Two weeks ago, I challenged myself to do a three-day juice fast. It was the longest fast I have done in the last ten years, and if I wasn’t convinced it was the best thing I could do for my body, I wouldn’t have done it at all.
Fasting is scary to me, but the more I read about the benefits, the more I had to do it. I put a date on the calendar and tried to be brave. I was nervous about it, not just because I don’t like to be hungry, but because I wasn’t sure I actually could fast for three days and still take care of five busy kids, my husband, and all my responsibilities. Could I really fast for three days and NOT kill someone?
I planned my fast for a time when my husband was going to be away for the weekend. I thought it would be easier to have him gone because we tend to indulge in special snacks and extra coffee when he’s home on the weekends. I couldn’t imagine watching a movie with him and not making popcorn!
As it turned out, our area of the country was hit with a significant (for us) snowstorm the week before my fast. Everything was shut down, and my husband didn’t have work for a week. His duty weekend at Ft. Lewis was cancelled (he’s an Army chaplain). I barely made it out of the house to load up on fruit and veggies for my juicing.
The first day of my fast, I had to endure my husband’s coffee-making ritual as I downed a glass of the worst tasting juice I have ever made. I felt a little sorry for myself. Did you know there’s such a thing as too much kale? There is.
But, having my husband home turned out to be much more of a blessing than it was a temptation to eat. He is extremely supportive and it was nice to have someone to talk to, and to have an extra hand with the kids (always a plus). I found out that I wasn’t very tempted to cheat. I had decided to do this fast and I didn’t want to break it. I wanted to see if I could do it.
The first day was the hardest for me. I had a sinus headache that made it difficult to function. And I was hungry. Some people say they aren’t hungry when they fast but I think they are all liars because I WAS HUNGRY. Granted, I’d been eating nothing but salad for a week ahead of the fast in an attempt to really, really clean out my system, but still. The kale-juice-of-awfulness was just not cutting it. I could barely drink it. Finally, I gave up and dumped it down the sink. It was liberating. Starting afresh with far less kale in my juice, things began to get easier.
That night, my mother-in-law invited us over for pizza and games. We’d been stuck in our house for a week because of the snow, with no one to entertain us but the neighbor kids zipping down our hill on their sleds, so we jumped at the chance. Even though I was going to be around food, I didn’t care. It was nice to think about being around people and doing something fun. The pizza and the snacks didn’t really bother because I don’t usually eat that kind of stuff anyway. But the salad looked good. And then my husband made a pot of coffee and I thought I was going to have to keep kissing him just to get a taste of it. Ah! Coffee is my downfall!
Day two and three were much easier for me than the first day, and not just because my hubby was happy from all the smooching. My headache went away and I felt great. I had a lot of energy and was even able to work out like normal. I wasn’t nearly as hungry, either. I only drank juice at meal times and didn’t feel like I was suffering beyond reason. I did drink a lot of herbal tea, especially Echinacea because it supports the lymph nodes and helps to detox. Plus, it was cold outside and I was freezing. Not eating made me feel colder than usual. I just wanted to hold a cup of soup!
By the time the last day of the fast came around, I knew I could do it. I went to bed with the happy thought that I’d be able to get up and make my usual cup of coffee. It was reassuring to know that I could eat again, but I wanted to make sure that I didn’t overdo it. I ate a pear for breakfast and it felt indulgent. I tried to eat the same things I’d juiced and avoided even healthy oils and sprouted nuts for the first couple days.
Before I began the fast, I wondered if I would lose much weight by not eating for three days. I didn’t need to lose weight, but like most women, I wasn’t going to complain if I did. The first two days, the scale didn’t move at all. I was a little annoyed. Here I was, practically starving myself, and the scale didn’t show it. I kept telling myself that I was healthy and that is all that matters (lies, all lies). But still. Not an ounce?! I woke up the third day and gave the scale a dirty look. Why do I even own one of those things? But I hopped on anyway and was shocked to see that I’d lost five pounds overnight. I don’t know how a person loses five pounds while they sleep (I guess I toss and turn a lot), but that’s what happened. And it hasn’t come back. I feel a sense of redemption in that.
More importantly, I feel a great sense of accomplishment because I did something I didn’t think I could do. And it wasn’t awful and I didn’t kill anyone and I was (mostly) my usual delightful self. But, I did feel like three days wasn’t quite long enough. I have read several doctors who say that a three day fast removes the toxic build-up in the body, but it takes five days (or longer) to really begin to undo any past damage. Five days lets the body really accomplish something. So, my next challenge is to complete a five day fast. I haven’t set the date yet, but I think it will be sometime this month. Stay tuned, and please consider joining me!