This blogging journey begins at Tanglewood Wellness Center in Costa Rica, where I decided to take an enormous step towards regaining my health (and sanity) by fasting only on water for 26 days. Tanglewood Wellness Center is a water-only fasting center run by Loren Lockman, a 20+ year raw vegan and expert in water fasting.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with water fasting, the mere idea of not eating and drinking only water for an extended period of time probably freaks you out. Most of us have been taught to think that even a few days without food would be damaging to our bodies. Well, from my experience, within a week of fasting, my skin began to glow, my eyes brightened, my depression lifted, my mind cleared and my nails hardened. By the 26th day, I felt physically more beautiful than I have been since I was a kid thanks to the healthy glow I emitted, soft as a baby-butt skin, and clean body. Not to mention the peace I felt in my interior after nearly a month of sorting through old thought patterns and emotions. And after just a few days of refeeding at the center I was hiking and doing yoga, had nearly full energy and a renewed sense of wellbeing that I hadn’t felt in years. My 26 day fast has convinced me that I will be a lifelong faster. It has shifted my perspective completely on how our bodies heal and deal with illness, as well as the effect of our emotions on our physical health and wellbeing. All I can really say is that if you’re feeling anything less than happy or healthy, it’s something well worth looking into.
Although I have spent a lot of time researching, I don’t consider myself the appropriate person to be giving an informative discussion on the topic, as I believe it’s an incredibly powerful experience and shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, I’ll explain the general idea from my experience. The principle is that the body is constantly healing and cleansing, and heals almost any ailment when given the opportunity to do so. Our bodies use a majority of their energy to digest the food we are consuming (how much energy depends on the type of food we eat), and we use what’s left of that energy to work, play, and go about our everyday lives. This leaves very little time or energy for the body to properly cleanse and heal. Fasting gives us that opportunity.
Though it’s a safe and natural process and considered normal in many cultures and the animal kingdom, through the myopic eyes of a culture unaware of the body’s innate ability to heal, fasting can be viewed as a bona fide miracle. That is, if we take into account the number of ailment consistently healed via fasting that doctors nowadays consider “incurable”, or treatable only by strong medications. It is not uncommon to cure acne, dermatitis, eczema, arthritis, IBS, impaired vision, mental illnesses, depression, old sports injuries, lyme disease, anemia (yes! mineral deficiencies!)… the list goes on. My dermatitis and acne cleared up within a week. But the most ‘miraculous’ of it is that the fasting body is known to reduce tumors, cure type 2 diabetes, reverse MS, restore vision… ailments considered degenerative or incurable by modern medicine. Most importantly, it gives us the opportunity to review our lifestyle choices and habits which have led us to a point of not being well in the first place. It’s like hitting a giant “reset” button on your body.
When water fasting, you slowly drink large amounts of water throughout the day and rest or meditate as much as possible for an extended period of time. The longer you do it, the more beneficial it is. Most people with serious ailments do a minimum of 21 days. Even naturally thin people have at least 6 weeks of reserves that the body will use while fasting (and most of us have quite a bit more!). What I find fascinating is that in a normal state, the body can’t go without certain vitamins for long periods of time without repercussions. This is not the case when the body is fasting. For example, lack of water-soluble vitamin C will surely cause scurvy within weeks. Not while fasting!
So at this point you must be thinking, “how can I survive a month of feeling hungry?!” Good news! The feelings of hunger go away within 2 to 4 days, once your body goes into ketosis, burning fat as its fuel source. After that, every person’s experience is different. You will notice in the first few days that your body begins to eliminate unwanted waste via urine, breath, skin, sinus and bum (nobody ever said it’s attractive!). Most people feel tired, but generally well. I felt incredible and energetic my first two weeks, I had to remind myself to lie down and relax. Others may feel nausea, some pain, or discomfort. Fasting gets exponentially better and worse every week you do it. The healing and elimination intensify, which for me has been a pleasure to experience (even through the days of nausea). Just knowing I’m recovering my health made it all worth it. Most people lose a pound for every day they are fasting. However, if they are overweight, they will probably lose more, and those who are underweight lose less. If great care is taken when reintroducing food, and unhealthy lifestyle choices are changed, excess weight loss can continue after the fast.
I believe it is extremely important to fast under the guidance of an experienced faster. Your vitals need to be checked every day to be sure you are getting enough water and that everything is going smoothly. It also helps tremendously to have someone knowledgable nearby who can answer any questions that may arise. (It was a common consensus amongst the people I fasted with that fasting alone is a whopping 2000% more difficult than fasting at a center!). The true danger of fasting comes at the time of reintroducing food. People have done serious damage to their bodies after eating heavy or cooked foods after an extended period of fasting. I was incredibly grateful to have guidance during the “refeeding” process. It was a slow process, introducing small amounts of high water content fruits at a time in order to get my metabolism back to normal. I am sure I wouldn’t have had the will-power to refeed so responsibly on my own. Aside from that, your body knows exactly what it needs to do.
If you have more questions about water fasting, I’d be happy to answer them to the best of my ability, however, if you’re truly interested I recommend you search the internet for more qualified answers. Also, there are hundreds of informational and experiential videos on YouTube.