Bare 5

Reconnecting to health and wellness


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Welcome To Bare 5!


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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When Good Diets Go Bad

We’ve all seen it in others or been there ourselves. A great diet or nutrition plan that turns you into a miserable human being. It has all the perks of health…except for the part about you feeling good and enjoying your life.

Vegan? Might be great for some and cure many ails but it definitely alienates, complicates and leaves many in a worse place lifestyle wise.

Paleo? Same thing. Many gain physical health but turn into crazy people afraid of most food and criticizing just about everything they come across.

Low carb? Ditto. Another one leaving people struggling to fit in and scared of anything that even resembles a piece of fruit.

These and so many other diets might be a great or even “perfect” diet but if they ruin your life then they aren’t very good for you. Think of it this way:

If your diet…

…Teaches you to fear something (fat, animal products, carbs, bread, GMOs, fill in the blank) – it’s a diet gone bad.

…Makes you crazy about what you eat (or don’t eat) – it’s the wrong one for you.

…Creates an evangelical need for you to share its praises to everyone around you whether they like it or not – it’s gone to a bad place.

…Leaves you cranky all the time – it’s a bad match.

…Makes you judge others and apply morality to food – it’s definitely a bad fit.

…Makes it difficult to go out to dinner with friends – it’s a diet gone bad.

…Complicates your family life – it’s not worth it.

…Defines who you are – it’s gone too far.

…Causes you stress – it’s the wrong one for you.

Conversely, if your diet teaches you to learn how different foods make you feel and contribute to your goals then it’s the right one for you. If it makes you feel better physically without destroying your mental attitude and approach to the world- it’s the right one for you. If it allows you to function in the real world and accept other peoples nutrition choices while exploring your own then it definitely is right for you.

We all want to be healthy and want the same for those around us but we can’t forget that health includes much more than the food you put in your mouth. No matter how great a diet might be, it has to fit into your life and enhance it all the way around. Good diets make your health better without making your life worse. Even the greatest diets go bad when they end up making people change who they are and complicating their life, particularly when they end up judging others in the process. Stick to the diets or approaches that are good for the whole health of your life and you’ll find much more success and enjoy the journey even more.

Thanks for reading have a great day!

Side note: you can go on a vegan diet without becoming vegan just as you don’t have to be low carb forever. A diet can be temporary and shouldn’t define you.

Here’s a nice article on diet and misery.

And another on Angry Dieters.


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Passion & Uncertainty

  Pearls From Pirsig

When is the last time you heard someone argue passionately about if the sun was going to rise? Or if gravity exists?

Probably never.

Now when is the last time you came across a passionate argument about diet? Or religion? Or politics? Or a sports team?

Yesterday for me. A couple times. 

What’s the difference? 


We only argue about things that are uncertain. The more uncertain a subject the more passionate the arguments often get. No one argues for the sun not setting or gravity being false because we are pretty certain of their status. On the flip side, people lose their minds arguing over things like nutrition and diet because we have almost no certainty in that realm. 

Just remember that when you come across someone arguing feverishly that they know the answer to something as ambiguous as what’s the best diet. 

Passion = Uncertainty

Or put another way, people may be certain of a truth for them but that doesn’t mean it’s a universal truth.

Passion = Personal Certainly on Universal Unertain Subjects  

Thanks for reading, have a great day! 

P.P.S. This is continuing a sub series on Pearls from Pirsig, a.k.a what I takeaway from reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. 


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Did You Know?

  Did you know…

… the body has a various levels of pH (acid-alkaline), with no one “correct” reading for the entire body? A pH of 0 is completely acidic, 14 is completely alkaline and 7 is neutral. When the body is in good working order, human blood has a narrow pH window of about 7.35–7.45 (slightly alkaline). Saliva has a pH teetering around neutral at 6.5–7.4, healthy human skin has a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 and our digestive tract’s pH can range from a very acidic 1.5 to a neutral 7.0, depending on what stage of digestion is underway. The body needs a balance between the two and different parts of the body need different pHs. 

… the brain is 2-3% of our bodyweight, meaning a 150 pound human has a brain weighing about 3-4 pounds? The brain is 77-78% water, the tissue itself being about 50% fat and 40% protein. It houses the most cholesterol in our body- almost 25% of our total cholesterol is stored in the brain. 

… the human mouth has about 500-1000 different species of bacteria capable of living in it? About 150 different species and 20 million bacteria are living at one time in any given person’s oral cavity, although much of our oral microbiome diversity and number appears to be determined by ethnicity and hygiene. Each tooth has anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 bacteria in a clean mouth ranging up to 100 million to 1 billion bacteria per tooth in an unclean mouth. Because much these mostly beneficial bacteria live in our saliva, we end up swallowing about 100 billion bacteria a day. 

… over the course of the day your entire bodily fluid content filters through the eye? It is thought this process exists to expose the body fluids (blood contents) to UV light which acts as a irradiation agent for pathogens and other abnormalities. For people who spend most of the time indoors and wear sunglasses whenever going outside we have to ask at what cost comes no UV exposure to the eye/brain and what other downstream effects that might have. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day!


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Kyle Knapp Fitness on YouTube

Fitness is a big part of my life and sharing my love of movement and exercise is one of my favorite things to do. As a teacher of fitness, exercise and movement I have found it helpful to put things down in video format as it adds an often much needed layer of explanation. A few years ago I started a YouTube channel and started putting fitness videos and exercise examples on there for my clients to reference while doing their homework or while on vacation. Now there’s about 475 videos that cover everything from basic beginning therapeutic exercises to advanced conditioning circuits with a few bow hunting training videos mixed in. Lately I’ve been sharing how I use the world around me for exercise in the series I call “Me and …” and it’s developed into a neat little passionate side project the last few months.

Of interest to many is my Core & Back series that gives 5-7 minute video sequences of effective and easily done exercises, stretches and movements to help keep your core and back healthy. I have published 4 versions so far with a few more to come. If your back and core need some help check them out.

Those along with anything else fitness related you can see here: Kyleknappfitness YouTube channel.

I hope they help teach or inspire- let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see. I’m always willing to add more things and love to make them specific for people.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!


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Why Do Mosquitos Love Some People So Much?

I’ve always wondered this and happened across the answer while researching a different post so I thought it would be cool to share. The original article I’m summarizing can be found on the online version of Smithsonisn Magazine (Why Do Mosquitoes Bite Some People More Than Others?).

Mosquitoes bite people to acquire and harvest the proteins in our blood and about 20% of the population tends to be particularly delicious to those little critters. Since they are beginning to find some mosquitoes are becoming immune to some repellents, it’s a good idea to figure out what they look most for in us tasty humans. Although we aren’t absolutely certain, here’s what most research (and there’s a lot on this) has pointed to as the 9 most influential reasons some people get bit more than others:

1. Blood Type – type O is the most delicious, twice as much as A, with B in between. However if you’re in the 15% of the population that don’t secrete the chemical indicator of your blood type it doesn’t really matter. 

2. Carbon Dioxide – the more you expel the more delicious you are. This means bigger people expel more and so do exercisers. 

3. Metabolism and Exercise – higher body temperatures attract mosquitoes, as do the byproducts in sweat (lactic acid, uric acid, ammonia and a few others).

4. Skin Bacteria – they prefer large amounts of the same species and dislike high diversity.* Ankles and feet typically fit the low diversity/high number profile criteria so are often targeted.

5. Beer – no one’s sure why but beer drinkers get bit more. It’s proposed to be the ethanol in sweat or increased body temperature but is still as mystery. 

6. Pregnancy – twice as likely to be bit are pregnant women, thought to be due to increased CO2 output and/or higher body temperature.

7. Clothing Color – colors that stand out likely make you easier to spot than those that blend   

8. Genetics – all being said, genes determine about 85% of your appeal to mosquitoes. Through the factors listed above and probably other unknown ones, some people just ooze “bite me.”

9. Natural Repellents – a variety of chemicals appear to be emitted by low bite people and, although these are still being identified and studied, researchers hope to use that info to bolster sprays for those less fortunate in the mosquito department. Or as quoted in the article, “Eventually, incorporating these molecules into advanced bug spray could make it possible for even a Type O, exercising, pregnant woman in a black shirt to ward off mosquitoes for good.”

So if you want to lower your bite factor keep those things in mind. 

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. * I wonder if our fear of germs and bacteria is one of the things involved in the skin bacteria issue. Perpetually cleaned skin is probably going to harbor fewer species of bacteria and the ones that survive will likely grow in number making them quite appealing to our little friends. 


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Do You Float or Swim?

There are three types of people in this world, those that can count and those that can’t. (Sorry, couldn’t resist one of my old favorites- let’s try this again…)

There are two basic types of people the world, floaters and swimmers. Think about your life… which of the following resonates the most with you:    The River Of Life

Are you floating along, taking life as it comes and guides you or do you swim against the current, making your own way?

There are pros and cons to both.

The floaters literally go with the flow. Their stress levels are low and they adapt to whatever the river of life gives them. When life pushes hard they adapt easily and see the silver linings. However they only go where the river flows and are vulnerable to going places they don’t want and being at the mercy of the current.

The swimmers shape their destiny. They go where they want and when they want and very rarely go where they don’t want to be. When life’s current pushes them in a way they don’t like they push back or swim around it. As a result of their proactive approach they are often more stressed out and expend much more energy, mentally and physically fighting the river of life.

I’m a floater, most definitely. I don’t have a problem with swimming I just like the concept of floating. Quite a few quotes out there claim that dead fish are the floaters and the lively are those who swim against the current. Others say it’s the smart ones that float and let the river do all the work while the dumb ones fight against it and tire themselves out to get almost nowhere.

I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer but I think we all need to ask ourselves this question. Do we float with or swim against life? And how does that impact our life both positively and negatively?

If you are a floater and never find yourself getting where you want maybe it’s time to swim a bit. If you are a swimmer and find yourself exhausted and frustrated with life then maybe it’s time to float a bit. Or better yet, learn the skill of when to float and when to swim.

Let the river of life guide you through the rapids and swim when the waters are calm.

The other way to think about it is this: if you find yourself constantly swimming against the current never getting what you want to go and maybe you’re in the wrong river or you need some help (life jacket, flippers, etc.). If you find yourself floating along and never ending up where you want to go then maybe you’re in the wrong river or you need to get yourself an oar. Be a floater with an oar. Or a swimmer with flippers. Or better yet, find a partner who has a raft and oars or flippers and life jackets (shout out to my wife here).

The River of Health

Now think about your health journey. The same question: Do you float or swim?

Are you someone who floats along, just letting health be what it may or are you someone who swims against the current and battles it? Are you someone who accepts aging and health decline or are you fighting (kicking and screaming) to keep your health?

Once again, probably pros and cons to both. There is benefit to being a health floater, particularly when it comes to stressing out over health, exercise and the perfect diet. But ignorance is only bliss until the river dumps you off a waterfall. The swimmers control much more of their health destiny and can manipulate their river ride to a very strong degree but they often end up having to dedicate a lot of time and energy to do so, often to the detriment of other things.

I was a health floater most of my life until my health awakening a few years ago, which I think of my learning how to swim, when I became a swimmer and one that used his new found ability at every opportunity. Not surprisingly, I think I tired myself out after a few years of hard swimming and have since settled into being a floater again who tries to swim only when an opportunity presents itself and goes with the flow the rest of the time. Needless to say I feel like this has me navigating the river of health much more effectively and I am enjoying the ride quite a bit more.

A couple things to remember:

– Some parts of the river look calm on the surface but have a big current underneath. Think about that in your life- when does it seem like things should be working out but they just aren’t?
– Every once in a while the river is shallow, particularly around the rapids. Stand up or grab a rock if you can because it can really help in a time of big currents.
– There are sides to every river that might offer opportunities for rest or achievement, look out for them but make sure you choose good places to bank.
– Swimming sideways is an option. You don’t always have to head up or down stream.
– You’re very rarely alone on any river in your life. Keep your eyes open for fellow river goers.

Life and health are rivers. Whether you are a floater, swimmer or somewhere in-between, the best approach is this: find the right river for you, get a few tools to help then enjoy the ride.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

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Finding Your Inner Ron Burgundy, a.k.a. Optimizing Testosterone

anchoron-main1While sharing some thoughts about testosterone in Guys and That Time of Year, I decided to put together a little guide on optimizing the main male hormone. Don’t think of this as an article on how to simply raise or quickly boost testosterone, think of it as a way to optimize the main male hormone and it’s rhythms by restoring the health of the person, allowing the true man to emerge…

Optimizing Testosterone 

Testosterone is on the minds of many (if not all) men these days as its exposure and the awareness of its role in men’s health has dramatically increased over the last decade. The substance that makes men manly is now widely prescribed via the medical world and overall interest in hormone therapy and testosterone boosting supplements are also climbing, some claim at any alarming rate. Many men don’t feel the way they did in their 20’s. More weight around the middle coupled with less muscle and reduced or no libido, drive and energy are pretty common and not surprising to see from men in their 40’s and beyond.

Are these men deficient in testosterone? Should they ask our doctors if Androgel is right for them? Join the countless others scouring the internet and supplement aisles for something to get back the oomph that used to be so natural? Or should we just chalk up all these dwindling things up to age, stress and life in general and learn to live with it?

Not surprisingly, I feel the problem lies a little deeper than just a lack of testosterone. I want to go back to the question: Are these men deficient in testosterone? Or are they deficient in health? Testosterone levels are a function of time and organism health. Healthy bodies don’t have hormone problems. I think the problem isn’t a testosterone deficiency (although hormone therapy will give a short term boost), I think it’s a health deficiency that has a symptom of low testosterone.

The solution to men not feeling like themselves or feeling less manly (often correlated with low testosterone) is to rebuild men’s health, after which testosterone will fall back into place.

Notice that I’m using the word “optimizing”- not increasing or boosting or even raising. That’s not what I want to focus on because that’s what gets us in trouble- focusing on raising something and managing or living by a number, instead of looking at the function of the person. We want to increase the health of the man, not just raise his testosterone just as we want to increase  someone’s health not simply lower their cholesterol. Optimizing testosterone also means having it follow natural daily and seasonal rhythms, not just being high all the time. In my mind, one of the reasons why hormone therapy is sometimes problematic is that we don’t take the person’s health or hormonal rhythm into account. We supplement bluntly and blanketly, without appreciating the subtlety and beauty inherent in natural ebb and flow of human biology. Testosterone has peaks and valleys that balance out over days and the year to provide appropriate exposure and promote optimal and continued sensitivity. Being at a high level all the time is as bad as being low all the time and giving a sick man a bunch of testosterone might rev him up for a while but it’s a false sense of wellness and often overshoots his biological status, lending to many problems, one of which is a growing dependence on hormone therapy.

That being said, most men still want to feel as strong and full of vigor as when they were teenagers. The purpose of this Optimizing Testosterone guide is to cover three basic things:

1) Optimize your health, which results in testosterone finding an optimal place. This is the big one.

2) Provide a few tricks for stimulating testosterone production.

3) Discuss different supplements/herbs/etc. for boosting testosterone.

So without further adieu let’s get the journey started to finding your inner Ron Burgundy/James Bond/Wolverine/Chuck Norris/Most Interesting Man in the World…

Optimizing Health

This is the big one. Everyone wants shortcuts but the truth is you’ll only get mild benefits from other interventions if this isn’t in order. If you want to optimize your testosterone and how you feel you need to focus on getting healthy, plain and simple. Once you do that all the other things get magnified and can really help take you to the next level.

To get everything back on board and functioning well these are the main things you’ll need to address. I’ll keep it simple (as most of these deserve their own write up) mostly for reference and guidance but kind in mind that although discussed quickly the more seriously you take these the better you’ll do.

  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Posture
  • Estrogen exposure
  • Sunlight
  • Excess weight
  • Smoking/Drinking
  • Stress Management
  • Toxins
  • Vitamin/Minerals
  • Drugs (prescription or recreational)

Sleep – Get enough. The body repairs, recovers and prepares for the day ahead while you sleep. Most importantly, testosterone builds up at night so give it the opportunity to do so. Hint: limit bright lights to encourage quality and onset of sleep.

Exercise – Move your body. Sedentary guys are sedentary men. Anything you can do to move is beneficial but if you can move with intensity it helps strengthen the masculine aspect. Hint: lift weights, starting with your bodyweight, increase to as intense as you can exercise.

Eat well – Cleaner is better. Limiting junk and processed food will help the body be healthier. Guys benefit from cleaning up their diet very quickly. You don’t have to be perfect, just better. Hint: don’t eliminate fat, salt or cholesterol, they all add to your health more than hurt it.

Estrogen – Limit exposure to estrogen. Whether dietary or environmental, estrogens can be problematic, particularly if you can’t get rid of them. Hint: watch out for soy products.

Sunlight – Get outside. The sun stimulates a cascade of biological processes, one of which is optimal circadian (daily) rhythms. One of the most underrated ways to restore health is to get outside. Hint: the drone of indoor life will severely limit your vitamin D and subsequent testosterone production.

Body weight – Lose excess weight. More than 10-15 pounds over your normal/ideal weight drags down health. Hint: Fat releases a hormone that changes testosterone into estrogen so the more excess fat you have the more likely some of your testosterone is getting converted to estrogen.

Smoking/Drinking – Limit these. Both work in opposition to health when a big part of life. Hint: More than a few of these a week makes it difficult to be healthy.

Stress – Manage stress. Not eliminate it, find ways to manage it. Nothing can zap a man’s energy, libido and confidence like chronic stress. Hint: Whatever, however, whenever, find ways to relax and regroup each day/week.

Toxins – Limit and eliminate. Toxins slow the system and hinder health. The liver needs a break, particularly since it is intimately responsible for good hormone production. Hint: Toxins are everywhere so be aware of hidden sources (food, soap, deodorant, household chemicals, plastics).

Vitamins/Minerals – Get adequate levels of the micronutrients. Cholesterol, vitamin A, zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium and vitamin/hormone D are all vital for good production and management of testosterone. Hint: real food like eggs, steak, liver and salmon are nutrient dense and help nourish health better than supplements.

Drugs – limit all of them, particularly recreational. Don’t stop taking a medication just to help your testosterone but look into if it impacts health or hormones (i.e. cholesterol lowering drugs) and if it can be lifestyle corrected. Hint: this is often a big player but don’t change anything without thought or guidance.

The bottom line is by optimizing health you will optimize testosterone. Healthy men are vibrant men. Vibrant men feel like men because they’re healthy and good testosterone is a symptom of health.

A Few Testosterone Tricks

As mentioned above, the foundation to feeling like a man is restoring health. That being said, there are a few things you can experiment with that can help give you a little boost in the Burgundy department.

    • Cold showers or swims – the colder the better. Daily if possible. Can pair hot sauna with cool baths for extra boost.
    • Boost testosterone nutrients – vitamin A, vitamin/hormone D, magnesium, zinc and selenium can be taken in a little extra amounts as supplements or in foods high in them (i.e. brazil nuts and selenium). Just don’t overdo it.
    • Have strong posture – your hormones are, in part, a reflection of your body position and language. Strong body language sends alpha male signals to the brain, resulting in more testosterone production. Stand tall, chest out and chin up.
    • Intermittent fasting – skipping a meal occasionally (can pair with exercise for extra mileage). Usually takes a little getting used to but the healthier you get the easier it will be.
    • Have sex, or at least an orgasm – shouldn’t be a hard sell here.

Supplements and Herbs

Two main things to convey here. First, most of the supplements that claim to have testosterone boosting properties just don’t have much research behind them or vary tremendously from person to person. Maybe some of these might have some efficacy for a few guys out there but I don’t think it’s the best idea to start getting involved with these and focus your time, attention and money on the basics. Second, any supplements, herbal concoctions, and creams might give you a boost but give you a false sense of positive. The body isn’t in the right place to be forced into overdrive. Testosterone is low because the body isn’t healthy. It’s a symptom of disorder, not the cause. Adding a bunch of testosterone driving substances to your system might make you feel better but will be temporary and shallow and may indeed be harmful.

Testosterone replacement therapy is another issue that isn’t the focus of this discussion. It may be necessary for some but I think most men should exhaust all of their resources in reclaiming their health naturally before adding hormones into the mix, no matter how tempting the commercials or someone at work might make it seem. As mentioned above, unless absolutely necessary I think you get into a tricky realm at best (and messy, frustrating or dangerous realm at worst) with some unintended consequences when adding testosterone to an organism not healthy enough to support high levels.

The Bottom Line on Burgundy-fying Your Life

1. Take care of yourself. It is your responsibility but has a high reward for you and everyone in your life.

2. Don’t skimp on the basics, they are your foundation. Sleep, eat cleaner, move well, get outside and manage your stress.

3. Health basics first, tricks second. The tricks add much more when used by healthy men.

4. Drugs are for people who can’t fix their health and this usually comes with downsides.

5. Take your time, do it right and your inner Ron Burgundy will come bursting out.

It’s not usually what people, and impatient men in particular, want to hear but for almost all men who want to feel that fire again the answer is to get yourself healthy. It takes time to do it right but it’s real when you do it and lasts as long as you stay healthy, instead of only lasting until your prescription runs out.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!



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