Why I didn't Eat for 5 Days

This isn't something I normally write about in the context of Training Tilt as I like to focus on things that help coaches with their businesses.

However it's a trending topic these days in the health and fitness industry including endurance sports so I thought I'd keep track of my thoughts during my recent 5 day fast.

Why did I do it?


I've been struggling with immune-system based inflammation that's a specific flavor of arthritis.

Fasting has been helpful for many people when dealing with both immune system problems and inflammation so I wanted to give it a try.

How did it go?


Well it went good and and went bad. I recorded a series of videos during and after the fast and transcribed it all out into my blog. 

Day 2: Why

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Why I'm Fasting

I just started a 5-day fast so I thought I'd make a video blog about it.  I'm not sure if I'll make this public straight away.  Maybe I'll hold off until the end.  But I'm doing a 5-day fast and this is actually day 2 of 5.  The reason why I'm doing the fast is that at the beginning of the year, which means it's been 9 months now, I've been diagnosed with arthritis caused by an autoimmune problem.  It has similar symptoms as rheumatoid arthritis, but it is not rheumatoid.  

This came after I did a half Ironman in January in Tarragona.  I had some pain in my left foot where it felt like my shoe was really tight.  I changed shoes, but the pain started to spread to the bottom of both my feet, to my ankles and then to my knees, wrists, fingers and even my shoulders.  The worst things that were affected were old injuries of mine from 20-25 years ago where I sprained my ankle and dislocated my finger.  For the more recent ones, it was my knees.  I've had multiple reconstructions on both knees with my first one in 2008 and an operation in 2010 when I re-injured it.

When I'm not on medication, I can't get out of a chair without experiencing any pain.  It's not unbearable pain, but it enough to affect my quality of life.    

Types of Arthritis

There are two types of arthritis.  Osteoarthritis is when your joints are actually damaged and you get inflammation and pain from it.  The other one is an autoimmune issue, like rheumatoid arthritis, where there is nothing wrong with your joints.  This can be caused by getting an infection, which is what I have.  Last year, in June, I was in the Philippines and got really sick.  It took a long time to feel better but I did get really lethargic, and a few months later, the issues with my joints came about.  

I had all my joints x-rayed and scanned to see if there was any damage.  There wasn't really any other than my older injuries.  Since most of my joints were fine, it was my immune system that got confused and, for some reason, sent a lot of information to my joints that didn't need to be sent.  

 

Medications

When I first got diagnosed, I got on some medications.

The first one is Sulphasalazine, which is a sulfur-based medication.  The thing with this type of arthritis is that it is quite poorly understood.  I don't think a lot of research goes into it because it can be managed pretty well with anti-inflammatory medications.  But for people like me, it is quite debilitating because it means I can't do the sports that I love.  Personally, I don't want to be on these medications long term.   I've been on Sulphasalazine for about 3 months now, but I don't think it really does anything.  

At the same time I was taking Sulphasalazine, I was also on Diclofenac which is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory.  I'm taking these twice a day at 75 mg per intake.  That's 150 mg per day.  Again, I don't want to be on this medication long term because of the effects that it can have like ulcers and whatnot.  But it does take care of the pain during the day and night, but I've experimented getting off of it so that I'm just taking the Sulphasalazine.  Again, I'm not sure how this actually works in terms of dealing with arthritis.  

 

Taking the medication to get rid of the pain is actually better than not taking it at all because if you don't take it, all the inflammation over time can damage the joints.  

Effects of the Fast

I am currently sitting on 72 kilos as my weight, which is where I normally am.  But I am sure at the end of this I'll be around 70 or 71 kilos, which is race weight for me.  

At about 36 hours of the fast, I'm feeling hungry, distracted and woozy.  I'm trying to look out for how much water I'm drinking since I'm not going to get anything from food.  I know I have to drink quite a lot more than I normally do.  

I'll give another update tomorrow.  But thanks for watching and I'll talk to you again soon.  

Day 3: How It’s Going

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Welcome to day 3 of 5 of my fast where I'm trying to get rid of my autoimmune based arthritis.  

Effects of the Fast...so far

I was looking forward to the "focus" that everyone talks about when they go on a fast, but I haven't had any of that yet.  

I've dropped my weight down to 71.2 kilos.  That's almost a kilo in weight loss so far.  I have noticed, on my stomach, that I did drop a little bit of fat after 3 days, which was surprising.  I didn't think it would be that noticeable that soon.

I needed to buy some jeans so I went and did that today.  I bought a size smaller than I would normally buy.  Hopefully that wasn't a waste of money after this fast.

I still feel unfocused and a bit woozy.  I didn't sleep very well last night because I kept having dreams that I'd run out of petrol and I couldn't any petrol anywhere in case of some emergency.  That kept me awake all night.  

Effects of Stopping Medication

I've actually stopped taking Diclofenac just to see what happens.  So far my joints feel the same.  The pain is not too bad. 

I don't mean to do the finger to you, but this is my sprained finger.  You can see it's swollen up a bit, but this is what normally happens towards the end of the day even with the Diclofenac.  My knees are sore, but my feet aren't too bad.  But I haven't been for a run or anything today.  

But that's day 3 of 5.  I'll be back with an update on day 4, but I think I might reward myself on day 5 with the trip to Hawaii.  Hopefully I'll be extra sharp tomorrow.  But thanks for listening and I'll talk to you again soon.

Day 4: I’ve Had Enough

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Today is day 4 of 5 of my fast to get rid of the issues of my arthritis.    The topology should be in full flow. 

Effects of the Fast...so far

I am still not feeling any extreme focus, but today went really fast.  Maybe that's part of it -- things seemed to just disappear.  I guess that's good.

I'm not really feeling hungry, but my mouth is really dry.  I've been drinking a lot of water with lemon juice and salt.  And I've had herbal tea this afternoon, but still no food.

The autophagy should be getting rid of some dodgy cells.  That's the idea -- your body ends up eating and cleaning up any waste cells that aren't performing.

I did lose more weight.  I'm down to 70 kilograms, but that was yesterday.  I'm probably down to a little more weight.  

I had some issues last night since I've been off my anti-inflammatories so that I can feel any change in the pain.  I woke up in the middle of the night last night because my right wrist was so painful.  I couldn't move it without triggering the pain.  I did take about 50mg of the Diclofenac to try and get the inflammation down.  It went down pretty quickly and I've been pretty good all day.  

 

My finger that was injured 20 years ago is still pretty swollen, but it nowhere near as bad as it was yesterday.  Only time will tell if it's going to make a short, medium or long term difference with my issues with arthritis.  

 

I do still feel a little spaced out.  I am not thinking that clearly.  I don't feel great, but I don't feel terrible.  However, I am looking forward to getting back to normal life and have dinner tomorrow before we fly out to Hawaii.

 

Next steps

 

I need to do some quick research that it's not a silly idea to jump on a plane after not eating for 5 days.  I'll see if there's any drama around that.  We might have to stay until tomorrow morning if there is.  But I'm sure it won't be too big of a deal.

I will the last video tomorrow before we fly out.  I'm sure I'll have a little bit of time.  But it has been an interesting experiment.  I wouldn't say it was fun, but it is worth doing, especially if you have a specific purpose in mind.  

I would hate to go through the rest of my life, or even another few months, having this issue with arthritis without having tried something like this.  It is definitely worth it.  We'll see how things come up tomorrow, but I know the real test will be how things go over the next few weeks.  

Thanks for watching and I'll talk to you again soon.

Day 5 I’m off to Hawaii

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It's day 5 of 5 of my fast to get rid of my arthritis cause by my autoimmune issues.  Thank God it's day 5.

It's 2:30 pm now and we have our flight at 8:55 tonight.  I'll be getting something to eat soon so that I don't experience any issues or stress at the airport.  I'm really looking forward to the food.  I'll be a couple of hours short on the 5 days.

Effects of the Fast

Last night, I slept much better than I did the night before.  The cats woke us up a few times -- Frankie was being a real pain and dived on the bed a few times.  Other than that, it wasn't too bad.  

I haven't taken any more anti-inflammatories.  The last I took was the night before last just so I can get some sleep.  I don't feel too bad.  My fingers are a little bit swollen and my knees are a little bit sore, but I don't feel too bad.  I haven't done any training today to really know how bad it might be.  

I think the next few days or even the week will tell or see if the inflammation comes back when I'm still off the anti-inflammatories.  

I still haven't really felt that "focus" that people talk about while being on a fast.  I'm not sure why.  Although yesterday I did get quite a lot of work done.  I did complete the entire list of things to do, which doesn't really happen.  But I didn't feel more focused than normal.  But, who knows?

I am looking forward to having something to eat.  I may just have some avocados and eggs and maybe some salmon.  Nothing too heavy.  Then we'll head to the airport and have dinner there as well.  I'll try not to gorge myself on food because it's obviously not a smart thing to do when you finish a 5-day fast and jump on a plane immediately.  

Overall Feelings

Overall, I'm glad that I did this fast.  It was hard, but not the hardest thing I've ever done.  

On day 1, it's not that hard, but as the days go by it does get harder.  I was tempted to just grab something at the cafe when I went in for coffee today.  I saw some sausage rolls, and I don't even eat that much meat, but they looked delicious.  With all the pastries and cakes and slices, I was tempted to just finish the fast.  You make these excuses on why you should eat, but I held back.  

Today, I spent the whole day packing and getting prepared to go to Hawaii.  It was a good distraction from food., so that was really good.  

Was it successful?

It's hard to say that if it is a success or not in terms of what my goals were.

It is a success in the fact that I've tried it.  Whatever happens, I'll know whether it made any difference or not.

When in Hawaii

This is a little off the topic, but when I get to Honolulu, I'll get myself some CBD oil because that's good in dealing with inflammation among other things.  i won't start taking it for a few days until I get the full effect of this fast.  But I think I won't go back to my Diclofenac.  I'll start the CBD oil and see how that compares to the Diclofenac which is an NSAID.    

I'll get something to eat before we head off to the airport.  I might even do a video on the CBD.  But thanks for watching and I'll talk to you again soon.

14 Days Later

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It's been 14 days since I recorded my last video.  We got to Hawaii for a holiday and the Ironman World Champs and had a fantastic time.

Rewind to the last video

After the last video, I did eat.  Actually, I overate because I made a big omelet.  I got halfway through it and then thought it was a bit much.  But I finished it off anyway.

We then headed off to the airport and I was feeling really amazing.  I just had a deep sense of happiness.  I guess, partly, it's because we were going away on holiday.  But I don't often feel that intense happiness at all just because of a holiday.  I think it had something to do with the fast -- just this feeling of euphoria.  We had dinner at the airport and I had a glass of wine or two.  I was drunk half way through the first glass.

The plane journey was a little bit rough and I didn't get very much sleep.  It was an overnight flight.

We got to Hawaii and stayed in Oahu for a few days.  We stayed in a hut and it was amazing.  I did some of my best running long before I had this arthritis issue.  My pace continued throughout the entire 12-13 days.  

Adding CBD Products

I spent about $500-600 on CBD oils, a bottle of oil you drop under your tongue, a balm with CBD in it and some muscle rub.    I got a few different brands with different levels of CBD.  The strongest had 1500 mg of CBD, and I got this out of the hemptuary out in Honolulu.  

I honestly thought I'd have some trouble finding CBD products, but in the states, it's massive now.  You can actually get this everywhere.  

The Overall Results

The fast had a positive affect.  But during that time, I did get some inflammation back because I wasn't taking my Diclofenac.  After a few days, I just started taking those again because it was a little bit more painful when I struggled to run.  

It was beneficial to my well being.  I might do a weekly fast for 16 to 20 hours.  Then once a month I might do 2-3 days fast and see how that goes.  I'm not sure if I'll do another 5-day one.  But the end result is I still have my arthritis -- it's still around.  

The CBD is also helpful.  I'm not as anxious -- although it did help to be on a tropical island for two weeks.  I'll continue to take this and see my specialist for a prescription once the ones I bought run out.  

I'm also taking just half of my original Diclofenac prescription.  

Thanks for watching!  And feel free to reach out if you have any questions about arthritis.  Who knows?  I might be able to help.

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