The Fast and the Laborious

The Fast and the Laborious

Timeline of my second 70 hour fast attempt:

Wednesday 8/5/2020
8:30pm: Dinner ended around 6:30, but my last food occured at 8:30pm: One serving of almonds as dessert. Let’s get this party started.

Thursday 8/6/2020
7:00am: Breakfast? Nah. No need. Had some water. Feeling good.

11:21am: My first twang of hunger has come across not as a growling stomach or as an ache for food but instead as a quiet thought of “oooh, it’s almost lunch time.”

1:45pm: I smell some coffee. It smells delicious

2:41pm: My second twang of hunger. I’d enjoy a snack. This urge will pass.

4:30pm: I feel a little weak. Not, like, crazy weak just mildly fatigued. If you outta nowhere invited me to attend a Crossfit class I’d probably opt out.

6:30pm: My stomach growls for the first time but I’m still feeling pretty good.

9:00pm: bedtime.

Friday 8/7/2020
2:45am: I fell asleep without any issues, but here I am now awake. This poor quality sleep is very similar to last time and is expected. If I can make it through today I’m curious if tonight will be just as bad (or worse) or if I’ll get some quality back as a recovery night.

7:00am: I didn’t get back to sleep, but my morning is going better than last time. My meditation session was okay. I opted for some small body weight exercise instead of attempting weights. We’ll see how the morning goes.

8:27am: I did better at reducing caffeine before this fast. I started 3 days prior and reduced it as follows: Sunday: 2oz espresso (my normal dose), Monday: 1oz espresso, Tuesday: .5oz espresso, Wednesday .25oz espresso. The had an afternoon of irritation Monday but otherwise was okay. Next time I’ll add an extra day at 1.5oz. No caffeine headaches at all this time around.

10:00am: I’m feeling good! But I think mentally I might be operating a few sandwiches short of a picnic, if you know what I’m saying. I’m sure it’s not coincidence that the first analogy that popped to mind was a food one.

1:30pm: Feeling a little lightheaded when I stand up after sitting for awhile. Bizarrely, I’m not hungry. The idea of food appeals to me greatly, but I’m not hangry. This is surprising to me.

6:00pm: I just had a pang of hunger, but I wonder if it was habit driven again. It passed. Anytime I feel hungry I push some water. I’m drinking about 100oz of water a day. Occasionally I’ll add a pinch of salt to the water to help my electrolytes, though this is anecdotal and highly unscientific.

Saturday 8/8/20
6:45am: Another bad night of sleep. After a fitful night, I ended up waking up at 5, but I fell back asleep for a few minutes before waking up again at 6:15. I am extremely confident that I will make it through the day. Other than the tiredness, I feel totally fine.

10:45am: We completed a hike. Me carrying Ava in a backpack. Other than maybe a general slowness of operation, I feel completely normal. This is great.

12:30pm: After thinking this over a bit, I think I’m going to stop my fast at 68 hours. Coming back into a state of sustenance is suppose to be slow elongated process. I want to start back in with hourly eating. Waiting too late will limit the number of small eating events before bed.

1:45pm: I’m definitely irritable. My patience is limited and I’m finding myself mildly lashing out at minor infractions. Nothing crazy, but it’s noticeable. 4:30pm is right around the corner. I look at my watch every 15 minutes.

4:30pm: I did it! I did it! Woooooooo! Time to celebrate with some delicious bone broth and a serving of almonds! We’re also are making pizza tonight. I’ll have a tiny piece of pizza at 5:30. Then an egg. Then some blueberries.

5:45pm: Okay. The pizza was a terrible idea – kind of. It was the most delicious pizza I’ve ever made (and not just because of the fast! I’ve been experimenting with my grilled pizza technique and I think I’ve greatly improved the quality). The size slice I had was smaller than a deck of cards but DANG. It feels like a bowling ball in my stomach. As I looked into this more it seems complex carbs are a bad idea after an extended fast. Next time it’s not just going to be the size of meal that I control after a fast but the type of food. I’ll keep it to veggies, proteins, and simple grains.

10:30pm: I opted to stay up later tonight to try and increase my sleep pressure to get a better quality sleep.

Sunday 8/9/20
5:40am: Okay, that didn’t work. My sleep was horrendous. I was hot and uncomfortable. I wonder if this relates to the pizza.

General Sunday update: Felt good for most of the day. Had some stomach discomfort, but kept things simple and light for the most part. My dinner Sunday night was TOO big. I find it interesting that I had an easier time controlling the fast than I did controlling the reintroduction of food. I’m very confident that I could do this better.

Monday 8/10/20
General Monday update: Another HORRIFIC sleep. This time I woke up sweating with panic. I don’t know if it related to my overly large dinner last night (comparatively) or some other external factor. But… no bueno. Again, I must reiterate: I need a stronger discipline in my eating ramp next time around.

Curiously: I had a much more significant weight loss than I expected. I am already quite lean and I expected maybe a 2-3 pound dip. At the start I was 132.5lbs and at my conclusion I was 127. That’s 5.5 pounds: Geeeeeze. Also curiously, this low point was the day AFTER my fast conclusion. I can’t explain this. Perhaps it was because even with some food introduction I was still in a calorically reduced state.

Tuesday 8/11/20
FINALLY: a great night of sleep. As of Tuesday morning I came back up to 129.5lbs. Presumably some of my weight loss was nothing more than a lack of food going through the digestive system but it’s interesting nonetheless. I’m not trying to lose weight, in fact I’m trying to gain weight. I’m curious to see how quickly I can get back to my previous weight. In order to grow mass I need to push consumption.

So far, Tuesday has felt completely normal. That means I need to plan for two FULL days of recovery time for a three day fast. Interesting. Next month we try again!

Food shortages and surpluses

Photo by Mike Haupt

Meat plants a closin’, produce farmers at risk, dairy farmers dumping eggs & milk – what in the pandemic is going on?

I was curious how today’s experiences might relate to the food shortages of WW2. I remember learning about the butter shortage back then that related to the war needs for lubrication oils, but I didn’t know much other than that.

Through an exceedingly brief search of the internet, here’s a collection of some fun facts I learned. I have no education on this matter other than this brief search so if someone can contribute meaningful science/history, I’m all ears.

What we know is true: there are two kinds of shortages:

  1. Those that relate to heightened demand
  2. Those that relate to restricted supply

Back in WW2 they were dealing with both. As noted above, demand for fats like butter were high because the war machine needed lubrication for weapons and vehicles. There were supply issues in WW2 as well. Another contributing factor to the butter/oils shortage was that many of the raw materials for these products originated from countries with whom we were at war.

A non surprising fact is that the shortage spread. According to the book “The Army and Economic Mobilization” by Elberton Smith “the Army found itself presented with applications more and more removed from its direct interests.”

I like a phrase that was referenced in this book: “shortage of capacity.” This included not just the ability to find enough raw materials to make the stuff you want, but also the challenge of logistics. I like this because it seems to nicely describe our current supply network problems. By being optimized for a narrow market, production facilities falter when there’s a hiccup. Dairy farms are dumping milk because they don’t have any means of transitioning from industry milk to consumer milk. Toilet paper is plentiful for business supply – but not for consumer use. These logistical issues on top of the dramatic demand increases for PPE, glass for medical vials, that weird south American tree bark for vaccine research, and the fact that hording will likely grow at both the local and national levels suggest to me that things are gonna get weird.

And not the good weird.

Pandora’s Pizza Box

My folks got me a book for my Birthday: The Pizza Bible, by Tony Gemignani.

Particular is an adjective that does not do this book justice. The book is exhaustive in its detail and calls upon you, the reader and self-proclaimed Pizza aficionado, to practice painstaking attention to detail.

It starts simple:
Weigh your ingredients.

Okay, sure that’s good practice.

Your scale must have 0.1 gram precision

Uh, okay. Seems overcautious, but fine.

The dough must be made two days in advance.

Whew, I guess I can manage that.

But really, it should be made four days in advance with a Poolish starter. Anything less and you’re a disappointment to your Italian heritage.


There are TONS of recipes, and they are written with a fastidiousness that I have come to greatly respect. Jen and I have been making a pizza about every other week since June. This doesn’t seem like much, but each recipe feels like a spiritual pilgrimage. Over Labor day weekend we explored one particular recipe which was dressed to impress: a Fully Stuffed Chicago style behemoth.

Enjoy this pictorial exploration into the pizza’s creation. In order of appearance it’s: Lower crust, Mozzarella, Meatballs, Pepperoni, Hot & Sweet Sausage, Onions & Mushrooms,  Red Peppers, Pecorino Romano, Shredded Mozzarella, Provolone, Top crust.

You can practically taste it through the screen.

Top it with some tomato sauce, ricotta, and garlic oil? Scrumptious.

Generally speaking, yes. I can believe it’s not butter.

The internet is bursting with cooking substitutions – many of which are targeted at people seeking healthier eating. Ever since my high cholesterol diagnosis I’ve been painfully aware of my diet. Begrudgingly, I’ve started considering these alternate eating options.


Banana ice cream for Real Ice Cream – DISAPPOINTMENT
Skim for fatty milk – TRAGIC
Popcorn for Potato chips – DEPRESSING
Brown white for white rice – BLASPHEMY

When I give one of these substitutions a shot, I admit that suspicion eclipses my excitement. I know it won’t be as good. I know it.

And so it is with vocal astonishment that I announce that Plain Greek yogurt is LEGIT a good substitution for Sour Cream.


I used it in a soft taco. A TACO! I can imagine it working in a chili where it doesn’t play as important a role… but a taco? This is the real deal! I admit this is not a perfect substitute, but it’s super close. It lacks just the slightest of tang. But otherwise it’s great!
It works and it works well!

I’m awestruck.