At the end of March I embarked on a three day water fast, which meant I consumed nothing other than water after my last meal on Thursday night, right through to Monday morning when I broke the fast with a pressed veg & fruit juice.
Why did I do it? For many years I have heard of the benefits of fasting and have had some previous experience with it, which has included multiple juice fasts and two “10 day Master Cleanses” (water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper & maple syrup), but I had yet to try a water fast.
Why now? A friend who works at The Whole Foods Market (health shop) informed me about the company’s “Whole Planet Foundation” fundraising programme and mentioned that during the month of March they were raising awareness about the foundation to help increase donations. As part of this fundraising effort, my friend Simon decided to set himself the challenge of fasting on water for 3 days and have people sponsor him. I thought this was a great idea, particularly as spring has sprung it’s a good time to do a cleansing practise like this, so I jumped on board with the fundraising challenge.
What is the Whole Planet Foundation? It’s a non-profit organization, created by Whole Foods Market to alleviate poverty in places where they source their products. They “support tenacious, innovative, and hardworking entrepreneurs all around the globe. Most of the entrepreneurs who receive micro loans are women, who traditionally have fewer resources and less access to financial services. The micro loans will help the poor entrepreneur build or expand a home-based business so they can create a better life for their family from generating more income.”*
“Whole Planet Foundation identifies and partners with microfinance organizations (MFIs) who provide and administer responsible financial services to their members.”* As each donation is repaid and re-loaned in the communities where the foundation fund microcredit, the positive impact keeps on increasing from one entrepreneur to the next, your donation keeps on giving. What is also great is that every penny that is donated goes straight to funding these women (and men), and The Whole Foods Market covers the costs of running the foundation. For more information about the Whole Planet Foundation you can find out more here…*https://www.wholeplanetfoundation.org
More about fasting… Fasting gives your body a bit of a re-boot, and time for it to do an internal “MOT”. Normally we go from one meal to the next not fully giving our digestive tract a rest, other than for the short time while we sleep and then we soon break the fasting period with our ‘break-fast’. Digestion takes up a lot of energy, so when we give it nothing to digest it can have a rest and our body can focus on taking care of other parts that need some rejuvenation or repair. When fasting it’s important that you rest as much as possible so any energy you do have your body can use it for that inner healing and self-care.
You can treat a fast as a cleanse, so doing things like taking Epsom salt baths, having a massage, using essential oils and having colon hydrotherapy, all support the cleansing process. It’s also a good time to do a mental detox, which could include not doing any work, turning off your digital devices (at least your social media apps) and use the time to meditate, sleep, read, journal and do gentle exercises like Yin or Restorative Yoga. There has been a lot of research done on the benefits of fasting so if you want to find out more there are numerous books on this subject and endless resources online.
What was the fasting experience like for me? In summary, I was a lot weaker than I had expected, I think I was being optimistic that I could carry on with my normal rhythm but I had to slow it down A LOT, I didn’t fully appreciate the important element of rest that was needed. Fortunately, I only taught two classes on the Friday morning so from then on, I could take it easy, and I needed to as I really lacked energy, which is only normal and makes sense due to no consumption of calories. I also slept very poorly on Saturday and Sunday night so that also made me weary.
Fasting is a mental challenge as well as a physical one, so hunger pains and weakness aside, there has to be a lot of mental discipline. Most of the time I fantasised about eating… you realise very quickly how food and drink plays a big part in our day to day lives and how pleasing they are to the senses. But, as the cravings arose (and they were actually healthy food cravings – not junk food ones) I just had to acknowledge them and let them go, reminding myself of impermanence and that I would be able to enjoy the foods when the fast was over. On the Sunday I had gone pretty wild in Whole Foods, (when I was feeling particularly deprived) so my fridge was stocked with healthy delights and I was all set for Monday.
Monday came…at last! I had an overwhelming appreciation for food and I eased my way back into eating with an increased awareness of what I was putting in my mouth. My diet is plant based (vegan) anyway but I had a strong urge to eat even more raw fresh veggies, salad, fruit and bump up on superfoods (nutritionally dense foods, particularly high in antioxidants). Naturally, when I introduced some juices and raw foods back into my diet I had a surge of energy, which felt great, but I was aware that I was launching back to full swing, high exertion, productivity mode. So, post fast I am more aware of the pace in which I do things, whenever I now rush from A to B I remind myself of how much less stressful it is when you allow yourself the time to do things at a slower, calmer pace. Therefore, as best as I can and where possible, I make a conscious effort to create more space and time around everything I do.
Final thoughts… Fasting makes you realise how fortunate and blessed we are, not only in respect to having access to food and water as easily as we do, but also with regards to the finances and vast choice of foods and drinks we have in order to keep our bodies nourished and healthy. Taking a moment to give thanks for the food and drink we are about to consume is not only beneficial in stopping us from mindlessly gobbling down that veggie burger in three bites but it also shifts our mindset to one of gratitude and therefore positivity.
It felt good to have done the fast and I am glad I raised money in the process for those aspiring business women and men who need a little financial support to fulfil their dreams and goals. Looking forward I may even do 24 hour fasts every now and again, whenever I feel the need to give my body and mind a thorough rest. I would turn it even more into a pamper day of restoration, paying attention to my own self-care/detox notes above. The key is not to get frustrated that you can’t get much done (due to feeling weak) but instead to embrace the bodies desire to do less and to be still. The more pleasurable and relaxing you can make it, the easier it will be to achieve.
If you wish to make a donation to the Whole Planet Foundation, and support my fasting experience, so it wasn’t all in vain (and pain), then click the ‘Donations’ link below.
Thanks to all those who have made a donation already, myself and the recipients-to-be really appreciate your generosity.
(Disclaimer – I am not a medical doctor. Fasting was safe for me to do and I have written about my own personal experience, but if you are wanting to carry out a fast consult your physician before-hand.)