This morning marks Day 3 of my second attempt at a multi-day fast.
Why try this again? Well, in a fasting experiment last month I went three days before I ran into a big family Easter gathering that made me feel awkward about continuing. Three days without any food whatsoever — only a couple of cups of coffee with coconut oil and cinnamon each day — went by much more easily than expected. I even managed to get in a couple of smallish runs.
But from what I’ve read, the real mental and emotional benefits of fasting occur on Days 4 and 5. I never got there, so I remain intensely curious what that experience is like.
If you’re a runner or into any kind of endurance exercise, there’s probably never a great time to block off a fast on your calendar. But I figure this is probably the last chance for me to try it before I start training for my next marathon (Oct. 1). I don’t have any races planned until late June. And since Thursday marks the final day of Wells Weighs In, that gives me some extra incentive. (I don’t want to view fasting as a weight-loss tool — based on last month’s experience, the effects are mostly temporary, anyway — but since our team’s not a contender at this point, it’s not like this is some secret weapon that will put us over the top.)
The big challenge thus far was a family birthday party on Sunday. Day 2 tends to be the hardest, and I knew I was going to be spending several hours in a feasting environment. I wasn’t too worried about my self control so much as pressure from family members to indulge.
But as it turned out, it wasn’t an issue. I’d set up a laptop at one of the tables in the garage to work on invitations for our son Ben’s upcoming graduation party. That took a lot longer than expected, and since people were munching on yummy appetizers all afternoon anyway, when it actually came time for people to fill their plates with “dinner,” no one noticed that I didn’t do the same.
Yes, the food looked good. My sister-in-law Darcy loves to go all out for parties, especially for the kids’ birthdays. (My nephew Kobi was turning 2.) But since I was already a day into fasting, the food looked interesting and pretty in an abstract kind of way without threatening to override my impulse control.
Being on a special diet where you’re not just limiting intake but eliminating large categories of food can feel like you’re existing in an alternate universe. After a while those foods you’re no longer eating can feel like they’re not quite real. They don’t have the same hold on you that they did before. (After several years of avoiding McDonald’s, for example, except for the occasional salad or a vanilla cone, I can drive by a large billboard dominated by “food porn” and not even really notice it’s there.)
This is even more true with a fast. Especially having gone through this first part once before, it’s much easier to switch off the “eat” impulse. I’ve done enough research to know I can go a few days without ill effects. (And if anything bad happens, I’ll just stop. My husband knows what’s going on, and is keeping an eye out for any weirdness on my part.)
I can’t say that there haven’t been moments in these first couple of days where I’ve felt hungry or momentarily tempted by something. But mainly I’ve been focused on the feeling of allowing my body to declutter itself. Since we’ve also got a family garage sale coming up later in the week, that also feels like a case of good timing.