Fasting: Day 6
Day 6 of my water fast is over! Here are my stats for the day:
- Today’s Weight: 133.2lbs / 60.4kg
- Diff vs. Yesterday: -0.7lbs / -0.3kg
- Total Difference: -11.2lbs / -5.1kg
- Water consumption: 2.0 liters
- Body Temp: 36.1 C / 97.2 F
Today was a slightly better day than yesterday. I went to the library to borrow some raw recipe books, and took some time to read through them. The light-headedness remains so I’m just moving very slowly nowadays, especially when getting up. The nausea feeling has reduced. I was also in a slight feverish state in the morning when I woke up, though it dissipated soon after.
If you haven’t read my earlier post, I’ve actually been in touch with Loren (Lockman) for an upcoming fasting interview here at PE. This is your chance to have all your fasting questions answered by someone who has been practicing fasting and supervising fasts for 10 years, so be sure to head to the forums and post your questions there.
Anyway, Loren advised me that rest is the crucial part of safe and proper fasting. He was telling me to just turn off the computer and rest – I think he was probably shocked that I was trying to email him for an interview and ask follow-up questions when I was supposed to fast! I’m going to take his advice, turn in after this post and rest for as much as I can.
This is also in line with a lot of the materials I’ve read about fasting and what I’ve mentioned in my fasting updates to date, which is to have maximum rest during fasting to reap the true healing benefits. Like I mentioned in Day 5, the more energy you expend doing stuff during fasting, the less energy you have for inner healing. The basic rule is just to limit the stimuli you’re taking in, limit your energy expenditure, close your eyes and just rest throughout the fast.
My weight today is 133.2lbs / 60.4kg, which is 0.7lbs / -0.3kg vs. yesterday. This is at a reduced rate than previous days where I was losing from 0.6 to 1.5 kg. It’s normal and to be expected – an initial loss is usually more due to loss of water retained by salt and also not having food in your body. Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Ben Kim in the Fasting Q&A:
On average, a typical faster loses approximately one pound per day during a water-only fast. Initially, the loss may approach two or even three pounds per day for the first few days if the person is retaining significant sodium and water. This can decrease to approximately half a pound per day in the later stages of a fast. From day two onward, the body begins utilizing fatty tissues for energy, thereby conserving as much muscle tissue as possible, a mechanism called protein sparing.
I’ve mentioned a couple of articles before that I felt a higher heart rate, so today I decided to measure my pulse and track that. I counted an average of 11 beats every 10 seconds, which brings it to 66bpm (beats per minute). The regular heartbeat range is 60-80bpm, so my heart rate is well within this range. I probably felt that it was higher because it felt higher in comparison to usual.
Either way, I’m planning to rest more to get the maximum benefits out of the fast.
Water consumption today was 2.0 liters. I really didn’t feel like drinking water. I think it’s largely to do with the nauseous feeling. The other fasters I read up on had the same experience too. At first, I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just drink water, but now I understand. It’s like the throat feels tighter and doesn’t want to take in anything. Plus the fact that you just feel like lying down, rest and just do nothing. I’ll continue to just take small sips throughout the day where I can.
Since I’ve been resting so much, I’ve been dreaming quite a lot. They’ve been somewhat more vivid, though my dreams prior to fasting have also been vivid as well. There was a dream where I became lucid (i.e. being aware that I was dreaming) a few days ago, which is a rare occurrence. Just now I dreamed of writing the fasting post update for today, which transitioned into a battling scene with a flaming dragon. I think it’s to do with the Harry Potter I was watching before I turned in (even though there were no dragons in the scenes that I’d watched so far) plus a desire to rewatch How to Train a Dragon. I really liked that movie – it was very nice and fuzzy.
In Days 2-4 of the fast, I’d have a dream (out of several) where I ate something and broke the fast. In Day 2 I dreamed I ate a sponge cake (green pandan cake – those from Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia would know what it is); in Days 3 and 4 I dreamed I ate a french fry. In one dream I think I sucked on a mint and then I suddenly realized that mint had calories and was hence a food too! 😆 In my dreams I remembered feeling it was weird how that could have even happened because I was conscious and was doing so well before then. Then I would wake up and realize to my relief that it was just a dream. *sweat* Pretty strange, but quite funny at the same time. 😆
Many of the fasting accounts I had read also mentioned dreaming about food and eating. It’s certainly interesting how our subconscious reacts when we take something that’s so integral to our lives out of the equation.
Food, Detachment, and Proxy
My last update for the day is with regards to food. Several thoughts actually.
Detachment with Food
Today I’ve been thinking on and off about food. Nothing major, just that flashes of food would appear every once in a while, while I was doing something. I thought about the food that I enjoyed eating in the past, food that I craved before, food that I had positive memories about. I didn’t feel any desire or urge to eat despite thinking of all the foods I’d normally want to eat, and was instead just exploring those thoughts in an objective manner.
For example, I was doing research on raw food recipes in preparation of my diet post-fast. While all the pictures looked extremely delicious, and I found myself going “Wow!” “Oh my god I’d love to have this” (even salivating at the thought of eating them some point in the future), physically I wasn’t tempted to eat. It was more of detached appreciation. (On a side note, I’d actually love to share some of my raw creations and recipes with all of you in the future when I make raw a part of my life.)
Earlier in the day, I took a whiff of a broth my mom cooked yesterday. It smelled really good. When I went out, I caught another whiff of someone’s cooking and again, it smelled really good. While I was in the mall today, I stopped to look at food visuals placed outside the restaurants. I looked at each picture dramatized the food, and visualized how the actual item would look. All this was purely appreciation as an observer; it didn’t make me feel like eating.
Even when there was food within reach or when people ate next to me, it didn’t make me feel like eating. There have been numerous Chinese New Year candies lying around the house but none triggered my interest. At some points, I even took some of the snacks and food that my parents cooked, and just examined them. Some of these foods were the same foods that I ate in the past and carried some strong emotions for. Yet looking at them now, I started to see them as what they are – different ingredients and components put together and packaged as an item for eating. It definitely felt strange being so close to the food without having any desire to consume them at all, and being able to see them as what they really are. It is certainly a different state compared to before, when I saw food as my life source, energy, a companion, a friend.
Viewing Food through Different Lens
For sure, I am looking at food with a different lens now. The lens of an observer, rather than the lens of an active participant. It felt good not to be dictated by food. In the past, a lot of my eating behaviors were driven by emotions, by feeling a ‘need’ to eat, to power myself, for comfort, to reward, to not let the food go to waste – many of which are unrelated to what food is for. Right now, the objectivity I have with food is one I haven’t had in a long long while, if ever.
In the past – Chasing food for an emotion
In between objectively observing food, I got a chance to examine my feelings of nostalgia toward food. I feel that a large part of my past eating habits was never because of the food itself, but for the emotions that I would get from eating them.
For example, a part of me thought about veggie pizza complete with cheese and all. However, I know eating it doesn’t truly make me feel happy. I’ve done it lots of times in the past and the result was always the same. Looking at the picture makes me tempted, I get excited about eating it, I feel happy when eating, but after eating I never feel happy. The same thing applies for other food items – be it waffles, ice cream, my mom/dad’s cooking, fries, sushi, chocolate shakes, wafers, cookies, pastries, or pretty much any food item.
The thing is, I was never after the food. What I was after was the emotion the food would give me while eating it. It could be positive memories in the past when I ate it with friends or family. It could be positive memories at a particular stage of my life when I ate it in the past. It could be the supposed joy that eating the food brings, as always depicted in commercials, posters, and TV shows. When I objectively explored each feeling of nostalgia, this same answer would emerge. Even as I explore the deepest side of me, I could feel a speck of nostalgia toward some meat items – not because I want to eat meat (I’ve absolutely no interest in eating meat ever since I turned vegetarian in Jan ’08), but because of past positive memories I had while having meat-based meals.
This was why I would eat so incessantly in the past, because food was never the answer. It was merely a proxy by which I could reconnect with the emotion, and because food itself wasn’t the source of the emotion, it led me to eat more of it just to chase down the emotion. And afterward, because I felt bad for eating something I didn’t even want to eat in the first place, I would eat more as a sort of self-punishment. And more, and more. It was an endless spiral. Food wasn’t a relief; it had become a prison. I felt that if I continued down that line, at some point I’d probably eat myself to death.
Being conscious of this relationship with food helped me to untangle the messy web I’ve entangled myself in. Rather than chase after food to reconnect with the emotions (and never getting anywhere), what I should do is to connect with the emotions directly at the source. If it’s a feeling of connection I’m looking for with my parents, then connect with them. If it’s about connecting with friends, then get in touch with them. Doing so helps to tackle the issue at the root, and take food, an unrelated agent to begin with, out of the equation.
At the same time, external factors such as availability of raw food is also an actual concern, as I wrote on Day 5. I’m already working on that – I borrowed 2 raw recipe books from the library yesterday and I’m planning to get some raw food instructional videos (for low-fat raw vegan) sometime this week. I’ll also be getting some raw food preparation equipment, including a multi-functional blender (thinking between a Vita-Mix or a Blendtec at the moment) and spiral slicer. I’m also planning some other stuff in the future which I’ll share in due course.
Post Fast and Thinking Forward
Right now it feels nice to take a break from eating. At this point, I’m pretty neutral about eating post-fast.
A part of me wonders what to do post fast (food-wise). For one, I don’t even feel like eating now. Two, what kind of pattern should I follow when I resume normal eating? How frequently should I eat? What guideline should I use to decide when to eat and when not to eat? Should I eat when others want to eat? No, that doesn’t sound like a good idea. Should I eat when the stomach feels empty; when I feel hungry? But I learned the conventional signs of hunger are not true hunger – hunger to me has a whole new significance now. So what exactly should I do?
The fast has certainly opened my mind about food and the role it has been playing in our lives. At this point, it’s still an open point of debate for myself. I have quite a bit of time to think this through before the fast ends, and will continue to share my thoughts here. I’ve to say it’s really quite intriguing so far.
Stay tuned for Day 7 / Week 1 Review
These are all the significant reports I have for Day 6. Tomorrow I’ll be doing a review for Day 7 and Week 1. Stay tuned!
Update: Day 7 is up!
Image: Meditating at beach