“Oh my gosh… I would have DIED!”
“You are crazy.”
These are just two of the several comments I received when I had mentioned that I had embarked on a 15 kilometer hike on a hot and sunny 91 degree day in Crete, Greece.
While I would like to claim that this was all eloquently thought out, planned, and I prepared for… the truth of the story is my LACK of planning ended up manifesting into a magical 3 day hike through a gorge and along the southern coast of Crete — with a hefty dose of intermittent fasting.
Ya see, the thing is – the night before I was meant to leave on said hike, I met a travel friend out for a drink in a cute village called Chania.
Key word: “a drink”.
Jokes on me because 3 glasses of local white wine later and a 3:30 am bedtime left me a far cry away from feeling like I could properly function as a human on the morning of Day 1.
But nature was calling my name.
I peeled myself out of bed at 7am (since I screwed up my original “plan” to take the 6:30am bus)… and off I went to catch the 7:45 bus. I got to the bus station with minutes to spare, leaving me absolutely no time to buy and snacks or even grab a coffee.
It was just me and my 1.5 liter bottle of spring water for the day.
I did have the opportunity to stop at a market at the beginning of the Samaria Gorge… but in my sleep deprived daze I sauntered past it figuring, “eh, I’ll be ok.”
While the beginning of the trek was a bit of hobbling along, once I was into the third and fourth hour, I felt light as a feather and FULL of energy! I even felt so great I was singing Disney songs to entertain myself (true story… and since I was alone in the mountains I happily — and most likely out of tune — sang Kiss The Girl from The Little Mermaid).
It was nearly 3 in the afternoon by the time I reached my destination in a little coastal village on the southern coast of Crete that I finally sat down for my first meal of the day. And the truth is, even after the 4.5 hour hike on an empty stomach, I still felt like I had enough power to keep on going — I felt as if nothing could hold me back or weigh me down!
The next morning as I embarked on the second day of my hiking adventure, I decided to “just get started” again even though I knew I wouldn’t have an opportunity to eat along the way. As I trotted along I couldn’t help but notice how clean and clear I felt.
Without my body having to focus on digestion, which in my case often involves a certain amount of gurgling depending on what I ate, I felt like all of my body’s energy and attention could go into propeling me further along the trail.
I arrived at an even smaller coastal village after my 5 hour hike and as I sat down to eat a Greek salad at lunch, the older Greek gentleman who was taking my order said, “You strong woman!” as I shared with him my day’s adventures.
And STRONG indeed I felt!
On the third and final day of my hike, I once again hit the trail on an empty stomach and something magical happened about 2 hours in. I was staring out at the sparking turquoise sea and surrounding mountains and I became filled, I’m talking cup runneth over kinda feeling — with EMOTION.
What the heck? Where was this coming from?
And then they came.
Tears of joy, gratitude, and happiness rolled down my sun kissed cheeks. My heart beat a bit faster and I just felt LOVE. Love for this life and everything in it. It was one of those moments where all was right in the world.
The only word I have to describe the way I was feeling is PURE. My mind, my thoughts, my body, my environment… everything felt so pure!
I knew going into this adventure that my body would be challenged with all of the walking, climbing, and dealing with the heat. However, what I didn’t anticipate was how my unplanned fasting during this journey would beautifully enhance this experience.
It was a challenge on top of a challenge – and I love me a good challenge! But in the end it ended up feeling so natural and effortless because my body was showing me that it was enjoying it’s mini vacation from food.
So, there ya have it. My super professional and planned approach to fasting during my 3 day hike in Greece… kidding, kidding.
But, in the end my body loved it, my mind loved it, and my spirit loved it.
“Yamas” to intermittent fasting! (aka CHEEEEEERS in Greek).
What is Intermittent Fasting?
Intermittent fasting involves alternating cycles of eating and fasting.
This type of eating practice doesn’t focus on WHAT you are eating… but is all about WHEN you are eating.
There are many methods and styles of intermittent fasting, but the most popular one, known as the 16/8 method, involves eating all of your meals within an 8 hour timeframe. This means that for 16 hours of the day your are fasting (sleeping counts!).
Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
- Cellular Repair: fasting encourages important cellular processes that have a detoxing effect on your body because waste is removed.
- Fast Burning: fasting significantly drops blood levels of insulin, which enhances fat burning!
- Lose Weight: fasting facilitates better hormone function associated with weight loss and you will also be eating fewer meals.
- Calms Inflammation: fasting heightens your body’s resistance to oxidative stress, which is linked to aging and chronic diseases.
- Boosts Brain Health: Fasting reduces inflammation, oxidative stress, blood sugar levels, and insulin resistance — ALL of which are important to better brain health.
No wonder I was feeling INCREDIBLE during my 3 day hike! With benefits like these, I will most certainly be including intermittent fasting as part of my daily health routine.
Do you have any experience with intermittent fasting or tips to SHARE? Please tell us by leaving a comment!
Written by Lindsay.
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