The Benefits of Participating in a 24-Hour Online Group-Fast for Health and Wellness

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I have been using the “intermittent fasting” method for health and weight management for four months now. Intermittent fasting, or IF, includes a variety of approaches to patterned eating. My typical schedule evolved from fasting for 16 hours a day to 17 – 18 hours a day. Depending on my social and family life, sometimes I change my fasting time to include longer 24-hour fasts. I have also used fasting as a health tool to help boost my immunity. My longest fast to date was 60 hours.

Due to my interest and passion for helping and supporting others in their health and wellness goals, I created and now administer a Facebook group for women called “What IF.” We help and encourage each other on our IF methods and approaches. A few weeks back I shared a great article by Benjamin Hardy called “The Number One Secret to Superhuman Willpower,” and it was all about fasting. Hardy spoke mainly about the spiritual aspects of going for long periods of time without eating, and he made a point about “getting a group of people together to fast…leads to miracles and radical breakthroughs.” He goes on to say “fast in whatever group you want – so long as the purpose for the fast is relevant to each member of the group.”

I was inspired by Hardy’s idea of fasting in a group and wanted to see if there were people online that would be interested in doing a virtual 24-hour group fast. I set up an “Event” on my Author Angela G. Gentile Facebook page and shared the link in various other groups and on my personal Facebook page. It was advertised 11 days ahead of the event.

The plan was to fast from a Wednesday evening after our supper meal, until the same time (24-hours later) on a Thursday evening. The start and stop times were going to be staggered, and it could be personalized to suit a person’s lifestyle. I chose to fast from 6:50 pm until 6:50 pm the next day. I answered questions as they came up and encouraged people to let me know when they started and ended their fast. I also made a “24-Hour Fast” chat group on Messenger.

The response was more encouraging than I expected! I ended up with “25 Went and 45 Interested.” The event was a huge success, and I decided to do a short survey on “Survey Monkey” afterward to see if I should do this again, and how I could improve on it.

I received 21 survey responses – from 19 women and two men. The responses were helpful, insightful and encouraging. See the highlights below.

1. How did you first hear about the “24-Hour Group-Fast” event?
What IF Facebook group (8), Angela G. Gentile’s personal Facebook page (7), Author Angela G. Gentile’s business Facebook page (1), Other (6) included Keto groups on Facebook

2. How many hours did you successfully fast for this 24-hour event?
Surprisingly a few went way past the 24-hour mark. It seemed to trigger something in some people. The longest fast was recorded as 61 hours! The shortest was 22. There were a few who did over 40 hours. 17 of us did between the 23.5-36 hour mark!

3. How did you feel DURING the fast?
Most people reported feeling “Fine,” “Good,” “Great!”. One person said “Amazing!!!! A new level of happy and wellbeing.” Another response was “Focused!” One person said “I felt really great! I had forgotten how fasting makes your sides feel clean, as I hadn’t done it for so long!”
For those who felt hungry, they said “I felt OK as long as I kept busy” and “Fine in the AM. Hungry around 17-20, but less hungry the last 4 hours.” One person said they were “only hungry when I had to prepare food for my daughter.”
Not everyone had a great experience though. One person said “I felt bad at first. I am out of practice. But at 20 hours I felt great.” One had a “slight headache and felt tired late in the day”; another reported my “head ached and felt jittery at the end.” One felt a “little light-headed later in the afternoon but got home from work, relaxed and felt better.”

4. How did you feel AFTER the fast?
Most people had something very positive to say about how they felt after the fast. Typical responses were: “Good,” “Great!” “Really Good!” “Excellent,” “Empowered!” “Energized” and “Energetic.” One person said, “Energized, hopeful and happy.” One person felt “Detoxed,” and another said their “bowel seemed to work better.” Two said they could have gone longer.” One person said they felt “Tired.” Another reported, “I felt my good choice after fasting wasn’t great and I felt icky after eating.” One enthusiastically stated, “I slept better than I had in a very long time! I felt so refreshed!”

5. How often would you like to do a fast?
“Once a week” received the most responses (9). “Once a month” (6), and “Once every two weeks “ (4). One person said they were “going to try to fast from Sunday night until Tuesday afternoon each week for the month of May.” One would like to do this “3-4 times a week.”

The “general” responses included lots of “Thank yous” and other kind words of appreciation for organizing the event. I enjoyed hosting this group fast and I even personally benefitted from it! I flexed my fasting muscle and willpower, and I felt in control. I enjoyed the group aspect of it and learned from others in the Messenger group and on the Facebook discussions and comments.

These final comments stand out for me and verify that deciding to run this fasting event was an excellent idea! Thank you to all who participated and took the time to answer the survey.

“Thank you so much for this opportunity! I believe fasting is good for you and it’s a lot easier when you have people doing it with you and cheering you on!”

“It helped me stay motivated knowing others were doing it too.”

“It was nice to complete as a group.”

NOTE: If you would like to be notified of the next 24-hour group fast, or if you would like more information on intermittent fasting for health and weight management, please let me know.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. For more information visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com.

 

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A Wild, Life-Changing Roller Coaster Ride in the Dark (Book Review)

51+TXv-YH+LIt was very hard to put down Michele Longabaugh’s book, If You’re Not Laughing, You’re Dying: The dawning of hope from the shadows of darkness…blogging through Stage 4 Anal Cancer (2012). Being diagnosed with anal cancer myself, I was drawn to read this book in the hopes of getting some insight into the disease and how to manage it. Being diagnosed with this type of cancer in her late 40s makes Michele relatively young (as the average age of diagnosis of anal cancer is in the early 60s). Anal cancer is quite rare, and can be difficult to find support. Not only do some consider it a stigmatizing and shameful disease, the treatment for it is torturous. Michele’s courage and the sharing of her experience helps destigmatize anal cancer and her rise from shame to advocacy is very inspiring.

The book starts with a beautifully written Foreword by Michele’s loving husband, Jerry. The way he describes her writing is “random, raw and honest.” I would definitely agree with the random and raw, as this book is comprised of her blog posts (typos and all!) written over a period of about two years. The honest part, well, we’ll have to take his word for it!

The writings are very engaging, and each chapter (blog post) has a theme and a story or insight to share. The posts are sometimes upbeat and laughable, sometimes they are stories of the hell and torture Michele endures (which is hard to take). Sometimes they are loving tales of family, friends or healthcare providers. The reader can learn a lot about Michele’s experiences with cancer and its treatment (including a lot of crying, grief and scary parts) and she shares stories about things like medications, “narcotic naps”, ointments, radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, and her fondness for “Dr. Cutie” and her blog-worthy visits with the “butt doctor.”

Michele tends to rely heavily on family, friends, and prayer (she’s Lutheran) for support and strength during her cancer ordeal. I like this about her story, because I can totally relate in many ways. In addition to having a loving husband, she has three outstanding children – Maggie, AJ and CJ. Both Michele and her husband sing high praises for Michele’s sister, “sissy” Renee, who is described as an angel on earth. Michele’s two “besties” Laurie and Marie, also shine as two very important and special people in her life. Michele is a very popular, kind and loving person, and it shows in her writing.

Michele’s adventures of checking things off her “Bucket List” makes for some interesting stories and helps her find joy and pleasure. There are plenty of tears and suffering (both physical and mental) in her life, and she is able to appreciate humourus moments by laughing along or making an odd joke here and there. Near the end of the book, Michele shares some insight about her “Un-Bucket List.” These are things she would never want to do.

Overall, this book did what it was supposed to do; it helped inspire me and gave me hope that this fight against cancer can be won. We can all join Michele on this wild roller coaster ride in the dark by continuing to follow her blog on tumbler – ihavebuttwhat.tumblr.com.

Angela G. Gentile

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Angela G. Gentile  MSW, RSW is a clinical social worker and author of the book, “Caring for a Husband with Dementia: The Ultimate Survival Guide”, “A Book About Burnout: One Social Worker’s Tale of Survival” and the “Dementia Caregiver Solutions” app for iPhone and iPad. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and has two adult children. She is creator of the Facebook communities – “Aging Well for Women” as well as “God, Cancer and Me.” For more information, visit: www.AngelaGGentile.com