Marathon runners repeat the legend of the forlorn mid-life man who got up one morning determined to kill himself, choosing to make his own demise look more or less accidental, by running until he collapsed. The guy had gained so much weight, smoked so relentlessly, and boozed it up so intrepidly he surmised he might go half a block or so before he succumbed to a quick and relatively painless heart attack or stroke. Dressed in sweats to hide his big belly and bad intentions, the would-be trauma case lumbered all the way to the end of the block and midway up the next block before he realized, ironically, he could not run fast enough, far enough, or hard enough to hurt himself.

Resigning himself to the grim irony, he resolved to rest and prepare for executing his plan and himself the next day. As the story goes, the hapless old man hell-bent on self-destruction kept trying to run himself to death until his daily suicide attempt became a ritual. Then, still hoping for blissful collapse, he ran marathons and road races of all kinds. Still, he could not give himself a coronary. And, of course, still hoping for quick and painless release from all life’s burdens, the now frighteningly fit old man will repeat his ritual again today. The old runner keeps on running because it hurts so good.

“If only I might have…”

Strictly speaking, “fast” means restriction and regulation, not deprivation. Your body can last a few days without food; it cannot last more than twenty four hours without water. During a period of detox fasting, you will not deprive your body of all the vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and energy it needs. You will restrict your diet to liquids that cleanse your system and build your defenses against disease. You may have all the healthy antioxidant juices you want, and you may have all the water you need. You may not have all the foods your body inevitably will crave. Withdrawal from your bad habits will hurt a great deal-both literally and figuratively. You will crave Big Macs, Snickers bars, Doritos, your favorite beer, one precious can of Classic Coca Cola, just a few bites of melt-in-your-mouth rare prime rib.

Even if you have improved upon the original detox recipe, your detox beverage still will not taste great or hit the spot like the unhealthy foods you crave. If you have sweetened your detox beverage, the sweetness will annoy you. If you have brewed your beverage cayenne-rich, the fire will linger in your mouth and stomach, reminding you of all you have sacrificed. You may have diarrhea, urinate far more than normal, and generally feel as though a fleet of Peterbilts ran over you. You probably will not have immediate feelings of health, fitness, and joy. Yet you will know, just like singing the blues or running a marathon, your detox diet just hurts so good.

“I guess it is good that I have not…”

As you continue detox fasting, the pain and cravings will subside, you will start to feel more alert and energetic, and you will begin to see and feel your weight-loss. You will begin to understand how your body had grown dependent on all those sugary, fatty, chemically-enhanced and dangerously preserved foods you craved. You will discover how much sugar they put in “special sauce” to make it special; you will discover just how many empty calories your twelve ounce Labatt’s pumped into your system; and you will learn just how cholesterol your prime rib packed into your arteries as plaque.

Gradually, you will acquire a taste for and then a preference for fresh fruits and vegetables, pinto and kidney beans, and cool, refreshing filtered water. Although you still may feel deprived of all you used to have, you will understand and appreciate the benefits of all you now have not. And, just like the persistent runner, you will continue your detox fasting ritual, because day after day, it hurts so good.

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