My friend Andrew, who is a personal trainer, made an offhand comment at a wedding a couple of weeks ago that got me thinking. He said, “Everything we do, it’s all about re-creating a pre-historical lifestyle that our bodies recognize.”
He was talking about his work in the gym getting people fit and muscular, but it really rung true for me, and for weight management.
I regularly say things here that I base on evolutionary principles – how our bodies were designed to work over thousands of years of evolution. Millions even. What we live in now is so completely different from what our bodies are built for that we have an obesity epidemic. What our bodies expect is constant work and scarce food.
Think about cave men – if they wanted to eat they had to work. Hunting, gathering, farming – these are not sedentary activities! And sometimes, even all that work didn’t result in much food at all. We’re all running around in machines designed to walk for days and live off of leaves and berries with occasional protein, but we’re now able to fuel them with unlimited processed sugar and fat, and sit while we travel! It’s a wonder there are people who aren’t overweight in this environment.
Unfortunately, recreating a pre-historic lifestyle isn’t straightforward in modern society. I work a desk job, you may as well. The most “work” I do for 8 hours a day is walking down the hall to the coffee machine. So what I need to make a priority is finding ways to work hard in the limited time I have for it, and limiting what I eat to what my body recognizes as food – plant-based matter and clean eating.
It’s interesting to note that the goal of all our human endeavors is to allow us to NOT work. Industrialization and automation are on-going human efforts to make machines do work that we would otherwise have to. And now, upon attaining maximum leisure time, we have to make up ways to force our bodies to do the work they expect and require.
Work your body hard, under-fuel it on occasion. That’s what it’s designed for.