My 26-Day Water Fast… A half a year later

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Some of you have been waiting for this post for quite a while, and I’m sorry for the delay!  After the huge response to my previous water fasting update (thank you!), I found myself putting this update off in order to write it from a place equally as inspired and fluid.   However, I realize now that time is just passing and while I wait for some great insight or lots of free time, I’m not getting my experience out there! So insight or no insight, it’s time to tell you about the past six months since my one month update.

The first thing I want to say is that I have absolutely no regrets about doing the water fast. It has shifted my life in so many profound ways, making space for new opportunities, changing my relationship and perspective of my body and health, and deeply empowering me.

That being said, after leaving the abundance and warmth of Costa Rica for less-forgiving Europe, I found myself dealing with negative physical and emotional symptoms, and falling into old habits which very quickly took a toll on my now highly sensitive body. I am not fully sure if these are the effects of water fasting or the diet I chose to follow afterwards, but one thing I do know is that the stress and anxiety I created for myself has since taken a huge toll on my health.

Within weeks of returning to Europe and not following a 100% low fat raw vegan lifestyle (but rather 95%!), I began to experience hair loss, amenorrhea, dental issues, digestive issues, water retention and rapid weight gain.

Being Fruitarian in Costa Rica

For almost three months following the water fast, I was living, glowing, flowing and loving life in Costa Rica. I traveled for a month guided by ripe fruit and the serendipity of the road, and couldn’t imagine ever going back to the dark place I had come from. I was eating an 80-10-10 diet, intuitively choosing my fruit, and in no way restricting myself. My digestion was like clockwork, eliminating the previous meal every time I ate. The weight I had lost had stayed off throughout this entire time (2.5 months). I was thin, my eyes were bright, my mind was clear, my body was clean and my skin felt amazing.  It was truly the happiest time in my adult life.

After a month of traveling I did a month-long yoga teacher training (YTT) course, which demanded that I come down from the magic carpet I was floating on and begin to take root and reflect. This was incredibly moving for me, teaching me so much about my inner workings, as well as introducing me to a more balanced form of healing. As a part of the course I was asked to read Caroline Myss’ Anatomy of the Spirit, which reminded me that health isn’t about quick-fixes, ideal diets, bliss or perfection on any level. It’s about balance. And finding balance on deep levels is often a slow learning process. I soon realized that there was still a lot of emotional and mental healing that I had to do. I was so caught up in how good it felt to be in my body, how perfect fasting and fruitarianism was, and embarrassingly enough, how good I looked, that I wasn’t giving my emotional needs the time of day.

The beauty of having such a clean body is that things just flow.  My sensitivity and awareness was heightened, and some previous emotional blocks were just no longer present, allowing things to come up as they needed to.  Needless to say, you would find me either crying or laughing throughout the majority of the YTT.  It was the perfect place to be after a fast, and I would recommend a retreat of this nature for anyone doing an extended water fast.  For me, though, it was clear that there was a lot that I was not yet willing to let go of.  Things began to shift in me and old thought patterns began to resurface.

In this time I maintained my diet, but occasionally began to feel the need (or craving) for comforting, warm, familiar foods. The community I did my YTT course offered cooked vegan food daily which I tried a couple of times, but my body wasn’t having it. The flavors were too strong and it slowed down my digestion immediately.  I did have an affinity towards the superfood raw chocolate balls though.

After the yoga course, I no longer felt so airy, nor did I have much motivation to travel.  I was beginning to feel the pressures of “real life” and the fact that I would soon be in Europe and in need of a job. I needed support, comforting and community. Rather than searching for those things, I went to Nicaragua, hoping to snap out of it and get the most out of my time in Central America. But I found myself quite alone, unable to connect on the level that I needed with anyone. Was I asking too much of the backpackers who were there to get drunk and surf?  I realized quickly I should have stayed in the community of the yoga retreat and focused on my healing. But instead I found comfort in bags of roasted cashews and food from a gourmet raw restaurant. My diet went from high-carb low-fat to a consistent high-carb high-fat, and I began to notice water retention, tooth decay and much slower digestion. This was the beginning of my disconnect from my body.

 

Being back in Europe

Within no time of arriving in Spain, my stress level became high.  I was low on money, disappointed with the fruit, and deeply missing being surrounded by people who feel empowered and positive.  I didn’t want to go back to my previous job teaching English, but the ideas that had occurred to me during my travels were still just that – ideas.  I had nothing of substance, nor the confidence to create something new for myself.

After months of basking in water fast serenity, traveling with inspirational go-getters and then living amongst life-loving hippies in an intentional community, I became very sensitive to emotional toxicity from others.  I was super resistant to that cruel energy that a person emits when they do not feel empowered to change their own lives. Being around people with this attitude was now hard for me… just listening to them being victims of their lives, their jobs, their families or the words of others, took a toll on me. It also opened my eyes to my own deep-rooted habit of victimization and blame. I felt the need to keep myself away from this type of environment, but instead of finding a positive alternative, I isolated myself and waited for the next phase of my life to begin. {Cue emotional eating}.

I soon found myself obsessing over food.  My brain chemistry completely changed, making my next fruit meal a #1 priority.  I felt as addicted to buying and eating large amounts of fruit as I once was to cigarettes, if not more because I was fully aware of it and unable to do anything about it.  And as hard as I tried to eat consciously, my brain would click over to consumption mode and I would quickly find that I ate a kilo of cherries in less than 10 minutes without even stopping to enjoy the taste.  Of course this made me feel horrible, and caused blood sugar spikes that left me stressed and in a food coma in need of a nap.  My teeth were unhealthy and my gums would bleed. Worst of all, I never felt satisfied.  I ballooned and in no time reached the heaviest weight I have ever been at… 155lbs (70 kilos).  I had cellulite for the first time in my life! At this point I was eating low-fat high-carb, 80-10-10, with exceptions of eating fish or consuming small amounts of alcohol that I can count on both hands.

The day someone asked me if I was pregnant was a breaking point for me.  I began hating my body, hating frutiarianism, hating the fact that I couldn’t get my shit together.  I wanted the secret receipe… how do I get back to feeling as amazing as I did after the fast?  Doing a couple of short fasts allowed me to clear my mind for a couple of days, but only provoked more compulsive fruit-eating after refeeding.

Suddenly my nails began breaking at the center of the beds and my hair began to fall out by the handful.  At this point I was really starting to freak out {cue more emotional eating}.  I was desperate.  I was committed to a diet which I was so sure in theory would be optimal, sacrificing my social life to make it happen, and feeling and looking worse than I ever had.  It didn’t make any sense.  There are people who drink coke and eat pizza and fries every day who seem better off than me.   I wanted to give up.

But then things started falling into place.

In the midst of my confusion, a girl I fasted with contacted me and said she had the same experience with hair loss.  She was incredibly stressed after the water fast due to life decisions she needed to make.  But once she made her decision, she was able to relax and her hair stopped falling out. This was reassuring.  Around the same time, the change I needed manifested into reality.  I got a job where I’d be traveling the world, focusing on personal growth and meeting incredibly inspirational people.  Coincidence? Sychronicity? Manifestation? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.  Point is, I relaxed, and my hair stopped falling out that week.

Finding balance while traveling the world

I’m currently writing from London where I am working full-force with an amazing team for a start-up website and mobile app which will help people and coaches connect.  For the rest of the year we will be meeting and filming some of the top English-speaking life and business coaches in the world.  In other words, I’m exactly where I need to be.

Yes, this is the girl who just a year ago, was too afraid to drive her own van.  The girl who spent the better part of her 20s in an utter fog.  I would say I’ve managed to start turning my life around, and my water fast was undoubtedly the catalyst.

I have managed to find a balance in my binge eating and nervousness by staying busy and distracted, reducing the quantity of fruit I eat at a time, eating less greens (which really slowed down my digestion) and eating more fats in the form of avocados, non-dairy milks, and seeds (nuts haven’t been good for my dental health).  I hardly ever combine those fats with fruit.  Occasionally and sparingly eating cooked foods like rice and roasted veggies when I go to restaurants has helped me relax and enjoy my social life.  I haven’t found the right diet yet, but the less rigid I am about it the better I feel.  My metabolism is still slow, and I’m struggling with accepting my body as it is right now, but I’m in a much better place than I was two months ago.

My dream is to find my own recipe for optimal health (and let’s be honest, being skinny without restricting calories).  My stubborn, rigid mind keeps telling me that I will find that by being an 80-10-10er or a raw foodist, but experience is showing me that it’s just not that simple.  The body is undeniably self-healing and prefers to be in balance.  I only need to get out of its way and allow it to do so.

Lessons Learned

  • My next water fast will include guided meditation and silence, rather than daily lectures. This is not to say that I am not grateful for the education I received at Tanglewood Wellness Center, it has been completely invaluable and inspiring for me. I did my first water fast at the right place. However, due to my personal tendency towards rigidity, I feel the need for a more meditative and less analytical environment for my next fast.
  • It’s important to deal with, or at least become very clear about emotional (especially eating or addiction) issues before or during a water fast.  After the fast if these issues aren’t dealt with, it’s very possible that the issue gets worse.  Developing positive eating habits beforehand may help your transition back to healthy eating.
  • I have learned that a high-fruit low-fat high-raw diet is ideal for a clean and smoothly functioning body. However, because it touches on so many aspects of our lives (social, emotional, spiritual, cultural, economical, time…) the lifestyle can cause a lot of imbalance and stress if the conditions are not favorable, or if a person is not quite prepared to change on any of these levels. In other words, if you’re prepared to abandon ship, move to the tropics, release cultural conditioning and change your entire socialization pattern, then your shift to fruitarianism will most likely be magical. For those of us who don’t want to change so many fundamental things, the transition may be a bit bumpier. And that’s quite OK.
  • Emotions cannot be easily repressed on a raw/fruitarian diet.  You either learn to deal with it or you must spend your day stuffing your face full of fruit.
  • For one who is not yet used to eating raw or fruitarian, this lifestyle may be equated to social suicide.
  • Losing and gaining such a large amount of weight in such a short time will magnify body image issues, to say the least. I’m still dealing with it.
  • Fasting will slow down your metabolism.  Prepare accordingly.

Changes in my body and mind

It may seem like a lot of negative things, but not a single one of these, nor the accumulation of all of them is reason enough to regret my fast

  • I have become hyper-sensitive to coffee (the one addiction I wouldn’t mind holding onto)
  • I now have an allergic-type reaction to alcohol where my skin gets splotchy and my eyes get watery
  • My menstrual cycle is still completely out of balance (before the fast it was like clockwork)
  • My nails were very brittle for a period of 2 months but are now back to normal
  • I have cellulite now 😦
  • I retain water, the more I drink the more I hold onto
  • My skin is generally smoother and cleaner
  • My face breaks out if I am stressed
  • My face breaks out if I eat anything a raw vegan would consider unhealthy (which is just about everything)
  • My eyes have gotten darker again, but now I see that the better my digestion is, the lighter they are.
  • Candida spots on my back (which went away during after the fast) have come back
  • I am stronger and have better muscle tone
  • I have more energy and endurance in sports
  • The phlegmy smoker’s cough and poor lung capacity are a thing of the past
  • I no longer crave things that aren’t good for me, and it’s much easier for me to make healthy choices
  • I’m much more emotional, and grateful for that.  It feels like a little piece of humanity was returned to me
  • I’m more in contact with myself and my body than I have ever been
  • My mind is much clearer, I no longer suffer from consistent “brain fog”
  • My depression has lifted, my confidence has been boosted
  • I carry with me a huge sense of accomplishment and a heightened sense of purpose
  • I’ve gained perspective and gotten to know myself
  • I am leaps and bounds closer to living the life of my dreams
  • I am more spiritually aware
  • I have felt and fully experienced a level of health beyond anything I have ever thought possible.  That’s a hard thing to forget!

 

I plan to water fast again in 2015 for at least 10 days, with the benefit of having this year’s learnings to make it another enriching and healing experience in my life.  I will continue sharing my experiences with you as I slowly but surely get a hang of this being healthy thing 😉  Thanks for sticking with me.

 

 

26 Replies to “My 26-Day Water Fast… A half a year later”

    1. Hi Ana, I too am an experienced water faster but haven’t done any longer than 14 days. However, I fast 7 days EVERY MONTH and have done so for almost 3 years. I have mirrored many of the experiences you have had and a few that you haven’t yet had.
      I have found that to get into the ‘satisfied’ state is not about what fruit one eats or the quantity thereof, it is about it’s quality. The ultimate is to pick and eat the fruit ripe from the tree when the tree is happy to give it to you, then the energy is greatest. Beforehand one must go to a great deal of effort to care for the tree and ensure it has it’s full compliment of soil minerals. In today’s commercialised farming high quality fruit is rarely available so it is almost impossible to successfully be a fruitarian unless one grows one’s own fruit. Any one apple is NOT the same as any other apple.
      Keep up the good work.
      Regards
      Malcolm

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Malcom. I completely see your point and i think you’re really onto something. I noticed a huge difference in my body between the fresh sun-ripened fruit of costa rica and the conventional, unripe fruit of Europe. I think it is essential to have access to the right kind of fruit to be successful on this lifestyle. Thanks so much for bringing that to my awareness.
      That’s so interesting about your fasting habits. I just fasted again for 3 days and felt a strong reset. I plan to continue to do so every month, and will be doing a longer fast early next year.
      Best xx Ana

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Dear Ana, I wish to find a place or community wich I can stay and experience the raw food. I have time all september, can you tell me where in the word I can go ?thank you Cosimo from Iceland.

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    1. Hi Becs, Thanks for the tip. I’m now sure that my symptoms have to do with my current diet and emotional state, and not the water fast. I’m still feeling it out with the food but am not quite prepared to go bulletproof 😉 Maybe some day. xx

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  2. Hi! Do you live in the USA now? Don’t you know if we have such kind of communities in the USA? I looked at the Finca de Vida web site, it looks so cool…I wish we had something like this here…Thanks. ps how’s your water fast? are you done with that? Have you worked during your water fast?

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    1. HI AHA! 🙂 Yes, i’m still here! I don’t live in the US now, and I don’t know about these types of communities in the States. I’m sure there are plenty though. I haven’t fasted in a while, and only do when I can take a break from work. Good luck finding a great community! xx

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  3. ここで一歩踏み出すきっかけを作ってくださった秋元先生をはじめとするスタッフの皆さんには感謝したい。
    ああいう手合の人はやたら執着してしつこかったりするけど、無事逃げ切ってほしい
    ビデオの内容も一億回とか、まんま朝鮮人の考えそうなことばかり

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  4. Thank you for a wonderful and inspiring post. This is what I have been searching for. I start my journey of water fasting today and reading this is keeping me inspired. Thank you

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  5. Thanks for these post . They really helped me to re feed myself properly after a 10 day water fast. I can really feel what your trying to express in your blogs they are very creative write ups . I totally agree doing a waterfast opens your mind up in so many ways . I’m proud of you that you made it. Keep up the good work I love what you write it all has so much meaning . I’m on day 5 of re feeding tomorrow . I feel if you can succeed a water fast you can conquer almost anything else .

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  6. Hi, ive recently been reading up on ideas for diets to begin after my water fast, once that starts lol. Anyhow, what came to mind was instead of leading the diet you have been recently, especially as it contains high intake of fruit. You could try swapping it for a “low GI” diet instead. It apparently has all sorts of benefits, including increasing your metabolism. I see that on the list, fruit is very high on the GI scale.. This could have something to do with why you have been gaining weight in such a small amount of time. Hope this helps.

    Good luck in the future : -)

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  7. I’m into water fasting too, but look into Loren Lockman. A guy died under his supervision when he had a center in the states. His credentials are bull, fake non-accredited institutions. You’re probably having problems because you’re flowing an extreme diet. We’re omnivores by design, just like our closest relatives, chimps and bonobos. It’s all about balance. I currently water fast intermittently on the daily, eating in the late afternoon and occasionally for 24-48 to get cellular benefits. Going too long without mineral supplementation is very dangerous. Our bones are very active metabolically as a store for minerals, constantly being stored there and taken away when needed. Extreme diets like these aren’t based on solid science, look into the backgrounds of the major proponents of them and find the lack of real education backing them. Modern science and medicine has got a long way to go, but refuting the basic sensible stuff it offers is silly, and dangerous

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    1. Hey Ben! Great to hear from you! Thanks for the tips. I’m glad you found what works for you. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for others, and I’m having a blast experimenting and finding what works for me. I’m so grateful for people like you, Loren and others who openly share their truth, it’s inspiring. Thumbs up about modern science, I agree.

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  8. Also, refeeding improperly after a long fast can KILL you and must be done under supervision to test mineral levels. Google “refeeding syndrome”. Beware of the tendency in us to find a guru master teacher savior and blindly believe whatever they tell us. Do your own research and learn how to sift through the garbage out there, chill, and trust your gut

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    1. Yes! Refeeding properly is essential.. Thats the main reason I’m a proponent of going to the fasting center that best resonates with you. I wrote a post about my refeeding experience, I was really happy with it

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  9. Thanks for the update . . . I think there are at least a few good way to eat. . Not just one way but whatever. I talk about it later from the grave, where I promise to fast, forever. When in Rome. . . We gotta eat the best we can where we live, and trying to do fruit only in some parts of the world just makes life suck. I want to enjoy my time here on earth so while I do care about what I eat and not afraid to lose or create new social circles I also to want to fit right into the place I live to some degree. I eat more than just high water fruit and eat what feels right and good, and when my time is up here it is up, that simple. So I try and not stress too much about a particular diet. And fasting is great. Be well, don’t forget to live before you die. Eat well for where you live, don’t be so restrictive and if you want to, take yo butt to the tropics, get real about it. Peace.

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  10. Hi Ana.
    After a lot of research I embarked on a 7-day water fast. And here I am on day 20! I guess I will continue for another week, when I go back to my small coastal town in Galicia, where fruit and veggies are fresh and “just off the tree”.
    Thanks for all the info and honesty. Especially on refeeding protocol.
    Ta.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, very impressive!! Sounds like you really listened to your body on that one, that’s amazing. Oh the fruit in Galicia is fantastic, and you’re just getting into the good season. Thanks for your kindness and for reaching out.. Best of luck refeeding and on your healing journey ❤

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  11. Hi Ana. Thanks for sharing. Did you restart your next fast? I am currently on day 5.. Do you plans on fasting at a retreat or on your own?

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    1. Hi dana! Thanks for reaching out… I have done a couple short fasts this year, plan on doing a longer one by the end of the year… Not sure if I had a retreat or on my own yet… How about you? Congrats on day 5, sending you lots of strength and healing

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