I’ve succeeded on day one of my fasting. I have had nothing to eat or drink in 33 hours. My goal was to not eat or drink anything for 1 day. That goal has been achieved, so now I am setting a new goal for today. I will only drink tea today.
Yesterday was difficult. There was still pizza in the house from the previous day and I wanted to eat a slice. The hungrier I felt the more difficult it was to resist the temptation to put my fast off for another day and go have the slice of pizza. I also had to make dinner for my son and husband. Usually I will have to taste the food to make sure it has flavor, but I managed to avoid this by having my son do the tasting. I made my favorite soup so it was not easy to resist taking even a small taste; but I fought and I am proud of myself, not because I didn’t eat, but because I proved to myself that I have the ability to stick out something that is difficult in order to achieve a set goal.
I am reading up on fasting and I am not sure how I feel about a conscious choice to deprive yourself of food; but I’ve decided to try a 3 day fast nonetheless. Why? Well, while I have stated in “how to fast” that fasting with a primary purpose to lose weight is not recommended I would have to admit that the primary purpose for me right now is to shed some of the excess fat I’ve gained in my belly, waist, arms, back and thighs. However, while that is my primary purpose, there is something secondary and arguably greater that I am hoping to gain.
I have no intention of developing a bad relationship with food as in getting back into a habit of not eating and reciting as my daily mantra “Food is evil. Food is the enemy.” But at the same time I don’t want to have an opposite bad relationship with food whereby I use food to soothe myself, to cope with stress and to punish myself for my various imperfections. This is as much a loss of control over your relationship with food as anorexia. Overeating results in you getting as abnormally fat as under-eating results in you becoming abnormally thin. And in both cases food is not the problem.
I have a long history of bad relationships with food. I’ve been borderline anorexic, though never clinically diagnosed. In my teens and 20s I would starve myself to stay thin. It was easy because I was living with sisters who always “seemed” to be watching you like a hawk waiting to point out to you the moment you gained an ounce. I quote seemed because this was my perception. It could have been paranoia.
In my early 30s I’ve engaged in activity that could have led to becoming bulimic. Living on my own with my husband and son and indoors most of the time because of agoraphobia, I had no one that I had to keep up appearances for except myself so it became harder to starve myself. Having to prepare food for my family meant I was cooking every day. So I started eating every day, and as marital stress began to take over my life, I started working out less, succumbing to depression. I began to gain weight, and when I needed to lose it quickly because family was coming to visit or I tried on my size 1 jeans and couldn’t fit them I would eat but force myself to regurgitate the food right after.
In more recent years, between marital stress, financial stress, stress from raising a teenage son and battling with clinical depression and anxiety, I’ve taken to eating uncontrollably. The consequence has been an ongoing battle with the bulge that sees me fluctuating between wearing a size 4 one month, a size 6 the next month, a size 8 the month after that and a size 10 the month after that and repeating this cycle monthly.
The benefit I hope to gain from the 3-day fast I am attempting is that of rewiring my mind. I will try to explain my thought process. I am not going to be fixed 3 days from now, meaning, I won’t overcome my bad relationship with food just by fasting for 3 days. If I manage to complete the 3-day fast successfully, it will not be the end but the beginning. All I will have done was rewired my mind in preparation for processing on a different channel from now on.
For the last several years I’ve been wired to be controlled by my impulse to eat. Every time I’ve felt a tinge of stress I’ve gotten up and walked to the kitchen in search of food. By doing that, all I’ve been achieving has been programming myself to believe I don’t have the strength or capability to endure or resolve conflict my life. I have also been programming my brain to trigger a food craving every time I feel the slightest hint of stress.
When you’re accustomed to eating every hour on the hour, having to go several hours without food feels like hell. You can’t get much more stressed out and irritated than when you’re in the first stages of real hunger; but what’s amazing is that after you’ve gone long enough without refueling, your brain makes an adjustment and sends out signals to your body that it needs to rely on your fat reserves to help keep you going. Of course starvation is an ordeal that leads to death if prolonged, so I am not making light of hunger by any means. If you read up on fasting you’ll quickly understand that fasting doesn’t mean starving yourself completely. The body needs something to subsist on. It can only go so long on fat reserves, and how long it will go depends on how much fat you have stored to begin with. Some people can go many days without eating, but they’ll eventually die from starvation.
The key for me is to realize that I can endure stress without having to run to the kitchen for food; to understand that feeding stress doesn’t address the problems causing the stress; that, in fact, it creates bigger problems. So making myself go 3 days denying every impulse to eat will begin a retraining process that can only help me take back control over my life.
It’s not like I haven’t gone days without eating in recent times. But I’ve never undertaken a mission to try to rewire my brain for the long haul. I’ve always just starved myself because I’ve needed to lose weight fast, usually because family was visiting; but I’ve always regained the weight because I had no greater purpose than to try to avoid having my family see me so much fatter than they are accustomed to me being.
This would be the first time I am consciously using fasting as a means by which to take back control over my life, and I am fully aware that, even if I complete my 3-day fast successfully, it will only be the beginning. I will need to be practicing self-control and self-discipline long enough for it to become as much a habit as the lack of self-control and lack of self-discipline have become.