I just (literally, about an hour and a half ago) finished reading the book Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization by John Ratey and Richard Manning. This book was a fantastic look at the challenges of the ease of modern life, and how it causes our bodies to decline in strength and health through misuse and disuse.
There are chapters on food, movement, sleep, exposure to nature, and more.
One of the themes throughout the book was the idea that anything can be a valid starting point for a quest toward better, more natural health. The book was chock-full of anecdotes about just this facet of the journey. They referred to this as finding your lever – that one facet of life that, when changed for the better, knocked the rest of the facets into place.
For one lady, the lever was simply getting more sleep on a regular basis. She managed to bring her cortisol levels down and allow her body to do more with the food and exercise she was taking in by managing her stress levels via better sleep. And she gave herself more time each night to do these things.
So that got me thinking (which all the best books do). If I had to pick a lever for myself, it would most likely be the discovery of bodyweight exercise routines. For years, I was a sports-based fitness person – I swam competitively for years (from age seven to eighteen, roughly) and then played soccer with rec-league teams as I got older. I’d tried out other things as I went along – a couple years of Tae Kwon Do, a period where I did mostly military-style workouts due to being in ROTC in college, road races, weightlifting, etc. – and I had a pretty good idea of what sort of worked for me and what didn’t. But nothing ever really stuck with me for long, and it certainly didn’t push me to try anything else besides exercise – I still ate too much grain-based high-carb crap (thinking it was good at the time).
Then I joined a historical martial arts group who studied techniques based on historical fighting manuals of the medieval and renaissance periods. That was an eye-opener, as the techniques for sword-fighting and wrestling required lots of fitness that I’d never tried before. And some of the guys who had more grappling-based martial arts background than I suggested a program called Combat Conditioning for my workouts. It’s a program based on the exercise routines of wrestlers from around the world, and let me tell you it hit my body like nothing ever had before. It was quick, effective, and satisfying. It built strength, endurance, flexibility, and more.
From there, I learned about low-carb eating and that led to the Primal Blueprint of Mark Sisson, and the rest is history. But my lever was definitely fitness and that Combat Conditioning workout. It made me feel strong and inspired me to go to the next level with diet, and led to the other lifestyle factors that have put me where I am today.
So what’s your lever? What’s that one factor that, for you, can make all this stuff fall into place? Share yours in the comments below!