Monday, October 27, 2014

Food for thought, thought for food, cook with love, nourish the soul....

What is the one ingredient required to make food truly nutritious? What is that one thing that make food a home cooked meal v/s a plate of food? It's love. Pure simple love, that's what makes food great.

I think a huge part of my infatuation with food as nourishment comes from my true deep respect and admiration for the proceses of giving and taking of life that goes into it. Understanding how things grow, why things grow, having planted the vegetables, having put my own blood, sweat, and tears into cultivating and harvesting these things gives me a great appreciation for what they are truly worth. Having raised livestock, mended fences, spent steaming hot days in a hayfield those things make me truly respect and appreciate what every bit of food on my plate really is, where it came from, and what sacrifices across the board had the be made to provide this nourishment. You can be assured that when I see someone throw away food, I get angry. Yes I usually clean my plate, lick the bowl after I'm done cooking, and eat more than my share when it's available, but that is because I truly respect where this food came from, what it is, and the life forces that was taken from it in order to pass that nourishment on. You see, that my friends is a healthy relationship with food, that is a healthy relationship with your soul, with your spirit, with the earth, with yourself, it's a true understanding of the ecosystem that we are a part of, not that we are above or below, but that is a part of us and we a part of it. And you can also rest assured that when I prepare a meal from this food, having this basic philosophy about what this truly is and represents that the love and respect that I pass along through the preparation will be cooked directly into the food and be transferred to those of whom I share my meal with, when people ask my the secret to making the delicious meals that I provide, I always tell them that my secret ingredient is not so secret, that it is love.....

Today's meal:
My infamous Pulled Pork:
This meal is a slow cooked bit of awesomeness that leaves the tastebuds in disbelief after the nirvana that they experience. I go back and forth with whether I prefer my pulled pork to be first cooked in the roaster in the over, or outside on the smoker, of course I prefer cooking with real fire, outdoors, the primalness that that entails and releases is in and of itself a great reason to cook that way, but I discovered this amazing trick of recooking the juices and fats back into the pork that originally melt off and it is much easier to capture all of these juices in a roaster in the over than it is oven than in the smoker, as well as requires a lot less monitoring and checking when you let this thing cook overnight. That being said if you can do it, and have the time and energy, cook this thing in the smoker, but make sure you do it in a roaster or something you can catch all the melting juices in.

Step 1 for me is to pick out a nice meat pork shoulder with a healthy portion of fat around the solid muscles, was this pork shoulder down, coat it with a yellow natural mustard (read ingredients carefully, there should be no chemicals or sugars in mustard, so don't get tricked into some brand that stuffs them in there for no good reason. Once I have the shoulder covered with mustard I turn it fat side up in the roaster and shake on a dry rub of cajun spices and turmeric to the outside and then chop up some fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme and spread it across the upper level as well. Now this fat will melt away as this cooks down, but thats the idea it spreads all these loving herbs and spices across the rest of the meat as it melts and then we are going to capture all the liquid version and reuse it to cook the home made sauce back in once we pull the pork. Now what I do next is also key, I take 4 to 6 fresh apples and clive them into 8'ths and place them all around the pork in the roaster. This fresh cooked apple and juice will really flavor the heck out of this pork.
Now I set the over at 225 and let it go until morning, usually around 8 hours before i check it, when I check it I am trying to verify the internal temperature is appropriate. Once I find out the pork is cooked to the appropriate temperature I break it out of the over and start shredding it. Grabbing it with two large oven forks works well, whatever you use it should fall apart fairly easy.  You want to shred it up to the consistency of pulled pork and keep it all waiting.

Then comes the fun part making the sauce and cooking the sauce back into the pork.
What I do for this is take all the juice that cooked off into the roaster and dump it into a large stock pot, I add some local honey or maple srup and fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, and two quarts of tomato juice. and just a kiss of apple cider vinegar. I bring this all to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally, when the simmer is going down that's when you take the now pulled pork and drop it into the simmering sauce for a few minutes and remove it, and its awesome. I do this over and over until the pork seems to be too wet from the samples. and then I trade places by dumping any excess juice back into the pot, and repeat until all the meat has had the juice cooked back into it.

I can detail out more specifics if you like, but that is the gist of it.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Natures Timing not yours/ Bug's, they ain't that bad/ it started with a garbage bag full of kale and ended up in a bone broth masterpiece that will feed me for many winter nights...

I was inspired for three hot topics (actually a few more) that i Blogposts will soon be written about, tonight I am tired so I just want to introduce you to the topics.

Natures Timing not yours/ 
This morning I woke up ready to head to the woods for the morning hours and sit with my bow relaxing and healing with nature while hoping I could get lucky enough to catch a clean shot at some delicious winter protein source, then I looked down at the large garbage bag full of Kale and peppers I had just harvested from the last garden raid of the year and realized I had pressing matters of getting this food preserved to deal with before adding more food preservation work to my plate by hunting down a deer.
I would have much rather spend the hours in the woods mind you, but I had put a lot of effort into the gardening season, and was rewarded with this late harvest, and though it may not exactly fit what I would perceive as the perfect schedule for myself, it fits natures schedule and therefor is perfect timing for what it is supposed to be. If I want to be able to enjoy these nutritional delicacies for the winter I needed to get to work now. I traded in my day in the woods for a day in the kitchen, cooking, prepping, canning and putting meals away. I still have some meat in the freezer to get me through for a while, and I have plenty of days of hunting season on the horizon.
This is just one sample of the many ways we need to learn to work with natures clock and prioritize our plans more intelligently around her to take full advantage of the bounties she has to offer.

Bug's, they ain't that bad/ 
 As I was washing the kale out of the garbage bag to add to the soup masterpiece that I was preparing I noticed a lot of caterpillars on one particular batch of kale. I began double washing that batch and picking off the little guys and adding them to my scrap bucket (food for the chickens, they will be extra happy) and thought to myself aside from the hassle of having to double check to all the greens to ensure none of the guys made it into the soup, that I should be pretty happy that the bugs were on the veggies as that's a sure sign that the pesticides were not present or that it was not genetically engineered with roundup to prevent the bugs from eating it.
Then I wondered how we got to a point where everyone is so afraid of bugs. You get more ewwww's, more jumps, more gross reactions to bugs than about any other living creature, and why? Why has this become such a taboo for us. These bugs are just living organisms that are just as vital of a part of our ecosystems as anything else. They are not more likely to contain bacteria or viruses or be harmful to us. To the contra ire they are probably more likely to clean up things before that could happen. But if we see a bug in the kitchen, gross, yuck, call the CDC shut that place down. Nevermind that their smaller counterparts that are microscopic versions of the same are all over our skin, our forks, our knives, our food, our plates. They do us no harm, are a part of everything we eat / drink every day, but if we can see these multi legged tiny creatures then yuck, disgusting, throw it all out, burn the house down. But why? Why in other cultures are bugs part of the food system? Why can't we seem to get past the disgusting reaction when we see them? Let's investigate here soon.....

it started with a garbage bag full of kale and ended up in a bone broth masterpiece that will feed me for many winter nights...
This recipe is pretty much the shit. I ended up stopping at a friends house to pick up some extra veggies that he was overflowing with prior to him pulling out his garden. I left with a garbage bag full of kale and a lot of work to do. I decided kale soup was the ticket, to be canned, and why not use bone broth. Checked the freezer and low and behold, lots of bones left, and then started gathering ginger, turmeric, garlic and chili peppers to season this bad boy up. Then out of nowhere I just happened to have this craving for lima beans. Not being as anti legume as the rest of the paleo world proclaims I thought, why not give into this desire, and add some slow carb bean goodness to this dish.
I soaked the lima beans overnight to get as much of the process kicked in, and I started cooking the beef bones and herbs down at the same time.
In the morning I added the beans to green beans, celery, onions, and some other items and let that start cooking while we were waiting for the bone broth to be just right. I then pulled all the meat off the bones and added it to a separate crockpot and set it to warm as I did not want it getting too soggy while I finished cooking the broth and other veggies.
All the fresh ingredients, including the root herbs and spices added together with a few little ticks and techniques are how I ended up with this amazing deliciousness that I will soon share the recipe in full with for you.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Importance of the Tribe

This will be a short post, that should have a long follow on that gets into the details.
What I want to discuss as I get ready to go to sleep following a long trip across the country and a visit with an old friend, is the bit of a refresh I feel after spending time with an old friend and the importance of those friendships, and overall the importance of the tribe.

We as humans like to tout and brag about our independence which is by all accounts a very important aspect of our humanity, but we are also very social creatures and have a deep seeded need for tribal communities. Fostered out of the need for survival we developed as creatures of groups that of which evolutionarily succeeded more rigorously were those that formed tighter knit groups for survival.

Today we have larger communities that we live in, but far less tight communities in general. The need for utilizing our "tribe" for survival may have been greatly lessened by the conveniences of modern living, but the emotional and spiritual connections that we need from them have not left, and are often now neglected.

Think about the few close friend you have and how you feel more whole, more connected, more spiritually full when you spend time with them. These connections may come from family and or from friends typically from those we have went through the gambit of emotions and challenges with. Those we have had good times, hard times, went through challenges and built solid connections. Having those people  around you who you can verbally and non verbally communicate with, who you have grown emotionally and spiritually with is something that is very important to having a balanced emotional and spiritual level of health.

We should have these connections with folks across generations, with elders who we have bonded with and have taught up things, and took care of us when we were young and who we take care of when they are old, with children who we pass on knowledge / skills / and love to as well as to those who we grew up with and or connect with and who we have bonded with over time.

In many ways in our modern society we drift away from this. We chase down money and career success more than we seem to work to satisfy these relationships. We view our individual needs and successes more based on what fulfills use individually than we do on what builds our relationships with our friends and family that are part of our tighter tribe.

Having those folks that we have bonded with who are willing to sacrifice of themselves to help us when we are in need is a very important aspect of our health and our survival maybe not as much from a physical standpoint as it used to be (but does still exist) but definitely from a spiritual / emotional standpoint.

We all hit challenges and struggles in our lives and when we don't have those strong community relationship connections established and in place we can not bounce back as fast because our support system is not there. For this reason we need to learn to sacrifice of ourselves and our individual wants and desires a little more often and give more time to building these relationships (even during times when we dont think we needs them), as we never know when we are going to slip and fall and have ourselves in a weak emotional / spiritual / physical state where we will need that support to survive.

Individual strength is a great thing, but is not whole without the strength of a community or tribe to help keep us strong, and something we should truly strive for.
By all means pursue your dreams and goals, just remember to make time to support the goals and dreams of your friends and family, and to work on building those relationships as well, one will rarely look back on life and regret any time that was spent helping someone else in need or being a friend to someone when they needed it.
Build your relationships, strengthen your tribe, it will only serve to make you stronger and to help you be happier / healthier and more vibrant in life.

Embrace failure

Failure is not your enemy, to the contraire, failure is a key element in the equation of finding success. If we are pursuing growth and continually striving to be the best that we can be then we buy the very nature of our food require failing quite often. If this is not the case then we are likely not pushing our limits and striving for growth. Our society has become overly upset with the concept of safety and security. When the truth is that we are never truly safe or secure. The most effective strategy in becoming safe and secure in our own selves is to increase our own abilities for a survivability. In doing so we should be increasing our strength, confidence, agility, and perseverance in the face of adversity so that we will have better hone our skills for survivability and what ever situation may arise. If we live in constant fear of failure and never push ourselves to the limits where we fell and learn from the failure, we are making ourselves weaker and decreasing our ability to bounce back when failure occurs. 

Once we had wings, could fly over mountains in the blue yonder we had a home. 

There was a time, we could all walk on water, then we saw our reflection and we sank like a stone.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Priorties (making time for picking apples)

Yesterday in the very final hours before dark I waited somewhat impatiently for my friends and their children to load up in my car, as I heard the final buckle fasten I changed into gear thinking to myself we may have just enough time. ...

Having three different options running through my mind for where to go I tried to juggle the decision for risk / reward / effort for which location would be best. Noting the few hours of daylight we had left I decided to take a risk and go with a place that was a little closer. The risk with this location was that I had not yet relieved permission and would gambling on whether or not the property owner would be home. 

See my brothers and I had picked up a new hay field from a neighbor who recently inherited a farm property and we had noticed a beautiful apple tree loaded with budding apples a few months back. We knew this tree was going to be loaded with deliciousness in a few months and were fairly certain this young family had no intentions on picking them. I was heading out of town the flowing day right before a cold front was heading in, and apples were just past peak ripeness and were starting to fall heavily, this was likely the last chance of this season to really get into them. 

Not that they would truly be going waste if I didn't get them, no they would go to the ground, the deer and birds would feast on the sugar to put on some fat for the winter or they would rot, providing nutrients back to the earth below to help the grass and trees grow for the following year, but it sure still seemed wasteful to let a tree so full of deliciousness go to waste. 

A short drive later I passed the tree and pointed it out to everyone on the road down to the farm owners house. It looked really full and I was pretty much dedicated to picking that day whether we received permission or not, fortunately as I drove down the hill "eureka" there were cars in the driveway and children playing on scooters and bicycles through a cone built obstacle course in the driveway. 

I parked at the end of the drive and approached the young couple walking past their daughter and her friend on their respective wheeled transportation mechanisms. I reintroduced myself to the gentlemen and asked him what his plans were for his apples. We waived his hand in an upward  motion and declared "have at em, they are all yours." His wife joked of the obstacle course as I replied thank you, I'll bring you some of whatever yummies we make out of them. He smiled and I returned to my car quickly as we had not much time to spare. 

We parked at the edge of the field and road and began to walk through high ankle high pasture approaching the apple tree and to my delight I noticed all the walnuts that we were walking over "double score". I left a basket there and instructed the young ones to begin loading up I walnuts as I assessed our best options for the apple collection that was about to ensue. 

Being about a week late from peak ripeness the majority of the low hangers had fallen and I'm sure a few passer by's had stopped to collect the low hanging fruit.  we started to gather some of the low hangers and my friend began I shake the tree to get some down, and they sure did fall. I calmly explained to him the danger with this method and the bruising and we both took turns climbing the tree to different branches and tossed the apples down to waiting receivers below. 

My friend placed her 1 year old child (birthday the following day) on a blanket still in the shade but in a spot fairly safe from falling apples and handed him an apple she had taken a bite out of. The smilling happy baby was in all his glory sucking on and attempting to bite into this nature given deliciousness. I'm sure by this point each of us had our fair share of bite in on our own pickings and very uber delighted at our luck of this being a honey crisp tree. 

Once we had collected all the low hangers and did our best of team work foraging that which we could climb to we realized e bulk of what we wanted to get from here forward was going to require a different strategy, a light bulb went off and prior to racing off to go switch the Subaru in for the jeep that was parked at the farm just a mile away I suggested everyone resume picking the walnuts until I returned.

I rushed back to the farm swapped cars and pulled the jeep into the cow field where I hooked up the trailer and began to load the ladder. My brother walking across the field had already put two and two together and knew what I was up to so came over to help me load the ladder. I scuddled back to find a basket full of walnuts and a laughing and smiling family awaiting, I was in the process or parking the jeep where the Subaru previously was parked as I had another lightbulb moment and said "it's a jeep fool, utilize it" 

I drove through the field parking directly beneath the tree and climbed upon my jeep making picking cake work. We gatherer and foraged and strategized at times forming chains of pickers, catchers, and baggers. 

We bustled about for a while filling baskets as we could until we made it to the point we would need the ladder. We struggled to find spots for the ladder and realized darkness was sneaking up on us so I decided we were finished and loaded the ladder pack up, left my friends to finish up as I went to switch cars back ( no back seats in the jeep) I hustled back to swap cars came back to pickup my friends, we loaded up the car, and our day was almost complete. 

Upon dropping them off and they offered to sort through any bad apples and divvy then up by the time I returned to town a few days later. I went up very itchy and hungry and tired still needing to pack and prepare to wake up at 330 and head to the airport. 

When I woke up still itching and tired from such a busy day followed by such a busy evening of apple picking hustling to the airport and now sit awaiting take off. Going through my mind a lot of things but at the very forefront of my thoughts is an ongoing theme, of all the things we don't have time for, "we would all be better served to find more time to pick apples."

Notes for edits (yes we could have bought a bushel of apples for $35, but if you think this was just about eating apples you miss the point)

(As we typically access priorities in life the silly event of picking apples would typically get pushed to the back burner, but after forcing ourselves to squeeze it in we created an event and memories that we will always look back upon and cherish compared to all of those more important events that   We probably already forgot)

Amidst the mindfulness takeover of this event nature and instincts take over, you find your hands and feet working together, your balance automatically adjusts itself, you don't have to force yourself to think, your mind and body just start working together)

(Those working with you, your tribe if you will, as you progress through all start getting on the same wavelength, you start anticipating the others movements and thoughts, the process automatically becomes more efficient as you let nature take over)

(The wrk that went into picking the apples not only made you appreciate the apples And the act of harvesting, but also makes you start to appreciate and seek to understand the seasons and stire and growth cycles more deeply, it's the taking and giving of life that is life that we are far to removed from typically, and our souls thrive when we re introduce them to what  are truly natural situations and environments)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Perhaps we better start at the beginning....

Get away from me with this caveman crazy talk, there is no way this stuff is healthy, you have to eat bread, bread is the main food of life, don’t you know. How can you survive and be healthy eating all of that meat?  I mean really you are killing yourself.
Those are all things I heard, and still hear on occasion as I embarked upon this Paleo Journey, I was out casted by many, called crazy, and yet I did it anyways because it made sense.
And as I saw results in weeks, amazing results in months, and my life was completely transformed within a year I realized that this was a lifestyle change that I was not going to give up. But yet I still had naysayers telling me that I was killing myself, that this wasn't healthy, that consuming all of that saturated fat and red meat was going to be the death of me, when I came back with Chemistry Panel Results and vast improvements in my cholesterol numbers I still had people telling me it was a fluke. But I have seen these results with my own eyes on countless others that have tried, I am not telling you that you are going to see the same, I am challenging you to give yourself a chance to see how good you can look and feel if you challenge yourself to embrace and build a healthy relationship with real food.

Fast forward a couple of years and there were some struggled and adaptations but I am still living the dream, I do not feel that I sacrifice anything, and more so that others sacrifice their health for short sugar buzzes or the convenience of picking up food like substances.


When I left the farm and headed off to a professional career my health quickly began to deteriorate. I put on 30lbs in my first few months at a desk job and knew something had to change. I tried to eat the prescribed low fat and whole grains healthy diet, but i seemed the more of this diet I implemented, the sicker that I became.

I was plagued with Allergy/sinus issues throughout the year that would typically lead to  antibiotics for infections at least twice a year. My digestive track was a mess, my blood pressure danced on the high borderline and I was likely on the fast track to diabetes.

After stumbling upon and implementing the Paleo diet’s basic principles I began to see MAJOR results in weeks. I lost 30lbs in the first month and 45 in the first 2 months. Within a few weeks my digestive problems were gone, and following the loaves of bread I tossed out the back door went my lifelong battles with allergies and sinusitis. I began to feel amazing with a constant state of energy that just made me feel as  I wanted to run and play as a child.

Along with the diet I implemented the paleo exercise and lifestyle principles as well. The combination has lead to amazing results. At 33 years old I am stronger, faster, and more agile than I have ever been. The myth of slowing down because you get older is just that. With a proper diet of real foods you to can unleash your inner animal and reverse years of damage. My only regret is not finding this out sooner.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

August Challenge - You are a priority

August Challenge, Make You a Priority:

Focus ON YOU, your body, your health.


No Booze: Zero, Zilch, None, Nada, if you can't go a month without booze you have a problem, commit to it, make it happen, it will make drinking in September more fun, do it.

No Complaining: When you catch yourself thinking about how something sucks, why something should be different,
why something is someone else's fault, etc SHUT THE F*$k UP, your life is better than a whole lot of peoples, and things aren't always perfect, but bitching doesn't help, if you want something to be different or better, don't complain about it change it.

Help Somebody:  Everyday, do something good for someone else, make sure you journal this

Sleep:   Sleep is important, sleep in total darkness, no electronics, no nightlight, at least 7 hours a night in pitch black, if your laying in bed and resting and can't fall asleep that counts, as long as the room is pitch black and you're trying.

Fat Fast: 1 Day a week for 24 hours dont eat, you can have (Grass fed butter coconut oil MCT or heavy whipping cream with coffee or tea) but that is it on fast days (if you are going to break, raw veggies, some nuts or seeds, but nothing else and only if you are going to break otherwise, we are fighting for mental toughness here)

Diet / Exercise:   Set your goals, make them personal, list them out, make them realistic, stick to them, post them in the comments, we will hold you accountable, P.S. Eat your veggies

Be Outside: Spend at least 1 hour a day in nature, if you can't get that hour in each day thats fine, 2 hours the next, just make sure by the end of the week you spend 7 hours outside.

Walk:  At a slow space walk 10 miles a week, this can (and should) be hiking, which doubles as your outside hour, but either way.

Meditate: Spend 30 minutes each day with yourself and your thoughts in silence, watch a sunset, watch a sunrise, just be alone and think, or better don't think, but make this you time. (You can listen to music with no words, otherwise stay in silence or the sound of nature).

Personal Goals:  Dont forget to list them, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely

DON'T LIE: You are only cheating yourself if you do, when you break, admit it, write down why, set yourself a punishment, and try harder, learn from your mistake, do better.

Journal:  Everyday write down how you feel, what you did, what you didn't do, what was hard, what was easy, etc. Take good notes, collect your thoughts.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Growing the whole person

Growing the whole person: when you plant a free and it grows you see the trunk, the benches, the leaves, and we often try and gauge the health and vitality of that tree by it's fruit production. These are all very important parts of that trees health, but what we don't see is what's happening underground and inside. There are root digging  deep into the soil, finding nutrients, building relationships with other organisms and building the foundation from which the rest of the tree can stabilize and grow itself. Like the tree or any plant when growing ourselves as humans we often focus on the outside beauty as a measure of health. We want to lose fat, grow muscles and give off an image of health, but we too often overlook the insides of our digestive systems, our immune systems, etc that all have equally if not more important contributors to health that build the support system that our outside bodies reed to support itself. But buying that we also have our own roots that we must cultivate. We must cultivate our soul and our spirituality to build that support system for our outside body. This included our connections through relationships with other humans, with nature with our greater purpose, with our wonder. If we don't focus on growing this part of ourselves while we over focus on the external parts we could end up with an atificially inflated body that gives off an image of health that isn't really there. We could easily end up like a tree that grows tall and produces so much fruit that it eventually collapses from the weight of it's own fruit as the underlying root system has not become strong enough to to support this external growth. 

Perhaps we would all benefit from spending more time focusing on growing our invisible infrastructure so that we grow ourselves strong enough to support ourselves during storms and harsh conditions and do not collapse from our own weight.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The importance of human contact (a.k.a. hugs are paleo)

As humans, or as any other animal interaction and contact with fellow species mates are a very important aspect of life. Anyone who has raised any animals or studied animals in the wild can attest for the play activities, to huddling together in the cold, the wrestling, the fighting, the protecting, that all takes part of a natural animal lifespan. An animal that is denied these basic things and kept away from other members of their species seems to not be as fulfilled and when they do see another of their species they quickly seem out to join this completely instinctually, think dogs at the dog park. That's because human contact is such a vital part of survival and individuals growth.

The fact is as much as we try to proclaim independence we are all dependent on one another. We need other humans as part of our life the same way any other animal needs other animal presence and interaction as part of theirs.

 Ive read stories recently about a little boy who sang to his sister in the womb and when she was born with some problems and the doctors thought she wouldn't make it the boy was allowed to go sing to her which kickstarted a healing process that no medical doctor could explain and that shocked everyone. And I believe most of us are well aware of healing power of a mothers touch or the emotional bond of a brothers (or sisters) hug. These are things we inherently know whether science can quite explain them or not (not that I dont think they are truly biological not mystical, though we could claim all biology has some mysticism) but mainly that they are areas of science we have not come to understand in depth enough.

The fact of the matter remains that we were born for human interaction. It's no mistake or random occurrence that our arms form the perfect shape for embracing another, or that the warmth of a hug seems to touch our hearts in a way we can explain and automatically make us a feel a little better no matter what the circumstance. It is an instinctual mechanism to reach out a hand for contact when we see someone suffering because we know this subconsciously and instinctually.

 From a personal perspective I am way to all aware of this recently. I can not account for the times that I felt downtrodden or defeated and needed a pick me up. Going back to my mothers was always the answer, a mothers embrace and love was something that could heal my anytime from whatever was effecting me. From being sad or depressed, or from being sick, I full heartedly believe that it should be prescribed more than any medicine out there for it's healing properties. Having lost my mother last year I can also tell you how hard it is to not have that to go back to when I hit these low points. I think way to often we overlook the power of this basic human contact and how maybe it is what keeps those of us who don't fall of the deep-end from falling when we are on the edge. I can also recall a time when I was living away from home for the first time, in a new place homesick and lonely hanging with new friends and we had decided to road trip. At one point I recall one of these guys laying across my legs as he talked to somebody else and I recall this sense of connection that was felt that kind of eased my homesickness.

 In our society today we have taboo'd everything by demonizing human touch to always mean something sexual and perverted through our fear of stories in the media and through marketing campaigns that sexualize everything. We have a created this monster that has everyone confused, disoriented, and afraid of contact. A simple pat on the back, or placement of a hand on anthers knee during a conversation which in times past or even in other societies today was simply a natural instinct to imply concentration and understanding / listening / communicating effectively now can be construed as sexual harassment. We are suspending grade school kids of hugging classmates or kissing each other on the cheek.

We are demonizing human contact to the point that we have built up this monstrosity of confusion that leaves us all unsure of how to interact with one another. This creates this barren spot inside of us that is typically filled with some form of energy and emotional / spiritual connection from this contact. I full heartedly believe this has a lot to do with why we have created such strange perversions with sexuality when human contact does occur because we have have taboo'd contact so much that we think it has to have some evil connotation to occur. I once worked with an older vietnamese gentlemen who told me how his best friend from school had came to visit him and how they were walking down the city street here in America holding hands like they would do in his country. Nothing sexual denoted by this, just friends sharing human contact the way nature intended. But our society had people looking at them strangely, thinking perverted thoughts about there sexual relations and demonizing them for the simple act of holding hands.

Where and how did we get so lost? Perhaps if we embraced human contact a bit more, found way to make it more a part of our everyday lives we would start to understand better that deeper connection that we all share and we would bring back a sense of community that seems to be broken amongst ourselves. Perhaps if we spent a little less time trying to get ahead of our neighbors or compete with them on who can have the biggest car, or biggest television, and more time embracing and interacting with them we might begin to see our own and collective souls starting to shine a bit more. Perhaps it's time we quit demonizing human touch to the point that we leave ourselves so confused about what is appropriate and what is not, and we wouldn't have to think about what owe are supposed to do so much, and rather we could follow our instincts and do what we need to do, which is much more in line with what will help us heal.

 It's been a while since I mustered up the thoughts together for a full post so I thought I should make this a good one. It's a topic I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about and that lately I am finding very true for my own personal struggles. Addressing the importance of human contact is something we might not typically think of when talking Paleo, but a friend recently brought up the topic that hugs are paleo, and I could not agree more.

 P.S. I will rewrite this later as this was just a quick shoot from the hip rant, but one that I think really hits on something that we all need to consider. Hug a friend, hug a stranger, do this regularly and see if your life doesn't seem to change for the better. (Make sure the stranger is cool with it first, we dont need any assault charges).

Friday, May 9, 2014

cultivating your relationship with food... (Guest Post: Steve Miller)

In our fad diet, beach body crazed culture we often lose sight of whats really important. We often view food as the enemy, we proclaim portion control is key, food is looked at as a necessary evil that we must limit ourselves from over indulging in because our hunger instincts are the enemy. This leads to the quit weight loss, quick weight regain, unhealthy in all regards lifestyle that we have (as a society) become accustomed to.

Amidst this we lost the mental connection with one very important fact, "food is nourishment". Food is something that has customarily been embraced and cherished throughout history. Almost all cultures host harvest festivals and celebrate when food is abundant (as it was typically seasonal). But we have made pseudo food ultra convenient and nutritionally void in our me, me, me, now, now, now, quick fix society.  Our obsession with quick and easy on the go has lead us to an industrial food system that creates toxic products that are nutritionally void and stuffs them to us in mass quantities. Addictive sugars are used to help soothe our taste buds and make us crave more, and our bodies also naturally crave more food searching for the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are missing from this cheap processed junk. 

This does not cultivate a healthy relationship with food. This relationship is downright psychotic and abusive. We curse it, we beat it, we hate it, and then we obsess over it and binge, all while being told it's genetics for why we are unhealthy. Truth be told your body is a genetic marvel honed over millennia of evolution to survive in a natural world. The problem with that now being that our food system, and the relationship we have with food is not natural. In order to return to health we do not need to diet, we should not seek out a quick fix solution and then go back to this abusive relationship, instead we should explore, understand, appreciate, respect, and cultivate a healthy relationship with food.

This is a guest post from my inspirational friend Steve Miller regarding his journey to defining his relationship with food.

I was asked to take the time to share my health/fitness journey and my relationship with food. Starting my freshman year in high school I was bigger and heavier than most kids. I didn't lift weights, exercise to be fit or follow any diets. I played! A lot! I played soccer, basket ball, skateboarded, snowboarded, motocross, hunted, fished and even ran some just to hangout with friends. I was able to keep up with all my friends so why worry about my weight.   My junior year in high school I had a snowboard accident and tore my left knee up. Then the summer before my senior year I had a motocross accident that tore my right knee up. Ended up having surgery. After hearing multiple doctors tell me that my weight needed to come down a good 40+ pounds to save the wear on my damaged knees, I decided it was time to change some things. I had no idea what to do.  My friends and I would just go to random gyms a couple times a year and do what everyone else did. I knew sweets and soda had to go but never really changed anything else. I mostly ate big home cooked carb loaded meals or fast food! I always measured my success on how much weight lost. In a 2-3 month stretch of time I could lose between 15-40 pounds pretty regularly but always put it back on. From the time I was 18 till I was 25 I stayed in that same rut.  

In the beginning of 2013 decided I wanted to try crossfit. New gyms were popping up in the area and I passed one everyday on the way to work. I was interested but I felt too out of shape. I decided I was going to do my normal and drop 30-40 pounds and then give crossfit a try. So I starved myself and did the normal lifting and cardio routine and lost 50 pounds! I knew I wouldn't keep it off due to my past failures. I hit a wall. I was actually starting to gain the weight back two weeks. 

Finally I built up the courage to stop at the crossfit gym in late April of 2013. Just so happened the week I signed up they started a paleo diet challenge. I had never heard of the paleo diet before. I loved the first couple workouts I had done at the gym. I figured what the heck. I'll give paleo a try also. In 30 days I dropped 20 pounds. I was impressed! I had went from 292 pounds to 238 pounds cumulative at that point. I started back to eating the way I was for the most part after the challenge though. Socially it was just easier and I stayed right around 240 pounds so I became content. Then my life took a bit of a turn. I started having marital issues. I turned to food.  

From September to mid December I put 42 pounds back on. I was disgusted! I was ashamed and almost quit crossfit completely. One day I walked into the gym after realizing that my marriage was done and I had all but given hit me. I wasn't afraid to put in the work. I wasn't afraid to change the way I ate. My problem was that I never really let any of it become a part of me. I never let it become a life style. I never tried to build a healthy relationship with food. I always used food as a way to feel good. I immediately started researching paleo and soon realized that it wasn't a diet. It was a way I could live a healthy life. I realized that crossfit and paleo were not just ways to look good or meet superficial goals. Jointly, they were my escape from the prison of doubt, fear, and self pity I had kept myself in.  

It is now May of 2014. I am the strongest, fastest, and healthiest(not to mention lightest) I have ever been. I no longer just step on the scale to measure my success. My relationship with food is always going to be a on going battle because of what is socially acceptable and the fact that I like to eat!! The good news is that now I have the tools and community I need to continue reaching my goals. At the end of the day the one thing I have to remind myself of is that life is never going to get easier. I just simply have to get better and have fun doing it!