You feel fine…at first. If you’re lucky. You’re feeling on top of the world and like you can handle anything. You’re thinking to yourself, “This is not so bad. I can do this every day…well, I could, if I didn’t like eating so much.” And you’re right, you could do it every day for awhile… because the average person can live without food for about a month. You’re feeling like you could be one of the people strong enough to do that…until 5 o’clock rolls around and your stomach bottoms out and there’s nothing but water in your entire digestive system. Digestion can be such a slow process. Especially if you’re really into carbs and fried foods the way most people are, and cheese. These sorts of things stick to your insides, making your body work extra hard to digest them. So, unless you have a high metabolism, it may take about 12 hours before your body is even aware that you’re fasting.

But you’re still fine, right? Because you’ve mentally prepared for this by shoving half a stuffed crust pizza with a couple of breadsticks into your face last night and washing it down with vodka to give you strength and a 2-liter Coca-Cola. And I’m also sure you thought that was a good idea, to stuff yourself like a bear before hibernation so you wouldn’t “starve” while going without food for the next day. But really, those are just more preservatives and junk that you’ll just have to detox from your body today.

Now, it’s 6 o’clock, and you don’t ever remember your stomach being this empty before. It probably hasn’t. Living in America teaches you that it’s unhealthy to skip meals and so we eat at least every 4 hours, because otherwise, we’d starve. Plus, Mama always fed you well and now you feel just a little hollow, like you could drum on your tummy and make music. But you’re okay, you’re not suffering yet.

Then it’s 7 and the headache has been poking at your temples for a half hour already and you want to take some painkillers but can’t do that because there’s nothing in your stomach for it to stick to. Also remember: there’s nothing natural about painkillers so that would just be something else that would need cleansing from your body.

8 o’clock and your bloodstream is drowning in all of the toxins you so merrily ingested before. You might be light-headed and off-balance and your head might be trying to split open. You might be feeling like you aren’t going to make it, but you will. Go for a walk and take a friend. Some people are known to pass out from water-fasting if you aren’t used to it, so let someone be there to steady you.

Have you been drinking plenty of water? It feels like your lifeline now, doesn’t it? If you’ve been drinking water all day, you’ve had at least half a gallon already and feel like you’ve peed 100 times. That’s natural. That happens when you drink a lot of water-based fluids. Liquids that help cleanse your system.

Are you back from your walk yet and feeling like you’re about to keel over? Take a nap. You don’t have to be awake to stay strong. A nap will very likely help with the headache and give you blissful release from awareness of the side effects you’ve been feeling. Nap time is not weakness. You must do what is necessary to get through these last few hours.

Unless you’re super tired, which you may be, you probably won’t merrily sleep your way past midnight and wake up having successfully completed your fast. You can help your body detox by taking a shower or warm bath. Like that walk you took earlier, this will help release toxins through your skin, soothe you, and pass more time. The game here is survival.

If you are a true American, then you probably literally feel like you are starving to death. But you aren’t. You just have to keep distracting yourself from your empty stomach by finding a few more activities to occupy yourself. While doing so, keep drinking that water, because you probably feel like it is the only thing keeping you from slipping into a coma.

Just keep reminding yourself that you are suffering because of your poor eating habits and for no other reason. You are not alone in this. My first water fast was an interesting day of craving food and not wanting to give into the weakness of eating for pleasure. Remember, eating for pleasure is probably why you’re suffering. But also remember, you have the strength to overcome your weaknesses and you will make it through this day. And once you do, you will have uncovered a new strength that you never knew you could have. You are now ready to break the curse of your unhealthy eating cycle and dedicate yourself to physical, mental, and spiritual improvement.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Be sure to check out the selection of affirmations and chants that I’ve picked out specifically to bring strength where we all need extra support.

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