Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to improve your lifestyle - Primal Style

People sometimes express amazement about my interest in the theoretical and abstract. Among my collegues, my understanding of economics and philosophy is unmatched. Other areas where I have dug my head in are health, fitness, dating, politics, religion, sociology, and, of course, mathematics.

Many think my intense interests are nerdy, and perhaps they are. But they don’t stem so much from a desire to burry myself from the social world as they do from an inveterate ambition to improve myself in all aspects of my life. Knowledge is Power, says the great Francis Bancon. I may add that the corollary to that pithy aphorism would be that ignorance is impotence.

And yet, while there are a great many dorks out there who know all about quantum mechanics and how many transistors there are on the latest Intel processor that are nonetheless inept in the game of life, it is true that these seemingly irrelevant and nerdy endeavors can make material improvements upon your everyday life. And not just enrichen your mental life, although it certainly does that.

To give an example, there is a way that your can vastly improve your life and health by knowing what pre-history humans did during the Paleolithic era. The whole idea is to do what the human body was designed and adapted to do. Its called Going Primal.

Going Primal (or paleo) will necessitate that you will ditch many civilized inventions that were designed to help you but really actually hurt you by being contrary to the way your body was designed. So, I’ll give you a bullet point list to inform you what you have to do to go primal.

  • Ditch the shoes. When I was younger, I used to wonder how the Native Indians were able to run around barefoot without managing to get the joint problems that I was getting with my coushened, arch-support Nikes. The reason is because running barefoot is what your body is designed to do. Without that padding, you are forced to run with proper form. And that is to run on your toes. Take a stroll in your neighborhood and watch all the various runners – from the fat wobbling whale to even the most advanced runners – you will find that they all –literally all – will land on the heels and transition to their toes. Such heelstricking is cringeworthy to anyone who has gone primal. And its really not that hard to figure out why you shouldn’t heelstrike. Try running on your heels barefoot. You can’t; it hurts like crazy because it is a direct pound on the ground with no physiological absorption. The pressure goes straight into your heels and through you knees and hips and back. Moreover, the severity of this pounding can be illustrated by the way that you can actually tell if the person is heelstriking without even looking at their feet, because you can see the thump, thump, thump, throughout their entire body. In contrast, running on your toes allows your foot to act as a spring, eliminating the pound by having your arch, Achilles tendon and calf absorb the pressure as you heel comes down. You can still run on your toes with shoes on, but you will not strengthen your feet muscles like you would if you ran with minimalist shoes or barefoot. It may be of interest to note that the absurd phenomenon of people who are not even 5”10 but wear size 12+ shoes is the result of shoes flattening their arches by weakening the muscles in the feet. A shoe is like a cast on the foot, or, as someone else as said, a footcoffin.
  • Adapt the paleo diet, which consists primarily of meat, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. That’s what the human body evolved to eat before the agricultural revolution introduced wheat and grains to his diet. But, as loads of empirical evidence demonstrates, grains make you fat. Skip the processed foods, they’re even worse for you than you probably think. They not only make you gain weight by spiking insulin levels, but are detrimental to the brain and can mess with your concentration levels. Blame the explosion of ADD victims to processed foods.
  • Try not sleeping with a pillow. For most of human history we have not slept with pillows. Once you get used to it, it is surprisingly comfortable. You don’t have to roll around as much either. One caution, your shoulders may get sore, so your mileage may vary on if you want to do this one.
  • Instead of sitting in chairs, sit Indian style on the floor with your legs crossed. Asians do this all the time and they don’t get the back problems that westerners do.

There are many other ways that you can integrate the Primal Way into your lifestyle. This is just a brief sketch to get you started.


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