On day 33 of my 40 days and 40-nights water fast challenge… I was flying to Cairo with Giovanna, my 14-year-old daughter.
For some reason, I went through a period of two to three days of severe insomnia … and the night before I left to travel to Cairo, I did not sleep … basically, I was awake for 40+ hours straight.
I could not sleep.
Since I travel often, I am “Platinum” Emirates frequent flyer, so I am allowed to go to the First Class lounge, even if I am not flying First class … and the First class lounge in Dubai is truly 5 star everything. The food – the wine – everything in the Dubai lounge is amazing.
At 5am on the drive to the airport, after being wide awake for nearly 2 days straight, I decided I was going to stop my water fast challenge, and enjoy the First class lounge then ideally sleep on the flight, and have a successful trip to Cairo with my daughter and the business meetings I had scheduled.
… within a few minutes of my mental decision to stop my fast, I received a WhatsApp message from a close friend in America who I told “it looks like I failed to achieve my 40 day fast again…” and this friend teased me, and told me how terrible I looked … and he told me “eat!!!.”
At the same time, within seconds of each other, I got a WhatsApp from Matt MacDonald, a close friend of mine who lives in Abu Dhabi, but unlike the other friend, Matt is an endurance athlete and a RAW vegan … and he is incredibly fit.
I told both these friends, seconds apart that I failed again to reach 40 days … because I was going to stop when I got to the First class lounge at the airport.
My American buddy teased me even harder and told me how I looked so bad that people will think I am dying of cancer…and we chuckled over his comments. He really chased and encouraged me to stop my fast because he felt I looked terrible.
But — the other friend, Matt told me: “you are only 7 days away from reaching an amazing milestone, 40 days and 40 nights water fast is something exceptional very few people can achieve …”
Then he said – “my suggestion is to take 2 hours break and think about it, pray, meditate, and refocus … and then decide if you stop or not. You have come so far … try not to stop now.”
The car arrived at the airport, and Giovanna and I quickly and efficiently checked-in and were in the First class lounge within 15 minutes or so of receiving these texts …
Literally, as I was walking into the lounge, fantasizing about the food and the great wine they serve, I got another teasing text from my friend in America … and he said, “man you look awful … have you eaten yet????”
… and then I got another text nearly at the same time from Matt again telling me: “you can do this. Go to the end!”
As I read this very positive, supportive text …something clicked. I decided instantly — I would go to the end of my challenge.
The power of positive thinking – the power of the mind. No exaggeration — My hunger immediately disappeared and I got back my focus.
And I never had any hunger or desire to break the fast for those last 8 days.
In 2017, one of my goals was to achieve a 40 day and 40-night water fast.
I fasted 4 times over 2017 — 35, 20, 22, and 14 days over the year. (I fasted every 3 months)
I failed the two times I tried to do 40 days and stopped at day 35 and day 22.
In 2017, Naseba had its best year since 2010 with business increasing 157% compared to 016….and I wanted to do a long fast to “thank God” and “spiritually” appreciate everything in my life…so I decided that I would do a 40 day and 40-night water fast challenge from the beginning of Jan. 018, but this time, no matter how hungry I got, I would not stop until I achieved the end.
I reiterate – I wanted to show my appreciation to God, at the same time improve my focus.
Coincidentally, My church in Dubai, “Gatekeeper’s” (www.gatekeepers.tv) the Church leader, Pastor Ben Richard encouraged and launched a “21 day fast” for the 1,000+ members of the church from the beginning of 2018 – the “fast” depended on the person doing it. Some people gave up TV or junk food, meat, or social media – it didn’t have to be a strict “water fast” like I decided to do.
Example, Sophie’s “21 days fast“… she gave up sugar, carbohydrates and wine – and did a strict vegan diet for 21 days. She lost 20 lbs / 9 kilos over the 21 days.
Anyone who follows my blog knows that I like “water fasting” very much … and for the past 3 years, each year, I have fasted 3-4 times over each year.
My last meal was a great dinner on January 7th — a big, enjoyable meal with great food and lots of wine with Sam, a close friend at a “fine dining” restaurant in Dubai ….
My fast was from Jan 8th – Feb 17th.
(The facial shots below: the before shot, where I am smirking is immediately after that great dinner and several glasses of wine and the “after” is right before a great bottle of wine!)
I find water fasting very mental.
The times I have wanted to water fast … and was focused on the water fast – I achieved my goal and the fast went easy.
But the couple times I half-heartedly “fasted” .. the fast did not go well, and I would end up struggling over the 20 days.
This time I planned and organized myself to ensure the best chance of success.
I purposefully gained an extra 6-10lbs … because I wanted to ensure that towards the end of the fast, I would have enough fat stores on my body …
When I tried to do 40 days last year, and ultimately stopped at day 35, I was much thinner before I started.
This time I was 209 lbs (95 kilos) when I began vs 191 lbs (87 kilos) when I began the fast last year.
Also, I decided to keep training throughout this fast – last years 35-day water fast I did ZERO physical activity, and during that fast, I never felt the same “fasting high” that I normally do.
3 years ago, I ran my fastest marathon ever on day 30 of a 30-day water fast. I ran throughout that 30-day water fast and felt great the entire time … so I decided to go back to exercising when I am water fasting. It works better for me.
I have a rowing machine and my cycling turbo at home … Over the 40 days / 40 nights … I trained on average 6 days a week for at least 2 hours in total per day (some weeks I trained 7 days a week)
I would row 45-60 minutes on the rowing machine (depending on the day) with a fairly high heart rate average, and then I would walk with Sophie for at least 1 hour … on a few occasions, we walked considerably longer.
Interesting to note: I rowed 30 minutes on day 40 and walked 90 minutes at a good pace …
I had planned and wanted to row an hour on day 40, but mentally, I failed because I felt tired – and also my plane had arrived 2 hours late, so I didn’t get enough sleep, maybe 3 hours … but I still did a 30-minute row with a 132 bpm/avg and then immediately walked 90 minutes on the 40th day of my water fast.
The last days of the fast — In Cairo, I walked more than 15+ km a day and felt great throughout. On that trip, each night, I walked at least 90-120 minutes … and felt amazing.
To be honest, during this fast, I felt so good throughout the day .. that rowing for up to an hour every day became almost an addiction – I was addicted to that “high” I would feel after the cardio from the row.
On the few days out of the 40, where I did not row, I would still feel good … but I didn’t have that same great feeling, that “HIGH” I felt on the days I rowed.
Incredible how great I would feel … even while in Nairobi on day 38 and 39, I didn’t have a rowing machine at the hotel, but I walked, jogged for 90 minutes on the treadmill twice a day … at high pace just to get my heart rate up to 135+ avg … and I felt great.
For me – I have learned from experience that when I water fast, I must also exercise to ensure I feel great.
I had issues with insomnia, as I often have when I get into later stages of longer water fasts. I guess my body does not need the same amount of sleep since my body doesn’t exert as much energy working to digest, and my organs are rested, etc.
I would fall asleep very easily, but I would wake up 3 hours later … wide awake and I would/could not go back to sleep.
I tried everything – from going to sleep later; drinking less water…reading, etc. but nothing seemed to help.
Day 31, 32, 33 I slept maybe 8 hours in total over the 3 days… it was terrible. BUT, I didn’t feel too bad … esp. when I rowed. A couple times, I rowed from 2 am – 3 am in the morning and then would take a shower, shave and get ready for work … it would be 3:45 am and I was ready … I would sit around until Sophie woke up at 5 am to do our walk.
Luckily, we have a big house in Dubai, so I would go downstairs and sleep in the guest room which became my room over the last 20+ days, so not to disturb Sophie.
I should mention after the 3 day period of crazy insomnia that I slept GREAT the last week of the fast … I especially slept great in Cairo – the beds at the Four Seasons Giza must be magical.
With all that said…
Water fasting is NOT difficult.
But if you tell yourself over and over how hard it is, for sure you will fail. I have seen people tell their social media group how they are going to fast … then they seem to update only the negatives about the fast, and how hard it is, etc.
From my experience – water fasting is very easy – MUCH EASIER than people think.
The process is simple: Day 1 is exciting, new and easy … day 2 is more difficult … day 3 is the hardest… day 4 is a challenge, but by now you are used to it ….
From day five your hunger will be gone.
If you want to try water fasting, I think you must read about fasting so you understand what to expect.
Organize yourself so you have water easily available – and at the same time, make sure you are not tempted to eat by going out to dinners with your family or friends too soon into your fast.
Ensure you are around supportive people – DO NOT listen to all the negativity … fasting is healthy and has been around for thousands and thousands of years – do not listen to all the negativity you will surely face.
Set a proper goal to go after … if you have never tried water fasting, I strongly suggest you do not try to go for 40 days right away and pick an easier goal to achieve.
21 days is an iconic length of a fast and a great achievement.
You will lose a lot of weight – but “fasting” is NOT a diet scheme … and I DO NOT water fast to lose weight.
I like to water fast for the focus is forces me to have – for spiritual reasons, and also during a water fast I detox; I feel so good … and love that incredible “fasting high” … and the feeling of energy non stop all day long that fasting is easy for me … and I like to do fasts every 3-4 months.
This 40 day fast … I did for the focus it forced me to have — for the challenge, and as mentioned above also for spiritual reasons.
I drank less water this time than on any of my other fasts.
This time I drank about 3 liters of water a day – Aquafina or Evian and a Perrier or two throughout the day.
I took NO supplements – NO vitamins – NO medicines – NO juices — NOTHING but water.
I am so obsessive with my water fast that I do NOT use or add even a lemon slice in my water … I have only water.
To be clear — Even when I am not fasting, I don’t take any medicine, supplements nor vitamins. I rarely drink juice, even freshly squeezed because of I don’t like the sugar from the juice.
The main issue you will face if you want to try “water fasting” is the negativity from people around you.
Most people will completely assume without knowing anything about “water fasting … that living on just water for 40 days is not healthy — but in fact, “water fasting” has been proven for centuries to be very healthy. (please see all the links I have included below for more information – including numerous reports on the effectiveness of water fasting and cancer)
Once you start … after 5 days your hunger will be completely gone.
I could easily go to a restaurant with my family or friends and sit with them as they ate … and I was not tempted at all.
The main negative for me is boredom. Also, another issue is that “fasting” is not social.
Although I would go out with Sophie and my girls … and sometimes with friends, sitting around drinking water while everyone ate and drank wasn’t much fun and surely, I didn’t bring much excitement to any of the social meals or functions I attended while on this fast.
I bet most people who break the water fast .. or fail is NOT because they get hungry … its because you get bored and when you are bored, you end of thinking about eating.
Thus, I wonder if its true hunger or just boredom that gets most people to fail a water fast?
If you want to fast, I suggest you read all about water fasting … watch YouTube videos and learn as much as you can, so you know what to expect.
(although from my experience, and in my humble opinion — too many of the YouTube videos are of people moaning and complaining about how hard it is to water fast…and how difficult it is, moaning…and moaning…and moaning about how hard it is and how they want to eat, etc I guess people think its look funny or cool if their “fast” seems more difficult)
… but (again, I reiterate) the truth is… after 5 days water fasting is NOT difficult at all)
On this 40 day 40 nights water fast I lost 42 lbs / 20 kilos
I got measured on day 41 and my body fat % came down from 16.9% to 11.8% (last year, on day 36 of my 35-day water fast, my body fat % was well under 10%. I guess I had more muscle mass last year than I do now.
In 2017, I focused exclusively on rowing and did no resistance weight training at all. I assume I lost muscle volume during the year for lack of resistance weight training … not because my body burned muscle during my fast (your body only burns fat stores, unless all your fat gets burned)
I have very little fat on my stomach, even less than I did when my body fat % was under 10% last year, thus I was very surprised my body fat % was still so high.
Although I do not want to get muscular … I will soon get back into serious weight training with a focus on my core to get further prepared for my big row across the Atlantic.
My blood sugar level on day 41 was normal and all other markers were in the “very healthy” category.
Resting heart rate on day one was 44 bpm and on day 41 it was 47 bpm (It went up a bit, but I am curious if maybe I wasn’t rested fully before my heart rate was taken)
This morning my resting heart rate was 44 bpm.
I went to another doctor yesterday (my historic Doctor) for my annual physical … (he doesn’t understand my fast and or why I like to do them) but he told me: “your blood work is “perfect” and your vitals are as healthy, even more healthy than most teenagers.”
Why do I seem to have an obsession with pain?
Several people have asked me why do I put my body through pain and challenges, whether physical endurance challenges that I like to do … or monotonous physical painful challenges where I will force my body to endure several hours of pain, just to see if I can finish a challenge, and of course my water fasts.
Why do I do this?
I guess it is similar to why I like to travel and adventure, and experience as much as possible … it’s about experiencing life to its fullest.
Also, I enjoy being very lean and nimble. I am 47 years old. I am an old man … but I DO NOT want to be fat and out of shape or big and muscular.
I want to be lean, focused and driven.
Endurance, physical/mental challenges help keep me driven and at the same force me to focus.
Probably similar to why I feel so much better after a hard cardio training session than I do after a long night sleep … I need to get my heart going.
Soon I will begin a 30-day challenge … that will focus on my core and strength … I want to try doing 90 minutes of rowing, 100 push ups a day for 30 days, plus other physical other core strength activities … every day over a 30-day consecutive period.
I share this on the blog because now there will be no turning back.
…but, I have to make it happen.
For more Information on water fasting:
Dr. Alan Goldhamer: in my opinion the truest expert when it comes to water fasting.
I highly recommend you google his name, watch his videos and look into his fasting clinic in northern California (links below)
MUST READ: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21088487
the best book I have read on water fasting: