I went to bed Sunday night truly physically exhausted. When I woke up Monday morning I was sore, stiff, with a few scratches but with a deep sense of fulfillment. I had just spent the weekend immersed in Jedi-like training. Over the last three days, my mind, body and spirit had digested a movement diet served on a platter of evolutionary biology, nourished by primal patterns and seasoned with play.
The term ‘diet’ comes from the Greek word diaita. It has changed over time with its use in Latin, Old French and Middle English. Originally, it was used to mean ‘a way of life’. This speaks to diet as a strategy to improve health that goes further than merely what we eat.
Whether it is to restrict your intake of certain things, like the term diet is commonly used now, or to add in things to improve your health, applying this to areas like movement (and elsewhere beyond nutrition) can create a way of life that feeds all of you.
Finding balance in a way of life does require both input and output, additions and subtractions, perseverance and avoidance.
This brings me back to the movement diet I received as I went through an Evolve Move Play seminar that had me outside barefoot, falling and rolling, climbing and swinging through the trees, manipulating logs and engaging others with roughhousing.
Our teacher was Rafe Kelley. Our classroom was nature. Our reference sources were the dynamics of human locomotion from a variety of primate mechanics through parkour moves to diverse martial art flows and more.
It sort of reminded me of Luke Skywalker’s Jedi training with Yoda on Dagobah, in the sense that we were being empowered to connect with the underlying movement potential (the Force) that exists in all of us as humans and reconnecting with it away from the distractions of modern living by being immersed in nature.
It’s obvious how I feel about the health benefits of nature as I described in Recapture Wild Health but this seminar opened up those notions more and introduced new ones too.
There were many takeaways from this experience. Some go beyond words and are best described by a Braveheart-like cry of Freeedooooooooooomm!!!
I would strongly encourage everyone, regardless of age or fitness level to experience Rafe’s seminar. Simply put, it is fun, great exercise (again regardless of how fit or unfit you think you are), and you build great rapport with the other participants.
Perhaps, less obviously you will discover the ‘hidden’ playgrounds, movement opportunities and gain ‘free membership to nature’s gym that actually has better health boosting potential than any fitness facility around.
After this weekend, I look at trees, the ground and moving differently.
“Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement.”
― Aldous Huxley,
I am excited to explore my new vision in different ways, but perhaps more than any other, in how I play and move with my wife, Bree, and our daughters. I sense trees, groundwork, and roughhousing games in our future.
Suddenly, family bonding time, time to improve fitness, time in nature, fun and mind-body stimulation can all happen simultaneously. It’s an amazing time hack (I wince using the word hack here because it’s almost the opposite of what hacking is about). This is not a shortcut but an embodiment of being human in a timeless and all encompassing way.
It captures much of the best of ancestral health and the depth we have as humans in mind, body and spirit. This type of movement diet is true nourishment.
I cannot impart all the things I learned here and I’m not ready to put some of the ideas into writing yet either. I wrote about Moving Beyond Exercise before, however, my movement has been unleashed and I’d like to offer some simple nourishing dishes for your movement diet too.
Here’s a recipe to create a movement diet for greater freedom, better health and more energy
Throw in regularly:
Walking and low-intensity movement daily –
Being active doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t always be exercise. Moving around more often is more aligned with how our bodies are designed. For better health and more energy, get going. This will stimulate your lymphatic system, boost brain function and mood. Make being active a way of life, not just a scheduled gym session.
Ground time –
As children, we spend a lot of time on the ground. The ability to get down and up from the floor have been shown to predict longevity. If you have kids, being able to handle being on the ground and transition from it will not only improve your health but your enjoyment and connection with them. It also burns more calories (added bonus).
How’s your squat? Not with a barbell, just the good old crosscultural, ‘every kid does it unwittingly’ squat.
Don’t be shy, start with a little but build this up to a true resting position ingredient.
Enjoying life is super important. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” and we know how that ended.
Play is both a mood enhancer, a great educational approach and the best way to stay motivated to move more.
Why not play with your kids and get fitness, family time and fun all wrapped into one?
In our family, we play don’t touch the ground tag at the local playground. It is challenging, fun and the kids can’t get enough. In fact, we realize how great shape our kids are in because they outlast us – both humbling and motivating.
Don’t forget to put in some:
New patterns –
Just like you can get stuck in a mental rut, you can get stuck in a physical rut. Moving the same way for years on end will result in strengthening certain patterns and neglecting others. This practice will have more negative consequences if you are strengthening imbalances or improper form.
Diversity is the spice of life and diversity of movement is the spice of a robust way of life. Try something new. Whatever your ‘thing’ is, you will benefit from a little cross training in your movement diet.
To get the most benefits of this movement diet, repeat all the above steps, allow time to release the full nutrient potential, be creative with new nutritious movements and reduce stagnations liberally.
Finally, embody fully and enjoy:
Good movement and vitality with a reduction on limitations, discomfort and degeneration that leads to more energy, fun and a deeply satisfying evolved life of being a dynamic human mover.
Feel free to copy this recipe and share it with anyone that could use a better movement diet.