A few months ago, I did something most people would deem crazy. I was getting allergic to most of my favorite food like peanuts, mangoes and pineapples – yes, it’s possible to acquire new allergies later in life, it’s something accumulated especially if you eat those allergy triggers a lot. Lets face it, almost anything with peanuts are delicious. And I wasn’t ready to give up my love for seafood kare-kare or my once-in-a-while Reese’s peanut buttercups for life. So for one whole week, I did not eat anything and drank nothing but water.
See, water fasting isn’t anything new. I’ve been researching about this for a couple of years now and what got me was the repairing process it does to your body. Losing weight is just a side effect but the more important aspect is the healing. Truth be told, I was not quite as healthy as people may think – when I was young I had primary complex, I grew up suffering from severe asthma and doctors would say I really have very weak lungs. Then I developed all these food allergies. I found it quite annoying really. So that week, my goal was to just really get rid of my allergies, but it became more than that. It was a mental game, it was a healing journey, and yes, I did lose some weight... Which I gained back in no time. (Saying this now is a disclaimer that this is not a form of extreme dieting.)
Experts at curezone.com outline the first two stages of fasting which one will experience in seven days:
Stage 1 (Days 1-2)
“On the first day of fasting, the blood sugar level drops below 70mg/dl. To restore the blood to the normal glucose level, liver glycogen is converted to glucose and released into the blood. This reserve is enough for a half day. The body then reduces the basal metabolic rate (BMR). The rate of internal chemical activity in resting tissue is lowered to conserve energy. The heart slows and blood pressure is reduced. Glycogen is pulled from the muscle causing some weakness. The first wave of cleansing is usually the worst.
“Headaches, dizziness, nausea, bad breath, glazed eyes and a heavily coated tongue are signs of the first stage of cleansing. Hunger can be the most intense in this period.”
Stage 2 (Days 3-7)
“Fats, composed of transformed fatty acids, are broken down to release glycerol from the glyceride molecules and are converted to glucose. The skin may become oily as rancid oils are purged from the body. People with problem-free skin may have a few days of pimples or even a boil. A pallid complexion is also a sign of waste in the blood. Ketones are formed by the incomplete oxidation of fats. It is suspected that the ketones in the blood suppress the appetite by affecting the food-satiety center in the hypothalamus called the appestat. You may feel hungry for the first few days of the fast. This effect is temporary. The desire to eat will disappear. Lack of hunger may last 40-60 days.
“The body embraces the fast and the digestive system is able to take a much-needed rest, focusing all of its energies on cleansing organs and the lungs are in the process of being repaired. Periodically, the lymphatic system expels mucoid matter through the nose or throat. The volume excreted of this yellow-colored mucus can be shocking. The sinuses go through periods of being clogged, then will totally clear. The breath is still foul and the tongue coated. Within the intestine, the colon is being repaired and impacted feces on the intestinal wall start to loosen and are autolyzed.”
I kept a journal all throughout my fast, so for those interested to take on this challenge, here’s how I fared. Take note that I started my fast midday, but the way to count it is per 24 hours, so it’s a bit awkward when you look at it.
DAY 1 (Sunday 2:00 p.m. to Monday 2:00 p.m.)
Day one seemed pretty normal for me. I was still digesting the heavy lunch I had but at dinner time, I started getting hungry. It was hard to ignore the stomach growling but I did anyway. I just drank a lot of water and still did whatever I had to do that day. Monday morning I still had the energy to workout, although all I did was run on the treadmill for 3-km because I was getting hunger pangs and was beginning to feel weak already. I felt weak but strong, also a little bit bloated.
Day 2 (Monday 2:00 p.m. to Tuesday 2:00 p.m.)
Day 2 was hard. I felt very weak and spent most of the day on the bed and on the couch. I was marathoning documentaries like Crazy Sexy Cancer and Food, Inc. to keep me sane (I will talk about these films on another week), but I would fall in and out of sleep. All I wanted was to sleep all day – I felt very “low batt.”
Day 3 (Tuesday 2:00 p.m. to Wednesday 2:00 p.m.)
The hardest part was when I had to get up and teach Kids Yoga at 4:00 p.m. despite being in a fasted state. It was a full class and boy, was it a challenge. As their teacher I had to keep up with their energy and show them how to do everything. Thank goodness I survived. I also managed to go to a rock concert and go up and down four floors to the parking lot. Keyword is managed. That night, going up the stairs had me gasping for air. I was so winded. Fell asleep for 10 hours after that.
You can tell by my face, voice and even skin how weak I was on the third going on the fourth day. My skin was also beginning to purge, it had little spots on my face – like the reaction I get when I have allergies. My tongue also felt gross and chalky. My breath stank. I had to walk one kilometer (to and from) to a meeting nearby because I couldn’t trust myself to drive. I wasn’t the best person to have a meeting with because I found myself only saying yes and no to most questions. My brain could not power through it. My energy level could not afford to say anything more than that. I was a zombie. I felt exceptionally weak after that business meeting, and fell asleep as soon as I got home. I did not feel hungry at all though.
Day 4 (Wednesday 2:00 p.m. to Thursday 2:00 p.m.)
Day 4 wasn’t so bad. There were no more hunger pangs. But I had all sorts of aches and pains all over my body. My legs started to hurt and especially my lower back. As I mentioned before, I got into a car accident two years ago that made me unable to walk for a couple of days so I think it was the body repairing that old injury. I was cold but hot at the same time. I was feverish without fever. Am I making sense? I started expelling mucus in the form of sniffles and a bit of phlegm (yeah, gross, I know, but it’s part of the healing process).
Day 5 (Thursday 2:00 p.m. to Friday 2:00 p.m.)
I honestly can’t share much about this day as this was my weakest day and all I did was sleep the whole day. I literally only got up to drink water then went back to sleep.
Day 6 (Friday 2:00 p.m. to Saturday 2:00 p.m.)
Surprise! I had so much energy this day and was able to walk on the treadmill again although the speed was only 3.4kph. I was slower than a turtle. But slow as it was, I kept walking around home the whole day. My skin also began to clear up and I had a little glow. You can tell by just looking at me that I wasn’t as weak as the days before. I would also like to mention that although I wasn’t feeling hungry, I still thought about food a lot and started writing down recipes of food I would like to eat the whole day.
I semi-tortured myself by going to a steakhouse with my friend and watched him eat as I enjoyed my water. Good thing I don’t eat meat so I didn’t really get enticed by his food. I was able to convince myself that I was happy with the variety of what I’ve been having the past week: cold water, hot water, warm water. How exciting. My sense of smell seemed heightened though, so I enjoyed smelling all the food in the restaurant.
I’d also like to take note that my legs seemed to keep cramping up that night. I couldn’t wear heels as it was very painful to do so.
Day 7 (Saturday 2:00 p.m. to Sunday 2:00 p.m.)
I had enough energy Saturday morning to walk on the treadmill again with a faster speed of 4.4 kph this time. I was energetic yet weak. I felt like I was gasping for air most of the time, as if I ran a marathon even if I just walked a few steps. There were little spurts of energy which I took advantage of by walking. But when I wasn’t walking, I’d be on the couch being a little potato. When Sunday arrived, I tried to workout but my legs didn’t want to.
SUNDAY 2:00 p.m.
WOOHOO! I’ve completed 168 hours! I was very chirpy and energetic when I hit it but also couldn’t wait to finally put something in my belly. But of course, after seven days of no eating, I had to be careful. I couldn’t just eat what I wanted right away. To exit a fast you have to ease your way into eating food again, and that’s what I did.
Breaking my fast
I went to one of my favorite healthy places and ordered a pineapple malunggay smoothie plus a salad. I ate at 3:30 p.m. which made my fast officially 169.5 hours long. The first taste of that pineapple was oh, so delicious! I ate slowly, and didn’t finish the salad – I did not want to shock my body after the prolonged period it went without sustenance. I lost eight pounds. and an inch off my waist as a side effect, but of course the main reason for this fast was healing, and I couldn’t wait to test it right away.
My salad had mangoes in it, and as I ingested them, my body did not show any signs of allergy at all. As the days went by, I reintroduced all kinds of food again, and carefully took note of how my body reacted to it. Two months later, I was enjoying a bag of peanuts without breaking out in hives or rashes. Yup, my allergies have entirely disappeared.
In conclusion, I think this fast wasn’t as hard as people think it would be. It is not impossible to do. Impossible is a state of mind. And if your mind wills it, your body will follow. I believe that if your mind is strong, you can do anything. And doing this 7-day water fast to heal myself was all worth it. It’s a mental game. All it takes is willpower and dedication. If I can do it, so can you.
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