Don’t you wish you could just hit the button for a bad habit reset? I do. Especially right after the holiday season when I feel like I’ve eaten my weight in butter and “treats” (which are clearly not “treats” when you eat them constantly). Sometimes it’s other habits or life areas that are struggling. It could be that work hasn’t been going well, it could be that a relationship is rocky, it could be that I’m cultivating all kinds of bad habits I don’t need. Whatever the reason, it’s nice to know that there is a reset button out there. You heard me right, there is a way to hit the reset button – thank God for small miracles.
Hitting the reset button means taking a break from normal, but unfortunately life is full of obligations, so we can’t always up and fly to Tahiti, no matter how much we might need it. What this means, is that we need a way to do it ourselves, at home, using things we have on hand and it needs to actually help us to break cycles.
The best reset I’ve ever found is a fast. I know that’s not what anyone wanted to hear because “fasting” is right up there with “Chinese water torture” for lots of people, but those people probably haven’t tried it. I’ll talk more about quick fasts in another upcoming post, because they are also one of my favorite life hacks, but in this case we’re looking at something different. This is a little bit longer. I’m not talking about Messiah-style 40 days, I’m talking about 3-5 days that are all about you.
Here’s how you do a fast for a bad habit reset:
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- Make a little space in your life. There isn’t any problem working during a fast, but if you can it’s nice to reduce your schedule to half days or to take a day or two off during your fast to give you a little bit of time for extra sleep, self care and cleaning house (which I always want to do when I’m fasting – I think it’s an external mirror for what is going on internally).
- Choose Your Type of Fast. During the fast you can either do all water plus the miracle drink (if you haven’t heard me talk about it before I’ll go over that in the next step), or you can mix freshly juiced veggies and fruits in. I find that the all water and miracle drink is actually a little easier for me because the veggie juice pushes my body to detoxify too quickly. Typically if this is the first fast you’re trying, then stick to 3 days and keep it simple. If you’ve fasted before and know your body can handle being really pushed to detox then maybe add in the veggie juices. If you choose to use veggie juices make sure they are actually juiced by you or right in front of you (not bought pre-packaged) and that you get 3-4 cups of the veggie juice throughout the day. Also make sure they’re mostly veggie with just a touch of fruit or carrot for taste, but that the bulk is good green veggie.
- Make Sure You Get Enough Water! This is probably the most important thing, because without the water it’s hard for your body to clean house internally! 8-10 glasses per day is a minimum. When I’m fasting I set a timer every hour and alternate between the miracle drink one hour and water the next.
- Drink the Miracle Drink. People laugh when I call it the miracle drink, but it’s because they haven’t tried it. This is such a great detoxifier and energy boost.
- 1 tbsp raw organic apple cider vinegar (Bragg’s is my favorite),
- honey to taste (no more than 1 tbsp please)
- 8-16 oz hot or cold water depending on how strong a flavor you like. During a fast have this 3-4 times during the day to help your liver keep moving.
- Support Your System. If you have any icky feelings while you’re detoxing – this could be headache, grouchiness, mild sick feeling, bad breath, brain fog or a slightly hungover feeling – the do a little extra detox. Anything that makes you sweat will help, so saunas, steam rooms, hot yoga, or hot baths are great. Naps work well too. In general make sure you’re giving yourself extra time for sleep
- Be Ready for Emotional Detox Too. Your body isn’t just taking this chance to get rid of the physical junk and bad habits. There is emotional junk in there that needs to come out, and better out than in. I love to journal so I use that as a tool to help process whatever comes up, but use whatever tools you like.
- Restart Your Life With Consciousness and Intention. This means that you should take some of this time to think about what you actually want in your life. You’re resetting for a reason here. What do you want emotionally? What do you want professionally? How do you want to take care of your body? What sort of food plan would you like? This is a great time to break bad health habits and restart with a clean slate.
- Simple Foods For Your Reentry Meal. The first meal you eat to break your fast should be simple and clean foods – preferably heavy on fruits and veggies, light on lean meats and even lighter (or not at all) on grains. If you need a grain, choose something that is a cleaner grain like rice or quinoa. You can eat as much of this fruit and veggie meal as you want, but make sure you’re not just jumping out of a fast into a large pizza because that’s not exactly the reset we’re looking for.
Is It Really Hard to Fast?
Surprisingly, no. It’s almost shockingly not-hard. Almost everyone I’ve done this with is hungry the first day, and then pretty fine for the rest of it. Occasionally I’ll have someone who is a really fast detoxifier and by day three they feel kind of icky, but most people are just fine. There’s a lot of nostalgia about food because let’s face it – part of eating is the joy of eating that has nothing to do with physically needing food. But seriously, if you can get through day 1 with it’s hunger then you’re good to go.
Is Fasting Safe for Anybody?
If you have insulin dependent diabetes or severe hypoglycemia then it is necessary that you talk to your doctor and possibly even have in-home supervision while you fast because it can be dangerous if your blood sugars fall too low. Also it’s not a good idea for pregnant or nursing mothers because the demands on your body are already considerable – we don’t need to ask it to do more right now. Also if you have a chronic condition then it’s best policy to talk with your doctor about it.
What Results Will You See?
Fasting is tremendous for your body – it’s essentially a break from the hard work of metabolism. You can expect:
- Weight loss – 5 to 10 pounds is normal in 3 days.
- Energy – nobody believes me, but usually your energy is awesome during a fast. Better than normal.
- Good sleep – everyone thinks the hunger will keep them up. Never seems to happen.
- Mental perspective – it’s a lot easier to see the bad habits you’ve gotten yourself into when you’ve got a little distance from them. Even if that distance is just a couple of days that are different.
- Losing Those Food Cravings – 3 days is plenty of time for the food cravings to just fall off. Your body doesn’t actually want to live on sugar, but if you’ve been living on sugar then you don’t know that.
- Spiritual benefits – fasting has been used by most faiths in most cultures globally to bring spiritual clarity and discipline. I’m not an expert on this by any means, but I’m guessing all of those people aren’t wrong.
- Anti-aging – you may not be able to tell in the moment, but by fasting you’re actually slowing down your aging process. Awesome.
Short fasts of 3-5 days are a great way to clean house, lose weight, and one of the easiest bad habit resets in the book. After a fast – especially if you can make it through 3 days – most people have lost their sugar and starch cravings and loosened up their bad habits. I suggest doing 2-4 per year to help keep you healthy, happy and vital. And did I mention that it’s strongly anti-aging and actually slows the aging process? The research is entirely clear on this point. Regular fasting both extends life and slows aging. Yet another great reason to hit the bad habit reset button!