I'm gearing up for my next water fast and I realize that how I am preparing for it has a lot to do with concentrating on mental fortitude.
Sometimes getting ready to surmount a challenge has to do with taming the mind.
To prepare mentally, I'll be sure not to psych myself out a week before. I have to tell myself that I've done this before so it NBD. No hype.
As for during the fast, I anticipate there will be moments of self-doubt, discomfort, hunger pangs, and fleeting food fantasies because I experience those things first hand in previous water fasts.
Here are the three things I'll do to keep my mind mentally strong (and possibly distracted!):
I love walking. It's something I enjoy doing daily in addition to my strength & resistance training and cardio. It's a great source of steady-state (LISS) and mentally I find it so relaxing and meditative. It's a good time for me to practice mindfulness as I like to pay attention to my surroundings and enjoy the environment I find myself in - whether it be a big noisy city, pastoral fields, or rustic mountain trails.
In addition to exercising during my fast (weight training, mostly isometrics while keeping intense cardio at bay) I plan to do long walks. It takes up a good chunk of time, is not that tiring on the body (particularly when you haven't eaten a morsel of food!), and is cathartic.
Line Up Specific Tasks
When you fast you find you have a lot more time on your hands than you're used to. Before water fasting, I hadn't fully appreciated the extent to which my husband and I spend on meals. Anything from groceries, meal planning, meal prepping, cooking, and eating! It's wonderful to be able to do all those activities involving delicious healthy food we so enjoy but when you're fasting you have all this time to spend elsewhere. Not to mention that when fasting time goes by soooo slowly. Sometimes one day on a water fast feels like three days…so it's important to have a solid lineup of activities and tasks.
I plan to calendar block (time block) and have specific things to do. I don't want to find myself in a situation where I'm trying to think about what to do. I just want to know what task I have and work toward completing it. Much less of a cognitive load that way!
Remind Myself of My “WHY”
This is what I'll rely on when it gets tough. In those moments of self-doubt or my inner voice decides to taunt me, I will remind myself why I am doing this in the first place. The myriad health benefits, mental clarity, the increased productivity are all pluses. The reason I am doing the fasting is for the health benefits, of which there are many.
I also like to remind myself that almost every religion or spiritual faith has some type of fasting in its philosophy. Humans are equipped to fast daily and we're equipped to do longer water fasts.
So these are the three things I'm focusing on this upcoming fast. I'll continue to prepare physically, but as I said, sometimes the mental aspect is more challenging. The power of our mind!
I have found that it's about trial and error, configuring your fasting to suit your needs and schedule, and learning from your experiences so that you can streamline the process and optimize it for your own life.
I encourage you to check out the scientific literature that supports fasting as a health and longevity tool.
Resources for fasting:
- The difference between Time-Restricted Eating (TRE) and Intermittent Fasting | Satchin Panda: https://youtu.be/SCXpcUsbq8I
- Dr. Rhonda Patrick: https://www.foundmyfitness.com/topics/fasting
- Dr. Peter Attia on TRF: https://peterattiamd.com/time-restricted-eating-efficacy-versus-effectiveness/
- Dr. Peter Attia: https://peterattiamd.com/intermittent-fasting/
- Accelerating Benefits of a Fast | Dr. Peter Attia: https://youtu.be/_wG5jJO2f5I
- Joe Rogan - Doctor Explains Benefits of Fasting: https://youtu.be/bHdoAhZyP3I
- What Type of Fasting is Best (Dr. Rhonda Patrick): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNqO9XZ8E4M
Disclaimer -- please know that fasting might not be for everyone. Talk to your medical practitioner or doctor before embarking on a prolonged fast (3 or more days). Extended water fasts should be medically supervised so please consult with your doctor if it's right for you.