February is always the time when I start to grow weary of winter. And as other stresses and challenges keep demanding time, energy, and mental space I feel it more than usual this year. I don't like to use our blog to bemoan life's bumps and bruises, but it gives just a little context to yesterday's specialness.
Yesterday was Day 99. The little ticker over on the sidebar - measuring the days until Jim graduates and finally comes home - rolled into the double digits! When you consider that we started with 652 days, hitting number 99 really feels like coming into the home stretch!
Interestingly, the lone daffodil in my front yard chose yesterday to open its bloom. I love this daffodil. It's bold. Every year it sticks its head out when it's still "technically" winter, and it gives me hope that spring is on the way.
And so I'm reminded that, no matter how weary we may grow of things like winter and waiting, there is always hope. Isn't that nice?
Thursday, February 18, 2010
No, I did not loan anything to anyone and I didn't mis-type lint (like the stuff I keep finding in my belly-button). It's that time of year again were the high-churchy types like to talk about depravity and fasting, remove the A words and sing lots of sad minor songs. Really it's supposed to be about inward self-reflection but I think most of us get caught up in the idea of trying to give something up.
Of course my Lent had to start with a cold on Ash Wednesday. I want to send out an apology to everyone I have coughed around, sorry. Although this one isn't half bad compared to my last couple colds/flus it's still a bummer. It's definitely my body telling me to slow down and I think I better take heed. This up-and-coming spring of awesomeness 2010 has in store a great deal of stress and lots and lots of late nights in my future. I am going to use this Lent to get myself in gear and ready for the on-slot busy-ness that exists in these next 101 days.
Part of that will include a weekly fast. Now don't freak out like everybody does with that word. Fasting is something we do on a daily basis. "What?" you say. "I don't fast intentionally on a daily basis." Well you go to sleep don't you? Unless you eat right before bed you will typically fast 12 hours every day while you sleep. You break your fast every morning with...get this... BREAKFAST! Hehe, I crack myself up. Ya, you're smiling admit it. You probably thought about that once before but it never stuck.
"OK," you say, "so what does this fast of yours entail then?" It's quite easy and once you do it a couple times, you might actually enjoy it. Fasting is a healthy way to "reboot" your system. By taking out what we are constantly shoving into our body, we give our digestive system a moment to stop working and maybe even clear some of the gunk it builds up. Admit it, Human Bodies were never expected to always have food in its system. We are hunters and gatherers whose bodies were prepared to go for a while without food when times were hard or we couldn't find it. Our technologically advanced society doesn't factor that in and instead we over eat...no wonder America has a weight problem!
Key's to a healthy 24 hour fast:
- Don't fast unless you are feeling healthy and have no other potential health issues!
- It never hurts to start eating less rich foods the meal before your last, you'll get hungry sooner but your digestive system will have less of a hard time adjusting, try starting with a lighter lunch than normal.
- Then eat a very small meal at the beginning of your fast (try eating a light dinner of salad or some veggies, something really simple and small)
- When you wake up in the morning, get a water bottle that you plan on using for the rest of the day, drink a bunch of water for breakfast and try to avoid spending time in the kitchen.
- When you start to feel hungry, drink water. Plan to drink 2-4 times more water than you normally do in a day, this helps clean your system out and makes you feel better.
- Avoid TV, advertisements and places that smell of food. It just helps keep your cravings down. It becomes a mental game and by mid-afternoon you will be going crazy trying to not think about it.
- By dinner time you will start to get used to just feeling hungry. The first time your stomach will be growling loudly but it will typically shut down fully before you reach the 24 hours.
- To end, get some fresh fruit and slice it up, break your fast slowly with fresh foods and don't just get a burger or other rich food. You want your stomach to have a easy restart. Stick with salads, fruits, veggies and eat a medium size portion.
- You made it through a 24 hour fast, it's really that easy.
"But how will I feel?" Good question. Fasting can actually have the oposite affects than most people think. You will start to feel euphoric, energized and much more focused. The first time you fast those feelings will be overpowered by the hunger pains. The second time you fast, you will have trained your body what you are doing and it will adjust much quicker. 24 hour fasts don't typically mess with your body as much as longer fasts do. Get some literature on Fasting if you are thinking about exploring an extended fast.
Now remember, fasting is not a diet, it is not a way to loose weight! Actually, it will have the opposite affect. If you try to loose weight by not eating, you will just regain and gain more once you start eating again!
I think if Jesus could make it 40 days without anything, I can make it 24 or 48 hours with lots of water. Plus, I just feel better after. (Ok for you biblical scholars, 40 days is the old way of saying a long time, I'm sure it was much longer than my wimpy fasts!)
There's your weirdo post for the month. See you in March.
p.s. I realize this post is going against the Ash Wednesday readings that say to fast in private. I am not telling you WHEN I'm fasting, just cluing you into how one fasts! (sorry about all the ! in the post, I'm just excited for no reason at all!)