Green Queen

            For the last 4 years I’ve participated in my church’s corporate fast. It lasts for 6 days where the congregation only consumes unlimited amounts of water and 2 cups of juice daily. The first time, I didn’t feel prepared to go cold turkey, so I opted for eating foods similar to the Daniel fast (vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds, etc.). The following year and each thereafter, I adhered to an absolute fast drinking only water (no juice).

            I’ve learned a lot from fasting, and it has become less difficult to do. One of the things I’m trying to give up in observance of Lent is swearing/cursing. It’s actually much harder for me to remove all profanity from my vocabulary than it is for me to turn down my plate. During this year’s fast, I watched a lot of documentaries on Netflix and Hulu. Two of these changed my outlook on food in general: “Super Size Me” and “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead“. The first follows a man’s health drastic decline after eating nothing but McDonald’s for only 30 days. The second follows a man who went on a juicing “reboot” for 60 days. A change to a plant based diet aided him in regaining his health, losing weight, and discontinuing all previous medications. My favorite takeaway from those who have switched to juicing or a plant based diet is their testimony of no longer needing medication.Healthy food background

            I’ve always considered myself to be healthy. I ran track from the 7th grade through the 12th. As a college freshman, I started lifting weights for the first time and have been a gym rat ever since. I’ve never had high cholesterol or problems with my blood pressure. I’ve never been prescribed medications for health related issues. My concerns were more vain: my weight and appearance. While I lead a very active lifestyle and would not be considered “fat” by those who know me, I didn’t feel that my body truly reflected my strength and physical abilities. That has bothered me for years. To add insult to injury, I thought I was eating well. Most of my meals were prepared at home, and I tried to limit eating out to the weekends. The aforementioned documentaries and others I watched during my week of fasting prompted me to try something different: juicing. The first week was challenging. I had a hard time mixing ingredients that yielded a juice that actually tasted good. It wasn’t until somewhere around day 5 that I made something that was more than bearable. I lost 6 pounds after juicing for one week. What makes that number so meaningful for me is that that weight loss occurred after I had been on an absolute fast the week prior. The body has an amazing ability to adapt to change. Usually, at least for me, the first week is always the best and most dramatic but changes slow down and eventually plateau. I wasn’t expecting to lose so much weight after already dropping pounds from the fast.

            pic2I’m excited to gain the body I’ve always wanted, but more so, I’m interested in seeing what other changes occur in my health. While I may be “healthy”, there are some improvements I’d like to see in my body like less colds, better skin, less headaches, and less joint pain (especially in my knees and back). I used to have night sweats seemingly for no reason at all and those have stopped since I started juicing. My cravings for sweets have also diminished.

            We’re often bombarded with conflicting messages about food. The benefits, effects, and need of milk, carbs, protein, fats, and more are debated with no general consensus. Even fruits and vegetables are questioned because of GMOs. I’m still unsure as to whether organic options are truly better. One study says yay while the next says nay. It can get confusing to know what you should eat, but (for now) juicing is working well for me, and I look forward to seeing the long-term results.pic3


Pregnant With Purpose

In March of 2012, my church went on a corporate fast. At the time I had never fasted before, and initially, I didn’t want to. Anyone who knows me knows I can put away some food. I seem to have an infinite appetite. Even so, in my desire to be obedient I participated. As a precaution I did not fast the full six days with no food or drink. I felt that would be irresponsible. You can’t expect to run a marathon tomorrow if you’ve never run a mile in your life, right? Instead, I went on a Daniel fast which consists of anything that grows from the ground and water. It excludes meat as well as the hardest part (for me) of abstaining from sugar and other sweeteners as well as salt and any preservatives.

ImageDuring my fast I was praying for several things. My best friend who had suffered through 2 miscarriages was pregnant, so I prayed for the healthy delivery of her child to come. My brother and his wife were also expecting their first child to be born in the same month they had to move across the United States from Colorado to Maryland. Their smooth transition into parenthood was also in my prayers. Then there was me. Although I have a son, I felt spiritually barren. I was literally living from day to day with no direction. I wanted the purpose driven life so many others seemed to have already discovered. I too wanted to conceive and give birth to a God given vision for my life.

James 4:8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you…

The fast was a wonderful experience for me.  I had the opportunity to command my body to do as my spirit said rather than always giving in to my flesh’s desires. As for my best friend and my brother’s wife, they both gave birth to beautiful, healthy baby girls.

My niece @ 6 months

My niece @ 6 months

Now it is one year later, and I am turning my plate down once again. I still seek to know God’s purpose for my life. Fasting has many natural benefits including but not limited to reducing blood sugar, increasing fat breakdown, correcting high blood pressure, and boosting immunity. A physical change that I hope to benefit from is bringing my body under arrest to what my mind is committed to. The same discipline I need to not eat in the midst of hunger and headaches is also required in other situations. I have to be disciplined when I’m tired after work and contemplate driving by the gym instead of exercising. I have to be disciplined when a delicious dinner tempts me to go back for a second serving even though I’m full. I have to be disciplined when someone is irking my nerves and I feel like giving them a bus-driver-uppercut.

The task doesn’t feel anywhere near as impossible tedious as it did last time, but this year brings an even greater charge. Sure I can fast for six days. For six days I can abstain from alcohol, sex, television, gossip, cussing, and unkind thoughts. I can do anything for six days, but what about the other 359 days of the year? What then? The fast is like detox; cleaning your system of impurities. But as anyone who struggles with sobriety knows, it’s post fast where the real work begins.