David Hegg | The Benefits of Fasting, in More than Just Our Diets

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident. "Ethically Speaking" runs Saturdays in The Signal.

By David Hegg

OK, so I came home from vacation in July to find many of my favorite clothes had shrunk while I was away lounging around, eating, reading, eating, writing and eating. You get the picture.

So, I decided to join the ranks of those committed to intermittent fasting. I chose the 16:8 model, which allows the intake of calories during an eight-hour span only. For me, that means I do all my eating between 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. And actually, I’m almost always finished eating for the day by 6:30 p.m. Yes, that means no bowl of Vanilla Moose Tracks at 9:30 p.m.

Here’s why it has worked so well for me. Unlike diets, IF allows me to focus on what I don’t do rather than what I can’t do. It also fits into my schedule very well, giving me an extra hour in the morning for other things. I have found my mental acuity has increased while my weight has gone down.

And, given all these good things, I’ve found it easier to make better eating choices when I do have a meal. It may not work as well for you, but for me it is a tremendous benefit to my health and general well-being.

But this column is not about eating habits. I actually want to encourage you to consider intermittent fasting in other areas besides food. Take your social media intake for example. It’s a safe bet you’re addicted to your phone’s texts, emails, notifications and apps. And just like too many calories and too much junk food can bring unwanted results physically, you’re actually killing yourself emotionally.

A good friend recently told me he went away for a month of vacation and purposely turned his iPhone into an iPod. He removed all the apps so his iPhone would only play music. During the month he didn’t check email, or phone home. A broad smile broke across his face as he explained how his mental focus, physical health, emotional balance and spiritual satisfaction were greatly elevated, allowing him to return much more energized to re-enter his everyday life.

Take a self-test: How do feel when you get somewhere and realize you forgot your phone? Naked? In danger? Disconnected from life? Do you grab your phone to read and respond to texts, IMs, and other data splat when you’re with friends or spouse, not realizing you’ve just been rude to those you’re supposedly engaged with in real conversation and relationship? Ha! Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We’re all in the same pitiful situation.

Try IF in your social media world. Commit to only doing Facebook a couple days a week. I promise you, you won’t miss out on anything monumental. And how about leaving your phone in the car when you meet that client, friend, or special person for lunch? We need to take charge of our lives and fast from social media interruptions from time to time. Dealing with addictions can be horrible, but you’ll thank me later.

And what about broadcast news, in its various forms? Few things frustrate us like the news these days, especially when it comes in short, incomplete, biased bursts. My advice is simple. Stop watching and listening for a few days or weeks and limit your information intake to a few well-researched and written articles by real reporters rather than pundits. Better yet, find a scholarly book that will force you to put facts and arguments together to form a conclusion. And stay away from those who have a political axe to grind … on both sides of the aisle.

When I came home from vacation and admitted there was just too much of me around, I determined food wasn’t going to run my life and ruin my health. But there are other things that, while good and beneficial in the proper amount, are harmful when overdone.

Maybe it’s time we all took charge of our lives in terms of what is allowed into our bodies, minds and hearts. Try saying “no” to something you’re addicted to. You just might lose some pounds and frustrations, and find some thoughtful engagement that breathes life into your soul.

David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church and a Santa Clarita resident.“Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.

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