To Hell & Back - How Fasting Saved My Life
by Robert Dave Johnston
(West Palm Beach, Florida)
"Sometimes I would get so sick that I would actually vomit all over myself while gorging. I did not care. I would just continue to eat. Wouldn't even change my shirt. In my mind, I was garbage and did not deserve even the slightest of human dignities."
Ever since I was a small child, I recall always feeling inadequate, ugly, weak an unworthy. This translated to lots of bullying in school and very few friends. The kids called me "the ugly fat cow." Anytime I would walk by or get in the bus they would start "mooo, mooo, mooo."
You know how tough kids can be. I was terrified to go to school. I was the overweight, nonathletic, dark-skinned kid in the group. The ugly duckling. My mother worked hard to raise and support me, but it was very hard as she was alone.
My father was a very famous Latin American singer in the 1960s and 70s and I guess he was too busy with his fame to care much about me. So he left us when I was very young. I was always in emotional pain. Food gave me the hiding place and "medication" that I needed. I recall that for a great part of my childhood my grandfather ran a little shop from the house.
Kids would come up to the kitchen window and order candy, sodas and fried goodies. Needless to say, I ravaged the candy when noone was looking. It was not unusual for my grandparents to find tons of candy wrappers under my bed. "You're eating my profits!" grandpa would shout. I could not stop. I was not even ten years old and already was a food addict.
My mother went on to remarry, but the father image that I longed for did not materialize. In fact, there were periods of mental and even physical abuse. I retreated further into my shell. Girls did not like me, I had no friends and became a total outcast. This went on through high school.
Many other things happened and for a period of time I lost a lot of weight. It was mostly due to my huge love for Rocky and Sylvester Stallone. But that did not last and my binging eventually led me to regain all of the weight.
By this time I was in my late teens and had gone off to Los Angeles to be on my own. I did ok at first and started to get in shape and do some acting. I played in numerous rock bands. Like they said in the movie Goodfellas - "It was a glorious time."
I met and hung out with a lot of celebrities (Slash and Axl Rose from Guns N' Roses were my favorites), had hair down to my waist, rode a motorcycle and felt like I was on my way to doing something positive with my life, especially in music as a singer, guitarist and composer. But the food addiction and binging had other plans.
Increased alcohol consumption led to weight gain which led to demoralization which led to a full-blown relapse into binging. This time, however, I was going straight to hell. By the time my sting in Los Angeles was over, I had given up on music, acting and just stayed in my tiny apartment in Santa Monica Boulevard eating, eating and chain smoking.
Sometimes I ran out money and would call the pizza man and then beg him to give me the pie and that I would pay later. I was blacklisted by pizza delivery restaurants within a ten-mile radius. lol I could go on and on.
Over the following years I was lucky enough to start a journalism career in San Juan, Puerto Rico which is where my mother is from. I can only say it was a "God" thing because one day I was working out in the sun mixing cement and the next day I was in an office writing business stories. I was taken there. I don't recall having the ambition, energy or vision to do so.
Things went really well and I seemed to have found my niche as a writer, which apparently I did fairly well. But that feeling of "not being good enough" was always there.
Anytime something good happened in my career (awards, raises, praise from colleagues), I would minimize it and set out to prove everyone wrong. I would slide into a binge and disappear from sight. I would lock myself in my apartment to drink and eat and simply not show up to work.
My bottom was me not bathing, shaving or changing clothes for weeks, sometimes months at a time. I would spend weeks alone in my apartment living off of pizza, cheeseburgers and Chinese food delivery. I would order an Xtra large pizza every day and eat it in its entirety, as well as liters and liters of soda.
Sometimes I would get so sick that I would actually vomit all over myself while gorging. I did not care. I would just continue to eat. Wouldn't even change my shirt. In my mind, I was garbage and did not deserve even the slightest of human dignities.
How can a human being sink so low? My only exposure with the outside world was my daily trips to Dunkin Donuts to buy a dozen pack and some apple fritters. I wore only black over sized clothing, most of which was badly stained by icing and grease from the pizza and Chinese food.
I was the 'man in black.' Walking death...
Black shorts or sweatpants and a black t-shirt. That was my uniform. Several times I contemplated suicide and even started to plan it. The only thing that held me back was knowing the horrible pain that would cause for my precious mother.
Eventually I lost my journalism career, my home, my fiancee and ended up living in rescue missions, christian homes and anywhere that I could crash. I smoked two packs a day of Marlboro Reds and was drinking heavily as well as binging nonstop.
My mother was the only one that could stand me. I was obese, dirty, smelly and lost in chronic depression, bitterness and hatred. I was dead in life. Many well-intentioned men tried to help me, but I was unwilling to listen or have any type of accountability in my life.
Some years later I moved to Florida and secured a job at a great business newspaper. I was overweight but was in somewhat more 'control' than before. Everyone in that newspaper was very good to me.
But, again, I had to prove everyone wrong. So one Friday I went home to drink and binge and disappeared for months. They tried to help... but I was trapped and simply could not stop eating.
I recall waking and seeing boxes and boxes and boxes of pizza all over the place, garbage and the horrible smell of death. I looked in the mirror and saw a horribly bloated, greasy face with deep, dark circles around the eyes. I looked like something out of Night of The Living Dead.
By then I was 90 pounds overweight and very sick from intestinal toxicity and a liver condition that was getting worse.
One day I started fasting basically out of desperation, but was consumed by horrible withdrawal symptoms before I could finish even eight hours without solid food. It was like being stabbed all over my body... the detox pain was intense.
I was puzzled by the bad breath, white-sticky tongue, metallic taste and dizziness that I experienced. Research later led me to the realization that the symptoms were a reflection of just how toxic my body and digestive system had become.
By that time I had spent nearly 25 years binging, binging and binging with very little interruption.I had no social life and hardly any friends. For all I cared my life was over. How dark it gets before the dawn! :-)
In an ultimate low, I received the grace, strength and resolve to launch a 40-day water fast. The start of the fast was hell. I quit smoking cold turkey right then and there. The symptoms hit me hard and I was against the ropes many times. I don't know why I was doing this.
I just knew that I had to. I could sense in my spirit that this was my chance to find some sort of life. It was very hard and painful - especially during the first 11 days of cleansing and detoxification. But I was reborn.
Fasting for weight loss, health and fitness has changed my life. It worked when traditional diets did not. I realized that, as long as I kept putting food in my body, I was not giving it the opportunity to cleanse from all the toxicity that had built up over the years.
My complete lack of control with food was a problem that only fasting was able to break. It forced me to navigate through the pains and discomfort of cleansing and detoxification.
Only then did the chains of food slavery break and I was led to freedom.
Once the fasting was over, I found - to my astonishment- that I was no longer willing to just put anything in my mouth. The sacrifice of fasting and cleansing gave me a new perspective on food.
This new perspective, in turn, gave me a fresh sense of discipline that had otherwise eluded me. In short, for me diets did not work because, in reality, what I needed was to stop eating altogether for a season so my body could clean itself.
I tried all the diets, believe me. Yet I only grew fatter and more frustrated. Each failure usually restored me to the previous undesired weight and added another 10 to 20 pounds to boot.
Later I realized that, at least for me, fasting and cleansing had to come BEFORE or could expect to stick to any particular diet - no matter how good it was.
Having lost nearly 100 pounds through juice and water fasting, I now dedicate myself to helping others interested in improving their health through this amazing, life-giving discipline. I am not here to present a rosy picture that this is easy. It is not. You have to get to the point where you are "sick and tired of being sick and tired."
AT that point, there is no other option but to press on and do whatever it takes to find freedom. And I am not cured of food addiction. I will be a food addict for the rest of my life. But, one day at a time, I choose to NOT take that first careless bit of the trigger foods that enslaved me.
That does not mean that I am a killjoy either. I do have my treats once in a while, but it with a structure and it is just a one-time shot. The mental food obsession has left me. I rarely get obsessive thoughts about food anymore. I have made contact with the God of my understanding.
You may wonder: why do you I give such graphic details? Well, I want to give you hope! I want you to know that no matter how low and hopeless you may feel, you CAN overcome and find freedom just like I did.
I pray that you may be filled with strength, wisdom and determination to seize your freedom. And may all of your dreams come true. :-)