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Motivational Fasting

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Sep 28, 2021

Starring a patronising doctor, the death of willpower and one feisty toddler…

In this episode I am going to explain what is motivational fasting (MF) by contrasting it to puritanical fasting (PF). The difference will become clear as you listen.


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To be clear, MF is not about a specific strategy (say 16:8 or alternate day fasting) – it is about mindset. You can use MF (or if you are very unlucky, PF) to do intermittent, ADF or extended day fasting.

Here are some of the main differences between MF and PF (more are mentioned in the show):


Willpower vs Experimentation

PF  Every fast is a test of your willpower. If you do not last the entire time you set yourself or deviate from any of the rules of the fast, you have failed and deep shame ensues. 

MF  Every fast is an experiment. An experiment can neither succeed nor fail – it can only give you data. You may not like the data, but you appreciate the value of that information. If a fast goes badly, you learn from the experience and optimise. More on optimisation shortly. 


#3 Easy vs Impossible To Fail

PF  It is very easy to fail at puritanical fasting – or else see any setback as a failure, and a reason to feel guilty. This happens because fasters have not learnt to navigate their own resistance. Many do not carefully consider how lifestyle and fasting fit together symbiotically – both are important, and compromise is necessary from both. 

MF  It is impossible to fail at motivational fasting. Why? Because you are constantly experimenting. Another way to look at it is like a toddler walking. They have no concept of failure, or indeed success. They just start walking. At first they are pretty disastrous, and require a LOT of support and practise. The first time they attempt the unchartered territory of the carpet between the sofa arm and the coffee table, and plop down onto their bottom after one faltering step, do they give up and trash talk their lack of coordination?

Of course not. They keep going. They are walking. In motivational fasting, you are fasting. That is all.


#4 Whose Rules?

PF  Puritanical fasting is about following someone else’s rules. You have less autonomy over your experience than a toddler, who at least is encouraged to choose between healthy options. This parent-child dynamic is incredibly disempowering and a breeding ground for food rebellion.

MF  is about continually optimising and iterating in order to discover your own bespoke set of fasting protocols. A tailor-made process that suits you, your lifestyle,  and sets you up for success. You no longer know the meaning of the word ‘struggle’.


#5 The Outer Game vs The Inner Game

PF  focuses on external measures of progress: calories and weigh ins. Now of course there are times when it is appropriate to take these external measurements, for example when fasting under medical supervision. The problem is that these measurements  A) are used far too often and B) carry too much emotional power. For example, weighing yourself straight after a 36 hour fast on Wednesday and then again two days later will make you delighted mid week and depressed by Friday. You know very well that a good deal of the Wednesday weight loss is water that you will regain by the weekend. Why put yourself through such misery?

MF  focuses on the inner game. You may have weight to lose, but you know that obsessing over it on a daily basis is an exercise in disempowerment.

Whereas external measures can change and seem temperamental, the inner game of tolerating hunger is one that gets easier the more you do it as long as you do it in conjunction with other aspects of this approach outlined in this article



What Is Motivational Fasting article:

Harriet Morris

Email: info {at}