These past 21 days I took on a challenge the size of the Grand Canyon! Okay, that sounds exaggerated but it truly was one of the toughest challenges I’ve faced (for the second time).
My first post of 2015 on this blog was about my one word of the year. The word I chose to focus on this year as a New Year’s resolution was health. So to begin the year I chose to start with a health and spiritual challenge.
The challenge was a 21 day Daniel Fast after the fast mentioned in the Old Testament in the Bible that Daniel did when he felt the king’s foods were not in accordance to mosaic law. (You can read more about why Daniel did the fast here.)
I didn’t do this fast to lose weight nor to become vegan. A purpose of a fast is to connect with God and realize that He is all we need, not food, addictions or other needs. It’s a time to silence one self and listen to His voice. When a fast is in process, we start to listen to our spirit, and control our mind and body. As the flesh starts to crave foods, our spirit takes control.
Why I did the Fast
I chose to do the fast because I wanted healing for my body. To do so I needed to discipline the way I eat. My goal was to use food as medicine, not as an emotional filler that gave me comfort-like junk food. It was about dying to my flesh. When we stop listening to our flesh and it’s need for food, we are able to listen to God’s voice about our health and other areas in our lives.
Because I have struggled with health issues related to PCOS, (which in turn have made me struggle with weight and food addictions for many years) I decided to dedicate my fast and to hear God’s voice about how I need to be taking care of my body.
My need to be healthy isn’t based on weight loss or the way I look. That was the case before. But since knowing PCOS affects my body when I don’t control it, my goal is now health. Health because I want to be fertile and ovulate monthly. Health because I don’t want to have sugar addictions that could lead to other diseases if not taken care of. Health because I want to have energy and feel fit.
So what happened during the 21 day Daniel Fast?
Torture! That’s all I can say for the first few days and periodically through the end. A Daniel Fast consists of a vegan like diet plus extra restrictions. No meat, no processed foods, no sweeteners (sugars), no white flours, and no flavored drinks. It consisted of only fruits, vegetables, and depending on how you feel spiritually you may include whole wheat foods.
The first week was horrible because I had intense cravings and my body was detoxing. I felt headaches and fatigue for about four days. What helped with cravings was getting creative in our cooking, which made our meals better. Then I faced my first obstacle. I picked up a virus (from I don’t know where) that was flu-like and was in bed for about 4 days and couldn’t get myself to work out. I did keep eating despite the fact that I lost my appetite only because I knew I needed to eat healthy. The only way this obstacle helped was that I wasn’t craving junk food too much because I had no appetite.
The second week, my cravings were subsiding but I lost creativity in the food making for a few days. My meals seemed so blah! It really felt like all I needed was to decorate my plate with a piece of chicken as the main course for dinner. Eating so many vegetables was also a challenge because I was not used to it nor were they as appetizing as other foods I’m used to!
When the detox symptoms were gone, I started to sleep better and no longer felt fatigue for no reason. I finally started to feel like I could keep going and be just fine. My downfall this week, I had no willpower to go to the gym. Sadly I got lazy!
Week 3: Final Week
The third week was much better. Though I couldn’t wait to finally have more protein and eat an omelette for breakfast, I lost my desire to eat the junk I was used to putting in my mouth. Of course I still craved them here and there, but the thought of what it would do to my body made me cringe. Why would I want to return to having digestive issues and putting chemicals in my mouth that were going to mess with my hormones only to bring back PCOS symptoms? I also faced my second obstacle, I twisted my ankle a day after I resumed my fitness and was unable to work out, again! So throughout the fast I only worked out twice, failing at my workout goal but succeeding in my health goal.
The effect the Daniel Fast had on my body….
The foods that I struggled with included chocolate, chips, fast food, eating the whole plate at a restaurant dinner, greasy foods, ice cream, processed foods, foods with hidden sugars, chemically induced and unnatural foods. Basically anything that tasted delicious. We all know what foods those are right?
Though I wanted those things many times, I also felt disgusted to think about the junk that I was feeding my body. I started to see those foods as poisons that cause health problems for my body. I say this because once my body was detoxed from all these foods, it started to function very different. The results were so positive that I feel If I go back, I’ll do my body harm.
Internal and external changes in my body
1. Internally my digestive system was back on track, and trust me this was one of the best parts!
2. Second, not once did I feel bloated from the healthy food I ate. The result? My stomach felt flat as an iron board (even though it wasn’t). But it felt good.
3. Third, I wasn’t tired from the foods I ate because they were lower in carbs, smaller portions, and included more veggies. Before that, my huge meals with high carbohydrate count made me feel sleepy and tired.
4. Fourth, my menstrual cycle regulated after just 12 days of clean eating and losing a few pounds! That in itself was proof to me that food is medicine that healed my body after waiting over 7 months for a cycle. This means ovulation and a better chance at pregnancy. Maybe this was the best part…. yea I know, no ones loves getting their menstrual cycle as much as me (it’s a love hate situation). Just getting it made me so happy because my body got back on track and functioning the way a girl’s body should.
1. Externally I lost weight. Yes, most of it is water weight but some of it was also excess fat. A lot of it is still there, and that’ll be the next step, getting rid of it. But for now I can say the weight loss and the detox caused my body to function correctly.
2. Second, my skin cleared up. This made me, oh so happy! I mean who doesn’t want a nice clear face? I know I do! And to think the way I eat is the solution to fixing an oily clogged up face to a clear one, -count me in on the eating healthy!
What next?……..Another 21 day challenge
The 21 day Daniel Fast helped me in so many ways. Though I struggled with thoughts of eating delicious foods (think pizza), those cravings were manageable. They were manageable because I was listening to my spirit. God’s voice was louder than before as He continually proved to me how I had damaged my body through the foods I ate. He showed me how I am responsible for controlling my hormones and how to take care of my body to achieve pregnancy. It came down to me and my choices. Also, the whole time I asked myself, “what will happen after I complete the fast?”
Each person will have different answers about their health when completing a Daniel Fast. Me? I kept hearing my Spirit telling me to start another 21 day challenge, but this time it consists of:
1. Include protein in my diet once again-eggs, fish, poultry, lean meat and only include red meat occasionally
2. Continue to restrict myself from processed foods, chemicals, GMO foods, fake sugars, and basically anything fake. Buy organic when I can instead.
3. Low carb, I mean very low carb! And when I include it-only whole wheat.
4. Sweets will only be occasional and consist of a tiny amount.
5. Fast food no more!
6. Drinks will only be home-made smoothies and water. Thank God I don’t have an addiction to soda, juices, or coffee since I quit them back in high school.
7. Work out at least 4 times a week.
It’s hard to take on these goals because I’ve always believed and still do that all foods are okay to eat but in moderation. I don’t like restricting because I feel we sometimes bounce back to unhealthy habits. Yet here I am restricting myself of certain foods. Let me say I do this against my flesh and do it because I’m listening to my spirit about what needs to be done for me and my health. I need to control PCOS-and if cutting out junk is the answer, that I need to continue eating healthy. If grains cause me to have high sugar levels and insulin resistance, than I need to do what’s best for me and reduce the amount I eat.
Even though I wish I could eat everything in moderation, I have to listen to God’s voice about restricting myself from certain things (fake food and sugar, and limit my carb intake). This is for my health. It’s more valuable that my desire to eat junk. I want children, I want to be fit, I want to lose weight, and I want to be overall healthy.
So, with great results from the Daniel Fast I move on to another 21 day challenge highlighting the 7 points I mentioned above. I can do it right? I mean my word of the year was health, so now I’m stuck exploring what works best for my body. And if I could leave meats and junk for 21 days, I can leave junk for another 21 days! (not my protein though)
I thank God for opening my eyes about my health. When I did the Daniel Fast last year, I got the same results and continued eating healthy afterwards, resulting in a pregnancy (which sadly ended in miscarried). But this only speaks to me and confirms that the answer to health is food. Two years He has proved this to me. Two times my body has functioned the way it should. Now I hear Him asking me if I will be obedient about disciplining the way I eat.
My answer is yes! I choose to live a new year, a new life, a new beginning. Afterall, my word for this year is health. So health it is from here and on….
Have you ever done a Daniel fast? Or taken on a challenge towards your health that was super tough? What results did you get? I would love to hear from you and the challenges you faced. I would love to hear about how God spoke to you through it all and how your life was changed. Please do share with me as I love to hear about your results and changes. 🙂
If you want to know more about a Daniel Fast you may read about it here. Elena does a great job at describing it in detail.