I've been alive for just over 15,000 days. On any given one I've rarely missed a single meal, and during my indulgent corporate days, I just about turned junk eating and boozing into an artform.
If you read last week's blog, you know I committed to a week-long diet consisting of only seven apples in seven days, and nothing else (bar water).
Seven days is .0004 of my 15,000-day existence – not that long. My decision to take radical action and eat less came about as a way of shining a spotlight on our bloated "more" culture – more food, more fat and more sugary, fizzy drinks is what's causing the obesity rate to skyrocket and costing Australia $120 billion per year.
By creating a crazy health challenge, I've morphed into a white lab rat, and in Twitter-esque style, here's how I travelled:
Day 1: Hungry, but motivated for the challenge.
Day 2: Monumentally hungry. Stomach churning. The guys at $10 pub poker chuckle at my seven apples.
Day 3: Hunger becoming manageable, and more mental. Taste buds itching for some food, though.
Day 4: Night out in CBD with mates … they eat, they drink. I have my water. Challenging.
Day 5: Exercise is a bit more difficult, but I'm still getting in quality sessions.
Day 6: A Bondi-Coogee walk on a 21-degree day … paradise. Hungry, and excited to start eating again.
Day 7: I made it. A meaningful seven-day journey. Food has never tasted so good in my life.
My "seven apples in seven days" concept is not entirely new. Buddhists, Jews, Catholics, Christians, Muslims, Greek Orthodox followers, Taoists, Hindus and Mormons all endorse some form of fasting. Yoga lovers fast, and when your doctor needs you to cleanse your body before a procedure … you're asked to fast.
I'm no rebel, and I'm not religious – I just wanted to challenge my body with less. It's been crazy, yet it's been a learning experience, and any time I can learn something (good or bad) about health and wellness, I'm interested … and glad I took up the challenge.
My editor did a little Q&A with me on Day 7. Here it is:
On a scale of 1-10, how was it?
I rate it a 6. It wasn't impossible; it wasn't easy. It was a serious challenge.
You know the saying … an apple a day keeps the doctor away. I won't give up apples.
How was your energy and sleep?
I'm lucky I had no detox symptoms, as I read others have experienced in online forums. I don't drink coffee or tea and take zero medication, so my spirits and energy were on par with a normal week. Sleep was normal. I was pretty healthy going into the week, and I know that contributed to a successful seven days.
Did you exercise?
Most days I did a simple circuit which totalled 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, sprints, 1000 jump ropes, and 1000 stairs.
As one reader sarcastically asked, 'do you work?'
Ha. Yes, I work. I didn't cancel on one client, Monday to Saturday. I woke up before 7am most days, and I trained clients some nights until 8pm. Along with that, I wrote many thousands of words for other writing projects, and I didn't miss a day of exercise. The nature of my profession is I have breaks between clients - on days when energy was low, I relaxed when my body required it.
How much weight did you lose?
If you eat less, you will lose weight. If you fast, you will lose weight. I'll leave it at that, as I don't want my experience to be interpreted as an attempt to lose weight and I have no intention to turn this into some new diet. I did it to see what effect "less" would have on my body.
What happened physically?
My skin is as clear as when I was 16 years old. Hunger pains during Day 1 and 2 were the worst, but by Day 3 my body realised nothing was coming in. It then became a mental battle. My hands were often cold. And sorry to bring it up, but I spent a lot more time standing over the toilet than sitting … but it was all water and so little food. I feel good now.
Would you recommend it?
No, and maybe. Everybody and every body is different, so recommending a week-long fast to readers I don't know would be irresponsible. Fasting is a decision every individual should make based on their current physical health, mental wellbeing, and energy needs. If they're in any doubt they should talk to their GP first. As popular diet books introduce fasting, I do worry that eating disorders could develop by people taking it too far … for that reason, I'll stay on the fence.
The most important thing I learned from this week is my body doesn't want "food"; instead, it's craving nutrients. My first post-fast shopping trip wasn't for beer (surprise), cookies, chocolate, or any processed BS that's loaded with flavour and mass. I bought salmon, lamb, quinoa, spinach, broccoli, fruit, avocado, and so much more fresh, healthy and tasty goods.
That's the message here … forget fasting, and just eat less (in a healthy manner) because your body can handle it. Also, keep exercising. You can lose weight and you will become healthier – it's a simple, wonderful formula that applied in 1950, 1980, and still does today. And one that can turn around the global obesity crisis.
Have you ever fasted? What's your experience?