Author: Maurice Parfait
What’s up y’all. My name's Maurice, and I just finished fasting for 30 days… That’s right, you read correctly. 30 days. No food. None. Not one bite. And here I am, alive and well to tell the tale of how it went, what I experienced and where it all started for me on my fasting journey. First thing. I ain’t no health professional, and I’m definitely not telling you that you should do a 30 day fast, especially without taking the proper precautions and doing your homework first. BUT, I can say that it was probably THE most beneficial, challenging and redefining thing I’ve ever done for myself.
What is it? Why do it? What’s the difference between fasting and starving myself?
Can it help me? Is it dangerous? Could I get sick, or even DIE from doing it?
These were all the questions running through my head when a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to attend his 3 day 'Juice Fasting’ retreat in Bali... His name is Matthew Bate. A quick google search will tell you that he’s a former elite AFL player for the Melbourne Demons, and founder of ‘365 Days of Wholeness’, not to mention a full time weapon. We became friends after meeting at a music festival called ‘Earthcore’. If you’re an AFL fan you might even recognise him. Matt racked up a pretty impressive 102 games at the elite (like, on TV) level within his 8 year professional career as an AFL player, before the gruelling nature of the sport took its toll on his body, and inspired a major lifestyle change and unexpected journey into the realm of what he coins ‘wholeness’. Now, at 30 years old, and around 90kg of lean muscle, the guy is a beast. Literally a lean, ‘green’, loving machine. We instantly became mates through the mutual commonality of veganism, a shared interest in health, along with a love for deep discussions about universal consciousness, of which we’ve had many. At first, I didn’t believe he was vegan. I mean, come on... The dude had biceps the size of my fucking head. At the time I’d already been eating vegan for a year, and had a good knowledge of the health benefits of it, but as a skinny Mauritian boy I had always struggled to get big and strong, especially on the plant-based diet. After asking him about his secret to building muscle and staying lean, his one-word response shocked me…
“Haha. No seriously bro,” I incredulously replied.
He went on to tell me about his journey with fasting, and all the amazing benefits he’d experienced, including how he had used it to build MORE muscle, have MORE energy to play AFL at an elite level AND recover faster after each knackering game. He enlightened me about all the different types of fasting, from ‘intermittent' fasting through to ‘prolonged’ fasting, all their correlated uses, and how he’d used them to heal his injuries and get into the best shape of his life. At first I was sceptical. I mean how could fasting help you build muscle? It made no sense. He told me he felt the same until he learned all about it while studying his Bachelor AND Masters of Holistic Sports Nutrition, and was now going on to study his PHD… So, I listened. After the festival I hit him up wanting to know more about this ‘fasting’ business. He invited me to his upcoming Bali retreat, where he and his counterpart Tegan Steele would host a 3 day juice fast and share everything they knew about fasting and holistic health. After swallowing my fear, I booked the ticket, and boy o’ boy, was it a game changer.
When I arrived at the resort he introduced me to Tegan, well-known in the online health community for her blog/alias “Vegie Girl” (again, quick google search...). Apparently Tegan and her mum Trina had battled with severe digestive problems all their lives, and after undergoing a prolonged 30 day juice fast, Tegan had managed to cured her IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and Trina had cured her Crohn’s disease (proclaimed by the medical industry as an ‘incurable’ auto-immune disease). They say by giving their digestive systems a break for such a long period of time, their bodies were able to actually heal themselves, and they've now dedicated their lives to helping others do the same.
Hold up... 30 fucking days!?!? Here I was shit scared about 3 days...
Matthew on the other hand, had been practicing ‘intermittent fasting’ daily for several years, wherein he fasted for 16-20 hours every day and ate all his food between a 4-8 hour period. By doing so, he said his digestive system could get a chance to take a break (which, as I learned, is the most energy consuming bodily system), and his body could utilise it’s stored energy for increased brain function and muscle growth, instead of digestion.
Apparently, through intermittent fasting, the body’s production of HGH (Human Growth Hormone - the body’s very own muscle building, fat burning, natural ‘steroid’) could increase by up to 2000%! At the same time, intermittent fasting triggers a process in the body known as Ketosis, wherein the body starts to utilise fat stores for it’s primary fuel. SO, basically you can build muscle while you cut fat. All from rejigging a few meals. Now I’ll admit, I was still sceptical. I mean, with all these benefits how had I not heard of it sooner? And why had I always been taught that if I went for longer that a week without food then I’d surely die? But, these guys seemed passionate and knowledgable… plus I’d already paid for the damn thing. So I remained open minded and commenced my fast.
Matt and Tegan went on to host THE most incredible retreat imaginable at this beautiful resort in the forest of Ubud. We learned in depth about the holistic function of the human bodily systems, in particular the digestive system, and how fasting had been used for THOUSANDS of years by humans, stemming right back to the Ancient Romans, Greeks and Indians, who all used fasting for physiological healing, along with a strengthening of the spirit. Despite all this, there was a point halfway through day 2 where I almost gave up. My stomach was in pain, my head was throbbing, and I was hungry as a motherfucker. Matt and Tegan had both told me that I may experience these symptoms, since my body was about to go through and eliminate all sorts of ‘toxins’, and these were very common ‘detoxing’ symptoms. So with that in mind, I pushed through. And thankfully the guys kept us busy with therapeutic activities like yoga, meditation, massage, light dancing, visiting monkey forests by day, along with a few documentaries by night. They showed us one doco called ‘Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead’, where an Aussie guy goes on a 60 DAY JUICE FAST, and comes out the other end, well, no longer fat, sick or nearly dead… (it’s available to watch on Netflix... highly recommend). And sure enough, by day three I was fine. The hunger was gone and I felt normal. In fact, I felt clearer minded and more energetic that before I started fasting! I was shocked.
Matt and Tegan told me about the false dependency that most of us have developed on food, and how most of the time our feelings of ‘hunger’ is really fake hunger, wherein the body is just used to having something to digest at that time of day, and begins to secrete digestive enzymes (or ‘rumble’) at that time, even when it has been given nothing to digest. I finished off the last stretch of the fast feeling incredible and full of energy. I even did a 2 hour workout with Matt before we broke our fast with 3 monster banana mango smoothies. And holy guacamole, they were the best damn smoothies of my fucking life. A few weeks later I was feeling the the most alive and healthiest I’ve ever felt. I was crushing it at work, hi-rolling the entire office in sales, making more money than ever before, training hard and looking and feeling my fittest.
"So Maurice,” you ask... “What in the name of Donald Trump did you need to go and do a 30 day fast for?”
Well... after staying on top of the whole health thing for the following year or so, incorporating intermittent fasting as a daily practice as well as periodic 1-3 day juice fasts every now and then, there came a point where I fell completely off the wagon. I had moved to Auckland and began focusing all my energy into my career in sales. I started working 70+ hours a week, cooking way less, making more money, eating takeaway junk food and going out drinking often. I stopped exercising, took up smoking again, and spent the following year living the classic fast-paced ‘sales’ lifestyle until running myself into the ground. I realised I couldn’t go on like this. I needed to break the cycle. I needed something to turn my life around and get back on track. I needed something to challenge me, push me outside the ol' comfort zone and spark a lifestyle change. I needed to do something that scared the shit out of me, and at the same time would cleanse the shit out of me. The time had come...
I quit my job, packed up my things, moved back to Australia to live with my family in the quiet country highlands of Victoria, and began my 30 day fast. I knew my friends and family would think I’m crazy, and that the support would be mixed. And although the thought of not eating for 30 days scared the fucking shit out of me, I knew it was something I needed to do. And if Tegan and her mum Trina had done it, then so could I. The first 5 days I stuck to water. This was the first time I’d fasted on water alone.
Day 1-3 was easy as I’d been used to fasting for that period of time. It was day 4 and 5 that were the hardest. I’ll admit I was an idiot. By the morning of day 3 I was feeling great, and decided to spend all day completely overactive; walking dogs, running, climbing trees, doing handstands, and even a workout, thinking that’d be all sweet. But as I found out… water fasting ain’t like juice fasting. My body had no calories to restore and rebuild itself afterwards, and I went on to lay on the couch with intense muscular fatigue and a very hungry tummy for the next couple of days.
The next 5 days I added coconut water to the mix. And alas, I was saved by the coconut. Drinking coconut water after 5 days of only water felt like eating an entire meal, and it allowed me to get some sugars, vitamins and minerals that my body had been craving. I was recovered, and a little bit wiser about my levels of activity.
After 10 days it was time to introduce the juice! And I tell you what, if going from water to coconut water was like having a meal, going from coconut water to juice was like having a 3 course banquet. See juice fasting isn’t quite fasting, really. You’re body is still getting flooded with loads of vitamins and minerals. And most importantly a load of carbohydrates in the form of sugar (especially with fruit juice). For example, 4 litres of fruit juice equates to around 300g of sugar… More than enough to sustain your energy levels for the day, and some… But, as juice only takes around 15 minutes to digest, once it has digested you’re body can go back to rest mode and continue with it’s healing process.
Physically speaking, the remaining 20 days was reasonably easy. I mean, sure, I still got some pretty intense hunger pangs, but by that point I was used to them and made sure there was always juice on hand. I was able to remain quite active, and even made a trip to down to Melbourne for a week. The toughest part was mental. You see, eating and drinking had become a dependency of mine. All throughout my life whenever I felt upset, nervous, frustrated, anxious, or vulnerable I'd pay a visit to the good ol' pantry, fridge or nearest takeaway shop to stuff down those uncomfortable feelings.
In more recent years, whenever I had a tough day at work I’d swing through the drive-thru on my way home and get my fix of delicious greasiness. Whenever I had some sort of emotional dilemma going on, I’d reconcile it by popping open a bottle of red wine or going out for a few beers with friends. Maybe you can relate to this... I had been numbing myself. And indeed, the prolonged fast triggered many bouts of 'hangry-ness'. Many inner demons within me were exposed, many moments of frustration, anxiety and vulnerability arose and went ‘un-numbed’, and I was forced to sit with those feelings. Allowing them to be there, experience them for what they were, and come to terms with them. Accept them. I even experienced my first ever ‘anxiety’ attack while at the cinema with friends, after having an argument with my partner. But instead of going downstairs and buying a large popcorn and cola, I went out into the fresh air for 20 minutes or so, and just breathed. I felt the heaviness in my chest and sat with the feelings of apprehension. And, after 20 minutes of breathing and focusing on the feelings, without attaching any meaning to them, they subsided. It was the first time I had ever just allowed anxiety to flow through and out of me, without trying to stuff it down or distract myself from it. I felt it’s grip upon me relax, and I felt strong. Like, real strong. I felt in control. I felt powerful. I felt bliss.
After that, I went on to complete the 30 day fast as a greater, stronger version of myself. And that’s where I believe the true power of fasting resides. Not only did it provide me with incredible health benefits, but with the abstinence of ‘consumption’ and ‘emotional distraction' came a deeper realisation of self. For the first time in my life I felt exposed and truly vulnerable in front of people who’d only ever known the ‘always positive’ Maurice. The front I had been putting on was right swept from under my feet.
Fasting has been like a mirror to me. You're forced to face yourself, see yourself for who you truly are. Feel you’re emotions for how the truly feel. It’s a phase of ‘stripping back’ the shit, both physically and emotionally. Not only did I strip away all the fat on my body (p.s. it’s great to see be able to see my abs again), but I also stripped back all of who I had constructed myself to be in my mind and the minds of others.
Fasting has taught me to accept the dark sides of myself with the light. Take the bad with the good. It’s taught me that I really don’t need any ‘thing' to satisfy me when I’m feeling down. It’s given me a broader insight into myself, not to mention a whole new appreciation for both water and food, of which I will no longer ever take for granted. It’s helped me cleanse my mind, body and spirit, and release the emotional baggage I was carrying. I know my journey with fasting is far from over. Right now I’m intermittent fasting every day, and will most likely undergo a prolonged fast at least once a year, to detoxify and declutter again.
Author Bio: Maurice is an exuberant and progressive entrepreneur, not-for-profit ambassador, filmmaker, musician and 'natural born conversationalist’ with a thirst for knowledge, personal growth and ultimately, world peace.
A self-proclaimed ‘Native’, Maurice has assigned his life purpose to uncovering the lost wisdom of our ancient ancestors, embodying his core values of compassion, awareness, progression and freedom, and through his daily actions seeks to make the world a better place, one conversation at a time.
At the age of 21, having personally raised over $1000,000 for international not-for-profit organisations through face-to-face fundraising, Maurice has honed his interpersonal skill set and boundless positive energy into a fine craft, channelling it into substantive issues in the pursuit of creating a productive and fulfilling life, while bringing justice, equality and abundance to as many lives as possible.