Another Kind of Fast

By Jon Snyder, founding publisher & former editor-in-chief of Out There Monthly

My office mate is fasting today. That means nothing but water for 36 hours. I love going without food for a day. Whenever I can convince myself to fast, a couple times a year, I’m always glad I did. Nothing helps illuminate your relationship with food like not having it for a day. It’s like having the person you love leave town for a week. You can’t really understand how much of your food intake is governed by habit and emotional needs that have nothing to do with sustenance until the munchies vanish.

Competitive endurance athletes have conquered this food relationship. They make food work for them instead of working off the food. Oh how easy it is to take that long run or long ride and use it as an excuse to over-calorize. Replace three calories for every one you burn. That’s a good recipe for strong legs and spare tire. Take it from someone who knows.

Eating habits are key to successful physical activity, but boy are they hard to change. Fasting is a good place to start. How can we tell how what we put inside our bodies affects us if we don’t take a break from eating? Nothing but tons of water for a day is going to make you pee like your nine-months pregnant, but it’s worth it.

Going without food has been so good for me that I started to consider fasting from something else that I consume everyday and am utterly and completely addicted to: media. To produce this magazine it helps to consume a lot: blogs, newspapers, websites, magazines, movies, TV, books, streaming video, podcasts, CDs, MP3s, email, newsletters, comics, and press releases. Even without the tools I need to do this job, my media consumption would be above average—to put it mildly.

Seven years ago I conceived of the idea of a media fast; no reading, no viewing, not even listening to music. I figured you would need a week to make it worthwhile. Seven years, and many food fasts later, I have not come close to attempting a media fast. I have not come close to taking a week to reproduce the mental environment I enjoy when I’m running or riding; a state of being completely alone with my thoughts. Do you think you could benefit from a media fast? Give it a try. I’d love to hear how it goes.

P.S. Two songs that should be in heavy rotation these days: Parliament’s “Chocolate City,” and Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper’s “I Hate Banks.” Can you feel me on this?

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