200,000 Year Old Healthy Lifestyle Tips
People like to think of weight loss as an event. And once they lose weight they go back to unhealthy eating and put the weight back on.
We need to decide this is not a diet. It’s a new way of life for the new, slimmer you.
It's no surprise so many women have difficulty shedding weight after having children. We live in a society that is poorly aligned with the way we’ve evolved as human beings.
Our society has become sedentary, processed carbohydrates dominate our diet and we are beset by calorie abundance.
It’s no wonder we’ve become chronically overweight.
No one knows for sure, but fossil evidence suggests modern Homo sapiens have been walking this earth for at least 200,000 years. For the first 199,900 years, the predominant mode of transport for the majority of humans was just that. Walking.
With the exception of a run-in with a sabre-toothed tiger or a woolly mammoth, our ancestors predominately walked.
For the vast majority of human existence, life was very manual. People burned many calories just through the activities required to provide food and maintain shelter. It’s only in the last 100 years that we’ve started to rely on the automobile for the majority of our transport. And it’s only in the later part of that century that many of our manual day to day tasks have been replaced by labour saving innovations.
Humans evolved in a very active environment.
Walking upwards of 8 hours a day was normal and it would be rare to sit down. Our modern lifestyle has inverted the relationship between walking and sitting. Sitting for upwards of 8 hours a day is normal in today’s society and most people can count the time they spend walking each day in minutes rather that in hours.
Our modern diet is also very different to the diet early humans evolved to eat.
We evolved eating more leaves and roots and less seeds and meat. And we certainly didn’t evolve eating processed carbohydrates! Our early diets contained far less calorie dense foods than our modern diet. The introduction of agriculture shifted our diets to processed foods (grinding grains to produce flour).
But that was nothing compared to what has happened recently with the industrialisation of food production! The modern western diet is nutritionally lacking and has a poor balance between protein, carbohydrates and fats.
For the vast majority of human existence, calories were scarce.
We evolved to enjoy the act of eating. This enjoyment encouraged us to store any surplus calories when they were available. Any surplus of calories was usually followed by a deficit in calories. Feast was inevitably followed by famine, so storing calories whenever you could was a good evolutionary strategy.
In modern western societies we now have an overabundance of easily accessible calories.
For example, according to the Australian healthy food guide, a sedentary 31 year old woman who is 160 cm tall and weighs between 50 and 60 kgs needs approximately 1,800 calories a day.
Foraging through the bush or savannah to scrounge for 1,800 calories would have been a significant amount of work. And the very act of foraging would have dramatically increased those calorie needs.
Nowadays, a short wait sitting in an air-conditioned car in the drive through queue can deliver a single meal of 1,800 calories. That meal of 1,800 calories can be easily consumed in a mere 15 minutes as we relax in parking lot under the shade of two golden arches.
All of these factors combine to make being overweight the norm.
This has given society in general a skewed view of losing weight. Being overweight is so common that people often identify themselves as overweight or “big boned”.
We all know we “should” lose weight and many of us go on diets.
We are bombarded with advertisements for “get thin quick” fad diets and other quick fixes. Sometimes we succeed in losing weight, but we usually put it back on soon after the diet has finished.
These approaches to weight loss don’t create lasting change because they perpetuate the concept that weight loss is an event.
A “12 week challenge” may be appealing to us but after the 12 weeks is over we tend to slip back into our previous habits and those habits bring us our previous results. These short term approaches don’t create lasting change because there's no fundamental change in how we think about ourselves and how we live.
In order to create lasting change, we need to recognise and acknowledge the way we live is not aligned with the way we’ve evolved.
Human beings are naturally lean and fit people. Your natural state is to be trim and fit. The way we live in the modern western world is what has caused us to deviate from our natural state.
Instead of giving up modern conveniences and going to live in the bush, we can choose to bring more movement into our lives and be more conscious of what foods we eat.
If we want to return to our natural state, we need to recognise the way we are living is not going to allow us to keep off the weight.
We need to recognise that losing weight is not a one off event.
Losing weight to attain our natural state is only accomplished when we make lasting change to the way we think, the things we eat and the amount of exercise we get.
Ditch the short term challenges. Forget about the fad diets.
Make lasting change in the way you live to discover the lean and trim, natural you!