Today I am embarking on a seven day fast. In the past I have done juice fasts, but I have never gone for more than a day without food. This fast will consist of only high quality water (we pump ours directly from a spring located in Shiller Park). I will not be consuming any other liquids, vitamins or supplements. I know this sounds extreme, but there are people who have done 20 plus day fasts and not had any problem at all. My intention is to make it through the full 7 days on water alone. If at any time I feel my health is being compromised, I will resume eating.
Now I will get into how I came to this fast. Two weeks ago I realized I was pregnant, Andrew and I had not been trying and so I had not really been on the lookout for symptoms. I also had just taken a major audition and thought I was dealing with post audition stress. When I put on a few pounds and couldn't take them off, I started realizing something was off in my body. And when my breasts started to swell and get tender, I knew I was pregnant - it also explains the strong urge I had to cut my hair! Within a week of figuring this out and experiencing all of the mixed emotions that came with this unexpected pregnancy, I started spotting. Initially I was not concerned, as I had no cramping, but as the days continued it was clear that I was having a spontaneous abortion - this essentially means the implantation did not take and my body rejected the pregnancy.
Days later I visited my holistic doc, Dr. Park, and I broke down - something he has never observed me do in the three years I have been seeing him. He gave me some much needed acupuncture, herbs to help my body get back into balance hormonally and the idea for this fast. To be clear, Dr. Park was not recommending this fast to me, he was simply telling me a story about another patient who did a seven day fast. As soon as he told me about this other patient's experience, I knew this was something I wanted to do - it resonated with me on some level and I instinctively knew it was the right next step for me. Dr. Park was very supportive of my commitment to doing this fast and will be coaching me through it. For those of you concerned, I will be checking in with Dr. Park many times during the fast to make sure everything is ok.
So one might wonder what it was about the fast that appealed to me. My response is simple, I want to open myself up to finding my true identity; in others words, I want to get back in touch with my inner child. The motivation is spiritual based, not health. However if there happen to be health benefits, then I welcome those as well.
After a bit more self-reflection I would say that with some aspects of my life I am stuck in autopilot mode. For instance I say daily affirmations, but now they seem to be less effective - it's like I'm just repeating something without really knowing what I am saying. I also feel tired of the need to always do my best. Even from my earliest childhood memories, I have always strived to do everything the best that I am able. For some people it's a competition thing, but for me it seems to be something I do because I know I can. It may sound strange, but I rarely doubt that I can do something and I know deep down that I can do anything if I just set my mind to it. Don't get me wrong, this is not always a bad thing, but when this is my default mode I sometimes don't know what really drives me. It would be nice to not have any expectations for myself and just be.
As many of you know I eat vegan and gluten-free, which means that I am constantly having to plan my meals and essentially think about food. When we eat, our bodies inherently are in survival mode. In order to break this cycle and reach a new level of clarity, one must fast. I am curious to see how my relationship with food changes once I have finished this fast. Also, how much food does one really need to survive and how much is mere excess? A bonus of this fast, will be the fact that I won't spend time grocery shopping, planning or cooking one meal this week and I will save money not consuming the food I normally would over a period of seven days. For those of you wondering about my husband Andrew, he has tons of leftovers in the fridge as well as other ingredients to make his dinners this week - I did his grocery shopping for the week a few days ago.
Having an auto-immune disease can be something we may think we have to live with for the rest of our lives. But since we are learning that genes can change expression (they can act like switches turning on and off), I am curious to see how mine responds to this fast. Will the fast reboot my system and cause the celiac switch to turn off? If it did, I would still continue to eat gluten-free, as I feel it is a healthier way to eat for most. It would be nice, though, when eating at a restaurant or traveling not to have to worry about getting glutened and sick.
"The purpose of fasting is to loosen to some degree the ties which bind us to the world of material things and our surroundings as a whole, in order that we may concentrate all our spiritual powers upon the unseen and eternal things."
~ Ole Kristian O. Hallesby