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.