In the breakdown of unhealthy cells, all essential substances are used and conserved in a most extraordinary manner. There is an unwarranted fear that strength diminishes from the catabolism of proteins from muscle fibers during a fast. Even during long fasts, the number of muscle fibers remains the same. Although the healthy cells may be reduced in size and strength for a time, they remain perfectly sound.
Before I changed my diet at 30 years of age, I was pear-shaped and well on my way to obesity. My first 30-day fast striped away layers of fat to reveal the thin, fine-boned body of my boyhood. Instead of being pear-shaped, I looked small-shouldered and scrawny. I had flashbacks of my teenage years just looking at myself in the mirror. It quickly became apparent what fasting could not do is tone and shape healthy muscle.
About three years ago, at the age of 39, tired of being Stick Man, I began a bodybuilding program and went from 138 to 155 pounds. Because of low body fat the hard work quickly evidenced itself; I felt and looked great. Then the inevitable happened. I heard God’s call to a 30 day fast, the first long fast I had gone on since I began working out.
In spite of all the knowledge, I was honestly worried about losing most of what I had worked so hard to achieve. Invested seven hours a week hitting weights, loving my new body maybe a little too much. The calling was clear though. Would vanity get in the way of God’s work? I looked better at the age of 41 than I did as a teenager. Obedience got the better part of me. The fast was a success, many prayers were answered but it looked as if most of my work had melted away, dropping to 135 pounds!
I started with running and was amazed how quickly I put on the miles. My first run a few days after the fast, fifteen minutes. Then it went to twenty, twenty-five, thirty. I felt like I could fly, body tingling with health. A month went by before I lay under the bench-press. I was up to 145 pounds; size was coming back without lifting a pound. I knew it was time to get back to the weights. My first visit back I was surprised at my strength. Within a few weeks, the weight went up, body responding quickly. Firm, cut muscles showed almost immediately. Once you have acquired a certain muscle size, it is easy to get it back. Body builders’ call it muscle memory.
I love marinating tired muscles in the men’s sauna after a hard workout. Took me some time to get used to the dress code. Nothing but beads of sweat and a smile. We all try not to look but I could not help notice as men got older, muscle cuts and firmness diminish. They may acquire size but years of gravity perform its dirty work. It is a very different case with the men I know who fast regularly and body build. Even in older age they have teenage bodies, not big and bulky but strong and fit.
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