During lunch, while I was scarfing a delicious ham sandwich (bad jew, I know), my friend Charlie Hoehn wasn’t eating.
I asked, “What’s up?”.
“Oh, I’m on a 7 day fast, ” Charlie said.
“WTF. Fer reals,” I said.
“Yea, while I was going through some things last year this was one of the few experiences that really helped make my life better,” Charlie said.
It also gave him mental clarity like nothing else which made me curious to try.
I decided that since I’ve done a 24 hour fast before, going for 60 hours would be pushing myself to the limit. Yes, I skipped right over the 48 hour fast (more on this later).
So for 60 hours, I was in. Queue weekend…
For the first hours of the fast, I was gold. This will be cake I thought (pun intended).
I did a 14-mile bike ride and then some light walking.
“The wall” hit me around 4 pm.
Tired, low energy, just low everything!
Towards night time I could feel my stomach rumbling but it wasn’t unbearable.
Sunday is where it got really challenging.
Stupid me decided a 4-mile hike and 3 hours of disc golf were a great idea. They weren’t.
My energy was very low and I got extremely light headed whenever I tried to stand up.
This was a rough day, I’d go in-and-out of hunger and got weak very quickly throughout the day when I normally wouldn’t.
As night began I was extremely productive with work and creative with my writing. Maybe cause it was hard for me to move so typing on my couch seemed easier than usual.
The day was near done but I couldn’t sleep…
And I couldn’t sleep and it continued. Shit.
It scared me. I searched online for what a normal heartbeat should be which is 60-100.
I checked my pulse which was 68 and then tried to rest.. Finally, around 2:30 am I passed out.
BUT woke up again at 3:42 am.
My heart was going all zany again. WTF is going on. I got a bit scared.
Internally I was debating: “No way I can break my fast. I committed to myself, my fasting partner (very helpful) and others that I’d see this through to the end.”
Most of us think we are stubborn and I’m no exception.
I had to ponder if it was worth it to potentially damage myself long-term vs the ego that was challenging me at that moment.
I also struggled with maybe this is just the hard part I have to get past and suck it up.
My heart kept throbbing…
So I made the executive decision to make some oatmeal.
The downside risk of dying was not worth trying to reach an arbitrary goal.
…I still feel some guilt today for not going all the way.
I felt better nearly instantly.
What can YOU learn from this?
Discipline is good. I’m super glad I had the self-control to not eat and reinforced that I can do this in other parts of my life. Short term not having discipline is okay but the long-term reward from it will make you much more likely to get what you want.
Reading is shit. Experience is gold. (< Click to tweet) You can read about how to start a business or a diet or anything you’ve been avoiding doing forever. The best way I’ve found to truly internalize knowledge is to experience it yourself.
Food = Energy. I never looked at food like gas to a car. When you give your body food it’s basically converted to energy so you can do the things you want it to do. Better food = better energy.
Question your habits. I’m SO used to just eating at put-food-in-my-mouth o’clock. Know what I mean?? It’s getting dark so that must mean it’s dinner time. But are you really hungry? This experience reset my expectations to really question if I’m hungry at that moment or not. (Back in 2008 I wrote a book review on Mindless Eating. Check it out for some healthy eating tips.)
Simplify your decisions. Yesterday, I realized while snacking that it’s easier to not have to decide with food. With fasting, I knew I wouldn’t eat but snacking on jerky yesterday I had to figure out how much I wanted to eat. This made me realize why the 100 calorie Almond packs are so powerful. If you know the decision will be hard or uncertain, figure out how you can pre-commit or reduce having to decide when you don’t want to.
Would I recommend this for you to do?
HELL no, if you want to do it as a diet. It’s not a bad kickstarter to a diet but it’s definitely not sustainable.
Yes, if you want to explore how far you can go, become more aware of when you actually need to eat, and want a challenge.
I actually realized that a 48 hour fast would have been a great challenge for myself too (without draining ALL my energy).
Would I do this again?
Yes, I plan on fasting for only 24 hours once a month. I also plan on exploring a 48 hour fast once a quarter.
Less for the challenge and more for the reminder that I don’t really need to eat as much and bring my awareness of food to the front of my mind. It was amazing how much food consumed my thoughts when I didn’t have it for only 2 days…
Okay, action time. Leave a comment and take the challenge to fast for 24 hours.