It's 11PM on January 2nd and I've already failed my New Years "diet" challenge.
As many of you know, I'm really not into diets, or crazy fad juice cleanses. Those generally don't work for me (and many others) and normally I just end up worse off than I started. However, I am really into challenges and methods of eating that push my body as well as my mind. What do I mean by this?
Well, for years I've followed influencers in the health and wellness community like Tim Ferris, Dr. D'Angostino and Dave Asprey that are doing innovative and interesting things to get their minds and bodies to perform at the highest level. For me, that's the center of why I eat a whole foods diet and why I decided to do this "challenge". It's not to get a 6 pack (although that would be nice) but so that I can perform both mentally and physically at my best every single day.
I've practiced something called IF or Intermittent Fasting for about 6 years now. You can learn more about it HERE but to just give you a quick overview, IF has been around for centuries as a way to clear the brain, maintain focused thought, increase lifespan, as well as get rid of toxins, waste and improve overall physical performance. I normally practice IF 2-3x per week which basically means that I fast for 14-16 hours before I actually eat anything. So, for instance, if I finish my dinner at 8PM the night before, I won't eat anything besides some bulletproof coffee (100% full fat won't break your fast) until about 12PM. This gives my body time to restart, detox and I notice that I'm extremely focused when I'm fasting. The fat from the bulletproof coffee that I drink powers my metabolism and helps me feel full while my body focuses fully on rejuvenation instead of digestion.
To start off the New Year, my husband and I decided that we wanted to challenge our mind and body by doing a 3-day fat fast. I know, you're reading this and thinking I'm totally crazy, but hear me out. I've read about extended fasts for a long time and decided to finally pull the trigger after reading Tim Ferris' new book Tools of Titans. He talks about how many top performers, including CEO's, business execs and influencers use IF or extended fasting strategically several times per year. It's their way of restarting the body and also increasing mental clarity. Not to mention, there is evidence to suggest that it can help reboot your immune system and eliminate pre-cancers. So, what better way to start off the year, right?! Tim Ferris and many of the other wellness professional I follow and deeply respect talk about how extended fasts have impacted their lives in a really positive way, so Brett and I couldn't wait to get started...I guess. So, NYE we had our final meal and then decided that we'd begin fat fasting on January 1st.
We started the first morning of 2017 with a bulletproof coffee and plenty of water. We stayed busy with a brisk walk, some reading and football to distract our minds a bit. I've read that the first day is always the hardest, and trust me, it was! By 3PM on January 1st, which was about 20 hours into my fast (the longest I'd every fasted) I started to feel really shaky, emotional and basically broke down crying. There was no way I was going to do this! So, instead, I decided I'd modify the challenge and do 3 consecutive days of 20-22 hours fasts with one big meal to break it up. So, around 4PM on January 1st I ate a fat heavy meal of wild salmon cooked in butter with a big salad with tons of olive oil. Feeling sort of disappointed, despite eating an insanely healthy meal, I reconciled that at least I was still pushing myself to try something new and would reap the mental and physical benefits soon! Meanwhile, Brett was definitely struggling (head and body aches and major hunger) but he pushed on. I swear he's superhuman sometimes.
On January 2nd, we woke up, drank lots of water along with bulletproof coffee. I shot to fast until about 3PM which would be about 22 hours of fasting. What I started to notice as the day progressed was that my challenge wasn't with hunger, but that my mind was NOT responding the way that I'd thought it would for this challenge. The lack of food was making me really edgy and emotional. But I pushed on because, hey, if the highly successful people were doing this to restart their bodies and perform better at their work, I had to do it too!
As scheduled, I broke fast around 3PM with some protein, lots of olive oil and some kale. I started to feel better and was proud of how I was sticking to my guns on this. That night, I decided to get to bed early, around 9PM, so that I could let my body rest and recover and hit day 3 running! But when I got in bed, the hunger overtook me. I had a splitting headache, my muscles ached and there was no way I was falling asleep. Gahhhh! Finally, at 11PM, frustrated as heck, I got up and headed to the kitchen. I thought, "this is so ridiculous, or maybe I'm just a big failure but I'm freaking hungry and I'm so over this." At 11PM, I sat in my kitchen, ate almond butter and decided that this whole 20-22 hour fasting thing was over. I'd failed.
I wasn't able to get even close to doing a 3-day fast. I broke after 20 hours and then broke again after that. Should I feel angry and disappointed? Sure, I do. At least a little bit. My husband is still fasting right now as he heads into day 3 and I'm pretty impressed and also a little bit jealous. He's been pretty miserable but he's stuck it out. Meanwhile, I'm face first in a jar of Justin's almond butter and dreaming of ribeye steaks at night!
My takeaway from this isn't all negative though and I'm really happy that I did it. I enjoy pushing my body; maybe it's the old competitive water polo side of me that's still in there, but it's fun to challenge yourself. I'm still reflecting on what all of this means and how I can learn from it. I know that failure is good and I'm also not going to let myself fall completely off of the bandwagon just because I couldn't get through all three days, let alone one. Instead, I'm doing the best that I can do in this very moment. That's all I can ask of myself and I'm proud of that. I challenge you to do the same.