Do you want to lose weight?
Do you want to reclaim your health?
Do you want to gain control of your life?
I have the answer. And it costs absolutely nothing.
It is FREE!
The answer is called “Not Eating.”
It is a simple practice known as fasting.
For as long as I can remember, the health, fitness and medical industry have said that fasting is not healthy, it slows your metabolism, and will eat your muscles.
Now all of these myths are being put to rest as the results of a lot of research is starting to pour in.
And here is how I got hooked on fasting.
“Hello, my name is Yogi Aaron and I am a foodaholic.”
Because I am a food addict, my relationship with food is tenuous at best. Simply put, I love to eat. No, I LIVE to eat.
When a platter of food was presented to me, I was not able to stop eating until all of the food was gone.
Why was I like this?
I did not really get answers as to why until I was writing my book, “Autobiography Of A Naked Yogi.” As I started to dive into my earlier life, I realized that food was one of the only sacred things I had that gave me the illusion of safety and comfort.
When I was a child, I had no power over what I ate or what I put in my body. When I was with my mother, I was forced to eat whatever she put in front of us.
From one passage in my book,
“Mum was very strict when it came to food—another reason I found sanctuary at grandma’s, where I could count on delicious, healthy meals. Mum went through phases in her cooking: vegetarian, ethnic cuisine, typical home-style foods. The worst meal ever, though, was liver, the sight alone was enough to make me feel ill. But I was forced to eat every morsel as she consistently reminded me that the starving children in Africa would be happy to trade places with me. She also experimented with seasonings such as cayenne pepper, making our meals so hot they brought my sisters and me to tears as we ate. What was supposed to help improve our circulation and brain function only reminded us of the hell we were enduring at home.”
When I was with my grandma, she took the care to cook the most delicious meals, and there was always an abundance of them. She showed me love by cooking them and providing a lot, and I showed her how much I loved her by eating them. All of it! And then I would eat more because I never knew when I would get a meal like that again.
IF there were any leftovers, she gave them to me in a little doggy bag I took for lunch.
I continued eating a lot throughout my life. It never stopped. All the way through my late teens, twenties, and even early thirties, I could always eat a lot. I was always active, working out, hiking, scuba diving, yoga, gymnastics, and so much more.
Then something happened. I stopped moving so much. But I never stopped eating as much as I did.
My body began to change.
The Benefits Of Fasting and Why You Should Do It
Since I turned 35, I have been struggling with my body and health. Life was busy and so I never stuck with any workout program for very long. AND I never stopped eating.
When I was a younger man, I took great delight in willing my body to do whatever I wanted it to do. I could will my body to snowshoe for fifty-miles, contort into all kinds of yoga postures, and kick it up in level 3, 4 + 5 cross fit classes.
Because I was so active, I could eat whatever I wanted, and then eat more, and never show for it.
But when I stopped being so active, my body changed, and I started to gain a lot of weight.
To give you some perspective, when I was 33, I weighed in 165 lbs, (After my first trip to India and spending two months climbing through the Himalayan Mountains, I came back weighing 157 lbs.) By the time I turned 43, I weighed 215 lbs.
Realizing that I had reached a critical mass, the moment of truth arrived. “Do I want to continue this path, or do I want to make some changes?”
Now that I was starting to weigh a lot more, I was finding it increasingly more and more difficult to move my body. Certain yoga postures were more difficult to navigate. I was noticing that I was out of breath doing the smallest of movements.
Knowing that my situation had reached a critical point, I knew I needed help and turned to a health coach for support and guidance. In finding Crystal, we took a look at the many daily practices I needed to become more diligent about.
– Water intake
– Vegetable juicing
Guess which one I was the most resistant in. You got it.
My first two responses to Crystal were:
– Won’t fasting begin to eat my muscles?
– Doesn’t fasting mess with your metabolism?
Crystal immediately rattled off some stats and gave some information, which of course, I did not believe. These negative myths were so ingrained in my mind that I was not able to let go of them so easily.
Around this time, I began to follow people in a Facebook support group that Crystal got me into. And one day, a certain post caught my attention. A man by the name of Brad, who was around the same age as me, posted a before and after photo of his body. I was impressed because the change was so remarkable. I asked him what his secret was, and he said,
“Fasting. I have been religiously fasting one day a week for months now.”
I asked him more questions about fasting, then started to do some of my own research on it.
And this is what I found out
According to the Mayo Clinic,
“Researchers aren’t sure why, but it seems that regularly fasting — severely restricting food and drink for a 24-hour period on one to two days a week — can potentially improve your risk factors related to heart health…
Regular fasting and better heart health may also be linked to the way your body metabolizes cholesterol and sugar. Regular fasting can decrease your low-density lipoprotein, or “bad,” cholesterol. It’s also thought that fasting may improve the way your body metabolizes sugar. This can reduce your risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes, which are both risk factors for heart disease.”
For the past few years, bodybuilders and athletes are starting to embrace the idea and practice of intermittent fasting.
Wait! What is intermittent fasting?
Intermittent fasting is an eating pattern where you cycle between periods of eating and fasting. We are not telling you what to eat, only when you might want to eat. Or rather when not to eat.
There are several different intermittent fasting methods, all of which split the day or week into eating periods and fasting periods.
Did you know that you already fast for part of your day, every day? And you break that fast with break-fast.
With intermittent fasting, we are starting to think about prolonging the fast to last longer than the time between dinner and breakfast. Typically, you can decide when to fast and how long.
One of my favorite fasts is to skip dinner. By skipping dinner and not eating until the next morning, this becomes an 18 hour fast.
Another favorite type of fasting for myself is to go one full day without eating. If we are really counting hours at this point, it is actually about 36/40 hours from the last dinner until the first breakfast. Sometimes, more for yogic discipline, I will go two days without food. (Whenever I go without food for more than one day, the practice goes beyond the body and is more about strengthening mind and character.)
Fasting is a lot easier than you think. Once you get past your own issues around not eating, and that you will not die, I can tell you from personal experience that I always feel better. I feel lighter, my mind is sharper, I have more energy, I don’t feel so bloated and “stuffed”, and I just feel better.
No food is allowed during the fasting period, but you can drink water, coffee or tea. (Juicing in this context of fasting does not constitute as “fasting”.)
Here is what happens when you fast!
When you don’t eat for a while, there are several things that happen in your body.
For me, one of the biggest benefits is that your body initiates important cellular repair processes and changes hormone levels to make stored body fat more accessible. Here are some of the changes that occur in your body during fasting:
• Insulin levels: Blood levels of insulin drop significantly, which facilitates fat burning.
• Human growth hormone: The blood levels of growth hormone may increase as much as 5-fold. Higher levels of this hormone facilitate fat burning and muscle gain and have numerous other benefits.
• Cellular repair: The body induces important cellular repair processes, such as removing waste material from cells.
As an aging male, the point for me about HGH increasing during fasting is a no-brainer. There was one study I have read that shows fasting to increase HGH by 2000% in men.
Another big benefit is that I get to give my body a break from food. And this break from food gives your body a chance to regenerate. Studies are now showing that one of the secrets to not only living a healthier life, but a longer one is through fasting.
Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology at University of Southern California says that during intermittent fasting:
“You’re killing the bad cells and regenerating with cells that are more functional.”… “Cells are killed and the body goes into standby, your stem cells switch on. Once switched on, the stem cells can regenerate the lost cells and organ mass — leaving you shiny and new.”
~ from CNN
Fasting will help you a lot! But not only for your body. Fasting will condition and train your mind.
One time, with a group of my students, I suggested that we give up food for a day. You should have seen the looks of utter horror on their faces as they contemplate going without their much “needed” food for one day.
Food has such a deep control over us.
Just for a moment, pause, and think about all of your beliefs around food. And now notice how many of those beliefs have become your reality – your truth.
How many times have you heard your friends say, or you yourself have said, “If I do not eat soon, I will die.” or “I am going to turn into a real bitch if I do not eat soon.” And we do turn into a bitch. Some of us turn into real assholes if we do not get to eat when we THINK we should eat.
Have you ever stopped to consider the insanity of this? Really. You don’t eat so you turn into an asshole. I can tell you that you were probably already a bitch or an asshole. Going without food may be your excuse, but it certainly was not the cause.
Practice going on without food. Don’t let food, your ideas and beliefs about food, disrupt your emotional equilibrium. Use fasting as a way to begin to understand your beliefs around food and how much food controls who you are in life. When you are able to go without food with grace, ease and remain happy, you will know that you have climbed an essential rung on the ladder to enlightenment – to your own inner state of happiness.
Photo Credit – Maria Hillier