The Ancestral Health Symposium, 2011

Posted on 15. Aug, 2011 by in Community, Diet, Fitness

“To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.” – Benjamin Franklin

Excellent!  Always a man ahead of his time; cool Ben, the original proponent of intermittent fasting ;)

The Ancestral Health Symposium, 2011

In a word, just a fabulous, fabulous, 2-day event.  I won’t go into a complete re-tread of of AHS 2011 events here; soon enough, you’ll be able to partake of the entire 2-day extravaganza — at least virtually, via slides and Vimeo — here.  And I really implore you to do so, as all the presentations were top-notch.  But more to the point, so much good coverage (this piece, for one example) has already been written on the event, anything else would simply be rehash.  One suggestion, though: for a really cool perspective of the gathering, how about some Twitter hashtag coverage of AHS11?

Above, the pre-game warm-up:  Meesus TTP and I (and Skyler Tanner — blue shirt, over my left shoulder) take in Doug McGuff’s Body By Science presentation, just prior to the Tanner/Norris dog-and-pony show — the unveiling of Physical Culture 2.0, Efficient Exercise style.  Photo by my good friend (and excellent photographer) A. Jolly.

Plenty of great blogosphere coverage of AHS11, yes.  Unfortunately, what you won’t be privy to were all the stimulating, impromptu, cross-disciplinary conversations among presenters, and between presenters and the myriad (600+?) of attendees.  Oh, that and the stunning UCLA campus, and the oh-so-perfect 72-degree, no humidity weather.  Not that I’m weather-jealous or anything… Anyway, what a rich environment for the blending of knowledge and ideas.  It has taken me a full week to decompress, process and synthesize all that I took in during that whirlwind two days.  Wow, is just about all that I can say at the moment.  My pea-little brain is still in overload.  Or maybe it was the 105-degree Texas heat I returned to (again, I’m not LA weather-jealous); sprints, bar work and tire flips being my welcome home to Tejas workout.  Crazy?  Yeah, no doubt — but a Physical Culture 2.0 fit kind of crazy — and that makes being crazy, well…kinda okay :)

And speaking of crazy

A *serious* meeting of the minds ;)

Okay, so it wasn’t all furrowed-brow and free of levity ;)  The symposium was, in fact, a seriously fun, extremely social event as well.  As the above picture was being taken by Meesus TTP, John Welbourn (of CrossFit Football) — who was leaned against a table just to my right — was uttering “awk-waaaard”; just too friggin’ funny.  Immediately following this shot, I had the opportunity to chat a while (Chico sockmonkey in-hand) with John about his training experience with Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell crew out in Cleveland, Ohio.  Some fascinating, first-person insight into Louie’s methods (lift heavy some days, lift fast other days.  Bust ass all days; that about sums it up).  The juxtaposition of this picture and that training-related chat I had with John rather epitomized the entire conference for me; fun, frolic and seriousness — all combined into a two-day “Woodstock” of primal-living event.  Kudos to the original epistemocrat, Brent Pottinger, and the ever-hospitable Aaron Blaisdell, and their team of dedicated volunteers for pulling-off such a fantastic event.  I’m already looking forward to AHS 2012.

Physical Culture (PC), 2.0

The philosopher Ken Wilber – who I’ve been devouring ever since being introduced to his work via my AHS 2011 co-presenter, Skyler Tanner – speaks of evolution as a process of transcendence and inclusion; exactly the process by which PC (Physical Culture) 2.0 will “evolve” from the current, sorry state of affairs (think bloated, cartoonish, professional bodybuilders) into the defining, all-encompassing meme of the Ancestral Fitness movement; the “yang” component to the Paleo diet “yin”.  This healthy, lasting process is not so much anarchistic revolution as it is building upon (“transcending” in every sense of the word) that which has come before; even that which we might be quick to label “malicious” at best — for example, the doings of the AMA and Big Pharma, the Prodigal Son-like travels of Physical Culture 1.0. Take beyond/carry forward that which is good and helpful; simply leave behind what is not, with no emotional attachment. This is the way of true progress.

My good friend and tribal elder, Ken O’Neill, has written a wonderful piece related to the emerging Physical Culture 2.0.  It seems to me that this movement is being born even as we ping ideas and methodologies back and forth; as if we are actually midwifing (if that is actually a valid term) the movement into being rather than “inventing” anything per se.  Fiction writers often speak of “chanelling” a work into being rather that actually “creating” anything.  I can certainly attest to that notion, having written a work of fiction myself (The Blood of Samuel), and I have to say that this particular “emergence” process feels much the same as bringing a work of fiction from the “ether” and into the mortal world.  Call it being a conduit between realms, if you will — and if you’re down with that kind of thing.  But one thing is for sure: this movement is underway, and it simply won’t be, cannot be, stopped.

Framework vs Fundamentalism

One theme that I was happy to see emerge from the Ancestral Health Symposium was that of basing N=1 experimentation upon an evolutionary framework, as opposed to sheepishly following some lock-step, dogmatic, one-size-fits-all prescription.  Remember, as viewed through the evolutionary lens, “optimum” can only be hinted at; more digging, more critical thinking, more thinkering (hat tip to Brett Pottinger for the term) is required to tease-out the optimum from the merely satisfactory.  That our species can survive to breeding age and successfully reproduce on a completely bankrupt diet is a testament to our supreme adaptability, and speaks nothing to what is optimum for our genotype.  And, too, any step toward singularity is a step toward extinction, be that in a species or in an entity.  My hope is that the healthy debate of ideas remains a integral part of the AHS organization.

On the Workout Front…

I’ve been a bit jammed for time as of late, so what I thought I’d do, in lieu of posting a round-up of all of my between post workouts, is to select a choice few to dissect.   The following is a metcon workout that I completed on Saturday, the 13th.  The clips are in two parts, because I’m an IT-idgit, and couldn’t get Windows Movie Maker to cooperate with me and my Android clips.  Shouldn’t this all be compatible?  Meh…

Part I

…and continuing on with the 4th exercise in the circuit…

Notice that none of the 4 exercises in this circuit are particularly technique-heavy, and are therefore suitable for under-fatigue utilization.  And by this, the 5th round of this doozie, I’ve got some serious fatigue goin’ on; though I’m still pushing the front squats with adequate umph, the explosion in my prowler pushes has pretty much dwindled to nada.  Of course the real ball-busters in this circuit are the front squats and prowler pushes; the dips and curls can almost be thought of as “active recovery”.  And this is how I like to program a weight-centric metcon workout — variations of intensity within the circuit itself, and little to no rest between each round.  Think American football, two-minute drill here.  This type of workout — repeat, short-duration busts of high power output — lands square in the middle of my natural ability wheelhouse; my basecamp, as it were.

And Finally…

Check out this excellent and informative KQED/Sydnie Kohara interview - Sustainable Meat and the Art of Butchery

Charcuterie is near and dear to my heart; a luxury afforded to those of us lucky enough to be alive in this day and age, and another example of enjoying that life under the framework of a stone age existence, but with the benefits extended to modernity.

About the show, from KQED’s Forum website:

In recent years, more chefs and consumers are demanding local, sustainable meats, driving some to raise and butcher their own livestock. We get into the gristle with three butchers and talk all about meat, from what consumers should be asking at the counter to how to cook a whole pig in the back yard.

Grock on.

In health,

Keith

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11 Responses to “The Ancestral Health Symposium, 2011”

  1. Great article, I think you nailed it all!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Skyler Tanner

    15. Aug, 2011

    Talking about Transcend and include, Mat Lalonde makes a great statement in his talk at the AHS about the “core sciences” of Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology “in that order” as he put it. He then explains how math is the base and each piece after that builds on the former. Pretty cool stuff.

    Reply to this comment
    • theorytopractice

      15. Aug, 2011

      Ahh, yes – just as workouts designed to spare/enhance type II muscle fiber ought to form the bedrock of any, all-encompassing, fitness lifestyle; the platform from which all other Physical Culture 2.0 activities spring.

      Reply to this comment
  3. Jim

    15. Aug, 2011

    Another great article, Keith! Thanks again for keeping this 2.0 “culturiest” motivated via your “work!” At nearly 52 years of age I can say my training has changed dramatically compared to the training I did as a youth, heck even going back 3-4 years ago it’s changed tremendously when compared to my approach of today! Thanks for stirring the pot (so to speak) and making me challenge myself in new areas with new thoughts and ideas.

    Reply to this comment
  4. VartanK

    15. Aug, 2011

    I just have to say it’s quite humbling to hear someone refer to nearly double my 1rm as “active rest”, keeps me hungry for improvement!

    Reply to this comment
  5. bob

    19. Aug, 2011

    Hi, a bit new to this whole deal…live in Singapore & will be in Austin for 1 week at end of August…need help with:

    Best trainer in Austin to do a few sessions with on form for squat, dead lift, press & power clean?

    Where to stock up on grass fed beef & permican bars to take back with me?

    thx bob

    Reply to this comment
    • theorytopractice

      19. Aug, 2011

      Get up with me when you get into town, my friend, and I’ll take care of you on all accounts.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Brett

    20. Aug, 2011

    Ken Wilber is one of my faves! He also used to be major into body building as part of his integral transformation! Check out krishnamurti for further transcendental goodness! Good stuff as always, Keith!

    Reply to this comment
  7. chuck

    22. Sep, 2012

    fyi, westside BB is in columbus not cleveland.

    Reply to this comment

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