Willpower Workout: Enduring the physical discomfort of fasting

Willpower Workout #16: Enduring the Physical Discomfort of Fasting

September 14, 2020

While cold water plunges may be the most iconic test of willpower, we would argue that fasting from food for an extended period of time is the most challenging apart from enduring treatment that would enter the realm of SERE training.

Fasting is so challenging because you want something and ultimately need something that you are intentionally denying yourself. And it becomes increasingly difficult (up to a point) as you experience the physical consequences of not eating.

Get ready to not be happy.

Day 16 Willpower Workout:

  1. Determine how long you will fast and what type of fast you will do (see below).
  2. Go at least 24 hours without eating or drinking anything other than water.
  3. If that’s easy for you, go longer. I’ll be going 5 full days.

Disclaimer: As we have said before, we are not medical experts. Be smart and consult a physician as needed. If you have not fasted longer than you sleep, be careful, and step yourself into this. We would definitely recommend not doing a multi-day water fast if you have not fasted before. Here are some alternatives:

  1. Do a juice fast
  2. Only eat raw, organic fruits and vegetables
  3. Do what some call a “Daniel fast

Expect to feel some discomfort, but if you experience piercing headaches (this happened to me once on day 9 of a longer fast) or some other severe symptom, please end your fast.

Also, note that when you end your fast, especially if longer than a day or two, ease back into normal foods slowly, starting with bland, healthy, soft foods.

Evaluating Your Workout:

  1. Is the discomfort greater or less than you expected?
  2. How did you deal with the discomfort?
  3. Did you avoid the sight and smell of food as much as possible or not worry about exposing yourself to temptations?
  4. Did exposing yourself to temptations make things worse, have no effect, or somehow make them better?

Willpower Workout in Action:

For this workout, I will post updates on Twitter.

This is day 16 of a 40-day journey to explore your limits. If you’d like to receive a daily email with the willpower workout of the day, you can sign up here to start at Day 1 with the first workout:

If you’d prefer to jump in where Matt is right now and then make up the other workouts on your own schedule, sign up here:

Past Workouts: