Food for Thought, Literally

Up until the last year or so, I never really paid much attention to what I was eating.  I ate whatever I wanted and in large quantities.  My thought was that if you ran the engine hot enough, it’ll burn just about anything.  More recently, I’ve realized just how wrong I was.

As the intensity of my training has increased, and through my discovery of meditation, I’ve gained a much greater awareness of my body and the role of nutrition.  One experience in particular has left a lasting impression.  I was tent bound for multiple days because of a raging storm in Patagonia.  Not only did we have the unfortunate luck of awful weather and were forced to hunker down in a cold, flooding tent (it was old and far from waterproof), we also ran out of stove fuel and could no longer cook.  We went without food for two full days while waiting for a break in the weather.  To my surprise, it was actually pretty easy.  My hunger peaked after missing the first lunch, but by that evening and throughout the next day, it wasn’t all too bad.  Being trapped in the confinements of a tent was what really made it hard.  There was absolutely nothing to do but lie there and I couldn’t stop my thoughts from drifting off to food (the only book I had at the time was Kant’s “Critique of Pure Reason,” talk about torture).  As soon as the storm broke, we b-lined it out of the wilderness and hitched a ride back to the nearest town.

Despite going 48 hours without food, I felt really good, purified, and I still had plenty of energy to make the long hike out of there.  As soon as we got into town, we went to the first store we could find, bought a loaf of bread (apiece), a full chicken and some beers, then finished all of it in a very short span of time.  It was pure bliss for the first few minutes or so and I couldn’t seem to fill the void in my stomach, but then it hit me.  I felt absolutely horrible, my body revolting against everything I had forced upon it.  I had to lie down to keep from vomiting and had a terrible nights sleep.

I still felt pretty bad the next day, but after returning to a healthy diet, I quickly recovered.  I was left with a much greater awareness of how different types of foods affected me after I ate them.  I was finally able to make the connection between my energy level and the foods I had eaten.  Ever since, I have been working towards a healthier, well balanced diet.  This class has further enforced the importance of diet for the athlete and I’m continuing to expand  my knowledge, but more importantly, motivation, to eat healthier.

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