Pretty cool, right? I think so. Except when it’s not so cool.
An alternate definition for Idealist is this:
A visionary or impractical person.
A person who represents things as they might or should be rather than as they are.
So you see, there are two sides of the coin:
Pursuing high Ideals is important.
By striving toward high ideals, we can incrementally improve our lives, the lives of those around us, and hopefully the world.
However, we can’t get so caught up in ideals that we ignore the realities of the world we live in.
Here’s a quick example:
I’ve never been too hot on counting calories and macronutrients. It doesn't seem intuitive to me, and really, I just don’t want to fuss that much over my food.
In an ideal world I’d be growing my own produce, and have local sources of dairy, meat and eggs from farmers who treat their animals humanely and their lands sustainably.
In this ideal world, I’d have little stress, sleep 9 hours per night, and have lots of physical activity built into my daily living.
With such an ideal setup, there would be no need to count calories- I’d be burning quite a few in my day to day life, and fueling up with healthy food sources. I'd never have to worry about heart disease, diabetes, or any other diseases of affluence, because of my diet.
However, I don’t live in that world. In fact, few of us do. Because we live in a land where an abundance of calories is easily attained, and a lack of physical activity is the norm, it might make sense to track our food intake.
I started doing so about 2 weeks ago, and so far, I’ve really enjoyed it.
I've simply been calculating the amount of calories I need to consume in a day, and then subdivided that into how many grams each of Protein, Carb, and Fat I wanted to consume. I've been using a ratio of roughly 30% Protein, 30% Fat, and 40% Carbohydrate.
Then I take those numbers and divide them up into three meals, which allows me to create a meal plan for the week.
Here are a few reasons that this has been awesome:
1) I’ve physically felt better- better sleep, better recovery from exercise, more energy, etc.
2) I have to make fewer decisions in regards to food: Grocery shopping is easier and more efficient, less food is wasted at home, and I know exactly what I’m going to eat for each meal of the day. By using less mental energy and will power on food decisions, I have freed my brain to redirect it’s resources to more important avenues.
3) There is a sense of accomplishment from creating a plan and sticking to it. This may seem trivial, but don’t underestimate it. A series of “small wins” throughout your day and week can add up to give you huge momentum, creating an upward spiral. This is exactly the opposite of the snowball effect, where a series of seemingly annoying setbacks accumulate to make you feel you like you can’t do anything right.
4) I dropped about 2.5 inches from my waist in 2 two weeks. Not bad.
Long story longer- In an ideal world, I’d grow my own produce, have happy, healthy chickens and dairy cows, and hunt/fish for my own meat. I’d live on a peaceful farm that has a minimal environmental impact and lots of nature surrounding it.
While I don’t live in that world now, I can make small steps towards that ideal.
In the meantime, I will benefit greatly by recognizing the realities of the world that I live in.