Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water Water

When I was in 1st grade, I wrote a poem (on that thin, tan, easy to tear with your eraser paper that had room at the top for a drawing) called "Water Water Water . . ." (written across the top from one end to the other with waves drawn underneath traveling across the paper). The poem was simple:

I love water
Water loves me
Water is really just a sea.

Now I love to write and would love to be have the talent for writing poetry. I remember a kid in my high school English class, who didn't necessarily get the greatest grades, but he was dubbed a poet. The teacher talked about his natural poetic abilities. I wished I could do what he did. I can recognize it in others, but can't drum it up in myself, as sad at that is. However, I do like this poem I wrote long ago. Perhaps I like it because my mom saved it? (and it's easy enough to memorize?) There are some truths in it though that I even understood as a child. I love water. My body loves water. Does water love me? I'm not so sure about that, but water really is just a sea and continues to become a sea, as well as become a part of me.

I've been thinking about water lately, that I only drink it when my body is crying out for it -- when I first wake up in the morning. I feel like a wilting plant when I stumble into the bathroom sink for that first drink. Once I get a full glass in my body, I feel alive. I stand straighter. I feel like I can begin my day. I also drink while I exercise. The more vigorous the workout, the more I drink, but I always drink at least one glass full -- maybe 2 or 3. And afterwards, I want another glass. I never think "I wish I could eat . . . " -- I'm always just plain thirsty.

Once I get some food in my body, I tend to forget about my need for water. Do I not need it as much because I'm nourishing my body in other ways? Or am I burying that ability for my body to communicate thirst when certain foods enter my body? I'm not sure. But some days, I cry out for water all day long and wonder what's going on. I wonder if my body always needs that much and I'm just not able to tell. Or I'm just not interpreting my body's messages correctly.

Either way, I know my body needs and appreciates water. My body runs better when I drink it throughout the day.

I also wonder if we as prosperous Americans eat more than our bodies need. I've read in Yoga Journal that some approach eating with the need to not completely fill up, but just to become partially full, enough for energy and nourishment. Bryan Kest (yoga instructor from Santa Monica in one of my favorite yoga dvds ) wrote in one of his newsletters that "the single most important aspect of a healthy diet is NOT overeating." He has a 4 Step Program to dietary health and balance in which the first step is to only fill your stomach to 2/3 of its capacity, with the second step being to eliminate ALL between meal snacking. This is getting a little away from my thoughts about water, but when I read this from Bryan's Power Yoga newsletter a few years ago, it was a new thought to me. Dr. Fuhrman advocates no snacking in his Eat to Live plan too. I call myself a grazer and think I need to eat all day long. But I know that isn't the case. And I think other healthy habits may be key -- being active AND drinking plenty of water.

A few summers ago, I went on a Pioneer Handcart Reenactment Trek with about 100 teenagers. For 4 days, we pushed handcarts with our tents, clothing, cooking gear, and water up and down mountains. It was tough and wonderful at the same time. I learned some interesting things about the need for water and food while out there.

The first day of the trek, we had all eaten breakfast at home. We were also told to bring a sack lunch to eat just before we hit the trail. I was eating raw foods well at that time and made sure the man who organized and invited me to be a "ma" on the trek knew that I relied on my raw food diet for health and would need to bring my own. I packed up Ziploc bags by day and meal. I added a few fruits or dehydrated snacks in case I needed more. Everyone else ate simple meals of corn mush or oatmeal for breakfast, peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, and some meat & potatoes kind of dinner each night. There was also a ration of snacks on the handcart for everyone to eat throughout the journey. We were told that the snacks were to last the whole trek and not to eat them all the first day or two. There were crackers, dried fruit, and something else that I can't remember, but do know I wasn't interested in eating.

Back to the first day, everyone had eaten a plentiful breakfast and a bountiful lunch. These were meals from home and no one scrimped on these meals. They knew it would change once we got on the trail. We started up the mountain and climbed for a few hours. Every time we stopped, all the kids ran to the snack box to see what they could eat. They were hungry. They needed some food to keep them going. They had plenty to eat earlier, but they needed more. They'd been working hard and needed more to continue. As the hours passed and dinner was near, they still wanted to grab from the snacks, reminding each other that it was supposed to last the whole 4 days (and realizing they were eating more than a day's share in just one afternoon). I also got into my ziploc bag. I ate some of their dried fruit. I was hungry too.

The next day everything changed though. After a simple dutch oven dinner, a good night's rest and very light breakfast, we were on the trail again, working hard. You'd think that while we were running on less food and were exerting more energy, we'd dip into the snack reserve even more. But that didn't happen. With less in our bodies and more physical work to do than we ever do at home, we weren't even hungry. Whenever we'd stop the handcarts, we'd run for the water. All we ever wanted was water. The snacks were never depleted as once suspected because we weren't ever hungry. Our bodies needed water and lots of it. We didn't care where the water came from either. The first day, most of us were strangers and we opened our own water bottles and drank in private. That all changed too. Whoever found his or her water first, took a few drinks, then offered it to the person nearby. We were passing around our water constantly. (I mentioned this in passing to the medic when filling up our water jugs one night and he said "You shouldn't be doing that -- you could get sick from sharing drinks" but he just didn't get it. The bonds we were making surpassed any concern for illness and the drive for water was far too strong to stop and think about another person's germs.

This was interesting for me to learn -- with less food in our working bodies, we wanted water, not more food. I wonder at home now if my kitchen wasn't fully stocked and ready to feed me and if I weren't snacking throughout the day, if I would actually be more in tune with my body and just want water until I was truly hungry again. I never want food when I'm exercising. Not that wanting food is a bad thing. I just think most of us think we need food far more than we actually do.

Dr. Fuhrman says that we rarely experience true hunger. I'll write about that some other day.

I'll also finish up my last day report on the Beachbody trip. I've written most of it, but it's taking longer than the others. I can't find some of the Video Fitness posts I'd written at the time, so I've been gathering info from e-mails, scattered VF posts and from memory. I should be able to finish that by the end of the week.

Back to water -- drink up! You probably need it more than you realize. I'll do the same and will let you know how my snacking goes. Even though grazing is a fun word, I think I need to be less like the cow and let my body run on less than a full tank. TTFN!

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