Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Noetic License

There is something noetic about the paleo model. Make no bones about it. You might tell somebody that you don't eat bread, rice, pasta, cereal/grains, potatoes and dairy - and they may well roll their eyes and mutter the dietary millstone of "Atkins".

If you talk of very short, high intensity training based around sprints, basic lifts and so forth, and they look at you with a degree of incredulity under the misapprehension that 'lots of cardio is the only way to burn fat'. You might also receive a caution about being 'muscle-bound' with HIT.

Our friend will undoubtedly continue on a their theme of health, exercise and nutrition which will share a platform with that held by the wider public, namely to 'eat less, do more', or 'cut fat and run distance'. These are reflex answers from decades of social conditioning.

But, as soon as you ask them what they would eat if stranded away from civilisation - the shackles of twentieth century diet and exercise dogma fall away and the paleo model appears clear and well formed.

Some cannot see, and will not, and may never see this innate beauty in the paleo model. Or, may be unable to transfer it to their present day condition. Otherwise will gape in awe at how easy it seems. Too easy? Possibly. But then how did health and fitness ever come to arrive at a place where it wasn't easy? We have had two million years to practice with mother nature drawing us on and the skilled knife of evolution cutting away at the inadequate and unsuited.

We think of ourselves as a single self - a whole entity. In reality we are a coalition. Billions of cells have risked all to become specialists, depending on each other as much as other cells depend upon them, to build YOU- thus resulting in a 'greater than' sum of parts. In the game of survival, freeloading is a heavy burden and is poorly tolerated. The result? Efficiency. An organism tailored to the environment. You.

With modern advice to get fit there always seems to be lots to remember. There is both a complexity to the information and copious amounts of it. All the while there seems to be an emphasis on counting and measuring, be it calories, grams of fat, reps and weights, distances and time. In stark contrast, I like many people reacted to the paleo model with the sound of KFC (kerr-fucking ching), and an audible "Aha!".

Ultimately the modern concept of exercise and nutrition are conceptually unsatisfying answers for us, the paleo crowd, and are physically unappealing drivers even to those who espouse them. They are repeated mantra-like, but never strike a chord within us. Have you ever thought about that?

My own epiphany is recorded here and detailed further here. As soon as I was asked what I would eat to sustain me if stranded on a desert island, all became clear. I was shaking with the revelation. KFC indeed!

In the comments to this post Marc offers an extract that similarly expresses how profound was his 'conversion':
  • If you look at nature, it expends a big time effort in sustaining itself, but it does not struggle.Does the tiger get up in the morning and say "I'll struggle like crazy today and hopefully by dinner time I'll get something to eat? No Way! It just rises, has a little sniff under it's tigers armpits or does whatever tigers do at breakfast time, and heads out.At noon there on the path is lunch, provided courtesy of the great spirit.

We often look for confirmation bias. We often see patterns where there are none. We can be tricked and mislead by our minds. In light we see something in the shadows and in the dark we see phantoms. But, with considered experiment, we can verify. By adopting a paleo model I found living proof of 'the way'.


This year I feel a transition from a position of knowledge to that of wisdom. There is still much for me to learn but there is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom out there to draw from (see the links to the right of this page).


Various factions of the scientific community also seems to have shifted their position slightly this year. Science is discreetly shuffling in its seat, moving ever closer to advice based upon our ancestral patterns and practices. I really like Bertolt Brecht's opinion on the objectives of science in 'Galileo'. He says,

  • "The chief cause of poverty in science is imaginary wealth. The chief aim of science is not to open a door to infinite wisdom but to set a limit to infinite error"

This is a noble objective for all of us. Be careful of the goals you set yourself in 2009!

1 comment:

Marc said...

Thanks for the shoot out.

Another quality post!

Marc