Seven days.. no food, no diet drinks, no coffee, no calories of any kind. Just water. That’s the goal I’ll be taking on this month.
In truth, it’s not something I ever thought I would or even could do. I’m not even taking the challenge on in the name of fitness. I’m fasting for spiritual purposes but since I’m going all in, I figured I may as well track fat and muscle loss. This article has two distinct parts.. the spiritual aspect of what I’m going for and the physical implications fasting has on my body in regards to both muscle and fat loss.
I chose seven days for my fast because I feel the time needs to be significant. One day of fasting was tough when I started trying it for the first time over a year ago but by last November/December, I did an entire month of 36 hour fasting every third day. It wasn’t all that difficult but that was because I always knew I just had to get to sleep and it would all be over soon. Seven days sounds impossible to me right now but it’s a sacrifice I’ll make.
Fasting for Cancer
My seven day fast is ultimately for a friend who has cancer. She’s the Mom of my best friend’s wife and my best friend’s wife is also my wife’s best friend. If that’s confusing, just know that we’re all a very close-knit family of friends. To avoid confusion in this article, I’ll just call her Mom. Her and her husband are both exceptional people. They’ve always been active in the community and they epitomize a humble, caring spirit of love. I’ve known Mom for over 20 years now. If I had to sum her up in a sentence, I’d say that nobody loves children more and that speaks volumes about the kind of person she is.
Mom is on her second round of chemotherapy. She was recently rejected admission to The Cancer Center as they told her there was nothing else they could do for her. Yes.. the place that believes there are hundreds of ways to treat cancer couldn’t think of one to help Mom.
She’s just recently lost all her hair, she’s battling new pain every day and she still maintains a smile every time I see her. She’s amazingly positive and that makes me admire her all the more. Her response to not being allowed admission to The Cancer Center? She said, “Well I guess those doctors just won’t get any credit when I have my miraculous recovery.” That’s faith.
She’s on my mind a lot. Every time I see her, I’m reminded of the battle my own Father lost in 1996. I’m reminded of the tears my best friend shed on my shoulder when he lost his Father to the disease. Yep.. cancer sucks and unfortunately, I’ll probably witness a lot more people who have the disease if I live a good number of years more.
I always talk to my wife about Mom’s cancer and like a lot of people in similar situations, we wish there was more we could do. You sometimes feel completely helpless in trying to show how much you care when it comes to this disease. Shortly after my wife and I were discussing Mom last week, I was reading a book at Barnes & Noble and came upon a chapter about prayer. It discussed the power of prayer and in particular, fasting while praying.
I am someone with a strong belief in God and I do believe in prayer. Since having my children a few years ago, I find myself praying more than ever. I’m a believer. If you’re not, I can respect that. This article isn’t about persuading someone to share my beliefs. It’s about a new path I’m taking to try and make a difference for a friend with cancer.
As I started researching the power of prayer while fasting, I found a lot of new information. I realized that the combination makes for the most powerful prayer and quite frankly, that’s what I’m interested in right now. In the same week of learning about this, I visited my own Mother while discussing the past, she admitted to how much she used to worry about my three brothers and I. She proceeded to tell me that for my youngest brother (who became very involved with heavy drug use), she became so worried that she started fasting while praying non-stop and to this day, she feels like that made a significant impact in helping to save his life.
I had no idea my own Mother even believed in fasting and prayer but what odd timing that she would be telling me this now.
In trying to cram a very long story into a few short paragraphs here, I’ll just skip a lot more of the details and say that I’m fasting for Mom. It was the comment she made about the doctors not being able to share in the joy of her recovery. That’s when I made the jump from thinking about doing this to committing to the fast. While being given nothing but the worst of news in the hardest of times, Mom has maintained absolute faith. The doctors have given her only months left to live but she refuses to give in to that notion. I’m going to join her in this walk of faith and see what happens.
In his book God’s Chosen Fast, Arthur Wallis writes, “Fasting is calculated to bring a note of urgency and [persistence] into our praying, and to give force to our pleas in the court of heaven.” Mom is in need of the most urgent of prayers right now so I’m doing what I can to help her.
Seven Day Fasting Data
I’ve tried to research the effects of long-term fasting on muscle and fat loss and have found little data. I’ve found several articles or videos of people who have fasted for seven days to cleanse their bodies or even lose fat in the fastest way possible, but nobody seems to have attempted a fast for seven days while focusing on losing the least amount of muscle.
I’m going to record my entire journey through pictures and I’ll blog every day during the week of my fast. My exercise regimen will likely be a first for a seven day fast. My focus will be on minimizing muscle loss in the complete absence of food.
I’m going to maintain exercise every day but I’m not heading to the gym and hitting my normal 30-60 minute workouts. Instead, I’ll be doing some resistance exercises several times throughout every day. I’ll mainly be doing pushups, pullups, dips and military dumbbells. All resistance training will be in one or two set increments and then I’ll wait a few hours and do another set or two. I simply want to keep resistance applied to my muscles during the entire fast without doing multiple consecutive sets since I’ll obviously have a body in need of glycogen but have none available.
Muscle loss is always lessened by resistance training though any and all studies I could find did not look at the effects when completely fasting.
Before my fast, I’ll report back with body weight, fat caliper reading and a same day photo. I’m currently around 170 and I’ve been working out consistently in the gym all year long and eating about the same so this fast should actually be somewhat revealing in terms of data produced.
The end result should be interesting. I fully expect to lose a little muscle but I’m hoping to lose more in the way of body fat. In any case, the end result of what happens to my body means little to me in comparison to what I really hope to accomplish with fasting.
Want to Fast With Me?
While curious about the physical results of a seven day fast, I’m far more excited about the potential to be part of a miracle recovery (I’m forever the optimist). I’m not telling Mom about the fast I’m participating in for her. I just feel like all the focus should be on her right now. It would be something to see a healing as a result though, wouldn’t it?
Somehow I doubt I’ll have any takers for a seven day fast, but I’ll still make the request. My fast is for a friend with cancer. I’d be thrilled if someone felt led to join me and pray for Mom too. If that’s you, shoot me an email. If you think someone else might be interested, please share this post.
For anyone who is simply curious how this turns out from a fat/muscle loss perspective, check back soon. The seven day fast will begin next week. I’m not entirely sure what day I’ll start yet.