Fasting ought not to be attempted without first consulting with your physician.
[This is a summation of my most recent fast. Some of the material is repeated above.]
My Forty-two Day Fast
Today (August 10th, 2013) I completed my first-ever forty-two day (six week) no food / no calorie fast. I have not had anything containing calories since June 29th, 2013. It has been my goal for a couple of years to do at least a forty-plus day fast. I have been pondering two things during this fast. The first has to do with my eventual transition into an intermittent fasting (IF) routine as a way of life. In fact, this longer fast is but a prelude to what I really want to do as far as lifelong fasting is concerned -- some form of a consistent IF. The second is whether or not I ought to continue with my current fast since I have met my goal. I am currently at my ideal running weight and have accomplished what I have set out to do. The interesting thing however is that I know I could fast for several more weeks at this point, but I really need to have some compelling reasons to continue beyond forty-two days, and at this point I don't have any so I decided to break my fast (gently and very gradually) sometime today.
It is so liberating going without an ounce of food (or any calories at all) for several weeks. Besides the catabolic, detoxification, mental, physical, and spiritual advantages, it frees up so much time to do other things (play Bach, study theology, etc.). One of the things I have become very much aware of during my fasts is how much time and energy (and this is especially true of advertising) people around you devote their time to consuming, thinking about, and selling food. A few years ago I came to the realization that adults do not need to eat three times-per-day, and after a few years of consistent fasting I now know empirically that we need not even eat every day. Our bodies have an abundance of fats, nutrients, and reserves that are just waiting to be tapped into if we are willing (and of course, healthy enough) to explore and implement various options with regard to our eating habits into our lives.
I have found any one of the many intermittent fasting methods (6:1, 5:2, 4:3, 3:4, etc.) to be very beneficial, especially for long-distance runners since an IF routine does not deplete your glucose or glycogen stores such as a longer fast does. I created one of my own IF regimens (the 3:4) a year or so ago, which I have done sporadically a few times during the past year, but never on a consistent basis. The reason for my inconsistency to this point is because every time I get a couple of days of fasting under my belt, I want to continue the fasts for longer than two days as the fast is too short. (I tend to like longer fasts as those who know my fasting habits are aware.) Since I have met my ultimate goal with regard to a longer fast at this point, I do not think that my intermittent fasting routine will continue to be inconsistent once I transition into it over the next few weeks. In any event, the method I hope eventually to transition into is a 3:4 (or 0010101 = one complete week) intermittent fasting scheme, in which the '0s' = fasting days and the '1s' = non-fasting days.
On a more personal note, this has been my most spiritual fast thus far. Besides attempting to read through the entire bible (including the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic apocryphal books for those who consider them to be canonical) cover-to-cover, I have drawn closer to God and I have been praying much more so this time around than I have during previous fasts. I went into this fast with two goals in mind: 1) to complete at least a forty-plus day fast; and 2) to read through one of my favorite translations of the scriptures, the 1901 ASV, something I have not yet done in my life. I have met my first goal and I continue to work diligently on my second goal.
Communion has posed an interesting spiritual dilemma for me throughout the fast, as it involves (in our particular church) a small cracker and grape juice, and it is administered weekly (every Sunday). During this fast I have prayerfully considered and decided against taking Communion. My decision not to partake in Communion during this fast was a difficult one, and has mostly to do with how even a single ounce of sustenance can trigger our hunger mechanisms to be re-engaged, which often results in breaking a fast prematurely.
One of the benefits of my fast is that a number of people in our church are interested philosophically with regard to the fasting that they are aware that I have been doing for quite some time. Most I have spoken to know that it is biblical and that it is mentioned in scripture in several places -- in fact, it says when you fast, not if you fast. Some members have told me that they are beginning to think about trying it themselves. And it was a fasting friend of mine who recently reminded me that the discipline of fasting is also mentioned in the Didache ("The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles") as being a regular occurrence within the early church and that it occurred at least twice-per-week.