Above: Before and after my 40 Day Fast.
“Primary foods feed us, but they don't come on a plate. Elements such as a meaningful spiritual practice, an inspiring career, regular and enjoyable physical activity and honest and open relationships that feed your soul and your hunger for living all constitute primary food.
The more primary food we receive, the less we depend upon secondary foods (what we eat). The opposite is also true. The more we fill ourselves with secondary foods, the less we are able to receive the primary foods of life.
Every spiritual tradition encourages people to fast during the year so that individuals have time to reduce secondary foods, thus allowing for a greater awareness of primary food.”
Last year I completed a 40 day juice fast and it was nothing short of life-changing. Sure, the physical changes were significant, but the mental and spiritual transformations were far more rewarding. I wanted to do something meaningful leading up to my 33rd birthday, as 33 has a great deal of spiritual significance. Plus, I was in the middle of one of the biggest transitions of my life. I had been laid off from my corporate job in November 2011 and had made the decision to start Om Point Yoga with Shavonna. We were in the thick of writing a business plan, selecting a name and determining our branding; I needed and wanted to be clear. More importantly, I refused to let fear and doubt deter me from what I wanted to do.
One of my favorite quotes is, “There is freedom in discipline.” So I decided to get still. I knew if I could create a new level of consciousness and discipline around my food choices, I could get to the heart of what really feeds me in life. It had been nearly 5 years since I fasted. The last time was before the birth of my daughter, but I remembered how it grounded me. I experience an unwavering peace while fasting and I needed that then. I need that now.
I generally fast twice a year, spring and fall. It seems appropriate to cleanse as the seasons change and I find that's when my body most calls for it. I managed to complete a shorter cleanse earlier this year, but have been resisting the notion of fasting again over the past few months. Having just completed my Holistic Health Coach certification in September, I thought, “Surely there is a way for me to reap the benefits of fasting without eliminating food completely.” I’ve made more conscious eating choices over the past 6 months than I have in my entire life, yet my body was still screaming, “I need a rest.” Weight gain, a bulging belly, low energy, mood swings, feeling anxious, and lack of motivation are just a few of signs that it was in fact time for a change.
The end of the year can be a joyous time with all of the holidays and special occasions. It can also be an excuse to sabotage the conscious choices we work so hard to honor throughout the year. With everything I have going on right now - owning a new business with all of its ups and downs, being a single mom, and having a brilliant, beautiful, BUSY 6-year-old, I can’t afford to lose momentum. So yesterday I did what I always advocate for with my yoga students... I surrendered. I gave up the fight against being disciplined, which for me is an ultimate source of freedom, and I started my fall fast! I surrendered and as always, the Universe delivered. I had a profound 2 hour walk/talk with a dear friend, one of the most productive work sessions I’ve had in weeks, and the most restful sleep I’ve had in months. That indescribable peace I mentioned earlier? It's already started to set in. For many, it's tempting to get caught up in the potential of getting rid of excess weight quickly. I mean, who doesn't welcome shedding a few unwanted pounds? I certainly do. But fasting for me is about so much more. It's a healing practice that allows me to cultivate discipline, clarity, compassion and a deep sense of connectedness to the rest of the world.
Will this be another 40-day endeavor? I doubt it, but you never know! After all, I’m hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my house again this year and would love to be done in time to whip up a few good vegan dishes and enjoy that very special time with family and friends.
What are your thoughts on and experiences with fasting? I’d love to hear from you!
If you are interested in learning more about juice fasting, check out Juice Fasting for Health, Wellness and Weight Loss with Dr. Nana Kwaku Opare and Ama Opare of Food for the Soul. They are Atlanta’s premiere authority on how to safely detox and lose weight with a juice fast and now offer an online program. I completed my remarkable 40-day juice fast with the Opares, which inspired me to create Cherished Life Juice Cleanses.