First of all, you need to know one thing: I really, really like food. Really. I watch TV shows about food when I’m not eating. I take leisurely strolls through Costco on the weekends just to try the samples. I’m on a constant personal mission to find the best chile relleno in Colorado.
And pancake. And pizza. And Pad Thai. And pretty much every other food group one can eat.
So the other night, I was doing what I do best and plowing through some cheap Chinese food. All was fine until a few hours later…when the toilet and I suddenly developed an impromptu and highly necessary relationship.
I’d been betrayed. Likely by the cheap Chinese food I had once so loved.
I woke up disgusted and discouraged…and brainstorming. Odds were I had just cleared my system of, well, pretty much anything that might have been in it. And food certainly wasn’t sounding very appetizing. Maybe this was the perfect time to try something I’d been thinking about doing for a while: a 24 hour fast.
I know, the idea sounds crazy—especially if you've ever met me. But hear me out! I’d always heard how fantastic short fasts could be for exorcising your body of its toxins and rejuvenating your metabolism. I hadn’t eaten anything in thirteen hours at this point anyway, so all I had to do was get through the next eleven hours. And how hard could it be to go without food for eleven hours? People did it all the time for religious reasons. Health reasons. How bad could it actually be?
Below you’ll find the rambling thoughts and roller coaster of emotions I experienced during my eleven hour period of not eating. I’m warning you now: it isn’t pretty. And most of it sure isn’t logical. But it’s definitely…well, it’s something all right. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
And yes, I’m well aware of exactly how many times I used the word “pancakes.” Highly, highly aware.
I am so impressive right now. I haven’t eaten anything yet…and I’m barely hungry! This is amazing! I’m going to be so proud when I finish this. I bet my skin glows and my body finally finds ideal metabolism and I never have to diet again! This is totally going to be worth any pain and struggle I inflict upon myself.
*Finally does such actual internet research about fasting.* Hmmm…so, I’m not supposed to be drinking this Vitamin Water Zero thing, huh? Well, it has ZERO calories…and vitamins…and it’s water…so surely that doesn’t count. I mean, I need some kind of taste to keep myself from remembering that I’m fasting. So I’ll drink Vitamin water and water and tea (no sugar or milk, obviously). Yup. This is totally going to work. I’m going to be fine.
Yoga people say fasting is great. I haven’t gone to yoga in a while, but maybe this is the way back into a life of better mind-body connectedness. I should definitely find a new yoga class tomorrow.
*Looks at Pastry Crisp wrapper I carelessly left on the couch last night* You know…pastry crisps are only 100 calories…NO. NO. You said you were going to do this! You will not fold! You will not phone this one in! Ignore that pastry crisp wrapper! You’re better than that!
Is my hand shaking?
I’m feeling lightheaded, too, but the internet says that’s totally normal. I just need to remember that you can actually survive for weeks at a time without food. I don’t NEED food right now. My brain just wants my body to THINK I do. I’ll just sit here and distract myself with work. Yes, that’s what I’ll do. More work.
*Watches Gilmore Girls* Suki and Michael are so funny together. I love when she doesn’t put the proper amount of blueberries in his pancakes…you know, those pancakes look good. It’s been awhile since I had blueberry pancakes. I could really go for some blueberry pancakes. IHOP has all you can eat pancakes right now, I think…NO! NO AGAIN! STOP THIS! YOU DO NOT WANT PANCAKES! After you conquer this Everest of yours, THEN you can have pancakes. Then you can have all of the pancakes you want. The pancakes will be a great reward. Look forward to it. Pancakes tomorrow and no earlier.
You know what sounds good right now? Chinese food. That leftover Chinese food in the fridge. Wait. WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? Do you not remember what that Chinese food DID to you last night? That Chinese food is what got you into this mess! Don’t do it! Just don’t do it!
*Still watching Gilmore Girls* That dinner they’re eating looks great…I wonder what it is. Probably something fancy, like goose. Goose sounds good right now. I’ve never had goose before, but I bet it’s great. Or duck. Duck would be nice too. Or some very fancy chicken….I should probably turn off the TV, huh? Or possibly stop watching an episode of The Gilmore Girls that’s so centered on food. Which probably means I need to stop watching The Gilmore Girls altogether…nah, I’ll just power through. Wait, did Sookie just say she has pumpkin hands? Pumpkin sounds good right now….
My stomach is growling. Loudly. Like, super loudly. And this Vitamin water is boring. Is this fast really worth it? Why am I doing this? What’s the point? Food is GOOD for you. People are supposed to eat food. Otherwise, they STARVE. That’s what I’m doing—starving myself! WHY AM I DOING THIS?
Stay calm. You can do this. Remember the goal: cleanse the body. Rejuvenate. Connect body and mind…or something like that.
Boy, I have NO energy. Even writing this is hard right now. I’m going to have to go back and rewrite everything once I have, you know, calories in me. Because nothing fruitful or useful is NOT going to happen today, that’s for sure. I don’t understand how people do this consistently! Why would you ever want to go a full day without eating pasty crisps? Why? What did the pastry crisps ever do? It makes no sense.
Walk through the kitchen carefully…carefully…no, don’t look at those granola bars. You’ll only hate yourself later. Pretend they’re not there!! Sure, it might SOUND like your husband is chewing in the other room, but it’s really mice. Or termites. Yeah, termites. That’s it.
So, if a fast should be 24 hours, I can end it right around 8 o’clock and eat right before I go to bed. Right? So I don’t have to go to bed hungry? That’s only 7 more hours. I can go seven hours. Or wait…am I supposed to go all the way until TOMORROW MORNING? Isn’t that more like a 36 hour fast? Seems a little extreme. Is that even healthy? *Googles best length of time for a fast.* What?! People fast on nothing but water for TEN DAYS? WHO DOES THAT? Seriously, what do they do—lock themselves in cabins and avoid humanity for ten days?!
Well, these people all seem to disagree about whether you should stop at 24 or shoot for 40. I guess I’ll see how badly I want pancakes at the 24 hour mark. Odds are I’ll want them pretty badly, though.
Ten minutes later: Well, I’m definitely not waiting until tomorrow morning. No way. This fast is right at 24 hours, no matter what. Then there will be pancakes. All the pancakes in the world. With lots and lots of blueberries.
Well, only five hours to go. Just five hours. I can do this. I absolutely can. Maybe I’ll watch a movie…that’ll take up two hours. And it’s not like I have the energy to get off the couch anyway. The internet says some people do this everyday?! How is that possible? How do they interact with other like normal human beings?!
A NAP. That’s what I need. A NAP. When you’re asleep, you don’t notice you’re hungry! That’s why they call it breakfast, right? Because you’re breaking a fast you didn’t know you were on! I’ll take a nap.
Or I could turn the movie back on. Or find a new book to read. Or do a little more walking. Gently, of course. There are plenty of things to do. Maybe I should go to a yoga class right now—it might clear my mind.
Or I could just sit here. Turn the movie back on. Think about…what I’m going to eat after 24 hours is up. Those pancakes still do sound REALLY good. That diner not far from here has pretty good pancakes. We could totally go eat there. I’m definitely getting pancakes…but their California benedicts are pretty good too…no that’s probably too heavy for right after a fast. Wait, are pancakes too heavy for right after a fast? Hmmm. I should probably stop fantasizing about the food I’m going to eat in 4 hours and 27 minutes, huh?
I’m going to have to edit soooo much of this.
I don’t look any skinnier yet. Why don’t I look skinnier? I HAVEN’T EATEN IN A WHOLE TWENTY HOURS. Why isn’t this working?
Just go for a walk with hubs like he suggested. Surely nature will take your mind off your hunger. You like nature. You like walking.
*Plans dinner menu with hubby during walk*
I’m so excited that hubby and I planned the dinner menu for tonight! Now that I know he’s making pancakes…and they’ll be ready exactly when this stupid fast expires…
I can do this. Only three hours left. Only three hours left. Just a movie and…well, a TV show? Oh, good! Pitch Perfect is on. Surely all the vomiting will help me lose my appetite.
WHAT WAS HUBS THINKING LEAVING THAT MINI-WHEATS BAG OPEN?!? CLOSE THAT IMMEDIATELY. Don’t cave. They’re just mini-wheats. Just mini-wheats. You don’t want to give up over mini-wheats…
Okay, Pitch Perfect helped a lot! We’re almost there! Just a few minutes to go…less than an hour!
Stop counting the minutes. That won’t help at all. Read! Or something!
Only 24 minutes left.
Only 23 minutes left.
*Counts every single minute until time is up*
*Flings self into kitchen*
So there you have it. My encounter with fasting. What did I learn, you ask, because you are an incredibly thoughtful person who wants to ensure my experiences are all meaningful and fruitful?
Well. Clearly, I learned how much I like pancakes. And that “hangry” is not a great color on me.
The whole experience definitely got me thinking about the myriad of people in the world who don't have enough to eat. While I certainly didn't grow up rich, I've always been one of those lucky people in the world who's never had to worry about where my next meal is coming from. Doing this challenge highlighted exactly what hunger does to your body and your state of mind.
I'm starting to think every teacher should try something like this once--just so we all know what our students are feeling and thinking when they didn't get dinner the night before or breakfast that morning. Of course they're short with us. Of course they're cranky. Of course they're having trouble concentrating.
And most of them don't have pancakes to look forward to when time is up.