Why I Fast

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Dear friend,

I want to share why I fast (or why I don’t eat breakfast or lunch).

1. Entitlement

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The first reason I fast is that it takes away my sense of entitlement.

When I fast, and I feel pangs of hunger— I remember when I was 12 years old — when I would pretend to not be hungry, in order to save money (to buy clothes and stuff I didn’t need, but thought would make me ‘cool’).

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When I fast, and I feel hunger— I feel connected to the poor and hungry all around the world.

When I fast, I realize that even though I am now financially rich, I should never forget where I came from — and all the sacrifices that my umma (mom) made in getting me where I am.

When I fast, I think of all those refugees suffering around the world. When I fast, I think of all the immigrants, who are grinding just to make a living. When I fast, I remind myself not to become an entitled asshole.

2. Health reasons

eric kim photographer hanoi portrait by cindy a nguyen

I also fast for selfish reasons. The theory is that the only scientifically rigorous to extend life is ‘via negativa’ (hat tip to Nassim Taleb). The concept is that by fasting, our bodies starve pre-cancerous cells. The process is called ‘autophagy’ in science.

Also, there are a lot of studies that show that by intermittent fasting (going 14-18 hours without food) your body releases growth hormones. Funny enough, ever since I have stopped eating breakfast and lunch (I only eat big meals in the evening) — I have actually gained muscle mass, and lost tremendous amounts of body fat (I can finally see my abdominal muscles, not covered by stomach fat).

3. Mental productivity

I also find that when I fast, I am mentally sharper. I no longer get ‘food coma’ after eating a big meal. I am able to be more intellectually productive throughout the day.

I used to struggle to write a blog post every day or every other day. Now it is pretty easy for me to blog and publish 3-4 pieces a day. The secret is when I get hungry, I just drink more water, do some pushups (or physical exercise), or drink more espresso or black coffee.

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For me, mental focus is everything. I love feeling creative and productive. I hate the feeling of feeling ‘tired.’ I feel hungry throughout the day, but I no longer feel ‘tired.’

When I am more intellectually productive throughout the day — I have a lot of selfish gains. I can blog more, market myself more, and produce more information which brings me joy — and can indirectly lead me to earning more money (selling more products or workshops). Also by blogging more, and getting more articles, books, Instagram/Facebook followers, YouTube videos out there, it often leads to commercial deals.

4. The purpose of my life

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The purpose of my life is to sacrifice myself for the sake of the collective. I follow in the footsteps of Gandhi, Jesus, Seneca, and all of my other masters.

I have enough to survive. I have my all-black clothes. I have my laptop, coffee, and internet connection. I can survive on water and eggs. I don’t need any more stuff.

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I just need more time and focus— to continue to help and uplift others. To empower others.

And once again, I’m a very selfish person. I like to help other people because it makes me feel like I have a purpose in life. I like to help other people, because it puts a huge smile to see people reaching their potential (or even going beyond it).

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To me, I would have no reason to wake up if I didn’t have anybody in the world to help. I would have no reason to make photos, if I didn’t have the opportunity to share/teach others how to make better photos. If I were the only person on earth, I would see no reason to live.

He who lives for himself is truly dead to others.

I do believe that the purpose of being human is to empower other humans. To reduce suffering in our fellow brothers and sisters. And we cannot live a meaningful life without sacrifice, challenges, and hustle.

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To sum up, fasting is something that gives me small momentary pain — that helps me stay connected to earth, and the ‘common’ man and woman. I never want to forget where I came from. And I never want to stop helping others.

5. How to start intermittent fasting

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The common misconception is that fasting is starving yourself. You’re not.

I’m just shifting my eatings schedule. I don’t eat breakfast or lunch, but I eat a lot in the evening. I usually have an early dinner (around 5-6pm), and then I might have another ‘midnight snack’ of eggs (4-6 eggs) around 8pm-11pm. So be honest, I don’t even fast for that long.

During the day, I drink a lot of coffee, and water. Whenever I feel hungry, I just go on a walk, or listen to music (Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DAMN.’ Album, write (like now), or do some physical exercise (chin-ups, pushups, dips, 1-legged squats, or deadlifts).

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There are a lot of different ways to fast. And you won’t die. Look at all the Muslims who fast during Ramadan — they are much tougher— they even go without drinking water until sunset (in the sweltering desert).

Also have pride in your fasting. You don’t need to brag about it like me — just keep it to yourself. You will end up feeling an inner-pride of fasting, to know that you’re stronger than you think. And also that you’re not a slave to food. Rather, food is your slave.

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And lastly, just experiment. Figure out what works for you.

And consider: the best way to domesticate a lion is to feed it 3 square meals a day. A wild lion (although hungry) is more brave, fierce, and alive.

Be strong,

Learn more: How to Become a Spartan Photographer >