Beloved paddler community, I have some confessions to make.
This morning my boss caught me ‘in the act’ at my desk this morning. I was so focused I didn’t even hear him coming.
Yes, I was in the middle of feeding.
You know what I am talking about? I’m referring to that animal that lives in your belly – a mangy wild wolf that appears after a long distance paddle. The hunger wolf is an insatiable beast who commands you to put anything remotely edible into your mouth and down the hatch, keeping his ferocity at bay, lest it go wild and consume me whole.
I like to call my behavior the “within reach diet”. It makes my family and co-workers laugh, but they don’t know. They just don’t know that I’m completely serious. The NEED to FEED is real.
I prefer to feed alone, for the most part. It’s not very flattering or sexy. This morning, I was consuming a large leftover salad I found in the fridge when my Boss approached my desk. The salad had passed the 48 hour mark in the fridge unmolested. (I don’t know who it belonged to, but they had obviously forgotten it. Fair game.)
“Is that… arugula?” my employer asked me in disbelief.
I felt panic creep up my throat as I wondered if it was his salad I had taken. The leafy greens were jammed inside my mouth and poking out in odd places, as I chewed them like a dinosaur. I nodded and wearily stared back at him, wide eyed and guilty.
“You are eating salad for breakfast?” his face conveyed complete bafflement.
Relieved he didn’t seem to know I was a fridge bandit, I shrugged while swallowing, “This is third breakfast….”
It was 9:15 AM.
Paddler friends, I know that everyone gets hungry. But only paddlers know the NEED to FEED.
Athletes have to constantly fuel their bodies for rigorous activity – and as athletes, we are no strangers to the deep, dark, primordial instinct to give our depleted bodies the things it needs to continue functioning. After any sort of endurance sport this kind of hunger is not uncommon, but there is something truly unique about the post-paddle desperation that I have never experienced in any other sport.
Maybe it's the salt water.
Perhaps it is the sun.
Or maybe, just maybe, there is something about paddling that not only torches my calorie stores, but robs my soul of its very ether, depleting both my mind and body until I am but a husk of a human in dire need of resuscitation.
In no other sport have I ever actively looked for what I'll eat next while I am still eating. After no activity except paddling have I ever actually been too physically tired to chew, yet continue to stuff things into my mouth in the name of survival.
When I attend parties where I know I will be the only paddler, I eat before going so that I don't embarrass myself in front of the host by inhaling their entire bowl of Doritos on my own.
Cute phrases like being "hangry" (a bad mood that is the direct result of hunger) have been added to our vocabulary to acknowledge that not all hunger is created equal. I don’t know if the hunger wolf has a name, but he should…
Please dear friends, know that you are not alone.
Team Writer Megs Phillips - Raised a Cali beach bum, playing in the sand and surf before she could talk, Megs has enjoyed white water rafting, dappled with OC1's, SUPs, and kayaks, and is a deep lover of all things ocean, river, rapids, and lake related. In 2010 she discovered outrigger canoeing and was instantly hooked; paddling with Ka Nai'a Outrigger in Santa Barbara. Her contributions to Cali Paddler are much appreciated!
Should you have an idea or topic for her, feel free to send it our way and we will pass it along! In addition to following her here at Cali Paddler, we encourage you to visit her personal blog: Paddler Problems, where you can enjoy more of her fun writings and comics.