surviving is not the goal

In our age of warped reality, where everything is a choice, it's hard sometimes to fathom what surviving really means, nutritionally-speaking. It means being forced to think about your next meal, your shelter, and maybe the alive-ness of your immediate family. And not much else. 

It means eating about 20g of protein a day, and doesn't necessarily mean eating any carbs (they're not an essential part of our diet). It means often forgoing meals--and not because you heard Intermittent Fasting was the cat's meow.

Beyond the immediate and constant attention paid to food acquisition (whether that's tracking a woolly mammoth or applying for food stamps), living on this edge is incredibly stressful. Systemically stressful. Life-altering, poverty-sustaining, dream-crushing stressful. 

So when Paleo-bros deign seriousness about the hard-core-ness of their diet, I think about moms in Fruitvale (and a million other times and places) focusing every moment of every day trying to feed their kids. Because while there is much to learn from simplified approaches to eating, like Paleo (real food, mostly vegetables and protein, limited sugar), it's important to remember that the benefits are not related to how similar a diet might be to a merely survivable diet. 

In reality, about 99% of the time, when I work with people on their diet we are working on optimizing, not surviving. Even when someone's diet is in shambles, and it's all I can do to beg someone to eat something green once a day, I am giving recommendations that help them thrive. I am leading them toward a way of eating that really makes them shine. 

We all pay more attention when we perceive a crisis, and to portray your life in those terms is not the worst way to instigate a difficult change. But that's a distinct reality from true crisis. What we need to do to survive and what we need to do to thrive are very different things.

So next time you are considering improving your physiological lot (better run times, lower body comp, bigger guns), use the part of your brain reserved for thoughtfulness and consideration, and not panicking. Lower the stakes, make the right choices, and buckle in for the long haul.