My Reluctant Fast
The first to come after you when you turn 50 is the AARP. Nonstop pressure to join, nonstop pressure to buy useless crap while you’re in, and nonstop pressure to rejoin when you quit because you’re sick of the AARP selling your address to every company that wants to make a quick buck off people who’re slipping into dementia. The second is the healthcare industry, which give you the full-court press for a colonoscopy.
I have nothing against diagnostic procedures in general, but I have a real problem with procedures that require an empty stomach. That’s why I minimize blood tests. I’m as concerned about my HDLs as the next guy; I just don’t want to have to fast 12 hours to get a reading.
A colonoscopy requires a full 24 hours without food, about 6 of which are spent on the toilet. Looking at the bright side, I figured I’d come out of it lighter, leaner, and totally not full of anything that would earn this post a PG-13 rating.
So here’s what happened as I went a day without food for the first time in my life when I wasn’t sick:
- I got hungry almost immediately, and stayed hungry the entire time. I never felt not hungry.
- I felt cold most of the day, until I realized I could drink chicken stock. A few cups of that warmed me up.
- I felt distracted and lethargic. I never got that burst of energy you’re supposed to get on a fast.
- I skipped my workout. I can’t train on an empty stomach.
- I drank so many fluids that I felt bloated.
I was allowed to drink clear liquids that have calories, so for the first time in memory I had apple juice and Gatorade. Since I never have sports drinks, I didn’t realize that 32 ounces of Gatorade has just 213 calories. Add in 3 cups of apple juice, and that’s another 350 calories. I don’t know how many calories are in the chicken stock, but I’m going to guess I got a week’s worth of sodium.
I wish I would’ve weighed myself before I started. Late in the day, when I was in full bloat, I weighed 195, which is 10 more than normal. This morning, fully depleted, I was at 184.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I reached the “lighter and leaner” goal. Maybe not a lot lighter, but this morning my stomach looked flatter than it has in months.
I’d also be lying if I said it was anything short of a miserable experience. I’ve been eating 4 to 6 small meals a day for so long that my body and brain just don’t function without them.
I understand my 24 hours of nutritional hell wasn’t an actual fast; I never went more than a few hours without some calories, and the 600 calories’ worth of carbs, without any protein or fat, is among the worst meal plans imaginable for a health-conscious person.
As soon as I got my release from the butt-probing center, Kimberly and I went to Perkins for a refeed. It was hard to sit up at first — they pump you full of air during the procedure, and it’s up to you to deflate on your own schedule — but once I got used to it I was able to put away an omelet, 2 pieces of toast, a glass of orange juice, and one of Kimberly’s pancakes. (They’re even better than I remember, and as soon as I had one I wanted the rest … which is why I stopped eating them in the first place.)
I’m back to my small-meals-throughout-the-day plan. It may not work perfectly, but it sure beats the alternative.