I never thought I could do a juice fast. Go without food? For days? Not on my list of fun things to do! Contemplating it, I even felt a little panicky. But this is my second juice fast, and I’ve discovered it’s quite a unique experience — one that I’ll continue to seek out in the future. Here are a couple of things I appreciate about the process.
Slowing Down and Learning to Say “No”
Okay, I’ll admit that I didn’t figure this one out on the first fast, which I did during my break between the spring quarter and summer school. While I took it easy the first two or three days, I just about killed myself working hard for the next four. I sawed limbs off of trees, pruned our live oak, and bundled cuttings.
My intentions were good, yes, but I wasn’t being kind to my body. I didn’t slow down nearly enough. I wonder how much good I really did my body by plowing through in that way? Not much, I suspect. (As a side note, I never could have imagined I’d have the energy to do all of that while fasting. It was incredible!)
This time around, I’m taking a different approach. I’ve been extremely stressed over the past month, particularly the last two weeks. Then, take-home midterm from Hell pushed me over the edge. I needed a break, and school wasn’t going to cut me any slack. So I decided to slow down anyway and just say “no” to extra activities and obligations for a while. I’m a chronic over-committer, and while I’ve grown in this area, I have a long way to go.
Because I knew this was my last chance to fast this year, I committed to jealously guarding my eventless schedule this week (school goes on, of course). As soon as I made up my mind, the calls and emails flooded in to test my resolve. My friend called to come over for dinner (perfectly appropriate because she’s practically family), my parents invited J and me out for dinner, the former music pastor of our church sent out an invitation to a choral concert he’s conducting on Tuesday night, I realized the women’s group is having a fellowship on Wednesday night, and I started feeling guilty for not volunteering to help with the quintuplets on Thursday. Whew! Normally, I would turn down maybe one or two of these activities, while the others would worm their way into my Franklin Covey in a heart beat. But this time–this time I’ve said “no” to every single one of these obligations. This is a big deal! I don’t know if I’ve ever gone this far with putting my foot down in order to protect myself. It’s a little exhilarating, actually. Of course I look forward to emerging again to be social and to offer aid, but for a few days, I’m withdrawing. It’s a good thing.
Giving Myself Grace
Like every perfectionist, I beat myself up day in, day out. I am slowly learning to give myself grace, and I’m trying to use fasting as a special learning opportunity. The first three days, I feel pretty lousy: tired, headachy, low energy. Normally, I would whip out the negative self-talk and rail at myself for not accomplishing everything on my to-do list (which I never complete anyway, by the way). But on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I gave myself permission to be tired. I listened to my body and mostly rested. I still ran a couple of errands, methodically took care of a few things around the house, and went to church on Sunday. The majority of the time, though, I allowed myself to read and rest. What a sweet reprieve from both my usual hectic schedule and my incessant self-flagellation!
I realize that anyone with kids may be thinking that this kind of experience must be nice but unrealistic with little ones. You may be right. I don’t know because I’ve never been where you are. But even if you can’t spend the majority of your time resting and reading, maybe you can extend a little grace to yourself for not being Super Mom for a few days. Maybe you can ask for temporary help from your husband or others to give yourself a little more breathing space. Just some thoughts…
I’ll continue this post later with more reasons I am enjoying the fast in Part 2. And don’t worry, I’ll dish on the negative stuff too in yet another post. I believe in full disclosure.