How to fast at a food festival

Just over a year ago I made some lifestyle changes. It happened pretty suddenly and it happened without me intending to make any changes. And it happened because I only had eggs in the kitchen.

Throughout most of 2013 and 2014, I kept what most people would consider to be a fairly unusual diet. It was the Slow Carb Diet, popularised by Tim Ferriss in his book, The Four Hour Body. It involved keeping a fairly low-carb diet (only beans and legumes allowed) for six days followed by a “cheat day” where all bets were off. I was known for consuming vast quantities of crap on those days. I could (and would) easily polish off:

  • An entire box of Coco Pops
  • Several croissants (butter and chocolate) and/or doughnuts (jam or custard)

    Some cheat day treats - 26 May 2013

    Some cheat day treats – 26 May 2013

  • Many Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • A few large bowls of spaghetti bolognaise (or similar)
  • A large bag of peanut M&Ms (I wouldn’t go a cheat day without having at least one bag of Peanut M&Ms)
  • A burger (Byron or Meat Mission most often), fries, chicken wings and beer (or something of equal value and joy such as an Indian takeaway)
  • Some more chocolate or sweets (probably a Snickers)
  • A late night 9 McNugget Meal
  • An entire tub of Ben & Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream (forced down around midnight)
  • And probably more, especially if cheat day involved going to the cinema. (Popcorn! Cola! Sweets!)

My Facebook & Twitter feeds were filled with pictures like those peppered throughout this blog (along with the status updates that accompanied them).

Q: What would be the best way to end the day? A: By combining these three things. - 12 May 2013

Q: What would be the best way to end the day? A: By combining these three things. – 12 May 2013

Most weeks I would end my cheat day feeling pretty sick. But it worked – I lost a lot of fat keeping to the diet.

Although the two or even three days after Cheat Day was easy (I had no desire to eat anything sweet or sugary after gorging), the rest of the week I had to have some willpower, which, if I’m honest, was often pretty hard. I had some serious cravings (mostly for Peanut M&Ms and a fresh pain au chocolat) to fight.

Through 2013 and 2014, I also started spending more time with my friend, Imran. I’ve known Imran for many years, but until recently we’ve not known each other very well. He kept a different but equally unusual diet and kept encouraging me to quit binging each week and try it. The only trouble was that it seemed even more unhealthy, as well as not allowing me a chance to satisfy my desire for Peanut M&Ms.

A Trial of Fat

Imran’s diet was a diet that consisted mainly of fat. He would eat lots of eggs (mostly yolks) and butter. For about a year, I quizzed him about his diet. I tried to poke holes in his reasoning. But for every lay-question I had, he had an intelligent, well-researched, understandable, (at least semi) scientific answer. Imran isn’t a doctor, a nutritionist, or any other kind of health professional. But he is obsessive. When he gets into a subject he really gets into it and goes deep. My friend, Graham, and I like to joke that he has five specialist subjects that he can talk about – diet, alternative/home education, macro-economics, strengths, and transformation – and nothing else.

Cheat Day Prevails - 20 Sept 2014

Cheat Day Prevails – 20 Sept 2014

One of the things that Imran kept mentioning to me was that he ate small meals, didn’t get hungry very often and fasted regularly. I couldn’t comprehend how this would be possible. I ate masses, frequently and couldn’t go more than a few hours without at least snacking. For my whole life I was known for getting hangry and my girlfriend quickly learned that she sometime just needed to feed me to prevent getting into an argument.

In 2014, after participating in the Wisdom Unlimited Course, for the first time in many years, I wanted to reconnect to my Jewish roots and decided to fast for Yom Kippur. I didn’t realise at the time that Yom Kippur would fall on a planned weekend away with my girlfriend’s Uni friends. So, on Friday, 3rd October 2014, Erev Yom Kippur (the evening preceding Yom Kippur), we drove to a rented cottage in Devon to meet (mostly for the first time) a dozen or so of her closest friends.

True to my word, I was going to fast – regardless of the weekend away – and ate my final meal for 24 hours. I thought that I could use the opportunity of fasting to test Imran’s theory, that it’s easier to fast if you eat lots of fat, so I fried about 6 eggs in butter and followed them with butter scooped up using almonds (like humous) until I was full. I drank a large glass of water or two and then stopped.

What's not to love about this diet? - 24 March 2013

What’s not to love about this diet? – 24 March 2013

Everyone thought I was crazy. For them, the weekend was all about eating and drinking (one of them said that) and I’d just eaten half a dozen eggs and nearly half a pat of butter and told them I was fasting through the next day.

The next morning someone suggested we all go to a food festival and was met with resounding cheers! My heart sank. I didn’t want to be surrounded by tons of uber-tempting, will-power-breaking, delicious-looking food but I also didn’t want to be negative about going. We went. Although the food was really delicious looking, I found that I actually wasn’t hungry… all day! As tempting as the food was, because I didn’t feel hungry, I didn’t need too much willpower to get through the day. That evening, we went for a swim, messed around in the pool and then, 25 hours after my last meal, we ate dinner.

In all my memories, fasting for Yom Kippur was difficult. Every year I’d be hungry, lethargic and grumpy by the end of the day. This time it was different: I was barely hungry (despite the amazing looking food festival’s best efforts), I didn’t get hangry or lethargic (I swam after about 23 hours of fasting!) and it was easy.

My curiosity was piqued and my adventures in fat began.

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Completing 2012 & Creating 2013 – Part 2: Creation

We’re over a week into January now and I’ve done a lot of thinking on what 2013 is going to be about. I didn’t tweet as much of it as I thought I would and in part that’s because I’ve really been struggling to create something new and inspiring for me. I think the biggest reason for the struggle is because much of what I created hasn’t been fulfilled (or fully fulfilled) yet.

This led me to re-looking at what’s already been happening, and to start looking at what I’ve already got coming up in the near and not-to-distant future. Looking at all of this together, and confronting how difficult the last half of 2012 was for me, made 2013 a whole lot clearer for me.

I realise that I’ve already been creating 2013. It’s not new stuff; it’s a continuation of everything that I’ve been working on for the last two years. It’s re-creating rather than creating anew.

So here it is, my intentions for 2013…

Creating 2013

Continuing to Grow Airborne Circus

Trapeze PhotoAirborne Circus has grown a lot over the last year but it’s nowhere near the full-on, youth-focused circus school that I envision.

This year at Finchley Youth Circus I’m intending to fill the teens’ session, add a session for 5-7 year olds’, add a second 8-12s session, start an advanced session and a daytime session for Home-Schooled children.

I’m also out to start running classes in at least two locations and have my eye on a couple of places already.

But here’s the big one for this year: I’m looking for a partner. This is likely to be the tricky one. I want someone who’s strong in the areas where I’m weak, is passionate about teaching, is reliable, trustworthy and has integrity, and shares my vision for what Airborne Circus can be. There’s one person I have in mind who I’d really like to work with but at the moment I don’t fully know what their own ideas, plans and intentions are.

I’m also going to be working on effective ways to promote and market Airborne Circus, as well as finding more schools who are up for including our classes in their enrichment programme, and growing the number of adult workshops (both taster workshops and team building events).

Buying Property

Someone said to me last year, “everyone massively over-estimates how much they’ll accomplish in their first year of property investing, and massively under-estimates how much they can accomplish in their first five years.” It’s been a very long and exciting process buying my first investment property with my friends. We’ve had breakthroughs, breakdowns, and we’ve almost thrown in the towel and jacked in all in. But in the end, we bought and refurbished our first investment property – and it looks great!

This year I’m going to be working on buying houses two and three to add to our portfolio, as well as supporting my parents in a building project they have in mind.

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Moving My Work

Doing the work that I do, I generally work evenings and weekends. And to be honest with you, I’ve grown a bit tired of not being able to have dinner with my friends, go out on Friday or Saturday nights without worrying about work the next morning, and generally keeping a pretty anti-social schedule. However, I’ve not been willing to give up work as that also means giving up income. I still don’t want to give up any work as only now, as I approach 33, do I feel like I’m actually earning enough money for me to be comfortable and not live hand-to-mouth each month, worrying about if I’m going to be able to make it through the following month.

This year I’d like to start moving my some (not all) of my work from weekends to weekdays and from evenings to daytimes. This is probably going to be a slow process that I imagine will happen over the next couple of years but I’d like to start thinking about it, planning for it, and shifting a few things each year.

Simplifying

The other thing that I’m going to be working on in 2013 is not working all the hours that god gives. I have a terrible habit of waking up, working for 5 or 6 hours on my computer and then going out to teach for another 6 hours, before coming home and finishing off the day doing a bit more work on my computer. This year it’s time to simplify things a little. I’m going to be working out what makes a difference, what doesn’t need to be done, and what I can cut out of my week. I’m going to basing this process on the 80/20 rule (or the Pareto Principle).

What are the small things that make the biggest difference? What are the big things, the things that take up massive amounts of time that make little to no difference? (Facebook, anyone?) If I get to the end of 2013 having had free time, time off, and having accomplished my other intentions, I’ll have succeeded. If I end up working 80 hour weeks, not taking a holiday, and bereft of any energy, I’ll have failed.

A resolution for 2013

Also, not to break with my new tradition, I’m making a new year’s resolution.

Do things sooner.

This could apply to anything but for me it applies to day to day “chores” like emptying the dishwasher, putting my laundry away, certain bits of work, etc.

But why not say “don’t procrastinate” or “do things now”? Because I’m aiming to win. Knowing myself as I do, I’m sure I’ll procrastinate a bit and I don’t want that to be a failure. But if I put something off twice instead of three times then that’s a win for me.

In fact I’m sure it has more scope than chores and I’m looking forward to discover where this takes me.

What’s 2013 going to be about for you?

In case you’re interested, I stole the idea for the colour of creation from my friend, Willem, who writes an excellent blog, Ice Cream for Everyone, and gets ideas for posts from me.

Completing 2012 & Creating 2013 – Part 1: Completion

Completing 2012

It’s becoming a bit of a tradition for me to complete and create each year on my blog. Last year it took two posts, one for completion and another for creation, but 2012 (and 2011 for that matter!) was a big year. In fact, 2012 has been my busiest year since 2007 when I was doing event management full-time so I think I’ll do the same for this post.

In 2012 I took on a few key things and the first was Continue reading