Dr. Ben Kim is one of my favorite people in the world. All of his writings reflect his kindness and genuinely caring heart. It was his writings on fasting that fueled my dream of going to True North Health Center in order to take part in a more prolonged fast to help heal some digestive issues I have been wrestling with. Dr. Kim’s website is filled with life changing information. Here is a link to it if you would like to check it out! http://drbenkim.com/fasting-fast-one-day-week.htm Below is a summary of the 9 day fast I completed at True North Health Center in Santa Rosa. I thought you would enjoy reading about it!
Day 1: My first day of fasting on water only was pretty smooth. I was able to get some reading done and attend a lecture. In the evening, I did feel hunger creep in as hunger pains started and favorite foods entered my mind. Remembered lessons learned during my coast to coast cycling trip years back. The lesson learned on this bike trip was to not look at the whole trek, just focus on that next hill and then the next hill after that. I also developed a mild headache, probably because of caffeine withdrawal. I thought I was completely weaned from caffeine before the fast, but maybe not entirely. I could not sleep at night, but doctors here say this is a very common symptom. I read Dr. Fuhrman’s book entitled, “Fasting and Eating for Health” with the hopes that it will help me “stay strong” knowing the “whys” behind this fast. The book enabled me to reflect on the miraculous healing changes the body can go through on a long fast.
Day 2: This morning I had a difficult time getting up because I felt sad and had very low energy, so I inhaled Wild Orange essential oil and that perked me up and made me happy! I started the day doing some mild exercise and drank a cup of hot water, pretending and picturing it to be a cup of coffee. My hands felt shaky, but this subsided after a couple hours. I tried to exercise again in the afternoon, but felt too weak. I listened to Dr. Andrew Weil’s cd entitled “Breathing: The Master Key to Self Healing.” It was very powerful and I learned some new deep breathing techniques. Another strange symptom I experienced today was difficulty regulating my body temperature. I felt hot followed by feeling cold over and over again.
Day 3: Today I felt as if I hadn’t slept a wink in the night. Read in Dr. Fuhrman’s book on fasting that this is a very common challenge many people experience while fasting. Even though I couldn’t sleep, I felt greater energy upon getting up and walked around the neighborhood hoping that the sunlight would help to regulate my circadian rhythm for a better night sleep tonight. We will see!
Day 4: So far I have pulled out all of my essential oils on this fast, and was thinking this morning how I just can’t imagine life without them. So thankful! I woke up with a terrible headache and applied Peppermint to my forehead and temples and within 15 minutes the headache was gone. It also really helped to improve my energy level. I also felt my heart race after standing for 5 minutes and lay back down for a while. It is remarkable, but I really do not feel hungry at all!! I do miss the joy of eating and the comforting, soothing elements of food. I am also missing hugs from loved ones. Today I took a walk around the block (15 minutes), but walked as slowly as a 100 year old lady. Heard a lecture today on fasting by Dr. Klaper and he mentioned that normally 80% of the bodies energy goes into digestion, but when we fast the body directs its energy instead to the work of healing, breaking down benign cysts and cleansing blood vessels.
Day 5: Today I felt really well–the best ever on this fast. No hunger or pain. Took lots of breaks while walking. Walked a few steps and then needed to sit or lie down. Went to an awesome cooking demonstration today by Chef Ramses, the head chef at True North. Learned awesome new recipes for making greens taste yummy. Excited to try to get more greens into my families diet when I return home. Fun to have Chef Ramses autograph his cookbook entitled “Bravo”. Aside from needing lots of breaks today, I am truly in awe of how much energy I feel.
Day 6: I feel really well today and feel no hunger! The most challenging part of this fast has been an inability to sleep. Dr. Lim, one of my favorite doctors here, encouraged me to try to not worry about the lack of sleep and trust my bodies miraculous ability to heal itself and cleanse. Dr. Lim was so kind, caring and passionate about his profession and about being here with us.
Day 7: I decided to start to incorporate vegetable juices into my diet today (still no solid food) and begin refeeding slowly, mostly because I just couldn’t bare another night of sleeplessness. Dr. Veress mentioned that once people starting refeeding they naturally begin to start sleeping again. She said that there are two theories as to why many fasters can’t sleep. One reason might be an adaptive response. In the past, a hunter gatherer had to find food fast and needed to be alert and full of energy to do this. Another fascinating reason might be because the liver and kidney are working very hard to rid fat and toxins and it could be a detox reaction. I was grateful to learn that intermittent fasting can help to reset circadian rhythm. A person struggling with insomnia before a fast can have more normal sleep patterns after it ends.
Day 8: Today I did a second day of juice only (both vegetable and fruit juice, but no solid food). It felt so great to be getting calories and I felt a boost in energy. I attended a great lecture today and the doctor spoke on how our bodies innately know how to begin the work of healing while we are fasting. The body will heal the most vital organ first (like the heart) and then gradually move to the least vital organs for survival (like the skin). She also mentioned how the body will heal the most recent injury or illness first and then address those injuries that happened long ago perhaps as young children or infants. Our bodies are truly miraculous!
Day 9: Today I drank 4 juices and also incorporated some soft foods like avocado, mashed sweet potato and yams. Feel my strength returning. Feel very sad to say goodbye to all the extraordinary and kind people here. Leaving tomorrow will be bittersweet. Watched an inspiring cooking demonstration today by Katie Mae. Tried the recipe when I returned home and it was incredibly delicious (a raw Pad Thai). Let me know if you would like the recipe and I can send it to you. Also, check out Katie Mae’s blog at PlantzSt.com She graduated from Bastyr University in Washington and she is truly amazing at making healthy food taste yummy too. Her classes were super popular and packed–I can see why : )
Post Fast Changes and Benefits
Today is day 10 and I have already noticed many post fast benefits:
- Increased sense of smell and taste. Can smell flowers, foods and other scents from a distance.
- Greater sense of gratitude. Read Ann Voskamp’s book entitled “One Thousand Gifts” while on this retreat and it will definitely be easier to apply the lessons learned about gratitude. I feel so grateful for all the little things like food, my own bed, sleeping well again, and hugs from loved ones. I appreciate life’s daily pleasures even more!
- I really learned to tune in and listen to my body better. I am paying more attention to it and asking it “when do I need to rest, eat, cry, drink water, or pray”? I am usually so busy caring for others, that I often have lost touch with the messages my body sends me.
- Feel a “post fast high”–excitement that I accomplished my goal with God’s help.
- Lost 13 pounds
- Do not feel any of the digestive symptoms I was having before the fast.
- There was definitely an emotional cleansing during the fast. Tears flowed as I recalled painful past events that I hadn’t thought of in years. I feel lighter mentally and a sense of healing related to these memories.
- I also feel a great sense of thankfulness for new beautiful, loving friends I made while I was at True North.
- I feel much more mindful while eating (chewing my food more fully) and feel more “in the present moment.”
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any other questions about True North Health Center. Have any of you ever done a prolonged fast? If so, what was your experience?