← Back to All Columns

Columns

The Fast Track

I recently completed a juice fast — 10 days of nothing but freshly juiced fruits and vegetables, spring water and the occasional piece of fruit or raw vegetable — and it got me thinking about the relationship between fasting and organization. Mardi Gras—Fat Tuesday — was March 8 and many people will observe Lent, a period of fasting from a type of food or a behavior in order to gain spiritual insight, which begins the following day and lasts 40 days. 

After the food and gift-heavy winter holidays, moving into the lighter season of spring is an ideal time to consider a fast from some of the clutter or behaviors that inhibit a life of order, ease and beauty. 

Overeating (food clutter) or a diet high in processed foods is a prime example of behavior that sabotages productivity, health and beauty. While on the juice fast, I noticed how much extra time and energy I had to work on projects I’d been avoiding. I wasn’t running to the kitchen every five minutes for something to eat. Since I wasn’t cooking and there were very few dishes to wash, I saved an enormous amount of time there, too. Not to mention the time I saved not thinking about my weight or the size of my thighs. My clothing felt looser and I felt lighter and happier.

Dietary fasts of any kind are not for everyone, and certainly check in with your physician before making any radical changes to your diet. However, shifting from a high animal product, high sugar, high chemical diet towards a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is good for anybody. A great source for information on eating healthy and local is Napa’s own Karen Schuppert, whose website, cook4seasons.com is an entertaining wealth of information on the subject.

Addictions of any kind are a detriment to an orderly life. For most people, obtaining an organized office, a shipshape garage or a neat-as-a-pin sewing room is impossible if they are battling an addiction such as alcoholism, overeating, shopping, gambling, smoking, etc. It’s interesting to me that the Lenten period is 40 days, just a bit longer than the 28 day stay usually required for addicts undergoing rehab and the general wisdom that it takes 30 days to break a habit. A fast from your addiction of choice — with the help of a doctor or a 12-Step program if necessary — will give you an amazing foundation for productivity and organization.

In a lighter vein, try a credit card fast for a day, a week or a month. One of my clients put her credit card in a milk carton full of water and put it in the freezer, then presented her husband with her credit card in a block of ice as a Valentine’s Day gift. What a creative way to cool off an overheated Mastercard. This kind of break can contribute to getting your budget and finances in order.

You could also consider a fast from television, which can be a big time and energy sucker. A break from Facebook, Internet surfing, or on-line games might be beneficial if you feel you might be wasting precious hours at the computer.

There’s no bad time to cleanse the body, mind and home, and spring is perhaps the best time of all. When we take a rest from a negative habit, it frees up time and eases stress through better health, improved relationships, a more manageable life and access to our highest potential. You give something up but you get back something much, much better — sometimes slowly, sometimes fast.