Bare 5

Reconnecting to health and wellness

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Welcome To Bare 5!

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We all have within us the potential to feel great, be strong and love life. The simple approach that can get us there: reconnect to being human. By honoring our natural instincts and connection to the world around us we can optimize our lives. Make the most of every day by taking your life back and reconnect to your true human nature.

Most of us have been getting more disconnected every year as life, technology and constant stress pulls us further away from our roots. More now than ever before, we need to reconnect. Reconnect to human nature: our true selves, the food, movement, rest, nature, friends, family, happiness and joy that makes life amazing. We are marvelous creatures with incredible potential. Bare 5 exists simply as a resource for connection, an outlet for people to plug back in to health. This blog is dedicated to sharing info, thoughts, resources and links that will help people take their future into their own hands and reconnect to being human, gaining health and wellness and to loving life.

If you’re new to natural living, there’s no better time to start than now and no better way than to kick off your shoes and let your Bare 5 toes reconnect with the ground and get some sunshine on your skin. We can all benefit from the simple acts of reconnecting with being human, from the way we walk, to what we eat, to how we move, sleep and even to how we connect with the earth itself and one another. The more we follow our naturally designed path, the better our lives will be.

Every week I try to add new links, info, resources and thoughts so take a look around, explore, browse and let me know what you think!

If you’re here for the Vibram Five Fingers toe shoes, check out the links on the right…
Or check out the Bare5 Barefoot Headquarters.

If you’re here to explore your health, browse around or check out the Resources or FDN pages.

If you just want the basics, take a look at the Bare 5 Elements and look for the Bare 5 Bottom Line, my synopsis of each post.

Thanks for reading, have a great reconnected day!

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Find Your Tribe

Marvelous March

March 3rd marks:

  • I Want You to be Happy Day
  • If Pets Had Thumbs Day
  • National Anthem Day
  • Peach Blossom Day
  • Florida is admitted as the 27th U.S. state in 1845
  • NACA, the predecessor of NASA, is founded in 1915
  • TIME magazine is published for the first time in 1923
  • The Star Spangled Banner becomes the National Anthem in 1931
  • Oil is discovered in Saudi Arabia in 1938

The birthday of:

  • 1847- Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone
  • 1962- Jackie Joyner-Kersee, American Olympic athlete

Ok, on to tribes…

Find your tribe

The health and nutrition world is full of tribes: groups, dogmas or ideologies that connect a population of people all sharing a common belief or value system. Veganism is a tribe. So is Paleo, Crossfit, low carb, running and countless others. Tribes join together to commune, support and further their purpose and offer safe haven to lost souls and likeminded folks. These clans can exist over time and space and often help define their members and guide their lives in both the present and future. Tribes are an integral part of human existence. It’s built into our DNA to search out common folks with the same purpose. They can even replace one’s closest relatives and become family. Tribes/clans/groups are a big part of life. 
The health and nutrition world is a maze of tribes. Sirens from each call out over the Internet, television, magazines and from friends’ mouths, inviting you in to join people just like you. Lose weight, get in shape, feel better and on and on. Stop eating meat, don’t eat carbs, commit to running, lift heavy weights and you’ll be just like us! Look how great we feel and how much better our life is now that we went ______!!
Throughout our entire lives we find tribes. Whether it’s the kids who like certain cartoons or video games, the jocks or theater folks in school or other parents who let their kids get dirty and run around barefoot, we are constantly joining tribes. 
It’s good to join tribes. They give us so much benefit. We all need to join tribes. It’s probably a good thing for all of us to belong to a tribe or two throughout our life and particularly our health and fitness journey.
We just need to know when it’s time to move on. 
Tribes are another paradox. Incredibly useful and beneficial but terribly sheltering and limiting, often detrimental. We need tribes to be human but we need to learn when they’re no longer needed. Tribes can open minds, teach, nurture, grow and support its members. They also have a way of keeping those same minds closed to other ways of life, particularly those that don’t jive with the ideology, belief system, philosophy or dogma of the tribe. Tribes, although very nurturing at the beginning, usually end up being hindering in the end. 
I was a member of the “Paleo” tribe for a few years and it taught me quite a bit. Over the last year or so I’ve come to realize its usefulness is waning and its constraints are problematic. I do not regret “tribing” with other Primal/Paleo/Ancestral peoples. It was extremely beneficial and I am better off having belonged there for a while. I wouldn’t and couldn’t be where I am today without the lessons learned and growth I received from my time in Paleo land. The same goes for any and every other tribe I’ve joined in health and fitness, whether it was for a week or for several years. They all had something to offer but only until I was ready for more. 
Find a tribe. Learn from it. Love it. Support it. Grow with it. Then leave it. Walk alone for a while. Then, if you want, find another tribe and see what that one can offer. 
If you always walk alone you’ll find your way, although you’re likely to take a few wrong turns and get lost along the way. Joining tribes and using their insight isn’t a guarantee of the perfect route but is a great way to help guide your own unique journey and meet lots of fascinating people and ideas along the way.  
Thanks for reading, have a great day!


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The Sitting Paradox

Marvelous March

March 2nd marks:

  • Old Stuff Day
  • Read Across America Day
  • Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836
  • The film King Kong opens at New York’s Radio City Music Hall in 1933
  • The first automatic street light is installed in New Milford, Connecticut in 1949
  • Wilt Chamberlain of the Philadelphia Warriors scores 100 points in a basketball game in 1962
  • Compact discs and players are released for the first time in the United States and other markets in 1983 (previously available only in Japan)

The birthday of:

  • 1779- Joel Roberts Poinsett in 1779 (American Ambassador to Mexico brought Poinsettias to America)
  • 1904 – Theodore Seuss Geisel, “Dr. Seuss”
  • 1917- Desi Arnaz- “Ricky Ricardo” on “I Love Lucy”
  • 1931- Mikhail Gorbachev, Leader of USSR
  • 1962- Jon Bon Jovi, singer, actor

Ok, on to sitting…

What a great thing: sitting down. Oh wait…

What a terrible thing: sitting down.

The Sitting Paradox 

Sitting has become this generation’s tobacco. It is now being considered one of the worst things we can do for our bodies and health advocates are almost in complete agreement: sitting can kill.

How can something that feels so good, is so convenient and natural, be as bad for us as something like tobacco?

Is it possible that it’s really that bad? Well, as usual, it depends.

Sitting itself isn’t that bad. Sitting all day is probably pretty bad. Sitting on the floor is probably good for us. Sitting in a car on the way to work, in a desk chair for 4 hours, in a car on the way to lunch, in a restaurant booth, back in a car to work, another 4 hours at a desk, followed by a seated commute home, sitting in a chair for dinner and then on a couch for a couple more hours before lying in bed all night = not so good. Repeat day after day after month after year = the problem.

The actual act of sitting is fine. We should sit whenever we want and should be capable of sitting in all different positions and circumstances. Even sitting in a chair with bad posture isn’t itself that bad. Doing it for extended periods of time and all throughout life is when it becomes problematic.

Doing anything all day will cause problems. Standing all day is problematic. Walking all day, although less problematic, still carries some downside. The problem lies in the volume and way we sit. The body adapts to what we do. If you sit down a lot, your body will get very good at sitting down which is fine until we ask it to do anything else. Then we have a problem.

We can’t escape sitting nor should we obsess over never sitting down. We need to think about doing it smartly. Sitting less and moving more is good for you, I’m not going to argue that. I am suggesting that since most of us are going to be sitting quite a bit, we do it better.

Active Sitting

To me, the key is to be an active sitter. This means doing 3 things. Get up often, change positions often and fidget.

Get Up Often

If you have to sit down all day then get up as often as you can. It’s better to sit down for 8 hours but get up 10 times than to sit for 4 hours without moving at all. It doesn’t matter what you do when you get up, just get up. The more active you can be during the breaks the better (walking, stretching, exercise) but the important thing is breaking up the sitting as often as you can. At least once an hour if not every 20-30 minutes.

Change Sitting Style & Positions

Use as much variety as you can get away with or imagine. Stand, sit, kneel, sit on a bench or even sit on the floor. Kneel on one knee, turn your knees to the side, sit crosslegged, sit on a ball, sit back in a chair, sit forward in a chair or use different chairs. Just keep switching it up, either throughout the day or from day to day.

Fidget

Fidgeting is a good thing. The more you move in your seat the better. Ever notice a kid who has to sit for a while? Their body needs to move. So does yours. The more you move your body around the better. Flex your butt. Rock and roll your hips. Tap your feet. Swivel back and forth. Do anything to prevent long times of rigidness.

Sitting less is likely a good thing but for all of us out there who have to sit regularly and for long periods of time, be smart about it. Get up often, sit different ways and move your body around while you sit.

The key is change. Sitting won’t kill if you don’t sit like a corpse.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

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Marvelous March

Just like that we have wrapped up a fabulous month of February. It was nice to take some time to appreciate each day and I learned quite a bit last month so I’m thinking… why not March? And after a little bit of research, March is turning out to be quite a month…hello-march-2015

Marvelous March

Did you know that March is named for the Roman God “Mars” and is:

  • Irish American Month
  • Music in Our Schools Month
  • National Craft Month
  • National Frozen Food Month
  • National Irish American Heritage Month
  • National Nutrition Month
  • National Peanut Month
  • National Women’s History Month
  • Red Cross Month
  • Social Workers Month

and March 1st marks:

  • National Pig Day
  • Self Injury Awareness Day
  • Peanut Butter Lovers Day
  • Rio de Janeiro founded in 1565
  • The first United States census is authorized in 1790
  • Ohio is admitted as the 17th U.S. state in 1803
  • Yellowstone National Park is established as the world’s first national park in 1872
  • Albert Berry makes the first parachute jump from a moving airplane in 1912
  • United States President John F. Kennedy establishes the Peace Corps in 1961
  • Yahoo! incorporating in 1995
  • Birthday of Rudolf Diesel, German mechanical engineer and diesel engine inventor, in 1858
  • Birthday of Harry Caray, American sportscaster, in 1914

That was just a sampling…

I’m going to continue to post things each day this month for a couple reasons. One, I have a lot of little things that I want to continue to share and two, I really have enjoyed seeing how many cool things happen each and every day. It helps reinforce the uniqueness we get to experience every day we are here. Life moves so fast nowadays I want to make sure I appreciate it. As Ferris Bueller so eloquently put it,



I’m a big believer that every day is a blessing. Every week is a gift, every month is a masterpiece. Take the time to enjoy them all because even when the clouds are dark and winds are howling, after every storm lies a calm and behind every raincloud lies a rainbow. Blessings, like days of the month, are there, day after day. Each time we take a moment to notice and appreciate them is a moment we realize how lucky we all are. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

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Sunset

Happy last day of February. What a quick but fabulous month it’s been. Thanks for joining me in celebration of FABULOUS FEBRUARY

Fun February Facts: Feb 28th is Rare Disease Day, National Chocolate Souffle Day, National Pancake Day (thanks to IHOP), the day John Wesley chartered the Methodist Church in 1784, when The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was incorporated in 1827 (becoming the first railroad in America offering commercial transportation of both people and freight), when DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invented nylon in 1935, the day James D. Watson and Francis Crick announced to friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA in 1953 (the formal announcement took place on April 25 following publication in April’s Nature pub. April 2), the airing of the final episode of M*A*S*H in 1983 (still holds the record for the highest viewership of a season finale at almost 106 million viewers) and is the 1901 birthday of Linus Pauling, American chemist and activist.

Ok, on to the setting sun… 



The end of the day. The sun goes down. After a busy day, things wind down to a calming end. Fitting for the setting of a great month. There’s almost no better way to close out a day than watching a sunset. Universally recognized for its ability to guide and reset our biology, a sunset is the most direct and powerful anchor we have to normalize sleep patterns. If you’re having problems sleeping, one of the best things you can do is make it a priority to see the sun set. 

Here is a great time lapse montage with some cool sunsets…

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. Here is the full version of the sunset video above…


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Health Isn’t Either/Or

FABULOUS FEBRUARY

Fun February Facts: Feb 27th is International Polar Bear Day, National Chocolate Cake Day, National Strawberry Day and National Kahlua Day, is the day the island of New Britain is discovered in 1700, when the Government of Italy asks for help to keep the Leaning Tower of Pisa from toppling over in 1964 and is the birthday of Irving Fisher, American economist in 1867.

Ok, on to health again…
either_or

Health isn’t about either/or.

– You don’t have to choose either alternative medicine or modern medicine.
– You don’t have to choose either going barefoot or wearing shoes.
– You don’t have to choose being a vegetarian or being a meat eater.
– You don’t have to choose either technology or moving into the woods.
– You don’t have to choose CrossFit or being a couch potato.

Health doesn’t have to be either/or, it can be and.

– You can choose to use follow an ancestral health model and use modern medicine.
– You can choose to go barefoot sometimes and wear shoes when you want to.
– You can choose to eat meat sometimes and not eat meat sometimes.
– You can choose to use an iPad and go tech free from time to time.
– You can choose to exercise and not exercise.

Health is never about choosing between two extremes. Health is about finding your place in the middle.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!


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5 Things For Optimal Health

FABULOUS FEBRUARY

Fun February Facts: Feb 26th is National Pistachio Day, the day Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba in 1815, when Kinemacolor, the first successful color motion picture process, was first shown to the general public at the Palace Theatre in London 1909, the day the HMHS Britannic, sister to the RMS Titanic, was launched at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast in 1914, the Original Dixieland Jass Band recorded the first jazz record, for the Victor Talking Machine Company in New York in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson signed an act of the U.S. Congress establishing most of the Grand Canyon as a United States National Park in 1919, Robert Watson-Watt carried out a demonstration near Daventry which leads directly to the development of radar in the United Kingdom in 1935 and is the 1829 birthday of Levi Strauss, German-American fashion designer and founder Levi Strauss & Co.

Ok, on to optimal health…

It’s fun to take in all the health information out there. The millions of articles on the Internet, the hundreds of thousands of philosophies, books, movies and videos all talking about health and its intricacies. What I tried to do with the Bare 5 blog and approach was distill it down to some basic starting principles that give the broadest approach to reconnecting with optimal health. The Bare 5 Elements are just that (which were summarized recently in Back To Basics). However, simple categories like these sometimes end up being too general for most people so, after continually getting the demand for “just the very basics,” I started wondering if I could come up with a few specific behaviors and practices that would change people’s health. In essence, if I had to pick just a few things people can focus on and get the biggest bang for their buck, what would I choose? After a little contemplation I was able to narrow it down to about 7 things but since I like the number 5, I decided to keep with my blog’s theme:

5 Things For Optimal Health

Sleep
Sun
Seafood
Water
Walk

Do these 5 things and you’ll be in a pretty good place. There’s a million ways out there to optimize health and I agree with many of them. I just think we get lost in the details.

This is keeping it basic. K.I.S.S.

1. Sleep – don’t skimp on it and get to bed early, for sleep is the golden chain that ties health and our bodies together

2. Sun – get the sun into your life, for following the sun is the quickest way to reset your circadian and body rhythms

3. Seafood – eat things from the sea as often as you can, for fish, seafood and sea vegetables enrich and nourish every part of health

4. Water – drink water, more than anything else, for water is our base and lifeblood

5. Walk – just walk- up, down, around, short, long – it doesn’t really matter for walking is one of the oldest and easiest ways to improve your health

That’s it. Don’t overthink it. Groove your basics first and don’t worry too much about the rest. There’ll be plenty of time for that… :)

Hint: Want to combine them? At lunchtime, go for a barefoot walk on the grass at a park, bring some sardines for lunch and then take a quick nap. All 5 things covered at once!

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. The runners up:

Breathe – relax and breathe deep, for oxygen is life and and bit of stress relief helps

Laugh – have fun whenever you can, for what is health without enjoying your time

Burning House


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The Burning House

FABULOUS FEBRUARY

Fun February Facts: Feb 25th is National Chocolate-Covered Peanuts Day
and National Clam Chowder Day, the day Samuel Colt was granted a United States patent for the Colt revolver in 1836, miners in Calaveras County, California, discover what is now called the Calaveras Skull in 1866 (human remains that supposedly indicated that man, mastodons, and elephants had co-existed), the first Pan American Games are held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1951, and is the birthday of Giovanni Battista Morgagni, Italian anatomist in 1682 (considered the father of anatomical pathology).

Ok, on to the burning house…

If you walk out your door and notice it’s warm or even hot outside, would you immediately install whole house sprinklers and turn them on to prevent your house from burning down? Probably not. In fact it would be a tremendous waste of water and a bit destructive to water down your house inside and out if it wasn’t actually on fire.

So why do we do the equivalent when it comes to cholesterol, heart disease and statins?

Having a high cholesterol score and thinking that it means you’re at risk for a heart attack is the same as walking out your front door, noticing it’s hot outside and concluding that your house is going to burn down from a forest fire.

Taking a statin when it’s just a cholesterol issue is like turning sprinklers on your house to prevent it from burning down. Might it work? Yes. Is it smart to do if your only clue was it’s hot outside? No. There’s so much more you would do before concluding your house is in jeopardy.

Taking blood work is like walking outside to check things out.

Checking cholesterol levels is like simply seeing how hot it is outside. Is it hot? Which is perfectly normal, as temperature (cholesterol) fluctuates. Is it really hot (which is entirely possible, particularly with global warming)? Is it hotter than it’s ever been? Is it scary hot? Is it searing your skin hot?

If your house is about to burn down then it will likely be pretty hot when you walk outside. But it’s not guaranteed. There’s hot days with no fire in sight. And there’s also this common situation: you walk out the front to check and it seems fine, maybe even a bit on the cool side. Maybe there’s snow on the ground like in the picture above. So you feel good about your chances and go inside for a nap. Unfortunately, there’s a 50/50 chance a fire is in your back yard or starts inside your house, (people with low cholesterol can have heart attacks) so if you were only looking at the outside temperature (cholesterol) and not other clues (smoke, crackling sound, flammable materials, old wiring) you might be caught off guard and your heart attack “comes out of nowhere” and burns part or all of your house down.

What else could you look at for better clues about your fire risk?

Do you smell smoke? Blood pressure high?

Is there dry brush around? Blood sugar high?

Do you hear a crackling sound? Triglycerides high?

Can you see a fire in the distance? General inflammation in the body (high CRP)?

Is there a fire in your front yard? Arterial inflammation markers?

Can you see evidence of charring/burn in your yard or house? Plaque buildup?

Is there a breeze? Family history for/against?

Some scenarios…

If you walk outside and you see a fire or smoke in the distance (elevated CRP and/or blood pressure) but no breeze then you take notice but don’t panic. It could be a campfire in the distance (normal inflammatory response from a cold, exercise, etc.) that will likely go out on its own soon.

If you notice the fire getting bigger and/or closer (higher CRP) then you start paying attention.

If you walk outside and it’s cool (low cholesterol) but you smell smoke (high blood pressure), hear crackling sounds (high triglycerides) and notice lots of overgrown brush (high blood sugar) I highly suggest you check your entire yard for fire (heart inflammatory markers) or charred spots (plaque build up) very quickly.

If you feel immense heat when you walk outside (high cholesterol), there’s a fire close to your yard (arterial inflammation) and the winds blowing your direction (family history of heart disease then you better take some quick action. Get your weed wacker out and clear the brush (lower blood sugar) and work on putting out the fire while you can (cooling inflammation through lifestyle adjustments). You could start hosing down your house (taking a statin) but that won’t prevent the existing fire from burning. It might delay it but it doesn’t actually halt the fire’s progress or fuel. 

My situation is similar to many of you out there. With a family history of heart disease, I in essence live in a breezy environment. This means that if I notice it’s hot outside then I note that but don’t panic. I look at all the other clues available to me. If I see no evidence of any fire near or far and keep my house and yard cleared of brush, then I feel at ease. Granted, it’s smart keep a little closer eye out on my surroundings and environment than someone who lives in a place without a breeze but I know I shouldn’t start hosing down my house just because it’s breezy and/or its hot outside. As mentioned before, half of our houses burn down when it’s cold outside so I think it’s smart to keep a well rounded approach to assessing your fire risk. 

A couple of thoughts:

The medical model now is that a cholesterol level over 200 means it’s hot enough outside to think there’s a fire closing in. That’s the equivalent of saying its 75 degrees outside so there must be a fire burning in my yard. Get the hose and sprinklers out.

If you start constantly using sprinkler system (taking a statin) just because it’s “hot” or breezy outside you just might be working against what your house (body) is trying to do. Your house has a thermostat set to a ideal temperature. Using a hose or sprinklers to cool off your house just might trigger the inside heat to come (more internal cholesterol production) to balance out you trying to cool off. We also don’t know at what energy cost this comes with or how using all this water to wet the house down affects other systems in the house (statin side effects). The body doesn’t work in isolation so we need to think systemically when addressing an issue or body process.

Be a good detective. Don’t jump to conclusions based off just one clue. Do your homework, look closely at the clues around you, explore your property and manage your controllable environment before you just start wasting water.

Thank for reading, have a great day!

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