So I’d like to discuss a few things that are Paleo related.
First, I think I’ll define Paleo as more than my Homo Erectus diet, but as a pseudo-lifestyle. I’m not talking about living in the woods and wearing skins or whatever. I won’t skin a ferret or spear a tortoise (how does one kill a tortoise for food anyways? Smoke it out?). I am however talking about certain lifestyle decisions or changes I guess to make one’s existence a little more physiologically in line with that of the paleolithic. To further explain that, I guess it’s making one’s life a little more difficult- eating real food and shifting aspects of one’s modern lifestyle to mimic what our bodies were designed for evolutionarily. I think this difficulty has good payouts in the long run though.
So in reading about Crossfit and fitness in general, I read about this guy, Erwan Le Corre who has started a GPP (General Physical Preparedness) program called MoveNat. From what I’ve read, he is basically training people to re-learn natural movements that were of benefit to paleo-man, and developing a strength and conditioning program around natural sources. Instead of lifting barbells, he’s lifting logs, climbing trees instead of pullups, and leaping from rock to rock instead of using plyo boxes. I really like this concept, mainly because it’s cheap, but it also seems like it would be good for those who get bored in a gym. Imagine doing tree climbing circuits and overhead presses with logs for a workout instead of slugging it out on an eliptical. Like Crossfit, I imagine there is a lot more camaraderie as well. Additionally, I think it would be good for people who are just plain averse to gym culture and things like weightlifting, which I could see having a vanity stigma.
I will say though as well, It is really silly looking. If I walked by a park and saw grown adults climbing trees for exercise… well, I don’t know what I’d do. Also, in the article in Outside Magazine (January ’11) it appears that he is making money from this. I have no qualms about this, and I believe that he is doing something really good here- it just seems so silly, the idea that you would pay someone to teach you how to lift logs and develop a program based in nature. This is a hard idea for me to articulate, because I’m not calling it a rip-off or anything. I just think that, say-from the view of your average athlete or personal trainer, or even average person- it looks really silly. That’s all. I think I agree with it whole-heartedly, especially if it gets people off the couch, and more importantly, outside. Le Corre might be on to something here. MoveNat might be turn out to be something a lot larger than it seems. It weaves fitness with diet (Paleo eating, intermittent fasting), environmentalism, and science together with friendship and competitiveness. And that’s kind of weird. Very cool. I love the skills that I have been learning at Crossfit (olympic lifting, handstands, and cartwheels. I can finally jump rope pretty well now too!), and I think that Crossfit is good in that I have learned more control over my body through learning proper form-MoveNat it seems might not be able to really teach that, since each stone lifted or log flipped is a different, but MoveNat seems like it encompasses a little more. It’s like the liberal Crossfit (It seems that many Crossfitters are some kind of libertarian-which makes sense).
I would also like to mention F.lux. F.lux is a free program that you can install on your computer that simulates sunlight wavelength; getting darker and less blue as the evening progresses. There is research that shows that blue light has affects on sleep-what F.lux does is redden your computer screen in conjunction with the onset of the evening or nighttime. I have been using it for several months now, and I cannot claim one way or the other if it helps any with sleep, mainly because I haven’t paid much attention. It is a passive program, and sometimes I do notice my screen going red, and also it is occasionally hard to see things, but I do think it causes less eye strain at night, and indeed might make sleep a little better. Either way, it’s free, and the science behind it makes sense to me. I’d imagine it can’t hurt anything.
Lastly, another recommendation, and that is Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run. I read this book a few months ago, and it is one of the best books I’ve ever read, though I’m not sure why. This book weaves an excellent story in with exercise science and a history lesson. I think that’s why I like it, because it’s so multifaceted in its utility.
I won’t say that this book made me want to go out and run ultramarathons, but it definitely sold me on the barefoot running thing. McDougall distills most of the science and research that has gone into barefoot running and has made it easy to understand, and, though not exactly scientific, uses his own anecdotal evidence as well. I like how he puts a sort of soul into barefoot running, not to mention the “counterculture” effect as well. This book and Crossfit’s general concept I believe are turning the fitness and running world on their heads. I like the flippancy, especially since from personal experience, it seems to be working, and from a scientific standpoint, seems to be well-backed up.