21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

Post about using social media more intently

Background

Each year, the church that I attend does a fast and prayer at the beginning of the year. For the past two years, I have given up something during the fasting season and kept track of it on my Trello board.

This year, I have decided that I would blog about my experience and results from fasting. My goal is to update this post each day with the updates for that particular day.

Why 21 days? It has been said that if you commit to doing or not doing something for 21 days in a row, that it will become a habit and you will be more inclined to continue doing or not doing it beyond the 21 days. I did a fast last year for 21 days and some of those habits have stuck.

Updates

I will be posting my daily updates here so that you can follow along in my progress. Perhaps you have your own fast that you want to consider doing for the start of the year.

Day 0 - January 4

I know what you are thinking... why is he starting to count with 0 instead of 1? Computers start their counting of items with 0. However, humans usually start with 1, so programmers like myself have to add additional code in so that the counting will be acceptable to humans. Consider this day to be the day of preparation before entering the fast.

My goals during this fast are to do the following:

No Facebook

Social media is addictive. Main reason that I am avoiding Facebook is because I login to that website more than the other social media accounts that I have. I did see a post that said to not use social media less but to use it more intently. That post is the header graphic of this post. I do plan on doing this more after the fast is over. For the fast though, I have found that when I cut out the most addictive social media habits, that I am able to do more of the things that I previously have put off to the side.

Daily Commits to Github

As part of my personal branding strategy, I want to actually demonstrate that I do participate in the IT community and provide digital contributions. That said, I plan on contributing to making at least one commit to any of my repositories per day during the fast. I know it seems excessive, but hear (or read) me out on this. Not all of my commits will be code related. The version control for my blog is on Github, so some of those commits will be new or updated content for my website. Other commits will be new or updated code that I have done.

No Meat, Little to No Cheese

I have refrained from eating meat in the past. There were some noticable differences such as having a flatter stomach, going to The John more frequently, and being more energetic. In addition, I have watched documentaries that state that eating too much meat can have a negative impact on your body.

When it comes to cheese, I have noticed that eating a lot of it can change my regularity. Since the last fast, I have gotten away from eating it sparingly. Thus I want to get back in that habit of not eating it as frequently.

Journal Daily

I have discovered in recent months that there is something about writing your thoughts and ideas out. Yes, there is the scripture in Habakkuk about writing the vision and making it plan. I also think that journaling allows us to clear our heads from the things that we want to remember, but do not necessarily need to always keep readily on our minds. In other words, it allows you to "clean out the attic".

I listened to a podcast one time, at the speaker was mentioning that we perceive the brain as more of a hard drive (i.e. permenant storage), when in actuality it is more like RAM (temporary storage). If you do not clean up the RAM periodically, then you will run into problems. On Linux systems, if you fill up the temporary storage, the OS might crash.

Two Day Rule for Exercising

Matt D'Avella posted a video about what he refers to as the Two Day Rule. What is the Two Day Rule? In short, the rule is that you do not go more than two days between doing a workout. I have done this in the past, outside of a fasting period, and do agree that it does motivate you to be in better shape and allows you to have days off if your schedule does not allow workout time. For my implementation of the Two Day Rule, does not mean always working out. Sometimes I will substitute a true workout with a 30 minute walk, or a hike, or some other sort of physical activity.

Water, Tea, or Natural Juices

As I have gotten older, I rarely drink sodas. During this fasting season, I am going to make an effort to not drink anything that may contain High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as a lot of products contain this substance. They say that HFCS is fine to consume in moderation. Only problem that I have is... 1) What is "moderation"? Is it once per week, once per quarter, once per year? 2) It is hard to have something in moderation, when it is contained in majority of the food and drink that we consume.

Daily Prayer

As if this was obvious enough... heck it is in the title of the post.

Day 1 - January 5

Today I had no meat. Went to Chipotle for lunch and an Indian restaurant for dinner. I only had water and tea to drink today. I spent the morning of today serving at church, so had to get up slightly earlier than normal. However, I was able to take a nap after the church services.

I interacted with others about this and my previous post regarding my word of the year. It was very enlightening to hear about others' doing the same thing as myself, but for their personal benefit and mental health.

I did not get around to exercising. Definitely is a must for tomorrow though. I did refrain from Facebook. I made a post yesterday on IG and Twitter, so I responded to messages and comments regarding those. I did find myself mindlessly scrolling, which I am trying to get out of the habit of. Once I realized that I was doing it, I redirected my focus to being more productive.

Day 2 - January 6

Only had one real meal today and that was lunch. Had the remaining Chipotle from yesterday with some chips, Nutty Buddy bar, and a muffin. As I write this at 8 PM, I don't feel hungry, although I could eat.

Was up earlier than normal today. I took that time to write in the journal and to do some reflecting, and map out some goals for the year. I prefer to set goals instead of make resolutions. While the two terms are similar in context, their definitions are different. My understanding after hearing and seeing people fail with keeping their resolutions, is that their resolutions should be broken down into smaller steps (i.e. goals). I have goals that I set last year that have not been accomplished. Those goals carried over into the new year in addition to the new ones that I have set for this year.

I have found recipes in one of the crock pot cookbooks that I have. I have already had to modify them as they call for meat. Photos will be posted in the days to come an whether I would make them again or if I need to donate that cookbook to the local library.

Day 3 - January 7

Was able to get a walk around the block in today. Could have walked an additional block as I did not do a walk yesterday. Made lemonade from scratch for the first time. It definitely has the lemon kick in it. Will need to use less lemons next time.

Watched a sermon that was sent to me titled "Looking Back, Keep Sitting, or Moving Forward". It was a good message as it talked about how that we all have a past. However we are not to focus on the past, but instead use the past as a lesson for what to and not to do in the future. One of the examples given was that if you are standing and facing forward, that you are not aware of what is going on behind you. The scripture that supports this, was Joshua 1:1-6.

I have also been watching some videos on how to be better web developer. These videos talk about pricing your services, to building your portfolio, to developing a system that works for you. I feel that these practices that I am learning can be applied to the work that I do.

Day 4 - January 8

I actually managed to sleep a full night last night. Not sure why that was the case. It could possibly be because of the lack of meat in my diet, thus changing my body chemistry. Who knows?

Surprisingly, I have been able to keep up with daily commits to this post and to Github as I have set out to do. I updated one of the sites that I had not updated in over a year. It had a number of security patches that needed to go in. In addition, the automated deployment script that I had created, was not working because of the execute permissions not being set (doggone Linux).

Walking during lunch breaks is a good thing as it allows me to get in the recommended 10K steps per day. However, I do need some shoes that are intended for walking such distances during lunch break, as the dress shoes that I normally wear are clearly not cut out for that job.

Day 5 - January 9

I listened to a sermon that talked about letting the past be the past, and to focus on what is to come in the future. I have been listening to more sermons recently, and this seems to be a common theme among them. These sermons were all delivered around the end of 2019.

Watched some videos today, that had me thinking about some side income ideas that I could use to advance and extend my skillset in the IT field. I have watched several videos about people that are using Fiverr to make income. I used Fiverr back in 2011, but had not really be active on the platform recently. I figured that I could use platforms like these, to build automations to make the turnaround time for some of the requests faster thus reducing the manual amount of work required on my part.

Day 11 - January 16

I have been sick the last few days. Managed to catch the flu. I am still in the recovery phase as I write this. This is part of the reason why there is a gap of about a week between updates.

During this time, I have managed to go outside during the daytime, weather permitting, and capture some sunlight. Being in the house all day quarantining yourself because of doctor's orders is no fun, but it is a necessary precaution.

Not sure who found out that sunlight helps elevate your mood, but I do have to agree. I would say that it was like boost of energy. Not quite like the boost that Popeye gets after eating a can of Spinach, but more like never riding a bike before and once you get on the bike realizing the purpose of the training wheels.

I have been told many of times how my post about squirrels taught me about women and food is insanely funny. I did not realize that it would catch on in the way that it did, but I am glad that I can share my story with others and they get something out of it.

I have gotten through almost entire week of ASP.Net Core MVC training. What that means is that I can build enterprise grade applications that will run a multiple platforms. This is definitely a useful skill that I am glad that I am able to add to my toolbelt.

To my surprise, I have only missed 2 out of 11 days thus far, making a commit to any of my repositories on Github. Having a blog that is versioned on Github has helped with this cause. Also having requests for me to share knowledge about Python and Linux have added to the commits. Those of you that have requested such info, thanks!

Day 12 - January 17

Completed training for ASP.Net Core MVC. The training is related to projects that I will be working on in the future. It was good to get training and some exposure to the subject prior to actually having to work with it. I did practice some courses and performing tutorials that I was able to find on YouTube and PluralSight courses.

Day 19 - January 23

The fast is almost over. Did have a moment today where the lunch option provided had meat, but I did remove it from the sandwich was provided.

Coworker informed me of a challenge that he has chosen to take up for this year. He said that hi grandson was doing 20 pushups in the morning and 20 in the evening for the year of 2020. Figured that I would give this a shot as well just to see what gains or other benefits that I can get from it. Will post about it sometime in the future.

Day 21 - January 25

Finally have reached the end of the fast. What's next you ask? Well some habits I will try to keep in place. Others I will slowly reintroduce, but do my best to maintain what I have accomplished during the fast.

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