Seeds of Hope

“None of us are free of the grief of disconnection to place, to storied food, and to the land.”

Earlier this week, I got to attend the premiere of the documentary Seeds of Hope. It’s about a unique partnership between a local seed company- Hudson Valley Seed Company, a local farm- Hudson Valley Farm Hub & the Mohawk tribe. Once indigenous to this very area, they’ve been pushed into a 6 mile x 6 mile patch of land near the Canadian border where their traditional varieties of corn, beans and squash simply don’t grow as well. The film was a powerful & emotional story of healing and reconciliation as some of these varieties were saved from the brink of extinction. The Mohawk Red corn featured in the photograph was down to TWO existing ears- in the world. The Mohawk trusted their sacred seeds to farmers and growers at the Farm Hub and HV Seed Co, and the Native American Seed Sanctuary was born. Last season, over 800 POUNDS of Mohawk Red corn was grown here, ensuring the future of this traditional variety and providing a traditional food for the Mohawk to use for in cultural preservation & ceremony. 

There was an incredible turn out for the film and following the screening, there was a Q&A with one of the farmers and some folks from the Mohawk tribe in Akwesasne. Something very powerful & intimate happened in that room. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room as one of the elders spoke about his distrust & suspicion of white people being healed (to a degree) by the respect our local farmers showed for not only their sacred seeds- but the songs and stories that are entwined with them. We all cried together for ancestors that hurt each other and were hurt by each other, but you could also feel the silent agreement that was made to forgive and heal- not just in our relationships with other humans- but with the plants and the earth as well. The Original Agreement was between ALL humans with the rest of Creation. 

Rowan White of the Indigenous Seedkeepers Network shared a moving story of driving through Nebraska one spring and looking out on miles of fields of sprouting corn plants. An indigenous woman, she was filled with hope & joy to see the baby plants of the Corn Mother and began to sing the corn & seed songs. Then she remembered these were Monsanto corn plants and felt the futility of singing to these disconnected corn plants. It was then that she realized what her grandmother meant when she said that Corn was a reflection of the People: when Corn flourished, they flourished. But the fields of Monsanto corn also represent the state of the people: disconnected from their place in the Nature. We're all suffering this feeling of disconnection from the land, from a sense of place. We try to fill the void with material things, excessive busyness or thousands of social media followers, but just like that GMO corn; that life is heavy on calories, but light on actual nutrients- substance. 

In my practice, I work with a lot of people who are working to eat better. They struggle with their weight and making time to prepare and eat whole foods. I wonder how many of them are actually struggling with this disconnection to place & storied food and are overeating or feel enslaved by cravings to junk food because what they are really craving is belonging & connection. It's not that far-fetched an idea when you consider 'comfort food' and how many of us have deep emotional memories tied to certain foods- Grandma's fruit cake recipe, a beloved aunt's signature cookies. We often cook for people as a sign of love and care, bring them food in times of need. Why wouldn't food also be able to give us a sense of place, ground us and connect us with nature? Isn't eating after all, an intimate act of taking plants and animals into our own bodies and making their bodies a part of ours? If we all incorporated more native, wild and local foods into our diet would it begin to erase our cultural amnesia about where we come from and helps us reconcile with our Mother, Earth? 

The Way of the Hunt

I watch Orion appear in the deep twilight sky as the sun sets on the beginning of this journey. I have not asked if this was intentional with the New Moon or not- but it doesn't matter. It has meaning to me. In the dark, in the depths, is where the seeds of all future harvests are planted. 

My intention for this journey is to reconnect. 

With my deeper, primal human nature.  With the secret, yet unbroken lineage of human hunters who have roamed, stalked, and killed; who have eaten and lived- live still inside of me- inside my DNA. 

With the land that I love. To become native to my place, entwined as new satiated lovers, holding each other so close, borders and boundaries grow fuzzy and fade.

With the other beings of this Earth. To take in my body the body of another- a daily Eucharist to express my devotion and admiration. To let those molecules become me, integrate with my own for time- until the end of my journey when together they flow back into that great River of Life. 

As I step out in the frigid pre-dawn morning, Orion once again presides over the Sacred Hunt, just as he has for human and non-human hunters alike, since the dawn of time. 

Natural Movement® Fitness Weekly Workout

Hey everyone! After some traveling and some technical SNAFUs, I'm back with this week's workout (though I'll probably have to skip next week because LEVEL 3 Y'ALL!!!!). 

Warm-up: I forgot to film one, but anytime you need a warm-up, breathing practice and 5-10 minutes of ground flow movement are great! In fact, it's a good challenge for ya to see if you can come up with your own ground flow this week- see how much of the stuff you learned in a workshop or certification you still remember! 

Emphasis: Foot pinch to hook traverse to Leg swings 1x each side, eccentric roll-up, balanced split squats for 10 feet, pivot reverse to balanced lateral shuffle to depth jump, side swing traverse 2x, vertical foot pinch hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 3-4x. 

Combo: Sandbag cleans 5x, foot-hand crawl 20 feet, side-swing traverse 8 feet, forward balanced walk 10 feet, upward jump 5x. Repeat 3x. 

Don't be afraid to be the oldest kid at the playground! 

Send me good vibes next week at Level 3! I'll put some videos on Instagram if I can remember (I might be focusing too much!) 

Natural Movement® Fitness Weekly Workout

Warm-up: Diaphragmatic Breaths 5x, Supine roll 2x, Thoracic extension with scanning to each side, Rotational rocking 1x each direction, Side bent sit reverse to shin box to tall half kneeling, 1x/per side, side to side kneeling 3x each direction, side half kneeling with reach 2x each side, figure 4 get up 1x/each side, cross squat get up

Emphasis: Strength get-up 1/3 BW: balanced forward walk with shoulder carry: weighted tripod vault: balanced forward walk with shoulder carry: strength get down. Repeat with weight on other shoulder. This is one set. Complete 3 sets. 

Combo: Inverted row from foot pinch: triangle hang: split landing:balanced split squat: balanced squat pivot: deep knee bend balanced lateral shuffle: balanced squat pivot: balanced foot-hand crawl to squat: SMILE! Repeat 4x. 

Natural Movement® Fitness Weekly Workout

This was a fun one! It is a bit advanced though, so feel free to modify where need to work at your level! 

Warm-up: diaphragmatic breathing 5x, weighted front rocking 5x, half backward sprawl 3x/side, tripod transitions 3x/side, bent sit with reaching to side bent sit, cross squat get-up

Emphasis: assisted pull-up to forearm hanging (focus on dynamic movement) 2x, push press 10x, forward jump to target/precision land 5x. Repeat 3-4x 

Combo: Front hang to foot pinch to forearm leg swing up to tripod transition to balanced deep knee bend to depth jump to slap landing to forward rool. 

Natural Movement® Fitness Weekly Workout

My apologies for being a little behind getting the weekly workout posted. It's been a busy week and I've been trying to make the most of some opportunities to do a bit of foraging. Oyster mushrooms are in abundance locally and you don't want to delay on harvesting them if you can, otherwise they get too buggy. (You can see a photo of the flush on IG!). I'm also still working on integrating all the useful information I gathered during the Wildcrafted Healing workshop with Arthur Haines this past weekend in Maine. What a wonderful experience to hike barefoot through the Maine forest and be present for the copious knowledge Arthur has to share! While gathering oyster mushrooms, I also harvested boneset, self-heal, purple loosestrife, witch hazel and some staghorn sumac to make into medicine (photo on IG!), all of which I learned more about in Arthur's workshop. I shared some of the many uses and benefits of self-heal in IG stories the other day and will be recapping this in the upcoming full moon edition of the newsletter, so make sure you are signed up! 

On my way to the workshop, I got to stop in and visit my dear friend Abby Clark. It was really nourishing to spend some time visiting with her while she is here in the Northeast for bit, help her film a great tutorial on balance that will be available on the Girls Gone Strong blog and go deep in conversation about natural movement, being strong and nurturing our femininity. Abby is a great conduit for those conversations and if you enjoy them too, I would highly recommend checking out her Strong by Nature Women's Retreat in Portland, OR September 15-17, 2017. I was so engrossed in being present for this, I didn't post workout last week. #sorrynotsorry. Sometimes you just got a live your life, be in the moment, you know?

So without further ado, here's this week's workout:

Warm-up: diaphragmatic breathing 5x, front rocking 5x, side bent sit reverses, with reaching 5x, side kneeling with reaching, controlled side to side kneeling. 

Emphasis: clean to front squat 5x (1/3- 1/2 bodyweight), hip hinge to forward balanced walking with waist carry 10 feet, cross reverse, press to forward balanced walking with overhead carry, upward jump focus on soft/quiet landing 5x. Repeat 3-4x 

Combo: Forward foot pinch 3x, to under bar rows 5x, forward jump to precision landing 4-6 feet, 5x, deep squat to backward sprawl 5x. Repeat 4x. 

A note on progression: try to do your foot pinch as statically as possible, that is, not using bodyweight transfer or swinging to bring your feet up. This will help strengthen your lower and deep core muscles- very important for many things, but especially if you are working towards a roll-up! 

Natural Movement® Fitness Weekly Workout

This week's workout was a fun one to shoot! I met up with Dr. Phil Lombardo of the New Jersey Center for Physical Therapy to play in the woods a bit. Phil and I met a few weeks ago and have become fast friends over our shared enthusiasm for MovNat® and its potential as a rehabilitation method for our patients. In fact, we have conspired to host a MovNat® Elements 1-day workshop at his physical therapy clinic in Riverdale, NJ. This is going to be a great workshop, especially for anyone who is interested in MovNat® but is dealing with an injury or condition that they fear might prohibit them. Both Phil and I are doctors- professionals specializing in rehabilitating injuries! The movement skills taught in any Elements workshop are the foundational skills of MovNat®. However, injuries or degeneration can make even these natural human movements more difficult for some. Drawing on our clinical experience and expertise, we will have modifications and progressions to offer to help you achieve these foundational movement skills. For more information or too sign up, head over to .

And now for this week's workout! Thank you for those who have provided feedback that you like these workouts and are using them! Please comment below if there is something more we can help you with! 

Warm-up: Diaphramatic breathing, Side Bent Side Reverses, with reaching 5x/side 

Emphasis: Side Swing Traverse 5 hand lift-offs, Forward0facing Foot pinch 3x (try to you as little swing as possible), Hook Traverse, Downward Jump. Repeat 3-4x

Combo: Foot pinch rows 5x, inverted crawl 40ft., upward jump 5x, foot-hand crawl 40ft. Repeat 4-5x.


Natural Movement® Fitness Weekly (Wild) Workout

Hey tribe! Thanks for checking out this next installment of the weekly workout. This week, we're getting a little wild, with the workout taking place in a completely natural environment. You certainly don't have to do it this way, but the goal is to give you an idea of how you can create and construct a workout without any equipment, just making use of what's around you. (Also see the post 7 Tips for Creating your Wild Workout.)

The video doesn't include a warm-up, but don't forget to do that! Some breathing, a bit of a ground flow through some various seated postures and a few get-up variations are a great way to limber up, get the blood circulating and prepare your brain for placing attention and awareness on your movement. 

Emphasis: Log clean and press to overhead position, balanced overhead squats 5x, log shoulder carry balanced forward walk- 15 ft., loaded tripod vault 5x/each side, loaded overhead squat 5x. Repeat for 3-4 sets. 

Combo: upward jump on to log 5x, balanced crawl across log 15 ft., balanced tripod transition 1x/side, downward jump, push-pull crawl for 10 ft., foot-hand crawl 20 ft.


7 Tips for Creating your Wild Workout

One of the more alluring things about MovNat® for many people is that primitive and primal feeling of getting fit without the gym and all the trappings of modern fitness. Simple and uncluttered, it moves something deep inside of us that craves connection with our physical bodies and with the natural world around us. It is a bit of deja vu as well- a remembrance of the way humans use to live and lived from much of our history. It is the siren song of our highest potential and of our wildness.

A common struggle for those new to Natural Movement® though can be where exactly to find places to do such a workout in nature. The more you play and practice the skills, the more you will begin to see the opportunities all around you. In the meantime though, while you develop your vision for appropriate natural playgrounds, here's a couple of tips for how to start training your brain to see the workout through the trees. 

  1. Make sure its land that you have legal access too. It's not cool to invade private property. 
  2. If you are in a forest environment, look for an open understory so that you don't have worry about accidentally crawling through poison ivy or another dangerous plant. 
  3. Before beginning any workouts, check the area for an potential hazards- safety first! Make sure there are no pokey branches at eye level, broken glass from someones year's ago party or poisonous plants about! Though its important to practice mindfulness and awareness during your workout, checking the area for these hazards beforehand will allow you to direct your mindfulness toward you movement instead of objective hazards around you. 
  4. Look for a fallen log- there are tons of things to do with sufficiently sized downed log! Balance on it, jump on or off of it, tripod transitions, vault over it, crawl on or under it. A log is a whole workout in and of itself.
  5. Look for rocks and smaller logs to play with. These can by lifted, carried, thrown in a variety of ways. You can also use them to practice weighted variations of get ups. Try doing a cross-squat get-up or strength get up while holding a rock to your chest or a log over your shoulder. Rocks that are too big to lift or large boulders can be great to practice jumping skills!
  6. Keep your eyes peeled for long straight(ish) branches about head height or just a little taller for practicing climbing skills. They are rare find, but they are out there. In the Northeast where I live, I find maples to be the best bet for finding good climbing branches. 
  7. Don't forget to practice Leave No Trace. Take everything with you when you leave a place, including all garbage and potential litter. It's also a wonderful idea and highly recommended to have a little gratitude practice toward the trees and the woods. Make as simply or elaborate as you like, but expressing gratitude will help reinforce your connection with nature- one of the things that probably inspired you to get out into the woods and move in the first place. 

Are you inspired to take your movement training out in to nature??? We'd love to see how you express your movement practice in the wild! Share a video on IG and use the hashtags #movnattribe and #wildhumanworkout to inspire others!

Natural Movement® Fitness Weekly Workout

Here is this week's Natural Movement® Fitness weekly workout. Please feel to share what you think the comments below. Was it helpful? Your comments can help us make better videos and workouts in the future!

Warm-up: 5 cycles of supine diaphragmatic breathing, 5x front rocking, 5x side bent sit reverses, 3x/side tripod transition

Emphasis: loaded hip hinge 8x, forward jump 5x, loaded strength get-up 2x/side (or cross squat get up 5x). This is one 'set.' Complete 3-4 sets. 

Combo: hip hinge 10x, forward and backward balanced carry- 32ft (chest carry is easier, for more difficulty, press and carry over head), foot-hand crawl 16ft, tripod transition and inverted crawl back the length. Complete this entire combo 3-5x. 

Why Natural Movement?

We define Natural Movement as those foundational movements that all humans are innately capable of. Walking and running of course, but also crawling, jumping, balancing, throwing, catching, carrying, and lifting. But if we are all innately capable of such movement skills, why practice them? Shouldn't we all be able to do them? 

As children, before we are sent off to school to sit for hours a day without moving in chairs, this was simply the way we moved. Had we been permitted to continue to move like this through our lives, we would have grown to be skilled and skillful movers simply by engaging in the activities that kept us alive. There was no need to schedule a sprint workout- it just happened on the occasion that an individual needed to flee danger. We didn't have to work on our deep squat; years of foraging for food would have insured that we never lost our ability to squat in the first place. 

In modern culture though, with deconditioned bodies best adapted for hours of chair sitting, this is no longer the case. We no longer need to move to survive. And yet, moving is intimately tied to our health. So we must struggle to make time in our busy lives to exercise. If you struggle to make time to "exercise,'' this is not a personal failing, but a rather a cultural one. Movement and survival were never supposed to be uncoupled.  

Since we no longer live in natural environments, we've created artificial movement in artificial environments in a misguided attempt to reforge the bond between movement and health. We may no longer need to sprint away from being attacked by a wild animal, instead we spend hours on a treadmill, vainly trying to out run a heart attack. 

There is the usual argument that training Natural Movement develops multi-planar, more complex movement. This leads to greater joint stability and mobility. But that's a rather clinical perspective. While it appeals to logic, it does not appeal to the heart of the matter. No one wakes up thinking, "I can't wait to train multi-planar complex movements for better joint stability and mobility today!"

Practicing Natural Movement however, does help us reconnect movement with our survival and in so doing, becomes much more compelling. Most students of Natural Movement remark on how imminently practical the skills they practice are. If nothing else, it enables them to play with their kids more effectively. But play is how animals learn, practice, and grew stronger in their movement skills- for the moments when it is all on the line. 

A caveat here: survival wasn't always about fighting or fleeing. That notion is more a product of modern culture's heroic romanticism. We do call them hunter and gatherers, after all. Practicing Natural Movement can prepare one for important survival skills like being able to efficiently squat down and pick an herb or a mushroom- and then efficiently get back up and continue on. Simply being able to get one's body off the floor efficiently has been positively correlated with survival in geriatric populations.

And that is the deeper allure of the practice of Natural Movement. It awakens something deep in our DNA- the intimate, primal connection of movement and survival. It reminds us that it is not only fun to move our bodies this way, but absolutely necessary. It provides a more profound emotional reward than a number on scale or pants size. It is the tie to our past and our lifeline to the future of our species.

Last minute Holiday gifts Ideas (that are healthy for you & the planet)

Ah the holidays... where so many of us focus on the acquisition of more 'stuff' for either ourselves or loved ones in the name of fitting into to 'polite' society. It can be stressful and awkward, especially for someone trying to live a more conscious existence and 'opt out' of mindless consumer culture. 

There is a middle ground of course, and ways to be thoughtful and conscious about what we consume and what we force others to consume as well (by buying them a gift). Here's a couple of broad strategies. 

  1.  Buy gifts from small, domestic, ethical companies. Thankfully in the Internet age, this is not hard to do. Instead of supporting mega-corporations with your dollars, why not a support a smaller company where your money makes a bigger difference? For Natural Movement oriented folks, some of our fav picks are companies like Sweet Skins HempPansy Co, and Seed Yoga for movement-friendly clothing made from ethically-sourced hemp and organic cotton. For footwear that allows your feet to move like real, human feet should move, Earth Runners sandals and Soft Star Shoes are two of our favs. If you'd like to gift someone incredible, beautiful skincare products, we love FeatherEagleSky and PrimallyPure (their sensitive DO is the best non-toxic deodorant we've ever tried!). Or maybe you want to give someone improved immunity and recovery through the wild-crafted, thoughtfully-procured and curated supplement line at Surthrival. Of course, there are PLENTY more companies out there, doing things ethically & sustainably, these are just a few of the ones that we have used personally and really love. 
  2. Make some a gift! A classic way to opt out of the consumer cult, or uh, culture of the holidays is to make something. This can be a tricky one though because people often don't appreciate handmade items anymore, let alone the time and energy that goes into making them, so perhaps save these for the folks you know who can and will appreciate them. Or make things that don't require so much time or effort. A simple face or beard oil is pretty easy to make and put in a nice bottle for someone- a carrier oil and some drops of essential oils you might already have on hand is all it takes. (And if you don't have the essentials oils, its often only takes a few drops and then you can have these useful, potent oils on hand for your own lotions, potions, creams and salves.) A hand-blended tea or herb-infused oil is also incredibly simple to make and give someone. Save the handmade knitted scarves or hats for the people who can and will appreciate them.
  3. Don't give a 'thing' at all. A physical item often requires resources to make, store, clean, etc. A gym membership, a movement class, a session with a personal trainer, a dance or movement workshop or certification course, an herbal medicine making or wildfood foraging class- you're only limited by your own creativity here. Research indicates that we remember and value our experiences in life more than the possessions we accumulate so give someone an experience that will enhance their life and health rather than a thing that will all too soon become another time in the landfill. The bonus is that 'experience' gifts are great for last-minute shopping or for those hard-to-buy for people on your list who have everything. And there's nothing to wrap! 

In need of a last minute gift? We have a few things that might make a great gift for someone on your list. For local folks, we have an Intro to Natural Movement class starting on Tuesday, January 10, 2017. The 4-week class is just $60 and if you sign up now using the code 'getmoving2017' you can save $10.  For friends outside the local area, we are offering an online Primal Reset program (and it's on sale now for Christmas!) starting in January. This 3-week reset program includes a meal plan, shopping list, a MovNat® based workout program you can do at home or in the gym, daily motivational emails and access to our Facebook group for ongoing support. We also have our MovNat® Elements 1-day workshop coming up in May.  Gift yourself or a friend. If you gift a friend, let us know if you'd like to send an email to inform them of your gift. (We're happy to send a physical gift certificate as well if you really need something tangible to give them!) 

And of course, don't forget to make time to get outside and simply enjoy being with family and friends this season. The best moments are often the simplest ones. 

Living simply: reclaiming sanity + authenticity

I met a friend for coffee & bone broth the other day and the conversation strayed to evolution, ancestral health and the modern condition. (Friends who will nerd out with me on these topics have a special place in my heart.) She mentioned that in an anthropology class she took in college, the professor referred to the hunter-gatherer lifestyle as the "original opulence."

Though it might not seem like these people have a lot, what they did have was happiness, community and time. Even today, travelers in the poorest areas of the world are impressed with how happy and content the people are even when they have very little. From the study of more recent hunter-gatherer cultures, anthropologists estimate that an individual spent 15-20 hours a week acquiring all the basic supplies they needed for food, clothing, and shelter.

Imagine what your life would be like if you only had to work the equivalent of a part-time job to provide for your needs? You'd have more time to pursue your passions; the things that make you come alive. There would be more time for family and friends, to create art, to build community. More cooperation, less loneliness and isolation. Less negative impact on your hormones and health from the constant barrage of stress.

Can we even go back to this original opulence? Or has that ship completely sailed for the modern human? Can we recreate an adapted version of original opulence that doesn't completely isolate us from the modern world? One where our modern technologies serve us rather than enslave us?

I believe the answer is yes. There is a growing tribe of folks all around the world who are 'rewilding' themselves, their families and their communities. These people are creating their own paths, rejecting consumerist culture and choosing conscious, intentional lives. Yeah, they still have an iPhone and a huge social media following, but they are using this technology to inspire and lead this growing tribe. (And they make it a point to put this technology away and experience uninterrupted connection with nature and community.)

So how do you get started on this rewilding lifestyle of living simply and sanely, of recovering original opulence? First, there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to living simply and there is no sequential number of steps to follow. Think of it more like spiral-shaped path: you'll often come back to certain issues and themes, with new insights and understandings at each revisit. Where you end up doesn't matter. That you take the first step, does.

With that in mind here's some idea of places and or themes to start with.

  1. Food. This is where it all started for me. Getting back to the basics of eating real food. Stuff that looked like it came out of nature. It started with organic, but moved in from there to local, sustainable food choices. Now I am learning about growing, harvest and foraging my food (which requires a ton more movement, see below). As I understood more about the connection between food and health, I came to realize that food was the most important investment I made each day because it was an investment in my life, my health, my body, even my future. I spend a greater percentage of my income on food than most Americans and I'm OK with that, even though it means there is less for the new clothes, a big payment for a nice ride, cable TV package, etc. I value my body and my health more. Change your diet and see what shifts and opens up for you. I'm huge fan of a paleo/primal eating as a way of getting back to real, nutrient-dense, health affirming foods and diet that is sustainable for you and the planet.
  2. Movement. There was a shift that happened for me when I dove headlong into the MovNat community. Moving in nature, using only the elements at hand to get fit and grow strong, I realized that I didn't need the latest and greatest fitness training program or equipment to move well and be healthy. I don't even need that gym membership I never use. A heavy rock or two, a tree limb and a downed log will do just fine. Through MovNat,  I've come to see the environment and the elements not as something to shield myself from all time (and that require more clothing/gear to deal with), but something to be selectively and intelligently embraced to make me stronger and more adaptable. Try some MovNat training and see if it doesn't shift your perspective a bit.
  3. Stuff. The elephant in the room- sometimes literally. Our current economy is predicated on consumerism; buying 'stuff' you don't really need is the whole point. The 'gotcha' is that you have to work more to earn more to buy this stuff you didn't really need in the first place. Then you need a bigger house, more stuff to organize all of your stuff, a storage unit, etc. All of this requires you to earn more money, trading more of your time. Personally, the things I want out of life, turn out not to be material goods. At the core of many of the things I dream of doing and seeing and becoming, is a healthy, capable, adaptable body to get me there. I can actually give more focus to this goal with less stuff blocking my path. Start with room, closet, or maybe even just a corner of your home. Clean out the stuff there. Sell or give it away. Don't keep things for sentimental reasons; keep only those things that bring real joy, every day.

Many of these areas overlap for me and they probably will for you too. I have more money for high quality food when I choose less stuff. I have more time to be outside and play in nature when I can work less because I don't need as much money to buy all that extra 'stuff.'  I have more time to spend with my family and community as well. It's a journey and I'm constantly learning too. (I hope one day to convince my husband to sell most of our furniture and increase the spaciousness of our small home while getting more movement in our day by sitting on the floor.) The point being, when we do the bits and pieces of work to rewild ourselves, we begin to reclaim that original opulence. Yes, we create extra work for ourselves at times, but that's the work that makes us stronger and fitter- physically as well as mentally. We reclaim our sanity when we no longer carry the anxiety and frustration that comes from excess 'stuff' management, the burden of debt or or the stress of working long hours in a job we hate just to 'pay bills.' We can be mindful and joyful in the present moment, with the people and places that we truly love, living from a place of authentic luxury.

Strong to Be Helpful

"Be strong to be helpful" echoed in my ears as I ran up the trail. It seemed to echo and yet be amplified by the beat of my heart. I didn't know what to expect when I found him. He could be unconscious, injured, unable to ambulate or some combination thereof. My mind raced with scenarios and made a rough plan for what I would do for each one. I took stock of what equipment and supplies I had on me. 'Not enough,' was the short answer. A headlamp, some water, a knife, a cell phone with no service. The most useful things I had were my brain, which contained some emergency medical training and my body. It might not seem like much on the outside, but having spent the last several months immersed in the MovNat training tribe, I knew I had endurance, strength, balance, agility and possibly some human carry techniques at my disposable.

I didn't plan on this of course. When I pulled into the trailhead that afternoon, I had only planned for a simple 4 mile hike to the falls and back. I hadn't even packed a bathing suit to swim. One of the other things I have learned from my MovNat practice over the last few months is how less is more. We humans like to carry all this 'gear' when we go into the woods, thinking of it like a talisman to ward off potential dangerous scenarios. In reality, we need more to be comfortable. Yvon Chouinard once said something akin to 'most people pack according to what they fear, not what they need.' MovNat training has helped me fear less. The elements, temperature swings, getting dirty, even my choice of footwear, only help me become more adaptable when engaged intelligently.

I had passed him and his wife on the trail on my way up to the falls. He was struggling with the heat and mild incline then. As I moved steadily and quickly passed, I offered up a silent prayer of gratitude for my own health and fitness and committed to daily action to maintain them. At the falls, I moved through the brush to find a quiet, secluded spot down stream for a quick plunge. I reveled in the feel of being unencumbered by so many things- gear, clothing, ill-health, fear. I felt so at peace connected with nature and with my nature as a human being.  I'm fairly certainly I wore a beatific glow the whole way back down the trail.

On my way back down, I actually passed him at the bridge over the falls. He looked like he was contemplating a swim himself. (Later he would tell me he thought the water was too cold.) I was so blissed out from my time at the falls, I nearly floated down the trail and was back at the parking lot all too soon.

When I arrived, I saw his wife, wearing a very worried look, speaking with two other hikers. Apparently they had gotten separated, she had gotten lost, made her way to a house and the occupant had driven her back to the trail head. She expected that he had turned around and was waiting at the parking lot for her. He wasn't. She was asking the other two hikers what she should do. As I came up to them, I told her that I had seen him at the falls and she was shocked he had made it that far (1.9 miles from the trail head). The other hikers suggested she wait a bit for him and if he didn't show up to call the DEC/authorities. I watched them all get in their cars and drive away. Suddenly, the previously very full parking lot was almost empty. As I reached my own car, that's when the voice in my head began to echo, "be strong to be helpful."

This was it. This is what I had been training was for, even if I didn't realize it. Not to be a size 6. Not to be a certain weight, not to look good in a bikini. This is where being fit, strong and capable really makes a difference- helping another human being. This is part of the human experience- it's not exclusively the domain of one gender. I knew what I had to do. I knew I had more stamina, more speed, more strength, more knowledge and a better sense of direction than his wife, who was the only other person around (and incidentally is thinner than me. Which I only mention because in the current paradigm of women's 'fitness' the emphasis is on being as small as possible- weighing less, taking up less room. Not on strength or capability.) I told her to stay at the parking lot and wait for him in case he did the same thing she had done. I grabbed a headlamp from my car, gave her instructions to call the DEC in two hours when it got dark if she had yet to see either one of us, and told her I was going to go look for him.

Thankfully, I found him halfway up the trail. He was moving slowly, but moving on his own nonetheless. Going downhill was really staring to make his right knee throb and ache. He leaned heavily on a thick stick to steady himself. I told him I was glad to see him, that his wife was waiting for him in the parking lot. I also told him that I would walk back with him to make sure he stayed steady and safe and to take as long as he needed- I had a light source to find our way out in the dark if it came to that. I even took his backpack because it seemed to make him unsteady and have a harder time holding on to the stick that he used for support. An old fashioned sort of guy, he seemed a bit embarrassed that a woman half his size was helping him and carrying his things.

We talked a lot on the way back down about his health. How he use to lift weights and be strong and capable, but after neglecting his health for almost 20 years, he gained a significant amount of weight, developed a heart condition and numerous aches and pains. He had already lost nearly 60 pounds since last fall by changing his diet and getting rid of processed foods. His goal was to lose 40 more pounds and he had just started back to the gym to lift weights again 5 weeks ago. He had thought he was more capable of handling this trail then he turned out to be. He was grateful to not be alone for the hike out.

When we met his wife at the parking lot, she cried and hugged me. She said she couldn't believe that someone would go out of their way to help them like this. I was embarrassed by her praise as all I had really done was walk up a trail and back down with someone and carry an extra little daypack. As I ruminated on this later, I found it a sad commentary that she would be shocked at this. That's when the quote from Chris McDougall's book Natural Born Heroes came to mind.

Health = Heroism.

Humans are innately capable of extraordinary things, when they are healthy and fit. Unfortunately, there's a lot of folks out there who simply aren't healthy and fit. Maybe the other hikers left because they were too hungry to stay and help. Thankfully, I've trained my body to be able to use endogenous fat for fuel, so I wasn't worried that it was 'dinner time' and there was no food in sight. Maybe they were already achey and sore and tired from their own hike and needed to rest, not do any more hiking. Maybe they simply didn't have the confidence they could do anything useful even if they did help. It's all speculation on my part as to their motives, but either way, my experience solidified my gratitude for my MovNat training as well as my purpose to help others use this training to be more healthy and fit. We certainly need more people on this planet who are capable and willing to help others. Be strong to be helpful. It's a good mantra to live by.

Thoughts? Comments? I'd love if you share your experience or just keep the conversation going in the comments below. Does your current training help you be more capable? Do you have an experience where your capability made a difference or saved the day? 

Movement = Freedom

Today is a special day. A day those in America celebrate independence and freedom. On a barefoot trail run this morning, I found myself ruminating about freedom.

Movement = Freedom

In many ways, movement is the ultimate expression of freedom. With that in mind, it begs the question- are you as free as you think you are?

Here some ways in which modern or Westernized humans are not as free as they may think they are:

  • needing orthotics or specific shoes to walk without pain
  • needing canes, crutches or other supports to ambulate
  • needing glasses or corrective lenses to see
  • needing a specific pillow or bolster to be comfortable enough to sleep while laying in bed
  • needing a specific type of desk chair in order to be comfortable or pain free throughout the day
  • not being able to get off of the floor without support
  • not being able to go hiking or camping without needing poles and/or special mattress pads
  • needing an electronic activity device to tell you to move your body
  • needing a rigorous exercise routine to counteract the metabolic effects of sitting all day
  • needing to brace a joint so as to not experience pain when moving that joint

This list is not intended to be an indictment if you do need any of them currently. My challenge to you though, is to think more deeply about the ways in which you move your body throughout the day that are assisted, corrected or even outsourced to persons or things outside of your own body. Lack of movement eventually becomes the inability to move.

Lack of movement eventually becomes the inability to move.

Consistent use of footwear leads to a lack of strength in the foot muscles and decreased mobility in the foot joints, eventually necessitating arch supports and other corrective measures to walk or stand without pain. Increased screen time and lack of outdoor time leads to more focusing on near objects and failure to focus on objects far away. Eventually, corrective lenses are needed to correct this myopia. Sitting in chairs routinely means that the knee and hip joints are rarely flexed beyond ninety degrees and eventually, a deep knee bend (flat footed squat) becomes an achievement born of hard work instead of normal rest posture.

The ability to move and to move well throughout our entire lifetime is a key determinate of how much freedom you will enjoy in that lifetime. Choose to make movement an everyday practice so that you can ensure mobility and freedom for lifetime.

How to Grow Strong + Age Gracefully

Is it possible to grow to grow strong and age gracefully? We are lead to believe that it is normal for our bodies to become broken and defective as we age. This is simply not true. It only seems normal in our culture because our society as a whole is so sedentary- our current economy is predicated on stationary people.

The truth is that when you move your body regularly in the ways it was designed to move, it will stay healthy and strong for many years- long into "old age." You can grown strong and age gracefully. This is what we use to call "fitness," which is defined as the state of being fit- physically healthy and strong. Unfortunately, the modern 'fitness' industry has perverted this ideal in such a way that other definitions of 'fit' would seem more appropriate: "proper or acceptable: morally or socially correct" and "suitable for a specific purpose." Current fitness it would seem, is about having a body that lets you fit in, not one that is particularly useful to oneself or others.

What fitness should be about is adaptability. Can you execute practical physical tasks effectively? Efficiently? You can lift a box up off of the ground, but if you throw your back out in the process, was that really an efficient movement skill? If you can lift a barbell off the ground, but not a large log, is that movement skill really practical?

Consider the following list of basic movement skills:

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Balancing
  • Crawling
  • Climbing
  • Jumping
  • Swimming
  • Lifting
  • Carrying
  • Throwing
  • Catching
  • Striking & Grappling

Does your exercise or training regime regularly incorporate all the above skills? Is it progressive and adaptable enough that anyone at age can learn the basic skills and become a better mover? If not, is it perhaps time to reconsider your approach to training?

Training these natural human movement skills does not have to be exclusive to all other sports and movement modalities. However, if these fundamentals are trained first and given the first priority, it can ensure health and longevity, in sport and in life. Reclamation of these 'authentic movements' is the secret to grow strong and age gracefully.

Want to know how you can incorporate natural human movement training into your life? Check out our classes page to learn more about how we can help you.