Commentary

Fitness And Diet Head Back To The Future

What did cavemen and ladies not know that we do besides the fact that reality television is a waste of time and that sexting can get you into big trouble politically?

 

Well, there I was reading The Complete Idiot's Guide to Barefoot Running last night (go ahead, take your best shot) when I came across a reference to MovNat, which was founded by Erwan La Corre as a combination of his youthful gambols in the natural world, his teenaged exposure to a mixed martial art called Combat Vital and a discovery of Methode Naturalle, a process and philosophy of outdoor training developed by one Georges Hébert at the turn of the last century. La Corre, in turn, has developed a workout around 12 movements called MovNat (Move Naturally, natch) that includes ancestrally correct activities such as running barefoot, throwing boulders and carrying objects such as downed tree limbs.

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"I meet men all the time who can bench 400 pounds but can't climb up through a window to pull someone from a burning building," Le Corre told Christopher McDougall, author of the influential barefoot-running narrativeBorn to Run, in a Men's Healthpiece a couple of years ago. "I know guys who can run marathons, but can't sprint to anyone's rescue unless they put their shoes on first." In short, fitness has nothing to do with lifting weights or being able to finish ultratriathelons," Le Corre says.

Ret Taylor, who is featured in Jen Murphy's "What's Your Workout" column in The Wall Street Journal this morning, no doubt agrees. The founder of a sales and consulting firm for the furniture- and fixture-manufacturing industry tells us in an in a story and accompanying video that he was a competitive runner but discovered how out of shape he actually was one day when he played a pick-up basketball game. All that arm-flailing and stop-and go running left him very sore, and walking tenderly on blisters, the next day.

"Despite his prime cardiovascular shape, he realized the long-distance running only worked a few muscles," Murphy writes.

Taylor read an article about MovNat and recently formed a group through Meetup called Natural Movement NYC that runs, jumps and climbs together in Manhattan's Central Park on weekends. Taylor wears Vibram Five Fingers minimalist shoes, which we wrote about last fall. 

The group of 20 or so people run three to six miles, stopping every half mile or so for body-weight exercises such as push-ups, often utilizing natural objects as gym equipment. Taylor also tells Murphy that he's getting into the Paleo Diet, which is based on the animal protein, vegetables and fruit that our distant ancestors presumably ate. (Despite what Nabisco might like you to believe, the daily menu did not include Triscuits.)

All of this brought to mind a piece I read last week about Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who says he's only eating meat from animals he kills himself. Although right now other people are doing the raising or capturing for him, he eventually intends to do his own hunting. After Facebook goes public, I guess.

"Zuckerberg isn't trying to be macho or doing it for the thrills," International Business Timesreports. "Instead, he is trying to have a deeper appreciation of the fact that living animals must be killed each time he eats meat."

It doesn't take a solar eclipse to convince me that the gods are speaking, so I turned to Modern Man's equivalent of the caveman's club -- Google -- and have retuned from the morning hunt with the following information on the Paleo Diet:

·      It is also known as the caveman diet, Stone Age diet and hunter-gatherer diet, according to Wikipedia.

·      Earth360 tells us that about 10,000 years ago, Neolithic Woman discovered that many grains, beans and potatoes that were inedible raw were tasty and filled with energy-producing calories if cooked. Not only that, they could be stored and cultivated. Thus began the Era of Bad Food Preparation Techniques. (And you thought it started with the microwave.)

·      How trendy is the Paleo Diet? Well, it's been around since circa 1997 at least, when Psychology Today wrote a brief about it: "The theory is simple: Just as a car is designed to run best on a specific fuel, so 'our species is genetically adapted to eating animal protein and fats,' insists Colorado State University's Loren Cordaine, Ph.D. And anthropologist Boyd Eaton, Ph.D., goes so far as to call modern America's high-grain, low-meat diet, 'affluent malnutrition.'"

·      The Ph.D's name is actually spelled Cordain, he claims a trademark on the name "The Paleo Diet" and he's available for speaking engagements in a climate-controlled room near you.

Well, my deadline is here and I'm famished. Think I'll head out to do a little foraging.

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