This weekend brought the realisation that there have been more than 'Twelve Days of Christmas' in 2008. Indeed I reckon I have used up some of my Christmas allowance for 2009.
With regard to my diet, I tightened the 'Paleo screws' some time late on Sunday - munching down the last of the kids' cheese toasties! I have put some quality training together since the beginning of the month and decided to cut back slightly on the physical work.
By this morning (Wednesday), I felt ready for a fast. I have blogged previously about intuitive 24 hour fasting and this was simply another example of it. Then something pretty interesting happened!
I was able to fast in comfort all day - aided by my usual few coffees and teas (so not a true paleo fast). There were no hunger pangs nor 'gnawing' or the dreaded 'shakes' - the classic carboholic fasting symptom. In fact I felt physically strong all day and mentally elated. (The picture of Captain Kid and I above reflects how I felt!)
I had to work late and during my drive back I realised I was grating my teeth quite hard. I didn't feel stressed or anxious. I would say I felt alert and keen - almost like an amphetamine high (so I have been told!). ;)
During a fast I find that my wedding band becomes very lose and has to be worn on the right hand (the band didn't actually fit on my right hand just after Christmas). Now whether this is due to water loss, reduced inflammation, fat loss or whatever I just don't know but I succeeded in the 'band test' today.
Now comes the really interesting bit.....
During this evening's kickboxing class I felt lightening-fast all night. During the warm up I was able to perform back kicks (Hou Tsarn) with much, much greater balance than I could last week - perhaps my most composed ever.
During stretching work (I don't normally do static stretches but the class demands it), I found I had much greater flexibility during my static stretching (dynamic stretching was unaffected).
During the sparring, I wouldn't say my maximal effort was any greater than normal, but I would say that I was able to operate at a greater intensity for longer.
I honestly felt six feet tall and bulletproof for the whole session and in generally top form. My sparring was more precise and whereas I was eating punches last week I felt sharper this week and my reactions seemed quicker.
This isn't the first time I have worked-out fasted, I have done so with a degree of regularity for a couple of years. (I should reiterate that the fasts are dictated by intuition rather than a prescribed periodicity and I may either fast before or after exercise).
What has stuck me on this occasion is how much better I felt performing a workout in a fasted state - something I have felt to some degree before, but never this acute. I don't know if these effects were more apparent because this is the first exercise-fasted training I have performed this year making the contrast is more apparent.
I have fasted at least once this year already, but not prior to a combat workout which arguably requires greater speed, agility and reaction time.
I cannot dispute that easing back on exercise for the past few days did not help, but my amphetamine like teeth grinding on the way home and general feelings of sharpness suggest something a little deeper was occurring.
This is something I intend to investigate further. Stay tuned. In the meantime, comments from fans of intermittent fasting and ex-nineties ravers are welcome!