Long time no see.
I apologize for leaving you high and dry this past year. Twenty, twenty came with a lot of changes for me (and the rest of the world). To conserve some time and energy, I shifted my focus to a year of shorter (yet equally as meaningful) Instagram posts. You can review them all here if you'd like.
Today, I'd like to welcome you into my brain. Beware.
I love to study the diets and lifestyles of Indigenous peoples and tribes around the world. There is great value to be learned by them. Native Americans particularly strike my fancy because they were the first to live exactly where I do now--and they did so without grocery stores around every corner and fast-food chains down every street.
It's absolutely gorgeous where I am. Even now, amidst all the suburban neighborhoods, highways and man-made parks, the Rocky Mountain range is captivating to behold.
It's rather fascinating to consider how the Native American's survived and thrived on this land, don't you think? Especially considering the unpredictable nature of Colorado weather... blizzards, thunderstorms, freezing temperatures and dry land.
How strikingly different than how we live today.
And it wasn't just the Natives. All traditional lifestyles had some similar patterns we can glean from.
What these pre-industrialized populations often had in common were innate strength, grit and resilience. They didn't rely on government, big industry, or public health bodies to tell them how to live and what to eat. No. They had age-old wisdom (aka: street smarts or life experience),
And they had a very strong sense of intuition.
But here are some of the most overlooked basics that made those ideals so prevalent:
1) The Resting Squat:
Traditional cultures weren't in the habit of sitting excessively. Instead of vegging out on the couch with a bag full of Doritos, or sitting at a desk all day with a steady supply of Diet Coke, they were constantly on the move--hunting, foraging, building, creating--naturally using their bodies at every turn. But what is perhaps most notable is HOW they continued engaging their muscles even when they did sit down.
Instead of sitting in a chair at a 90-degree angle--disengaging your butt muscles, your hip flexors, your spine and your core--people used to simply squat.
The Resting Squat is a rather significant health and longevity habit. Allow me to share why.
Sitting in a deep squat position can have profoundly positive effects on the following:
All this without even having to try very hard. Amazing.
2) Significant Sun Exposure:
Remember hearing about how often the Native Americans died of skin cancer? Poor souls.
Oh that's right. You never did. That's because it didn't happen.
But in the 1980's, didn't dermatologists who were heavily funded by the cosmetic and skincare industry come out of the gate swinging against all things sunshine?
Indeed they did.
Ironically, cases of type 2 diabetes also began to rise in the 80's... (Learn more about the concept of how sun exposure interacts with sugar consumption and vitamin D levels, here.)
Traditionally, people were well protected from the noon day sun's harmful rays for two primary reasons.
First, they had a diet full of fatty fish, root-spices such as turmeric & ginger, and seasonal fruit. These foods are literally like sunscreen from the inside out--fortifying the skin cells with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
They were NOT eating processed crap full of lab-made vegetable oils (more on that here), genetically modified soy, and refined sugar. These things often replace and rob you of nutrient-dense, bioavailable nutrition, and ultimately make you more susceptible to cell oxidation. Thats a recipe for disaster when you add in the mid-day sun.
Takeaway? Eat more fish.
Second, they had significant exposure to early morning and late evening sunlight--which prepares and provides the body with a natural hormonal defense toward harmful UV-B rays. The sun during these times is rich in friendly UV-A rays and works with your body's melatonin cycle to shield you naturally.
Takeaway? Get up at dawn and get your nearly naked self outside.
3) Extreme Temperature Variation:
Here's one for the books. You ready?
Most Native tribes would bathe in the river (along with their children) every morning, ALL year round. Now that's legit, my friends.
Especially around here where winter temperatures hover around 20 degrees or lower beginning in November and lasting through May.
Now you've heard all the rage involving cold showers or cryotherapy lately, haven't you? It's for good reason.
A short time in these icy cold waters can have intense benny's. Check them out:
- decreases oxidative stress
- improves overall immune function
- triggers an anti-inflammatory norepinephrine release
- increases activation of brown adipose tissue (boosting metabolism)
- increases blood flow and improves circulation
- stimulates hypothalamus function (treating chronic fatigue)
- boosts adrenaline for more energy (and treating depression)
- Improves both the hair and skin's texture and appearance
But it didn't end there. They'd usually follow up their ice bath with a relaxing time in the sweat lodge--a space created using boiling water over hot stones to create a steam room. They did so for cleansing and purifying purposes, to ward off infection, and to balance a hard day's work with connection and calm. Sounds like a dream, doesn't it? It is.
Benefits of this type of heat therapy include:
- relieves stress and tension
- improves circulation
- aids the body in detoxification
- lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels
- speeds injury recovery
- improves hair and skin appearance
All good things. All things you should envy and want for yourself.
I'll finish up this history lesson by sharing just one more over-looked piece of advice...
Do hard things on purpose.
So here's the deal... Let's be real.
If you are used to your Lazy Boy recliner, the resting squat is certainly going to throw you for a loop at first. (Pssst: It's worth it.)
If you are used to sleeping in until 10am or simply staying inside all hours of the day, intentionally getting significant sun exposure at the right times is going to be challenging at first. (Pssst: It's worth it.)
If you're used to eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) instead of whole, nutrient rich foods like steak, wild-caught fish, real butter, raw milk, pasture-raised eggs and seasonal fruits/vegetables, that adjustment is going to take a significant amount of your focus and energy. (Pssst: It's worth it.)
Lastly, if you're used to cozy, warm showers and air conditioned buildings, extreme temperature variation is going to kick your ass to start. (Pssst: It's worth it.)
In case you haven't gathered it yet, the secret to longevity is resilience. (That, and laughter.)
Decide today what small change you're going to make to take better care of yourself. Be sure and share it in the comments below!