Somewhere around this time last year, I was following a friend's Facebook posts about running - or, as she calls it, "plodding," and getting more and more encouraged every day that maybe I, too, could do this running thing. In the midst of looking into it, I followed many links for running-related sites she posted. Poking around inside one of those websites (I have no idea which one now) eventually landed me on a humor page, where women runners posted all sorts of hilarious and variously disgusting terms for having the pressing need to poop , the funniest/grossest of which was "pushing cotton." (Oh yeah, here's your warning...today's entire blog is poop-related, so feel free to run away quickly, if you can't believe I'm going there or you were trying to eat breakfast while reading...)
I wondered...how the heck are running and poop related? I mean, really...why in the world did that page get created?! I have learned in the time since from personal experience this certain truth: running makes your bowels move (and FOR ME, at least, it does so in a way that walking and other less vigorous forms of exercise do not.)
This matters to me. Some of my earliest memories are related to the issue of difficulty in that area. I can recall my grandpa coming out of the bathroom after I had been in there (I think I was like 4) with a shocked look on his face, asking, "Who laid that boulder in there, and are they okay?!"
More recently, a friend whose child is having toilet training issues explained one of the core problems: he's very constipated, and it's very painful, and so he fights it and tries not to go at all to avoid the pain, which eventually lands him in a bad spot when his body just won't play along any more and he's not near the toilet. It was such a merciful perspective on the "why" of his unlovely accidents, and in that moment the Lord really clearly spoke to my spirit and told me, "The same was true of you at that age," and all of a sudden I was finished with thinking I had just been a bad, rebellious, disgusting and awful little kid. Pain avoidance - that was it! If you've never sat in the bathroom gripping the countertop and breathing intentionally like you were giving birth and fighting tears and thinking that this time it's just not coming out, this time the doctors are gonna have to perform unknown and horrifying procedures to extract it, well, maybe this all seems overblown to you. But if you've been there, you surely understand trying to avoid the pain.
Some things have helped over the years - fruit juice does, and prune juice REALLY does, if one can choke it down (that gets harder over time, or at least it did for me), and there are foods one can avoid as well. But what I have found in this last year of loving my body is that healthy living is really the key. If someone were to ask me how to approach this issue, I'd never advise any medicine first. I'd say this:
1. Drink more water. It matters.
2. Eat raw fruits and vegetables. They help.
3. Run or do some other really vigorous exercise.
My little vegan experiment has added another one to the list:
4. Limit meat intake.
Ergh! I hadn't had much meat at all in a few days (the chicken in that burrito suizo was, I think, the only meat in a long time, actually). This wasn't some big goal of mine...I've just been enjoying eating from the recipes in my new book. Last night, I had sloppy joes (very lean ones) at my parents' house. This morning, my body is telling me what a hard time it is having, moving that along. Had I realized how bad my gut was going to feel this morning, I'd have gotten up in time to run, just to help errrr "move it along." As it is, I'll just have to drink a lot of water and trust my body to do the rest, I guess.
Ways we learn, eh? They're not all comfortable.
Feel free to scream "TMI!" at me, the next time you see me. But after all, you're the silly person that hangs around the naked blog...