Yesterday’s Fast- #1
Yesterday was a fast day (25 hours no food or drink), from sundown Saturday until 8PM Sunday. Here in Israel, one usually doesn’t feel hungry, but rather thirsty. Anyone with any sense stays in an air-conditioned area most of the day.
(Now any of you who are overweight shouldn’t think that this fasting helps with weight control. One usually has a decent-sized meal before the fast, and a hearty one afterwards, so that stretches the stomach. So anyone who diets with frequent, very small meals, and whose stomach has adjusted to that misses out!)
What is interesting is that once you have a “given”, a firm resolution, that you are fasting, the yetzer hora (evil inclination) sort of disappears. Even if you get hungry, you shrug that off and go get busy with something else. The chocolate in the high cabnit (YOU would never bring it home, someone else did you the “favor”) doesn’t “sing” to you. The kids leftovers go to the trash without qualms of “waste”.
So why is it so different when we diet? OK, if one diets successfully for several days, one can also get the feeling that overeating is not a choice or viable option. And the stomach shrinks, and that helps too. But why is it SO much more difficult not to eat on the first days of a diet, than on a fast day? I think there are a few reasons:
1. The commitment is stronger, the sense that “I can not fail” is greater. If I wouldn’t fast, my 16 year old would think I went crazy, and as for dieting… he probably expects me to not succeed. So when dieting, a failure is less damaging to my self esteem.
2. On a fast day, I expect to have less output. On minor (daytime only) fasts, people pretty much work as usual. On a major fast day, no one expects you to accomplish the usual by the afternoon hours. When dieting, we force ourselves to “carry on”, even if we feel terrible.
So I can think now of a few hints to help start a new diet. One is commitment. Make it strong. Non-negotiable. Maybe promise yourself a prize for the end of “one week on” that is big enough that you won’t consider falling back.
Second would be to try and start a diet during a time when you are busy… yet able to give yourself some slack if needed. Don’t start that new diet just before Pesach (Passover), when you can’t dream of resting… but rather during a time that an afternoon nap can be fitted in if you are “weak and ravenous”.
Yesterday’s Fast- #2
I did not expect Ricki to fast on Tishe B’Av (the fast). I decided years ago that our “fasting” energies/brainwashing/ etc will be saved for Yom Kippur, the most serious fast. And besides, Yom Kippur is NOT in the heat of the summer, which makes it easier.
However, I did make it clear that a big girl like her could jolly well not eat at night (especially after a full pre-fast meal). And she was OK with that. In the morning she had a fried egg, but skipped the bread as it got burnt. And then she noticed that everyone else was fasting. (There being no young children in the house.) So she stopped eating. She stopped drinking. For a girl that LOVES eating, this is a major feat, and shows just how important it is for Ricki to feel like everyone else. It’s important enough for her to forgo food and drink. She finally gave up an hour before the end of the fast, but she deserves a real ovation!