2019 was a difficult year for me. I dealt with months of unemployment, family being ill, and a situationship gone bad. So when 2020 rolled around, I was intentional about making the year different. A few weeks before, I decided to write out a list of goals with clear action plans on how to make them attainable. As I read over the list, I smiled to myself knowing that each one was a possibility. That is, until I added, "Become healthier and make better food choices."
I've never been thin, but within the last couple of years I had put on more pounds than what felt comfortable. I knew something had to be done, but I was stuck on what steps to take. Then days later, one of my best friends called and mentioned she planned to start the Daniel Fast and asked if I wanted to participate. The Daniel Fast is a 21-day religious fast based on the biblical book of Daniel; it requires one to abstain from meat, alcohol, and processed foods. Now, while I never claim to be the most religious person, I still take it very seriously. I knew that if I was gonna agree to it, I'd have to stick to it. But, I was super worried. I've tried many diets in the past and while I do pretty well with them in the beginning, I usually end up quitting. Maybe I don't see results quick enough, or I lose just enough to fit into an outfit, then call it quits. I knew this had to be different. I had to change my perspective. After doing more research and saving hella motivational quotes from the 'gram, I agreed.
Instead of thinking I have to stick to this diet because I want to lose weight, I thought I have to keep this commitment to God because of what He's done, and will continue to do.
I spoke to Him about struggles and goals I hope to achieve. And slowly, my thinking changed. How can I not do this? Both of my parents are cancer survivors. I'm somehow paying my bills, and He's put amazing non-romantic relationships in my life. If He did all this, certainly I can pass on wings and margaritas. I'm telling you; that thought process is a game-changer. Now don't get me wrong, there were tests. For example, I went on a date where a guy actually sat in my face eating lemon pepper wings and constantly asked, "Are you sure you don't want any?" I even worked at a wine festival and couldn't try any of the products. I'm not trying to sound like a lush, but that was a whole struggle. Still, when I think back on that time, I realize how essential it was for my health, wellness and spirituality going into this difficult year.
Here are a few things I learned:
Meat May Cause My Menstrual Cramps
Ever since I was a teenager, I've always dealt with horrible menstrual cramps. During the 21-day fast, I didn't experience any pain. Actually, my cycle completely skipped a month. I went to the gynecologist and she explained that sudden vegan diets often do that. Our moms have said for years they're putting too many hormones in the meat. Turns out, it might be true.
Water Makes Everything Better
Apparently, I drink a lot of my calories. During the fast, I was unable to consume any sugary drinks so that was replaced by nonstop water. That process made me limit my juice intake and realize how much better I feel hydrated. Oh, and the clear skin is an added bonus as well.
Cooking Saves Money
In college, I ate a lot of fast food. Now, while I have graduated to mostly restaurants, I still eat out too much. At the conclusion of the fast, I noticed my checking account was doing a lot better than it usually is. Not only does cooking help you eat better, it saves so much money. If you're looking for a way to make your dollars stretch, delete the take-out app sis.
At the conclusion of the fast, I had lost 15 pounds. But that's not what I was happiest about. It was the renewed spirit I developed.
I felt accomplished and felt spiritually stronger. I even kept a few of the habits. I limit how much meat I eat within a week, make sure to keep a water bottle throughout the work day, and have even attempted a few Pinterest recipes. The physical feeling was great but what stuck with me most is the mental and emotional changes. Thoughts like "I'll get through this" replace ones like "I can't believe this is happening." I also try and remember to have faith that things will manifest the way they're supposed to.
Overall, it encouraged me to look inward instead of seeking a distraction when I feel stressed or overwhelmed.
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