This past week, after much research and specifically for health reasons, my husband and I embarked on a 5-day water only fast. Not an easy feat for those who love food! Looking for that hard reboot of our bodily systems, a challenge I may have been a little stubborn through, but in reality made us both stronger.
The alarm breaks the deadened silence. I wake and head to the kitchen to start our morning ritual. This morning though, did not start with freshly squeezed lemon juice (read more on lemons: When life gives you lemons), but that amazing freshly ground cup of coffee we so love every morning was indeed on the agenda, with a slight twist. No coffee added! I headed back to the room with 2 cups of hot water, wake up my husband and climb back into bed.
I don’t want to say it was a disappointing morning with a rather bland cup of coffee to start, because we knew full well what our decision meant. Water only means water only, hot or cold. And so our coffee for the next couple of days came in the form of hot water; same coffee cup just with water. Your imagination really needs to work overtime to help with the pretense in times like these!
The coffee was exactly what we needed!
Off to work we go.
By 10am, I had a rather uncomfortable headache making it a little difficult to focus. By 12pm, I could smell my own breath and so I went to swirl around some mouth wash. This definitely helped (we became very conscious and highly attuned to our breath throughout the week, something you should consider if you ever attempt a water only fast). I did however, land up with hiccups shortly thereafter. Very odd! And trying to keep them under my breath so as not to draw any attention to myself, well that wasn’t easy. My husband would tell you my hiccups make him laugh, as they can be rather ear piercing and awkwardly humorous at times. I just needed to push through.
Once home from work, the headache and nausea slowly grew worse. At some point during the evening, it literally had me woman down, resulting in something I had hoped I would not have to experience, but did. My empty stomach could not manage the bile secreted from my gall bladder and of course had to land up in a long moment of sincere and intimate affection with the toilet bowl.
Keep in mind this was only day one. We still had four more days to go. My husband was beside himself, not sure what to do with me. I kept pushing him away as I went through moments of hot, then cold, then sweaty, then weak. All I could hear was him begging me to eat something and take something for the headache. Finally out of sheer desperation, unable to keep up with my own stubbornness, I eventually agreed.
I took a tiny piece of a Woolies water biscuit – kind of like those pieces one takes during communion at church. Much to my own shock, it tasted like paper. I couldn’t believe it and I could not get it down. They tasted so nice before and now just so awful. It stuck in my throat clinging to my oesophagus. Unable to get it down and desperate for some pain relief I resorted to one pain tablet forcing it down with water. Finally, we could sleep.
I woke up feeling very weak but headache free. Again the morning ritual began with that amazing freshly ground cup of coffee!
This day for me was much easier to get through. There were no food cravings, hiccups or major headaches to attend to, just a little nausea. But one thing that really tickled my senses was the smell of food all around me, all the time, always different. I realised just what rubbish my colleagues ate, at all hours of the day. Admittedly so, it did become a little torturous at times, but not enough to kick start any craving. The different smells were scintillating, highlighting the fact that my body was indeed detoxing and driving me to drink more water.
What we did realise is that we suddenly had so much more time on our hands. No cooking and eating freed up hours for us. In hindsight those activities seem pointless now!
I woke up feeling a little stronger than day two but still quite weak. We both slept well. What dawned on me though was everything I did seemed to slow to a snail pace, even though I felt stronger. Keeping the end in mind, it was at this point I thought I could do ten days or at least try!
Again the morning ritual began with that amazing freshly ground cup of coffee.
And off to work we go.
This specific day though, became very difficult for my husband. Feeling lethargic, weak and dizzy he fought that horrible feeling of passing out. It seemed like my day one replicated his day three. Different bodies detoxing at different rates. Everyone is indeed unique. With much at stake we made the call to finish our fast that day. Three days and still with many benefits gained.
What we did learn through all this, is that you really do need to be in a state of rest. It becomes very difficult with work pressures and stresses. It certainly doesn’t work in your favour. Some can do it, most can’t. At the end of the day it’s not about being a hero or stubborn like myself determined to push through, there is certainly a time and place for that. It’s about seeing what would work best and what health benefits you are after.
We were more than comfortable to end the fast at the end of the third day knowing it was a great accomplishment. We both lost around three kilograms, saw a remarkable improvement in blood pressure and it seems the reboot button was initiated. Driven to eat better, I have to admit that the taste of healthy food is truly out of this world.
Being healthy is not easy, but don’t settle for the easy way out. It takes sacrifice and commitment, but the benefits will always outweigh the lack of convenience and tough times. And the grocery budget certainly lasts longer!