"We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience." - John Dewey
Do you have one of those friends who always seems to pull you into their wild schemes? Maybe it’s just me, I actually have several friends who tend to get me into some type of fun adventure on a regular basis. So, when I got a text saying: "I'm doing a 3-day fast. Wanna join?" most people would say 'NO!!!!'. And to be clear I did too, my initial response so harsh it was termed ‘aggressive’ by my friend and he wasn't wrong I replied "NO this is stupid!" the response was probably more colorful. But that was just my initial reaction, I found myself saying, 'Yeah sure I’ll do a 3 day fast with you' after some reflection. Why, you might ask? Keep reading and you’ll find out as this type of experience has always been a key play in my playbook to freedom.
Here's the thing - they say I'm easily influenced. But the way I see it, there's a thrilling joy in trying new things. And that's what life is really all about - opening your mind to endless possibilities. And let's face it, doesn't life get so much more interesting when we say 'yes'?
So there I was, fresh off the Appalachian Trail, plunging headfirst into a 3-day fast the same evening. Was this perfect timing? Probably not, but at the same time is there ever really a good time to not eat for three days? I know science probably has evidence to say there is, but for me anytime is as good as ever. I had a hunch that this journey was about more than just not eating, and it definitely was.
What if we could change how we view our past failures or unpleasant experiences? What if we looked at them as invaluable lessons rather than mistakes? What if we actually appreciated every hardship or failure? These aren’t really questions in my mind because this realization and mindset shift has been a game-changer in my life.
I’ve done fasting before, but never for this long. This fast I had an action plan to tackle my greatest fasting fear - binge eating after breaking the fast. Armed with pre-planned post-fast meals, I was ready to conquer my fasting fears and I had support from a friend: go alone go fast, go together go far.
Day 1 was just like a normal day for me. I kept busy, I wasn’t really that hungry. It was just a mental challenge at this point and this day helped me evaluate my relationship with food. Trips to the kitchen were habit more than hunger.
Now, I'll be honest, Day 2 was a little more of a wild ride. Hunger came and went in waves, the crest of the wave was “I’m so hungry, I’ll eat anything” then it passed and my normal peaceful 'not even hungry' would take over for a while. These waves got bigger and higher as the day went on, it wasn’t just mental at this point as my stomach sounded like the roar of a lion by the afternoon.
Day 3? This day was rough... If you think you can imagine how bad it is, make it worse than you think. It was like being a butterfly on a car windshield. I didn’t sleep well probably because I was hungry… I woke up at 2am and was so dehydrated by the evening cup of tea I thought was helping my hunger I realized I made a mistakes of not drinking enough. I remember texting my friend “I’m in trouble” along with some internal thoughts of “why am I doing this” and my typical “I don’t give up.” My brain power wasn’t great so I don’t even know if my text to him made sense, but I also realized his phone was set to do not disturb UNLESS he was also in the same state I was in. I mixed some electrolyte's with water and I made it through this initial wave of hunger combined with the desire to just sit and stare at the wall reflecting on why anyone would want to do this, and more importantly why am I doing this. I always think about my ‘why’ for almost everything almost to a fault sometimes. But, it's not a fault because I'm willing to say yes if it makes enough sense and the duration of the experience doesn't take away from my purpose and goals in life.
Right around midday on the last day came the semi-truck of hunger. Remember the the butterfly on the windshield earlier, this was equivalent to butterfly vs 18 wheeler! Around 1pm I knew it was time for me to call an end to this fast. A combination of an escalating headache, chills when it's 80 degrees, and decreasing heart rate, it was clear that it was time to break the fast early. As I was describing my current state to my friend he was “making the call for me.” The fast was over about 6 hours early. While I appreciated him making sure I was still using the few functioning brain cells I were firing on stored energy I had made that decision before I even texted him. I just needed support without judgement. We all need to surround ourselves with friends who support us, people who lift us up. Surround yourself with friends who reminds us that it's okay to quit sometimes, comparison is a trap, and there is no judgement when a friend fails. These same friends will also push and challenge you when needed, but it's not just a one way street of keeping up with the Jones!
While I didn’t make it the full 72 hours I learned a lot, I grew (or physically I shrunk), and had one heck of a time along the way! This is what my Playbook to Freedom is all about. Saying 'yes', learning from the past, and being present the entire time!
Oh guess what? That post-fast binge-eating I was so afraid of? Never happened. A reminder that sometimes, the only thing holding us back is ourselves. So, let's throw out our fears, embrace the power of 'yes', and open up a world of endless possibilities. After all, life's too short to always say 'no', isn't it? I think so!
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