I arrived in Goa March 10th, 2020. The same day as the Indian festival of colour, Holi. The very same day Canada declared a country wide lockdown due to Corona. Before leaving Canada I was a talking to a friend who told me I was crazy for planning to leave during a pandemic. I had just booked my flight and politely told him that I didn’t need his energy at the moment. I was amazed at my luck that I somehow just managed to get out before it was too late. Call it intuition, I knew that if I didn’t leave then, who knows when the next time I might get a chance.
Once I arrived, Goa was lovely. I reconnected with friends from seasons past. Even had the chance to attend the last ecstatic dance under the big banyan tree. Overall it was just amazing to be enjoying the sun, beaches and great energy that is ever present in Goa.
I was able to enjoy Goa for 1 week before India’s government imposed its own spicy lockdown. I ended up getting a house for the lockdown with a talented musician friend. Between the two of us we had all the guitars and pedals to keep us entertained.
Lockdown was a little crazy at times as we were forced to wait in long hot lines for food. Nobody was sure how long each phase of lockdown would last so they would stock up. I remember a guy in front of me buying 20 cans of tuna. Unfortunately, that was all they had left.
It had been more than a year since I had been in Goa. I had put on lots of weight during my time away. I knew this because people would tell me. “Hey Mark, great to see you! You got fat.” Leave it to your Indian and Russian friends to tell you exactly what they think. It didn’t feel good hearing them say that but they were right. I weighed 200 lbs (90 kg). Looked about 10 years older than I am and was consuming alcohol and smoking daily.
I lacked confidence and was not happy with my physical appearance. In order to suppress these feelings I would drink and smoke for the sweet temporary relief my addictions would provide. I wasn’t happy with my physical body and desperately wanted change. I didn’t start right away. During lockdown I spent a month and a half sharing a house with my friend who was in good shape. I was tired. I wanted a new body, attitude and life.
When the time was right I ended up moving to a familiar spot right on the beach. This area near Freedom Cafe and Food Planet has been a favourite location of mine over the years. Living on the beach during the monsoon might not make a lot of sense. Especially if you want your electronics to survive. But for me it was perfect. The monsoon meant that everyday I’d be faced with rain. There were certainly breaks in the rain but it was very unpredictable when the rain would stop. This made it impossible to plan exactly when go out without getting rained on.
What started me on the road to health was a conversation I had with my Mom. She was telling me she had started following “The Fast Metabolism Diet” by Haylie Pomroy. This was a book I had gifted her a few months earlier. I thought the book had some good ideas in it. She seemed to be enjoying it and seeing some benefits so I decided to give it a try. I followed the books 4 week program and these were the results.
I stopped drinking alcohol, coffee, and dairy. I also cut out sugar, white rice, bread, and chocolate. Each week I would eat a strict diet. Phase 1: Monday and Tuesday I would eat grain and fruit. Phase 2: Wednesday and Thursday, mostly protein with no grain or fruit. Lastly Phase 3: Friday, Saturday and Sunday I could eat a mix of the first two phases plus essential fats from fish.
During this diet I also added a workout routine. As luck would have it my German neighbour who is in great shape recommended a workout app called “Suspension Workouts”. It’s like having a fitness coach in your pocket. Each workout lasts 30 seconds with a 10 second rest in between. After 2.5 minutes you get a 30 second rest. I found a 5 minute high intensity workout is about all I can handle. Once I finished my workout I would make a Vanilla protein shake with either banana or papaya.
When my neighbour recommended this app I didn’t own a TRX workout system. So I built one. I purchased some half inch nylon rope from the local shop and got some 1 inch plastic pipe cut to 6 inch lengths for handles. The ceiling of my apartment had an anchor in just the right spot, so I fed the rope through the anchor and voila, suspension workout.
Working out without cardio wouldn’t help me lose my belly so I started running every second day with a football (soccer ball) up and down the beach. The run would take me about 30 minutes one direction. When I reached the end I would stop at a restaurant to buy a bottle of water. Drink exactly half. Then run back the other way. I love running with a ball. Rain or shine, it’s no problem as long as you have a ball. I remember countless times I would run down the beach in the rain and the only other people I would see would be fishermen and a few other people with a ball. On the days I wasn’t running I would be working out.
Before I finished my diet I was already thinking about what I would do when it was over. It had been so long since I had abstained from alcohol and I didn’t want to waste the momentum. Just as I was thinking about what to do once I finished my diet. I attended a friends party and met this beautiful Russian woman who had been fasting for 5 days. She was only drinking water. She had lots of energy and went on at length about the benefits of fasting. Her message resonated with me.
The next day I read “The Water Fasting Guide” by Emily Moore. The book answered all my questions and convinced me that as soon as I finish my diet I will start a fast. As someone who had never tried fasting before I was nervous. The idea of not eating made me hungry. I had never in my life given my digestive system a break. This was my first time trying fasting and I would only learn by taking action. My goal was to approach this fast one day at a time. During my fast I would drink lots and lots of water. Every time I felt hungry I would answer it with more water. For a little variety I also made tea by boiling ginger and adding lemon. I continued to run on the beach every two days and workout every other day. One day turned into two days and I eventually went 11 days only drinking water.
The result was I lost another 11 lbs (5 kg). Bringing my total weight loss for the 6 week period to an incredible 33 lbs (15 kg). I am honestly amazed at how powerful fasting can be on the body. When the body isn’t constantly using energy for digestion it can go to work and heal the areas of your body that need it most. I hope my story inspires you to eat healthy and learn more about the magic of fasting. Your body is amazing. Let yourself shine.
Love you all.