Some time ago, I met a very peculiar woman. She’s one of those mood-lifting people, always with a contagious smile on her face and lots of energy. But don’t assume this story is about how I dated her (I never did, she’s 15 years older than me), it’s about one of her curious habits. One day I found out something about her that caught my attention: from time to time, she does water fasting for 24 hours due to her religious beliefs.
One evening, while I was having dinner and she was intermittently sipping water, I asked if she really sees any benefits in her spirit when she fasts. With no hesitation, she affirmed that she doesn’t only notice benefits in her soul, but also in her body and mind. One thing led to another and a conversation that started with me questioning her reasons to fast, ended up with her convincing me to give it a try.
I thought fasting was something exclusive for religious people, but after doing some research, I soon realized that it’s quite a popular method to burn fat, detox our body and regain balance in our system. And what was most surprising to me is that, according to some studies, it could supercharge our brain and enhance our ability to concentrate. This, because fasting incentives the growth of new brain cells, which helps to establish neuronal connections, improving our cognitive abilities.
At that moment, I was struggling with a long article that was resisting to get written, so it was the perfect excuse to test the theory. I had dinner at 8 pm, went to bed and the next morning I sat down with nothing in my stomach to start typing. I did good progress, but to be honest, my concentration wasn’t much different until 1 pm, when my stomach realized that it hadn’t received any food in 17 hours.
Normally, this would be around the time when my mind would wander on what to eat for lunch. But not this time. It was my fasting day and I knew I didn’t have to worry about meals, so I had no option but to focus on my work to try to avoid hunger headaches. I kept writing through any discomfort and a couple of hours later I had finished; it even gave me time to write some pages of my novel. You might think I could have finished my work whether I had eaten or not. Yes, that’s true. However, I was by far more efficient and I can tell you it was a huge boost to my productivity not having to deal with the sleepiness that comes after eating; my body had no need to use its energies in the digestive system.
I won’t lie, in the evening I was extremely hungry, so I had to find something to do to get distracted. I did a long yoga sequence that almost felt like a yoga retreat; I grabbed a book and read more than 100 pages non-stop; and I even mopped the floor in my apartment. It was truly a productive day, which made me wonder if sometimes we just eat between meals because there is nothing else to do, taking time from other important deeds that could bring us more benefits. If that’s the case, fasting solves the problem by forcing us to find other leisure activities.
It turned out my friend was right, I felt better physically too. I drank 3 liters of water during those 24 hours, which detoxified my kidneys. I was feeling lighter thanks to my bowel being completely empty. And I don’t know if the fast benefitted my spirit too, but it felt good to know that I don’t entirely depend on food; I can control that need too.
There are some people who fast for way longer periods of time, but I didn’t want to do it for more than 24 hours without consulting a doctor to check that such practice was suitable for me. If you want to push your limits and go longer on your fasting, or if you want to do it on a regular basis, I encourage you to seek medical advice first.
At 8 pm, it was time to eat again. And as it happens when you deprive yourself of something for a long time, you appreciate it even more. For dinner, I had the best steak of my life!
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