My experience of 10 days of fasting: how a low-calorie fast dramatically improved my mental and physical health – FAST!
“Health and healing will follow fasting …”
I suffered a nervous breakdown five weeks ago and, without getting into the ins and outs, it’s time to heal. Fasting is the answer. It’ll take away inflammation, give me more energy, clear my brain fog, improve my vision, take away the aches and pains, make me want to move my body more and remove any kind of craving I have for processed foods and alcohol. So, here goes …
Watch my video about my 10-day low-calorie fast and how I felt day-to-day:
Every joint aches. Every joint is swollen. The bottoms of my feet feel sore, dry and itchy. I’m dehydrated. My stomach is bloated and there’s a swelling around my liver area. I’m extremely constipated and my bowels feel stuffed to the hilt. My hair has thinned with stress; it feels dry and brittle. My skin feels looser, has more lines and is dry. My lower back aches, my shoulders feel hunched and stiff, as does my neck. My upper arms feel particularly fat and my wrists are swollen. I’m tired, lethargic and have no clarity of thought. My head is foggy and my vision isn’t clear. My face aches, my jaw is clenching (especially after eating) and my eyeballs feel large and hard. My whole body is stiff, I’m irritable and I can’t be bothered with anything to do with the real world. My appetite is huge and I’m craving salty then sugary foods like a yo-yo. I’m waking up several times during the night and I can’t snooze during the day. I feel low, hopeless and like I’m slumped over the bottom rung of a very tall ladder.
06:00 I started my fast at 8pm last night. I’m already angry at water and resenting it to be honest with you but I know it’ll be worth it if I just stick to it.
15:30 I’ve only had half a litre of water so far today. Ridiculous. Nowhere near enough but it’s always the same on day one. If I don’t drink enough water I find it really difficult to up the amount I drink. As soon as I force myself to drink more, I can drink more and want to drink more. At the moment I have a headache and my eyes feel strained. I could sleep. I had a herbal tea. I’m really angry because I can’t have food!
17:00 I’m now able to drink more water. The cravings have passed and although I’m hungry I feel much happier, like I’ve gone up a notch. I’ve got neck ache and my face feels puffy. I had four walnuts, a herbal tea and a shot of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. I don’t care today. My headache is stronger, I’m angry and I’m wee-ing more. Great.
20:00 I’ve drunk a litre of water. Whoopiedoo. I’m irritable, I’ve got a bad headache, neck ache, I hate everything and I should have taken my body measurements today but I was too lazy. I need to get into bed in case I dive into the fridge.
DAY 2: (4lbs off so far)
07:30 I’ve woken with a lot of mucus in my throat. My nose feels raw inside. I’m light in mood and had a rush of giggles and happiness. I’ve got a faint trace of a headache. My middle area feels healthier already but I still feel terribly constipated. I’ve got more energy to get outside, which I’ve not felt like doing for a long time.
08:45 I feel the need to be calm and quiet. All of my joints are clicking whenever I move. My skin already feels smoother on the backs of my arms and hands. My head feels clearer but my body just needs to rest.
09:45 I decided to do an enema as I have no sign of a bowel movement. Update: I felt a lot better afterwards.
11:00 I’ve got more energy to do more physical things like tidying up. I feel I can drink more water today but only if it’s out of a bottle. I hate drinking out of glasses, though I have no idea why. I’ve got sudden hunger and tiredness and feel I need to be quiet and rest, even though a few minutes ago I felt like going out and exploring.
12:45 I had severe pain in the back of my left side briefly, for about a minute.
13:30 I feel happy. I have no hunger and no thirst. My mouth tastes metallic and unclean. My knees ache suddenly and my lower back feels sore but I’ve not done any exercise in weeks so it’s probably that.
14:00 My neck and shoulders ache really badly. My jaw is clenching a bit and my cheeks ache.
14:30 I wanted suddenly to go for a walk on the beach. Once we were there my limbs felt really heavy and my lower back was really killing me, but it felt good to feel the wind and salty air.
18:15 My breath is very metallic and my skin feels really dry, I’ve got faint hunger but I’m not thirsty. I’ve had 1.7 litres of water and two herbal teas so far today.
19:00 I had a coconut water. My knees are aching and my legs are very stiff. I feel the need to rest and do absolutely nothing.
19:30 I’m surprised at how little effect the fast is having on me, maybe because I’m less stressed and am resting a lot, plus taking in some calories. The effects are way less severe than when I did my 3-day water fast, when I had 100% water. Maybe it’s because I’ve built up some sort of tolerance through intermittent fasting, or maybe it’s because I’m not doing 100% water on this fast.
21:00 I got the giggles then suddenly felt really low. I noticed some small spots on my chest and more mucus is coming up in my throat. I’m coughing it up but there isn’t a lot of it. I have no hunger, it just feels like I’ve not eaten for around four hours. I don’t feel like the fast has kicked in at all yet, which means that tomorrow is probably going to be horrendous. The calm before the storm. At the moment I’m going strong and can see myself going for at least another couple of days. I think that the herbal tea helps and although I’ve had a few calories it’s still very low so my body can put most of its energy into healing and having a break. Perfection is not fun in my world so I’ll do this my way thank you very much!
DAY 3: (7lbs off so far)
06:30 I’ve got really angry thoughts. Loads of things have been running through my mind from the past and I had a horrendous night’s sleep. I felt profound sadness at about 11pm, then happiness and I couldn’t sleep. I cried briefly and felt tense, jittery and panicky. My whole body ached. The cat purring went through me like a chainsaw (probably more to do with my breakdown than the fast; I can’t take much noise at the moment).
06:45 The roof of my mouth feels smooth and coated with mucus. Last night Dave was annoying me every time he moved in bed and I wanted more space, wanting to stretch out. My breath is metallic, I’ve got mucus in my throat, I feel constipated still and so will do an enema this morning. My lower stomach aches a bit, which is probably a good sign that things are on the move. My face felt briefly like a rash was all over it; it wasn’t itchy, it was more prickly. It last about thirty seconds. I have had a very brief headache around the back and I feel very tense and coiled like a spring this morning. My tongue felt furry at some point during the night but now it just feels like it’s covered in a layer of mucus. My skin feels very dry on my face. The backs of my hands feel tingly. My upper arms feel less swollen, my knees ache, my neck and shoulders ache, my forehead feels less blobby and my hair doesn’t feel quite as dry, though it feels very thin.
08:00 I’ve got low energy.
11:30 I stayed in bed until 11:30am, which is very unlike me (I usually get up by about 6am).
12:00 I did an enema and took some vitamin D3. I felt happy and I sang in the shower for what is the first time in months.
12:45 I’ve got a sudden urge for a green smoothie, for dark green leaves. I had about 200ml of green smoothie (coconut water, broccoli stem, lime, cress, pak choi, cucumber, chia seeds, diatomaceous earth, strawberries, magnesium) but it had absolutely no effect on me. It tasted horrific but I felt the need to take something in. I’m feeling like I need to rest so I’m in my pyjamas with a blanket on the sofa. I haven’t had enough water again, which is probably why I felt like I needed something more.
13:00 I’m very glad of the nutrients I’ve take in. I’m feeling calm and drinking the smoothie slowly. I had a small glass of it and that was enough. I’m just listening to what my body wants and that’s the key in that you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to do something. Whose rules are we following anyway? Our own, that’s what I think!
16:00 I feel very tired in the head, fatigued in the head. My jaw is very clenched, I feel a bit hungry and I’m sleepy. My back is clicking a lot.
16:45 My hunger has passed and my mood has lifted, though I still feel a bit groggy in the head.
17:00 I went for a short walk. My coat was noticeably looser but as I walked up a gentle incline my limbs felt very heavy uphill and I had to turn back but that’s okay because it feels life-changing to go for a small walk after not being able to do anything for weeks after my breakdown. I couldn’t even get out of bed for a couple of weeks because I had so little energy. I felt so happy on my little walk.
17:15 I had some coconut water and I find that helps a lot.
18:00 I feel extremely angry, bored and frustrated. I’ve got a clenched jaw and feel as if I have a stiff neck again. Again, I’ve not drunk enough water. Moron. I want to eat and have looked in the fridge three times. I got really annoyed with Dave for saying that he’s sticking to it. The roles were reversed though as I kept him on track earlier. I’m resenting where I am in my body and my mind. I didn’t want to have this breakdown. I should have done something about it when the signs were there, I was this close to giving in but then remembered how I felt just a few days ago, why I’m doing this and how much progress I’m making. I’m doing this to heal.
18:45 That was tough but the call to eat has passed; the cravings have gone. I got into bed early to stay on track and not go anywhere near the kitchen.
19:00 I’m downing water and feeling quite good. I’m glad I didn’t give in because the water fast has not really kicked in yet, maybe because I’m taking in 100 or 200 calories a day so the effects are less severe. I don’t care – whatever works to give my system a break. Overall I’m really pleased with how it’s going. I couldn’t give a stuff about doing this how other people want me to do it; in my book there are no rules and if there are rules I’ll be breaking them anyway to suit myself. And that’s what it’s about: finding what works for yourself and not feeling shame or a sense of failure if you do it in a way that is different from other people. It’s not a punishment! Life’s too short to live according to other people’s expectations and in my book it’s better to try something and adapt it to yourself than to measure yourself against standards set by other people. If you measure yourself against standards set by other people you’re likely to consider yourself a failure. What does it matter? You’re trying and you’re doing more good than harm so don’t worry about it!
20:00 72 hours done. Going into day 4 and feeling pretty good. I’m getting tired now so am going to rest for an hour or two before I sleep.
DAY 4: (11lbs off so far)
02:30 I woke up and felt like I had had a full night’s sleep and I didn’t believe Dave when he said it was only 2:30am. I had all sorts of bad memories crop up suddenly and I was awake for an hour thinking about them – things that are totally irrelevant and unimportant. Petty stuff that I suppose was getting out of my body.
My neck is tense. My lower arms and hands feel tingly, as do my lower legs and feet. I feel fairly thirsty, my skin feels much softer, my face is less swollen, my hands look younger, I feel awake and happy and excited about the day ahead. I also feel a mix of wanting to walk and wanting to rest and do a quiet self-hypnosis session. I drank 500ml of water. I wish it was morning. I’m not sure I can sleep anymore. My right shoulder feels bruised when I touch it. I sort of feel like I have a cold without actually feeling like I have a cold. My legs feel slimmer on my thighs and calves.
03:00 I’m suddenly fatigued all over my body then wide awake in an instant.
06:30 My body feels extremely heavy and is aching all over. I literally couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. My body felt like it was half way into the bed – not for long, probably around twenty minutes. My whole body suddenly felt like it had a fiery rash all over it but it’s not itchy, it’s just that prickliness again. It’s going now.
07:30 I got up and did the horses. I feel better for the movement and the fresh air. My knees ache now and then but nothing major.
09:00 I notice my arms feel less flabby and my fingers feel smaller when I clasp my fingers.
09:30 The roof of my mouth is smooth and coated.
14:30 I feel great and I don’t feel hungry. If I thought about food I could probably wolf it down though. Rather than feeling great from the water fast I just feel sheer relief that I am healing from my breakdown because I’ve had about five good days in a row. At one stage I was feeling pretty scared that I wouldn’t ever feel normal again. I’ve had moments of sheer despair thinking my brain won’t ever recover. There have been many down times but now I am on my way up.
DAY 5: (11lbs off so far)
08:00 I’m frozen all over. Frozen to the bone. I feel like I’m getting a cold even though I’m not. I’m feeling mentally more determined this morning. I had watermelon yesterday evening and I think that actually boosted me to dig deeper. I felt good after it but it was enough food for now and I want to carry on with the fast. I can sustain the fast if I take in a few hundred calories per day. I can’t do 100% water. My body wanted more so I listened to it but I stopped when I felt my body had had enough and thats really what fasting does for me, completely resetting my relationship with food. It makes me not want bad food (highly processed and fake food) and it also makes me want to eat less. My body felt like it needed those few calories to tackle the next few days of the fast and I feel now that I can keep going strong. I’ve felt very strong all the way through because I’ve had some calorie intake each day. It suits me this way.
09:30 I can see a bit of a difference in my face now. I do ache on my shoulders, neck and back but it’s nothing as bad as before. I had good energy to muck out the horses and de-poo two big fields, probably because I’d take in some calories. I feel a lot calmer today and very in control. I can feel a bit of the benefits of the water fast now.
10:00 I’ve had 500ml of water so far.
10:30 My boobs feel smaller and my bra feels a bit looser.
11:00 I feel better but think it could be another week before I feel the real benefits of doing a fast. The mental benefits are huge already.
11:30 Dave remarked on how silky smooth the skin is on my face.
13:00 My mouth tastes very manky and my tongue is furry at the back. I have lots of mucus in my throat.
14:00 I had a very small chunk of watermelon. Food already tastes more delicious and I am eating slowly. I’ve had 1 litre of water so far.
15:00 I feel really angry. I downed a shot of lemon juice like it was a double whiskey! I even slammed the glass down on the side. My stomach feels noticeably smaller, my whole body feels healthier and firmer – less clogged up in general.
17:00 I feel so happy and clear-headed but my head aches. I’ve had 1.5 litres of water so far.
17:30 No hunger at all. It’s quite surprising.
18:00 I wanted to go to the pub to be around people – not to drink but to be around people. That’s new! Had a bit more watermelon. My eyes feel a bit bigger and my face feels a bit smaller. My chin feels a little more boney. I need an enema (forgot to have one this morning). I can see myself going quite a few weeks like this. I can’t believe how happy, well and energised I feel on so few calories. Listening to my body is helping to reset it and to change my level of cravings completely. After this fast I know that intermittent fasting will do the same. The fast seems easy compared to a juice fast or juice feast, whatever you want to call it. 11lbs off is 10% of what I need to lose to get the rest of my weight off and to get to my goal. It seems achievable now.
11:30 I woke up sneezing and feeling like I have a cold coming. My legs ache like growing pains. I feel a bit panicky. I had a numb tongue for a moment. My hands ache. I had some coconut water in case it’s low electrolytes. I must do an enema tomorrow. I notice how smooth my hands feel and also how much less fat my chest area feels.
DAY 6: (12lbs off so far)
08:00 I must drink more water. I feel good, alert and happy and ready to go out and explore. I really don’t have any hunger whatsoever.
11:00 I had a massive outburst and lots of rage about a topical issue. I had real anger. My arms feel very tired writing this. I went for a short walk with the dogs and feel very lethargic today.
13:00 I feel like it’s beginning to kick in a little bit now and I feel very cold, which I always feel when detox is happening. I’ve never got this far on a fast before. I don’t think I would have got this far on water alone. I don’t feel hungry at all – it’s quite strange. The calories are so low that they are not impairing the healing that is going on. The body is resting, the digestive system is resting and all of its energy can go into healing and resting the body. It’s doing me the power of good. It goes in waves of feeling excellent, very clear and capable and then drifting down into a lethargic, sleep state. I do feel like I can go on and on and on with this. I know in about 30 minutes that I’ll be really alert again. I don’t have any cravings whatsoever. I certainly don’t crave anything sugary or salty. I don’t crave fake foods and I feel great overall. I can feel my stomach shrinking and it feels like a relief.
Today is the first difficult day in terms of not feeling as great though. If I have to eat later I will. Half of it is not drinking enough water; maybe I’m not drinking enough for what I need because I’m so overweight.
When Dave and I have a happy time on the fast we’re ecstatic and ache with laughter and when we’re angry it’s very passionate and heated but short-lived. When we’re feeling tired it’s extremely tired. Feeling profound sadness then feeling profound happiness. Everything seems to be exaggerated on a fast; your emotions are heightened I think. I am enjoying it and 6 days in I feel I can go for the 10 days that I wanted.
18:00 My face is a bit dry. I’m drinking 2 litres of water a day on average. My job tomorrow is to drink 3 litres of water because I don’t think I’m drinking enough. I feel heavier tonight and my stomach feels bigger.
21:00 I feel very tired but extremely happy and determined. I’m surprised I’m not hungry and I’m not that thirsty either. I need to force myself to drink more water today; the more I drink the more I want to drink and the easier it will get but I do feel good overall. My face feels tighter and a bit smaller and I feel I look a big more glowing. My eyes are brighter and more sparkly and I feel that I’m smiling widely. I’ve got to the point where I want to build a bit of stamina, to walk a bit further but I’m also aware that my body will tell me when it’s ready, as far as my recovering from my breakdown goes. I feel the fast is making the healing process from my breakdown move on a lot. I notice that my legs feel tighter, leaner and less blobby under the skin when I run my fingers up my shins. I’ve never done this well at a fast. It’s really fabulous. Tonight, though, I need rest and sleep and must do better on the water front tomorrow.
Day 7: (13lbs off so far)
02:00 Crikey my legs are slimmer! I’m laying on my side and my legs are fitting together nicely. It’s especially noticeable around the calves and knees. My hips have gone down and my stomach feels smaller and a lot less solid – also less blobby (it feels less solid at the top but less blobby at the bottom). Also, as I run a hand around my lumbar region it’s noticeably less fatty and the skin is really smooth. I’m exfoliating every day in the shower though, so it could be that. My body must really need this break and the low calories of this fast because it’s responding in such positive ways. It feels lighter, happier, healthier, more in control. I can feel it healing inside and out. I feel privileged to have my brain back. I’m still constipated but then there is not much solid to process so I guess that makes sense. Tonight I’m going to enter my second week and I don’t feel at all daunted.
04:00 Very wide awake at 4am. Dave and I had a fit of uncontrollable laughter after we were feeling each other’s bodies, remarking on how much less fat there is.
04:30 My nose is running. I am sneezing and I feel so happy about the day ahead. I’m also feeling huge gratitude towards Dave for how he’s supported me through my breakdown and through my fast. I’ve found making videos very helpful too.
05:30 I’ve got a stuffy nose. My back aches a bit. I feel the want for an enema and lots of water but I cannot be bothered to get up yet and I cannot be bothered even to have a shower.
11:00 I feel the need to have a more relaxed day and have a little more to eat. Steamed broccoli, cauliflower and garlic – it was delicious.
DAY 8: (13lbs off so far)
08:00 Yesterday was great. The food boosted us. I felt like I’d put 7lbs on overnight but I’d stayed the same weight, so that really shocked me. I’m finding the want to add in a small meal, taking in a bit more substance, so in that respect I’m heading towards intermittent fasting now. I want salad, watermelon and coconut water.
I wanted to get out and do the horses and I went for two gentle walks yesterday. I feel the strongest I have felt since having my nervous breakdown. I’m enjoying this fast and what my body is telling me to do. I feel more connected with it and trust my body to tell me where to go from here.
DAY 9: (13lbs off so far)
08:00 Today I feel different, like the fast is coming to an end. I don’t feel I’m getting as much out of it now and that I’d get just as much out of intermittent fasting. I think my body wants to take in more solid food now so I’ll start coming off the fast and take a few days to do that. It won’t be so paramount to come out of the fast really carefully and slowly because I’ve not just had 100% water for 9 days. If I had had 100% water I’d probably take another week to come off the fast. I’ve found a low-calorie water fast really fabulous and can see myself doing 1 or 2 days of water fasting or low calorie fasting per week. It just feels right. I’m absolutely chuffed that I’ve lasted this long on the fast, not because of anything other than I set out to do 10 days and have almost done it.
14:00 I feel very relaxed and happy, in control and looking forward to the next part of the journey.
DAY 10: what 10 days of fasting did for me overall
I think what the fast has done for me overall is that it’s allowed me to completely rest. It’s taken me right down, it’s calmed me down and it’s reset my craving problem. It’s taken me back to square one because I don’t have cravings and I certainly don’t crave sweet things. I’m not saying that they won’t come back and if they do I’ll probably fast again to get rid of them. This is about healing, not about restricting and I’m very glad to be going back to food. I feel very relaxed about food, very in control. I feel that even if I could eat any amount of food I’d have a small amount and stop when I am full up, which is quite strange for me. In that respect it is life changing.
I knew pretty early on that I would not be doing 100% water. It just doesn’t work for me. I find it amusing that people get so touchy about the fact you call a fast a water fast when you are not doing 100% water (even if what you are doing is 95% water!) and even have a dig at people who take supplements and salt during a fast, saying it’s ‘not pure’ so it doesn’t count. That kind of mentality bores me and it’s actually quite dangerous because it makes people feel pressure to a) be perfect and b) avoid taking in necessary vitamins and minerals the body needs. I don’t feel the need to be perfect in other people’s eyes. If you need a bit of coconut water or a few herbal teas to get through it and make it an enjoyable process rather than an impossible task or a depressing punishment, then what’s wrong with that? You’re still having very low calories and the idea is to give yourself a bit of rest and healing. And you don’t have to do 100% water to do all that good either because intermittent fasting is proven scientifically to be just as effective (and far less extreme or dangerous if done long term).
Would I do a long-term, low-calorie or water fast again? In an instant. I think I could carry on but it’s not right for me at the moment; ten days is enough.