When I started ignoring the first rule of fasting, I began to hear from many people who had not tried it just how hard fasting is. But, as so many fasters know, it is actually not nearly as hard as everyone thinks. And, like anything else in life, it gets easier the more you practice. It can be tough at times, but the approach matters a lot.
You can get through fasting by brute willpower force OR you can be strategic and stack the deck in your favor for fasting success. If you do the latter (always my preference) it is easier and we are more likely to succeed in reaching fasting goals.
Top 3 tips for making fasting easier:
1. Make the commitment to yourself and wear something to remind you.
Deciding and committing to yourself that you are going to do a fast of at least 36 hours that begins after dinner on Sunday night is much more likely to be successful than if you wait until Monday morning to "see how you feel."
Then when I start the fast, I put on my silver wonder woman bracelet. It is a bracelet I got years ago with a friend at an artist market that seemed a bit overpriced at the time, but was going to help female artists in a remote part of the world, so I felt justified in splurging for it.
Ever since I've started fasting, over three years ago now, this has been my go-to talisman to remind me of my commitment to myself and to physically remind me when I might be tempted to reach for the fridge door or a few chips someone left on the counter.
The flash of silver has reminded me on more than one occasion that I am fasting when I had completely forgotten. And, I only ever where it when fasting. These days, I wear it less and less (as I can fast pretty easily without it). However when I'm gearing up for a tough fast or am trying to get back after a little hiatus it is a great tool for me.
When I'm wearing my trusty bracelet the idea of cheating on a fast feels extra wrong. Like a form of self betrayal, like I'm letting my bracelet down and like the act would somehow reduce its power.
While I hadn't spoken to anyone about this when I started doing it (mostly because back then I was still observing the first rule of fasting), I've since known many other fasters who do something similar with their own bracelets, special colored shirts, or with a mark on their hands.
There is something powerful in the commitment and its physical reminder.
2. Clean up your environment.
It is so easy to start a fast forgetting about the tempting treats you have hiding behind your pantry and fridge doors. But, as you approach dinnertime or challenging catch a glimpse of one of the delicious treats you will remember with Mensa-level brain activity exactly which tempting treats are lurking within just a few feet of you.
Getting all of the tempting food out of the house is so helpful, especially in the beginning. When I started really ramping up my fasting (and was living with a non-fasting Fiancé), I would often relocate all of my favorite treats to a box that went with Ben in his car to work in the morning and would stay there until the fast was complete.
This worked well for us as he wasn't too keen on losing all access to this food while I was fasting (nor did I want to deprive him) and I knew that around 3 PM I would break down and eat the chips if they stayed in the house with me.
For many, especially those sharing a living space with kids or roommates, it can be impossible to do what I did. In those instances, I suggest making it as tough as possible for yourself. Get it it out of site, put it somewhere you never go, a high shelf or a locked box can work well too.
And, when really tempted, remind yourself you can have those things too. You just need to complete the commitment you've made to yourself first.
3. Stay busy.
While it may be tempting to stare at the clock in your kitchen counting down the minutes until you can rip the fridge doors open and eat, it is not a good way to go, trust me! You're much better off getting busy. The hours will fly by if you're busy, the seconds will dddrrrrraaaaaggggg if you are not.
For this reason, many find reorganizing closets, gardening, or work as distractions. But, for me, I like hiking during dinners I am skipping. (Dinner is always the toughest meal for me to skip.)
As you can tell from the bracelet in the picture, I was in the midst of a 38 hr fast during this hike. We were in Gregory Canyon hiking the Ranger trail at Chautauqua Park in Boulder, CO. It was the first 24+ hour fast I had completed after the 5-day one the week before, and I really needed the bracelet and the hiking to get me through it.
There are so many fantastic reasons to fast and having a strong WHY is my bonus tip to you. Keep reminding yourself of why you are fasting. It could be to defeat a medical diagnosis, weight gain, bad genes, or depression. Just keep remembering that this discomfort is temporary and if you succeed in defying the urges to quit, you will be one big step closer to achieving your why.
Try it out, I'd love to hear how it goes for you!