1. Table of Contents
  2. About
  3. Solar Dispatch 3
  4. Schedule
  5. Fundamentally Different, or Mentally Deferring Our Fun
  6. Everything You Do Is Training
  7. You Are What You Wear
  8. ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Scott Sonnon on Reprogramming Your Movement
  9. Obstacle Course Movements — ReAdaptive Conditioning/Training (ReACT)
  10. Wild Child
  11. ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Erwan Le Corre on Our Biological Call of Duty
  12. Sedentism
  13. Neoaboriginal Revolution
  14. ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Arthur Haines on the Transition from Semi-nomadism to Sedentism
  15. Wild Woman Speaks
  16. ReWild Your Diet
  17. Chef Franky G's Training Elixirs
  18. The Art of Cooking June Bugs
  19. ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Ido Portal on the Movement Diet
  20. Climbing Trees
  21. Wiki Links Trail
  22. ElixirCraft Mastery
  23. ReACT: ReAdaptive Conditioning/Training
  24. The Still Birth Paradox
  25. ReWild Your Workspace
  26. Bare It All — Your Feet That Is!
  27. The Chicken and the Egg
  28. 20 Tips for ReWilding Your Movement!
  29. Your Neo-Aborginal Challenge
  30. ReWilding Resources
  31. Would You Like to Contribute to the Next Dispatch?
Daniel Vitalis

Primal Movement

ReWild Yourself! — Dispatch 3

Primal Movement
ReWild Yourself! — Dispatch 3
Table of Contents Table of Contents Table of Contents Table of Contents
About

Welcome to Dispatch 3 of ReWild Yourself! This online magazine is designed to function as more than a source of information, entertainment, and education, it is a kind of natural solar calendar, and is released in accordance with the eight significant Earth/Sun events of the solar cycle. These are the Vernal Equinox, Beltane, Summer Solstice, Lammas, Autumn Equinox, Samhain, Winter Solstice, and Imbolc. This natural sine-wave rhythm of solar time was once the calendar that we humans lived our lives by, however today we are living on the Gregorian calendar, which is in reality nothing more than an artifice, having no real correlate to the events of the natural world. Conversely, the natural solar calendar is based on real, observable solar/planetary events, and is therefore a significant part of ReWilding Ourselves!

Dispatch 3 is built around the concept of Primal Movement, and was written to inspire you to begin moving in new ways, or to keep you adapting and sophisticating the movement sessions you're already doing. Movement is life, and all the evidence now points to the power of diet combined with exercise to create robust health and longevity. Of course we are exploring here the modern application of primal movement and these strategies are intended to be coupled with the diet and lifestyle concepts we have shared in this, and in past Dispatches. As always, ReWild Yourself! focuses on the modern application of indigenous and ancestral strategies for transcending the limitations imposed on our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits by modern industrial and technological living.

We have, below, compiled a world class assortment of articles, videos, and interviews on the topic of wild movement! I am eager to introduce you to the holy trinity of movers, with Scott Sonnon — the creator of TacFit and developer of the clubbell, Ido Portal – the voice of Movement Culture, and Erwan Le Corre, the founder of MovNat! These three men have been instrumental in motivating me to explore my movement potential, and I think they can, and will, do the same for you! As always, we bring you articles by Alexandra Schueler of Wild Woman Speaks, Frank Giglio of Three Lily Farm, and Arthur Haines of the Delta Institute to deepen your understanding of the ReWilding Lifestyle! Oh... Did I mention my sister (yes, my actual biological sister) is the contributing author for our "Voice of the Tribe" column? She will be sharing about movement during pregnancy, so be sure not to miss her article "The Still Birth Paradox"!

In a world of soundbites, memes, and 30 second videos, this magazine represents a deep and rich edutainement experience, so feel free to skip around, and when you can, take some focus-time to let this information roll over and through you. Allow it to seep into your mind, into your heart, and into your cells. Let it reawaken something within you. 

Keep ReWilding!


All writing in ReWild Yourself! is by Daniel Vitalis  unless otherwise noted.

Daniel Vitalis is a Leading Health, Nutrition, and Personal Development Strategist.  Encouraging us to “ReWild Ourselves”, Daniel teaches that Invincible Health is produced by a life aligned with our biological design. His entertaining, motivational and magnetic delivery style has made him an in-demand public speaker in North America and abroad. He is the creator of FindASpring.com, a resource helping people find fresh, clean, wild water wherever they live, and the founder of SurThrival.com, a brand pioneering a lifestyle of vigorously healthy living. Daniel was recently featured in the widely acclaimed film “Hungry For Change”. He can be found at DanielVitalis.com, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Daniel Vitalis

Daniel Vitalis

Click here to read our disclaimer.


Solar Dispatch 3

It is finally here, the Summer Solstice, the culmination of the season and the longest day of the year! Biological activity is peaking as there is more available light here now — in the Northern Hemisphere — than on any other day of the year. Every day since the Winter Solstice has lead up to this, with each growing, incrementally, in length. It all peaks now, as the solar light illuminates and enlightens us. But alas, it is a cycle, and like all cycles must come, in time, to its close (if only to begin again once more). From this day forward we begin the return trip towards winter, with each day progressively shortening in length and each night stretching to encompass just a bit more of the 24 hour rotation of our planet.

Here on Earth the seasons ebb and flow, building up, and breaking back down once more. Over and again, these years becoming decades, and then becoming centuries, accumulating as millennia and — eventually — as eons, those great ages of time, all built upon this perpetually flowing cycle. It is my sincere hope that ReWild Yourself! helps to reconnect you with this ancient and mysterious natural calendar, reminding you that you are embedded in the same fabric of space-time that our ancestors were, not just human, but all of Earthly life. 

Now though is the time of midsummer celebration, with weather that makes the heart sing songs of contentment, with sun that nourishes us to our depths. Long and leisurely days, where, even when our work is done there are still hours of daylight to pursue those things to which we have turned our passion. It is summer — even the adults begin to play. The waters have warmed enough for swimming and have become inviting once more — a reprieve from the heat of the days. The forest canopy has deepened with the mature greens of summer, shading the herbs underfoot that now carpet the ground. A menagerie of insects buzz and flap and dart their way through the warm fragrant air or simply float on fluttering wings upon the breeze. All things feel as they should.

Now is your chance to fully solar-charge your body, to allow the magnificent light of the sun to permeate you completely, to let it seep into your bones. As it falls on your skin your body begins to produce vitamin D, and as it reflects into your eyes your brain begins to regulate your circadian rhythm, resetting your internal calendar. Take advantage of this opportunity, get out and play. The next time we meet the days will be shorter, and the season will be drawing towards its close. For now we create those great memories of summer and store the solar energy that will carry us through the winter that will come — inevitably — on the heels of this season.

Schedule

First Dispatch: Spring Equinox - The Intrinsic Taboo

March 20 - 2014

Second Dispatch: Beltane - Let Food Be Thy Medicine

May 5 - 2014

Third Dispatch: Summer Solstice - Primal Movement

June 21 - 2014

Fourth Dispatch: Lammas

August 7 - 2014

Fifth Dispatch: Autumnal Equinox 

September 22 - 2014

Sixth Dispatch: Samhain 

November 7 - 2014

Seventh Dispatch: Winter Solstice 

December 21 - 2014

Eighth Dispatch: Imbolc 

February 3  - 2015

Fundamentally Different, or Mentally Deferring Our Fun

There are — in the course of one's life — those questions which ruminate in the mind, sometimes since the dawning memories of our earliest childhood, the pursuit of whose answers determine — in part — the direction of the course we choose to take with our time. One such for me has been based on the observation of the movement of wild (and many times I must admit, even domesticated) animals. From where does such freedom to move arise, and to what extent are we too capable of such agile grace?

We have all seen the nimble feats of forest creatures, like those of the grey squirrel, who can run, full tilt, towards a tree, and without pause or break, ascend — more running than climbing — spiraling up its trunk like the red that stripes a barber's pole. And then, just as quickly, out and across another branch, only to leap perilously into the air and funambulate across a telephone line — apparently without concept of fall or failure, only to leap again into yet another tree. This is not, from what I have perceived, the squirrel's attempt to "get in a good work out”, or to “exercise”, instead, rather than representing a desire for fitness, this rodent parkour is an expression of fitness — of biological fitness. This is, quite simply, how the squirrel moves through its habitat, as natural to it as is gathering acorns. 

fitness |ˈfitnis|

noun

(Biology) an organism's ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment

The squirrel serves here as but one example — I choose it for its near ubiquitous familiarity — of the kind of movement we see across the animal kingdom. While each animal has its own unique movement style, based upon its adaptations to its ecological niche, its habitat, and the unique anatomical and physiological characteristics that differentiate it from other species, each is a master of its own body, expressing near complete control over their movement.

Simply observe the apparent fearlessness and freedom with which the fauna move through the environment to which they are adapted. The precision with which they execute their acrobatics is at times (if not often) stunning, with scarcely a misstep or mistake (I have on occasion seen some creatures miss their mark, though I could probably count these episodes on the terminal ends of one hand's digits), often making a mockery of even our most adroit and agile athletes.

Rarely do we see an animal with a self-caused injury, nor one grimacing with indications of lower back pain or the discomforts of acutely inflamed tendonitis. Their rotator cuffs always seem so fit and free, even with their repetitive stresses. They transition from rest to maximal output without so much as warm up or stretch, and perform feats on the daily that most of us would require a trainer to pursue. 

Of course we humans are not squirrels, and can't expect to move as they do, however even the species with whom we share 98% of our genome, the bonobo and chimpanzee, exhibit strength and a nimble agility that is difficult for most of us to imagine in ourselves, arboreally locomoting through the forest canopy, flinging themselves nimbly from branch to branch. This agile ambulation, known as brachiation, is a movement potential that we modern humans still retain to some degree, hence the "monkey bars" that for reasons unknown seem to have been relegated to the realm of human children, remaining all but forgotten to most modern adults.

The question then, to which I eluded so many paragraphs ago, is as follows: What is so fundamentally different about human beings that we move in such a limited, restricted, and unimpressive fashion? Are we intrinsically so different from other animals, or has our domestication repressed our capabilities, encouraging us to act as if we were made of glass?

Domestication means “of the house”, and so it seems our modern movement patterns are adaptations to the indoor and artificial habitat of our homes. We are, in this sense, extremely fit (from the Darwinian perspective), fit for indoor environments and reproduction in the captivity of our urban landscape. We have, it seems, become as proficient at sitting on couches as our chimp cousins are at hurdling themselves through the trees.

I believe that every organism — as a basic instinctive biological drive — seeks masterful adaptation to its environment, for both its own survival and for the betterment of its species. Perhaps it is time we ask ourselves, what are the physical repercussions of living a life adapted only to Artifact Land, and what is actually possible for us — the Domesticated Ape — when we step outside our little boxes to interact with our natural habitat once more?

Are we fundamentally different, or are we taught – as we grow from children into adults – to mentally defer our fun? 


Everything You Do Is Training

Everything you do is training. What are you training for?

One thing we can surely say about Homo sapiens is that they are highly adaptable. Whatever is in our immediate environment, whatever we are exposed to, whatever we do again and again, we begin adapting to, becoming better at. In this regard then, we could say that everything we do is a kind of training, everything we do is a physiological and psychological learning session. We are constantly educating ourselves, body and mind, on how to perform. We are always adapting to that which we place before ourselves or is placed before us.

Everything is training. Even those who spend their days behind a desk, operating a machine, or driving a vehicle, are teaching themselves to perform their chosen task — in all its physical specificity — better today than they did before, better tomorrow than they did today. They are learning to increase their efficiency, to shave off the bumps and smooth out the slaloms that cause drag in the execution of their skill. What are you training for?

The Earth is no more smooth than it is flat. Her lines are not leveled or straight, nor her corners padded. Rather she is curvaceous and circuitous, hilled and gravel filled, rushing, gushing, and tempestuous. Verdant and vertical, bouldered and barnacled. In times and places unbearably hot, and at – and in – others cold to the bone. Does your training prepare you for a life lived in the habitat of your planet, or does it make you more fit for a life lived in a gym, condo, apartment, or single family home? Can you move deftly through a forest, a desert, across a body of water, or are you an indoor athlete, moving with precision from room to room, from couch to door, from bed to bathroom?

Some see nature as a hostile force to be dominated and overcome, others as a collection of resources to be used either wisely or squandered. Some see a school and others still, a battlefield. For the ReWilder nature is simply our habitat, our home.

We have each spent a lifetime training for the domestic environment, we have done this by living indoors, by sitting in chairs, by negotiating the predictable terrain of malls and schools and hospitals. Our domestic training is complete, we are blackbelts –– superbly proficient. Now it's time to ReWild our training, to develop bodies and minds that are adapted — once again – to our habitat, to nature, to our nature. 

train |trān|

verb

[ with obj.] teach (a person or animal) a particular skill or type of behavior through practice and instruction over a period of time

You Are What You Wear

There are two wooden steps leading out of the back door of the small home I live in, nestled into the forest of southern Maine. The construction of these steps has made an ideal habitat for hornets the last 3 years, as they slip between the boards atop the step’s landing, and construct their papery nest which hangs beneath, just out of sight. It is a very strategic position, protecting them from intrusion, though not so much from the constant stepping that I must do upon these stairs.

Perhaps the most common response today would be to find a pressurized can of poison, spray down their lair, exposing them — and myself — to this noxious chemical, hoping that it destroys them before it poisons me. Being low on my menu of possibilities, I have simply let them go on living there sometimes to my regret. As the summer progresses they become increasingly territorial, and I have developed a kind of hopping double-step out the door, which wasn’t a conscious decision, but rather my body-mind’s response to having been stung now several times. 

My canine companion has a similar movement she has developed — the quadrupedal translation of my upright double-step. She too has been stung several times, and also seeks to avoid pain, just as do I.

What is interesting and of note here — aside from my procrastination in finding a better solution to this problem — is the way that I have adapted to this threat in my environment. The way my body has sought to avoid the discomfort of the sting.

Similarly

Do you, in your life, now or in your memory, have a low door frame or hanging fixture that you have learned instinctually to avoid? Perhaps having hit your head once or even several times you have developed an increased awareness of that area, you have perhaps learned to duck under to avoid hitting it. Notice in your mind now, or the next time you negotiate this environmental threat, how you body responds. Notice in particular if the movement to avoid this obstacle in your habitat is hyperbolic, exaggerated. Are you giving yourself a wider birth than necessary to avoid this potential hazard?

Notice how the obstacle unconsciously causes your body to brace, to restrict, to adjust in an exaggerated way to avoid the pain or perceived restriction the obstacle causes. 

Whats this have to do with what I wear?

Now, imagine the clothes you might wear out on some special occasion. If you are in a male body these might include dress pants (I think people used to call them 'slacks'?), and a button-down shirt — maybe even a tie — and pointy shiny shoes with a heel that raises your calcaneus an inch or so above your toes. A belt is usually in order, cinched tightly around the hips or waist. If you were born wearing a female body, perhaps you will don a skirt or dress, a snug underwire bra beneath a blouse (a word from the same era as 'slacks'), and of course, if you follow the cultural norm, no outfit would be complete without a pair of high heeled shoes. 

Imagine now that I've brought you into the forest and had you wear this outfit as you negotiate steep terrain, scrambling up talus fields strewn with boulders, ambulating in and around gnarled stumps, climbing into trees, jumping from stone to stone as you cross a stream, balancing across a narrow log bridge. 

You might be thinking “I see where you are going with this, Daniel, but I have an entirely different wardrobe for such forays”, and I know you do. Allow me to continue. The point here is that the clothing of our culture, the fashions of our civilization — in all its haute couture — restricts our movement potential considerably. What's more, due to our tendency to avoid the pain or discomfort caused by the mobility restrictions that our clothing creates, we have a tendency to, just as we might exaggerate when ducking under a door frame, move even less freely than we actually could. Clothing restricts our movement, and then we self-restrict beyond what is actually necessary in the clothes that we are wearing. Imagine now you are wearing your flashiest social-night-on-the-town gear — then picture yourself trying to reach your arms up high overhead. Perhaps this wrinkles or pulls your shirt into a less than flattering position, and notice then how you would, as a result, just start to instinctually avoid this motion. Imagine surging forward with a foot into a lunging position, and the accompanying concern about tearing the crotch of your pants or revealing more than just legs from the bottom of your skirt. Can you feel how you might, unconsciously, restrict the movement that you will allow your hips and legs?

For a woman in a tight skirt, she may find that – like being wrapped in large elastic band – her legs are held adducted together, or perhaps she has trained herself to adduct her legs as not to reveal her sexual organs to the crowd. Consider a belt, worn most commonly today around the ilium (hip bones), which, when snugged restricts their freedom of movement. Our hips are designed to be mobile, but when they become fixed in place (as when our belt zipties them together) our lumber spine and knees are forced to become hyper-mobile — leading in time to movement dysfunction and pain. Or what about the "drop" in our shoes (the measurement of the height discrepancy between heel and toe) which tilts our pelvis forward into a lordosis that literally redefines our skeletal alignment and relationship to gravity. Because our skeleton remodels itself daily, over time we literally reshape ourselves around our clothes!

Clothing restricts our movements, but then we auto-restrict beyond this (usually to protect our clothing) creating even less possibility for movement. Over time and with repetitious use we become shaped to our clothing, to our style. Your clothes define you, and not just in your unique fashion statement, but literally in the way your body postures in Earth's gravity and in how you negotiate the space that is your environment or habitat.

Everything you do is training, and so, restrictive clothing is “restrictive movement training”, and it's a training methodology we are all quite proficient in. What you train you get better at, and so we become very good at self-restricting. 

Over the course of time, of a lifetime, we begin to lose mobility, we learn to stop playing in our bodies and using our range of motion. Our movement patterns domesticate and we lose access to possibilities. We learn — actually we adapt — to restricted movement, and we slowly but consistently lose the range of motion that gives our bodies access to the physical expression of freedom.

I like clothes too...

Clothing represents one of our species most novel and valuable tools, as it protects us from both climate and abrasion, and also allows us to communicate many things about ourselves nonverbally. And besides, civilization treats public nakedness like a crime, restricting its display to the privacy of our homes and controlling its expression as it does alcohol, tobacco, or firearms — allowing it to be seen, but restricting it only for individuals who have reached a certain age (think pornography). We will continue to wear clothing, and in many cases gratefully so. We can, however, make a commitment to choosing a wardrobe that doesn't create short term restrictions in our movement (and thusly long term adhesions in our myofascia). We can view our more restrictive clothing like we do so many other things that have the potential to negatively impact our health — we can use them sparingly. So, rather than suggesting you just throw out or donate your evening wear, instead imagine it coming with a surgeon general's warning: Caution, wearing restrictive clothing increases your risk of debilitating long-term movement restrictions, and in some cases can lead to premature muscular atrophy and skeletal distortions.


ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Scott Sonnon on Reprogramming Your Movement

In this episode of ReWild Yourself! Podcast, I talk with Scott Sonnon, world renowned fitness trainer, founder of TACFIT, public speaker and author.

Episode breakdown:

  • Diminished complexity of physical movement means diminished capacity for imagination
  • Importance of sweating for stress relief
  • Reprogramming movement at the brain stem level
  • Being more athletic does not make you more fit for daily life
  • Getting back to mobility basics for truly advanced fitness
  • When you "stand up straight," are you aligning or distorting your posture?
  • Experience high stress and maintain your fine motor skills
  • Literally shake off stress
  • Focus on the exhale
  • Scott's programs and innovative teaching techniques

Being more athletic does not make you more fit for daily life. Tweet it!

Reclaim your primal capacity for movement sophistication. Tweet it!


Click here to listen!


Episode Resources


Meet Scott

Scott has become an inspiration to thousands of people by his incredible story of triumph and his passionate dedication to helping others. As a world-acclaimed public speaker and author, has taken his world-class fighting skills off the mat to the fight against the core issues behind childhood obesity and accelerated aging.

Scott's array of patented equipment — such as the Clubbell® —  have become legendary in their unique effectiveness. His Circular Strength Training® and  TACFIT® Systems can now be found in 68 countries worldwide and counting, earning Scott a place in the National Fitness Hall of Fame Museum, the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame and the Personal Trainer Hall of Fame. Scott was voted one of “The 6 Most Influential Martial Artists of the 21st Century” by Black Belt Magazine in 2010. As a dyslexic, institutionalized as a child, he became a TED Fellow speaking on the nature of multiple learning styles being misdiagnosed as learning disabilities. Scott Sonnon was named one of the 'Top 25 Fitness Trainers in the World' by Men's Fitness Magazine in 2011. He is a global staff trainer for the 2014 Nike Academy

Read Scott’s full bio here. You can find Scott at RMAXInternational.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter @flowcoach and Youtube.

Scott Sonnon

Scott Sonnon

Obstacle Course Movements — ReAdaptive Conditioning/Training (ReACT)

Click here to check out SurThrival's Immortal Velvet Elk Antler.

Wild Child

I ran away from school once. It was the fourth grade. Mrs Wallizack's class.

I can hardly believe it took me that long...

I had a plan. I would “ask for permission” to go to the bathroom (even those locked in prisons have the autonomy to void their bladders when the need arises), then, once in the hallway unsupervised, I would run to the door at the end of the long, low lit corridor, colliding with the crash bar, and then sprinting — all out — towards my house, which was located just diagonally across the street. 

And that is just what I did...

I remember the sympathetic nervous system response, this was — looking back at it now — one of my earliest adrenalized-state trainings. As soon as I raised my hand to ask for "bathroom privileges" it started, that chemical surge that rushes like a torrent through your arteries. Dryness in my mouth, sweat pinpricking my palms. I felt like I was floating to the door of the classroom, a balloon on a string.

"Surely they all can see what I am doing..."

Opening the classroom door and stepping into the hallway was surreal; a light representing freedom shone from its terminal end, reduced in my perception to a fraction of its actual size, as if I were peering through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. My visual field narrowed, my limbs throbbed with the beat of my heart which had become an audible bass drum in my ears. There was, of course, still time to alter the plan, to head — like a good and well trained fragilis — to the bathroom door, to abort this perilous mission, to submit myself to the fate that had been prescribed to me. Though the option to turn back was still within reach, I craved freedom like an innocent man languishing in a dungeon for crimes he didn't commit. I had no choice... I ran.

My memory is of that pinprick of light growing larger as I hyperventilated my way down the narrow passageway, its cream yellow tiles a blur in the lowlight and at the high speeds I was traveling. I barreled onward toward the freshness of air and brightness of daylight that lay on the other side of that steel door. The wire mesh cage embedded in the narrow vertical window grew to fill my field of view until with an impact I burst through the door and out into the crisp air of that early spring day, to leaves moving in trees with the gentle sway of the breeze. Sunlight struck the pallor of my cheeks as my atrophied legs carried me to my home, just a few hundred yards distant.

When I arrived home I told my mother I was never going back; I just couldn’t take being confined any longer. The incarceration, the restriction, the endless hours forced to sit in a chair that looks more like it was built by Nazi doctors than by anyone interested in the ergonomics of a child's developing body. Desks that had a built-in table-top on the right side only, forcing me into automated mono-dexterity, restricting me to the machinations of my left brain hemisphere.

Endless memorization, read and repeat. Fluorescent lamps overhead illuminating the lesson plan, not a scrap of practical knowledge or timeless wisdom to be found. Isolated from anyone not my same age, from the life experience of older children and elders, and kept from mentoring those younglings born before me. Held in the suspension of the homogeneity of my generation, exclusively.

Have I mentioned the sitting… the endless sitting...?

There is a phenomena known as “learned helplessness”, which describes the mindset of an organism that has been subjected (forced) to endure uncomfortable, adverse, painful, or (usually) traumatic stimuli, and who, in time, learns that there is no chance for escape. With repetition, even when presented with the opportunity for escape, they will not take it. They have learned to be helpless. This, incidentally was discovered through some very unpleasant experiments where dogs were electrocuted

My peers it seemed, had learned helplessness. They just sat there, all day, the idea of escape never occurring to them, no more than spirit-broken, electro-shocked dogs. Some it seemed, had even come to love their captivity. For me, I had no illusions. I knew the birds outside were singing, the sun was shining, the sylvan landscape called me to play, to climb, to jump, to move, to… train myself. To immerse my cells in the landscape, not immured in the cell of the educational prison system. Freedom — which was talked about ad naseum and daily — especially when we pledged allegiance to the flag each morning — was what we were enjoying we were told. Yet I sensed, deeply, that this was a lie of hyperbolic proportion, and one that my teachers believed, having learned and earned a broken spirit by being prisoners once themselves, long before their tenure as paid prison guards began. 

They let me stay home that day, the day of my escape, but I found myself interned again a day later, back in the chair, memorizing, sitting, repeating, but all the while plotting my next escape.

By the 7th grade I simply stopped going, that is until the following year when I was arrested and made to return by court order. I knew that the 8th grade was one I was unwilling to spend in the general prison population, and so I managed to leave the administrators no choice but to place me in solitary confinement. I spent the entire 8th grade year in the “in-school suspension”, segregated — by strategic choice — from the brainwashing that was taking place in rest of the institution. 

This would be, unbeknownst to those who sought to tame me, my last year of compulsory education. 10 days into my freshmen high-school year I was expelled. Finally — and to get this to happen I had to take the most extreme measures — it was determined that I was simply too savage of a being for their factory farm indoctrination system. Better to release me back onto the wild streets than to attempt to domesticate someone who by nature was untamable. 

I had — despite their best efforts — developed the Feral Mindset...

That was the year my life began, the moment I realized that I could — if I was tenacious, if I didn’t give up — earn my freedom.

I was not born Vitalis, it is a name I chose as an adult and for many reasons. It was a popular name amongst gladiatorial slaves, one that some would assume before being sent into the arena to fight in the Roman games, to be slaughtered or if skilled, determined, and victorious, to earn their freedom. It is in that tradition that I have taken the name. Born a slave, but fighting to be free. It is — in part — for this fight that I train. True freedom isn't handed to any of us here, we were all born into captivity, but I seek (and always will) cultural manumission.

Develop the Feral Mindset. Never be tamed!

ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Erwan Le Corre on Our Biological Call of Duty

In this episode of the ReWild Yourself! podcast, Erwan Le Corre, founder of MovNat, joins me to talk about natural movement. 

Episode breakdown:

  • What natural movement means to Erwan
  • "Movement" vs. "Exercise"
  • Do we need to re-learn to move naturally?
  • Connection between movement and survival skills
  • Erwan's top strategies to avoid injury during movement training
  • Specificity causes body alienation
  • The movement you can do this afternoon

Natural movement has been and will always be a biological call of duty. Tweet it!


Click here to listen!


Episode Resources

Erwan Le Corre

Erwan Le Corre

Photo taken from Erwan's upcoming book "The Natural Movement Book" (releasing in 2015)


Meet Erwan

Erwan Le Corre is the founder of “MovNat”, a synthesis of his long-term passion for real-world physical competency, his love of movement in nature, his extensive knowledge of Physical Education history, and his personal philosophy of life. He believes it is everyone’s universal and biological birthright to be strong, healthy, happy and free. He calls this state of being our “True Nature”. In April 2009, Erwan is featured in Men’s Health USA in an inspiring article about himself and MovNat written by New-York Time best-seller author Christopher McDougall. His background includes a blackbelt in karate, 7 years of “Combat Vital” training, sailing, Olympic weightlifting, rock climbing, long distance triathlon, trail running, Brazilian jiujitsu and several forgotten training methods, such as Georges Hebert’s Methede Naturelle. In January 2011, Outside magazine released another feature-length article about Erwan and MovNat. The magazine ranked “Paleo-fitness” #1 of their Top 10 Health and Fitness Trends of 2010, and MovNat as the leading force behind this movement. You can read his full bio here.

You can find Erwan at MovNat.com, as well as on Twitter @Erwan_Le_Corre, Facebook and Youtube.

Erwan Le Corre

Erwan Le Corre

Sedentism

sedentism

noun

the transition from nomadic lifestyle to a society which remains in one place permanently.

Are you ever struck by wanderlust? Do you feel a calling for movement, travel and adventure? If so, perhaps this is because it is inscribed into your DNA.

It is well established that wild, foraging humans — living in their natural habitat — are (with only the rarest exceptions) semi-nomadic (in other words constantly moving) peoples. Far from aimless wanderers forever lost and in search of new lands, but rather people who travel a circuit from season to season, moving between areas of rich food and firewood abundance. 

While we may envision our ancestors living in small villages, like proto-form townships foreshadowing our modern towns and cities, the reality is something different entirely, more akin to temporary encampments than villages; if our ancestors were proto-anything, it would be prehistoric backpackers. As new food resources were becoming available and the current ones were reaching exhaustion, it was time to pack up and migrate to the next location where nature's abundant resources were once again replenished. 

We humans are travelers at heart, it is programmed into our basic biology, it is fundamental to our ecology. Anatomically and physiologically we were built to move, built to walk, from here to there — and later — back again.

It may seem foreign to most of us now (home-body's that we have become), but permanent settlement — settling down in one place — is a very new idea. It is about 10,000 years old, and is a life way that represents just 5% of our species evolutionary history (made possible only through the advent of agriculture), and is intrinsic to the practice of husbandry. Prior to husbandry, we were always on the move, though after the advent of subsistence agriculture something entirely new emerged; sedentism.

sedentism

noun

the transition from nomadic lifestyle to a society which remains in one place permanently.

Safeguarding and care-taking the crops and animals that we rear for food required then, just as it does now, constant vigilance and labor inputs. With staple food resources (in other words ‘dense calories’) now being produced in just one locality, agriculturalist just sort of... stopped moving. Of course this was one more variable leading to the structural degeneration that we see in the fossils of early agriculturalists, as the transition from nutrient rich wild-foraged foods — whose procurement was relatively undemanding — to the relatively nutrient poor foods of agriculture – whose rearing takes considerable effort and often requires strenuous and ergonomically unhealthy toil. We stopped walking and we began developing the first early occupational injuries

Imagine a timeline stretching back 200,000 years, to the first anatomically modern humans and leading up to the moment you are reading this. Now place a waypoint on that timeline 10,000 years before the present. This point represents the dawn of agriculture, what archeological and anthropological science refers to as the “Neolithic Revolution”, or what Daniel Quinn, and many subsequent modern thinkers are now been calling the “Great Forgetting”. This waypoint represents a dramatic and significant change in the way we moved. It represents a transition from wild physical freedom to domesticated physical toil. The King James bible describes it like this:  

"Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground" - Genesis 3:17-19 KJV

That my friends is one of the most articulate summations of the lifestyle of agriculturalists. Every moment, from that initial wheat crop (herb of the field) forward, can be seen as a progressive movement from the sedentism of the first settled peoples to the sedentary lifestyle of our modern couch potatoes.

sedentary |ˈsednˌterē|

adjective

1 (of a person) tending to spend much time seated; somewhat inactive.

2 (of work or a way of life) characterized by much sitting and little physical exercise.

3 (of a position) sitting; seated.

It would be difficult for our ancestors to conceive of the levels of physical inactivity that characterize many modern humans. This would have been so maladaptive in our natural world as to have been unthinkable. Movement was intrinsic to daily life. We could just as aptly refer to the last 10,000 years “The Great Stilling”, as they have been characterized by progressively less and less movement and a concurrent increase in… well… just sitting around. 

Maybe we could call the present "The Great Sitting"...

Some "moderns" — domesticated humans I refer to as Homo sapiens domesticofragilis — consider this inactivity one of the great benefits of our modern lifestyle, a luxury earned through 10,000 years of agricultural living. What movements these fragili do perform are typically repetitive motions of their occupation or habituation. Perhaps the constant swiping motion of scanning products across the laser upc reader at the grocery checkout or the pulling of a lever on a machine at the factory. It might be keyboarding and the swiveling of the office chair in the cubicle farm or the pounding of nails with a hammer on the construction site. These motions are etched into the nervous system, taught to the body, and most often at the expense of the rest of the great spectrum of one's human movement potential. They lead, in time, to physical injury rather than physical development.

This publication is, of course, about ReWilding, which is the re-approximation of our natural life-way woven into our modern world. We do this because it leads to greater health, personal development, and personal and community fulfillment. One of the ways that we achieve this is by strategically and systematically deconstructing our modern lives and comparing the components against those of our wild ancestors and the still living foraging peoples of today. When we do this with movement and exercise it becomes apparent – regular, consistent, reliable movement is crucial to our health development and is an integral part of the ReWilding lifestyle. We could even say it is fundamental to being human.

So, as you continue to read this magazine and listen to its interviews, perhaps you will feel called to do so standing up, feeling gravity pulling your feet towards the earth, rather than your hind-quarters towards the seat of a chair.

Neoaboriginal Revolution

The Gym is not Wild

By Arthur Haines of Delta Institute

Far from it.  And while the gym certainly has net benefit for people using the equipment in that setting, there are many health reasons why it makes sense to seek movement outdoors.  But before that, it is perhaps valuable to explore what the gym setting offers.  If you were to ask many people, they would describe the gym as a place to strengthen the physical body.  And while it may do that, the gym can also be described as another thermo-regulated environment under artificial lighting that utilizes unnatural and/or isolated movements, which is to say, it is much like other venues that make up human domesticated living.  This probably sounds like a strong statement against gyms.  It isn’t meant to imply that the gym setting never has application, but we must understand its limitations if we are to truly identify why it might make sense to use our local landscapes more and the gym less.

One of the major problems with domesticated humans is that we are divorced from nature and are not reaping the benefits of exposure to the elements and contact with the earth.  Gyms do nothing to address this serious issue.  Clean (or at least cleaner) air to breathe and sunlight for the manufacture of vitamin D are two of the obvious advantages we experience when outdoors.  Many don’t realize that contact with the earth actually helps fight inflammation through the earth’s ability to quench reactive oxygen species (ROS), a normal byproduct of metabolism, injury, stress, pollutants, and radiation.  Given that more ROS are produced during exercise, it makes sense to utilize the strength of outdoor settings to limit the damage that ROS do to DNA, amino acids, enzymes, and certain lipids (e.g., polyunsaturated fatty acids).  Outdoor settings require us to accommodate for uneven ground, which generates awareness of our surroundings and greater balance.  Further, we can potentially get a wider range of movements (especially when off trail), benefitting our musculoskeletal and lymphatic systems in ways that gym equipment can’t.

When we examine the kinds of exercise that are utilized in the gym setting, we can identify further limitations of this environment.  Many of the exercises are unnatural, forcing the body to do movements that are not required in natural living.  Isolating one or more muscle groups to build large muscles is a common practice in gyms, again, something that would rarely occur in natural living (i.e., most tasks require multiple muscle groups cooperating together in an intelligent and complex way).  In fact, some gym equipment has been criticized for creating injury, rather than protecting the body from it.

I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t ever use a gym.  However, you should be aware of the health hazards, which are sometimes significant, that are routinely found in this setting (what I’ve provided below is only a partial list).

► The pools are often disinfected with chlorine, a chemical that kills bacteria.  However, when chlorine combines with organic molecules, such as microbes and sweat and urine (from the swimmers), it forms toxic byproducts (e.g., chloroform) that can produce allergic reactions in some people, such as asthma, skin rashes, and irritated eyes, and are known to be carcinogenic.

► Gym surfaces, such as exercise equipment, showers, and changing rooms, are disinfected with various chemicals that can be quite harmful.  For example, triclosan, a common ingredient in antibacterial soaps, has been linked to suppressed immune system function, endocrine disruption, allergies, and thyroid issues.  Other cleaners, including those used in the showers, can contain formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde, chemicals that are known to produce allergic reactions, headaches, and cancer.

► The air quality in most gyms is quite deplorable.  In addition to the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are off-gassing from the paint on the walls, the carpets, the carpet pads, and the adhesives that hold the carpets down, there is also an abundance of phthalates found in body and hair sprays used in the changing rooms.  These chemicals, often related to the fragrances found in spray products, are also known to disrupt endocrine function.

► The mats that people use in gyms for comfort while stretching, for yoga, and other purposes are often made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC).  PVC products require additives to produce the desired qualities in gym mats.  These additives include phthalates (which cause endocrine disruption), dioxin (a very harmful and carcinogenic compound), and lead and cadmium (toxic heavy metals).  Other additives contribute to the off-gassing that occurs in gyms, further adding to the poor air quality found in most of these facilities.  In fact, air quality indoors is usually much worse than that outdoors (frequently with 2–5 times the total pollutants found outdoors, sometimes much more).  Of course, it is noteworthy to mention that PVC mats do not biodegrade, and often end up polluting ground water or air (depending on whether they are placed in a landfill or incinerated, respectively).  Remember, when products like this are “disposed of”, that phrase is merely a euphemism for “let someone else deal with the health issues this product causes”.

► Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) is another material that gym mats are made from, and it is also used for the protective foam padding on gym equipment.  EVA includes many toxic compounds, including ammonia and formamide, which are corrosive.  EVA also off-gasses, further contributing to the poor air quality and known to produce eye and skin irritation, respiratory problems, and (potentially) cancer.  Further, exposure to EVA can impair proper fetal development.

► Gyms are usually very poor locations if you are trying to limit your exposure to human-created electromagnetic fields (EMFs).  EMFs are produced by the Wi-Fi, mobile phones, and powered equipment that are used for cardiovascular conditioning.  High levels of EMF are known to be found in gyms.  Though most people do not concern themselves with this form of radiation, increasingly studies are being published that demonstrate EMF affects sleep patterns, mood, and memory (and may even alter genetic expression in individuals exposed to high levels).  

If you have a choice, I would encourage you to spend at least some of your time moving in the outdoors.  This setting has innumerable advantages, many of which are beyond the scope of this article (e.g, reducing stress, assisting with creativity, connecting people to their landscape).  It is also valuable to keep in mind that many people exercise because their life is rather sedentary.  Therefore, it would be better (if possible) to structure your life in a way that your movements accomplish things that you need for healthy living (rather than performing arbitrary movements that are meant to stand in for what your wild ancestors used to do).  Foraging, carrying water, gathering/splitting firewood, tanning hides, scouting and tracking, crafting tools from natural materials, and building shelters and other similar kinds of structures are all wonderful ways to accomplish physical fitness through natural (and realistic) movement.  Domesticated people use energy to drive to the gym, spend time in a setting that requires energy to make it semi-hospitable, only to use more energy to make possible reading the digital display on the exercise machines.  Aren’t we trying to expend energy (rather than use fossil-fuel produced versions of it)?  It’s time to ReWild our movement.  


Meet Arthur

Greetings! My name is Arthur Haines and I’ve been helping people explore human ecology for over 20 years. I’ve done this with the mission of developing deep awareness of and connection to nature, promoting individual health, and fostering self-reliance. Wild food is a passion of mine, and through this, I offer a glimpse of our past and a new picture of our future. Through this knowledge, and many other facets of our shared ancestral lifeways, we can awaken a rewilding of our body, mind, and heart.

I endeavor to share knowledge garnered from this perspective, one that merges the material knowledge of present-day people with the ecological knowledge of ancestral people.

You can find Arthur on Facebook and on his website ArthurHaines.com.

Arthur Haines

Arthur Haines

ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Arthur Haines on the Transition from Semi-nomadism to Sedentism

In this episode of ReWild Yourself! Podcast, Arthur Haines and I continue our conversation from earlier podcasts, this time focusing on the transition from semi-nomadism to sedentism.

Episode breakdown:

  • Daily and seasonal movement was a huge part of hunter-gatherer existence
  • Nomadic peoples were not just endless wanderers
  • Agriculture is a spectrum
  • What emerges when people stop moving? 
  • Hunter-gatherers were generalists
  • Walking was a significant part of the hunter-gatherer lifestyle
  • Fit for the gym vs. fit for the earth
  • Is working out wasted energy?
  • Dissociative gym workouts
  • The amazing strength of foraging mothers

Agriculture as a complete food package is the greatest travesty ever played on humans. Tweet it!

Exercise is a surrogate for a deficiency of actual human living. Tweet it!

Our modern environment selects for people who dissociate easily. Tweet it!


Click here to listen!


Episode Resources

Exercise like a hunter-gatherer: a prescription for organic fitness

Vibram Five Finger Lawsuit

Wild Woman Speaks

Keep it Feminine While Kicking Ass: How to Train the Wild Woman Way

By Ali Schueler of Wild Woman Speaks

We are made for movement. As women, it used to be gathering foods for our family, carrying our babies on our backs for miles and miles each day, as well as walking all over.

Yes, some women still carry their babies around on their backs all days in other countries, as well as those women who are ReWilding themselves across the globe and choose to parent their children in an “alternative” (read: natural) manner.

However, we are no longer walking from place to place and gathering our food from the landscape to make meals for our families like we once did as women.

Sure, if we live in a city, perhaps we walk from place to place, but it’s nothing like the distance our ancestors would cover on a daily basis in mileage.

So, what do we do as women who are as deeply immersed in a stagnant society as our fellow men? How do we move our bodies to make up for the loss of movement that we no longer follow, living in this domesticated society where just about everything is handed to us on a silver platter?

We’ve got to re-awaken this primal part of ourselves that is deeply connected to movement. We’ve got to work it. Yes, it means making a commitment to ourselves, that we care to put the effort in and start ReWilding our bodies in another way.

I like to use the word “training” as the way to describe how I move my body, because I have a protocol for myself. Yes, I move my body for fun, of course — however, I am training my body to remember a template that is coded in my bones and my cells for movement. We are made for movement.

Listen — your training plan for yourself doesn’t need to be boring, nor does it need to be overly regimented. It’s about pushing our edges, while also embracing our flowing, feminine nature as women. It’s a balance, as are most things in life. 

First, it takes finding what kind of movement you like. How do you feel about yoga? Dance modalities? Cardio? High-intensity interval training? Cross-fit? For me, it’s a combination of lots of things. I like to run on a repeating 4-day cycle that I learned from Scott Sonnon’s courses. It consists of varying degrees of intensity in the movement I choose to do, including a no-intensity day, a low-intensity day, a medium-intensity day, and a high-intensity day. Then it repeats.

I like this flow because it brings me through a range of movement and allows me to dabble with all kinds of different movement forms that I enjoy. There is much more science behind why this 4-day repeating cycle is so great for our bodies, but Scott describes that much better than I do. It just works for me.

This is what my cycle typically looks like: My no-intensity days consist of light stretching and joint mobilization. I roll out all of my joints, stretch anywhere that feels tight, and maybe get into a couple of relaxing yoga poses that I can hang out in for awhile. I also like to stretch out and then go for a hike on no-intensity days. My low-intensity days consist of more stretching, coupled with either an ecstatic dance or 5Rhythms dance flow, or a full out lower intensity yoga sequence. My medium intensity days usually always consist of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). I’m lucky to have a partner, the creator of this magazine (hehe), that is well-versed in all kinds of different training and movement modalities, so I have learned many exercises from him which I cycle through my medium and high intensity training days. The medium and high days are all about the level of exertion you bring to them, so I usually repeat the same HIIT sequence I did on my medium-intensity days on my high-intensity days, just going faster and harder on the high days.

Some of you may be thinking, “Wow, this is kind of intense and intimidating sounding!” or perhaps others are thinking, “Yes! This is the exact kind of flow I have been looking for!” It’s about finding what works for you. I like this repeating because it offers me everything I’m looking for — a structure to operate out of, a schedule to know in advance what I have coming up, light days and hard days. If I do all light movement for awhile, I start to get bored. If I go super heavy on the training for awhile, I feel exhausted. This cycle is a fantastic balance for me.

I have also found that having control over the level of exertion I bring to the movement helps to maintain my feminine form. I have zero interest in bulking up and losing my feminine curves. I adore my feminine body! Having a round, supple booty, firm thighs, abs that still offer a soft belly, is what I’m into — not hardening my whole body up into a rock that doesn’t have it’s soft, feminine curvaceousness to it. I want to maintain my feminine form while kicking ass in my training!

For me, combining stretching, yoga, dance, HIIT, light work with weights on occasion, and some primal animal-inspired movements keep me feeling dynamic and womanly. It offers me everything I want — exploring the flow of the feminine through dance, the hard lines of yoga, the push-me-to-my-edge intensity of HITT, the soft relaxation of simple stretching, and ReWilding my ability to move my body with animal inspired movement.

When we fall too far into the extreme of one way of moving our bodies, it becomes easy to fall out of balance. We become categorized, and not that there is anything wrong with that for those who are passionate about one style of movement — for me, I enjoy the flow between all of the forms that I love and feels in resonance with my feminine nature.

I like to flow and express my sensuality, feeling like a Goddess while dancing — though I also love to feel like a fierce Warrioress rocking out some intense interval training that pushes me to my edges.

For me, the wild woman way of movement is finding what feels like a full expression of varying forms of femininity. The feminine can be fierce and intense. The feminine can be open and vulnerable. What aspects of yourself do you want to explore in movement? Do that.

Training doesn’t have to be a guy thing. A path to awakening our wild woman within can be through movement! It comes down to finding what feels in alignment with your feminine nature — what helps you to more fully embody your womanly nature while also pushing you to expand into more of yourself.

We are made for movement.


Meet Ali

Ali is a writer and women’s embodiment mentor. She is committed to the re-sacralization of the feminine across the globe. Her mission is passionately providing women with experience-based tools that inspire life-changing awakening in the feminine, promoting emotional awareness, spiritual fulfillment, wild self-expression as well as a connection to our bodies and their natural cycles. She enjoys writing and video blogging weekly through her website WildWomanSpeaks.com and sharing inspiration with her Wild Woman Speaks community daily through Facebook, Twitter @alischueler, and Instagram.

Join Ali's Facebook group Wild Woman Speaks Sisterhood: The official group for the sisterhood of Wild Woman Speaks. Our tribe of sisterhood who are leading lives or are interested in leading lives that are connected to and honoring of their wild feminine nature is growing rapidly!

Ali Schueler

Ali Schueler

ReWild Your Diet

Grow Beard, Carry Water

By Chef Frank Giglio of Three Lily Farm

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clean away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean” ~John Muir

If I had my way, I’d be up at sunrise everyday running down my quiet dirt road with my pup Jasmine. I love to run, as it helps me release stress, keeps me tone, and connects me with nature. But, in reality, I am usually tending to chores, cooking breakfast for my son, or talking about the day's schedule with my wife. 

Living an active lifestyle has always been important to me. As a teen, I balanced school with baseball, soccer, football, and basketball. When not on the practice field I was running amuck with my neighborhood friends creating games on the fly, reenacting the 80’s classic Red Dawn in the forest or simply playing a game of pickup in my neighbor's yard. Years later I became a passionate backpacker, making my way around New England, enjoying the trails and peaks around Vermont and my home state of Connecticut.

Somewhere along the way I lost touch with being active and chose a different, slightly darker path. In 2006, after being coerced into a Sunday run, I rekindled my love for sports, and joined a running team. Within 6 months of running consistently, I completed my first marathon. With a slight addictive personality I continued my pursuit for going further and began training for my first ultra marathon. A few months later, I would go a bit further then the 26.2 mile distance and successfully cover 50 kilometers. 

In July of 2008, around 4 am, I set forth to conquer 100 miles by foot. For the next 22+ hours, Vermont dirt roads and trails would be my home and 200+ runners would join me in the quest to cover 100 miles with in the 30 hour time limit. After only consistently running for two years, I ramped up my mileage from a 5k to 100 miles. This was a healthy “addiction” as I saw it, needing hours on the trail to release those endorphins to create the infamous “runners high”. But topped with a raw vegan diet and numerous hours on the trails, my body began to shutdown and health concerns arose. As the years passed I would run less and less, still completing a few ultra marathons a year, but with less focus on running every day.  

At one point a friend asked me, “Frank, what are you running from?” Although the question was made in joking tone, it felt heavy and I spent weeks trying to figure out an answer. Around the same time, I sparked an interest in wild foraging. Whenever possible, I would head out into the woods and search the forest floor and trees looking for edibles. Rather then trying to cover lots of miles in just a few hours, I was spending countless hours covering very little ground. It felt like the first time that I was actually paying close to attention to what was around me and creating a deeper connection with my surroundings. I had finally stopped to smell the roses..

Fast forward to today. I’m married, have a 3 year old son, a new business, and an off-the-grid home on 26 acres in Maine. My daily routine is never the same, and I struggle to find the time to fit in a workout or to even go on a short run down the road. But my body craves the movement, especially in the depths of winter when cold weather and accumulated snow keep us tightly kept in the comforts of our home. Because of the demands of work, family, and a homestead, I have had to learn to merge workouts with my daily chores.  

Staying Fit by Working on the Land

In the two and a half years living in our home, I have learned to be crafty with my workouts, squeezing them in whenever I can and in any form. I have come to view any task on the land as an opportunity to workout or stretch my body. Sometimes on occasion, I will suddenly burst off into the woods and scramble my way across the terrain, eventually winding up a half mile or so down the road, and I jog my way back home. 

Working in the garden can put a lot of stress on my back and leave me achy for days. To amend that, I am mindful to throw in a few sun salutations every 20 minutes or so. This helps keep me limber and takes away the worry about being sore when trying to get out of bed in the morning.

Moving logs is a great way to practice some of the movements I learned in my brief 2 months of going to the crossfit gym. Holding the log over my head I will do several rounds of squats, sometimes moving the wood over to one hand to get some bicep and tricep stretching.

Using a scythe has many benefits beyond being a beneficial practice for the environment. Scything is quite grounding and gives you a fantastic core workout. Spend a few days a week with this tool, and you’ll be rockin' a 6-pack in no time! ;)

Chop Wood, Carry Water

For the last 2 winters, I have felled, bucked, split, hauled, and stacked nearly enough wood to keep my family warm for the long Maine winter. I strive to cut 4-5 cords of hardwood a year, which is enough to make it through April. 

With no equipment beyond a chainsaw and a splitting maul, it takes a lot of effort to prepare a felled tree for the wood stove. 

As you can imagine, green wood is rather heavy. Below is a chart showing the weight per pound of various woods. In a year I cut about 4 cords wood, mainly of ash and birch which average out to be about 4,800 pounds per cord. It is said, and I can attest, that typically 1 cord of wood gets moved 3 times before getting burned. If that were the case, I am likely moving the equivalent of 12 cords, and at 4,800 pounds, I’m looking at a total weight of 57,600 pounds of wood moved per year. I hope I can keep this up into my 70’s..

Conclusion

Over the years it has become clear that there is no “right” way to exercise. With different lifestyles, living situations, and goals, we all have to find what works best for ourselves. Personally, I feel my best when I am active on a consistent basis. Finding races like the Tough Mudder to participate in keeps me on my toes and pushes me beyond day to day limits. Whether you hit the yoga mat for 20 minutes a day or spend countless hours in the gym, do what works for you!


about the chef

Frank Giglio exudes a passion for nature-based living in all that he does, from his culinary pursuits to the simplest of day to day projects. Along with his beautiful family, classically trained chef Frank runs Three Lily Farm — an off-the-grid permaculture minded homestead where he mentors and educates others on the importance of preparing and eating a real-food diet, growing their own fruits and vegetables, and connecting with nature through wild foraging, harvesting spring water, and simply spending time in the health-promoting glory of the outdoors. Every year, Frank continues to push his fitness to the elite level by competing in obstacle course races and ultra-marathons. A true Maine-Man, Frank maintains his beard by carrying water and splitting wood.

You can find him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @FrankGiglio.

Frank Giglio

Frank Giglio

Chef Franky G's Training Elixirs

The ReWilder’s Switchel

While training, I have usually always avoided a large meal before hitting the trails. Instead, I opted for a fresh, usually fruit based beverage that would help keep me hydrated. While coconut water is my top choice to use as a base for this drink, living in Maine makes having access to fresh coconuts a challenge. During the early, spring maple water is a great replacement as it too is rich in minerals and quite delicious. So spring water, or maybe an herbal tea of horsetail and nettle, will make for a tasty beverage!

This recipe is a twist on Switchel, a traditional energy drink which originates in the Carribean. You get a little mix of sweet, sour, salty, all to balance each other out and not overdo the sugars.

Ingredients:

  • 32 ounces spring water, herbal tea, or coconut water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 inch chunk fresh ginger
  • A splash of apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 1/2 cup wild blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon Great Lakes gelatin powder
  • Pinch of red chili or cayenne
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Place the ingredients into a high speed blender, and blend on high for 30 seconds. Pour the drink through a fine mesh strainer and enjoy!


Post Workout

I used to follow a high carbohydrate diet. I have come to realize that my body did not do well with a significantly low amount of fat and protein entering my body. While my body feels great consuming fruits before and during training sessions, I now appreciate a fat and protein rich shake to bring my body back to balance and satiate my body after vigorous work.

Although the contents of this shake continue to change, the basic formula is consistent. A base, source of fat, seasonings, supplements, and sweetener work together to create a delicious and nutritious beverage. 

Ingredients:

  • 16 ounces chilled raw milk
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons Great Lakes gelatin powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon SurThrival Pine Pollen
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia seed
  • 4-5 squirts stevia extract

Directions:

Blend the ingredients together for 45 seconds, or until smooth and creamy.

ReWild Yourself! Podcast: Ido Portal on the Movement Diet

In this episode of ReWild Yourself! podcast, I talk with Ido Portal, founder of Movement Culture and teacher of movement workshops around the world.

Episode Breakdown

  • Modeling brachiation after apes and children
  • Movement diet — digesting movement nutrition
  • Specialization vs. Generalization
  • "Movement" vs. "Training"
  • The problems with modern yoga
  • Moving out of alignment
  • The natural human resting position
  • Flexibilty vs. Mobility
  • Spine longevity — look to the cat
  • Prioritize movement

We are designed to digest movement nutrition. Tweet it!

Very few people can be diagnosed neurologically as uncoordinated; most people are just lazy bastards. Tweet it!


Click here to listen!


Episode Resources


Meet Ido

At an early age, Ido had the realization that he doesn't just love Martial Arts or Strength or this or that, but he is actually obsessed with... Movement. Over the years, he has traveled the world both teaching and studying from a variety of teachers: from Osteopaths, Manual Therapists and MD's to Professional Dancers, Yogis, Athletes, Circus Performers and Fighters. He does not neglect any angle, from nutritional approaches to movement & health to Functional Anatomy & Physiology to methodology of the training process to mental aspects of movement practice and more. He has formed a body of knowledge and a point of view on Movement Education, development, cultivation. He teaches workshops around the globe — Asia, Europe, the US, Canada, Russia and the Middle East. He has also started a community and culture around movement called Movement Culture that represents a contemporary paradigm shift in physicality, moving us away from main culprits in movement and fitness as well as the separation between health, aesthetics, performance and art. Click here to read Ido's full bio.

You can find Ido at IdoPortal.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter @PortalIdo and Youtube.

Ido Portal

Ido Portal

Climbing Trees

When I was a child I climbed trees. More than simply climbing them, I saw them differently; it was as if trees were meant to be climbed, like they existed — explicitly — for climbing. More, it felt as if they wanted to be climbed. I know now what was inconceivable to me then, that it wasn’t necessarily that trees wanted climbers or grew up tall and branched simply for climbing – that was just the perception of my young and domesticated (anthropocentric) mind. The reality is probably much closer to the reciprocal of this equation, that my body was designed to climb trees, that I was born to climb.

Looking at the skeletons of the other "great apes" (besides humans, this is the bonobo, chimpanzee, orangutan, and gorilla), and the "lesser apes" (a family composed of 16 species of gibbons) it is clear that we share much of the same anatomical structuring that we see in our closest genetic relatives. Our gleno-humeral (shoulder) joint is adapted to (or designed — pick your poison) brachiation and arboreal locomotion — a dressed up way of referring to the movement of swinging through trees with the hands, arms, and shoulders.

ape |āp|

noun

a branch of Old World tailless anthropoid catarrhine primates native to Africa and Southeast Asia and distinguished by a wide degree of freedom at the shoulder joint indicating the influence of brachiation.

  1.  
 Left to right:

Left to right:

Human, Gorilla, Chimpanzee, Orangutan, Gibbon

That we are apes is well established, and even the briefest glance at our skeleton juxtaposed with those of our great ape cousins makes this obvious, however I ask you, how much time have you spent climbing, hanging or swinging recently?

The time that apes spend in the trees varies from species to species, with the most tree-time going to the nearly always-arboreal orangutan (whose name is Malay for “person of the forest”, not rooted in the word “orange” as one might think, based on the ruddy coloring of their hair) who spends quite nearly 100% of their days and nights in the canopy. By contrast the Chimpanzee and Bonobo spend 47%-61% of their time in the trees. The Gorilla, a species whose large males can weigh nearly 400 pounds, spends between 5 and 20% of their time in the canopy, which despite being significantly less than the average chimp is still dramatic when compared against the modern human. 

Now I know that we are uniquely evolved, and that our bipedal adaptations are a testament to the fact that we are born to walk, but if these boots were made for walking, surely these shoulders were built for climbing. While we humans have the shortest arms amongst apes, we have – despite our unique adaptations – retained the ability to brachiate.

As they say "use it or lose it"... 

From early in our childhood development we "moderns" are discouraged from climbing. We are told to stop “horsing around”, to stay off the table, the counter tops, the shelves. Perhaps for a time we are allowed to climb trees, jungle gyms, and other features of our landscape, but for most of us, as we developed from younglings into adults, we slowly and incrementally began giving up this “child’s play” in favor of the flat, predictable, evenly surfaced floors, sidewalks, and manicured trails of our mono-planar domesticated human habitat.

Why climb when you can take the stairs?

Why take the stairs when there is an escalator? 

Why take the escalator when you can just stand in the elevator?

You get my point.

As days go on and years progress we begin to see the world differently, as the magic and wonder of childhood is trained (and educated) out of us, and the lackluster mono-tone of adulthood overlays our environment — degenerating it from a 3D habitat to be scaled into a 2D surface to be walked upon. 

There are those who make climbing their recreation (read: re-creation, re-creating a natural experience), a rebellious and often shaggy bunch, who hang about on the fringes of culture, seeking routes up rock faces, boulders, or even the walls of gyms which, like temples of ascension, are designed and designated for climbing. The rest of us usually haven't brachiated since the schoolyard days of monkey bars and jungle gyms, which are, almost always — in both size and convention — reserved for the recreation (again: re-creation of natural movements) of children.

Your shoulder girdle requires hanging, swinging, and climbing to engender the traction, lubrication, and myofascial development necessary for healthy reange of motion. These movements are as fundamental to the strength and well-being of your shoulders as walking and running are to the health of your hips. While humans are adapted to the ground in a way that some of our ape relatives are not, we were (and are still) destined (if not designed) to climb, as many of our natural food, fuel, and tool resources are arboreal. These truly wonderful bodies we have inherited are designed to be taken climbing!

Like taking your dog for a walk, so too might you take your body for a hang...

If we are to create health promoting habitat for ourselves, homes where we can express our total primal blueprint, we need something to hang from. Consider the kind of habitat we construct for a pet that we bring into our home, a lizard perhaps, or a bird. We almost always would place a branch in their cage or terrarium, something for them to climb or hang on. Now imagine that you are — being The Domesticated Ape — living in a kind of zoo habitat that you call your home. Perhaps it's time to bring a "branch" into your space too. Something you can hang from, swing on, develop the musculature of your fingers, hands, forearms, upper arms, shoulders, and even your chest, back, abdominals and hip flexors. We were born to walk and run, and we were born to hang and brachiate. Anything less and you will be missing an important, if not crucial, component of a holistic ReWilding approach to physical health and development!

You can take the human out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the human.

Wiki Links Trail

Join me on a stroll through the collective commons of wikipedia, as we deepen our understanding of the forces at play in the domestication process. Reading through these entries will add depth and breadth to your knowledge base, and greatly enhance your user experience as an embodied being on the present day planet Earth!

Ape

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ape

Hominidae

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hominidae

Human Taxonomy

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_taxonomy

Clade

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clade

Chicken

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken

Gallus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallus_(genus)

Eggs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggs

Sexual Dimorphism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_dimorphism

Clutch

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clutch

Genetic Pollution

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_pollution

Introgression

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introgression

Broodiness

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broodiness

Fitness

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitness_(biology)

The Great Forgetting

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_B

Neolithic Revolution

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neolithic_Revolution

Subsistence Agriculture

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subsistence_agriculture

Sensory Motor Amnesia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_motor_amnesia

Vestibular System

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vestibular_system

Proprioception

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprioception

ElixirCraft Mastery

Summer Refresh Raspberry Colostrum Ice Cream


Ingredients:

10-16 oz Frozen Raspberries (well frozen!)

3 heaping tbsp SurThrival Colostrum Powder

2-3 tbsp SurThrival Ghee (or coconut oil or cacao oil)

1 pinch Vanilla Bean Powder (optional)

5 squirts Omica Stevia (or maple syrup, honey, etc.)

1 pinch SurThrival Schizandra Berry Powder

Just enough Water to blend

A spring of Cacao Nibs to top (optional)

Blend together in high speed blender. I use and recommend the Vitamix.

SurThrival is offering an exclusive package deal on the ingredients for the Raspberry Colostrum Ice Cream! Click here to check out the Introductory Pack and the ReWilder's Pack.

ReACT: ReAdaptive Conditioning/Training

For fun, and because I thought it might be useful, I've started listing out all of the kinds of movements that our human bodies are capable of. I soon realized that developing an exhaustive list was a far more rigorous endeavor than I had at first estimated. These are what I have come up with to date, though I am sure you will think of others that have not occurred to me yet. Please join the discussion with us in the ReWild Yourself! Facebook group. Until then I present this work in progress. Let's develop our lexicon and streamline the language that we use to discuss our movement potential, and begin using these terms in our emerging ReWilding culture.

What follows is a list of basic (and some advanced) human movements that you can use to pattern, develop, and sophisticate your training sessions. Some are crucial to successfully negotiating natural landscapes, others are more suited to urban habitats. Some are less utilitarian and better suited to training your coordination and balance, while others are absolutely essential to getting your body through the day. All of them — practiced with awareness and with ever unfolding complexity — will add depth and breadth to your repertoire of possible movements, as well as develop your proprioception and physical self-mastery. Cycle these through your movement sessions as you train your human animal!

Standing — upright neutral alignment

Bipedal Locomotion — walking and running

Squatting — resting, flatfooted, with buttocks to heels, knees to chest

Kneeling — resting or locomoting on the shins/knees

Lunging — exaggerated stepping forward/backward with one foot

Brachiation — swinging and hanging from the hands/arms

Climbing — ascending surfaces too vertical to bipedally traverse

Forelimb Bipedal Locomotion — hand walking

Forelimb Bipedal Balancing — hand stands and forearm balances

Leg Balances — standing on one leg/foot

Bipedal Balance Walking — walking on a balance beam or horizontal log/tree trunk 

Funambulation — tight rope or slack line walking

Leaping — jumping and bounding

Skipping — a bipedal gait that skips a step, landing twice on one foot before landing twice on the other

Break-falls — recovery from falls and drops

Spinning — rotating around ones center of gravity

Inversion — headstands and shoulderstands

Arboreal Inversion  — hanging inverted on a branch or bar from the posterior knees or dorsal surface of the toes

Rolling — forward, backward, lateral, and offset somersaults

Quadrapedal locomotion — walking on hands and feet simultaneously

Crawling — walking on hands and shins

Slithering — 'crawling' on the ventral surface of the body

Horizontal Sliding — using the body as a sled to skid down a hill or slide into a target area

Dorsal Sliding — lying on back, sliding forward or backward by pushing-off of or pulling with the feet/legs

Vertical Sliding — sliding down a tree trunk, pole, or rope

Lifting — lifting heavy loads

Pushing — driving an object/body away with hands or feet, or ones body away from a surface

Dragging — pulling heavy loads

Carrying — carrying heavy loads

Throwing — propelling objects through space

Wielding — manipulating objects or tools through space

Pedal Prehensility — using the feet to grasp objects or the ground

Aquatic Locomotion — swimming through water 

Floating — passively remaining buoyant in water

Treading — actively remaining vertical at the surface of water

Finger Gesticulations — moving the fingers through their range of motion

Toe Gesticulations — moving the toes through their range of motion

Resting — positions for sleep and relaxation

The Still Birth Paradox

Experiencing Pregnancy and Birthing with Movement

Voice of the Tribe: A ReWild Yourself! Guest Contribution

By Chloe Parsons

Movement is the essence of life.  The solar system began with movement — a great collision. Human life begins with the sexual undulations of reproduction.  Man has always separated himself from other species and defined himself by his unique ability to move upright on two legs. When a man is injured we seek movement: a pulse that ensures us of his vitality.  And when a woman carries her child in her womb, the first kicks signify the beginning of communication between mother and child. Life becomes fully apparent. So I ask you, if movement begets life, why are we convinced that pregnant and birthing women should be so still?  We have a word for the paradoxical union of birth and death: still birth. A birth with no movement.  

I argue that pregnancy and birth with a lack of movement is detrimental to both mother and baby, and that still birth and birthing in stillness fall on the same plane of lifelessness.

My husband and I conceived our daughter in the spring after having trained in CrossFit for almost a year.  We transitioned into the world of weight lifting and functional fitness from the culture of running (doing several half marathons and one full marathon) and of dabbling in veganism and vegetarianism.  At the time I weighed 125lbs.  After several months of CrossFit training and a Paleo-esque diet that included healthy meats, my body composition changed entirely.  I gained 15 pounds in muscle mass and could —as we say around the box — “drop some heavy weight.”  CrossFit focuses on key functional controlled movements such as deep squatting and kettle bell swinging; Olympic style lifting and gymnastics such as clean and jerks and ring dips; and metabolic conditioning exercises such as burpees and running.  The idea is to run better than a lifter and lift better than a runner; to be fit for living, not just for sport.  This was the world I lived in when I found out I would be having my first child, and this is the world that many women are led to believe they no longer belong in just because they’re pregnant.  

I continued to train in CrossFit throughout my entire pregnancy, and was actively working out until the week I delivered.  The research is clear that women who remain active during pregnancy have a more successful birth experience (the “success” is measured by the duration of labor and the need for medical intervention).  Maintaining fitness also makes for a much smoother postpartum recovery.  Because of my training during pregnancy, my daughter was accustomed to the sound of our music playing and weights dropping.  After she was born, it was an easy transition for her to join us for workouts in the garage, sleeping through weightlifting sets in her stroller or snuggling against my chest in a baby wrap while I rowed on the rowing machine.  A baby shouldn’t have to change your lifestyle.  Your lifestyle should welcome your baby.

It goes without saying that pregnancy is not the time to begin something like CrossFit, but pregnancy is not an illness or a disability, so all that is necessary to continue in daily movement is modification. There are some movements that, of course, become cumbersome and obviously unnecessary during pregnancy, such as any exercise requiring that you lay on your stomach.  As I entered my second trimester I began making modifications to the movements, such as doing pushups against the hood of my car instead of on the ground, and doing step-ups onto a box instead of box jumps.  Jumping while pregnant can be a bit of a challenge since your center of gravity is in flux.  I scaled down the amount of weight I lifted, but continued to work strenuously.  Even at 9 months pregnant I was overhead squatting, deadlifting, and swinging kettlebells. 

When you sign up for a marathon, you train.  You run.  When you enter in a triathlon, you train.  Hell, when you sign up to be on Jeopardy, you train!  Pregnancy and child birth are — to a woman’s body — more strenuous feats of mental and physical strength than any marathon or sport, yet women are discouraged from “training” for it.  Pregnancy is a time for movement and a time for training.  It is a time when mother and baby must physically and mentally prepare for their most arduous journey together.  Unfortunately, misinformation spread by old wives’ tales and bad media tells women they can and should be lazy, bitchy, and gluttonous during pregnancy.  By this standard, women should spend their days on the couch, off their feet, griping at their partners and sending them to the corner store at 3:00 in the morning for Mountain Dew.  This is simply the worst way to train.

Lea-Ann Ellison became famous for posting pictures online of CrossFit training late in her pregnancy, receiving a slew of hostile and brackish comments from viewers:

"If anything happens to your baby due to your stupidity, I hope you'll be able to handle your guilt. Pregnancy is NOT the time to be taking stupid risks."

“You may have mastered the squat but need to work on motherhood.”

“Why would you risk hurting your baby just to stay in shape? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. It's not a time to kick ass, it's a time to be protective of your unborn child.”

I found Ellison to be a bit of an inspiration, and I welcomed the criticism when I replicated her overhead squat pose at eight and a half months pregnant. 

What pregnant women DO need is movement; natural movement that is part of a woman’s daily activities.  A pregnant mother’s heart rate affects her baby’s heart rate.  Movement and elevated heart rate help to strengthen the growing baby’s heart and train the baby’s heart to adapt to new situations.  If a baby’s heart rate remains stagnant for 10 months (40 weeks is the true length of gestation), he is less able to adapt to the system-shocking event of birth and acclimation to life outside the womb.  Yet the prominent advice we receive is to rest.  Lay dormant.  I can’t count how many times I was socially slapped on the hand at my job as a high school teacher for moving a desk, carrying a box of books, or standing on a stool.  Really?  Am I truly incapable of performing the mundane tasks of my job?  And if I choose to go about my routine as normal, am I being an unfit mother because I’m somehow putting my baby in some kind of danger?  Our species would have quickly died out if our ancestral women remained still during pregnancy.  Who would have gathered her share? Who would have tended to the tasks she undertook?  How much more susceptible to predators would she have been?  How weak and frail would she have been after birth to adequately care for her child and return to the demands of daily living?  This idea that pregnancy equates with frailty and sickness is a complete misconception that surfaced with the reliance on surgeons to deliver babies.  

Imagine a scene in any movie you’ve seen with a woman giving birth: First her water breaks, usually in an embarrassing and inconvenient place.  Then there is an immediate need to rush this birthing woman to the hospital, because birth must be very dangerous and only men with tools and drugs know what to do.  On the way to the hospital the woman is usually very degrading of the people around her and shown to be in extreme pain, often performing useless exasperating breathing techniques.  Then what happens?  They put her in a bed and prop her legs in the air.  Stillness.  She must remain on her back, usually hooked to an epidural, IV, and fetal monitor, unable to feel her legs or experience the sensation of the great movement from within her. 

The dichotomy is frightening.  My heart breaks when I think of the movable joy of sex she experienced under a man she loves, juxtaposed with the immovable numbness — legs in the air — under a man she doesn’t know.  One man who united with her body in creation, another who mutilates her body in convenience. This is the reality for most birthing women in America because we’ve been compelled to digress into unnatural expectations of childbirth.

Carrying and birthing my daughter was the most wild and exhilarating experience of my life.  It was full of movement. I would exercise, and run, and dance; she would kick, and flip, and roll.  During our midwife-assisted home birth, I was free to move about my environment to find strength and comfort.  I swayed my hips on a birthing ball, stood in the shower under the cleansing hot water, squatted in the birth pool, all the while releasing what primal sounds and movements came through me. As she began to enter the world, we would see her head, then she would move back in to my body.  She would emerge even further, then recede again.  It was an amazing tidal rhythm as contractions crested and washed over me and she ebbed and flowed in her earthside progression.  A living, moving birth.

After my daughter’s birth, my body healed incredibly quickly.  I had very few limitations or discomforts, and I was able to return to moderate exercise within a few weeks.  By six weeks I returned to the rigor of CrossFit, delighted to find that I had lost very little strength. Now three months postpartum, I have returned to my normal pre-pregnancy CrossFit regimen.  But it doesn’t have to be CrossFit.  Whatever movement is part of your natural lifestyle is the very movement that can strengthen and enliven your experience.

Women are slowly realizing we don’t need to be rescued from pregnancy and birth.  As our national c-section rate passes 30%, more and more women are understanding that we are perfectly designed and perfectly capable to do this ourselves.  Just as the celestial bodies are making their cyclical journeys, so too is the wisdom and expertise of midwifery, natural childbirth, and healthy pregnancy.  It’s rising again.

That must be why we call it a “movement.”


Meet Chloe

Chloe Parsons is a high school teacher and a new mother with a passion for natural parenting.  She advocates home birth, placenta ingestion, exclusive breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and baby carrying.  Chloe and her husband are CrossFit and Paleo enthusiasts.  She hopes to inspire women to embrace their pregnancy and birth experiences, and to encourage parents to pursue natural parenting techniques.

Chloe Parsons

Chloe Parsons


Voice of the Tribe is ReWild Yourself! Dispatch's guest contribution column.  If you would like to contribute an article for consideration in a future Dispatch click here.

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Bare It All — Your Feet That Is!

Since I first awoke to the startling conclusion that I was a highly domesticated and crudely shod ape, I have wrestled with the following puzzling enigma: why does nearly every shoemaker design footwear that angles acutely towards a terminal point at the toe?

Let's make practical what I mean by this; please begin by taking off your shoes, and then follow this up with the removal of your socks.  Now, gazing with a soft focus at the silhouette of your foot do you notice an overall shape that is more akin to a diver's flipper, or do you see an appendage angled like a front end of a stiletto?  If your foot looks like the one below, you are exempt from this conversation:

The image above — it seems — is of the template foot for which footwear designers craft their wares. If you think that I am being dramatic, please go through your closet, gather together a sampling of the shoes in your collection and compare them to the shape of your own feet and then to those in the image above. While this photograph is a fabricated deformity, it is — one must conclude — the imagined deformity that shoemakers build their footwear for. Nearly all shoemakers, from those who manufacture athletic sneakers to those who build penny-loafers, from fashion to function, there is a perverse and pervasive pointed foot fetish in full effect. It preoccupies the minds of cobblers and podiatrists alike.

I suppose you can force your foot into a sort of obtuse and blunted point. Perhaps the proper phrase would be "girdle your foot", due to the way the side walls of a shoe's toe-box press the metatarsals together. In this way modern shoes could be thought of as a kind of corset for the foot. Alternatively, we could liken shoes to dental braces, pulling the bones of the foot in and towards each other like so many twisted teenage teeth. There is more similarity between orthotics and orthodontics than just the sound of the words.  I digress.

Wait! What about arch support?

Let's conduct the following thought-experiment; If we were to put a person with fully functional legs into a pair of leg braces, and then require that they don them for the better part of their waking hours (no shirt, no leg-braces, no service!), day in and day out, year after year, what outcome might we expect?  My suspicion is that we could anticipate some muscular and skeletal atrophy after a significant period of time had elapsed. If you attempted to walk around in leg braces each day — and only took them off to shower and sleep — how weak would your legs eventually become?  What if you implemented this regimen from your earliest days of walking?  How comfortable would you be without the "support" of your braces after a few decades spent living in them?  How safe would you feel without them? Perhaps you would see others going "bare legged" and think "do they have enough leg support?".

My observation is as follows; those who habitually wear shoes often arrive at the determination that shoes are essential to supporting their body weight! Not the clearest thinking, as if 200,000 years of human evolution was just limping about with fallen arches, desperately anticipating the invention of shoes! Even body builders forget that there are muscles in the feet that can (and should) be developed. Just have a look at the training poster below. It's as if the feet and lower leg are simply lifeless prosthetics! Or, alternatively, maybe these white lower legs and feet represent the pallor of skin never having seen the sun? Regardless, this is, as indicated in the text at the top of the poster, an exercise guide for "dumbells".

Women have it worse...

In fairness, we wouldn't be the first culture with a foot-deformity fetish, or a desire to alter the appearance of our feet. The Chinese practiced foot binding — which is to say that it was practiced on Chinese women — right up until 1912.  It is thought that no small part of the allure was the way these broken, crippled, and deformed feet caused these women to walk. You can imagine that a child-sized foot on a fully grown woman might cause a certain, um...  sway in the hips when walking.  This was, evidently, seen as rather sexy in its day.

And yes, this is a real image of a bound foot. If this seems hideous, oppressive, or like a frightening perversion, I ask you to consider the many well accepted body augmentations that people undertake today to meet the beauty fetishes of our culture. Then, after this reflection, I ask you to take a closer look at this image of the bound foot.  Notice the shape, the long, extended heel, the toes bent at a sharp angle to the ball of the foot. The deep, exaggerated arch. Does this look familiar?

Our aversion to footbinding reminds me of the cultural bias/blindness that we all, conscious as we may seek to remain, suffer from at times. People will campaign in the streets to stop the female circumcision that is practiced in some African countries, and those same people will have their newborn boys circumcised later that week here at home. Similarly, we are repulsed by the concept of foot binding, and we will openly and emphatically criticize the way that it de-humanizes women, reduces them to mere sexual-objects, and the way it feeds the dominator paradigm... and we will say it all while wearing these:

I guess there is still nothing sexier than a helpless woman that can't walk properly. I think male dominators have always liked a woman that can't run away.

Seriously though, who has been perpetuating the mythos that this is attractive, desirable, or stranger still, is somehow sexually empowering for women?  Watching a woman attempt to walk in these body distorting foot-traps calls back to the foot binding of China, and is the very image of the foot fetish that pervades the civilized mind.  I won't get distracted by the discussion of the anterior pelvic tilt that this footwear causes and what kind of affect this might have on the body-mind/physiognomy of the woman who wears it. Since they are so difficult to walk in, I think heels are better suited to the bedroom, where there is a lot less walking, running, or verticality in general. Heels are safest for the body when the person wearing them remains horizontal.

Admittedly, I have been rhetorical in this article; asking questions whose answers are at best obvious, and at worst provocative. So here is another. "Is there a part of your brain that controls your feet?"  And yet another still.  "What happens to that part of the brain when the feet are splinted-off in shoes?"  Do these neurons eventually go to sleep, or atrophy from lack of use? The term that many movement specialists are using to describe what happens when we take a movement potential offline is "Sensory Motor Amnesia", and it describes the hardening (into a contracted position) that happens in a musculo-fascial region when it stops being used in conjunction with the rest of the body.

While our feet may not be adapted for text book prehensility, they certainly do come pre-packaged with five intact toes, each with its own role (this little piggy went to market).  Shoes on the feet remind me a bit of mittens on the hand. Actually, at least a mitten sets the thumb free to carry out its business, so perhaps shoes on the feet are more like, well, shoes on your hands. Imagine trying to go about your day hand-shod. Not very functional.

Most of us who are ReWilding are seeking a shoe that minimizes the impact it has on the free functioning of our biomechanics, and works with, rather than against, our anatomy.

Essentially that means a soft and flexible shoe with a wide toebox and zero "drop" from heel to toe (drop is the measure of the height discrepancy between a shoe's heel and its toe).  Luckily these "barefooting" shoes have grown rather popular, from Vibram Five Fingers to Vivo barefoot. Even companies like New Balance have, well... found some... um... new balance? I suppose it is really more of an "ancient balance".

Think of these "barefooting" shoes as modern moccasins, the contemporary version of the spacious, soft leather "second skin" that was the footwear choice of many foraging peoples of North America.

prehensile |prēˈhensəl, -ˌsīl|

adjective

chiefly of an animal's limb or tail) capable of grasping.

In writing this article, I have been searching myself for why I obsess over barefooting, either literally, or symbolically as is now the trend.  I have observed how I walk, how I run, how I jump, and how I climb.  I have watched my pedal performance in barefoot forages, stream and creek crossings, and sprints along the beach. I have observed myself on slack lines and rappels, drawing a bow and releasing an arrow, driving a vehicle, and contending with others in Krav Maga classes.  Climbing a 2 inch rope and sliding back down.  Jumping for height and jumping for distance, walking for stealth, or just strolling through a Whole Foods produce section.  All of these experiences have led me to one conclusion, my foot — and of course, our feet — are capable of a movement that is all but ignored by modern civilization.  That is its ability to grasp the ground or even manipulate objects. Our feet are a living, active part of our anatomy!

When I set out to describe this grasping capability of our feet, I began with a memory-bank search for the word used in anatomy and physiology to describe this simple simian movement. I have studied human musculoskeletal anatomy to a fair degree of literacy and competency, and yet I couldn't seem to remember what this movement was called. I remembered plantarflexion, the “pushing the gas peddle” movement, and its opposite, dorsiflexion. I recalled supination, the turning of the plantar surface of the foot inward to face the midline, and its antagonistic motion known as pronation, turning the plantar surface of the foot towards the outside of the the body.

Even after consulting my texts and the all-seeing eye at Google, the closest I could come was “metatarsophalangeal flexion” which is a way of saying the curling of the toes under the foot.  Still, this didn't satisfy.

I decided to simply use the word “Prehensility”, which describes the ability of an appendage, like a foot or tail, to grasp. 

Interestingly, when I began looking for references to human prehensility, more than anything else, I turned up articles about individuals who had lost — through accident, disease, or having been born with a specific disability — the use of their hands.  These individuals often develop the dexterity of the toes and foot to a remarkable degree of precision and excellence, using them to perform complex tasks with an adroitness we usually associate only with our fingers.

Have you seen this extraordinary video of Sabine Becker (she's extraordinary, not the video), who performs tasks with her feet that demonstrate the resplendent nimbleness of our misunderstood, underused, atrophied, and — dare I even say — abused feet.

Here’s the rub, it's as if this motion is seen as useful only when the use of our hands is lost, despite the obvious fact that this ability clearly lies within the reach of human potential. I am weary of anything (or anyone) that seeks to limit our potential, eliminate our inborn abilities, or is offended by our capabilities.  

Down with the Domesticators!

While I am not insinuating that we need to develop our foot dexterity to the level that Sabine has, I do think her video illustrates the tremendous finesse and fine motor skill that our toes are capable of.

Now, admittedly I didn't keyboard this article into existence using my toes, my fingers are far better trained and at present much the nimbler. I am, however, barefoot as I write this, and as always seeking to teach my central nervous system to better direct my feet, and so reawakening that part of my brain that oversees them. As you train your inner animal be sure that you haven't taken your feet off-line. They are, after all, the prime mover upon which you primally move.

The Chicken and the Egg

Few foods swing so pendulously, back and forth, to and fro, between superfood and nutritional villain more frequently than the humble and self-contained avian egg. While the attitudes of nutritional scientists continue to vacillate, and the vicissitudinous nature of the fame and misfortune of these avian antecedents leaves the heads of those who heed headlines in a haze, I feel certain; few foods could — nutritionally — hope to rival the unassuming egg.

Let me preface, I am referring here to the edible eggs of any species of bird (I love the roe of fishes as well, but that is a topic best saved for another day). I am however, not slavish to those of the chicken, though I recognize that the greater percentage of ovum’s eaten will hail from the hind ends of hens. I’d like to explore the domestication of this species in a moment, though first must satisfy my inclination to promote the diversity of eggs that can be easily accessed by the enterprising omnivore. 

There is the goose egg, huge and hard shelled, which bounces off surfaces that would crack that of its smaller fowl friends. Then there is the duck egg — more diminutive than that of the goose but still trumping the chicken's in size. There too is the emu, whose egg looks as though it were lain by a dragon, voluminous and verdant, mottled in emerald green. There is the egg of the ostrich whose contents equals more than a dozen of our commonplace chicken eggs, and that of the quail, a bite-sized egg whose creamed colored shell appears to be splatter-painted in various shades of earthy browns, delicious if not more trouble than it's worth, coming in pallets rather than cartons numbering a dozen. All are wonderful, rich sources of nutrition, throbbing with life force, and neatly packaged in their own self-preserving case.

On The Chicken

It is to the chicken, though, that we will most often turn when that eggy craving arises, and so perhaps it is time we acquaint ourselves with this species, whom has been with each of us through so much of our lives, as food, as food producer, and as that ubiquitous farmland icon, without whom no barnyard would seem complete. 

I often ask folks from where they presume the common chicken comes, since few of us have encountered them in their wild form walking about through the woods or flying high over head. This I ask not simply to observe the confounded look on the visage of the queried, but also to illustrate our lack of acquaintance with the family tree of our overfamiliar feathered friend. And so I ask you now too — just who is the chicken, and from whence to they come?

The chicken, known scientifically as Gallus gallus domesticus, is the domesticated descendant of the red jungle fowl, who is — in my opinion — beautiful bird whose natural range spreads across south and southeastern Asia. As a species, they, like their modern domesticated relatives, display significant sexual dimorphism, with brightly colored males resembling that ostentatious appearance of so many of our modern roosters — if not more brilliantly adorned — and wearing the fleshy, meaty-red wattle and comb so distinctive of the Gallus male.  The female, demure and discreet, is far more camouflaged, her adaptation to the need to care for her eggs, blending in unnoticed as she broods upon her clutch.

Did I mention that the wild red jungle fowl males say “cock-a-doodle-doo?" Even in domestication... some things never change.

In the currently accepted timeline, it is believed that red jungle fowl were first domesticated at least 5400 years before the present, however this date will likely (as so often happens) be pushed backward as further evidence emerges and more bright minds turn their focused attention onto this (rather obscure) topic. There is also some evidence indicating that there have been some genetic contributions from natural or managed hybridization with grey jungle fowl (Gallus sonneratii), contributions which include the gene that codes for the yellow skin of our modern meat birds (special thanks to the grey jungle fowl for that unforgettable color of slapstick humor's rubber chicken). Despite their suspected carnal dalliances with grey’s, modern chickens are classed as belonging to the same species as red jungle fowl, and can be readily bred with them. For this reason red jungle fowl are still bred together with modern birds by gene-savvy farmers, introducing wild genetics back into their flocks. Besides what must be some very wild sex with these untamed cocks, this also helps to prevent the degenerative problems so often associated with domestication.

Cluck cluck

Bantam Rooster

Bantam Rooster

Photo by LeighLon Anderson

In the wild, red jungle fowl lay between 5 - 7 eggs per year (thats 5 - 7 per clutch, one per day, for 5 - 7 consecutive days until the clutch is complete) which contrasts dramatically with some modern domesticated chicken breeds who will lay as many as 325 eggs per year. Now keep in mind that some of this immoderate laying behavior is the result of eggs being taken away by the farmer each day, which stimulates the hen to keep laying in an effort to gather together a complete clutch (in chickens this is about 12 eggs), and that some birds — despite 5,400 years of domestication — will behave in what the chicken rearing industry refers to as “going broody”, which simply means that the hen wishes to hatch her chicks and so attempts to incubate her eggs. This is of course a natural behavior, which industrial factory farming sees as "drag in its system", and so has developed techniques to suppress this behavior in order to keep ovulatory productivity high. Whether we are talking about chickens, cows, tomatoes, cabbage, or humans, domestication usually means pushing organisms to over-produce.

I digress.

Leghorn Hen

Leghorn Hen

A highly domesticated bird known for laying one egg (sometimes more!) a day. Photo by LeighLon Anderson

While in the wild the lifespan of the red jungle fowl may total as many as 30 years, for the free range layer, lifespan is but 8 - 15 trips around the sun, and (sadly) for intensively reared battery hens life expectancy is typically just 2 (short and rather cruel) years — after which they are killed. 

For this reason, and for many others, I of course advocate for small flocks of hens on pasture, roaming freely, and eating local forage. Keep in mind, whether there is a rooster present or not, the hens will continue to lay, however if there is a cock in the flock (and he does... um.. his job) these eggs will most often be fertile. In the absence of a male, the eggs — which despite still being lain — are infertile, and therefore cannot hatch, as they do not contain an embryonic chicken.

Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, truly wild populations of red jungle fowl are thought by some to be extinct, or in danger of extinction, due to the introduction of domesticated chicken genetics into wild populations by matings with livestock populations or from feral chickens. Sadly, like the cow, the day could come where all that is left of this noble species are the genetic artifacts of the domesticated subspecies, with the wild progenitor only remembered but no longer present. This introgression of genes is sometimes referred to as “Genetic Swamping” or “Genetic Pollution”. 

The ubiquitous domesticated chicken, having been rather successful in its human symbiosis (or genetic enslavement — depending on your proclivity), now represents the most abundant species of bird on the planet! According to the UN’s estimates, there are roughly 19 Billion chickens, averaging 3 of these birds per every living human!

On The Egg

Eggs have been a food for humans since time immemorable, though of course these were, until relatively recent history, foraged and so did not come by the dozen. While we scarcely forage for eggs today — except on strange holiday celebrations (Easter anyone?) — they are still foraged by our ape ancestors the chimpanzee. As we all have heard, eggs do, of course, represent an excellent source of protein. So excellent, in fact, that the World Health Organization uses eggs as the standard by which all protein sources are measured. They represent a 100% on the HBV (High Biological Value) scale for their perfect balance of amino acids.

Yes… eggs are a “complete protein”. 

Eggs are a very well rounded source of vitamins, containing all of the B vitamins, including B12 and Choline, and are also a rich source of the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. When it comes to the mineral content of eggs, two significant stand-outs are worth mentioning, Iodine and Selenium, both crucial, yet largely missing from the standard American diet. 

Best to eat your eggs!

   *A note on eating raw eggs. The whites of raw eggs contain a glycoprotein known as avidin, which has a strong affinity for the B-vitamin Biotin. It binds together forming the avidin-biotin complex which is not absorbed by our digestive tract. If you choose to consume raw egg whites it may be wise to do so sparingly, or at different times than other biotin rich meals. Cooking denatures avidin, rendering this biotin reaction inert.

Additionally, well reared hens produce eggs rich in long chain essential fatty acids, namely DHA, that slippery oil so crucial to the development and maintenance of our nervous system. This fatty acid, which is particularly heat sensitive is present only in the yolks, which is why I recommend cooking techniques that leave the yolk runny and raw (though warm), such as fried “sunny side up”, poached, or soft boiled. 

Click here for an excellent breakdown on the nutritional profile of a pasture raised egg.

As mentioned before, I recommending eggs that are locally sourced from pastured birds, which, time and again, are shown to be richer in nutrients than battery raised chicken eggs or even organic and “free range” eggs. Consider the following quote from a paper entitled “Vitamins A, E and fatty acid composition of the eggs of caged hens and pastured hens” :

“Compared to eggs of the caged hens, pastured hens' eggs had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, 2.5-fold more total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin A concentration was 38% higher in the pastured hens' eggs than in the caged hens' eggs”

Photo by Frank Giglio

Photo by Frank Giglio

Why I love eggs: 

  1. They are fresh; this is an animal protein that we can easily access and that has never been frozen, dried, or processed. It comes fully intact and raw. While there is little scientific/nutritional appreciation for this property at present, I suspect in time greater emphasis will be placed on this by the nutritional "experts".
  2. They can be procured locally, which means we can easily access these wondrously nutritious foods from our local food shed. They can be raised at home, or by people we have relationships with.
  3. They are a rich source of DHA and other omega 3 fatty acids. This helps to balance the Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acid ratios that become so woefully skewed in our domesticated food diets.
  4. Each is a large, single animal cell. Simply put, this means that they contain nearly everything we need to nourish our own animal cells.
  5. They are low glycemic and represent a wonderful source of saturated fats, and essential fatty acids and amino acids.
  6. I can easily find fresh local eggs nearly anywhere I travel. 

What I look for in an egg:

  1. Organic, local and pasture raised eggs from small flocks of heirloom birds.
  2. Hard, well formed shells. The thicker and harder to crack the better.
  3. Dark golden-orange yolks. If the yolks are pale yellow, I know I need a new source.
  4. When I have the option I choose fertile eggs. While at present there is no scientific evidence for fertile eggs being more nutritious than infertile eggs, I think this is simply because there are properties in foods that still remain unnamed, unclassified, and as of yet “undiscovered”. We have — throughout modern history (“his story”) — disregarded what we haven’t understood. 

What I avoid:

  1. Commercially raised eggs. Whether these are from factory farmed battery hens, or just from small scale farmers who feed their birds GM feed.
  2. Organic eggs if not local or if they are corn-fed. Corn fed chickens, despite being raised organically, will concentrate in their eggs the Omega 6 fats that are over-sufficient in their feed. Additionally these eggs will be deficient in Omega 3 fats, since these are lacking in their diet.
  3. Eggs labeled as vegetarian fed. This seems strange to me, in that chickens are omnivores. I understand that the concept here is that these chickens are not being fed rendered animal meal, however, I prefer to eat eggs from chickens that have been free to eat on pasture. This means birds that eat insects.
Photo by LeighLon Anderson

Photo by LeighLon Anderson

In closing

We live in a domesticated world, in "Artifact Land". While we strive for more wildness, and until we can "set them free", it is comforting to know we have ally's like the chicken to support us in health and to keep us fed. I raise a glass — a metaphorical toast — to chickens everywhere. Thank you for all you have endured at the hands of hatter-mad humans. Long may your species live!

20 Tips for ReWilding Your Movement!
  1. Make a decisive commitment to set time aside each day for uninterrupted movement.. yes even your "days off". Stick to it 90% of the time!
  2. Beware of the "I will start on Monday" mentality. Start today!
  3. Begin to see the world as 3D, rather than mono-planar. Think "outside the box"... literally. Maybe even climb on the outside of the box!
  4. Utilize jungle gyms and playgrounds. These are wonderful free resources with wonderful infrastructure for exploring your movement capability! Bring a friend!
  5. Start throwing away your chairs! Spend more time in other-than-sitting positions.
  6. Think of your home as your zoo habitat. What do you need to do to make your space more movement friendly?
  7. Become a movement generalist, avoid specialization! Stop training biceps, abs, and lats.. start training your whole body!
  8. Take your shoes off! Train barefoot whenever you can!
  9. Wear clothes you can lunge, split, reach, and climb in! 
  10. Vary, change, or sophisticate your movement routine as soon as you have learned a specific skill. Once you have it learned move on!
  11. Breathe! Let your movements "breathe you", compression of your torso should "exhale you", and extension should "inhale you".
  12. Be wary of playing to your strengths. Practice movement skills that you are weak in, and refine your existing strengths.
  13. Make mobility training a lifelong love. Stay supple.
  14. Decide now to use movement to heal your injuries, not to create more of them!
  15. Walk. walk. walk. Running is cool too.
  16. Honor where you are today. Some days you can handle high intensity, other days we need to be gentle with ourselves.
  17. Keep it fun, keep it relevant to your life. Develop practical, real world fitness!
  18. Training tools are great, but make it about the training, not the tool!
  19. Whenever you can, train outside in the sunlight! Naked whenever possible!
  20. Commit to rest, recovery, and recuperation just as you have to movement!
Your Neo-Aborginal Challenge

Are you already training? Do you have a regular movement practice in your life? If not, this first challenge is for you! If you are already immersed in regular movement, you can easily mix this challenge in with your current conditioning program!

Choose 1 of the ReACT (ReAdaptive Training/Conditioning) movement categories per day to practice a skill from. Since these movements are in categories and are not specifically enumerated exercises, you can choose a movement pattern you know, learn a new one, or design your own biomechanically safe movement that you can practice at your current fitness level. 

Perform your chosen movement 6 times for 30 seconds each time, with a focus on perfect form and execution. Rest for 10 - 30 seconds between each set before repeating. Make sure to keep your attention focused on excellent postural alignment, breath integration, and personal safety and health. Basically be smart and feel what you are doing. People often get caught up in their mind (with its constant dialogue) and "gate" out somatic sensory information. Listen — by this I mean feel — your peripheral nervous system and allow yourself to perceive the communication that is normally being deemed unimportant throughout much of your day.

Perform this movement in the most relaxed way you can, even if your intensity level is high. This isn't "working out", it is training your nervous system to perform movement effectively and efficiently. You are teaching yourself. Let your instincts awaken and allow your body to move from the place of primal somatic intelligence.

Work through this list, one movement pattern per day until you have completed it. These movements patterns aren't listed in any particular order, so practice them in whatever sequence you wish.

Bonus Challenge!!! Get a deep, rich tan this summer (if you have a skin type that tans), but do so with NO TANLINES!!! Now that sounds fun!

Stay safe, and keep ReWilding!

Would You Like to Contribute to the Next Dispatch?

We are looking for gifted, thorough, well researched writers to contribute articles for future Dispatches and blog features!

All submissions much be original material, ranging between 500 and 2000 words, be well-edited and contain references where appropriate.  Images must be your originals or non-copyrighted.  And of course, all articles must be relevant to the ReWilding lifestyle!

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We will be selecting only one entry per Dispatch! 

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Please send your submission to info@danielvitalis.com.  We will contact you if your submission is selected for publication in the next — or in a future — Dispatch or blog feature!