• A woman and man paddling a canoe in the wild


RULES: EXERCISE

Go out and be active. Every day.

Natural exercise

Humans were built to move. In nature, humans would walk long distances in search of food and carry that food back to camp. They would climb trees to gather fruit and eggs, and they would build huts and make tools. Sometimes they would run to escape a lion or catch a wild boar.

In our modern lives, we don’t move much anymore. We take our car to the office, sit behind a desk most of the day and crash on the couch when we get home tired from a day’s work. Then, because we feel guilty, we do an intense hour-long workout two nights a week.

Workouts build muscle and boost your energy. In principle. But if you sit behind a desk all week and then compensate with an exhausting cardio workout, you are unnaturally stressing your body. In nature, movement was generally moderate and sustained with only short bursts of intense exercise.

Natural exercise can be broken down into four elements:

WALK / HIKE

30 mins / day, 1 long walk / week

Walking is the movement we were designed to keep up for long periods at a time. Take a daily walk of 30 minutes or longer. Shorter walks are of course also healthy, but you maximize the health benefits if you allow your body to get into a good walking groove.

STRENGTH

2-4 sessions of 15-20 mins / week

Strength exercises build muscle. A more muscular body burns fat more efficiently. Try to plan 15-20 minutes of strength exercises a few times a week. Carry your groceries, toss your children into the air or do some pushups against the edge of your desk. These daily exercises also help keep your muscles toned.

SPRINTS

At least 1 all out sprint / day

Sprinting helps maintain a healthy heart, and releases hormones that keep you sharp and alert. It doesn’t matter how fast or how long you can sprint, as long as you go all out. Sprints require little preparation and can easily be incorporated in your 30 minute walk.

REST

Go to bed by 10:30PM

Make sure your exercise pattern includes an appropriate amount of rest. Listen to your body and skip your exercise if your body is giving you signals you’ve overdone it. Make sure you get enough sleep and don’t be embarrassed to take a nap if you feel tired. Some of the world’s most successful people were frequent nappers.

See our exercise guide for more detailed information and exercise suggestions.

Focus on effort, not results

Most fitness programs advise you to write down your goals and visualize what it would mean to you when you achieve them. So you plan to lose 2 pounds a week, because anyone can lose 2 pounds a week, right? And sure enough, the first week you lose 3 pounds. Hey, that’s great. Perhaps you can lose the next 2 pounds without being quite so strict on yourself. So you loosen the reins a little. The second week you lose 2 pounds, so clearly it’s working.

But then in week 3 you gain 2 pounds and in week 4 you don’t lose any. By now you are so frustrated with the whole thing that you throw your entire plan into the bin and crash on the couch with a Coke and a bag of crisps. The reality is that getting healthy takes time. But if you persevere in eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, you will eventually be healthier. The problem is not with the process, but with your expectations. The solution? Forget about your expectations, and focus on the process.

So don’t commit to a certain result. You have limited control over your results and you only risk demoralizing yourself. Rather, commit to a certain effort and focus on what that effort brings you. If you commit to taking a daily walk and feel refreshed and energized every time you get back, who cares how many walks it takes you to lose a pound?

Get motivated

Regular exercise is important. Even so, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go out and do it. This is because modern life offers few incentives to offset your natural laziness. In nature, laziness is counterbalanced by stronger motivations like hunger and fear. But in our modern society finding food requires little or no energy. And when was the last time you had to run from a lion?

If you want to be healthy, you’ll have to find new ways to motivate yourself. Luckily, there are a few other natural instincts you can use:

  • Social commitment. Humans are social animals. As a consequence, we are motivated by our commitment to others. Fitness groups like CrossFit use this motivation. Or just find yourself a squash buddy.

  • Personal improvement. A great example of this is the game of golf. Using a handicap system, each golfer has a clear score expressing their golfing ability. This makes improvement addictively tangible.

  • Competition. We want to compare favorably to others. Most interactive sports use this motivation, often combined with social commitment.

  • Cravings. Your food cravings can be a great natural motivation. We recommend you allow yourself a way to earn cheats. To help you, we have designed a cheat sheet, which allows you to earn cheats by sticking to the healthy habits at the core of our system. Download it and give it a try today!

Use any of these natural motivations if they fit you. Whatever you do, don’t take your motivation lightly. Sure, you can try to rely on willpower to drag you from the couch. But the truth is humans don’t really run on willpower; we run on natural motivations and habits.

  • Grassland indicating the end of the page
  • Grassland indicating the end of the page