Did You Just Lick My Face?

Get this.  I’m hanging. Badly. REALLY BADLY.

Not feeling my best on my way into work this morning

I know, right?  This is the perfect counter-balance to my last post declaring alcohol is the devil – link here

I woke up on this Thursday morning without an alarm, it was around 7am, I had about 1.4 blissful seconds of feeling great. Then it hit me.

Light was flooding into my room through the uncurtained window.

Last night’s clothes, including my new fave first date shirt (it’s a pink and blue check number – Sydney watch out), were strewn across my bedroom floor.  A crumpled metaphor for how my body was feeling.  Thought process went a bit like this:

“Fuck Fuck Fuckety Fucking hell!”

“What day is it?”

“Is it a work day?”

“What time is it?”

“SHIT! Am I late for work?”

“Has someone shoved a javelin through my skull?”

“Maybe I should call in sick”

“Why does my back hurt?”

“Did I leave my umbrella in the bar?”

“I need to piss”

“I REALLY need a sauna”

I’ve been told the blog can sound a bit preachy at times.  Well folks, I will preach sod all today.  I am a broken, shambolic mess of a man.

Look, I’m aware that I’ve slagged off booze.  I’ve slagged off modern society.  I’ve slagged off modern dating culture.  I’ve even slagged off gluten (fuck you, gluten).  Today I’m not slagging off anything.

No, today I’m down on my knees. My arms tied behind my back.  Ball gag in mouth.  Getting figuratively f*cked in the arse by this hangover, as my liver desperately attempts to restore some homeostatic balance to things.

I’m a flawed human, just like everyone else, and well, I got truly carried away last night.  It was a first date.  Whatever.  It was bloody good fun.  Would it have been as much fun without the ‘devil juice‘ coming along for the ride?  No fucking way.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of the date too much, we met on an app and after two weeks of ridiculous role play text chat, which mainly centred on our failed marriage, her drinking, and our three delinquent children, we agreed to meet at a bar in the city last night.

Funny old start to the date to walk you through though; I rocked up about ten minutes late.  I was washing my hair – Legit – I went to the gym to kill some time beforehand and pump up the guns – standard. Then I showered and washed my hair, it took a bit longer than I anticipated.  Man’s gotta look sharp and smell good for that first meet.

So, I walk into the bar, I can’t see the girl so I plop myself down at the bar and introduce myself to the bartender, a young chap with a strong beard, and a garish tie.  His name is Josh.  I think this is an excellent move on a date, I often do this.  I’ll tell you why:

  1. It’s basic human manners
  2. It warms me up, conversationally, before my date arrives
  3. I will, hopefully, look to my date, upon their arrival, like an outgoing normal kind of person who can engage with humans.  I hope to be perceived as such.
  4. I can get some advice on which wines are worth drinking
  5. Later, if the date is going badly, I can ignore her have a good chat with the bartender instead
  6. I like to talk to people, it feels good to talk

Anywayyyyy, so I’m chatting to Josh, he’s poured me a well deserved glass of red, a French GSM (love a good red blend #winewanker), loving life.  Josh has a girlfriend of four years.  He has Sundays and Mondays off.  Josh is Australian, but would like to pour drinks in London at some point.  He’s hoping Brexit will mean that they relax the immigration rules to let more Aussie bartenders in.

A couple come stand at the bar near to where I’m sitting.  The girl, sits down on the stool next to mine.  I think “fuck it, I’ll chat to these two too”  So I do.  I tell them that they’re a great looking couple, and we’re off.  The girl, ‘Melea’ is half cut already.  The guy, ‘Al’ seems pretty sober.  They’ve got a great vibe about them, quite the comedic duo.

Melea finds out I’m waiting for a date, a first date, and naturally, loves this – they proceed to interrogate the shit out of me, ask to see a photo of her.  We decide they should come back half way through the night and run an interception.  I suggest that they roll back over in a couple of hours and ask if the date is up for the foursome.  Which incidentally they did.

I’m having such a laugh with Al and Melea, that I don’t notice until 7.28pm that there is no sign of my date.  We were meant to be meeting at 7pm…. So I text her saying I’m at the bar, and ask her what she wants to drink.  She texts me back saying she is also at the bar, and already has a drink.  She’s been waiting there for 30 minutes, angrily texting her friends, probably on the group chat, and was about to leave.  Brilliant.  I brush it off, it’s all good.  And we’re off.  The rest is conversation, flirting, LOTS of flirting.  I’m on fire.  The warm up with Melea, Al and Josh has paid off.

Five or six glasses of red, a negroni and few glasses of overpriced Japanese scotch later I am full-blown wankered.  Like properly properly blotto.  My date has had a solid six or seven glasses of white.  I think she’s drunk too, but I’m too drunk to tell.  The date has escalated: my hands are on her, her hands are on me, we’re sat at the bar and snogging the faces off each other.  At one point I lick her face.

She says:

“did you just lick my face?”

I say:

“Yes, I did just lick your face”

She responds by kissing me forcefully.  This is great.

Fast forward, I’m in the toilets, trying not to fall face forward into the urinal.  Al comes in.  He’s also too far gone.  We’re stood at the urinals having a grand old chat about how well my date is going.  Al says:

“If it doesn’t work out, I work with a smoking hot single lass, you should go out with her”

(he’s Scottish, is Al)

So I give him my number, and we agree we should go for a beer, regardless of whether I date his hot friend or not.

After that I don’t remember much, I think me and the date PDA’d some more.  I got home, presumably in a taxi.  The umbrella made it back.

Happy days.  The end.

Wine or Wisdom?

Last week I published a post denouncing alcohol, stating my intention to remove it from my diet (link here).  Struck down with a crappy cold, I had a good reason to stay in on the weekend and avoid the temptation.  I sold the ticket I had for a warehouse rave on Saturday, and instead opted to briefly catch up with a couple of mates, laid on the beach with a book, worked on my ‘base tan’, went on a long walk, did a yoga class, and generally just chilled out, a LOT.

By ‘chilled out’, I mean I was fairly anti-social, and rather lazy.

That was just fine, for a while.  By Sunday I was crawling the walls and desperate for prolonged human contact.  Fortunately I had a boat party on the harbour lined up, celebrating my flatmate’s impending move to London.  The fool.  I don’t know why anyone would choose to swap Sydney for London in December, but there you go.

There were 20-odd people on the catamaran, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, the air was warm, the breeze was cool.  The beers and ciders in the ice boxes were even cooler.  I had a cold one in my hand within about 3 minutes of setting sail.  By the time we disembarked five hours later I had sunk seven or eight of them, and felt oh so goooooood.  So good in fact that I then opted to have a couple more in a bar with the post-boating stragglers, and then a couple more when I got home too.  I had intended to not drink all weekend and yet here I was sinking my 12th drink of the day, at home, alone, drunkenly tapping away on my laptop writing this, on a Sunday night.

Does this make me a creative alcoholic?  I’ve always liked the idea of being a creative drunk, like Hank Moody.  Admittedly I’d have to step up my game with the opposite sex to be comparing myself with the illustrious, but fictional Mr Moody.

I overheard a little saying recently (probably on a podcast) which stated:

“Wisdom is nothing more profound than our ability to follow our own advice”

If this is true, which I suspect it is, then I clearly have some way to go before I can declare to the world that I am proven wise.  Damn, and here I was thinking I was on the verge of having it all worked out.  I don’t know shit.  Why are you reading this?  You poor deluded fools.

It’s a subject that intrigues the hell out of me, is the old booze.  Alcohol is such a huge, integral part of our culture, that any half-arsed attempt to extract yourself from its inviting, yet iron-like grasp, will likely see you slumped in defeat.  Probably on the sofa, with Netflix, a general feeling of malaise, and a lukewarm UberEats delivery for company.  It’s a bit like a Venus fly trap – you step lightly on the leaf, take a little sip of the sweet nectar, everything seems fine, but then, all of a sudden the trap closes.  Now you’re stuck, you can see outside, you can taste the fresh air of a hangover free day, but you ain’t going anywhere.  You most certainly aren’t getting up at 6am to go for a jog.

The list of reasons in Western society for having a drink is almost limitless; Weddings; anniversaries; divorces; graduations; retirements; births; deaths; break-ups; make-ups; boys’ night; girls’ night; job promotions; redundancies; Friday nights; sporting achievements; Saturday nights; feeling happy; Sunday afternoons; feeling sad; Tuesday evenings, hell, throw in the odd Tuesday morning too, if we’re at the airport, about to go on holiday.  The point is, that going for a drink, in my world at least, can be, and often is, the default response to almost anything.

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I wondered if this was a new thing.  Has the bloated disposable income now available to many; the array of interesting drinking establishments; and the seemingly complete societal acceptance (except for all those parts of society which don’t accept it, of course) led to our collective boozehoundedness?  Well, one of my heroes would disagree:

‘I could not live without Champagne. In victory I deserve it. In defeat I need it.’

Winston Churchill, 1946

Winston Churchill, was getting on it on a daily basis over 70 years ago.  Churchill, however, was a very wealthy man.  He famously, and routinely, spent on champagne in a week what the average man in Britain at the time earned in a year.  1946 or not, he was not the norm.

Let’s go back further:

Drunk for 1 penny, Dead drunk for tuppence, Straw for nothing’!!

That’s a slogan recorded in London in the 1730s, almost 300 years ago.  At that time there were more than 7,000 ‘dram shops’, and 10 million gallons of gin were being distilled annually in the capital.  The good times were definitely a rollin’.

The government at the time found that the average Londoner drank 14 gallons of gin a year.  Good effort lads!  Hang on, Chris, wasn’t it called ‘Mother’s Ruin’?  Correct:

Much of the gin was drunk by women, consequently the children were neglected, daughters were sold into prostitution, and wet nurses gave gin to babies to quieten them. This worked provided they were given a large enough dose.

People would do anything to get gin…a cattle drover sold his eleven-year-old daughter to a trader for a gallon of gin, and a coachman pawned his wife for a quart bottle.

Gin was the opium of the people, it led them to the debtors’ prison or the gallows, ruined them, drove them to madness, suicide and death, but it kept them warm in winter, and allayed the terrible hunger pangs of the poorest.

Some things never change….  Almost makes Trump’s America sound rather civilised though.

I recall speaking to my mother about this a few years back.  Perplexed by the scale of mine, my friends’ and my sisters’ binge drinking, she asked if I felt it was a good hobby to expend so much time, energy and money on.  At the time I laughed it off, but in hindsight, as a slightly ‘wiser’, and definitely older man, it now looks a pertinent question.  To her, my university experience was utterly alien.  The four or five nights a week of heavy drinking was mind boggling.  Her and my Dad, at that same age,  would go to the pub maybe once a fortnight after they bought their first property together, because that was all they could afford.  This was apparently fairly normal.  My normal was smashing 10 double vodka Redbulls and a few bottles of Stella Artois on a Monday night in Bar Risa then getting into a ill-advised fight with someone in Reading Town Centre.

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Who was it that sang “youth is wasted on the young”?  They obviously weren’t talking about me… I started binge drinking, along with all my friends, when I was fifteen.  It’s what we did.  In reality, looking around now, other side of the globe, different set of friends, two decades later, it’s still what we do.

I know it’s ridiculous, given yesterday’s antics, but like a struggling Alexis Sanchez at Manchester United, my head just isn’t in the boozey game anymore.  Like an ageing Ryan Giggs, my head has been turned by what else life has to offer.  Fortunately I don’t have a brother.

I know, as we all do, that good times can be had when not hitting the sauce.  I engage in a number of past times that are non-boozy, and enjoy them as much, if not more than the ‘sauced’ ones.  From experience I can say that a problem only really rears its ugly head when you’re at a social event where everyone else is drinking.  After a couple of hours you find everyone else is all of a sudden on a different level to you.  Not necessarily a better level, but definitely different.

For instance, I went on a stag weekend in Hamburg three years ago, whilst in a period of not drinking.  For the most part this was fine and I had a gay old time.  Except, at one point, we found ourselves in the middle of a food festival by a lake.  It was a very family-orientated affair.  The stag was dressed in a black latex gimp suit…Yep.  It all started off fairly harmlessly, a slightly tipsy stag gimp taking part in a community salsa class, surrounded by dads with their daughters, grandmothers with their grandsons.  The Germans, to their credit, took this in good humour and chuckled in collective delight at the sight of the stupid Englishman tottering about like an extra from Pulp Fiction.

As a sober, but somewhat invested, observer, I found this amusing, and slightly awkward.  My drunken comrades found it only hilarious.

Fast forward half an hour, and cream donuts are being stuffed into the gimp’s mouth.  Pieces of sticky dough and splodges of whipped cream fly through the air as he spits it out in an attempt to breathe.  Children look confused.  Why would anyone waste a donut?

Fast forward another ten minutes and someone has found a cooked pig’s head and is marching through the crowd with it speared onto a stick.  Children look scared.

Fast forward five minutes – the pig’s head is floating in the lake.  Children have been moved to a safe space, away from the rabble of English idiots.

It’s the ‘salsa dance floating pig’s head’ spectrum.  There’s a fine line between being on a similar level, and being on an entirely different level.

As I sit back and re-read the last few paragraphs I’ve written, I realise that telling stories is my favourite type of writing.  So it’s obvious to me that I need to find myself more stories to tell.  It’s just a shame that most of my best stories are derived from drunken escapades.

Herein lies the truth, the funny shit tends to happen when we’re half cut.  There’s no getting away from it.  I think this is why a lot of people, myself included, struggle to remove alcohol from our lives, even if we want to.  We have developed into adults with a memory bank full of slightly hazy recollections of enjoyable experiences whilst ‘under the influence’.  To continue with life, starved of this drug which makes things more enjoyable, is immediately, and significantly less enjoyable.

You have two options, carry on as you were, or start over.  By ‘start over’, I mean, learn how to have an enjoyable life without the added assistance.  Easier said than done.  Especially when the cool box is full…

Cheers!

 

Bring It All Back To You

I was quietly singing the lyrics to ‘Bring It All Back’ whilst sat at my desk in the office yesterday afternoon, when, half way through the second chorus, one of my colleagues laughed a laugh of disbelief at my preposterous behaviour.  Towards the end of the third verse another colleague mentioned that they were worried about my mental health.  Apparently this is not acceptable behaviour.  It’s official: Society has decided that I’m an oddball.

I’m fairly sure that I’m really quite okay with this.  After all, I’m not a maniac, or a trainspotter, yet.

I originally titled this piece ‘Embracing the Oddball Within“, but then I had a good think about the lyrics to that S Club 7 hit record – and they are ‘totes apropes’ to the theme of this blog.  Despite the fact it was incredibly uncool to do so, I loved this song as a spotty 15yr old.  I don’t think I ever paid much attention to the lyrics though, I was undoubtedly more focused on the upbeat melody, and how much I was crushing on Rachel Stevens.

Side note: I served Rachel Stevens whilst working in TGI Fridays once, she sat in the smoking section and puffed on cigs between courses.  I loved her even more for this.  I was starstruck, but she was super chill.  I thought I had a chance, but she got with that handsome dude from Holby City instead.  My love life – a series of near misses since 1999. (read more on that here)

Accepting yourself, oddball or not, is ‘bringing it all back to you’.  Here are some of the lyrics to jog your memory:

“Hold on to what you try to be
Your individuality
When the world is on your shoulders
Just smile and let it go
If people try to put you down
Just walk on by don’t turn around
You only have to answer to yourself
Don’t you know it’s true what they say
That life, it ain’t easy
But your time’s coming around
So don’t you stop tryin’
Don’t stop, never give up
Hold your head high and reach the top
Let the world see what you have got
Bring it all back to you”

“Let the world see what you have got”

OK, S Club, I will, read on…

I’m a fairly run-of-the-mill chap.  Or at least I was.  I loved playing and watching football; I enjoyed drinking pints of ale with my mates; I studied for a sensible degree (Economics), then got myself a sensible job (Project Manager), with a sensible company (IBM), which has in turn, become a reasonably lucrative and stable career; I lost my mind dancing to electronic music in my twenties; I tried to chat up girls, invariably unsuccessfully; I occasionally took recreational drugs; I stimulated my brain through my work, and by reading the news (and crime novels).  I satisfied my extroverted need for human connection by hanging out with friends and family, normally in the pub, or a restaurant, or at the football.

I also went on holidays to places like Ibiza, the French Alps, Thai island hopping, New York, Munich, Cape Town, Portugal, and Amsterdam…. Where I ate food, drank booze, and tried to chat up girls.  Very socially acceptable, mainstream holiday destinations and past times.

At that point in my life, it was all great fun, easy and hedonistic.  I didn’t have to think about much, I just got on with it.  I was, without doubt, a predictable creature of tried and tested habits.  And as such I found it quite easy to connect with other people who also liked football, and girls, and beer, and KFC.  I love my diet now, but fuck, how I miss the occasional Zinger Tower box meal with a side of battered hot wings!

Fast forward to today.  I am still pretty conventional in some ways, but I sense I’m not in others.  More to the point, people have started to tell me I’m not normal, on an almost daily basis.  Some of the contents of posts on this blog likely prove, to some extent, that they’re correct.  I met a bunch of new people whilst camping over the weekend, who, after quizzing me relentlessly on why I have a sauna, probably thought – ‘this guy is a bit left field’.

My focus on optimal health following a period of bad health puts me squarely in the ‘weird’ category.  I don’t drink tap water.  I don’t eat McDonald’s.  I think it’s worth paying the extra $$$ for organic, grass fed, local.  I don’t take pills when I get a headache, I try to identify the source of the headache and address that instead.  And so on.  As such I’m deemed strange.  That’s fine by me.

My dive down the rabbit hole of physical health has inevitably led to a similar dive down the one of mental health.  I’m no longer just selective with what I put into my body, but also into my mind.  Chucking a big mac, large fries and chocolate shake down your gob, is no worse than chucking negative messages, hatred, or porn into your brain.  Head and heart; mind, body and soul – It’s all interconnected.

Rabbit holes they truly are, and once you’re down one, it’s bloody hard to get back out.

I still like playing football, but I rarely watch it all that much nowadays.  I still enjoy the taste of alcohol, but I rarely get excited about getting fucked up like I used to.  Oh how I used to relish getting fucked up.  I still love food, but two weeks ago I went 4 days completely without it, and now I can’t wait to see if I can go 5, 7 or even 10 days (read more on this here).  Rather than go out for drinks with a cute South African on Wednesday night, I went home to sit, ponder and work this blog post.  I relentlessly consume literature and podcasts on alternative ways to think about, and live, life.  I spend on average 4 hours a week in my infra red sauna (read more on this here).  On Tuesday night I spent two hours listening to a podcast about why we’re attracted to certain types of people, whilst laying in a salt bath.  In September I went to a Tony Robbins seminar on how to reach your potential, and absolutely lost my mind for a solid two weeks after (read more on this here).  It was possibly the best two weeks of my life.  I’ve never really got on with cocaine, but if cocaine felt like how I did after that seminar, I would be hoovering the stuff up every day.

Is this ‘normal‘?  I don’t really know what ‘normal‘ is, but certainly what used to be my ‘normal‘, is not my ‘normal‘ anymore.  I look around, at what appears to me, as being quite a sick (mentally and physically) society, and to be honest, see little attraction in the ‘normal’.  ‘Abnormal’ appears to be a safer, and more interesting bet.

I met a girl recently, with a beautiful smile, and a cracking spirit.  I fancied her instantly.  Occasionally, albeit all too rarely, you meet someone who triggers something deep down inside of you, she achieved this within about five minutes of us saying hello.  We went on three dates, but it ended there, on her terms.  Like most people I meet, this girl liked a drink, and the old me, before the walls of physical well-being came crashing down, would have happily kept up with her.  When we met up for the third time I didn’t really want to hit the sauce, but I didn’t want to be ‘that guy’, so we polished off two bottles of wine.  I became flushed in the face, experienced involuntary muscle spasms throughout my body, and my brain stopped working properly.  I went into a sort of foggy autopilot mode.  Me and the yeast/sugar in wine just don’t get along sometimes.  My taste buds love it.

I turned it over in my mind on why she had ended it there, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.  When I got up in the morning I had barely slept and looked like the guy on the left in my first post (link here).  I looked ill.  It took three days of carefully managing my nutrition for my body and mind to start working properly again.  It’s no way to start a relationship, putting yourself in physical jeopardy, trying to be someone you can’t be, for the sake of pleasing the other person.  Women are perceptive creatures, in my experience, far more so than men.  They know when something is not right.

I’ve written about this before, my relationship with alcohol (Link here).  I love it.  Correction: I used to love it.  My body now hates it, it’s hard to love something that makes you ill and wrecks your life.  “wrecks” – I appreciate this sounds dramatic, after all, I’m not an alcoholic, but we’re not talking about the odd bad hangover after a big blow out here.  A bottle of wine can cause my body to dysfunction for days.  I’ve come to the sensible conclusion that because it messes with my physical health, it messes with my mental health, and as a result it is having a severely detrimental impact on my quality of life.

I think the point I’m labouring to make here is; that I’ve changed.  Physically and mentally.  They say people don’t change, but to some extent, I have.  The problem I seem to currently have with this, however, is that whilst I have changed in many of my ways of thinking, many of my habits seem locked in the past, and therefore conflict with where my mind/body/spirit wants me to go.  This is something I need to work on.

I had an old model for life that no longer fits.  The old model looked something like this:

Work hard, get a good job, earn lots of money, drink wine, buy a nice car, meet a partner, settle down, drink wine, buy a nice house, renovate the house, buy a second nice car, have kids, drink lots more wine, go on nice holidays, go to the theatre, drink wine, have grandkids, retire, play golf, potter around in the garden, then die.

I appreciate how utterly wanky this is about to sound, as it is a perfectly acceptable model, and one that many aspire to, and are happy with.  However, at some point I stopped believing or desiring a lot of it.  Before I moved to Australia; I had my own property; I earned lots of money; drove a nice car; went on nice holidays; ate in nice restaurants; went to the theatre; was surrounded by great friends and family.  And yet, for whatever reason, I was discontent.

When you stop accepting everything at face value, and start questioning EVERYTHING, there is hopefully only one outcome – ANSWERS.  OK, maybe two outcomes; answers, and angst.

I don’t think I’ve found all the answers I need yet.  I’m fairly sure what I need is a new focus, or purpose, to replace the old model, to which I still occasionally cling.  As 2018 draws to a close, a year which has turned out to be deeply introspective and challenging, I look forward to 2019 with high high hopes.  A year of questions will hopefully be followed with a year of answers.  Australia, in its infinite wisdom, has just granted me permanent residency, a goal which has been in my cross-hairs for the past three years.  Freed from the restrictive bonds of my work visa, no longer legally tied to a job position, or a geographical place, I have my freedom back to explore, should I so desire.

Maybe I am an oddball, or maybe I’m just evolving (finally) to meet the reality of my existence.  I don’t feel odd.  Au contraire.  I feel excited.

Don’t you know it’s true what they say
Things are sent to try you
But your time’s coming around
So don’t you stop tryin’

Sage words, S Club, sage indeed.

Footnote: S Club 7 3 are performing in Sydney in February – does anyone want to come with?  It will be cheesy, shit and a lot of fun.

Footnote:  If you have been reading the blog for a while, it may sound, reading this, like I am going round in circles.  I think this would be a fair assessment.  Apologies if I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I’m not going to beat myself up for taking a while to figure stuff out, and implement changes to long established habits.  I have found writing deeply cathartic, and incredibly useful for processing my thoughts and emotions.  Publishing my words makes me feel more accountable to succeeding in difficult challenges.  I also hope that occasionally my words bring support or reassurance to the odd person out there who may be struggling with something.  If you’ve ever thought about keeping a journal, I implore you to do so.  This blog is essentially my journal.  It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.

 

Waterboy. Diary of my 3.83 day water fast

Before I start, did you know you can subscribe to the blog to have it delivered to your email? Well you can!  Navigate to the homepage – link here (will open in a new tab) – scroll to the bottom, enter your email and you’ll get no spam, just a tidy little notification from WordPress when a new piece is available to read.  I’d absolutely love it if you did this.

I had a flare up of my autoimmune issues last week, and I stupidly compounded it by drinking some not-gluten free lager on Saturday. By Sunday I had a full spectrum of neurological and gastrointestinal issues going on.  It was not fun.  I had to take Monday off from work because my brain was simply not working.  I’m in the process of writing an in-depth article on gluten, autoimmunity, the food supply and my relationship with them. You might find it pretty useful / informative, it won’t be easy reading.  This one, however, shouldn’t be such a chore.

Most of you, fortunately, won’t understand what this feels like.  The digestive symptoms are annoying, but the neurological issues are the worst.  When I’m in the grips of a flare I’ll be waking up every 2 hours and struggling to get back to sleep.  I’ll have headaches, fatigue. and brain fog;  I can’t find words to finish sentences; I can’t concentrate on what people are saying; thoughts are hard to process.  It’s very frustrating.  The worst thing is what it does to my mood; I become negative and depressive, which is not who I am.   In a way I appreciate this now, as I’m able to look at those negative and depressive thoughts and know they’re not mine.  In the past, when I had depressive thoughts, I thought it was me.  Now I know they’re merely a symptom of something else going on.

Anyway, these things are an annoyance, but they do not tend to get me down.  I try to see an exposure to gluten as a reminder to look after myself; I become more determined to take care of my health.  This is the first bad one I’ve had in over a year.  I need to make sure I don’t have another one for a long, long time.

I woke up on Monday morning, things were not good, so I called in sick and decided to give my body a rest from the stress that is digestion, and fast for the day.  By ‘fast’ I mean from the moment of waking I consumed nothing but water, and a smidgen of salt.  I’ve been dabbling with fasting for a while now; I routinely keep eating windows to less than 8 hours a day.  This is called Intermittent fasting.  For example I’ll skip breakfast, have lunch at 12, a BIG dinner at 7pm, and that’s me done for the day.  I try not to snack, but don’t beat myself up if I do.  I’ve also got into the habit of doing a 24 hour fast at least once or twice a month.  I’ll have dinner and then won’t eat again until dinner the next day.  I find this pretty easy nowadays, but I have built up to it.  When I take long haul flights I aim to not eat after leaving the house, and not eat again until I reach my destination.  This means 30+ hours without food if I’m flying back to UK.  Weirdly I find my jetlag is lessened when I do this.  It’s a bit of a mental chore, but let’s be honest, I’m not missing much in those in-flight meals… barf.

Why do I do this?  Well, there is a bunch of science out there that is starting to show that our approach of eating three square meals a day, with snacks in between, is not ideal for our physiology.  We have not evolved over millions of years eating 3 routine meals between waking and sleeping.  Especially not a bowl of cereal grains for breakfast, a sandwich and crisps for lunch, and a Thai takeaway for dinner.  That’s not to mention the apple, the Dairy Milk, the latte with a biscuit, and blueberry muffins in between our main meals.  I’ll write a brief summary of the benefits of fasting that I’m aware of, but I strongly  recommend watching the video of fasting expert – Jason Fung.  Both of these are posted at the bottom of this article.

For now I’m going to give you a summary of the 4 day fasting experience that I just encountered.  Remember, I was doing this to fix a problem, I was motivated.  Would I have been able to go 4 days without food if it weren’t for that?  I don’t know, possibly not.  Sometimes a curse can be a blessing… Here goes:

Day 1 – Monday

As described above, I felt lousy on Sunday.  I had a small dinner of homemade fried rice with slowcooked lamb and a few veggies and went to bed early.  I woke up and felt dreadful, in the full throes of an autoimmune flare up.  Called in sick to work and put my head back down.  I lazed around all morning and then went for a long walk along the coast.  I came back and worked on a blog post, which was tough because my brain was ‘foggy’.  Went to bed at 8pm.  Consumed nothing but water all day, and lots of it.  No hunger pangs.

Day 2 – Tuesday

Woke up, now 36 hours without calories of any sort.  Sleep was broken at best, but that’s the gluten doing that, not the lack of food.  Felt marginally better, got up and went for a walk on the beach. Forced myself to go to work.  Could not concentrate for shit.  Achieved little.  Went to a Melbourne Cup event in the afternoon, drank a few soda waters, made polite conversation.  Felt hot in the face, looked in the mirror – looked red in the face.  Smoke bombed out of dodge after the race and took myself home to bed.  I was bloated all day.  Had a headache.  Couldn’t concentrate on anything for very long.  My face became really oily (which it never does).  I had a racing heart at times, but that settled when I got home and added some salt and magnesium to some water.  My knees hurt sporadically.  Had an epsom salts bath (great for detoxing) and got myself to bed by 8pm, again.  Real fun time Frankie this week! 🙂

Day 3 – Wednesday

Woke up (now 60 hours without food) feeling better, which was a surprise as I had the worst night of sleep, was tossing and turning all night, and sweating buckets, it hadn’t been too hot.  Clearly my body was doing some sort of detoxification.  I also noticed a rash on the backs of my legs.  Couldn’t have been a food reaction so I’m guessing it was my body purging something gross out.  I got to work and struggled through the morning, lacking in energy or motivation to do much of anything.

And then, something clicked, and I started to perk up just after my lunch of, you guessed it, water.  I started to become chatty, I could concentrate, I even laughed a few times.  I got some good work done.  I started to consider having dinner when I got home – I had a loose target of 3 full days of fasting in my head, and would have achieved that by then.  I did have some muscle cramps in my legs, but they abated when I took in some more salt.  Quite enjoyed being able to recognise a problem and apply an organic solution.  ‘Biohacking’ if you were…

When I got home I crashed, developed a bit of a headache, so instead of dinner had another epsom salts bath and went to bed at 8pm, again!  3rd full day of nothing but water and a few minerals.  At this point I should point out that I never really felt that hungry, but I eat a high fat diet normally, so I’m quite well adjusted to not having glucose pouring in all the time.  When I did get pangs of hunger I sank 500ml of water with a small pinch of salt and they went away.

I think this fasting lark would have been a lot easier if I had started from a position of health, bear that in mind if you’re reading this and thinking it sounds atrocious.  I did it to heal from a position of poor health.  If you decide to do a fast, and you’re healthy, I would bet you would have an easier time of it.

Day 4 – Thursday

Wow!  Slept 9 hours – First time I’ve done that in well over a year (I am not a good sleeper – coeliacs often aren’t).  I did wake up in the middle of the night bathed in sweat, but rolled over and went back to sleep.  Felt like some major detox work was being done whilst I was away in the land of nod.  84 hours sans nourishment, and counting.

I was up by 6am, felt amazing, felt happy, felt calm, skin looked amazing, stomach was ridiculously flat.  I went for a short walk to see the beach, came home, had a short sauna (yes I have sauna – read why here).  Watched some of the Man Utd Champions League game.  Had a lovely breakfast of water and magnesium powder, with a teaspoon of sea salt.  DELICIOUS.

When I got to work I was positively bouncing.  My colleagues, bless them, were starting to get concerned about me on day 3, I didn’t look too healthy and I wasn’t exactly vibrant.  Today, however, I think they were somewhat taken aback by what walked into the office, almost wary that I was going to explode and die.  I had no physical complaints, and my brain was on fire.  I was demolishing tasks on my action list with ruthless efficiency, cracking jokes, winding people up, whistling, singing, I was even considering going for a run at ‘lunch’.

Alas, midday approached I started to feel really cold, and really twitchy – like I’d sunk 4 large espressos on an empty stomach.  I drank some water with salt, but it had no effect.  I went for a walk in the park and felt exhausted.  I laid in the sun and thoughts were racing uncontrollably through my head.  I got back to the air-conditioned office, removed from the sun and felt freezing cold.  I took it that my body was telling me it was time to break the fast.  I drank a mug of beef bone broth that I’d brought into work especially for this purpose, and then two hours later at 3pm I ate a tiny meal of wilted salad, a can of sardines and a fork full of organic fermented sauerkraut.  Chewing felt weird AF.  Didn’t really enjoy it, wasn’t exactly the pot of gold I was hoping for at the end of the rainbow. I’d gone 92 hours without food or any kind.  It felt like an achievement.  It certainly wasn’t easy.

I got home last night and ate a modest bowl of vegetable soup made with beef stock, and typed this up.  I think I could have gone on for longer if it wasn’t for the fact I was at work.  If I had been at home, chilling, with blankets and sleep available to me on demand, I could have undoubtedly gone on for longer.

Now, I realise that I haven’t made fasting look particularly appetising as a concept.  It’s not a nice experience, but it is interesting, and from what I can tell it’s hellish good for you.  I’m definitely going to do more.  The next target will be to do 5 full days, and then 7, and then, well who knows.  Obviously you don’t want to starve, most of us have ample body fat on us to keep us going for well over 30 days.  The longer you fast the more self-healing work your body can do.

I’ve detailed some of the benefits I’ve read about below:

Benefits of fasting:

  • The removal of food from your diet forces the body to remember how to burn fat.  Burn fat = lose weight
  • The removal of food results in a lowering of insulin levels.  Equals less tax on the body, and less fat storage.  Also means less chance of developing insulin resistance (where the insulin your pancreas releases fails to properly lower your blood sugar levels after eating carbohydrates), and the less chance you have of developing diabetes.
  • Some evidence has shown that utilising fasting and restricting carbohydrate consumption can help reverse Type 2 diabetes.
  • Autophagy – most of what I have read states that somewhere between day 2 and day 4 of a fast a process autophagy commences – Autophagy is essentially a process where the body, starved of food, gets resourceful and starts eating up old and damaged cells and mitochondria for food.  This is now being tested as part of a cancer curing protocol (since cancer cells are damaged cells).
  • Immune System reboot – a 3 day water fast (water and electrolytes are consumed only) will remove your old white blood cells and replace them with a whole new set.  Hence the old saying: “starve a virus, feed a cold”.  A brand new immune system is better than old, obviously.

If I haven’t convinced you by this point then the master of fasting, Jason Fung, probably will:

 

For advice on how to do extended fasts I recommend Jimmy Moore and Dr Jason Fung’s book on fasting:

https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Guide-Fasting-Intermittent-Alternate-Day/dp/1628600012

For advice on how to end a fast I recommend Camille Julia’s website here

Another cool vid here: