i see you were chrismated recently, may God bless you and yr family, it is good to have you here.
timon, on the subject of whether it is the same; i felt that 'orthodox' fasting before i became orthodox was very similar to the 'protestant' fasting i had done before.
it even felt a little easier, as, for me, orthodox fasting was all about conquering thirst (e.g. abstaining from eating and drinking till 12) and i didn't even notice if i got hungry because i was so very thirsty!
whereas in protestant fasting, i had always drunk water during the fast, and just abstained from food for however many hours it was. then, i would really notice being hungry.
in both cases, i was doing it to please God and to become closer to Him, so i focused on that, and it helped me to fast.
after i became orthodox, i realised that fasting was less something i would do and feel that i had achieved something 'extra' but that it was an integral part of the orthodox Christian life, and it became more a part of Christian worship in the community and less of in individual thing. so i was encouraged because i knew other people were fasting, and that helped me to be stronger in fasting. on a few occasions, i worked with orthodox colleagues who were also fasting, and it was great to eat our baked potato and beans together (helped me ignore the non-fasting food!)
now i can fast (badly), all i need to do is pray sincerely, love my enemies, give to the poor, stop judging and criticizing others and answer everyone with kindness and patience! i think i'll have to live another 100 years at least...