I’m alive

Here I am dancing at the Walk to Cure Arthritis, all relieved that my site is secure!

I realize I left you all hanging after my 3-day fast even though I promised an update on how I’m feeling. Sorry about that. Let me explain…

As a new blogger, things were brought to my attention that I naively was unaware of: site security, data back-ups, and the prospect of hackers gaining access to my site and holding it hostage for money. I have to laugh at someone thinking this site is worth the effort of hacking into with its 40 weekly views and 15 subscribers. I mean, you’re all worth something to me <3, but I would much rather start over from scratch than negotiate with terrorists.

That said, I took me a while to figure out how to install all of that stuff and get it working. I think I’m safe (or at least backed up) for now and I feel comfortable writing again without worrying my work is going to get hijacked.

So….how am I doing? Well, fine, I guess.

I was feeling good coming off the 3-day fast. I didn’t really have an appetite in the days following, which was to be expected. I started eating solid foods again shortly after, but soft stuff: scrambled eggs, smoothies, protein shakes.

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My first chewable food! I even ate a salad, you guys!

On Saturday, I had my first real meal again: a BLT with avocado, egg, and a side salad. I expected it to hit the bottom of my stomach like a brick and just sit there, weighing me down. It didn’t. It felt good to eat again. Later that night I had some Chinese noodles for dinner. That went down fine too. I felt pretty damn good.

I woke up Sunday with no pain and thinking I beat my gastritis. Then, brunch happened and I went a little overboard. In my defense, I was at Colicchio & Sons. As in TOM Colicchio of Top Chef! Let’s just say a duck pizza, a brisket sandwich, pork belly with polenta, chocolate soufflé, and wine were ALL involved.

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I’m still in pain from this pizza, but it was oh, so delicious 😛

I was full for the rest of the day and didn’t eat anything else, so I started my weekly fast right after brunch (around 2pm). Still feeling good. I broke my fast Monday at 2 with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was starving!

As of Monday evening the pain has returned, though. It looks like it’s going to take a lot more than fasting to heal me of this problem…but what? That is the question. The doctor said eat a “soft diet”. For how long? She doesn’t know. Well, that’s not going to work for me. I’m going to dinner at another chef-lebrity’s restaurant tomorrow night and I have a busy weekend ahead of me. So this pain will probably be with me for a while again.

So the scoreboard reads: Gastritis – 1, Mara’s 3-day fast plan – 0.

But I don’t consider it a total failure. Now I know what doesn’t work or that the plan needs tweaking.

I will get to the bottom of this and hopefully soon.

Day 3 of the 3-Day Fast

And it’s over.

The 3-day fast concluded at 5pm — just 2 hours short of 72 hours. I originally planned to break it tomorrow morning, but I thought it was best to end it when I did.

I had a headache and shoulder pain through most of last night. I woke up dizzy and lightheaded. Most of my body ached. I stumbled to get to the bathroom. For most of the morning my stomach was turning. It felt exactly like being hungover.

IMG_6731I called out sick from work. I was afraid of what was going to happen when I start eating again. I would rather get that out of the way tonight than find out tomorrow when I’m not home. I broke my fast by nursing this green smoothie for about 2 hours. It contains mango, spinach, coconut, apple juice, almond milk, and ice. I did not ask for half of those ingredients, but the smoothie maker put all of that in the blender and I felt bad asking him to throw it away.

I’m not going to have the bone broth tonight. Thinking about it made my stomach turn. Not the broth’s fault, though. It’s delicious. I might use it to make a soup tomorrow.

Despite my best efforts to put on weight over the weekend in anticipation of this fast, I woke up today skinny as hell and didn’t like it. I don’t know when I’m going to put that weight back on. I can’t see myself eating a big meal any time soon. Tomorrow’s planned meals so far are a protein shake for breakfast and a homemade egg drop soup for dinner. I don’t know what I’m going to want for lunch or if I’m going to want lunch.

I won’t know if this fast helped for a while. My gastritis is still there. It hurts me now as I type this. I went most of today without pain, until I started drinking my smoothie. It’s not terrible pain, but it’s noticeable.

I don’t know if I can say I’m glad I did this, but I just stopped so I will need more time. I am disappointed I didn’t go as far as I wanted, but I’m not kicking myself. If I do this again — that’s a BIG IF — I’ll start on a Thursday so my toughest days will go into the weekend and I won’t have to worry about work. Looking back, even though I had anxiety about doing it, I was also pretty cocky. I thought it would be easier. It wasn’t all that terrible. I think I just got scared of feeling any worse than I was already feeling and having to feel that way at work.

I’ll keep you posted on how I’m doing in the coming days. For those of you who went with me on this journey: thanks so much for the encouraging words. I hope we can all learn something from this, even if we haven’t figured it out yet.

Day 2 of the 3-Day Fast!

And now: a rant from a hungry person…

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OMG did today take FOREVER or what?

No?

Just me?

Time is passing soooooooo slow. I’m also moving a lot slower today too. I feel like I’m walking through wet cement. Just going up the stairs from the subway, I felt my glut muscles on fire. I climb these stairs every day!! There’s not even a lot of them.

As you can tell, my second day of fasting is going great.

I can’t say I feel any better. My stomach still hurts and my heartburn is off the charts.

I’m drinking plenty of water and some tea. I was thankful this morning that I gave up coffee a month ago. I wouldn’t be able to do this if I was still drinking coffee because going off of it gave me the worst headaches.

Fasting is also supposed to make your mind sharper. Yet, I feel like an uninspired idiot writing this. Who is going to read this crap?

…and there’s the irritability.

I’m about to go heat up my cup of bone broth. I thought I would be craving it all day, but that’s not the case. It was nice yesterday, but knowing I’m not going to be able to chase it with a cookie is kind of depressing. I’m also a little afraid it’s going to make my heartburn worse. And now I’m getting anxiety.

Ugh. OK, I’m going to go “eat” now.

I really hope to get through tonight and tomorrow. Trying to maintain mind over matter.

Wish me luck.

The 3-Day Fast is ON!

I woke up today feeling good, but not hungry. In fact, I really didn’t feel hungry all morning or afternoon. I brought a banana to work (just in case) but didn’t eat it. Around 1:00 I decided it was go time. Now here I am, at the end of the first day of my 3-day fast. Go me!

I expected the first day to be easy. I do this once a week, after all. Except that today I have had no
food at all, which I have done before but only like twice. No yogurt or banana in the morning. No eggs or soup for dinner…well not soup like I usually have. I’m opting for my only “food” for these 3 days to be bone broth. I’ve read all about the healing benefits of bone broth. I’m not going to include any links. You can Google that for yourself and read about it on whichever alternative-healing information website you prefer.

I went to a famous bone broth place here in NYC to get my supply. It’s called Brodo and it’s in the East Village. It was very difficult walking there from the train. It was a really nice night and people were sitting outside at cafes eating their delicious food, the smell finally triggering my first hunger pangs of the day. The guy at the window is super nice. He assured me the broth only has about 50 calories per cup and said it will stay good in the refrigerator for about a week.

Getting it home made me nervous too. I was ridiculously protective over this quart of murky water, afraid it was going to leak or spill and then I would truly have nothing to look forward to at the end of these next 2 long days. It all worked out. I got it home, heated it up, and it was delicious. It makes me feel better about day 2 — which I’m kind of dreading.

By Tuesday afternoon I’ll officially be in unchartered territory. I can already feel my anxieties coming back, wondering: “how am I going to feel? Am I going to get dizzy and pass out?” What if I do all this and I don’t feel better?” I know this: if I can get through work tomorrow then I’m going all the way.

Wish me luck!

Pre-fast Jitters

For those of you who do intermittent fasting, do you get nervous the night before your planned fast? I used to. There was a fear of hunger and all that comes along with it: headaches, irritability, food going bad before I can eat it. It’s been a few years now, so I’m used to the physical discomfort (which is minimal lately) and I adjusted my habits to minimize food waste.

But I’m feeling a little anxious tonight because I’m about to start a 3-day fast. I have never fasted for this long, so I don’t know what to expect. I can put up with one rough fasting day because I know it’s only for a day, but this time it’s for 3 days. How is this going to play out?

A moment of silence for the food that won't be eaten...

A moment of silence for the food that won’t be eaten…

I haven’t decided if I’m going to start Monday or Tuesday. I would like to start Monday just so it will be over sooner, but I don’t know if that will be possible. I had a lot of fun today (Mother’s Day) and maybe a little too much wine. I never actually know if I drank too much wine until the next day. So if I wake up Monday and have to take a pain reliever or something for heartburn then I will take care of it and start the fast on Tuesday. If you saw the video in my last post, I’m going to follow a routine similar to what Dr. Mosley did:

*No food for 3 full days.
*Drink only water and black tea throughout the day.
*Less than 100 liquid calories per day (He had a cup of miso soup at night, I’m going to have bone broth).
*No exercise.

If you didn’t catch an earlier post about why I’m doing this, the short story is that I have been diagnosed with gastritis and it causes me pain when I eat a lot of foods that I enjoy — specifically the foods that need to be chewed, so basically everything. Fasting does help the pain, but it usually comes back after I have a big meal. I hope fasting for a longer period of time will give me more time without pain and also activate all the other healing properties of fasting. A study out of USC by Prof. Valter Longo shows fasting for 3 days can regenerate the immune system. I hope it will have some type of healing effect on me.

I’m an otherwise healthy person and I just had a full workup of tests by doctors within the past month so I’m not concerned that I’m putting my health in danger. I’ve been fasting long enough to know when something isn’t right and if I get that sense then I will bail. It’s simple as that. I’m not going to let my pride become more important than my health. Otherwise, what the hell am I doing this for?

No Time to Read? Then Watch!

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll notice I push the book, The FastDiet, a lot. I’m actually re-reading it now myself for the 4th time…not to brag or anything. It’s a quick read and I’ll probably be done with it by the weekend…still not bragging, I promise.

For some of you, reading is just too damn time consuming or boring or unnecessary because you’re reading all you need to know on my blog (I’m flattered, but still think you should read the book). Until you can find the time or get over your other excuses, I’m including the next best thing: the movie version of the book!

It’s a documentary called “Eat, Fast & Live Longer” by the BBC featuring one of The FastDiet authors, Dr. Michael Mosley. He goes through all the scientific research done on fasting at the time (the doc is a few years old) and you even get to watch his first fast — which was 3 straight days of non-food — and how he evolved to the current 5 days off/2 days on diet.

And it’s only an hour! I’m sure you’ll spend more time than that on Facebook today. So I hope you’ll take some time to give it a watch. Let me know what you think!

Can I heal myself with a 3-day fast?

Publishing this post is the hardest thing I will do all day because now that I’ve written it down and sent it out to the world, I have to do what I’m about to say…or have a damn good excuse why not.

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In a previous post, I mentioned that I was considering a 3-day fast. I believe the time has come to stop considering it and actually do it.

Why?

I knew you would ask.

Let me start with the problem that I’m having: gastritis. It’s inflammation of the stomach lining and it sucks. It’s usually caused by an infection, but I don’t have one. I do have reflux, but I couldn’t get a clear answer from the doctor as to whether or not that is causing this problem. She put me on a soft diet and told me to take Prilosec for 2 weeks, but that did NOTHING. I felt better for a little while but here I am again, in pain.

Fasting does help me feel better, especially the day after the fast. My stomach feels more relaxed because I’m still eating light, but then when I go out to dinner later in the week I go back to square one and have pain again. I can’t live like this: stuck between only eating food that doesn’t need to be chewed or being in intense pain.

One of the reasons I started intermittent fasting was because of the healing properties of fasting. You can find the scientific research to back up this claim in The FastDiet, but the simplest way I can summarize it is like this: Most of our immune system lives in the gut (intestines and such) and if we constantly bombard the gut with food to digest, then it doesn’t have time to heal whatever is wrong in our bodies. When we fast, we give our bodies a rest from digesting all the stuff we eat (difficult considering all the processed food in our diets) which frees it up to start repairing our damaged cells.

In the book, Dr. Mosley started his fasting journey with a 4-day fast under the supervision of Valter Longo at USC. He has published studies about how fasting for a few days can reset parts of the immune system. Is this what I need? I don’t know. What I do know is that fasting for a day makes me feel better. So I hope fasting for 3 days will give my body more time to heal.

Obviously the whole process will take more than 3 days. I’m planning a pre-fast cleansing day and a few recovery days after the fast. I’m going to blog about it everyday so you will know if I survive each day and so you can witness this human experiment in progress.

And it starts Monday.

The FastDiet Inventor on Dr. Oz!

Hey, y’all!

If you missed The Dr. Oz Show episode about fasting recently, he interviewed Dr. Michael Mosley, one of the authors of The FastDiet (aka, the book that changed my life). Check it out if you have some time. He talks about why he started it, how he cured his type 2 diabetes, and responds to the critics who say there isn’t enough evidence to show intermittent fasting is effective or safe.

Link to the episode is in the tweet. Let me know what you think!

<3

https://twitter.com/TheFastDietBook/status/726014159788331008

 

 

Fast Days & Exercise

A lot of people on Instagram have been asking me if I work out on fast days.

Yes. I do.

“I’m fasting today” sounds like the perfect excuse to skip the gym, but I don’t fall into this trap (too often). Plenty of studies suggest working out on an empty stomach is not only safe, but can help you burn more fat than if you eat before a workout. 

I had concerns about this when I started fasting: “am I going to get dehydrated and pass out? Where will I get the energy to work out if I don’t eat during the day?” Sound familiar to any of you starting to embrace the possibility of intermittent fasting in your lives?

IMG_4869I’ve been doing hot power yoga for about 7 years now. It helps me get a good sweat on, gives me some definition in my arms, and gets me moving so I don’t settle into old age at this point of my mid-30s. It may not be cross fit or running or weight lifting, but it’s the only workout I’ve been able to consistently tolerate for more than a few years at a time. And isn’t that what everyone needs: a form of physical activity they enjoy?

In the book, The FastDiet, the authors encourage working out on fasting days, so I gave it a try. Back then, I had a different work schedule and I was able to work out in the mornings. For early workouts, I always ate afterward anyway (fast day or not), so I thought this would be the easiest approach. My body wouldn’t even realize it was fasting yet. I got my exercise in, stayed hydrated throughout the day, and all was well. Once I realized working out while fasting wouldn’t kill me, I tried an evening workout on a fast day — when I was mid-hunger. That turned out to be fine too. So as long as I feel good (hunger aside) and I’m able to hydrate, I definitely work out on fast days. After all, it’s one more thing to keep me distracted from thoughts like “I really want fries right now”.

When I started fasting, I was getting to the yoga studio between 4 and 6 days per week. I moved less than a year ago and the studio I go to now isn’t as easy for me to get to, so I only work out 3-5 days per week…but more like 3…and sometimes 1. Fasting helps me control my weight enough that I don’t see working out as “urgent” anymore. Good for peace of mind, but probably not so good for the body. Exercise is still a priority for me, but I don’t freak out if I have a busy week and can’t make it to yoga.

Workout or not, I still keep it to 500 calories or less on fasting days. Burning calories gets me no reward of eating extra calories. Sorry to disappoint if that’s what you really came here to find out.

Fast Day Recipe: Avocado Toast w/ Egg

IMG_6566Avocado toast, in general, underwhelms me. It’s avocado and bread. NBD (in a completely non-sarcastic way), yet people go crazy for it. I guess I get it. It’s simple and avocados are delicious (if you’re not sick of them already since they’re in everything these days). But avocados are generally something I avoid on fasting days. Despite their nutritional benefits, they’re high in fat and calories. That’s not to say it can’t be done (as I’m about to show you), but I would be sacrificing bulk for taste.

Then I discovered these things: 100-calorie guacamole cups! They have everything I need to make a tasty toast: avocados and seasoning, perfectly portioned for me. I also have a calorie-conscious bread in my arsenal: 40 calories per slice! I discovered it years ago and it has made my fasting life so much easier. I don’t think it’s a low-calorie recipe, the bread is just sliced thinner than typical sliced breads, which have about 70 – 90 calories per slice. So yes, lots more sandwich recipes to come!

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You can probably guess where I’m going here:

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I liberally spread the guacamole on a slice of toasted bread.
Boom.
Done: a 140-calorie breakfast (or dinner).

I wanted to add some protein too, so I employed my fool-proof soft-boiled egg technique (drop an egg in a 1/2 inch of boiling water, cover, and time it for 7 minutes).
Now it’s a 230-calorie meal. Perfect.

I also added a sprinkle of paprika for a little merriment.

 

It’s still pretentious avocado toast with egg, but it costs less than the $12 a fancy restaurant will charge, fits into a fasting day, and won’t leave me with a leftover half of avocado that I have to wrap and store and pray won’t go bad by tomorrow.

I did have leftover guacamole in my pre-portioned cup, but that’s what fingers are for.

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