By Tomas-Antonio Rodrigues – Providence, Rhode Island
Why do we do what we do? What drives us? Not only in terms of the profound things in life, such as follow our passion, or inspire others; but what makes us eat what we eat?
I am aware of many theories, but those came from the perspective of another mind. So one day a while back I decided to contemplate on this question myself. My process in which I contemplate is to first look to nature. I use nature as my comparative tool because I try and always be mindful that human beings are also part of nature, so to see how we fall in line is to me a reasonable endeavor. Why does a tree do what a tree does? The obvious downfall of this tool is that I cannot ask a tree its motives, in the general sense of instant communication. However when you observe anything mindfully for a good amount of time; there is a sense of communication through that observation which takes patience but can be plenty informative.
The answer I came up with is that trees; as well as everything else “natural” around me strove to do what it does for survival. So than it is reasonable now to say that humans must also act in terms of survival. I then decided to observe myself, as well as my fellow humans in that scope, acting in terms of survival. However, right away I saw that my hypothesis must have been incorrect. I looked at my own behaviors of harmful habits and saw that I was not living with the intention of survival in mind. I treated my food intake like my job was merely to fill my stomach, as if my body didn’t need nutrients in which to operate, just a full belly. This made me question why did people eat food that tasted good, but was not best for our survival? What makes bad food taste good to me? The answer lies in a quick trip to the past, a time when food was not so easily accessible, when a meal high in calories meant you could survive until the next meal, regardless of how healthy is was. This is one of the reasons why age expectancy has increased so much in human beings relatively short existence, the ready availability of high quality sources of higher nutrient food.
But if that is the case, why does the human STILL crave bad food, even with the food available? The answer being that evolution is a process, not a magic trick; and that survival mechanism to gorge will be inherent in us. I very rarely advocate not following your instinct, but in this instance I decided it was time I reconditioned myself as much as I could. But that is another story of a transformation, so I will digress until that story is told.
So back to the contemplation; it seemed I have found my answer, but as I tend to do with most things, I wanted to dig a bit deeper. I have a few vegan friends, and have heard of a few athletes who have also gone vegan. Having run in the weight lifting circles for so long, protein with every meal was crucial. During my original weight loss that was a cornerstone of my diet, meat or eggs with every meal. However, one thing I do try to do often is question myself, my own actions, what drove me to eat animal products?
Convenience definitely played a factor, it’s always around, and in this country a meal without animal products is hard to come by. Going back to that issue of “leftover instinct”; animal products are a denser source of nutrition and will make you feel fuller longer, as compared to the non-animal sources of protein. I must now reiterate that most of us do not share in the same dilemma as our ancestors; while animal products give you more “bang for your buck” they also come with health deficits that you will not find in a vegan diet.
It seemed that my sources of proper nutrition were simply stuck in their ways, possibly afraid to question tradition, or at this point the animal product industry has just become too big to bust. While I do still eat animal products I have decreased my intake by at least 70% and I have never felt more energetic. It seems all that work of digesting those animal products did not allow me to flow energy to other aspects of my life, I feel now like I am firing on all cylinders.
This questioning of my nutrition has lead me to question nearly all of my daily living habits, my thoughts, my ideas; as I am now aware how much the external can influence you when you do not stop to contemplate your own actions internally. In the end I concluded that we do what we do because of survival, and sometimes we are working on expired instincts, so that survival instinct must be coupled with a reasonable mind; so that our behavior can be harmonious.
Tomas-Antonio Rodrigues has been an ACE certified personal trainer for about 2 years now and runs a blog on his website www.TomRodTransformation.com