Goals and Resolutions…Why They May Fail and What To Do About It….

 

 

i'm not telling oyu....Tis the season when we all start to think about making that damn resolution.  Sometimes it feels good to set a goal, to commit to something, to challenge yourself and other times we do it begrudgingly or with a sense of dread or even fear.

As a New Year approaches, I challenge you NOW to start thinking about how you can do better in your personal life.  Create goals for yourself….These are resolutions in a sense.  Write it down.  Commit to it.  But in order to do so you need to think about what that entails….how is this potential change going to impact my life?  What changes do I need to make in my life to reach these goals? What are the potential or very real obstacles in my way, seen and unforeseen??  What am I going to do if I start teetering on the edge? What supports do I have in place??  How am I going to Master this new ‘practice’??

While you are thinking along those lines, I wanted to take a minute to share my personal summary of an important blurb from a great book (Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long Term Fulfillment).  Important stuff to read now before you try to tackle a new goal and start to slip away from it or find yourself putting up “fire walls” to it……

When you create a new goal, a new resolution or a plan for change in your life, you resolve to yourself to reach those goals.  You resolve to make a change for the better in your life.  You tell your friends and family about it, you put it in writing. You actually make the change, it works and it feels good! Your happy about it, your friends and family are happy about it.  Your life is better! Then you backslide.

Why?! Are you some kind of slob with no will power??!!  No, not necessarily.  Backsliding is a universal experience.  Everyone of us resists significant change, no matter whether it’s for the worst or for the better.  Our body, brain and behavior have a built-in tendency to stay the same within rather narrow limits, and to snap back when changed – and normally it is a very good thing.

Just think about it:  if your body temperature moved up or down by 10%, you’d be in big trouble.  The same thing applies to your blood sugar level and any number of other functions of your body.  This condition of equilibrium, this resistance to change is called homeostasis. It applies to all self regulating systems from a bacterium to a frog to a human to a family to an organization to an entire culture…and it applies to psychological states and behavior as well as physical functioning.

The problem is homeostasis works to keep things as they are even if they are not good.  Let’s say, for instance, that for the past 20 years – ever since high school in fact – you’ve been almost entirely sedentary.  Now most of your friends are working out, and you figure since you can’t beat the fitness revolution, you’ll join it.  Buying the tights and the running shoes is fun and so isn’t your first steps on the high school track near your house.  Then about a third of the way around the first lap, something terrible happens…maybe your suddenly sick to your stomach, maybe your dizzy, maybe a strange panicky feeling starts to overcome you.  You feel like your going to die!  The particular sensations your feeling aren’t necessarily significant in themselves.  What your really getting is a homeostatic alarm signal…bells clanging, lights flashing.  Warning, warning, warning! Changes in respiration, heart rate, metabolism..whatever your doing stop!

Homeostasis, remember, doesn’t distinguish between what you would call change for the better or change for the worse.  It resists ALL change.  After 20 years without exercise, your body regards a sedentary style of life as “normal”; the beginning of a change for the better is interpreted as a threat.  So you walk back to your car, looking around in hopes no one saw you, and resolve to join some other revolution.

This can happen with any significant change, whether it is physiological in nature or psychological or social in nature.  Take the case of a family of five.  The father happens to be an alcoholic who goes on a binge every 6-8 weeks.  During the time he is drinking, and for several days afterwards, the family is in an uproar. It’s nothing new. These periodic uproars, have in fact become the normal state of things.  Then for one reason or anther, the father stops drinking.  You’d think that everyone in the family would be happy –  and they are, for awhile.  But homeostasis has a strange and sneaky way of striking back.  There’s a pretty good chance that within a few months, some other family memeber, (say a teenage son) will do something (say start dealing drugs) to create just the type of uproar the father’s binges triggered. Without wise professional counseling, the members may not realize that the son, unknowingly, has simply taken the father’s place to keep the family system in the condition that has become stable and “normal”.  In order to survive, we want “stability”.

Still change does occur, individuals change, families change, organizations and entire cultures change.  Homeostats are “reset”, even though the process may cause a certain amount of anxiety, pain and upset.  Just as your body will change, your cravings will change, your metabolism will change.  The questions are: How do you deal with homeostasis? How do you make changes for the better easier?  How do you make it last?

How can you??…….

do epic shitUltimately you have to decide if you really do want to spend the time and effort it takes to get on and stay on the path.  If you do, and if you want to “DO EPIC SHIT”… here are a few guidelines that might help.

1:  Be aware of the way homeostasis works:  This might be the most important guideline of all.  Expect resistance and backlash.  Realize that when the alarm bells start ringing, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are sick, or crazy or lazy or that you made a bad decision embarking onthis journey. In fact, you might take these signals as an indication that change is indeed happening – just what you wanted!  Of course it might be that you have started something that is not right for you, only you can decide.  But in any case, don’t panic and give up at the first sign of trouble.

2: Be willing to negotiate with your resistance to change: So what should you do when you run into resistance, when the red lights flash and the alarm bell rings? Well you don’t back off and you don’t bull your way through either.  Negotiation is the ticket to sucessful long-term change in everything from increasing your running speed or your push up rep to transforming your organization. The fine art of playing the edge in some cases involves a willingness to take one step back for every two forward, sometimes vice versa.  It also demands a determination to keep pushing, but not without awareness.  Simply turning off your awareness to the warning deprives you of guidance and risks damaging the system. Simply pushing your way through despite the warning signals increases the possibility of backsliding.  (think over pushing yourself and your abilities at bootcamp causing injury causing you to miss your next few workouts).

3:  Develop a support system:  You can do it alone, but it helps a great deal to have other people with whom you can share the joys and perils of the change your making.  The best support system would involve people that are going through or have gone through a similar process, people who can tell there own stories and listen to yours, people who will brace up when you start to backslide and who will encourage you along when you don’t.

4: Follow a regular practice:  It is after all a practice, which involves regular time and effort to master.  People embarking on any type of change can gain stability and comfort through practicing some worthwhile activity on a more regular basis.  Practice is a habit, and any regular practice provides a sort of underlying homeostasis, a stable base during the instability of change.

5:  Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning:  We tend to forget that learning is much more than book learning.  To learn is to grow and change, or rather adapt.  Eduction, whether it involves a book, body or behavior, is a process that changes the learner.  It doesn’t have to end at college graduation or at age 40 or 60 or 80, and the best learning of all involves learning how to learn – that is, to change.

6Commit to Making This Your Best F-ing Year!!

best fing year

Advertisements

Grains: Healthy or Not??

Often with my clients, I ask them to avoid grains or at least limit them to a certain few or a limited amount per day and that is a request for a variety of reasons, not just because of the extra (often uneccesary) carb load but because of the other health detrimental effects that they can cause.  This is in fairly stark contrast to the “Eat More Whole Grains” sentiment spoken by the USDA….but since you know me by now, you probably already know that most of my beliefs about nutrition are in stark contrast to that outdated model that is based upon bad science.  If I had my way, many people would be grain free and most would be near to, for the sake of their own health!

Here is a sum up of why….

Grains and legumes (yes beans too) typically contain very high levels of a substance known as phytic acid….an anti-nutrient. What is an anti-nutrient?  Diane Sanfilippo describs it well:  “They are primarily plant based-defense mechanisms that are concentrated around the reproductive force in a seed or grain.”  Consider this: every living thing has a defense mechanism.  Plants can’t run away when they are under attack, so to ensure that they continue to thrive and grow, they have internal defenses to fight against predators.  To the plant, or more specifically the seed or the grain of a plant, your digestive system is just such a predator.  These defense mechanisms in the plant fight against your digestion, blocking it’s ability to fully break the food down into harmless amino acids that are easily absorbed into your cells….big proteins or non-broken down amino acids are seen as foreign and dangerous to your body. In other words, anti-nutrients are elements within a food that either prevent or disrupt the proper digestion and absorption of the nutrients contained in that food.  Phytic acid is the plant’s main anti-nutrient.   “While ruminant animals like cows, sheep, and goats have adequate enzymes in their digestive system to break down phytates, non-ruminants, like humans, do not”. It actively binds to minerals and eliminates them from the body, which results, with increased grain consumption, in widespread deficiencies of minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.  These minerals are very important and when we don’t absorb them….the ripple effects of poor health begin.  Magnesium alone is required to complete over 300 enzymatic processes in your body….hmmm, I wonder what those other nutrients we are not absorbing properly are useful for?!

The foods richest in these anti-nutrients are:

  • Whole grains, whole grain products, grain like seeds and legumes that include, but is not limited to, wheat, rye, barley, oats, spelt, corn, soy, lentils, red beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, brown rice and quinoa. (some of these are more concentrated than others)
  • Refined grains and refined grain products, including white rice, flour, bread, cereal, crackers, cookies or pasta.

                                                             

Yes beans too….We all know that beans are famous for causing gas.  “This is due to the presence of a starchy carbohydrate that we can’t properly break down in our bodies.  If your experiencing gas symtpoms, you have eaten a food you don’t digest well”.  Instead of forcing your body to “deal” with it by using beano etc….stop eating the food…it means something is not right.  Legumes typically contain 60% starch and only relatively small amounts of incomplete protein and they also contain potent protease inhibitors which can effect one’s ability to properly digest and use the dietary protein you think you are getting anyway.

Our culture’s diet is centered around these anti-nutrient foods….Again Diane asks: “if I told you I had an omelet for breakfast, a slice of quiche for lunch and an egg souffle for dinner, you might say “isn’t that alot of eggs?” but if I had eaten cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and past for dinner you probably wouldn’t ask “isn’t that alot of grains?”

Grains and legumes also contain goitrogens, or thyroid inhibiting substances, as well as “foreign proteins” like gluten and gliadin and as you may know, these “foreign” proteins are an extremely common source of allergies and sensitivities that can lead to a wide range of problems, both physical and emotional.  We now know that chronic carbohydrate consumption, in general, ultimately depletes serotonin (our bodies natural happy ‘pill’/neurotransmitter) stores and greatly depletes the B vitamins required to convert amino acids into needed neurotransmitters.  There is much research being done now on just how severely grains account for the rampant serotonin deficiencies in our society leading to clinical depression, anxiety, and some forms of ADD/ADHD; one hypothesis suggests that it is because of the lack of L-tryptophan (a crucial amino acid) in grains.

Careful preparation by pre-soaking, sprouting or fermenting these foods can greatly minimize their phytic acid, or ‘anti-nutrient’, content but nonetheless, they are still a very high carbohydrate food source, which brings with it the blood sugar and insulin issues.  Not to mention, many grains are also a source of an extremely damaging protein that has increasingly become a source of serious health problems for millions of people:  gluten.

When you consume foods that your body is not able to properly digest and assimilate – either because your body isn’t functioning properly or because the foods themselves initiate the damage – food particles that are too large “slip” intact through the weakened and compromised lining of the small intestine and are seen by your body as invaders. When these “invaders” (phytic acid and gluten) enter your body, they interact with the immune layer on the other side of the lining of your small intestine (70% of our immune system resides in the digestive system!).  It is at this immune layer that inflammatory molecules (called cytokines) respond to these intact food particle proteins and tell your white blood cells to launch an attack! The by-products of the action of your white blood cells are called “oxidants”…I am sure you all have heard about the importance of “anti-oxidants”…this is why, they are needed to combat these oxidants that are created in part when you eat foods that your body interprets as harmful.
This is the same type of response that happens in your immune system when any other allergen or invader like a bacteria or virus enters your body.  In an effort to fix the problem, your body reads this scenario as disease and react with an inflammatory response.   Inflammation is a whole different topic for a blog post…my belief is that inflammation is at the root of most all disease.  Chronic inflammatory conditions that can all be related to poor digestive function includes so many things from acne, anemia, arthritis and ADD to bone disease, celiac disease, chronic fatigue, Crohn’s disease and depression to eczema, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, gallbladder disease and IBS to infertility, lupus, migraines, mood disorders, parkinson’s disease and PCOS to thyroid disorders and weight gain.

As Nora Gedgaudes points out…..”Since there is no human dietary requirement and since the consumption of grains causes so many known health problems due to their gluten content, anti-nutrient content, poor L-tryptophan profile, as well as high omega 6 levles and mainly starch based content, as well as their allergy and sensitivity potential, there is little reason to include grains in the diet of anyone seeking optimal health or at least little reason to include them regularly.”

What did she just say?  No health redeeming reason to eat grains?!!  That goes against so many things we hear about in the conventional day to day nutrition advice!  Remember; we know alot more now than we ever have, we have a ton of rampant health issues in our society (of which nutrition is rarely looked at), the research takes many years to reach the public let alone be published in a nutrition book and we have large governmental subsidies paid out to the grain industry, so of course they want us eating the cheapest food stuff available, the ones that our ancestors would have scoffed at and called “poor man’s food or starvation food”.

So, I know I said this was going to be a “sum up” but I think it is important to look at some of that research a bit deeper and dive into the perils of gluten…

Gluten is a substance found in numerous grains such as wheat (durum, semolina, graham, spelt, kamut), rye and barley. It is typically present in oats too but that is mainly do to modern processing methods (and easy contamination). Gluten is almost everywhere and laws do not require labeling on all products.  For us humans, we have spent nearly all of the past 2.6 million years as hunter-gatherers; gluten is a very new inclusion to the diet and is very difficult for us to digest. To say that gluten can add complications to your health is putting things mildly. Problems with gluten are becoming epidemic, and although public awareness about this issue is certainly growing, there is more that is poorly understood by most people (including those in the medical field) than not.  The weight of the scientific evidence supporting concerns associated with gluten is suffocating. ***

Although it is commonly associated with Celiac Disease, many people do not realize the broad and very real impact that non-celiac gluten sensitivity can have on people and that is often masked as something else. All celiac disease is a form of gluten sensitivity but not all gluten sensitivity is celiac disease.

Gluten is rarely suspected to be the underlying culprit in many health problems, even by medical authorities, because too much has gone unknown for so long and because our medical industry does a great job at looking at how the body works but not necessarily what really influences it. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease results in chronic and severe malabsorption of nutrients, commonly leading to other disease states and degenerative processes.***

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are generally defined as states of heightened immunologic responsiveness to ingested gluten proteins (remember that when our body is exposed to a foreign protein, alarm signals go off creating a cascade of events to occur within).   A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association states that it has been estimated that 1 in every 200 people has full blown celiac disease.  Some researchers from this prestigious journal hypothesize that this number may be closer to 1 in 30 people…especially considering that the way in which is is diagnosed is not until there is actual full blown internal structural damage (at that point, it’s too late). In an article in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the authors wrote, “celiac disease is a mush greater problem than has previously been appreciated”.  And in an article in Pediatrics, the authors stated, “In the past 7 years, 1 in 4 children was diagnosed as having celiac disease”!! ***

Meanwhile, gluten sensitivity (not included in these statistics) is considerably more common than full blown celiac disease and is currently viewed as ‘near epidemic’. So what is going on??  Look to the culprit.

Both of these situations are autoimmune conditions that create inflammation and immune system effects throughout.  Gluten can affect all organ systems (including your brain, heart and kidneys), your extended nervous system, your moods, your immunological functioning, your digestive system, and even your musculoskeletal system, truly almost all of you.

The Brain:  When it comes to effects of gluten in the brain, exposure to gluten in a sensitive individual shuts down blood flow to the frontal and pre-frontal cortex…this is the part of our brain that allows us to focus, to manage emotional states, to plan and organize, to consider the consequences of our actions and to use our short term memory.  The decreased blood flow to this part of the brain is commonly associated with conditions such as depression, anxiety and ADHD. ***

The Digestive System: Gluten wrecks havoc on our digestive system as mentioned above and it’s proper permeability through a very specific stimulation of the enzyme “zonulin”.  Without getting detailed, this allows for a flood gate of food sensitivity to open.  This is basically, a total setup for autoimmune disorders as well as decreases absorption of vital nutrients, which has many ripple effects.***

Autoimmune disorders are the number 3 killer, behind heart disease and cancer in the US.  Of course gluten is not always the culprit but food sensitivities rank in the top 5 causes of autoimmune disorders.  Even where gluten is not the cause of the disorder, it almost always acts as an exacerbating factor. ** Let’s just say it never helps.  Is that one piece of bread really worth the risk, especially considering the fact that only 1 percent of people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity have ever been properly diagnosed?***

Unfortunately the wheat we are eating these days, is no where near the same wheat our grandmothers were eating let alone our great grandmothers.  It is genetically modified, and grown and processed differently creating an entirely different species/food.

People often think that the symptoms to watch for when it comes to gluten issues are typically gastrointestinal, when gluten sensitivity can, in fact profoundly impact your brain, nervous system, emotional states, endocrine functioning, neurotransmitters, immune system, bones, joints, and skeletal system….your body.  If you experience regular issues with digestion whether it is gas and bloating or pain and cramping or if you are depressed, anxious, angry, suffer from arthritis or any other chronic issue…experiment with your diet.  Cut gluten out for 30 days and see how you feel….you have to cut it out entirely (basically try a paleo diet for 30 days) and then decide whether you need it back in your life or not.

If you are interested in testing, let me know, I will point you in the right direction as far as the proper tests to get done.  The standard “gluten sensitivity” testing DOES NOT cut it….too many people are being missed!

References:

  • Diane Sanfilippo, author of Practical Paleo
  • Nora T Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT  ***
  • Journal of the American Medical Association
  • Archives of Internal Medicine
  • Pediatrics journal
  • C.B. Allan and W Lutz:  Life without Bread: Excess Carbohydrates as the Underlying Cause of Disease
  • M.N. Cohen:  Health and the Rise of Civilization

6 Week Nutrition Series for Optimal Health Starts Next Week!!

Roots Wise 6 Week Nutrition Class Series at The Confluence!!

It’s back to school time for everyone! Come to one class or come to them all! All classes will be held on Thursdays from 7:00pm – 8:30pm. The cost is $25/class. Contact me at megewroot@yahoo.com to register or you can register through the Confluence

October 4th – Paleo Part 1: What is a Paleo or Primal Lifestyle All About and Is It Right For You: There will be two classes covering the world of paleo and primal living and eating and this first one will dive into the what’s and why’s of this way of eating and living and is it right for you. We will cover why it works, why it may not work and how to make it work. You will leave with a greater understanding about what this paleo world that you have been hearing about or dappling in, is all about.

October 11th – Paleo Part 2: Healthy Paleo/Primal Eating Choices, Recipes and Meal Plans: Part 2 will dive into what foods to choose, how to prepare and why on the path to Paleo.
October 18th – Optimal Joint Health Through Food and Supplements: In this class we will cover the importance of maintaining proper joint health throughout your lifetime and how to do so through food and various herbs and vitamins. If you have joint issues now and want to know the best methods to naturally support your joints or if you want to avoid joint problems down the road, come check this class out! In order to keep yourself injury free and moving the way you love to, you must consider joint health!
October 25th – Weight Management and Optimal Health with Food 101: This class will cover what it really takes to lose weight for optimal health. There are a few things we know for certain about healthy weight loss in the scientific community and how to achieve it. There are many myths out there that need debunking and we will cover both of those areas so you leave this class with the knowledge to make the right decisions about how you can go about losing weight to achieve better health and greater energy to do the things you love. You will be providing with a general guideline about what to eat and what not to eat and why for weight loss and overall health.

November 1st – Fall Roots Wise Cleanse Class: Spring and Fall are the best times to do a cleanse. Our bodies take a beating, both good and bad, every day with what we put into them, how we treat them, what surrounds them in our environment and how we move them. The ugly truth is that we live in a world where we are exposed to more toxins than our bodies are designed to handle. We store heavy metals and other pollutants in our bodies that can be found in the air we breath, the water we drink and even in the objects we choose to surround ourselves with. Not to mention, every time we work out we are creating junk for our body to have to clean up. Cleansing helps our bodies detoxify, recover, replenish and become reinvigorated so we can keep doing the things we love with all the energy we want. Roots Wise has created an effective, energizing, yet easy detoxification program that anyone can follow and feel incredible with! You will be set up with a 10 day program to detox your bodies, prepare for winter, re-energize, get rid of some funky issues and get a new perspective.

November 8th- The Complicated World of Supplements and SuperFoods: There are so many products out there and so many people saying one thing or another. What do you need and what don’t you need? What can you truly benefit from and what is all hype? What protein powder is the best for you? What added nutrients do you need to take your game to the next level or simply enhance overall health? These are some of the things we will cover in this class. So if you want to enhance your athletic performance with added nutrients or work to gain better overall health, this class will provide you with great info to help you to make the right decisions in this area.

What Would a Beast Eat?!

September 13th 7pm-8:30pm. $15

Next nutrition class at The Confluence is centered around eating to fuel yourself for that upcoming obstacle race, namely the Spartan Beast in Killington, VT on Sept 22-23rd…..

Are you going to the Spartan Beast?? Or are you participating in an upcoming endurance race? Want to be as prepared as you can be for that race? After all you did pay good money for this race, you might as well give it your all! These races are long and grueling and lots of people risk ‘bonking’, ‘hitting the wall’ or ‘cramping up’ becasue they haven’t prepared as best they can with proper fuel. What kind of food you choose for fuel WILL make or break your expereince and how well or not you do. This class will cover what to eat the week leading up to the Beast or another similar race, what to eat the night before and the morning of. We will also be discussing important electrolyte requirements to help you avoid cramping up. In addition we will go over, what foods etc to eat mid race to keep you in the game! There are plenty of other considerations we can discuss as well, like what are you going to wear, the best shoes and socks, etc.

So come join Megan on Sept 13th from 7pm-8:30pm and get out there and be the Beast that you know you are! Be in touch for more info etc…. megewroot@yahoo.com

This is the first class in the Upcoming Fall Nutrition Series so stay tuned!

20120907-231333.jpg

“Whole Paleo”

As I mentioned in the last post, the topic of the next few blogs will be regarding the concept of “Paleo” and what that means as well as what that may look like. Before diving into the Paleo Diet…the hot topic these days (even though we are talking about something this is thousands of years old!!), I feel very compelled to share with you a highly respected individual’s (and one of Skye’s collegues) write up on this Paleo paradigm. Frank Forencich takes a look at the importance of viewing paleo as not just a diet or a fad etc but rather a lifestyle. He also gives eloquent credence to the importance of getting ‘paleo’ right and what that could mean for our entire society…exciting stuff!! “Going paleo” does not just all of sudden mean changing your diet to eat more meat and no grains but rather to embrace more of the paleolithic way of being in every aspect of life. It included living or rather re-living it fully….That includes moving in a more paleo manner….similar to the way Skye of Mocean365 teaches or the way Erwan Le Corre of MovNat teaches, that also includes spending plenty of time living and breathing outside in our natural world/playground.

Getting back to your roots! This is where living “Roots Wise” comes into play….taking a look at how you live, how you interact, how you move and of course how you eat. So please read through Frank’s “State of the Meme”, gain a bit of insight or a new perspective and then we will move forward into the Paleo Diet and Primal Moving in the next few posts…..

The State of the Meme by Frank Forencich

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

Plato

Paleo is smoking hot these days, hot enough to roast a hindquarter of antelope to a mouth-watering golden brown. All the hippest fitness people (the “hip-fit”) are talking about our ancestral origins. They’re reading and writing books, going to conferences, sharing ideas and speculating about the future.

The enthusiasm is well-placed. Paleo holds immense promise for reshaping the trajectory of health, medicine, fitness and human welfare in general. The big-box health and fitness industry is doing its best to ignore this trend, but there can be no putting human biology or evolution back in the bottle. Ancestry has the potential to touch everything in our modern lives, from health and medicine to business, education and social organization.

But what exactly is “Paleo” anyway? Depending on who you talk to, Paleo might be a period in human history, a philosophy for living or a way to maximize one’s athletic performance. It might be a “caveman” lifestyle or a diet of meat and vegetables. Paleo may be all these things, but there’s one description that we need to add to the list, one that hasn’t gotten the attention that it deserves. That is, “Paleo” is a meme.

what’s in a meme?

A meme is simply a unit of culture that replicates, with variation across space and time. The word was first made popular by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 bestseller,

The Selfish Gene. The basic idea is that memes behave like genes. They make copies of themselves and spread out into the cultural environment. And like genes, they mutate, spinning off variations that may or may not survive in the wild. Some memes replicate in astonishing numbers and remain viable for years or even centuries, while others quickly perish.

Once we understand the nature of memes, we get a sense of how best to introduce them into the wild. That is, if you’re out to create a powerful and sustainable meme that will change the world, that meme must have clarity and appeal. If people don’t understand what it is, it won’t replicate with fidelity. If it’s vague, it will quickly splinter off into a range of styles and sub-specialties. If it’s poorly defined or not credible, it will disappear from the cultural radar and go extinct.

With a highly successful Ancestral Health Symposium now on the books, we have a golden opportunity to shape the future of the Paleo meme. If we create a coherent, clear and compelling message, we can shape the conversation around health, medicine and fitness in the 21st century. This idea–that our bodies have a history and that we can improve our health by behaving in ways consistent with that history–has the potential to completely transform the way we live. But if we get it wrong, things will take an entirely different course. If we craft a meme that is fragmented, inaccurate, boring or irrelevant, it will fall by the wayside and perish.

As it stands, we’re already seeing some distinct variations on the Paleo meme:

academic paleo

The original version comes to us from university lecture halls, laboratories and the fossil beds of East Africa. This is the labor-intensive, hard-won, scientific version of human prehistory. The advantage of this meme is that it’s highly credible and probably accurate in most respects. Unfortunately, it’s damn hard work. To really get to a complete picture of human history at this level, we’ve got to be fluent in paleontology, evolution, molecular biology and a host of related sub-disciplines. We need the authority of this meme, but it’s almost a full-time job in its own right.

cartoon paleo

At the other end of the sophistication spectrum we find “cartoon Paleo.” In this variation, slackers are content to go forth with the caveman image and are not inclined to ask deeper questions. For many, “Meet the Flintstones” is all the explanation they need. This meme is quick to propagate because its easy to comprehend, never mind the fact that it’s completely inaccurate and profoundly misleading. Fortunately, the Flintstones meme is starting to crumble under a mountain of hard evidence.

romantic paleo

Also known as “New Age Paleo,” this meme views human prehistory as a time of perfect physical health and spiritual connection with nature and the cosmos at large. In this utopia, there was no hardship, no disease, no anxiety and no unhappiness. This vision, of course, is nonsense. In actual fact, life in the Paleo would have been a mixed bag of pleasure and pain; we can be certain that many individuals suffered excruciating injuries, predator attacks, sunstroke, hypothermia, starvation, snakebites and poisoning by toxic plants. Human health was robust in prehistory, but life was not a free ride.

athletic paleo

This is the “Born to Run” variant in which athletes, usually runners, cite and embrace evidence that supports their favorite athletic pastime, usually running. There’s lots of cherry picking going on at this level, leaving us with the impression that the Paleo was little more than a grassland version of the Ironman or an ultra. In this meme, there’s so much talk about athletic performance that proponents become blind to other dimensions of paleo living. What about tracking, gathering or natural history? What about social living and tribal cohesion?

macho paleo

Closely related is macho-Paleo, fueled by testosterone. In this predominately male fantasy, human prehistory was all about getting together with your mates, killing animals and having an outdoor barbeque. This meme dovetails nicely with popular chest-thumping boasts such as “Your workout is our warmup.” (Crossfit) “What off-season?” (Nike) and “My best vacation is your worst nightmare.” (Mountain climbers) This meme has more to do with primate dominance behavior than it does with the actual nature of human history.

dietary paleo

Then there are those who focus on the dietary dimensions of Paleo life. These pundits attack grains and vegetarian diets with great authority, but sadly, they never get much past the digestive tract. The problem with this variation is that it’s a fragment of a much larger story. And because it’s a fragment, it tends to get pigeon-holed with every other diet meme out there. In the Barnes and Noble system, “The Paleo Diet” winds up alongside every “Five Minute Diet Guide for Getting Skinny.” This brings Paleo down to the level of pop health where it looses its meaning and its power.

whole paleo

As we can see, all the current Paleo memes have limitations. Most are fragments, some are caricatures. Few of them deliver the whole scope and potential of what the Paleo has to offer. My proposal is that we craft a “whole Paleo” meme, one that’s comprehensive and true to the authentic Paleo experience as it was lived, on the ground, by the people at the time. Of course, we can’t interview such people directly, but we can refer back to early work done by anthropologists who lived with and studied native cultures and indigenous peoples. While not strictly “Paleo,” (as in “old stone age”) these people and their accounts are the closest thing we have to a genuinely Paleo world view.

What does this inquiry reveal? In short, a holistic view of experience, one that includes far more than just the body, the digestive tract, weight loss and athletic performance. Rather, this view weaves mind-body-spirit-land-tribe-ancestry into a single, massively interconnected orientation. In primitive cultures across the globe, from Australia to Africa to the Americas, these interconnected elements are cited with astonishing regularity. In fact, primal peoples find our Westernized focus on single elements to be not just curious, but completely out of balance, even bizarre. In many cases, they are right.

The beauty of the holistic-primal orientation is that it’s both descriptive and prescriptive. It tells us about the comprehensive world view of our ancestors, but it also suggests a sophisticated, sane way forward in a modern world run amok. Specifically, it encourages us to study, not just the characteristics of individual elements in isolation, but the relationships between elements. And in this sense, it’s all about rapport: with our bodies, with each other, with our habitat and our work.

“Wholeness” is a meme too, of course, one that’s appearing with greater frequency in just about every dimension of modern human experience. Not only are we beginning to appreciate the importance of eating whole foods, we also understand the “whole body” approach to functional fitness training. Similarly, the case for wholeness is now being made in disciplines as diverse as psychology, engineering, urban planning, politics, education, corporate management and criminal justice.

And so, this “whole Paleo” meme has immense promise. Not only is it balanced, comprehensive and historically accurate, it keeps our attention moving across a broader range of possibility. It allows for detail, but it also keeps us from getting stuck in isolated specialties and sub-specialties. It inspires us to work creatively and systemically, building relationships that create a more complete and thriving experience. Most importantly, “whole Paleo” unifies the three most important activist movements on the planet today: environmentalism, public health and social justice (including economics). By focusing on the intersection of mind-body-spirit-land-tribe-ancestry, we turn the past into a powerful force for a saner future.

So, let’s launch this “whole Paleo” meme into the wild and encourage its propagation. Let’s talk about diets, athletic performance and medical issues, but let’s keep our attention moving over our entire habitat and experience. Let’s keep our meme historically accurate, relevant and emotionally appealing. Let’s keep it clear, coherent and compelling.

If we tell this story in the right way, it’s going to change everything.

copyright 2011 exuberant animal http://www.exuberantanimal.com

One Thumbs Down and One Thumb Up…..

Wow! So last night Skye and I went to see the movie “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet” and I gotta say we were pretty damn disappointed! I gave it one thumb up and one down b/c I appreciate the point CJ Hunt was trying to make….he just did it rather poorly!

I was excited for this movie b/c i felt the producers could have really driven home some great info to the public…but that was not so. This movie is essentially attempting to communicate that we come from a 2 million year old history of being meat eaters and foragers….a time in which we thrived. It is trying to give credence to the Paleo diet as well. Through poorly edited interviews with some incredible scientists, authors and anthropologists etc, the creator of this movie is offering what could be a great glimpse into why we should be eating in a Paleolithic manner….the way our ancestors ate and the diet our ancestors thrived on.

We got that point. We also got the point that since homo sapiens started eating grains and less protein and fats, our brains began to deteriorate and the onset of modern day diseases began to develop. Unfortunately this movie could not deliver these messages adequately. Skye and I know a thing or three about nutrition, our history and our diets effect on the body, but for the average person looking to learn a thing or two about these things….it did not deliver and I would not advise spending your money on seeing it.

The movie was poorly shot, poorly edited, overstimulated you in the effects and therefore took away from the message. The people CJ Hunt interviewed are some of my favorite authors etc and he made them sound rather inadequate with the clips he choose.

Instead of seeing this movie, I would suggest checking out the Weston Price Foundation, the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Robb Wolfe’s book “The Paleo Solution” or some of Loren Cordain’s work if you are interested in this info or this way of eating.

This week look for more from me about the Paleo diet, what it’s all about and how to get it right. I will also be teaching a Paleo class this Sept at The Confluence in Berlin, Vt so stay tuned for more info!

20120806-130543.jpg

In Search of the Perfect Human Diet….

This week, starting on Friday evening, the Catamount Arts Center in St Johnsbury, VT will begin showing the movie “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet“.  I am stoked to see this movie as I have been hearing about it as it’s been in the works for quite some time and features some of my favorite nutrition authors, who include folks like Gary Taubes and Micheal Eades, amoungst others.  And I am stoked to share this with others!!

Soooo…on Sunday the 5th at 7:30 we will be heading to the Catamount Arts Center in St Johnsbury for date night!

Come join us in checking the movie out!

For the next week, I will blog about topics that are covered like the paleo diet, primal eating, transitioning to eating this way, why elements of paleo eating and living might work for you and how it is also about a lifestyle and not just a way of eating. 

Check out the trailer for the movie and come join us!!

Movement for Life and an Ode Mocean365!!

Mocean=Movement Three Hundred and Sixty Five Days of the Year!!!

Recently Skye of Mocean365, my partner, posted a video that we just caught wind of, about a 71 years young man, moving for life. It was an inspiring video to watch and feel! I have to say that this man reminded me quite a bit of my guy Skye, as many of you felt, I am sure.

One of our other favorite movement guru’s is a guy by the name of Frank Forencich, who wrote a great book entitled…”Change Your Body, Change the World”. One of the beginning paragraphs in the book is a bit of a disclaimer….it states:

“Before beginning a life of sedentary living and isolation from the natural world, see your physician, your therapist and your insurance agent. While your at it, check with your family and friends. You are about to embark on a perilous lifestyle that is dangerous not only to yourself, but also to those around you”

Skye and I both greatly believe that in order to live well, you must move well and eat well. We both just want to see people being the best they can be and feeling the best they can….we want people to be stoked on life!! This in turn will make for a better community, a better society, and a better world. So many people are fatigued, depressed, anxious, overweight, diseased etc. And we don’t have to be!!! Recently I read a report from years of research that stated that “1 in 10 deaths around the world are DIRECTLY related to inactivity” and that “1/3 of the world’s population is FAR below the already low activity recommendations”. We are literally killing ourselves off by not doing anything.

Let’s move! We have legs and arms that work, let’s use them! Let’s change our bodies so we can change the world!

So, now I want to take a minute to go off about Skye and what he attempts to share each and every day… Skye is an extremely passionate man. He is passionate about life, passionate about people and passionate about movement. Every day I watch him share his passions and his talents…his gift for inspiring others. When we move, we move not just for strength but also for a chance at a longer and healthier and thus happier life, just like Mr. Jepson in the video below.

Many of those that have taken a class with him see this. Those that have stayed with him, know this. There are some folks that may come to a class and be looking or expecting to get their ass kicked… sometimes they do and other times they don’t… in the traditional sense that is. Skye incorporates skill building, balance, mental challenges, and agility skills as well as strength skills. Some folks are surprised that this incredibly fit man with about 4% body fat is having you do something like walking on a log with your eyes closed, juggling a stick in the air, throwing a ball against the side of a building, playing ultimate ball….and ask “wait a minute, shouldn’t I be doing a ton of pushups or a million squats or something?!” If they don’t come back, b/c they didn’t get their ass kicked in the traditional workout manner….they are surely missing out. To you folks i challenge you to come back, to look outside the box, to train the muscles that you dont use when just doing pushups or squats all the time. I challenge you to let yourself learn about your body, to use your braun and nervous system as well…you will be hooked!

Then there are those folks that think we are “crazy” or “extreme” but have never experienced a Mocean365 class….I challenge you to take a class with Skye, sign up for one on one and open your eyes to a new way of being….you will be hooked!! It’s about play base dynamic movement for life so you are strong and fit but also agile, flexible, balanced, smarter and happier!!! Doesn’t sound so bad eh?!

Yes, you will do some pushups, plenty of burpees and experience a fair amount of grueling sessions! But you will also walk away with a new perspective….you will have felt like a kid again, you will have challenged your balance and your mind….helping spur on the growth of those all important neurotransmitters, and you will, whether you realize it or not, be helping yourself become a better individual with a better chance for a healthier life now and as you age.

Each one of Skye’s classes is different and varied…why because he wants you to excel in life, he wants you to move well, he wants you to be healthy and to be happy. All of these things combined can help you have that. Those of us that train with him feel a sense of specialness, a sense that “wow, we have him to ourselves”!!!

Skye is thinking about us as individuals now and also thinking about our futures. I live with the man, i hear his rants, his drive to better himself and help others do the same. Trust me when i say this man wants the best for everyone!! Thank you Skye for sharing your passion, for being you, for not compromising your classes to amp up your numbers…for not calling it boot camp or core strength class or any of the other catchy tag lines. Thank you for bringing us Mocean365!!!

Check out a class and get in Mocean!

Then Check out this video below of Stephen Jepson, get out in the playground and never leave!!!

Homemade Sunburn Protection…

When in high sun and heat, ya got to protect yourself….even in the hills of Vermont, the sun can be strong and daily exposure can add up.  I am not a fan of sunscreen because more often then not, they are riddled with the very chemicals that probably cause skin cancer.  That being said, we have indeed broken down our ozone so our exposure risk is even greater today than ever before.  When we travel to Central America, I go all out with the Zinc Oxide and when in the hills of New England, I try to be good too with natural protection.  Here is a great short vid by the crew at Korduroy on how you can make your own at home.  You can mix a little of this concoction in your daily moisturizer for a touch of protection or use it when you know you will be out in the sun all day…..Thanks again crew at Korduroy TV!!!

Food As Fuel….Performance Nutrition Class at the Confluence on June 21st!

On June 21st from 5:30 pm to 8 pm, I will be teaching a class all about nutrition for the mover and shaker.  It will be held at The Confluence in Berlin, VT…read on….

Do you want to take your athletic conditioning and performance to the next level?  Are you looking to prepare your body nutritionally for that next race or competition but are lost as to how to go about that?  Are you confused with all the information out there telling you what to eat and when to eat it, to get you to that next level?  Are you a die hard crossfitter, a marathoner, or you want to be one, a biker, an obstacle racer, weekend warrior or an everyday mover and shaker looking to gain the most from your workouts, your training and your everyday movement sessions?

Then join us in the FitPark, our outdoor classroom, for a class that will answer those questions & more. Physical activity, athletic performance & recovery from exercise are enhanced by optimal nutrition.  We’ll discuss the foundations & the specifics of athletic & performance nutrition, appropriate selection of foods & fluids, timing of intake & supplement choices for optimal health, exercise performance and recovery.

Some topics that will be covered include:

  • The Protein Low Down
  • Healthy Fats for Fuel
  • How and When to Use Carbs to your Benefit
  • Supplements of all sorts…from protein powders to omegas, to superfoods to MRP’s
  • Alkaline vs Acid
  • The Key Vitamins and Minerals for Optimal Performance
  • Electrolytes and Recovery Foods
  • Pre-race prep, mid race fuel and post race replenishment
  • And we will attempt to debunk some of the myths that abound!
  • You will also leave with a sample of the Roots Wise Recovery Blend

Call or email Megan at 603-674-7249 or megewroot@yahoo.com to pre-register or with any questions.  The cost of the class is $35