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.

Completion & Creation: From 2010 to 2011

While most people are thinking about what they achieved  in 2010 or what they want in 2011, I’m doing neither. I’m completing what happened in 2010 and creating what 2011 will be.

Completion

Without going too far into detail, the act of completion is very different from what most people do when they think about the past. Completing something doesn’t mean finishing it, it doesn’t mean pretending something happened or didn’t happen. Completion is an act of creation – creating space. It’s acknowledging what you said you’d do (or wouldn’t do), accomplish or produce, and acknowledging what you actually did. It doesn’t matter whether you did what you said you’d do or not or succeeded or failed at accomplishing or producing something. It’s simply an acknowledgement of what you said and what you did. No make wrong, no guilt, no pomp. It completes your promises, puts the past in the past and creates a space for a new future.

Around this time last year I had a few things to say about New Year’s resolutions or “New Year’s Lies” as I like to call them. Until last year I hadn’t made a New Year’s Lie in more than a decade but last year, as I was gearing up to turn 30, I made an exception: I made a New Year’s resolution – and I resolved not to be one of the 88% of people who failed.

I have a deep regard for my word and wasn’t willing to say any old tosh and then give up on it within a month. I didn’t promise to get fit, lose weight or give up smoking. My New Year’s resolution for 2010 was simple: Learn more.

And I did pretty darn well.

I won’t go into everything but, in no particular order, learning highlights have been:

  • Not reading fiction – reading books that are full of stuff to learn and know about. Book highlights were Good To Great by Jim Collins, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and most recently, the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris.
  • Becoming a qualified pre-school gymnastics coach
  • Learning more about teaching flying trapeze
  • Playing poker (although I still haven’t won!)
  • Plotting and scheming and starting a new youth circus company, Airborne Circus (more on this later)
  • Starting to learn about buying/letting property, mortgages and things
There were other things that I wanted to accomplish this year, some I’ve done, some I haven’t.
  • Fully get over my breakup with my ex: Accomplished
  • Be in a new relationship: Acted on but not accomplished
  • Build my work and my influence and involvement with youth circus: Accomplished
  • Learn about wine: Not acted on, not accomplished
  • Ride my bike more: Accomplished (see here)
  • Be healthier: Partially Accomplished (see here)
Given we’re here on my blog, I thought I’d also include some statistics that the monkeys at WordPress were nice enough to email to me, by way of completing my blogging for 2010 but it turns out they also allowed me to post it all directly to my blog so you can find the auto-post here.
So with 2010 complete, and as 2011 begins, I’m creating this year, how it will be and what I’ll accomplish.

Creation

2011 is looking to be an exciting year.

Given the success of my New Year’s resolution last year, I’ve made another resolution for 2011. I’m keeping last year’s resolution to learn more and I’m adding stopping eating when I’m full. I like eating. I like food. And I think this may be tough. Not just because I don’t like to leave food on my plate but I’ve also been noticing something else over these first few days of January: I worry what my friends will think if I don’t eat as much as possible or as much as them. It’s an interesting insight to have. I eat more than I want because I don’t want people to think I can’t. I try to prove myself by eating. This year this stops. I’m not sure what I’ll have to break through but a breakthrough there will be.

I’ve recently started a new youth circus company, Airborne Circus, so obviously this year is going to be heavily influenced by that. It’s going to be a lot of work and a rollercoaster of a ride but I’m looking forward to it immensely. I’ve been teaching children for years and it was time to start doing it for myself. This is the year to get it off the ground, to be running classes and workshops and to establish Airborne Circus as a successful youth circus company.

I’ve also got an idea for a muse but that’s heavily under wraps at the moment, so I’ll just acknowledge that it’s in my mind as something else I’d like to get moving soon.

This year is also the year for me to get onto the property ladder and buy a house. The end of last year saw me starting to learn about property and the housing market and this is the year for it to happen.

And if that’s not enough I’d like to shift my work from working evenings and weekends to working daytimes during the week. Oh, and I’d also like to be in a new relationship. So to recap 2011 is going to be about:

  • Learning more
  • Not eating when I’m full
  • Getting Airborne Circus up and running
  • My Top Secret Muse
  • Buying a house
  • Working daytimes
  • A new relationship

I’m going to be busy, I can tell already, but it’s going to be fun. So I’ll keep you posted.