I’m on day 5 of a fruit and veggie juice fast and I keep being reminded of when I did a 40 day medically supervised fast when I was 19. I didn’t think much about this fast for so long but there’s a lot of things going on that make me flash back to that time. I thought I’d write a bit about it since it’s in the forefront of my mind.
I went on the fast then to help jump start me back into a healthy weight. I had put on a lot of weight during my first year in college (and then gained more when I got home.) I was pretty severely depressed and pretty out of control with binge eating and emotional eating. I failed out of college because I had partied so much and cared very little about my studies. When I got home, I worked a coupla jobs and spent the weekend partying and binge eating. Needless-to-say, I felt out of control and didn’t know what to do first. I got myself into talk therapy to help me with depression. She offered for me to take anti-depressants but I didn’t want to do that. I had said that I felt like I had kind of an addictive personality since I was doing so much binging of food and alcohol and I didn’t want to get myself into another thing that I’d feel like I couldn’t then get off of. She said it was probably a wise decision for me.
I decided to do a medically supervised fast. I thought and thought over this. I was going to put a lot of money into it and I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. Plus I didn’t know what to expect. I recall approaching my “surrogate” family, my neighbor Paola and her mom for advice. They were great. I remember Paola saying that I didn’t really need to do that, that maybe I could figure out how to do this on my own without spending so much to go on a diet. Her mom said something like, “If this is something that you feel is important for me to do, then it doesn’t really matter the cost.” I was so grateful for that permission.
I was out of control and a fast at that time was to press the reset key on everything. I went to the doctor and had the full tests done for my heart and everything. They checked my weight and also figured out how much bones and muscle weight I had so I could determine a good weight for my height and body structure. They gave me these special powders to mix with water 5x per day (every 2-3 hours) and told me what to expect, what to call them about if there was a problem, what other things I could eat, how much water I was supposed to drink and when weekly check ins would be.
You are supposed to do long fasts with a bit of sensibility. You are supposed to ease up on food intake the week prior to the start of the fast. I didn’t read or follow that part of the program. I received all that information and we figured on the start date and I ended up gaining 5 more pounds during that week prior! I guess I felt like I needed to live it up more before I was going to do my penance.
I started the fast and I can’t tell you how the first week went. I have been trying to remember if the first week was hard or not. I’m sure that it was although I don’t ever remember being hungry with those powders I drank every 2 hours. I do remember that very soon into the fast, I really HATED the taste of those shakes. They would make me gag by day 30 and I had to literally choke them down like medicine. I remember that I never bothered to eat the sugar-free jello or whatever they said I could eat during the day. I never liked jello and I’ve always had a disgust for the taste of artificial sweeteners. (Liquid stevia even bothers me because it reminds me of artificial sweeteners.)
I lost 40 lbs in that 40 day fast. Or maybe it was 45. It was a lot though and it was what kept me going. I can remember the day I broke the fast. I was supposed to go on for 50 days but I broke that fast 10 days early. My mom had made some macaroni and beef and I loved my mom’s cooking and yet I have to say that this was one of her blandest dishes. She had made a pot of it and it was dinner time and the 5 days of the 40 day fast, I remember desperately wanting to chew something. Anything. I would have chewed on bark and maybe I should have. That night, I looked at that pot and I grabbed a noodle. I chewed it and it was like heaven to chew something. I made a small bowl of it and I ate that little bowl with all the gratitude in my heart.
Now again, when one is breaking a fast, we are supposed to pick easy to digest whole foods, like soft ripe fruit to eat. I didn’t follow that part of the program either. I’m happy in retrospect that I was 19 and adaptable. I’m not sure how my stomach would have felt now to go from liquid meals to macaroni and beef after 40 days.
I did make sure to eat more sensibly. I didn’t go through all of that to go back into binge-ville. I went on to lose another 20-25 pounds and I kept it off until I was pregnant with my son. I did put on a little bit of weight when I was dating this one guy that wasn’t so great for me to be with and when my mom was sick with cancer. It’s been some long journey for me to deal with emotional eating.
I’ve been thinking of this fast a lot during my juice fast. I like that I’m in a much better place with my health and state of mind than when I was 19. I like that I had that experience to make me giggle and to remind me that I’ve done this before. The similarities are that I was 100% ready, willing and able to do that fast and that’s how I feel now. The differences are quite a lot but I’ll mention two very big ones: I like what I’m drinking now; I’m hungry now and I don’t ever recall being hungry then (makes me think I should be on an ever 2 hour schedule.) I’ve done other fasts since then but I don’t recall having the focus and williness to do them like I have this time. I think it’s important to really have a good intention for the fasting and I think it helps when your body wants to do it. I’ve tried to psyche myself up for them in the past but it’s just not the same.
Well, that was a fun little memory to write about.