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Wellbeing

Op-Ed: Fit(necessity)

Op-Ed: Fit(necessity)
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Newly discovered tribe in the Amazon rainforest, untouched by western civilization until now", the news anchor reports. Accompanied by pictures of men in loincloths with spears. Think about it, what is the picture in your head? They are extremely ripped, aren´t they? Why is that? And don´t give me the "they have a low-calorie diet" myth. Humans are gourmets, independent of which civilization level they are in. They have enough calories. That´s not the reason. After all, finding and hunting delicious stuff is one of their only jobs. Much like their food blogging 21st century counterparts on Instagram. Seems like it is a longstanding passion of our species to find great stuff and tell our tribe about it.

The reason these indigenous people look so buffed is simple. They are perfectly adapted to their unique environment. Which only allows for a certain diet, a certain sleep pattern, a certain exposure to sunlight, a certain exposure to exogenous shocks (i.e. fighting or fleeing), the list goes on. One could say, they are fit to live a certain way. You know where this is going… Because they live in harmony with the prerequisites of their habitat, they have good fit(ness). They have evolved to fit into this habitat. At its core, the word “fitness” is describing just that. But we have obscured the word fitness into an activity. In German people don´t go to the gym, a common idiom is “to go and do fitness”. This makes no sense. Fitness is the goal and not an end in itself.

Our intelligence and free will has enabled us to evolve out of our natural circumstances. We are the only species in the world that CHOOSES a certain diet, that CHOOSES a certain lifestyle… All other mammals HAVE a certain diet, they HAVE a certain lifestyle. Now think long and hard, why are there so many chubby house cats? Or watch this video of a woman claiming her dog is a vegetarian. I could laugh about this, but this is straight out animal abuse and this poor doggy pays the price for her ignorance.

What is the implication of this for humans today?

Fact is, we don´t have a challenging environment anymore, which keeps us fit by necessity. Stay fit or die tryin´. So how do we design an activity that tricks our body into thinking the environment is harsh and it needs to stay fit? And let´s be grateful, this is an amazing problem to have. We are just a few steps away from the next "snackening" and the only life or death situation I recently had was when the one thing I forgot to buy at Migros was the favorite Ice Cream of my pregnant girlfriend, although she had especially asked me to get it. Nasty, I´m still traumatized.

It´s striking, all the latest fitness trends evolve around this “simulating harsh environment” theme:

  • Intermittent fasting > beneficial > simulates periods of no calories, which especially men had a lot during hunting
  • High Intensity Training > beneficial > simulates fighting or running away, an intense but brief emergency
  • Cold exposure > beneficial > I bet those early huts and caves wouldn´t make the “Minergie” standard

Our bodies adapted to these circumstances over millions of years and now react in very beneficial ways when we apply these “threats” in irregular intervals. What we call keeping fit today is just giving the body a reminder of the good old times every 7 to 14 days.

You will be surprised how well this “are we evolved for this” framework holds true in all areas of our lifes. Even in learning, where immersive learning is bound to take off, because our brain recalls information based on relational emotional experiences in space. “Buddy got eaten by a crocodile at that lake, crocodiles can be found at lakes.” That is also the reason we learn languages so fast, when we live in a foreign country for a while. We play a real time 3D learning game as opposed to memorizing unrelated vocabulary and theory on grammar.

Playing into the way our biology has evolved is rewarded big time in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. - Myself

And why should efficiency matter to you? Because to do fitness training we ultimately trade in some of our (life)time to enjoy the rest of our (life)time. So be sure to not make it a zero sum game because of injury or ineffectiveness. So, if you don´t enjoy fitness training as your hobby, every unnecessary minute spend on it is a waste and could be better spend on things you do enjoy. The movie “In Time” illustrates this so impressive and makes you ponder. I´ll rewatch it this weekend.

You deserve the biggest return on investment possible. The activity you choose to keep “fit” should deliver you the highest level of strength, endurance, fat burn, feel good possible in the shortest possible time and at smallest possible risk of real danger (i.e. injury).

The Amazonian from the beginning would be highly sceptical of our machines, but hey modern problems require modern solutions, right?

Life is so rich,

Julian

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