Vibrance, Ancestral Health and the Meaning Behind My Quest

Health – It’s on my mind pretty much ALL the time. I’m not sure if it’s how my mind works, but I see so many out-of-shape, lethargic people everywhere. Personally, I’m kind of surprised – I live out in the country, and while there were certainly sick people where I grew up, most people in my hometown of Bangor, PA were “country-strong” – even if they were overweight, they were vibrant. Strong. Forces of nature. Fat men with big strong arms, John Deere mesh hats and permanently dirty fingernails. Not always pretty, but folks to be reckoned with.

We’re told that we live longer than we ever have, but I often wonder if we hit a plateau a while ago and that only science can prop us up to continue that rise. And I also wonder if it’s really true that we actually live longer– I did a quick study a while ago through my wife’s family history – the Slocumb family – and found that the big difference was that infant mortality was the real killer. If you made it to 16, chances were you’d make it at least to 60, at least out in the country. No Type 2 Diabetes, minimal cancer, morbid obesity. There were an awful lot of entries that said “and he passed at 84 in great health and surrounded by family”.

So, what were things like hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago? Disease, sanitation, and warfare aside, was there a level of vibrance we have a hard time imagining in ourselves? Personally, I think there was. When you look at the hard work it took our ancestors to survive in the wild, build civilizations, survive untold famines, conquer through tremendous foot travel and hand-to-hand combat (right or wrong, you have to admit it was physically impressive), I find myself wondering – could we do the same? Do we have the nutrients to make these physical sacrifices? The willpower?

There are so many aspects to health. As the owner of the world’s healthiest beverage company, our choices in what we eat and drink are obviously one of the most important and visible, as well as our exercise, or, in a more primal/ancestral application, physical exertion. But there’s so many other things. What we put on our bodies. What we put in our minds. How we defend ourselves in a world so different than it was for the first 99% of our history as a species.

Let me know your thoughts, and I look forward to having you along on one humble man’s journey to the rediscovery of our ancestral, rightful health.

Torture at Tiny's

I was getting chunky – that’s all there is to say about it. There’s definitely a genetic predisposition towards weight gain in my bloodline (probably from too many centuries of too little food in rural Poland). I hadn’t fallen off any cliffs, and black was still slimming. But despite decreasing my carb intake tremendously, and having a fairly active lifestyle, I was slowly gaining weight.
It’s easy when one is a busy entrepreneur and a father of 2 young boys (one of whom appears to not require sleep) to make excuses. Such as “I still look good for my age (40)”, “I don’t look as bad as that guy”, and of course, “I have no frickin’ time”. But, as John Adams said, facts are stubborn things, and wishing won’t dissolve a fat tire or increase my metabolism.

My oldest son is a wrestler, and I’ve been talking with one of his coaches about fitness for some time. So, when he told me his friend, Tiny, had a “gym” in his garage where he swings sledgehammers and flips tires, I immediately took him up on it. When? 7:30 PM. How long? About an hour and a half. Anything else? Don’t be a wuss. Just come. OK, sounds good. The only promise I got out of him was that no one would laugh.

And so, my introduction to the world of High-Intensity Interval Training started. Tiny doesn’t call it that, but through my research that’s what we’re doing. Circuits of resistance-based, often anaerobic state inducing exercises that are like actual work. Sledgehammers (the 20 lb. one is killer, or a 10 lb one in each hand) swung as hard as possible, weighted sleds pulled long distances over an unforgiving gravel driveway, 50-75 pound “haybalers” tossed back and forth as quickly as possible, push-ups, pull-ups, crunches – all done for 1:20 with 40 seconds of rest between exercises. This is just the warm-up – tire flipping is usually the entrée, and it’s the best full-body workout I’ve ever had. Overall, the workout moves quick, is never boring, and is utterly exhausting. Tiny is relentless, and gleefully so.

Really, I’m no expert on this. Though I wasn’t in “bad” shape before, I’m sure no self-respecting doctor would have said “Hey! Great Idea! Jump into some insanely difficult weight-based cardio workouts as hard as you can after 20 years of basic inactivity!”. But well, it seemed like a good idea at the time, and honestly, my body figured it out. It’s also figured out how to drop at least 15 pounds of fat off the middle, have more energy, and a better attitude. I’m hooked.

There’s all kinds of things you can do. I do a few other workouts as well (which I’ll go into later), and everyone’s different. You may not have Tiny near you, and tire flipping may be outside your realm of interest. And, you may not want to turn to an entrepreneur who ferments food for a living for advice. But I’ll tell you what – find something, and dive into it. Make the time, however you have to. Do it this Thursday. Those facts sure aren’t taking any time off –