Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dig a grave....for your fruits and veggies :)

In correlation to a few posts ago, I wanted to show that composting is not solely beneficial to the environment. Composting does your body good as well. Yes, composting makes great fertilizer, conducive for growing a garden of which can fortify your body with lots of nutrients and fiber. But after a recent experience, I am able to say that composting can also whip your body into shape. Fast.

I dug a compost pit last summer. And afterward, I remember saying how it might've been the toughest task I had ever performed. Shoveling through soil hard as rock isn't quite the easiest thing to do.

Well, even after coming to that conclusion, I obviously still didn't work hard enough because the pit quickly filled up, calling out for me to dig another pit this summer. This time I wanted to do it better. I wanted to make it last, which meant digging a hole deep enough to last for at least 2 years. This time I knew what I was in for and was semi-prepared for the hard work that lay ahead of me.

I set out, digging through the dirt, letting the shovel in my hand know who's boss. Digging a huge hole in the ground allows you (forces you) to really get to know the soil. I used the first layer of soil to bury the old, filled-up compost pile. This was the easy part, clearing the moist, crumbly topsoil from the intended compost area. I thought, "Hey, this isn't so bad. Plus, it's a great way to calm my racing mind." Next, I plowed through several feet of clay. This was the heavy stuff, the stuff that required me put some oomph into my task and made my muscles burn. After getting several feet down into the ground, I started to remember how much of a workout digging the compost pile is. My calm mind started straying towards, "This is hard. I remember why I didn't really enjoy this last year."

Eventually the hole gets so deep that you have to get inside it, dig, and throw the dirt up and out of the hole several feet above you. This is the hard part and requires a lot of strength, and eventually stamina. Five or six feet into the soil, you start to wonder if you'll be able to continue throwing the soil high enough to make it out of the hole. After a couple hours, I decided to call it a day.

The next evening, I went back at it again. Grabbing my shovel and getting ready to come to the finish line. I eventually reached the last layer of soil of which I would get to: the part that's half rocks. This part is the annoying, pain-in-the-ass layer of soil. Of course the pain-in-the-ass layer comes at the end, when I'm already agitated and ready to quit digging the pitiless compost pit. Every other time I'd throw my shovel into the ground, it'd bounce right back up at me after hitting a rock. As you can imagine, when you hit rocks with your shovel, you're unable to dig up any dirt...making the process ten times slower. But I wanted to plow through some of this layer so that I wouldn't be out there again next summer busting my butt off, remembering how grueling the compost pit digging is. So I continued. Until the soil pretty much became one big rock.

Drenched with sweat and covered in mud (for the 2nd day in a row), I finally finished digging a compost pit that I could say I was highly proud of. A good four hours overall, and then I was at last able to put the shovel down. So much for trying to relax either of those days... pretty much demanded the strength and energy equivalent of several workouts. Exhausted.

So enough said, composting is good for the environment AND the body. If you dig your own hole, you'll probably be feeling it in your muscles the next day. A little outside work will make you sweat as much (if not more) as your normal workout at the gym. For the average person, shoveling/spading dirt to plant a garden burns roughly 340 calories per hour. And let me tell you, this is some more intense shoveling than using a spade to dig a little hole (meaning it definitely burns even more calories than that!). Vary up your routine, skip the run or the gym for the day, and get your workout digging up some soil. Yeah, I know, it might not sound that enticing, but hey, at least you'll be doing something to help out the environment too...You can't really say that about working out in an excessive-energy using air-conditioned gym, right?

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