I had been feeling a desire to fast for months but resisted out of fear. The fear of fasting itself was crippling. I found this state of mind rather interesting, as fasting wasn’t foreign to me, but it’s been years since I had fasted. In my teens and early 20’s, fasting was regular. It wasn’t uncommon for me to do 1 to 3 days of dry fasting (no food, no water) regularly. However, I entered a season of life that became so busy so quickly and slamming the brakes was often not in my jurisdiction. Eventually, after months of procrastinating, I started my fast, not without researching how to make it less deadly for me as I had intended to do a prolonged fast. I was going to aim for seven days, at least. Perhaps 14 days? It was going to be more than what I had ever done before three days of fasting. I think I got scared of what it would feel like having not fasted for over four years. I feared headaches, the weakness that would force me to break the fast prematurely. I feared feeling so weak and brain dull that I won’t be able to open my eyes to read, which was exaggerated. I didn’t just want to lie in bed all day.
I decided to do a water fast. I was going to drink a gallon of water daily. It was a lot, but I was determined to deceive my digestive juices by diluting it excessively, and it worked. I also chose something I had never done before; ISOLATION. In this ever increasingly distracting world, I opted to shut myself in and exclude the outside world. I didn’t have the privilege of going to a remote place with no wifi. I did it locally; in my home, in my room. With my phone switched off in a separate part of the house and my email set to vacation mode, I embarked on my water fast with no specific goal date in mind other than to be over three days. The goals for fasting and isolation was to quieten my mind, connect to a deeper part of me, increase my spiritual awareness as I had some important decisions to make that I couldn’t take lightly. The time I chose would have set me up for failure if I wasn’t resolute as it was the festive season of the year. I had been invited to parties, all of which I had to turn down to focus on.
Documented below is my experience and what you should expect when embarking on such. Your experience might be different. Here is my encounter on the ten days without food. I broke the fast on the 11th day due to the “female visitor” that came knocking, other than that; I could have kept going, I believe.
No headaches: I felt day 1–2 would be hardest. In the past, day two has been hardest for me. I was diligent in drinking lots of water, and it did help. I was surprised not to be hungry and be without headaches on day 2. Overall, I did not have any blinding headaches that I had initially feared.
Flawless skin: I couldn’t stop touching my face. No face ritual. I was in isolation and didn’t need to use any products. I noticed soft cheeks and flawless skin somewhere around day 5. My face was so smooth like a baby’s butt. I felt like I had regenerated skin. I also noticed a glow on my forehead. I was lighter in complexion. I compulsively touched my face all day for the reason that it was outrageously soft.
Weight loss: I wasn’t fasting to lose weight, but it was an unintended consequence of my chosen state. I lost 12 lbs in 7 days and a total of 16 pounds in 10 days. It was the most weight I had lost in a short time. I also “felt” my gut shrinking. After a few days of no food, I think my stomach shut down as it progressively shrunk daily and stopped rumbling.
Bodily healing: For the past two or so years, I had observed numbness and tingling in my right hand. This numbness got worse to create cramps in my hands so painful that it would wake me up from sleep. As a Physician who knew the anatomy, physiology, and pathogenesis of the disease, this was scary. I diagnosed myself with diabetes, though I had no other signs and no family history. But wait! It was unilateral, so I figured it’s not systemic but structural. Considering that it was my right hand, and I am a writer, I diagnosed myself to have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I did all the exercises to determine that this was the case physically, all negative! I observed and couldn’t decide what triggered it. I, however, knew that writing or typing made it worse. The condition got worse to the point where I could not hold my pen for more than 30 secs before it got numbed so bad, it hurt. And yes, I would not see a doctor because you know…I don’t like seeing doctors. On days 5, I had been journaling for hours, and it suddenly dawned on me that my right hand wasn’t numb. It was the first time in over two years to experience this. I got healed! I haven’t had numbness, tingling, or pain in my right hand ever since. It was my greatest reward from the fast.
Immense energy: I noticed a short burst of energy from day 3. By day 6, my energy level had peaked so much that I felt like dancing and running. I suddenly felt powerful like a lion with a glorious mane on a throne.
Less sleep: By day 4, I began to sleep 4 hrs or less naturally. There were days I slept 2 hrs in 24 hrs just naturally. I was surprised at how little sleep I needed. The body is ridiculously brilliant. I realized then that the human body could function on 4 hrs of sleep or less if given the right things and not made to expend energy on the wrong things, like digesting food all the time.
Cold extremities: I took notice of this on day 3. Trying not to include medical jargon here, but it took me a while to understand what was happening to me. I initially thought my environment was cold. The heater was running as this took place in the winter month. I had my nordic winter socks on. I covered myself in a thick duvet and full dresses, yet my hands and feet would not warm up. I got progressively cold. By day 5, it finally hit me! The physiology of it was that since I was not eating and actively utilizing the energy cycle in the body, my body was most likely using stored energy and fat to carry out vital functions in my body. It pulled blood from non-vital parts like my extremities to focus on critical organs like the brain, heart, kidney, etc. My body was hibernating and needed to survive. I was COLD for the rest of the fast. It was no fun.
Painful memories: On day 1, my mind wandered a lot. It was like a drama scene; it kept debating, analyzing, and questioning. It won’t shut up. With subsequent days, it got quieter. On day 9, a memory of injustice previously done to me stayed with me. Its presence was strong. It felt like bile on my tongue. I tried to shake it off with no luck and realized it was brought to my attention for a reason. I practiced letting go till it dispersed, and all was at peace.
Acute mind: On day 2, someone had given me a password for something a while ago that I didn’t use and needed to document it. I remembered it so accurately like I had a photographic memory. On day 9, I had slept a little over 3 hours and woke up feeling so alert. I journaled, “I am wide awake and have energy. Nine days without food! This is neat! My mind is sharp!”.
Constipation? My last meal was Chinese takeout. I had no solid poop at all after that. I was concerned the food residue was stuck in my gut. I had oily liquid come out in its place. I wondered, “I am not drinking oil, why am I pooping fatty pale stool?” I only knew this based on my knowledge of medicine. This also plagued me as I was worried that something might be wrong with my liver. “Do I have fatty liver disease? But I have no risk factors? What conditions cause oily liquid from the gut?” I racked my brain. I felt I should have solid poop since I ate a Chinese takeout meal seven days ago. It wasn’t healthy, and I hated the thought that it was perhaps still in my gut. I thought I was constipated and decided to drink magnesium stuff to purge my system. I did, and my stomach was CLEAN. I popped water and more fatty liquid material. No solid mass was ejected. It was all in my mind. The reason for the oily liquid was that my body was breaking down stored fat to survive. My gut was most likely laden with fat cells swimming around, trying to promote and enforce energy so I could stay alive. And no, I did not have fatty liver disease — more on this below.
Back pain: This was VERY, VERY strange. I noticed pain on the midback on day 6; It wasn’t superficial. The pain lingered for hours. It felt like it was DEEP in my muscle or bone. The pain point was definite. On day 8, the back pain moved just below my right scapula. It was deep. The intensity of the pain increased to the point that I was gasping for breath. I was in isolation; therefore, there was no one to ask. I had no knowledge of anyone who had done what I was doing. My medical experience couldn’t give me answers. Fasting isn’t in the curriculum in medical school. Out of desperation and confusion about what was going on in my body, I launched into the online world for answers. Some resources I found had spiritual explanations to it pointing that if one has been betrayed (back-stabbed) in the past, it was a sign of spiritual healing. Some have physical reasons for it, indicating that during a fast since the body is not spending the time to digest food, the cells have been freed up to do more healing work.
Therefore, cells would go around the body, healing parts of it that need healing, especially if it started a process of healing in a body part that wasn’t finished. I remembered. A year ago, I was rear-ended in a 4-car accident on the highway that jerked me forward and back. The pain point under my scapula was a place of trauma. I had physical therapy and massages and had been fine, but perhaps there was more healing for my body to do? I did not verify any of this information, but both made sense to me. However, the pain did not make sense; it was severe and stopped on day 9. 3 days and healing was complete.
Better vision: When I woke up, I not only felt instantly alert, but my vision was super clear. Though I wear glasses to correct a structural defect, I could feel my eyes at the back of my head. No joke! The light in my room felt brighter and clearer. Everything looked picture perfect. It almost felt psychic. I saw what I needed to see, not just what I wanted to see.
A clear map was laid before me, and I knew what to do
Deep knowledge: I was in constant meditation as I fasted; this gave me a higher sense of spirituality. Picture, places, visions kept flashing before me. There was a sense of deep knowing that stayed with me. On day 5, I was suddenly gifted with a clear strategy, high inclination and definite sense of belonging for my life. I suddenly knew what to do and how. I had a higher level of consciousness and profound sense of identity; who I am and whose I was. It felt like a map was laid clearly before me. Everything made sense.
Change of heart: I noticed my heart posture soften. I felt love, compassion, empathy, gained a better understanding of previous life events. Things that mattered were brought to the front of your mind. A sense of humility washed over me. Certain people were highlighted in mind for different things, and I journaled them all; someone to call, talk to, intuition into happenings in their life they might be struggling with, clarify an item with, feeling their emotions. In these cases, when I contacted them after I got out of isolation, it was 100% accurate. I also noticed I had a great appreciation for myself. There was a time of intense delight and revelations about myself that made me bubble from within.
Isolation: I did not miss answering emails or social networks. The world continued without me. For busy folks, if you choose to unplug, you can. The world won’t fall apart if you aren’t there. It would continue. I would admonish you to take the time you need. It was hard to be isolated. I did check my phone occasionally…but if a text came in, I did not respond. It was also hard because I did it at home and those who knew I was home determined to get me out. I had to stand my grounds and enforce my position.
Test: Because of all the physiological changes that I experienced during the fast, I was incredibly curious about my body. I wanted to know how it did on a cellular level. I decided to order a comprehensive blood test online. Gratefully, I didn’t need a doctor’s order to get my blood test nor a doctor to interpret it for me. I ordered a complete blood count, basic metabolic profile, full hormone profile, cholesterol profile, liver profile (you bet! I needed to know if something was wrong with my liver). I ordered every test that could give me an insight into how every system of my body was doing on a cellular level. It cost me almost $500 out of pocket from a local lab around me.
It was a lot of blood…I joked with the phlebotomist after he took blood for the 9th vial (there were 13 vials before me), “You just took a pint of blood from me. I am afraid I would pass out at this rate as I just lost a pint and been fasting”. It was the most blood I have had to give for a test, and it made sense as I had self-ordered loads of test. Results were out after five days, and all was perfect, but my BUN, urea, and creatinine values were low. These made sense to me as these were conditions pervasive in a body in starvation mode. Since I had been fasting, my body had been breaking down protein with no replenishments, hence the skewed results. And yes, my liver was perfect!
Looking back, I did not think the blood test gave me a good sense of how my body did since there were no pre-fast lab results to compare the post-fast numbers to. It would have been better to have a pre- and post-fast test.
I think fasting has excellent benefits to the body, soul, and spirit. You don’t need to do prolonged fasting as I did. An intermittent one is something worth trying. Tell me, what has your fasting experience been like?