Saturday, June 26, 2010

On Energy and Food

It's 5 PM and I'm resisting the urge to throw myself on my cool, inviting bed. A deep fatigue has permeated my limbs and muscles and is also affecting my thoughts. Today we biked to our regular Saturday morning workout since we didn't need to bring our weight bars and the location was at UT. I won't go through the details of the workout, but it was quite brutal in the unrelenting sun. I knew it was a mistake to pop just two 20 calorie shot bloks before heading out, mainly because the night before I experienced a massive hangover-type migraine after only 1 liquor drink and a full day of being dehydrated. I shut myself in a dark room at 9 PM, emerging only to stumble to the kitchen to get more water and eventually expelling the contents of my stomach. I dunno why throwing up relieves head-related nausea, but it tends to do the trick for me. It was also the first time I had experienced vision impairment, white flashes of light in the center of my vision that preventing me from being able to read any text. I thought I was going blind for a good 30 minutes, which was more than enough time to imagine how much my life would change if it did happen. (Should've gotten that damn eye exam!) B was sweet to me the whole time I was feeling and acting so unpleasant, and when I woke up after an indulgent 10 hours of sleep, all was back to normal. Still, the close memory of being so incapacitated and unable to perform basic tasks shakes me each time. I am so thankful that I am generally healthy and have the luxury of fretting about petty things every day. At one point earlier in the evening, we listened to an NPR podcast interviewing a quadriplegic who lived each moment with "death on his shoulders." I did not envy his situation, yet he spoke with such gentleness and joy about how after he broke his neck, he became the person he had always dreamed of becoming, full of love, compassion and reflection.

On eating: B has no difficulty relishing flavorful, expertly-cooked dishes. For him, eating is one of the joys of living. I have given up my task meeting him at that level, and I accept that I will never taste food the way he does. For too long I have regarding eating as a means to break up the day, a response to boredom, an act for fostering social situations, and a way to arouse my tired taste buds. I can't help but feel a bit cheated. Each week I scan Yelp for hot new eateries to chase down elusive ultimate eats.

Since this morning, our bodies were screaming at us to replenish in calories. I've never really experienced this type of hunger before. Usually if I forget to eat a meal or have not eaten enough, I feel slightly lightheaded, and I can choose to ignore the signals for hours (bad idea, I know). Not today. I truly tasted and savored our meals today in the knowledge that I was nourishing my weak body. Local tortillas, bacon, tofu dogs, bell pepper, vidalia onion, red potato hash, avocado- tacos are not an uncommon meal for us. And yet it was wonderful, even more so than when we concoct a similar meal when camping, after we have hiked a few miles and labored setting up the tent. In light of this, I can't imagine what it's like for professional athletes or even ultra-active people like EW who engage in strenuous exercise several hours a day. To treat food as a source of energy and vital nutrients, and not just something to consume 2 or 3 times a day because that is how we were raised. You soon learn the limits of your body this way. I'm not sure yet whether I want strive for this level of activity, but the physical urgency regarding eating definitely intrigues me. In Omnivore's Dilemma (which I need to finish), Michael Pollan discusses his experience of hunting and gathering a complete meal. It was probably a singular experience for him, being so far removed from the act of ordering a meal of fast food. Perhaps I could reclaim the primal satisfaction of eating in one of these ways. It's an opportunity to connect with the daily task of feeding myself that does not involve seeking mindblowing flavors or gorging myself.

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