Kim: Adaptation

This morning I was at the river, surrounded by wildflowers, basking in warm sun and thinking about.....winter. It's inevitable. Late summer arrives and a bit of urgency rises up, pressure to soak up every last bit of heat, an irrational attempt to absorb warmth into your skin for when the cold returns.

Why are thoughts of winter never far? I speak for myself, and I believe as a multi-generation Mainer, it's an adaptation that is wired into my DNA. We adapt to the conditions that surround us so we can survive. We adapt to anticipate. We adapt to tolerate. We adapt.

If you know about my friendship with Delay, Don't Deny author Gin Stephens, you know we have a lot in common.

. We both have fair skin, light hair (hers lighter), petite builds (hers petite-er). We have similar food preferences, a fact that attracted my attention early on and motivated me to emulate her IF journey. We both went to high school in the 80s, had kids in the late 90s. And, notably, we are both writers now.

So where is the big disconnect? I live in the far North and she lives in the deep South. My dislike for powerful heat and humidity is intense, exceeded only by her disdain for the cold. Standing outdoors on a 90+ degree day, sweating, nearly melting into the pavement, I think I AM DYING. It is an intense discomfort I cannot just ignore.

Gin gets no such signal as the temperatures soar. She can enjoy the heat knowing this is normal, and there are reprieves - lightweight clothing, the beach, efficiently air-conditioned spaces. My body screams out a warning - this heat is dangerous, get us out of here. I can only assume a January day with sub-zero wind chills would sound the same alarms for Gin. She's not adapted, and her body wants to survive, just like mine does. I'm used to 3 layers of clothing and a cranking furnace as survival mechanisms, but she isn't.

How does this apply to my fasting blog? It does, of course. Connecting any topic to fasting is my version of a stupid pet trick. It applies because hunger is another distress signal the body has. Like reacting to hot and cold, it's there to keep us safe, to prompt us to do what we can to change our environment. It's hard to compare modern ideas about "hunger" to those of primitive people - they were WELL adapted to hours and even days without eating, yet they couldn't swing down to the neighborhood bistro for a guaranteed next meal. Unlike me, they couldn't sniff wildflowers and commune with bumblebees until it was time to break a fast. Their hunger was a survival drive to keep them hunting, gathering, seeking.

Modern hunger is driven by messed-up metabolisms, by insulin resistance and sugar addiction, by the psychology that underpins our ability to remember a late-night Taco Bell commercial when we wake up the next morning. Somehow people today have to contend with the primitive drive-to-survive AND the powerful chemical signals sent by bodies used to frequent infusions of highly refined foods. Add the inundation of media and what some jokingly call food porn, and I marvel that anyone's managing at all.

Fortunately, fasting is the ultimate of adaptations. We can reframe the deep, primal urge that says "eat or you'll die"....we can extinguish the cravings and physical urges that are conditioned by frequent eating. Our bodies can run on stored fat and ketones, and our minds can be soothed by the understanding that food will be ready when the time comes. We can live in vibrant health and freedom.

But even with all these adaptations, we still might dread the impending frigid weather a little.....we're only human.