I’ve been reflecting quite a bit, during an unplanned three-day fast, on the nature of that “when one door closes another one opens” concept.
Seems like I’d no sooner got in a groove with an injury-recovery workout routine than I realized, in talking to someone who’d recently recovered from plantar fasciitis, that a big chunk of that routine – mini walking sessions on the concrete floor in our rec room – was surely slowing my recovery.
Given that I’d been wanting to move a couple of my five daily mini workouts outdoors anyway, to tackle some heart rate-raising overdue yard work, this seemed like a good time to do that. And after reading Tim Ferriss’ blueprint for his monthly three-day fast in his new book, Tools of Titans, I decided, why not?
This fast was so much easier because there were no nagging doubts. I knew I wasn’t going to eat anything between Thursday dinner and Sunday dinner, so I wasn’t plagued with that constant “should I or shouldn’t I?” question. So there I was, outside raking frozen leaves after not having eaten a crumb for two days, and it just wasn’t that big a deal. It’s like my mind and body were on the same page: We both knew I was carrying around enough spare fat to fuel leaf raking. There was no interior whining.
Would this have happened on a run? Probably not, because I’ve never managed to shut down the “feed me!” impulse when it comes to running. I’d never attempt a fast while I’m running, especially if I’m training for something.
But in this case, a mini fast provided a chance for reflection. Much like a marathon, it’s a good way to synch my daily “in the moment” decision-making mindset with some higher part of my mind that operates at the managerial level. The player vs. the coach, if you will. The coach knows that what’s being asked of the body can be done. The player must have faith in the coach’s game plan.
One key thing I’ve learned in four fasts over the past year is that it helps to have something cool waiting at the finish line – a meaningful meal to look forward to breaking your fast. Last month I really wish I would’ve broken my fast on Christmas Eve, for instance, but due to logistics I stopped a day early.
This time around, I scheduled my fast-breaking meal for my dad’s birthday party – not just because I knew there would be plenty of good food, but because his 74th birthday feels meaningful to me.
I vividly recall Dad being 64 when he got cancer. At the time, not knowing what might happen, I remember thinking, “Oh please, if he could just make it to 70. Couldn’t we have just a few more years?”
These bonus years are such a gift. Without them, Dad never would’ve met his two youngest grandchildren, or seen his older grandkids grow up into fine young men and women, two of whom have now graduated from college. He never would’ve experienced the satisfaction of going out on top when he later retired as president of the top-performing bank in the state of Indiana. He and Mom never would’ve gotten around to remodeling their house into the perfect spot for big family get-togethers.
And I never would’ve had the chance to interview him for a memoir that wound up being this year’s Christmas gift to my nieces and nephews. Having all those long talks, hearing all those stories about what shaped his life, was the best gift of all.
It kind of puts eating, and not being able to run for a while, in perspective.