The first thing you’re probably wondering, is “Why the hell would you do that?”. To which I would have to answer, “I’m not entirely sure”. Sarah and I are on a diet at the moment, Sarah because she wants to tone up a little, me because I can’t see the underside of my belly anymore, and because I realized I have an underside to my belly. The diet is a variation of the Atkins or Paleolithic, where we basically cut out almost all sugars and wheat. So it consists of a lot of protein with some veges, and in the morning a handful of muesli and yoghurt.
It should be said that I realize the pure excess inherent in a society where a person can choose not to eat as a novelty, but I am not trying to make a statement nor am I shying away from the fact that I happen to be living on the right side of the fence to be able to indulge in such fanciful whims. I just wanted to do something different. I and I think most people take food for granted, we eat while watching TV or talking, barely aware of what we are putting in our mouths. we also tend to under estimate the effect food has on our mind states. Something which became abundantly clear to me over the last thirty four hours is that if not eating at all could do this to me, then the things I put in my body would have a similar effect.
I don’t generally do diets (which is why my belly has an underside) but it is definitely time. One thing Sarah will tell you about me, is that when I do something, I tend to do it to excess, and I think that is where the “Day without Calories” came from.
Now a day without food, not so hard as long as you can counter with calories from liquid, but a day without any calories whatsoever turned out to be harder than I thought. Not eating or drinking calories was not the hard part, the hard part was the effect it had on our minds and bodies.
Over the last thirty four hours I found myself becoming more lethargic (obviously), but in that lethargy I also found myself becoming somewhat despondent. The delightful nature of our lives became lost behind a wall of cloudy gloom, nothing too severe but a general malaise of unhappiness took over from the usual positivity I feel these days. Even though I knew it was happening, I could not stop this feeling of “what’s the point” from taking over. Any creativity I had wound itself down to nothing and by late afternoon my concentration levels dropped severely.
We went for a walk to get out of our apartment which suddenly felt stifling and this helped for a bit. But coming home felt like stepping straight back into it. Food, it determines so much of our day, we work around it, look forward to it, and smack our lips once we have had it. Without food there seems a huge gap in our existence. As the night drew on we found ourselves getting grumpier and of course more lethargic. We tried watching a movie and TV but could garner no enjoyment from either. By 9pm we decided to just try and read (this usually happens at around 11 or 12pm). After doing so somewhat unsuccessfully for about half an hour we decided to go to bed. That is where it got ugly.
For about 5 hours I tossed and turned, despite feeling drained from a lack of calories, I could not shut off my mind. It babbled on and on through the night, negativity prevailing amongst my thoughts, until finally at about four thirty in the morning, Sarah got up and said, “I’m making breakfast”. Deciding enough was enough I joined in and we scoffed down a bowel of muesli with yoghurt and honey.
The effects were amazing, ten minutes later we were back in bed, five minutes after that both of us were out like a light. We woke up about five hours later with a feeling of general ease, I could feel myself perking up again. We went to the local coffee place and had a coffee each and shared a ham and cheese croissant. Immediately things started to look up, I started to feel chipper again. Creativity came bouncing back and I couldn’t wait to get started on a web design project (I just finished this one for a whole world waiting) and redesigning my eyepudding.com website. We headed home with a renewed feeling of fulfillment to begin the day.
All through the day we drank a lot of water, about three litres each, and had a couple glasses of diet coke, and that was it. Zero calories for thirty four hours. It really took me back how quickly my body and mind were affected by this, and how drastically, and it has definitely left me with a greater appreciation of what I put in my body, and what it is doing to me. I also find that I am enjoying the things I do eat so much more. So what was the point of thirty four hours calorie free? Well it made me appreciate how big a part of my life food is, it made me appreciate eating, and it showed me how much of a difference I can make to my thought patterns and energy levels if I just eat better.
Today is our cheat day and we are heading for KFC this afternoon. I know this goes against the ‘what you put in’ thing, but I also believe there is something to be said for the mental pleasure of a hot and spicy drumstick. After that it is back to protiens and veges for the next month or two. I have already lost about a kilo and a half in a week with very little exercise (dentist appointments and man flu got in the way), and will be interested to see what a month of this sort of eating does. It is time to get back on track with the weight loss regime I was going for before my neck got busted up and I quit smoking (which had a very negative impact on my diet).
So, zero calories for thirty four hours, would I do it again? Probably not, it was hard as hell on the mind and body, but I am glad I have done it, because now I know what it feels like, and now I know how lucky I am to be able to enjoy food whenever I want it, and because now I don’t feel so bad about throwing a bucket of KFC down my throat.
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