Pooping really is one of life’s simplest and most understated pleasures. Many a fine writer has attempted to do justice to the pure joy that accompanies that perfect dump — one particularly enthusiastic pooper says it’s even better than sex. So why are we so self-conscious about our bowel movements? Why is it that so many of us — theoretically semi-functional, quasi-sophisticated, almost-self-aware adults — can only do a number two in the comfort of our own bathrooms, where no one can hear that plunk when it hits the water?
Yeah, OK, it can get pretty hairy sometimes — especially if, like me, you totally got high and ate that carnitas burrito last night. Lots of nasty things can happen in the number two department. But that’s all the more reason to start a healthy dookie dialogue. Taking a good hard look in the toilet bowl is quite like looking in the mirror. Your poops reflect how you treat your body, and thus, how much value you place on your daily existence.
I think we’ve all become complacent. We’ve become accustomed to how it feels to be constantly backed up, clogged up by the repeated consumption of chips and pizza and brats and bagels and beer. These days, for so many of us, a good dump is an elusive, vaguely alluring urban myth on the level of the mole people. Or Mr. Big.
When was the last time you pooped? This morning? Last night? What did it look like? What color was it? Did it coil like a snake? Did it fall like little poop pebbles, splish splash sploosh? Did it smell? Did it float? These are all very important questions with important implications for your health – and for how well you treat yourself.
So how does one achieve one of those truly satisfying, one-to-tell-the-grandkids-about poops? We’ve all heard it before. The more you consume of certain foods — especially foods like beans and whole grains, which are bursting with dietary fiber — the more often you’ll poo, and the less smelly it’ll be. Yogurt replenishes the good bacteria in your gut to make things work a little better down there — hate on American treasure Jamie Lee Curtis and her Activia obsession all you like, she probably has better poops than you ever will. And exercise helps, too. In addition to burning off your Homer Simpson belly, physical activity literally gets things moving in the metabolism department, helping you digest food more quickly and efficiently.
Mostly, though, it’s about listening to your body, and caring about what it has to say.
When I’m at a party, or busy, or broke, or wallowing in self-pity, or just plain bored, it’s easy to justify the decision to eat something that I might very well recognize as “unhealthy” or “bad for me.” It’s not going to kill me, after all, and it may or may not be fucking delicious. But later, when it comes out the other end (or when it just won’t), chances are I’ll be rewarded for my behavior by a less-than-stellar bowel movement.
Digestive health, then, is a good indicator of your overall well-being. If your poo is neon green, it’s probably a sign that you’re eating some funky food. Your green poo is a message from your body that you just weren’t meant to put that deep-fried twinkie in your mouth.
When we talk about “living a healthy lifestyle,” it’s usually motivated by one main objective: looking smoking hot. Through advertising and media, we internalize the thinking that eating well and exercising regularly is important because it makes us attractive to others. The health benefits that come with a truly “healthy lifestyle” become an afterthought, subordinated to the number on the scale.
When we make decisions for reasons other than our own well-being, we lose our awareness of our bodies and our needs. When we are focused solely on being skinny, especially when we do it for the sake of anyone other than ourselves, we are less likely to notice signs from our bodies suggesting that we might be losing sight of being healthy.
And after all, if you’re not worried about your own health, who else is going to do it for you? Those boys checking out your collarbones and comely calves? Get it together, girl. It’s YOUR shit. Literally.
Next time you find yourself in Number Two territory, take the time to get to know yourself, poop-wise. Take note of your product’s shape, size, smell, texture. Really look at it. And think about what you can do to improve your relationship with your bowels and your body in general. Because that little turd? That’s you.