.
Recommended Links for: What is water fast? Why would one do water fasting? Benefits? Concerns?
- Medical News Today- “All you need to know about water fasting.”
- Healthline- “Water Fasting: Benefits and Dangers”
My decision to complete a water fast came after dedicated research, a long-term nutritional diet, and in consultation with healthcare professionals throughout the process. Please always consult a healthcare professional when making decisions about your health. Death is a real possibility with water fasting and safety should be a top concern.
What Led Up To Water Fast?
The decision to water fast evolved over four years time. Despite being overweight, doctors found me to be overall healthy and cut me more slack than I deserved. My worst diagnosis being PCOS which was causing hormone issues giving justification to my weight issues. My most prominent personal complaint has been major back issues, which I began to address with a chiropractor. Seeking chiropractic help is one of the best decisions I have ever made. In late 2013, I became self-aware of my deteriorating health beyond weight issues. At this time, I experienced a feeling of “drunkenness” when consuming fruits or sugar-laden foods.
Checking In with the Doctor
Due to the “drunkenness” issue, I decided to consult my physician which did not provide me any answers. A few days later, I received a call regarding some concerns on my PAP Smear. I followed up with my OB-GYN the same week. At this time, the doctor advised of pre-cancerous cells in all four quadrants of my cervix. Fortunately, the doctor stated no reason to rush into any drastic measures. I took this time to research both of my new-found issues and look for commonalities, treatments, and cures.
At a Crossroad
All of a sudden, there is this huge decision which impacts the rest of my life. Do I take part in modern medicine, treating the symptoms and pains with no real cure and potential negatives? Or, do I take the alternative route? Making drastic changes to the way I live and the nutrition I provide my body. I chose the latter. Since changing your life is a big undertaking, I took a phased approached to alter my relationship with food.
The Battle Ahead of Me
The wealth of information available to anyone with internet access is mind-boggling. Sifting through to find useful information is almost a full-time job. I stopped consuming gluten, soy, corn, fructose, added sugars, substitute sugars, and excess salt to help balance my gut flora. This change cleared my feelings of “drunkenness” issue immediately since the feeling was triggered by the consumption of sugars. For anyone who has not quit sugar permanently or temporarily, this task alone is a challenge. Sugar is highly addictive and causes severe withdrawal symptoms, also known as, “keto flu” or “carb flu.” Soon after, I decided to consume only Organic and non-GMO foods with no chemicals in the ingredients. I finally landed on a low-carb, high fat, intermittent-fasting diet.
Initially, I lost weight on the ketogenic diet, but not as well as most others. My diet evolved to seasonal base while keeping to the major philosophies of low carb, high fat, and Organic/non-GMO/chemical ingredient-free. Over the course of the next four years, I added and eliminated foods one by one to determine tolerance. This period was challenging with lots of ups and downs on the scale. However, I did manage to reduce my weight in this timeframe and have since been deemed free of pre-cancerous cells.
So Why Did I Water Fast?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, water fasting has been on the table for four years. I considered it “extremist” used mostly by the sickest and healthiest of people. Following a ketogenic diet for years with amazing interior physical results and mediocre exterior physical results left me feeling defeated. The diet improved my health in so many ways, but the mirror and scale kept me in a chokehold. I was there at the extremist option. My body would not release weight, so I needed to let go of everything that ailed me, including food. With the way I had been eating over the past few years, I felt I was healthy enough nutritionally to overcome the potential risks, which include death.
Timing Is Everything
During the Dirty Windshield 2017 Road Trip, the idea of water fasting revitalized itself in my mind. After the rush from completing a 10-mile trek through San Francisco on the first day, water fasting was all I could think about. Within days and mentally ready, I decided to start a water fast upon completion of the trip. To prepare adequately, I refreshed my previous research on the subject. Six weeks prior, I took the opportunity to quit my 9-5 and grab life by the horns starting dirtywindshield.com. Since I worked from home, I no longer could make excuses for not trying the final frontier, water fasting. The decision scared me because with water fasting comes virtually no productivity. Scary with the blossoming website. Despite this and with support from my husband, I embarked on my 12-day journey.
Why I Chose Water Fasting Over Juice Fasting
Looking at all of the information, I felt that water fasting was safer and more comfortable for me. Lean muscle mass loss happens with any form of fasting. From my research, it appears that not consuming enough juice daily during juice fasting can increase these losses. I did not believe monitoring so heavily was beneficial on mental and emotional levels. Also, I did not want to be in a position where I always felt hungry.
Properly re-feeding my body post-water fast motivated my decision. In my opinion, my body was not properly absorbing water and nutrients, so that made full elimination more enticing. It made more sense to complete a juice fast after a traditional fast.
Main Goals of Water Fast:
- Detoxify body
- Enter ketosis
- Proper replenishment (re-feed) post-completion
- Correct absorption issues
- Determine trigger foods
- Deplete glucose in the body to where nutritional ketosis is possible long-term
- Spiritual development
- Improve relationship with food
- Understand hunger
My Fasting Experience
After mentally preparing for the better part of two weeks, I began the journey with a positive mindset. The day my husband and I returned home from the road trip was a sleep day. I did eat one small meal toward the end of the night, so I considered my fast to start at 8:00 pm on October 2nd. I began to re-feed on October 14th at 3:30 pm, just shy of 12 full days. The next few segments will be a brief overview; please view the entire log for day by day information.
I spent a lot of time alone during my fast, other than evenings with my husband the few short outings/errands noted in the logs. Meditation and watching developmental type videos filled much of my day. The decision to not eat food for an extended period provided me with much mental clarity. I can’t even begin to explain the freedom I felt while ignoring food though I was still doing some cooking. Hours of my day returned to me free of charge. I won’t miss the now broken habit of always thinking about food. **Please Note** I had been free of sugar and chemical laden foods for some time, so my experience from the onset was likely less painful than most.
Surprisingly, most days I felt very energized. However, I tired quickly even when doing small tasks. I did not feel the typical feelings associated with hunger. The feelings would come and go in minutes without any actual cravings. I was noticeably lighter with tighter, glowing skin. I tend to have lymph build up in my armpits and thighs, and this drained somewhat during the fast. Starting on day 7, I experienced mild acid reflux for the first time in my life. I determined that I drank excess alkaline water and reduced my stomach acid too much. (Yes, acid reflux is caused by low stomach acid, antacids only make it worse.) Once I switched to spring water, the acid reflux did not return.
The initial emotional rollercoaster of water fasting surprised me a bit at first. My research advised of heightened emotions, and I indeed experienced this. My range would go from extreme happiness to crying my eyes out to very loving. A great experience overall, a great sense of feeling. There were times when I felt I should have been more emotional but rather stayed more focused, calm, and in the moment. Over the course, my emotions did seem to normalize with a more general happiness feeling.
The sense of calmness in my body is the most notable standout for me here. I felt calm, I spoke calmly, others noted my calmness. Focus, clarity, In Tune, grateful are words that define my water fasting journey. For the past few years, my monkey mind continually rushed around aimlessly. But in this reflective, calmed state I broke away from this. I consider this an enormous triumph in line with my philosophies.
Breaking The Fast
The decision to break the fast was at my husband’s suggestion. Despite feeling great and ready to continue, I decided that I should spend more time focusing on the healthy re-feed. In retrospect, I wish I had stayed fasting longer, but I am sure I will fast again eventually. To be honest, I thought fasting was much more comfortable than re-feeding. My concern was that if I waited for “true hunger” or low willpower that I might not re-feed as slowly and carefully.
Overall, I am pleased with the results of my re-feed. I do feel that I initially made some eating choices that I was not ready for and would not do next time as quickly. I believe consuming bone broth to be the best decision I made in regards to re-feeding correctly. It has since become a staple in my cooking. Another valuable takeaway here is to make sure the food is cooked well, pureed or minced, and thoroughly chewed to aid digestion when reintroducing food.
Long-Term Effects and Impact on Life
Being overweight most of my life was something that I mostly accepted. I, now, understand how I subconsciously tormented myself. Once playing a victim, I now realize my bad habits and decisions got me to where I was. Like many women, I had a weak relationship with food and also with myself. Not eating made me appreciate food more than ever before.
In the time since the water fast, I threw away my scale. The old ball and chain that held me down in life. I do not believe I would have taken this monumental step had I not completed this water fast. My relationship with food changed drastically as well. Now, I eat smaller portions, significantly less protein, considerably more vegetables. I continue to follow a ketogenic style diet but have learned to feel less guilt when I have a treat. (I do believe my subconscious guilt when having a treat was weighing me down figuratively and literally.) The effort to water fast and re-feed nutritionally resetting my body for a healthier life going forward was absolutely worth it.
Summary of long-term effects and impact:
- On-going weight loss and normalization – reset
- Better relationship with food
- Eating more mindfully
- Desire more nutrient dense foods
- Better relationship with my body
- Mental clarity
- Feel healthier
- Can snack and have treats without major weight reaction
- Motivated to exercise in ways that I enjoy
Things I Would Do Differently:
- Weigh myself less – once at beginning and once at end, or possibly not at all – rather than daily as I did this time
- Stick to my initial goal of proper re-feeding much more strictly – I made myself sick eating a few bites of pureed spinach and felt that I knew better
- Be more productive at least creatively
Takeaways of My Water Fast
- Create the nutritional backbone to support your health before committing to an extended water fast
- Have a better reason or motivation than weight loss
- Research, question, understand all aspects of the water fasting and re-feed process
- Understand the limitations and impact
- Seek medical supervision throughout the process
- Monitor your progress in ways that you value
- Only fast as long as you feel comfortable, do not have an unattainable goal
- Be open and welcoming to yourself throughout the process
Water fasting provides me with a different outlook on food, health, and weight. I wouldn’t openly recommend this to everyone, but I do think most people would benefit from this or any other form of short- or long-term fasting. Start with intermittent or short-term fasting and working up to longer fasts. I stand by my opinion of consuming a nutrient-rich diet for an extended period before attempting a long-term fast. A water fast will take you out of your comfort zone and is not for the weak-willed. Again, seek medical supervision if you will be fasting for an extended period.