I don’t know about you but I was always a bit scared of fasting. Somehow something might go wrong. So, it’s one of those things that, while it seems like a good idea, I leave to others. Until recently.
For an annual checkup, I had to fast for 12 hours – yes, I know – and somehow survived. Not only that but my performance at work during the day seemed to improve. Of course, a one-off fast proves nothing. Last month, I started to fast intentionally and keep some notes of what happened. Here’s what I learnt:
- Fear lessens every time you fast – like swimming, cycling, or speaking in public, the more you do it, the less anxiety there is. It’s like the brain is saying. ‘Ok, we’ve been here before. Nothing happened. No big deal.’
- Less cooking means more time – the real surprise for me was the amount of time I spend shopping, driving to the shops, cooking, eating, and washing up. And doing exercise to lose the pounds I put on. When you fast, it frees up a huge block of time. During lunch-break, I now have one hour to work on my novel.
- Less eating means more energy – doesn’t make sense, does it? What I find happening is that there is a fear not to spend energy (something in the brain that wants to conserve energy) but when this anxiety calms down, there is a ‘second wind’, you feel more relaxed and energetic.
- Less eating means staying awake in the afternoon – one reason I started to fast was that if I ate a slightly heavy lunch, I began to fade in the afternoon. Even coffee doesn’t work. Instead, when I fast, I’m sharper in the afternoon, get that second wind, and usually feel ok until I get home.
- Less eating means new cells get created – here’s the scientific part. It seems when you fast, your body has a chance to do some maintenance work; cells that are slightly damaged or not functioning correctly as broken down and replaced by brand new shiny cells. In other words, fasting gives you a chance to regenerate.
- Fasting kills your appetite for junk food – when the fast is over, your body only wants good, nourishing food. The idea of junk food is a serious no-no.
- Fasting makes you more resilient – for me, growing up with three square meals a deal, the idea of fasting sets alarms bells ringing. What if I miss breakfast? Will I start to pass out when driving? Actually, I did feel light-headed after my first 36 hour fast, so use common sense. But, the more fasting I do, the more resilient I feel. More than that, I don’t snap at others when I miss a meal or have to wait. I’ve been there before. Somehow, it gives a sense of calm. ‘It’s only a meal. Let’s wait.’
During the fast, I drink lots of warm water. I find warm water, sometimes with a sprinkle of Chinese green tea, calms my tummy, makes me feel full and keeps you warm. The more you fast, the more you’ll feel cold as your body conserves heat for the core.
Those are the main things. Let me know if you’ve tried to fast and seen any improvements. What advise would you give others?
PS – don’t tell people you’re fasting. It draws attention to your goal and starts the usual office chit-chat. Keep it private and you’ll see the best results.