In honor of studying Saucha (the first of five Niyamas/observances, commonly translated to mean purity or cleanliness), Michelle asked us to complete a one-day fast on the topic and day of our choosing. We were to:
Consider what you need to fast on…where do you proliferate, clutter, confuse your life unnecessarily. Chose one aspect of your life and create the intention to cleanse in that direction. It may be the simple act of not taking in any stimulant of any sort: tea, coffee, sugar, alcohol, etc. It may be a cleanse of TV, radio, movies, papers. It may be a fast of computer or phone obsession. Or talking about other people! You chose the topic and the day.
I picked sugar. A single day without sugar, how hard could that be?
Wednesday, 8:30ish a.m.
I arrive at work with my intention to refrain from eating sugar in the forefront of my mind. I’ve brought something that qualifies as a healthy-enough breakfast with me (apple and peanut butter) so that I won’t be hungry. I’m feeling confident, ready to tackle the day.
I open my office door and turn on the light to find adorably-wrapped homemade baked goods sitting in the middle of my desk:
Wham! I haven’t even sat down yet and already my resolve is being tested! My “healthy” breakfast immediately starts to look less attractive and I’m wavering about this whole fast situation. I start to consider: “maybe I should do it tomorrow…” Instead I reaffirm that “no, today is the day.”
Wednesday, 8:40ish a.m.
I walk out of my office intending to figure out who brought in the baked goods, but instead I stumble upon two boxes of “thank you danishes” that were brought in by a student:
I start to wonder: “What the heck!? Is this just a normal day at work? Am I simply more in tune with with the amount of sugar I’m surrounded by everyday because I happen to be doing this fast? Is this the Universe attempting to hit me over the head with a point? What’s going on here?!”
Wednesday, 8:50ish a.m.
I walk to the water cooler. To get there, I have to walk out of my office, through our waiting area, down a hallway, and through another office. It’s a journey. En route to the water cooler, I realize that every single time I get water, I have to walk past three — yes, three — candy jars. I give each candy jar a half-bitter, half-longing glance as I walk by.
Wednesday, 9:00ish a.m.
I learn that at 10:00 a.m., our office will be having an Inter-Office Easter Egg Hunt. Perfect.
Wednesday, 10:00ish a.m.
It’s Easter Egg Hunt time. I try to protest (it’s our busy season after all, don’t we have actual work to do???) but my efforts are to no avail. Non-participation is apparently not an option, even for this Jew. To distract myself, I continue documenting my torture via iPhone photography.
Wednesday, 11:30ish a.m.
I stop and chat with a law student for a bit while on my way to another part of campus. As we’re talking, she pulls out a bag of chocolate chip cookies and sweetly offers me one. I can’t help but laugh and over-explain why I am choosing to decline (complete with me pulling out my phone to show her all of the above pictures). There is a distinct possibility that she might have thought I was slightly looney.
Wednesday, 12:15ish p.m.
Someone set out more baked goods for our office to “enjoy” … I’m starting to suspect that the baked good fairy might actually have malicious intent.
Wednesday, 2:00 p.m.
It’s time for an office birthday party, complete with cake! Luckily I’ve got an appointment with a student at the same time, so I can avoid further temptation.
Wednesday, 4:00 p.m.
Oops, I spoke too soon. I managed to miss out on the birthday cake opportunity, but I walked right into cupcake madness.
Wednesday, 7:00 p.m.
I met a friend for tea and conversation. I hadn’t prepped her for the fact that I was not eating sugar for the day, so she went ahead and ordered a desert crepe and offered to share. By this point I was so used to saying no and so invested in successfully completing my one-day fast, that refraining from eating it wasn’t even a struggle.
My Post-Fast Thoughts
- Holy wow batman! I knew that there was a sugar epidemic happening in my workplace, but observing it in action for one day without participating was enlightening, to say the least. Between the ever-present candy bowls and the consistent influxes of baked goods, it’s a miracle that more of us do not have diabetes (though if we keep this up, we’re collectively headed in that direction).
- At first it was r.e.a.l.l.y.h.a.r.d. to refrain from eating sugar and every time I said “no,” it felt like it took a monumental effort to stay true to my intention for the day. However, as the day went on, it got easier. My sense of resolve kicked in. I felt determined. I saw that it was possible to say no and that I would survive.
- I noticed how there is a strong connection between sugar and relationships — gifts, thank yous, celebrations, community building — comfort foods, namely sweets, play such an integral role.
- All-or-nothing may not be the best approach for me. On Thursday morning, feeling self-righteous that I had successfully completed my fast the day prior, I scarfed down two brownies for breakfast. As Michelle once said during class: “you are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choices.” Suffice to say, brownies for breakfast is just never a solid plan.
All in all, I’m glad that I had this opportunity to explore my relationship with sugar….. Would it be too corny to end by saying that this exploration offered me a lot of food for thought? (Yeah, too corny, I agree, but I’m doing it anyway! :))