Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lessons Learned During My Self-Discipline Fast

"I don't remember being this hungry the last time." I thought to myself.

I looked at the clock on my computer screen and did the math in my head. "Another hour and a half and its over.". Its a strange feeling to long for a salad, but after not eating for three days, any food is good food.

After I wrote Building Self-Discipline, I thought a lot about my own self-discipline. Being busy had caused me to comprise on my good eating habit. Enjoying pizza, wings, and rich dark chocolate mousse, had taken its toll on my energy level.

I decided it was time for a fast. My last fast was in July of 2008. While I was fasting, I decided to write "Eat This Now..". A post about some the healthiest foods in the world. I though it was a good test of mind control to write an article about food while not being able to eat food.Even though this time I was on the exact same type of fast, during the last day, I couldn't stop thinking about food.

Fasting is a good way of detoxing your body of impurities. Since your body does not have to work hard digesting food, it starts to get rid of all of the unwanted junk that it had to put in the "to do" box of your digestive system. My fast officially started on Tuesday at 8pm and ended on Friday at 8pm. When I fast, I do a juice fast. That means that I replace food with fresh vegetable and fruit juice.

I don't like to advertise my fasting to everyone around me (yet somehow I'm able to broadcast it to the world on my blog). I guess one of the reasons I usually only let the people closest to me know about my fast is because of all of the questions and reactions I get. I usually do a juice fast about 2 times a year. This is the first time that I have taken note of the effects and results of my juice fast. This is what I learned.

Temptation Follows You
One of the first things I learned on my fast is that temptation follows you. If you ever want a free meal, go on a fast. During my fast I had so many people offering to take me out to lunch or dinner. It seems that whenever you abstain from something in your life-good or bad-it seems to appear everywhere.

The company I work for was bidding for an important account. We were trying to retain a very important customer whose account we're managed for years. The loss of this customer to the competition would mean a loss of jobs. The last day of my fast, the staff was pulled into a meeting where they announced that we've won the bid for the account. That was fantastic news for everyone who valued their job.

So, does this Fortune 500 company send an email thanking everyone for their hard work? Nope, instead they throw an ice cream party. It was a great gesture I'll admit, but here I am and I haven't eaten for 3 days and ice cream is flowing like water. Not to mention I'm getting strange looks from co-workers because I'm refusing to partake in the festivities. Now the people I work with probably think that don't care about my job or that I'm lactose intolerant.

You Don't Know What You've Got Until Its Gone
We don't realize how much influence some thing have in our lives until it is removed. We need food to fuel our bodies but food has become more than just a way to stay alive. It has become a way of life. Food is associated with work, home, and social activities of all kinds. If you go to any event there is food available. When you go see a movie, you may think that you the theater is making money from the $9 ticket. But actually the movie is there just so they can cash in on the 300% profit margin on popcorn and soda.

When we are eating we are usually doing something else. Whether you are with friends, watching tv, or reading a book. During my fast I found that I was hungry during a certain time of the day but during certain activities. The way I combated this was by applying my focus more to the activity. For example, if I was with a friend and they were eating, I would be much more involved in the conversation.

Also, I seemed to have more brain space to apply to anything I wanted. Without thinking about what I'd like to eat for lunch or dinner, I thought about other more important things. Since the decision not to eat had already been made my days flowed very well.

Fasting Gives You a Burst of Energy

I've read about the effects that fasting may have on your energy level. During a fast your body is not working as hard to digest food. Like I mentioned before, I was on a juice fast so I was still consuming vitamins but those nutrients could be absorbed and then used to fuel my body.

This is really the way the body is supposed to work but with all of the processed foods we take in, our bodies work extra hard to break down these foreign substances. For three days before the fast, I ate nothing but fruits and vegetable. The burst of energy may have been a residual result of the overall diet change. Either way it felt great! I literally hopped out of bed on the second day.

Learned How to Tell My Body 'No'
This was learned during the third day. I was finishing up some online work when I started to feel hungry. I scheduled my fast to end a 8pm and around 6:30 I thought to myself, "Go ahead and have an apple. An hour and a half is no big deal."

But it was a big deal. I was very close to giving in and eating before 8 but I had to tell my body 'no' because one of the reasons why I took on this fast in the first place was to build discipline. If I gave in then the purpose of the fast would've been lost.

But I made it. I plan on doing another discipline challenge in the near future. I've learned a lot about myself in those three days and I'm curious to see how much more I can learn and grow.

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