(I actually cheated and broke the fast a little early; I was at a business meeting in the late afternoon, and they served a meal - pizza and desserts. Since the end of the Baha'i fast is usually marked by New Year's celebrations and a feast, I felt entitled to improvise. Besides, I'm not really Baha'i - I was just doing this to better understand my boyfriend's religion.)
I feel bittersweet about the end of the fast, though. In many ways I couldn't wait for it to be over: I was tired of my late afternoon blues from feeling starved, and I hated the bad breath that accompanied my fasting hours. Plus, until the time change, it was a hassle to make sure I ate and drank enough before 6:30 every morning.
But I found comfort in the rigidity and structure of the fast (I'm usually a grazer - I eat little bits of food all day long), and I enjoyed becoming reacquainted with my self-discipline.
(Too bad I didn't lose any weight - THAT would have been a nice perk.)
During the past 19 days I made a concerted effort to eat very consciously, and I really enjoyed each bite of food that passed my lips. I was amazed to discover how little I needed to feel full; I normally eat until my plate is empty, and often take second or third helpings without thinking.
After the first few days of the fast (during which I was exhausted and cranky), I experienced a profound sense of physical well-being and health. I had much more energy than normal. I felt slim (even though I didn't lose weight), and I faced a lot of my emotional demons when I couldn't anesthetize them with food.
Now I'm experiencing some fear surrounding the return to "regular" eating. Last night was sobering: After days of eating consciously, I compulsively scarfed down too many slices of pizza, a can of (full sugar) pop, and two butter tarts. So much for enlightenment.
I need to make peace with the fact that I can slip up sometimes; it's not the end of the world if we stray from the path every now and then. The same applies to organizing: Once we've got systems in place, a week (or even a few months) of non-maintenance won't kill us.
The trick is (I think) to make sure we find pleasure and satisfaction in the new, more desirable behavior. Whether we incorporate regular rewards into our schedule, or find other ways of making the desired behavior more enjoyable, we reinforce the positive changes and make the new path smoother for ourselves.
Do you know what motivates you to stick with a program? It might be worth your while to figure that out...
copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow