January 20, 2023
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Fasting for Cancer

Our fasting experience, why it's relevant for healing, and how to get started.

I was a little judgmental about fasting. Like, why would anyone intentionally forego cheese curds?  

Not I, said the Wisconsin mouse!

Yet here we are, in the middle of our first extended (5 day) fast for healing.

It's day four, yewwwww! (that's what we yell in the water when we get a great wave).

My word for our fasting week is 'slow.'

This is the slowest I've been in years.

Maybe ever.

Taking slow walks and doing gentle 10 minute yoga stretches with my cat.

I couldn't do 'stuff' even if I wanted to.

I was tired putting on my mascara and making the bed.

Fasting is humbling.

I guess I finally found the one thing that slows me down.

Chad has experimented with intermittent fasting so he was already familiar with the protocol and the feeling.

I'm writing this from a total newbie's perspective.

But wait, why fast?

In summary, below are the health benefits of fasting according to Dr. Valter Longo, and if you're a reader like me, you can dig into his book here:

  • Healthy aging
  • Cell rejuvenation
  • Metabolic support
  • Burn visceral fat
  • Protect lean muscle
  • Changed relationship with food
  • More energy
  • More clarity
  • Rejuvenated skin

Mental Prep for the FMD (Fasting Mimicking Diet)

I'm going to be brutally honest.

I was scared.

I was dreading this fast.

Five days?! 

My nickname is 'Snack,' so I think about food 1000+ times a day.

Salty cashews, fresh raspberries, creamer in my coffee.

Ugh.

I thought of every excuse to quit.

But then I look at Chad and I keep going.

He's not even flinching, no complaints, this almost seems easy for him.

Chad and his health are my motivation and my inspiration to keep going.

To be able to walk this path together, whether it's fasting, ice-bathing, lifting weights, surfing, going plant-based, I will do everything in my power to ensure he doesn't feel alone.

I know I won't be able to hit that target 100%, because there is a part of his journey I simply can't mimic, but as his partner I'm determined to get damn close.

And thankfully I enjoy 99% of these things so they are authentically nourishing me at the same time.

So that's a little bit about how I felt going into this (scared) and how I mentally prepared (I didn't).

Also a quick note before I jump into reflections from days 1, 2, 3 and 4.

This isn't a juice or water only fast with which folks are typically familiar.

This fast is called a FMD, or Fasting Mimicking Diet created by Dr. Valter Longo and team.

I'm obsessed with his research and have been following him for about 6 months leading up to this.

"The ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet is a 5-day meal program that delivers scientifically researched micro- and macro-nutrients in precise quantities and combinations that nourish you, but are not recognized as food by your body and therefore mimics a fasting state."

It's pretty cool to be able to eat a few things every day and truthfully, I don't think I would survive a water only fast.

I mean I would survive but I think I'd be an absolute bear (sorry Chad!)

Day One: Transforming to a Fasting State

Ok, we're off to the races! 

In hindsight day one was a breeze.

There was a bit of an adrenaline kick because we were starting something new.

We received a pretty little kit in the mail that made us curious, and it's almost like playing a game.

The soups, bars, crackers, olives and tea were perfect and everything tasted great.

Day one also has the most calories (1100) and the following days lower to 750 calories per day.

I quickly realized this would be more psychological than physical.

Don't get me wrong, if you've never done a fast before, the thought of depriving yourself of tasty food for days feels impossible.

I kept revisiting the three things below in my mind / heart to keep me going:

  1. Chad's health and our why (healing, regenerating cells, breaking down cancer tumors, etc)
  2. Our ancestors hunted / gathered food and they were badasses, going days on end without nourishment, vs plucking Cheetos of the shelf
  3. Everyday folks even in our neighborhood go hungry not by 'choice,' just trying to survive and make ends meet, an important reminder

In addition to these mental reminders, I tried to stay busy.

Evening Activity: I finished a plant puzzle that had been sitting on our table for months, stoked! 

Summary of day one:  Overall pretty 'easy,' feeling encouraged and optimistic.

Ready for day 2 and to see what's in my snack kit! 

Day Two: Fat Burning and Ketogenesis

Day two was toughggggghh.

The thought of getting to the end of day five felt daunting. I had some hunger pangs and woke up with a headache.

I caved and snuck a packet of crackers halfway through the day that were reserved for day 5.

Dammit Stacie! 

In my head my goal was to make it to the end of day four for this first round.

And while you're not supposed to take food / snacks from other days, I ate the damn crackers, forgave myself, and kept going.

I hope you will be more disciplined than me :)

Evening Activity: I went for a walk at our local hill and it was tough. A lot of it is uphill and I was slow. I realized that's too much physical activity for me this week while I'm fasting, but I was trying to pass the time. Next time I'll opt for a neighborhood walk without hills so I still get movement while being gentle on my body.

Summary of day two: I can't believe how hard it is not to wanna shove food in my mouth 24/7.

My new fave tea = hibiscus

Day Three: Autophagy / Clean up State

Autophagy is what I've been reading about in all the cancer literature, so to me it was critical to get through day three.

This is when the absolute magic starts to happen in your body.

This is when I envisioned Chad's miraculous, beautiful cells cleaning up the shrinking cancer.

Instead of focusing on simply digesting food, a mundane task, his body could switch gears to something more important and give him the progress he deserves and desires.

Day three was also a little better because I didn't sneak crackers, I stuck to the protocol so felt on track and less pathetic.

I experienced intermittent tingling on and off throughout the day that felt comforting in a way, like my body thanking me for doing hard things and communicating to me that it was doing some important work in there.

Activity: I did a gentle 10 minute yoga session and ran some afternoon errands with Chad.

I also didn't publish anything on social media or tell friends until day three because I wanted to challenge myself to get to this milestone, but here is the link to the reel we posted on Instagram walking through the first three days of our experience.

Summary of day three: I wouldn't say 'easy' but it definitely started to get better.

Yoga date with Seemore- 10 minutes

Day Four: Cellular Rejuvenation

We just ate our cup of black bean soup for lunch and I feel satisfied. I'm amazed that one dinky cup of soup fills me up.

It's giving me so much perspective on portion size, specifically in America.

Today has been the easiest day so far, but maybe that's because I can see the finish line?

Also my body feels like it has finally adjusted and is like 'okaaaaay we're doing this, we got this!'

I noticed my skin looks clearer and Chad agreed.

Most of the benefits happening are inside our bodies and we can't see them, so to be able to see / feel some external benefits is pretty cool.

Much perspective gained these past four days.

Nightly Activity: Hill walk + warm bath with epson salt. Also we watched the Chris Hemsworth episode on his fasting experience via his show Limitless. Chris did a 4 day water only fast so our FMD fast seems much more manageable than his since we are calorie restricted and still get food! 

Either way, we're in the home stretch now baby!

Summary of day four: Some natural energy is starting to kick in. I feel less tired and am starting to feel like myself again. I thought it would get harder as the days progressed but it's actually getting easier.

Day Five: Renewal and Change

I'm about to publish this newsletter / blog post the morning of day five, so I won't have the final summary at the end of the day, but overall woke up feeling AMAZING, and knowing we can do this.

As we finish this 5 day fast, Chad and I are already talking about experimenting with a water only fast next time.

Water only will definitely be more difficult but the benefits seem to be amazing. The trick is again, getting to day three when the magic / autophagy starts to happen.

For me it's about easing in and warming up to this.

I don't expect to be a fasting pro right out the gate.

If you're considering a fast, go easy on yourself and start with an FMD so you have an 'assist.'

With all we're reading / researching on fasting, the data is unclear and even Peter Attia will confirm that. There's so many ways to do a fast.

Valter Longo's FMD has the most science / clinical trials behind it and it's highly accessible for folks, much more likely to finish and achieve the goal w/ measured food each day vs jumping right to a water only fast.

Our Why:

After cancer introduced itself into our family, (ah-hem, the knock at the door you hope you never get) I spent three weeks digging into the literature.

Fasting was popping its head up like moles in our patchy grass.

I could no longer ignore this age-old practice.

I started to recognize that fasting would need to be part of our healing journey, and honestly it's pretty cool what you can do with your own body.

No pill popping.

No expensive healing session.

Just you, your body and it's own ability to heal.

Sometimes it's less about what you're eating, and more about what you're not eating.

Important note: Chad's cancer nutritionist didn't advise fasting in the early stage of his diagnosis.

She was hyper focused on his nutrition and bloodwork and getting his metrics to a good place before jumping to fasting.

Once he was at optimal levels, she approved him to start his first extended fast.

Quick disclaimer - as with everything in life, do it your own way. Some folks immediately fast once they receive a cancer diagnosis as there are health benefits to this, so research and do what's right / best for you.

The Research and the Resources:

"But it's not just the idea of living longer that has driven me; it's living healthy longer, staying vibrant and youthful beyond the traditional life expectancy." - Valter Longo

Dr. Longer is the Director of the University of Southern California (USC) Longevity Institute in Los Angeles and the Program on Longevity and Cancer at IFOM, Molecular Oncology FIRC Institute in Milan, Italy. He combines studies of centenarians with epidemiological studies of populations, clinical trials, and research to understand how people live long healthy lives.

The more I dug into Longo, the more his research and credibility bubbled up, and I know a trend when I see one.

From there we ordered his book, The Longevity Diet, in preparation for the actual experience.

For me having this book to go back to was really important. I read a few pages each day this week to remind myself 'why' the h*ll I'm doing this in the first place.

Even if you're not into fasting, Longo highlights his 30 year career studying health, nutrition and longevity.

Also FYI this is our very first 'affiliate' link / book so if you decide to purchase this book via the link, we get like $0.50 that we can put towards seeds or something else on Teaquila Farm, yay!

The actual fasting kits are called ProLon, here is a link to that as well.

And if you're into celebrity stuff, apparently Jennifer Aniston is into ProLon too ha!

The more I've talked about this on social media, the more people are coming out of the woodwork with their own fasting stories.

Some who have also done ProLon, the FMD kit, and others doing water / juice fasts.

We all have our own story, our own experience with this stuff so again, do it your way! There are a lot of different ways to fast, just be sure you are doing it safely.

What I realize is that people can talk to you about fasting until they're blue in the face, but you'll never know what it's like until you choose to walk through it.

Same thing applies to pretty much anything in life.

PS - I'd be remiss not to mention this.

The only thing I'm not a fan of with ProLon is the single use plastics.

I'm not in the business of managing / shipping food so I don't have an alternative to suggest, but I will be emailing the company with my feedback to see if there is an opportunity to refine packaging and do better for our planet.

Thanks for reading and would love to know what you think if you've done a fast or plan to in the future! 

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