Water Fast Post #6: Day 1, Ready to Move.

I arrive at True North in Northern California after a planes, trains and automobiles type of travel journey.

Located in Santa Rosa, a sweet little town 30 miles due west of Napa, the center is run by health professionals – M.Ds, N.Ds, Acupuncturists, Chiropractors – who tout fasting as the cure all for not only digestive problems and mental health issues, but just about any health woe (autoimmune, cardiovascular, obesity, etc) caused on by our current Standard American Diet (SAD).

Naysayers, which is just about everyone I know, warn me away from this hard core, no holds barred, extreme body reboot: “Your body needs meat protein.” “Isn’t this going to screw up your metabolism?” “It seems like starvation is unhealthy.”

Or, as one friend asked me over lunch this past Saturday: “Are there legitimate doctors down there, like M.D.s? Who have a current and valid medical license?”

The answers: No, no, no, yes.

The irony isn’t lost on me that I am smack dab in the middle of the most rich and satisfying foodie scene in the country, and I’m here to eat…. Nothing.

Upon check in, I am shown to my room, but not until I am issued a True North branded plastic water bottle. I’m concerned about BPA levels but won’t want to sound like a Portlandia character so I keep my mouth shut.

This place is no cushy spa. While patients are closely monitored, no one is here to make you comfortable. The caregivers here are serious: This is not going to be pleasant.

But as my doctor tells me during my first set of rounds, “We think that you’ll forgive us when you feel better.”

Dr. Peter Sultana, M.D, is a kind, soft-spoken man, who comes to take my vitals the evening of my first day. We speak about my goals for the stay and I hand over my mess of a medical folder. He says he’ll read it.

I’m skeptical.

I’m all ready to begin the water fast immediately, but apparently I can’t begin the fast until I’ve had a “healthy” bowel movement. He asks what “moved” today. The answer is deemed inadequate.

He tells me to go to dinner and eat. A Lot. As much as you can, he says, so as to get things going, so to speak: At least three full plates full of raw and steamed veggies, some rice, some fruit. Since I had been pre-fasting on juices and raw fruits/veggies the three days prior to my arrival, the idea of three plates sounds gluttonous.

So I head to dinner, a (salt, sugar and oil free) buffet full of lentils, brothy soup, a gigantic salad bar and steamed broccoli, chard and kale. I mourn oily salad dressing; instead I ladle on some sunflower seeds.

I pile my plates high and head outside to dine in the courtyard at the community picnic table. Exhausted and feeling antisocial from the day’s travel, I signify I’m unavailable for conversation by donning my sunglasses and sticking my nose in a book.

Everything is bland, I think. But I must’ve just said it out loud, either that or people can read minds here, because my table mate says, Just wait, your taste buds will reset. “That limp steamed chard will taste absolutely delicious in 10 days.”

After finishing plate #2, I can’t possibly eat another bite. Not because I’m full, but because I’m just…. DONE.  I have no desire to eat any more.

I learn later from a lecture with Dr. Lisle, True North’s resident psychologist and author of the Pleasure Trap, that this is the body’s natural response to having enough nutritionally. When eating whole, non-processed food, one has no desire to overeat. Animals do this; in the wild they have the natural inclination not to stuff themselves, unless of course they’re eating highly processed, commercial pet food.

And humans would, too, except for the fact that the food most of us are choosing to eat actually has the opposite effect: Foods like pasta, dairy and salty/sugary fast food sends messages to the brain to tell us to eat more, more, more, and we generally only stop when we’re too full to eat one more bite. In this scenario, “More” would be impossible because we’re so full.

By 8:30 I’m wiped out, so I head back to my apartment to take a shower. There, I discover my suite mate has left a bar of Dial soap in the shower. Heavily perfumed Dial soap.

A user of unscented organic soap, I am deeply offended at the sickly sweet smell, but don’t want to admit that I’ve become the type of person who “is sensitive to scents.” I mentally commit to deal with it. But 30 minutes later, when I am still overwhelmed by the scent even after I close both the bathroom and my bedroom door, I knock on her room door and ask her if she would mind if she store the soap in her room. I hate myself for being high maintenance, which I feel twofold when I discover that she’s already hooked herself up to her sleep apnea machine.

God what a pain in the ass I am! And this is only the beginning.


Disclaimer: Do not attempt to do a fast of any sort without the support of a medical doctor. Before starting any new diet and exercise program please check with your doctor and clear any exercise and/or diet changes with them before beginning. I am not a doctor or registered dietitian. I do not claim to cure any cause, condition or disease. I do not provide medical aid or nutrition for the purpose of health or disease and claim to be a doctor or dietitian.

This is merely an opinion blog. The information held on this blog is merely the opinion of a laymen individual. The information covered in this blog is open to public domain for discussion and in no way breaches or breaks the boundaries of the law in any state of the the United States of America where I live. I am not a doctor nor do I claim to have any formal medical background. I am not liable, either expressly or in an implied manner, nor claim any responsibility for any emotional or physical problems that may occur directly or indirectly from reading this blog.