Friday, March 5, 2010

Water Fasting is not Water Boarding


I mentioned earlier that I did a water fast this past week. Yes, it's true: I drank nothing but water and ate...nothing. For 48 hours. I had intended to do it for 24, and then changed it to 72, but by the end of the 48 I was told (not-so-vaguely) by my husband that I needed to have energy the next day because I'd be watching the kids by myself.

So here's what happened:

Thursday, the night before, I ate dinner. Vegetables and some kind of protein. I can't remember what I had. Then I drank some hot chocolate.

Friday, instead of coffee, I drank water. Then later on, when my caffeine headache came on, I drank more water. And more water. I drank as much water as I could stand. By midday, my stomach was grumbling, but I knew I wasn't "starving," which doesn't happen to a person unless they've used up their fat reserves. My headache was nearly intolerable by evening. I was flat out on the couch, with my hands over my ears, trying to ignore the presence of my family. My husband was a bit annoyed. My kids were unaware of anything. I would say, on a scale of 1-10, my headache was a 10. No joke. The pain made me throw up, twice.

Saturday, my headache was at 10%. Manageable. I wanted coffee, or tea, or anything, but I couldn't have it. I was in the throws of detox, right? Well, I didn't feel like it. I didn't have the reactions I'd read about (not yet). But the hunger was manageable. I was hungry, but I was exercising my willpower. I was in charge. And I wasn't denying myself food: I had plenty of it stored on my body. Plus, I was cleansing myself of everything. So I drank water.

One of the side-effects of a water fast is lower blood pressure, which can make you faint. I already have ultra-low blood pressure and feel faint most of the time, anyway, so I blacked out several times that day. By evening, after running upstairs to get something, I almost toppled over. That was when my husband mentioned I should eat something, and get my energy and blood pressure back up so I could take care of the kids on Sunday. "Why don't you wait to try this again until after the semester is over?" he asked. I was at my weakest point then, so I agreed. I ate some fruit, drank some juice, and then later had dinner.

By Sunday, I felt more like myself. But I no longer needed coffee in the morning. (I'd also lost several pounds, but that wasn't really a big goal of mine, and it was mostly water-weight, so it doesn't truly count.)

It wasn't until Tuesday that I was able to write again. I felt foggy, tired, and drugged. And yet...free.

The most annoying aspect of fasting is boredom. How often do we eat when we're bored, or because we're bored? How often are our social meetings arranged around food? This was one of the things I was trying to overcome. I want to be conscious of the food I put in my mouth. I want to be conscious of all that I do to my body, all that I experience.

The other reason I did this was to experiment. In my work-in-progress, I have a main character that is avoiding all food. How better to describe what she goes through than to experience it myself?

Now I am decaffeinated. It's strange. After a year of drinking coffee every day, now I have water first-thing in the morning. It's not as enjoyable, by far, but I'm ok with it. For now. As my family knows, I change my routine like the earth sheds seasons.

14 comments:

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I am so glad you shared this with us. I was oddly fascinated by every detail. Plus, I've been considering trying this because of my own caffeine addiction. Now I know what to expect. :-)

Sak said...

Oh..Now I know what is water fast- basically to detox..i also fast once a week I fast with fruits and milk.

PJ Hoover said...

OMG, I'm hungry and faint just reading this post.

Kaylie said...

Happy detoxification. But no more fainting spells, please.

Marcia said...

I did this for three days last summer and wasn't even hungry...I know, unbelievable. I felt fine -- but I almost never drink coffee so that's probably why. I'm gearing up to do it again, maybe with fruits and veggies this time, too.

Myrna Foster said...

I'm glad you're decaffeinated, and I hope you find it easier to write your character.

Val said...

Yeah. I’ve been learnt that all Americans are disgusting pails of fat.
Don’t experiment all things your protagonist intends to do. It might be harmful.

Kirsten Lesko said...

That was an interesting read, Amber! Can't wait to read the chapter on this!

Anonymous said...

Hye you. I was intrigued by this great photo and wanted to read about your fast. I am reading a book and running a book circle called, "Becoming the Woman I Want to Be." We are to drink nearly boiling lemon water as a daily detox. It DOES clean your system and rid you of toxins and pounds...so weird. Also, she recommends fasting. I am fasting from non-food items as I am still nursing but when we wean, I will be fasting, once a month, to know I am in control and I will take care of this body God gave to me. Glad to read of your story but probably with your health history with blood pressure, not a great idea. ;)

Laura Pauling said...

I've fasted before. It's not easy. The first day is the hardest. And I think after the first couple, it gets even easier. But it's definitely hard to take care of children with low energy. Glad you survived.

ChristyG said...

Hi Amber - I made my way to your blog via Laini Taylor's blog... I'm also a YA author and a new mama, and I'm inspired by your posts. If only my 6-month-old son would nap a little more often, maybe I could be a naptime writer, too! (Instead I stay up waaaaay too late all the time!)

gael lynch said...

I've fasted and detoxed on caffeine too, Amber. It's amazing the things we can do without. I know the feeling of being 'bored'...but realizing later that I was just feeling disoriented b/c I live so well around those three squares! Wonder what would happen if I substituted...a game of checkers for a meal on one of those days? Sounds crazy, I know...but fasting is a crazy thing too. Just a tip-you can wind down the caf. by drinking half decaf. for a week or so before you fast. Loved your blog. I'll be back! :)

5kidswdisabilities said...

I haven't been on a water fast, but I have been drinking tons of water instead of anything else. I find I drink a LOT of water. I can give up the drinks but I could never give up the food...

Lindsey Petersen

Mary Witzl said...

I've fasted half a dozen times in my life and found it very difficult, but the last time I did it (for 36 hours), I was fine -- in fact, I felt great. What really surprised me was that I wasn't bored and I was able to sleep well. I'm going to try it again, once I'm no longer teaching. I don't fancy the idea of keeling over in front of my class!

I know I eat from boredom sometimes, not hunger. That alone makes me think I'm a good candidate for fasting. I need to experience real hunger in order to remind myself what it is.