Fasting to Freedom
You know that person who’s just… kind, genuine, everybody’s buddy? I do. He’s Rob Cohn.
Rob radiates compassion. He’s an excellent listener and a scholar of wellness. He’s been on a journey of fasting, a topic that fascinates me because… frankly, it scares me. I, like many others, have an emotional and mental attachment to food, thankfully not in a debilitating way… but the idea of fasting is intimidating to me.
I asked Rob to tell his story here because I suspected there was more to all of this than, “Hey, let’s skip eating for a few hours!” My suspicions were correct. Take it away, Rob.
“YOU WILL NEVER SUCCEED”
Those words are never something you want to hear especially when you are visiting a neurosurgeon for a spine surgery consult.
Let me back up for a moment. I have had back issues for many years. In part they were caused by a car accident I was in 32 years ago as a passenger. The car I was in was t-boned by another car making a left turn, going about 60 miles an hour, slamming into my door. I shattered the top part of my femur and broke the ribs on my right side. I had a total of four surgeries over the next four years with three of them being within the first year.
That’s not the whole story.
The story actually goes back to less than two months before my 13th birthday. My mother passed away from a battle of breast cancer. It was soon after that my love affair (which turns out to be my addiction to food) began. I grew up in Jewish family that was all about food. I recall having access to all of the food you could possibly imagine! a After my mother died nobody really knew how to help me, so I turned to the one friend I always had which was food. Food became more than my friend. It quickly became my lover and the one thing that I could always find and feel safe with. As you can probably imagine, this is also the time when my journey with weight struggles began as well.
I yo-yoed up and down for years and years. I probably have lost and gained hundreds of pounds of weight over the years. I tried every single diet I could find and each and every time they worked. What didn’t work was me, because I was never healing what I was trying to stuff with food. I was not changing my behavior. In fact, looking back what I was doing was punishing myself for my mother dying. You see, secretly I never wanted to leave my mother. As I am writing my story, I am struck with awareness that deep down inside I was wanting to join my mom in heaven. It is a profound feeling coming into realization that I was subconsciously sabotaging my own life because I missed my mother so much. This is not the case any longer. My passion and vigor for life is back. My goal is to live the happiest and healthiest life possible.
In 2012, I was involved with a group of people who were practicing intermittent fasting. I thought they were crazy. Who the hell would want to purposely not eat for hours at a time? Who ever heard of stopping to eat at 5 or 6 PM for the rest of the night? They must be crazy, really something wrong with them. I totally rejected that idea. I then found another way of eating and lost the weight again, then you guessed it, slowly came back on.
In 2015 I had back surgery which was very successful. I don’t know how much I weighed then, but it was more than it should be. Fast forward to 2019 and I started entertaining the idea of intermittent fasting. After I began researching and listening to audio books and podcasts, it actually made sense. I learned that our bodies need a break from digesting food. We are really not designed to have food so readily available. It is ok to not eat for hours at a time. I started with extending the hours past sleep a couple hours and then started adding more hours a little here and there until I made it to 16 hours fasting a day.
On February 18th, at my surgeon’s office he did me the biggest favor by telling me if he operated on me that day, I would not be successful because of my weight. He gave me a goal to work on before my surgery. That motivated me even more. Let me tell you being in constant pain, not being able to walk pain free for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time is not fun. At 54 years old I get to a point where it is more important to take care of myself than to have that food that will make me sick and keep me obese. I dug in. I started extending my fasts even more. I went 18 hours, 23 hours, 26 hours. I have done a couple of 36-hour fasts, 40-hour fasts and my longest to date is 46 hours. Let me tell you it is a mental game. I have never focused on something so much in my life to have that determination. I was never willing before to go through the discomfort of being hungry. I will tell you as a result I am beginning to feel the FREEDOM of not being tied to food 24/7 and it has freed up time to pursue other things. A side benefit is I am saving money on food too. More importantly I am creating a new relationship with food I have never had before. I am boosting my confidence and self-worth because I am creating that mental strength, which are outcomes I never imagined.
I am proud of myself and I am keeping my word to myself. If I can do this so can you! Now I BELIEVE AND KNOW I CAN SUCCEED!
If you would like to learn more about fasting, there are many experts out there to learn. We all have to find what works for us as we are all different.
If you would like to follow me:
Facebook – @robcohn
Instagram – @rob_cohn
I have also created a group of friends where we support each other in our fasting goals, Fasting with Friends – https://www.facebook.com/groups/fastingwitfriends/