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Vignette 28/52. Fasting.

“Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day…The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.” –

Seneca, Moral Letters, 101.7b-8a

As our town locked down in early July for the second time, Chris and I did something we have never done before. It was the hardest thing I have done in awhile.

On June 29, 2020, the day after our 20th wedding anniversary, we began a ten day fast. We thought about going away for our anniversary but instead decided to fast.

It’s our weird interpretation of date night but expanded over ten days and without food.

I have been intermittently fasting, following our friend Brad Pilon’s protocols, since 2010.

Chris started fasting on December 15, 2007. His dad was in surgery for a quadruple bypass and Chris was in the waiting room. He read all of Brad’s book, Eat Stop Eat, and was determined to understand how to take better care of himself and his family.

His dad’s dad died of a heart attack at age 36. Chris’ dad survived the heart attack but he was only 60. Chris was 30.

At that time, we had four young children. He dove into research and his focus, and subsequent calling, shifted to quality of life, health, wellness, and longevity.

I started fasting as soon as I weaned Q. Initially the incentive was weight loss. It became apparent that giving up one day a week of eating and moderate exercise was the key to shedding a few baby pounds.

It is a permanent part of our lifestyle. Now in our early forties, we adjusted our fasting protocol as our hormones fluctuate and the risk of cellular damage (fasting turns on autophagy) and chronic inflammation increases. For more information, I recommend Brad’s book and Dr. Peter Attia’s podcasts on fasting.

It’s impossible to optimally dose what is adequate for each individual but Chris and I have fun doing “n of 1” experiments to see how we feel.

Our 2020 protocol:

10 Day Fast: Semi-Annually
3 Day Fast: Quarterly (when not doing the 10-Day)
36 hour-48 hour fast: Monthly (Chris does this bi-weekly)
1-2 x 24 hour fasts/time-restricted feedings: Weekly (Rozanne)

Our children, and our students, are used to our fasts. All the kids know that my weekly fast days are Tuesdays and Fridays. During the 10 day fast in July, I delivered lessons lying down on our class couch – cognitively fine but slow to move and speak. Our kids manage meals themselves. We talk about the “why” and they witness us follow through and commit to difficult challenges.

Chris and I truly “date” while on our fast. Today we are on Day 2 of our semi-annual ten day fast. We spend more time with each other than any other time during the year. Ten days of slow walking our dogs. Ten days of sipping our water at one end of the house. Ten days of easy strength training together. Ten days of retiring to bed early to read or while the kids have dinner together. Ten days of talking each other off “food” ledges, of gratitude that we can do things like this together, and of supporting each other’s mental discipline and will.

I realized that we celebrate our definition of marriage in these ten days – a dance of protecting the other’s well-being through dedicated care of oneself.

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