Fasting: Day 6

This is Day 6 of my 21-day fast in Feb 2011 and probably the most in-depth fasting series you will ever find online. If you’re new to fasting, get the full background here: Fasting Experiment. Access all my articles on fasting: The Fasting Series.

Meditation at the beach

Day 6 of my water fast is over! Here are my stats for the day:

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  • 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

Overall Review

Today was a slightly better day than yesterday. I went to the library to borrow some recipe books and took some time to read through them. The light-headedness is still there so I’m just moving very slowly now, 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.

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. (Update: The interview is now up!)

Anyway, Loren advised me that rest is a 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 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 what I mentioned on Day 5, the more energy you expend doing stuff during fasting, the less energy you have for inner healing. The basic rule is to limit the stimuli you take in, limit your energy expenditure, close your eyes, and rest throughout the fast.

Weight Loss

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 big loss is usually due to (a) loss of water retained by salt and (b) not having food in your body. Here’s an excerpt by Dr. Ben Kim in his 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.

Heart Rate

I mentioned a couple of articles back 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 of a person is 60-80bpm, so my heart rate is well within this range. I probably felt that it was higher because it felt higher than usual.

Either way, I’m planning to rest more to get the maximum benefits from the fast.

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Water Consumption

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 researched 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 your throat feels tighter and doesn’t want to take in anything. Plus the fact that you just feel like lying down, rest, and do nothing. I’ll continue to take small sips throughout the day where I can.

Dreams

Since I’ve been resting so much, I’ve been dreaming quite a lot. My dreams have been more vivid too, though my dreams prior to fasting were already somewhat vivid.

A few days ago, I had a dream where I became lucid during the dream (i.e. aware that I was dreaming), which is a rare occurrence. Just now while sleeping, I dreamed of writing the fasting update for today, which transitioned into a battle scene with a fire dragon. LOL. I think it has to do with the Harry Potter movie I was watching before turning in (even though there were no dragons in the scenes that I watched so far) plus a desire to rewatch How to Train a Dragon. I really liked that movie — it is a very heartwarming film. 🙂

During Days 2-4 of my fast, I had a few dreams (out of other dreams) that I ate something and broke my fast against my will. On Day 2 I dreamed that I ate a green pandan cake (which is a sponge cake with pandan flavor — those of you from Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia would know what it is!). On Days 3 and 4 I dreamed that I ate a french fry. In one dream I think I sucked on a mint and suddenly realized that mint has calories and hence is a food too! *lol* In my dreams, I remembered feeling weirded out and wondering how this could have happened because I was so conscious and doing so well in my fast before then. Then I would wake up and realize that it was just a dream, to my relief. ^_^* Pretty strange but somewhat funny at the same time.

Many of the fasting accounts I 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 today is with regards to food. Several thoughts on this 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, but was instead exploring these thoughts in an objective manner.

For example, I was researching on healthy food recipes in preparation for my diet post-fast. While all the pictures looked extremely delicious, and I found myself going “Wow!” and “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 them now. It was more of detached appreciation.

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Earlier in the day, I took a whiff of the 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 restaurants. I looked at each picture and how that picture dramatized the food item, 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 items without having any desire to consume them, 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 feels good not being dictated by food. In the past, a lot of my eating behaviors were driven by emotions,  a “need” to eat, to power myself, for comfort, to reward myself, 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 — Eating to Chase After 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 eating behaviors in the past was never for the food itself, but for the emotions that I would get from eating the food.

For example, a part of me thought about eating a 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 would 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 I would get while eating. It could be positive memories in the past when I ate it with friends or family or memories from a particular stage of my life. It could be the supposed joy that eating the food brings, as depicted in commercials, food 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 certain food items — not because I want to eat them, but because of past positive memories I had while eating them.

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This was why I would eat so incessantly because food was never the answer. Food was merely a proxy to reconnect with the emotion I was craving for. And because food isn’t the true source of the emotion, it led me to eat more just to hunt down the emotion. And afterward, because I feel bad for eating something I didn’t even want to in the first place, I would eat more as self-punishment. And more, and more. It was an endless spiral. Food wasn’t a relief; it had become a prison. I feel that if I continue down that line, at some point I’d probably eat myself to death.

Being conscious of this is helping me untangle from the messy web I’ve gotten trapped in. Rather than chase after food to reconnect with an emotion (and not getting anywhere), I should 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. Doing so helps tackle the issue at the root, and take food, an unrelated item in this web of feelings, out of the equation.

At the same time, external factors such as the availability of healthy food is also a concern. After all, the average diet today is very unhealthy, and I live in a society where highly processed food is readily available.

I’m already working on that — I borrowed two recipe books from the library yesterday and I’m planning to watch some instructional videos (on healthy food) sometime this week. I’ll also be getting some food preparation equipment, including a multi-functional blender and spiral slicer. I’m 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). 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 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 my stomach feels empty,? But I have learned that conventional signs of hunger are not true hunger — hunger to me has a whole new meaning now. So what exactly should I do?

The fast has certainly opened my mind about food and the role it plays in our lives. At this point, it’s still an open 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.

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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!

This is Day 6 of my 21-day fast in Feb 2011 and probably the most in-depth fasting series you will ever find online. If you’re new to fasting, get the full background here: Fasting Experiment. Access all my articles on fasting: The Fasting Series.

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