I’m currently reading the Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. After seeing this post by my very well-read Crossfit coach from our Crossfit newsletter today, I’m quite tempted to give it a 30 day trial. The question is whether to start before or after Christmas…hmm…
Has anyone ever told you your training is extreme?
Do they call your low-carb, paleo-diet a fad?
Do these same people sit for 6+ hours per day? Does their diet rely heavily upon processed foods, starches and fast food? Most citizens of industrialized nations live predominantly sedentary lives. They sit at desks, in front of TVs in their cars and on transit. They eat packaged and pre-prepared foods with ingredient lists that read like a chemistry exam gone bad.
Their “exercise” consists of yoga, treadmills or circuit training where they move sub-maximal loads at a relatively leisurely pace. They call this moderation.
News flash: Your genetic makeup is the product of evolution. Your human machine has been naturally selected to thrive in a very specific set of environmental circumstances.
Let’s take a look at your evolutionary history:
4,000,000,000 – 500,000 years ago (a total time of approx 3,999,500 years give or take a few millennia) you evolved from early life form to primate to hominid to homo sapien. All this time your survival depended on hunting and gathering, fighting and escaping danger.
This involved a lot of low intensity labour (gathering, travelling, tracking, building) punctuated by sporadic bursts of maximal effort (fighting, escaping, mating) and plenty of rest and recovery. You ate meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables and that is all. No grains, no dairy, no chemical additives or corn starch.
As homo sapiens you continued living in this manner for a further 490,000 years.
Then very recently, a mere 10,000 years ago many human populations made a switch to an agricultural existence which still involved long hours of low intensity work (farm chores) punctuated by more sporadic near maximal effort tasks (heavy farm chores). You now ate grains and dairy but the milk was raw and the grains were whole and you still ate no chemical preservatives or flavour enhancers. Nothing you ate came in a package.
200 short years ago the first world went through the Industrial Revolution. You were now engaged in much lower levels of activity but chances were your daily routine still involved light industrial labour and housework. Opportunities for maximal effort were absent outside of sport. Your grains were more likely to be refined and table sugar entered your diet but otherwise your foods were still largely handmade from scratch from ingredients designed and packaged by Mother Nature.
Only about 100 years ago you were now more likely to be confined to a desk and robbed of even low intensity work. Maximal efforts were confined to the world of sport. Your food though heavily dependent on grains and dairy with some sugar was still found at the butcher’s and the baker’s rather than in a lab and you bought it fresh, not in a package.
It is only in the last 50 years that food scientists and short order cooks began preparing a large percentage of your meals.
To summarize the journey: We have taken a body adapted for high-volume, low-intensity activity and regular max effort exertions fuelled on nature’s bounty and in the space of a few generations subjected it to a sedentary existence fed on chemicals, sugars and starches.
This is extreme!
It is an extreme test of the body’s capacity to survive in an environment for which it is not genetically designed or adapted.
So next time your couch-potato, jogging and pilates friends tell you that your high intensity training is too extreme shout out “No man, you’re extreme!!!”