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I Tried A 14-Day Water Fast. Here's What I Learned.

Talk about a transformation.

Wellness

I recently completed a 14-day water fast that taught me so much about willpower, my unhealthy eating habits and addiction to sugar. By the end of my fast, I had a fresh perspective and clear connection to my body. There is a deep sense of clarity that comes when you can eliminate everything to make room for a mental, physical and spiritual reset.

After deciding to do a 14-day fast, I had to mentally prepare myself to endure two weeks of drinking just water. I had to intermittent fast the weeks leading up to the fast, which meant I had one meal a day in addition to juices and smoothies. That's when I learned sugar would be the hardest thing to give up. I had to exercise my willpower and practice some serious delayed gratification, but I'd say it paid off by the end of the two weeks.

I was the most motivated in the first week. I had developed a morning routine: I woke up, drank a glass of lukewarm water with pink Himalayan salt and did my daily meditation. By week two, hunger really started to kick in. I was craving anything with icing or fried. But the improvements I was noticing in a lot of the physical changes reaffirmed I was making a right decision by sticking to it. My skin was clearer from detoxing and the required sunbathing for my daily dose of vitamin D. I had increased energy and focus since my body was no longer working to break down food. And I was able to become more present and aware in my spiritual practices.

It was very challenging and the responses I got from those around me were often to voice concern or worry. Nonetheless, it was deeply transformative. Now, I get a lot of people asking me how they too can fast and get the best results.

Here are some things to consider if you're thinking of intensive fasting.

Disclaimer: This is the writer's personal experience. Please consult your healthcare physician before making any major diet changes.

1. Do Your Research

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When I first told my friends and family that I was going to do a water fast, they were worried about how dangerous it would be. They were concerned that I'd at some point need a doctor's attention or, worse, die. Because I had done my research, watching countless YouTube videos and reading various medical articles on the subject, I wasn't fearful about not eating. I was very much aware of the risks like light-headedness, not getting enough nutrients, and a faint pulse. All of which, I experienced over the course of my fast. Along with my body's natural, and oftentimes involuntary, colon-cleansing episodes.

2.  Have a Plan of Action

That said, you're going to need a clear plan of action. Have you stocked up on enough water? Do you have pink Himalayan salt to replenish the body with electrolytes first thing in the morning, and to protect the stomach for when you introduce food into your diet? Do you have a doctor or health practitioner on speed-dial should you feel like something is wrong? Have you figured out "the why" that's going to be the determining factor in whether or not you successfully accomplish your goal?

3. Set Intentions

This is the most crucial part of water fasting. Water fasting is not something you should do to quickly lose weight. However, I lost upward on 20 pounds by the end of the two weeks, one pound on some days and three pounds on another. But when I set out to do this fast, it was to challenge myself but it has always had deep ties in my spiritual growth. I'd started by doing the Daniel's fast for 21 days in January with my church in high school, and by college I'd made a habit of abstaining from eating certain things and enjoying certain luxuries for weeks at a time for my spiritual development. In this way, water fasting was somewhat of a natural evolution. My intentions were to exercise my willpower, to reaffirm that I could do anything I put my mind to and allow my body the time it needed to naturally detox and cleanse itself. Our bodies are mostly water, and so intentional water fasting was like a spiritual baptism for me.

4. Consult with a Holistic Health Practitioner 

This isn't something I felt I needed to schedule a doctor's visit so I took a more holistic route. It's very, very important that energy circulates during this time. I learned that some people went to see chiropractors or massage therapists throughout their fasts; I went to see my acupuncturist. She alerted me of my faint pulse and suggested I add vitamin and nutrients to my fasting regimen. She definitely helped me in the second week to sort through the emotional detox I was experiencing along with the mental and physical shifts.

5. Listen to Your Body

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The greatest thing that came from this experience was learning to listen to my body. The clarity to know when and what to eat when coming out of your fast is different individual and different for everyone. Over the course of two weeks, I'd learned how to listen for when my body was thirsty, when it needed rest, when it needed movement, and so, I was able to transition back into eating much more quickly than anticipated. I hadn't known just how much salt and sugar there was in the foods I was eating until I took a break from them.

It's amazing how your appetite can change in 14 days and you can learn how to create more intention and consciousness around what you eat. Gaining a little bit of clarity is a good place to start.

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Originally published March 14, 2019

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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