Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
28 Aug

Getting Back to Nature

182206645 99ffda0621As Primal enthusiasts, we owe it to ourselves to spend time in the great outdoors – early man’s original stomping grounds. Sadly enough, the increasing encroachment of civilization upon nature’s boundaries makes it easy for most people to forget about the wilderness. Opting for the mall or the TV is simply easier and more convenient than making the trek out to the woods and connecting with our Primal roots. But mimicking Grok has many health benefits. We are products of Mother Nature. This idea forms the backbone of the Primal Blueprint. We’ve since moved onto condos and white bread, but that doesn’t erase the fact that our bodies are attuned to living in the wild (and all that such a life entails). Which is why we highly encourage you to “get Primal” in the great outdoors. In this PB adventure not only will you be getting away from the city for some fresh air and a stress-free experience, but you’ll also be moving your body like Grok for natural fitness gains and soaking up some valuable rays for the all-important Vitamin D in the process.

Read on to find out the dirty (literally) details of this Primal Challenge:

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When you finally do make it outdoors, don’t treat the trail like a treadmill. If you’re after a sanitized experience, just stay home and use the Bowflex. Project yourself into the mind of Primal man. Try experiencing the day-to-day hard-scrabble life of Primal man. You won’t be running from saber-tooths or taking down mammoths, but you can do a pretty faithful job if you commit to the experience.

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At first, it might feel a bit weird. After all, those guys were doing all this stuff out of necessity. They had to climb trees to escape predators or reach honeycombs. Heavy rocks were thrown to fell prey or protect kin. There weren’t staircases, or trails, or ladders, so early man had to be able to get himself around and stay out of trouble. Aren’t you just some tourist tricking yourself with artifice? No! You’re a Primal Blueprinter deeply committed to being the most authentic person you can be. It’s the best you can do without a Delorian and flux-capacitor.

Try it all! Keeping a measured pace interspersed with shorts bursts of intensity, explore your surroundings as Grok would have. Grip the knobby shaft of a tree branch and hoist yourself up and over; scramble over streams and boulders on all fours, using every muscle in your body; engage your senses and listen for wildlife. If you hear something, go after it. You might encounter a mountain lion, but that’s just a glorified house cat. And besides, you’re not some doughy weekend warrior – you’re a warrior! (Okay, don’t chase mountain lions, but still…) Pluck lizards off of rock faces, and then release them. Immerse yourself in the experience.

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Avoid the trail (but keep an eye on it) and blaze your own (but check for ticks). See that tree? Climb it. That cliff? Scale it. Swing from vines, wade through rivers, and don’t be afraid to get dirty. Lift heavy rocks (with proper form – even cavemen suffered slipped discs), and then throw them as far as you can. Aim for a pretend antelope. Grab a stick and dig. Unearth a tree root, imagining it as a tuber necessary for survival. Carry a heavy stone for as long as you can like you’re transporting a fresh kill back home.

Bring plenty of water and carry a cell phone in case things go wrong. But most importantly, enjoy yourself. Getting away from the madness of city life will relax and soothe you. Even if you live in a tame suburb, you’ll immediately notice the absence of ambient noise. The silence in the wild can be almost deafening – in a good way! Forget your job and your bills for a few hours and go back to that time for an immersive Primal experience.

Live like Grok for a day and then come back to the comment boards and share your story. I look forward to hearing about your experience!

Brad Cross, Simon Fildes, ~ Phil Moore, Dru! Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

10 Ways to “Get Primal”

The Primal Eating Plan for Dogs

The Art of Compromise

Insects: Not Just for Breakfast Anymore

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. If you’re going to be climbing trees with a cellphone in your pocket, do make sure it’s secured properly! Just a tip from experience here ;)

    And if you want a story, here’s a tidbit from my vacation this year-

    As I was climbing my way along the Ardeche river bank (france) I found a cave. One of those with stalactites and stalagmites our ancestors might have lived in.. Unlike ones I’d seen before, there were no easy steps build into it. Nope, all fresh and primal like ;)

    With only a flashlight and a bikini I went in to explore as far as I could… After a little while I came to a point where the path went to steeply down for me to go. Then, as I shined down into the water it occurred to me that if I were to drop the flashlight or if the battery went dead- I’d be a goner. There was simply no way I could find my way through the damp and dark cave without breaking a leg or falling down a hole.

    Never before had I experienced such an extreme adrenaline rush, it was brilliant! It makes you feel very alive. Obviously I did make it out safely and played in the water and the sun for the rest of the day, giddy, relaxed and content :)

    http://www.stephane-jouve.fr/images/GorgesArdeche%20Cathedrale1.jpg

    (Picture of the spot, on the left river bank was this cave.. if anyone ever comes there- look for the clay figure I build!)

    Naomi wrote on August 28th, 2008
  2. The top picture looks exactly like the trail from Brown’s Pass to Hole in the Wall (best campground in the park) in Glacier National Park. A month ago I spent a week hiking from Montana into Canada. It was (is) beautiful. Stuck pretty well to my low carb diet.

    It would have been easy to pick up a large rock to throw at one of the many deer close by. Though I think the park service would have frowned on that :) No food in my pack would have lightened that 50 pounds considerably though. I think everyone lost weight on the trip.

    Joe Matasic wrote on August 28th, 2008
  3. Man, this post brings back memories of spending my entire childhood in the woods! I thought about going camping this weekend – this confirms the need!

    “you’ll immediately notice the absence of ambient noise.” – so true!

    Ryan Denner wrote on August 28th, 2008
  4. Great post.

    I wanted to bring up, though, that depending on where you are(i.e. a park or some other protected area), going off the trail can be damaging to the surrounding protected foliage. Be aware, and walk lightly. Make sure you don’t take the easy shortcuts or the straightest line – that’s how erosion happens.

    Nikki wrote on August 28th, 2008
  5. I just spent two weeks in the Grand Canyon doing a river rafting trips. On the river 5 hours a day, hiking every day. It was the most awesome experience of my life. I would tell everyone to take a trip like that if they can. Sooooo so amazing. Thanks for the great post Mark.

    Nick

    Nick Hanson wrote on August 28th, 2008
  6. I agree with the above comment and would suggest that you not condone blazing new trails. I cringed when I read it. I get the gist of it, but even my 3 & 5 year olds know to always stay on the trail.

    trail runner wrote on August 28th, 2008
  7. I am far from even very good at “cave man eating” or even walking.

    The last time I got off the trail I also got into poison oak.

    I do remember hearing a crashing in the bushes and thinking…oh S$&T. Either that’s a deer or I’m in big trouble and that’s a mountain lion. It was a deer. My prize photo of that trip was an Oregon Alligator Lizard.

    MzEllen wrote on August 28th, 2008
  8. I so so so miss the climbing I did in NC and WVa.

    I need to get back into that .

    thanks for the reminder.

    MizFit wrote on August 29th, 2008
  9. Great post! I had my restday from Crossfit today, and just walked for 3 hours in the woods (off road) with a 40 pound weight west on. It felt really great. I will definetely do more stuff like this on my “rest days” (which isn’t really rest days after all).

    Jonas Cronfeld wrote on August 29th, 2008
  10. Did Grok ever live near the beach? We’re going to Pismo Beach this weekend. Any ideas how I can be more like Grok (besides diet — already taken care of)?

    Conny wrote on August 29th, 2008
  11. Grok certainly would have lived by the beach; the ocean is (was?) a plentiful supply of eats, between the fish to be speared, the shellfish gathered and the edible seaweeds. The archaeological record is full of middens that are heaped with shellfish, fish bones and so on.

    To emulate, put on your mask and do some snorkeling, diving to the bottom to search for fish to “spear” and goodies on the bottom to gather. If you’re feeling hardcore, ditch the mask and fins and do it old school. :D

    Digging on the beach for shellfish would have also been an activity, so get your digging stick (every HG society used one) and have at it.

    Alchemyguy wrote on August 29th, 2008
  12. I am at Yosemite National Park as I read this and will certainly be getting out there for some primal exercise this morning. You mention wading in rivers: I think that full immersion in cold water – such as lake or (safe!) river swimming is a great one too. There’s evidence that the shock of cold water immersion (I think Mark may have reviewed in another post) has all kinds of benefits and it’s certainly invigorating.

    I am not sure I agree with the comments about avoiding going off the beaten track. Whilst I agree that safety and respect are important, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to do a little ‘off road’. If suddenly the whole world goes ‘primal crazy’ then maybe we should review how sensible this is, but for now the vast majority of people are happy to stay on the path so us primal few should be fine to tread on a few plants as our ancestors would have.

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on August 30th, 2008
  13. Okay, so here’s what I did yesterday morning:

    – 4 sprints up a short, steep hill
    – 50 cheat pull-ups using a tree branch
    – 50 press-ups
    – Found a large rock and lifted it onto a raised area 10 times
    – Sprinted for 30 seconds
    – Carried the large rock to the steep hill and tried to carry it up, but failed so picked it up and put it down 10 more times instead.
    – Back into the hotel fitness room for a non-primal 3-minute ab workout ;-)

    Then later a hike up to the Vernal Falls and some wading in the river…

    Today: sitting in the cave watching TV

    Methuselah - Pay Now Live Later wrote on August 31st, 2008
  14. Hi Mark, Stacey here. I just saw your appearance on Fox, you look and sound fabulous, you are a natural! I swear I won’t run too much after work, or eat too much at April’s later! Love, Stace

    Stacey wrote on September 9th, 2008
  15. You are SO right about getting back to nature. We just went to Tokyo last month. They are the most fit people in the world! We walked 5-10 miles a day everyday.

    The primal workout was a night-time climb to the top of Mt. Fugi watching the sunrise the next morning. It was the most incredible experience of my life. I was so humbled to see so many children and elderly at the top! They definitely don’t sit and play video games and watch TV!

    Marilyn Hunt wrote on September 21st, 2008
  16. I lived in the mountains of NC where I went to school and on any given day regardless of weather we would be out hiking, fishing and just acting like fools (in a good way) out in the wild. Some of the best times of my life. No cell phones, no distractions, no cars just you and the wilderness.

    Matt wrote on April 1st, 2010
  17. Reading all these post reminds me of when I went hiking at Forbidden Island. I am a resident and a high school student here in the Northern Mariana Islands on a small island called Saipan. It is a really beautiful island with many sceneries to visit such as Bird Island, Banzai Cliff, Suicide Cliff, Ladder Beach, Obyan, Calabera Cave and Grotto. Anyway, my hinking was so amazing and really fun!!! I hope to go again sometime soon or after graduation. if ever you find yourself on this beautiful island please do contact me via email at bo0ms.baby@hotmail.com Hope to hear from you..

    apo wrote on May 3rd, 2010
  18. Does anyone know of any guided tours you can do where you can eat primal food as well? Such as Mt Everest base camp trek? or the Inca trail? Kokoda track? you know, stuff like that but without the bread and other crap.

    if not there’s a business opportunity for someone. primal treks

    Michael wrote on April 29th, 2011
    • That sounds awesome, now I have to go digging for a company that does it!

      Mandi wrote on June 18th, 2012
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    lkij wrote on November 24th, 2011
  20. Thanks for the post!

    If you already have the predisposition, I thoroughly recommend landscape photography as an artistic way to get back to nature, and live the paleo blueprint. When you think about it, it covers many of the fundamentals encouraged on your site:

    – Long periods of slow, contemplative movement.
    – ‘Hunting’ for the best position, best shot, never before seen views. Much like Grok would have hunted his prey.
    – When the good light comes, you often have to maneuver yourself very quickly to make the most of it before it disappears. Much like the hunt, once again.
    – Meditation, silence, I’ve found it to be the best de-stressing ‘artistic pursuit’ ever.
    – Play. If you don’t get the shot you were after, it really doesn’t matter that much – you had a good time.

    OK, so there’s no intense HIIT style training, but that can be an added if needed.

    For added bonus I recommend a good old film camera to avoid all of the stresses of digital :)

    Mike wrote on July 28th, 2013

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