“Maybe you’ve just sort of lost the will to live.”
True story: 10 years ago I came down with a mysterious respiratory illness that knocked me flat for three weeks, and kept me constantly fatigued for another 3 months. The quote above was the best diagnosis my doctor could give for my condition.
He was right. Whatever had initially infected me wasn’t the real threat anymore. The problem was rooted in a deeper despair that I had already passed my prime in my early 20s. The ol’ Will to Live was waning.
How did I recover it? Not by running on the treadmill and eating 6–11 servings of grains per day. If anything, the standard, conventional wisdom underlying health recommendations kept me from recovering.
If it weren’t for COVID-19, the American public might have kept ignoring their deteriorating health for another 5 or 10 years. Now, we have to reckon with the damage done by decades of neglect and misguided “yo-yo dieting,” which has left America more overweight, inactive, and immune-compromised than any people at any time and place in history.
I had to confront my sad condition sooner because my bout with illness came a decade earlier.
The health establishment deserves much of the blame for repeating the tired slogan “eat less, move more,” in an attempt to shame people back into shape.
“It’s all a lack of willpower,” they tell us — not a fundamental mismatch between our ancestral genetic heritage and our modern environment.
Forget about the toxins in the food supply…
“It’s your own fault, you lazy…”
Get the picture? This is the message we have internalized.
Experts have peddled low-fat dogma and a busted “calories in — calories out” model of metabolism for decades, and Americans keep getting more obese and less active.
It’s not working, and it never will.
Why? because it’s based on a flawed understanding of a human nature that has survived generation after generation of biological competition and innovation.
Our ancestors lived hand-to-mouth but thrived comparatively — both in times of scarcity and abundance. Today, we’ve domesticated ourselves in a zoo of our own making.
Every exercise and diet craze is fundamentally about restoring our lost vitality — the vigorous energy that permeates every lively species in the wild, yet which is absent in our schools, offices, cramped city apartments, and dull, denatured suburbs.
But they’re all stuck in the wrong mindset. As Erwan LeCorre points out, the lion and the gazelle are strong and agile by nature when left alone in nature. They don’t hit the gym or count calories, yet they are fit.
To get “toight like a tiger,” you don’t do crunches.
Try this instead:
- eating like a human and
- doing purposeful things energetically that align with your nature.
The even shorter version: “Move Better, Eat Butter.”
⬆️ that was the original title of my new book. ⬆️
In the end, I went with:
Hormetics: Unlocking Your Dormant Vitality (206 pp. paperback).
Beneath our pale, soft skin lies the secret codes — the epigenetic switches — that can unlock this dormant vitality.
To recover this vitality in an accelerated fashion, we have to change our thinking. We can’t be afraid of fasting & discomfort — nor can we be afraid of feasting on healthy fats. This week I’m throwing in a free bonus for buyers — a complete “Poor Man’s Paleo” shopping list spreadsheet showing where to buy the cheapest healthy food of all kinds (it’s less restrictive than you might think).
Hormetics helps you to gradually re-condition yourself by re-introducing the forcefield of stressors in which our resilient ancestors lived. Here, the pattern of “hormesis” dominates — where the task becomes figuring out the optimal dose of stress to stimulate a vital adaptation (yes, you can eat too much butter — it’s just very hard to do… if you don’t add sugar into the mix).
We’re no exception to the principles of nature. When we let special interests like Big Agriculture distort the food pyramid in conjunction with the USDA, we surrender our strength and end up addicted to the toxic junk that lines the center aisles of the grocery store.
When we delegate our thinking on fitness to gym chains and exercise-obsessed personal trainers, we end up cycling between sedentary disuse and brutalizing abuse — getting injured in “Boot Camp” and robbing ourselves of the joy of movement.
Whole grains are the perfect food… for serfs.
Free people eat pasture-raised cultured dairy, raw milk butter, lacto-fermented plants, eggs, and meat.
Treadmills and cushioned shoes are the ultimate in exercise technology… but they wear out your knees, warp your feet, and train the natural variation out of your heartbeat.
Vitality comes from moving naturally in nature, among the elements that made our ancestors the hardy bearers of our current (dormant) genetics.
Once we embrace the principles of hormesis, or optimal stress for triggering epigenetic transformation, we can learn to craft time efficient workouts, and start eating and sleeping according to nature’s clock.
It’s been widely reported that most COVID-19 patients had comorbidities, such as diabetes, obesity or other metabolic disorders. What’s less commonly told is that vitamin D deficiency, a symptom of not getting enough sunlight, is even more closely linked than those other indicators, which are likely downstream of a much broader “Nature Deficit Disorder.”
The prescription for NDD is Hormetics — natural, outdoor stress, and a diet based on time-tested principles (with special attention to dose, timing, preparation, and interactions between various kinds of foods).
“Eat more, move less,” is out.
“Move better, eat butter,” is in.
Table of Contents
CONFESSIONS OF A RECOVERING WEAKLING (PREFACE)
§ VOLUME 1 — PRINCIPIA Hormetica
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO HORMETICS
CHAPTER 1 — HOLD FAST
- Demons and Other Obstacles to Freedom
- Prayer as Hormesis
- A Discipline, Not a Diet
- Rediscovering Religious Wisdom in Baumeister’sWillpower
- PRAXIS: Finding Your Hormetic Fasting Zone
CHAPTER 2 — IN THE GARDEN OF EATING
- Pharmakon: The Poison-Medicine
- The Prosperity Paradox
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma
- The Modern Food Pyramid
- Cultivated Grains: Humanity’s Biggest Mistake
- The Knowledge of Good & Evil
- The Neolithic Agents of Addiction & Disease
- PRAXIS: Inverting Your Food Pyramid
CHAPTER 3 — BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
- Good Fats, Bad Fats
- Got Milk? Cultured Dairy
- Meat: Rewards, Risks, and Harm Reduction
- PRAXIS: Omega ratios — ↓ 6 : ↑ 3
- Vegetables & the Optimal Quantity of Phytotoxins
- Any Room for the Legume?
- The Glyphosate Controversy
- Should We Eliminate Anything Completely?
- PRAXIS: Fine-Tuning Your Food Pyramid
CHAPTER 4 — SATIETY, HORMONES & SET POINT THEORY
- Insulin and the Anti-Autumnal Diet
- Endocrine vs. Brain Reward Hypothesis
- Set Point Dynamics — A Model
- Shifting the Curves: Long-term Change
- Determinants of Calories Demanded — External Milieu
- Determinants of Calories Supplied — Internal Metabolic Efficiency
CHAPTER 5 — BECOMING YOUR OWN PERSONAL TRAINER
- What Moves You?
- Nature’s Gym and the Natural Method
- The Power Law of Strength
- (Chronic) Exercise is Overrated.
- The Power Law Workout
- PRAXIS: DIY Body by Science — N=1
CHAPTER 6 — ON ACTURE 93
- Purposeful, Nutritious Movement
- The Posture Paradox
- SAID Principle: The Most Important Idea in Functional Fitness
- PRAXIS: A Natural Method for Good Posture
§ VOLUME 2 — ELEMENTA Hormetica
CHAPTER 7 — EARTH
- The 50-Mile March
- Back to the Doctor (Again)
- Paradise Lost
- The Biomechanics of Bipedalism
- PRAXIS: Efficient Marching Technique
- Minor Earthen Elements
- Concluding Unscientific Postscript
CHAPTER 8 — AIR
- Air Bathing for Autoimmunity (and Productivity)
- PRAXIS: Air Bathing
- Breathing Techniques (are) for Dummies
- The Path to Unconscious Competence
- Hormetics of CO2 Retention and O2 Deprivation.
- PRAXIS: Breathing Tables
CHAPTER 9 — WATER
- Cold Exposure Therapy
- Good Stress, Bad Stress
- Cold Thermogenesis, Brown Fat & Energy-Wasting Weight Loss
- PRAXIS: Baby Steps, Better Breaths, and Visualization.
CHAPTER 10 — FIRE
- Good Light, Bad Light
- PRAXIS: Eliminating Blue Light
- PRAXIS: Adding Beneficial Light
§ VOLUME 3 -FUTURA Hormetica
CHAPTER 11 — VISION
- The Hypertrophied Eye
- Recovering What Has Been Lost
- PRAXIS: Tl;dr for Ending Myopia
CHAPTER 12 — HOLD FAST, PT. II
- The Complete Epigenetic Shift
- Finding Your Untapped Potential
- The Natural Method Revisited
- PRAXIS: Beyond Will to Power
- COVID-19 as Hormetic Stressor
- The Declaration of Outdoor Independence
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
APPENDIX — THE PRINCIPLES