I fasted with Dr. Graham in Costa Rica in February/March 2008, having interned during the January 2008 fast and attending Dr. Graham's Walking Tour in Feb 2008. During the fast I consumed only water for 29 days followed by a 2 week recovery period of carefully reintroducing foods and physical activity.
Let me share some of my background to explain what lead me to decide to fast.
I had been vegetarian since 1998, vegan since mid-1999 and 100% raw vegan since 2006. I transitioned to a low fat, raw vegan as a result of listening to Dr. Graham's "Perfect Health Program" audio series in late 2005. I had eaten mostly 811rv (80/10/10 raw vegan) since 2006 regularly enjoying mono meals and predominantly eating fruit and leafy greens.
I found myself getting fitter and more active after each dietary transition but it was only after I began eating 811rv and increased my sleep to an average of at least 8 hours per night that I actually "felt" different. As an athlete (ultra marathon trail runner and surf lifesaver) I noticed profound changes literally in the first few weeks. My mental clarity noticeably improved. I could feel a strong feeling of alertness in the area people refer to as the third eye (or brow chakra). It actually felt like that part of my brain had been fully switched on for the first time in my life. My flexibility noticeably increased. I suddenly had significantly more endurance and speed in my running. I felt stronger. I was hydrated all the time for the first time in my life. I no longer felt sleepy after lunchtime at work. I had clarity and alertness all day every day. I noticed changes in my behavior. I was becoming less judgmental and more compassionate. When I decreased my intake of overt fats (avocado, nuts, seeds) my singing voice improved. Being a lead guitarist and vocalist in a recording and touring band, my voice was stronger and I could hold notes for longer.
These changes were too profound to ignore. I was hooked on my new lifestyle. I was thriving on the principles of natural hygiene, although I didn't consider myself a natural hygienist until spending three months with Dr. Graham in Costa Rica.
I had read of the benefits of fasting and had heard many positive experiences from friends and other raw vegans. As a result I had wanted to do a long water-only fast since 2007 to reach a greater level of health and undo some of my first 33 years of cooked, non-vegan eating. However, I couldn't justify to myself that I was worth the cost of a supervised fast and I knew it was too dangerous to undertake a long water-fast alone.
Throughout 2007 I continued to grow emotionally and spiritually to the point where I started questioning my life...my career...my purpose. I came to the realization that I wanted to learn everything about natural hygiene and become a lifestyle coach helping people improve their diet, fitness and vitality. As my vitality and sense of connection with all life increased, I noticed remarkable synchronicities occurring in my daily life. On one such occasion, I was browsing Dr. Graham's FoodnSport website and found he had announced the 80/10/10 Certified Lifestyle Coach (CLC) program. I was convinced that Dr. Graham was the only person who could teach me everything I want to know in the realm of health science. The CLC program was simply an opportunity I had to pursue. Fasting was part of the program, so I signed up!
Convinced of the benefits of fasting I wanted to advocate those benefits to others, yet I didn't feel I could sincerely advocate them without having experience a long water-only fast first hand.
I don't know of any other fasting retreat offering what Dr. Graham is offering. The wealth of knowledge available through his daily lectures is profound and especially inspiring during the fast. The two week recovery period after the fast was excellent. People went home with a wealth of 811rv recipes, a healthy appetite for them and enough knowledge and experience to empower them to continue a natural hygiene lifestyle.
It was my privilege and absolute pleasure to spend so much time with Dr. Graham's family (Marty, Bea, Rozi and Fayechesca), Lennie, every staff member, intern, faster and walking tour attendee. I consider them all friends for life.
During my fast I didn't ever feel hungry. Most people find the first few days difficult. I drank about 5 litres (5.2 quarts) of water per day. I generally slept for 12 or more hours each day. I had a clear tongue and perfectly clear whites of my eyes within the first 10 days. My mucous production completely disappeared for the first time in my life. I shed several layers of skin, both during and after the fast, leaving my skin looking and feeling amazing. I went deeper into the fast during the last 5 days when I was spending up to 17 hours in bed either asleep or in a deep state of rest. While sleeping so much I was only able to drink about 2.5 litres (2.6 quarts) of water in those final days of the fast and while the nights seemed like an eternity, I would awaken in the early hours of the morning with an overactive mind bursting with clarity on significant factors in my life. I wrote my thoughts down on paper. I wrote lists of things I value in life, how to transition into a career as a lifestyle coach, and much more. Given the production of ketones from a fat-based metabolism, it is recommended not to make life changing decisions during a water-only fast, but the clarity I had during the fast was something I had never experienced before and everything I wrote down still held true after the fast. [Edit on 11th July, 2013: Two years after the fast was the first time I reviewed those notes I took during my fast, and in those two years I had actioned everything on my list simply by unblocking those areas in my life by gaining clarity through deeply resting.]
My senses were heightened during the fast: eyesight, hearing, smell. My sense of taste was incredible after the fast. The first thin slice of watermelon on which I broke the fast was the most incredible food experience of my life. My new found appreciation for tastes and textures was beyond belief. After the fast my singing voice had a better range.
While fasting brought me physical benefits, the most profound benefit for me was the opportunity to look deep inside myself and embrace emotional and spiritual growth. It is not often that we give ourselves the gift of distancing ourselves from work, stress, pollution, family, friends, consumerism, and the generally busy lifestyle most of us tend to lead, in order to be alone with our own thoughts.
As an under-muscled ultra marathon runner, going into the fast I was already pretty lean at 68 kg (148 lb). At 195 cm (6'5") in height, at the end of the fast I was a very lean 54 kg (118 lb). I didn't fast for weight loss and it only took 8 weeks to return to my original weight, although I like to think more of the weight I put on was muscle as I've been focusing on strength training (my weakest link). I always had fairly good digestion, but following the fast my digestion was better than it had ever been.
Dr. Graham was correct when he said that the benefits continue well beyond the fasting period. Thank you Dr. Graham for offering the perfect conditions to take my health to new levels. Your passion for perfect health is a gift for all who are ready to step up.
[Edit on 11th July, 2013: Six months after the fast I took 2.5 hours off my race time for the first 100 km of the Great North Walk 100s trail run.]
Life is incredible,