Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Parkour Classes at Zenith Gymnastics

Rochester Parkour is offering Parkour and Obstacle Coursing Classes on Sundays from 2:30pm to 3:30pm at Zenith Gymnastics. This class is geared to the 8-14 age bracket, but even if you aren't in this age range, please contact Zenith anyway and let them know you are interested. We will take your contact info and alert you when a new class opens up.

Located in Rochester, New York, Contact Zenith at 585-292-5370 and ask about Zac Cohn's Parkour classes now!

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, November 20, 2008

72 Hour Fast - Part 3

71 hours, 58 minutes into my 72 hour fast: I sat at the dinner table, my plate of food steaming in front of me. I didn't know how my stomach would take food, so I decided to start with small, easy to digest foods: Olives, raisins, grapes, assorted nuts, steamed broccoli and some salsa for dipping. I had some chicken prepared and ready to go on the grill, but I was going to give that another hour or so.

Sitting in my chair, I leaned over and inhaled deeply. When you don't eat for a long period of time, your sense of smell intensifies. I had gone to a grocery store earlier that day, and it was intoxicating. Walking into the store was like walking into a brick wall. I was inundated with smell, I just stopped and stood in the entrance, eyes closed, taking it all in. Charlie did the shopping, and I just ran from display to display, leaning over and inhaling deep.

I had two minutes left in my fast, and I spent it with my eyes closed, lost in smell. My phone hit midnight, and I began to eat. I was unsure how my stomach would accept food, so I wanted to take it slow. I ate my dinner nut by nut, raisin by raisin, olive by olive. It took me about an hour to finish my plate, but I enjoyed every bite of food to its fullest. I'd let the grapes sit in my mouth for up to a full minute, absorbing the taste, before biting just enough to let the juice leak out into my mouth. I'd finish cleaving the grape in half, and let the two halves wander around my mouth, saturating my taste buds with flavor. The broccoli dissolved in my mouth, and when ever something was dipped in the salsa my tongue was overwhelmed by the sensation. As I neared the end of my dinner, I grilled a chicken breast. I cleaned my plate of the first course just as the chicken finished, and I probably spent thirty minutes on the single filleted breast of chicken.

I learned a lot from my fast, but not all of it I can put into words. A good deal of it was just learning more about my body, becoming closer and more in tune with it.

The first and most obvious thing I learned was that I can go three days with only water without radically modifying my daily schedule. I led and participated in a parkour conditioning session, I juggled, I biked to and from campus several times, and I led a Taekwondo class. I got an average amount of sleep each night and only took one nap.

The more important thing I learned was how the body reacts to food deprivation. I kind of assumed that the first day would suck, and that it would just keep getting worse. The first day did suck, but the second and third day was actually very easy. I was telling people that it was “disappointingly easy.” After the body realizes it isn't getting food, something happens and you just stop feeling hungry.

Rating my hunger on a scale of 1 to 10, this is how I would break down the days:

Day 1:
Constant hunger (average): 4
# of hunger pangs: 15-20
Severity of hunger pangs: 7-8

Day 2:
Constant hunger (average): 2
# of hunger pangs: 2-5
Severity of hunger pangs: 5

Day 3:
Constant Hunger (average): 1
# of hunger pangs: 0
Severity of hunger pangs: N/A

So you can see, by the third day my hunger was really just background noise that could be easily turned off. Really, by the second day it was just background noise. The hunger pangs of Day #2 came typically around meal times, which I think was more mental and habit-driven than hunger driven. So really, my 72 hour fast was pretty easy once I got past the first day.

Upon later research, I found out that complete fasting isn't the best way to experience hunger. I could have made it a LOT harder for myself if I had waited most of the first day, and then had three almonds for dinner. The second day, had a strawberry for breakfast and then maybe a single bite of chicken for dinner. The third day could have been a half dozen raisins and a peanut for breakfast and then a bite of a banana for lunch.

Basically what happens is that in Scenario #1 (what I did), after about 24 hours your body realizes it isn't going to be getting any food (for whatever reason) and it just hunkers down. Your metabolism slows to a crawl and you start turning to fat, muscle, and other sources of stored energy instead of utilizing energy from food currently being digested. In Scenario #2, Charles explains that your body is constantly being given small amounts of food to digest. This forces it to continuously be switching metabolic pathways from a highly catabolic state to an increase in metabolism to utilize that energy as soon as possible. You end up confusing your body by cutting it short of its energy needs, but still taunting it with some small morsels of food. It is a highly mental side effect though, essentially toying with your desires.

I didn't notice many side effects (besides hunger, ha ha). The two primary ones I did notice was temperature and emotional control. In short, I got cold. Really, really, cold. Like, “two pairs of pants, a t-shirt, a zip up hoodie, a sweat shirt, a jacket, and a comforter wrapped around me” cold. Not all the time, and that was definitely the worst time, but I did get cold a lot easier, more often, and more intensely than everyone else around me. It didn't help that during my fast was the first really big cold spell in Rochester. Poor timing, I suppose. The other side effect was a some loss of emotional control. Especially towards the end of the second day and the third day, I started getting a bit short and snarky with people. Some events took place Friday morning that left me pretty depressed, but after a few days of food in my stomach I felt a bit more stable. I don't think I would have taken it so poorly had I been eating.

It may have taken me a while to write this post, but I did talk to a few people about the experience once I had finished. My friend Courtney told me about something she did once – she went into the woods, by herself, with only water, a tarp, a sleeping bag, and a candle. She fasted for 48 hours while completely alone. I would like to do some modification of this, perhaps this summer. Get enough water for 5 days and some material to protect me from the elements. Probably some method of starting a fire. I'd go into the woods, alone, far enough where I wouldn't come across anyone, and then just stay there until I felt it was time to come out. The one thing I didn't experience during my fast was focus. I was very distracted by a lot of different things, especially during the third day. Sitting, with absolutely nothing to distract me, for an indeterminate amount of time, sounds like a very different, almost spiritual, experience to me.

I'll let you know when I do this. In the mean time, I definitely learned a lot from this experience. Technique is obviously a very important part of parkour training, but I feel like to be a complete and well rounded traceur you should strive to experience as much as you can. I plan on doing a few other types of deprivation training over the next few months, so look out for those posts.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, November 3, 2008

72 Hour Fast - Part 2

Here are the Twitter updates from the 72 hour period (and a little before). In a few days, I'll post up my reflections on what I learned, and plans for the future.

I'm anxious about fasting for 72 hours. I have 4 hours and 57 more minutes of foodtime left, and then nothing until Saturday. 7:03 PM Oct 28th

Just set up my phone. I will be constantly updating this twitter with how i feel during my 72 hour fast. Visit to find more. 7:17 PM Oct 28th

is hungry and tired already... and he hasn't even begun his fast yet! This is going to suck. 9:30 PM Oct 28th

I'm home for the night. It's timeto pee, then start making the last supper. One hour and five minutes. 10:55 PM Oct 28th

I'm starting to eat dinner now... Cutting it a bit close 11:54 PM Oct 28th

Here we go... 12:00 AM Oct 29th

First morning: Woke up on time, showered, and ready for class 25 minutes early. I forgot how long breakfast takes to prepare. A bit peckish. 7:35 AM Oct 29th

Just finished his first bike ride to class. Current weather: hail. Good game, Rochester... Good game. 8:16 AM Oct 29th

I'm feeling the first urges to eat. It's been eight hours and fifty five minutes since i last ate. 8:50 AM Oct 29th

I just made it through my first hunger headache. Nothing special, I get these all the time when I skip breakfast. Signs of things to come... 10:10 AM Oct 29th from web

Twelve hours down. Sixty to go. No real issues yet. 10:10 PM Oct 29th

Perhaps going to lunch with my friends was a bad idea... That's an awful good looking bowl of pasta. 1:09 PM Oct 29th

i just turned down free pizza. Other than that, 16 hours in and so far so good 3:36 PM Oct 29th

Is at Denny's. Not eating. Coming here was dumb. 23 hours in. 10:34 PM Oct 29th

One third done! Not bad so far. We'll see how the first night on an empty stomach goes. 12:16 AM Oct 30th

I am awake. 33 hours in. I feel pretty normal, not as hungry as I was expecting. A little lightheaded, maybe. 8:54 AM Oct 30th

Biking is getting increasing more difficult and tiresome. That's the only real symptom so far. 10:04 AM Oct 30th

36 hours down. Halfway there. I'm at a constant one out of ten on the hunger scale... Nothing too bad. 12:08 PM Oct 30th

Getting very cold. The hunger is amplifying stress from work and I'm definitely getting a bit irritable. Little things are getting to me. 1:52 PM Oct 30th

My face is two inches from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Le sigh. 8:13 PM Oct 30th

Going to bed. 49 Hours down, 23 to go. Pocketchange. 1:31 AM Oct 31th

48 hours in. I'm feeling no different than normal right now. My sense of smell is definitely heightened though. 8:02 AM Oct 31st

Just woke up. Still very three but can't seen to fall back asleep. 56.5 done. I can stubborn the rest of this out. 10:24 AM Oct 31st

I wonder if using toothpaste is cheating? 11:35 AM Oct 31st

I've seen more free food, drinks, and candy today than ever. Torturrrre. 6 hours left though. Stay the course! 2:05 PM Oct 31st from

I have walked part so much free candy today... I an truly being tested. Just bought chicken to grill for tonight. 4:50 PM Oct 31st

just finished taekwondo. Less than three hours! I'm going to have broccoli and grapes first, then some nuts, then maybe some chicken. 9:22 PM

One hour and sixteen minutes. I'm going to start cooking in about 45 minutes, and then spend about 3 hours savoring a very small meal. 10:43 PM Oct 31st

My dinner is ready. Just counting down the minutes... 11:55 PM Oct 31st

Victory is sweet. Sweet and tasty. 12:00 AM Nov 1st

Labels: ,