Here it is, folks. Cups of coffee. I have been counting the days until I could drink coffee, masala chai and tea again on a daily basis. It is every bit as good as I hoped.
Here’s a wee (disclaimer: it’s not at all wee) report from the six and a half weeks.
In short: the second Black Fast has been really incredible. And I am pretty sure that I am going to do this with far more regularity. What an experience. As planned, I didn’t want to lose as much weight this time (I lost 2 and 3/4 stones last time). This time I wanted to run my half-marathon and continue to work out, so I had a high fat and high protein diet featuring this incredible cacao, date, hemp seed-heart dessert and various other high healthy-fat foods. But the higher calorie intake made it much more difficult to deal with than last time because last time I had far less food overall, and, so, my body was in starvation mode, and it was much more capable of coping. When one isn’t taking hardly any food in at all, one’s body adapts to that starvation, and one loses one’s sense of hunger because I was managing to get quite a lot of calories in with not very much food. I was hungry every day. Every day, all day, I was waiting for that moment when I could eat.
Nevertheless, I stuck with it and reaped many benefits. I was really productive (as I had hoped); I got really focused and ordered and managed to complete many tasks that needed doing for years—notably systematic, organisational, orderly tasks suited this productivity the most. Even more satisfying was what happened with my mood and what happened with my psychology. During this process, I have managed to access a space inside me that is calm and separated and distant and optimistic and enlivened and in deeply touch with myself and my environment. Enjoying synchronicities and a sense of wonder and calm and certitude. I have had a few personal things befall me during this time, which I will keep private. These have been very seriously destabilising things that would have unquestionably thrown me for a loop most days. Instead, I have maintained a sense of distance and awareness that has meant that I did not impulsively react to my situation in unhelpful ways but managed to remain an actor (and not a re-actor)—staying calm, focused, and centred. I have felt this before, particularly in the weeks directly after my NDE experience and when I essentially was a full-time yogi for a year, in an effort to convalesce from my severe bout of M.E./C.F.S. in my 20s.
This positive psychological state extended to a particular situation (again, I will keep the specifics private) that threw up some things with long-standing (traumatic) negative associations. Yet, in this current disposition, I was able to see it for what it was and to accept it. Accept it for what it was, and what it had been, and let it go—and it felt so empowering. I hope that this breakthrough was not in and of the moment only. I truly hope that that change endures. Indeed, I hope the mind-space I find myself in endures (without fasting all year round).
As I already reported previously, I kept up my exercise and ran a half-marathon, which was a big achievement for me. After I ran the half-marathon, I allowed myself a little bit of a break for a week or so, then I got back to gentle exercise. Then I began trail-running, where I have had several beautiful and personally meaningful synchronicitous experiences running on the coastal paths. This journey of becoming a fit person (which has been decidedly uncommon in my life) has been really rewarding, and I know some may have thought it crazy to make a big challenge like a half-marathon even harder by doing it during an extended fast, but having this fitness journey culminate during such a significant and auspicious time was worth all the discomfort. Getting out into nature so often, alone and with the Pixie-Troll, has been so good for me. I’m now really seriously committed to prioritising my health, happiness, and daughter above all else. It sounds obvious; haven’t I been doing this all along? Of course, I have tried, but we all know how hard it can actually be in practice and how extremely difficult ‘adulting’ actually is. I have an incredible workload and many pressures and responsibilities that never lessen or let up. All my academic colleagues know the incredible demands of the job and how hard it is to do well while remaining in good mental and physical health. Not to mention all the exciting and demanding creative projects that I still want to realise (let’s not discuss the impending PhD deadline). I plan to continue to fight for all these things and for the fulfilment of all these achievements, but I’m not going to let my health and well-being take a backseat. They will have to come first, and everything else will work itself out after that—it’s that simple.
As always, I have much to do. So much that I honestly do not know how I can, or even if I can, do it all. But for now, I’m really excited about the new life I plan to carve out for myself.
Climbing mountains, both literally and figuratively, strengthen us to continue onward, from peak to peak. When we are inevitably in the trenches, it gives us quiet confidence in our ability to rise up again.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, forcing myself to go without has brought with it what might be the most valuable gift of all: gratitude. Over the next days and weeks, I will get to enjoy so many of life’s pleasures with a renewed appreciation for how utterly wonderful they really are—like this beautiful, velvety, delicious cup of hot steaming coffee.
I know that I am no doubt high as a kite on all the hormones right now, so please forgive me for my gushing. Thanks to everyone for all their support and kind words.