The Struggle of Beginning Fasting: Understanding the Side Effects


Fatigue. All I feel is tired today. Tired and the familiar achy feeling I get in my joints after I haven’t fasted in a long time. I’ve read that these aches are the detoxing of your joints and articulating parts, and as those toxins release, my back pops a little easier and with less of a crunch (my back has always popped, this may be a side effect of so many years of dancing), there is a dull throb in my knees. That’s where I feel it most right now, but mostly, all I feel is–

Tired. I’ve been laying on the couch most of the day. On any other day, I’d say I was taking a day off or in a writing slump, but I know myself, and I know this is not what this is. I have what I’ll refer to as “stress headaches” from time to time. Sharp, stabbing pains at my temples and the front of my head. But this does not feel like this…this is a headache of healing. I feel it at the back of my skull, at the base of it, in my neck. My neck creaks when I turn my head, creaks, then pops, and I know that the fast is working. I know that I am freeing myself from an unhealthy relationship with food.

I have eaten nothing today, have taken in nothing but water, fruit juice, and tea. I am guilty about sweetening the tea with fake honey and white sugar, two unnatural products, for sugar is not naturally white and honey should not pour so easily, but these are what we keep in the cabinets and so this is what I use. Because I am somewhat of a hermit, I don’t leave the house very often and don’t much enjoy the chore of grocery shopping.

But I am starting to feel a little more like freedom. My stomach is empty, so very empty. I’ve probably peed 15 times today, but there is something about breaking your addiction to eating three square meals a day that smoothes your corners, turns you into more of a circle than a box. Circles have always been representative of freedom, from time portals, to spiritual dances, to altar calls and prayer circles, and clocks. The hands of time tick in a circle, not a square, because circles represent continuity.

Though circles and squares have very little to do with fasting outside of my metaphor, the belief that I hold in one of the benefits of fasting is that it not only eats away the physical toxins that are poisoning your body, but that it feeds on the emotional and mental poisons that have been ruining your spirit and aura, and damaging your mind.

The digestive process is tiring, it puts a great toll on the body to deal with all of the things that we put inside it, but we all must remember that we not only feed our physical bodies, that we also feed our minds and souls, with love and lost love, with hate, friendship and family ties, with doing things we enjoy, and feeling obligated to do things to get by, to survive. All of these things can weigh you down body and spirit if we do not cleanse ourselves.

And that is why I feel so tired. I have not fasted in a long time so my body is currently working triple time to catch up with all of the refuse of life that it has been hoarding. I wish I wasn’t a hoarder, but I keep everything, not just physical objects, but feelings, unpleasant memories, emotional baggage. How can I expect to fly if I am carrying so much baggage? How could I not expect myself to be this tired? I know what I have gone through. We all know our own stories, but we should own the stories and not allow the stories to own us, to keep us as pets, well-trained and enslaved to the things that made us.

None of those things are good for us. Like food, we are supposed to absorb what is needed from every story, event, person, and discard that which is un-needed, what is wasteful or harmful to us. That’s a lot of work and I am allowing fasting to take the brunt of it. By emptying my stomach, I can free my body to do maintenance on itself, my spirit, and my mind. I can support that by being understanding and strong. My body understands what it needs even though I have a penchant for fried foods and desserts.

I will not be the one to say that you are wrong for liking the foods that you like. I love food too, but fasting is partially about finding the self-control to temporarily deny yourself something that your appetite is craving in order to give your body a chance to reset, revive, and renew.

And that is why I am tired. It’s been a long time since I turned off my digestive processes and allowed my body to reset and cleanse, since I got out of the way of a naturally occurring cleansing process. With all of that said, I think it’s time for a nap. It takes energy to detox the body and I can re-route the energy I’m using to stay awake to the fasting process by resting.

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Maple Summers

Author. Blogger. Feminist. Pole dancer and musician with an obsession with blenders and squeezing a little bit of healthy into every day.

The Struggle of Beginning Fasting: Understanding the Side Effects

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