So, I’ve been fasting for a month. No, that sounds funny—like I haven’t eaten anything for the past thirty days, and God knows, if I go 30 minutes without eating, it’s at the sacrifice of my physical comfort.
More accurately, it’s been a month since I decided to fast by eating only 500 calories on two non-consecutive days every week. So, you might ask, “How is it going? That fasting business you were talking about last month?” And I might answer, “Just fine. Thank you for asking,” but if you want more details, keep reading.
In August, I fasted seven times, and it was hard–harder than I expected it to be.
Obviously, it’s hard because I get hungry. In the afternoon around 2 am, my stomach starts to growl and if I’m at home, I will start to think about cheating. “Can I have just a little, tiny snack? The calorie count for my meals is only about 480 today. Certainly, I can have one raw carrot. Carrots are good for me. We should all eat carrots every day and I haven’t any carrots today.” And before I know it, I’ve eaten an entire bag of those itty-bitty, cute, little baby carrots—so I’m way over my calorie count and I’m still hungry and I’m now thinking, “Well, you’ve already cheated. You might as well help yourself to a bowl of ice cream.”
I tried thinking of a day as running from 2 pm to 2 pm because it would allow me to eat as I normally would right up until that time of day when I usually claim I am starving, have a small supper, go to bed not feeling too hungry, wake, have a small breakfast and just stay busy until I can eat again. Ha! On every day that I tried this, I cheated—inadvertently. Because I wasn’t starving by 2:30 pm, I would forget that I was fasting. I’d give my mother-in-law or my kids a little snack to hold them over until suppertime, and WHAM! There I was downing a 130-calorie yogurt cup, and not even thinking that it was a fasting day until I was licking the sides of the container.
And it’s hard for other reasons, too.
I do the vast majority of food preparation in this household—I even do the grilling and feel kind of bad-ass about being a girl who grills. Here’s the problem: when you are the family cook, you can’t just say, “Sorry, kids. Sorry, Grandma. The kitchen is closed and you people are just going to have to forage for your own food today because Mama ain’t cookin’.” On my fasting days, I’m still cooking for everyone else, and so I have the temptation of handling the food. I have a long-standing habit of nibbling and testing as I cook. Who doesn’t?
So, let me hang my head in shame as I share my solution to the temptation: I cook stuff I’m not so tempted to eat. I feed my family instant, canned, boxed, pre-packaged non-foods. Then, I have the guilt because I really don’t want them eating that crap. It’s not good for them! And they might like it better than my cooking. My daughter believes my cheese-sauce is the best in the world. I don’t want her to decide that no, Kraft does it better.
Of course, this is the great challenge whenever the mom-of-the-family goes on any kind of diet. She either has to have the will-power that I clearly lack OR the rest of the family has to suffer through whatever she is eating.
My cute, young, single, child-free cousin is juicing, and like everyone else with Internet access, she has to post pictures of her meals on social media sites–because THAT is what people do with the latest and greatest technology. Of course, I “like” her pictures and cheering her on, but those glasses of green slime also give me a case of Facebook envy. I tell myself, fasting would be easier if I were single and child-free. I wonder if I can use my old key to get into my old apartment and just hang out there for a while.
Of course, as I write that, I know that for most women, our marital status is a lot like our hair—we want whatever we don’t currently have. If you are single, you want to be in relationship. If you don’t have children, you want a baby. And if you are married and have kids, seeing a picture of homemade spinach juice makes you think, “Oh, God, if I could just have one frickin’ day all to myself!” But now, I am digressing into what could be another blog entry for another time…
And finally, fasting is hard because I want instant gratification and I’m not getting it. My weight has remained the same. To be fair, however, I haven’t always made the wisest choices on my non-fasting days either. Remember that day we took the train? While in Frostburg, we went out to lunch and we let the kids pick the restaurant. They chose Chinese food. I ordered the Hunan Beef because I thought the Hunan Chicken might contain feral cat—yes, it was that kind of quality dining experience. Anyway, the Hunan Beef was unbelievably salty and greasy. I ate it anyway. Why? Why would anyone eat bad food? I don’t have an answer, and yet I continue to do it.
And the Chinese restaurant is just one of many examples in which I know I should have just walked away, but didn’t.
I suppose the good news is that my blood pressure is lower—120/61. I’m not too excited about that just because blood pressure is a tricky thing. It fluctuates with your mood, not just your health. To know if you have a trend going—up or down—you have to take it on a regular basis over a period of time. I have not been doing that.
Still, I’m fasting today and so I will take what I can get and call it a victory. Hooray, lower blood pressure!
And that is how fasting is going. Aren’t you glad you asked?