Over this last year I have shown a bit of an interest in “going that bit further” doing something for the sake of testing myself and seeing just what I can put up with. On the walking front this has meant reaching such summits as Skiddaw, Helvellyn and Scafell Pike and next year I hope to add Scafell, Helvellyn via Striding Edge and all the ‘horseshoe walks’ that I can muster…plus March’s Right Pig Walk over Whernside and Ingleborough taking in Simon Fell and Park Fell is set to be a real tester at 13 miles…or 17 if you measure in Yorkshire mileage!
Anyway, that’s all well and good but what about when I can’t get out and about walking? Y’know when I have to go to work etc? My job can be challenging enough with the clients repeatedly forgetting their passwords…or worse still telling each other their passwords…and relax! Although strictly speaking I am not that religious…I am a Zen Quaker – “find your own God and he probably doesn’t need you to build him a church!” I have been interested in the Ramadan commitment since working with someone a number of years ago whom used to do the whole nill by mouth from sunrise to sunset…I used to feel so sorry for her..but strangely drawn to the practice of fasting on a daily basis.
This year I was all set to actually try this out for myself…but the first weekend of Ramadan was set to collide with my walk up Skiddaw which I had been planning on doing for about four years. Skiddaw without water (especially on the day when I did it; with the temperature at nearby Keswick recorded at 26° Celsius) whilst not exactly suicidal, would have been a really stupid practice and to be honest…impossible. I postponed my attempt at Ramadan until next year…Then Tornado Taz turned up!
We are all too aware that there has been a natural disaster in the form of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines on Friday (8 November), causing catastrophic damage. It is reportedly the strongest storm ever to make landfall, hitting an area where thousands of people are already homeless after an earthquake in mid-October. The plight of these unfortunate people has so affected a colleague of mine Dr Tasleem Shakur (and twenty five of his students) to such an extent that he has decided to engage in a little Winter Ramadan, nill by mouth from dawn ’till dusk for charity.
My involvement? Well Taz was aware that I was aiming to try Ramadan this year so he told me of his charitable act and asked (hmmm!) if I would join them in their fasting…I honestly could not think of a good enough reason to say “NO”!. So I’m on-board! I must stress that I am not doing this for charity. You cannot sponsor me. I am doing this in support of Taz and his students and at any time I could jump ship and eat or drink something. My plan is to do this for seven days finishing at dusk on the 26th of November (that’s a Tuesday folks!). But, if I am doing well I may well stay with it until dusk on Thursday.
How do I feel? Well there’s no point in liying about it, I’ve felt better! I have a slight but persistent headache on the left hand temple side and can feel myself getting irritable a bit quicker than normal. A colleague has just brought to me an huge box of biscuits as an act of gratitude for sorting out her laptop – isn’t life great some times??? I have no qualms about quitting, it isn’t a face-saving exercise etc…I do just want to see how far I can go. However, given my more distant past history of cluster headaches etc then if this gets much worse (and I mean a lot worse) then I’ll just go zero calories – water, water and more water. For now, so far so good 🙂
How’s it going? I had a bit of a gorge last evening when I got in from work – probably shouldn’t do that, well we all make mistakes! This morning I had one of Tesco’s pretty gigantic Spanish style omelets – the Chorizo from which first gave me heartburn then a heavy gut, this seems to have melted into my system now…Only to be replaced with the grumpy side-effects of Hypoglycemia, I am somewhat anxious and more than a bit irritable…At this rate weekend is going to be a real blast!!!
What’s up? Today was surprisingly easier than I could have dared to hope. I really filled up for breakfast consuming 3/4 of the other Tesco Spanish style Omelete and a chicken breast that I had sneekily cooked the night before. Subsequently all was quiet on the gastric front. However from out of nowhere I had developed a backache that I just knew would get better once I had taken a couple of painkillers which I had to hand. One problem…NILL BY MOUTH! At four twenty five in the afternoon I went to the shop on campus in order to buy a packet of sugar free polos for post fast and in order to ask Faz at what time sunset was due to be. Imagine my delight when I was informed that it had been FIFTEEN MINUTES earlier! Awesome I could drink again which I did say out loud and which prompted him to ask if I was fasting to which I confirmed and was further delighted to receive a free Wonka bar…This day was just getting better. I returned to the office and my colleague Ian (whom had been expertly doctoring an I-Phone all day) couldn’t make me a cup of coffee quick enough! My first cup of coffee for ten hours was wonderful, the painkillers consumed defeated the backache and all was well with my world!
The long slog! I envisioned today being tough and in all honesty it proved me right so far. Having had my last food at 07:10 and finishing my last coffee at 07:20 and with nobody around to make sure I don’t cheat (you’re only cheating yourself…) I have had to self-regulate…and I am very good at it too! Although I am really hungry now and would almost kill for a drink, I am managing, I appear to have what I would call good passive determination – I am good at not doing things. Of course it would be good if I was like my friend Karl who is excellent at doing things (Leaden Boot Challenge etc) or Jenny my boss (Yorkshire Three Peaks) and I do wonder if once you become aware of your strengths in one aspect one can then channel them in order to become better in other aspects, can I become as good a ‘doer’ as I am a ‘not doer’? We’ll see!
¿Tienes hambre? ¡Si un poco! Sorry for the temporary Spanish diversion but I have to vary things to a degree in order to keep this relatively interesting. Sunday turned out to be just as easy or as difficult as Saturday was. There was one exception, on Saturday Chris drove herself to and from work, on Sunday I drove her to and from work and had to wait another five minutes for her boss to stop gabbing on and open the (insert expletive here) doors in order to let them out! I don’t like waiting for people and waiting for people when one is hungry is just not nice!
Argh a Monday Many people don’t like Monday…I tend to flit in-between treating it as any other day and loathing resentment. Today it’s just another day. I had really bad stomach ache on the walk to the bus stop this morning and I think that this might be down to the consumption of some cruciferous (Broccoli and Cauliflower) vegetables that I believe were out of date – they did come out of the packet in a bitty fashion. The stomach ache has now more or less passed – thankfully sans embarrassment, all that remains now is the eternal thirst. Roll on Five O’clock or whatever time of day sunset is today!
Come Va? Yesterday I saw that the fasting is beginning to take its’ toll on Taz. As a seasoned faster this is a little disheartening to the rest of us (well me anyway) and today I am feeling a bit similar. I felt fine at breakfast, which this morning was remainder chicken breast and noodles, and even better when walking to the bus stop – that’s more of a walk then I take credit for really as it is roughly a mile away from home! Anyway on the bus I started to feel a bit drained. Then when I got to work we are still in the throws of the great student password change so all hell was gently oozing out. By the time of the first lull I was feeling decidedly queezy every time that I stood up. As a regular sufferer (do people suffer from) Labyrinthitis I am no stranger to feeling dizzy and it is nothing to worry about. I do feel that I will be able to continue fasting from sunrise to 16:30 each day until Friday but am now in a bit of a rush to get it all over with as I do miss my mid morning, lunchtime and mid afternoon cuppas! All the same the one that I now let myself have at 16:30 is nothing short of scrumptious (I always hoped to be able to type that word one day!).
Ist es weit? Hmmm German? The observant amongst you will hardly fail to recall that previously I declared my intention to stay on this Sunrise (well 07:00) to Sunset (well 16:30) fasting for just the one week – starting on Wednesday 20th November and finishing at Sunset (!) on Tuesday 26th – that would have been seven days. However and Taz and the twenty-five Geography students are continuing on until Friday of this week…so will I. I do have to declare that this is not a reluctant continuation, I have been bitten by the fasting bug (well something had to get bitten!) and will be doing Summerdan next year. Summerdan? I hear you retort. Well I can’t really refer to what I am doing as Ramadan for a few reasons: 1. I am not a Muslim 2 I am not going to be doing it in the Islamic month of Ramadan as this starts on June the 29th 2014 when I shall be on holiday. Instead I shall aim to start my daily fasting on Monday May 5th and finish on Sunday June the first. And if today is anything to go off…I’ll be a right grumpy old git!
The end in sight. Tomorrow signifies the end of this bout of fasting and I can say that I am in two minds about the whole thing. On the one hand I have enjoyed the challenge, I believe I have met the challenge and would love to try again for longer. However, longer can be dual-applied in this scenario as the daily fast in summer will be from about 4:00 a.m. until 21:30. In addition to this my poultry ten days pales into insignificance compared to Ramadan which as we all know lasts for twenty eight days. That’s a lot of hurt and self denial but on the other hand once more…anything that is worth doing takes a lot of effort…As I said, I am in a dilemna!
Day 10. ¡Ha terminado! And that was that. The tenth day went by fairly quickly – though I hasten to add that being stuck in a room with other colleagues scoffing and handing out chocolates did strengthen my resolve, a lot! Yes I will do this again. I will do ten days whenever the need arises for charity and I am going to do a pre-emptive Summerdan next year in May. Why May – we are supposedly going on holiday in June / July and to be fasting whilst on holiday is (for me) all kinds of wrong! For my 28 day version next year there will be a welcome addition of …water!
Thanks for sticking with me folks…Back to the walking soon
Taz wants to get to £1000 for this worthy cause. If you haven’t donated already please spare a thought and some pounds/dollars/euros for those less fortunate than us whom twice in a few weeks have been struck hard by nature’s fury. To donate to this desperate cause visit the JustGiving website here: http://www.justgiving.com/Jonathan-O-Flaherty