What makes me want to write a blog? A passion for several related themes, with a cornerstone, the theory of evolution as an explanation of the world, and its applications in very concrete areas that interest me, more specifically sports, nutrition, and human behavior in general.
But perhaps a word of explanation … everything does not happen suddenly. We are all curious, no ? And constantly in search of « system that explains the world » of the world around us, and how we react to it. The Paleolithic man seeks to explain why the sun rises and sets, what he can do to explain what is happening around him and if possible anticipate … since anticipation is a way to master his destiny.
I started fairly conventionally with psychoanalysis – Reichian fashion: the world is in trouble because the masses do not have proper sex, and it is because of capitalism, who trades sexual frustration for productive capabiities. At the same time Marcuse was also fashionable, and everyone spoke of the « system » and how it was oppressive and should be put down. Even Mick Jagger ! So I tried this for a while, a few weekends where I slammed on mattresses and shouted like a beast … was lots of fun. But then the orgone guns pointed skyward started to make me a little bit suspiscious … After that moved into more intellectual stuff, Lacan to name it, but to be honest I never understood much … But I saw Lacanians tearing each other over the interpretation of the master’s texts and spend weekends on a sentence of the seminar wondering in what direction the Borromean knot was tied … One day I realized that it worked like a religion, fundamentalist type, with its exclusions, chapels, endless readings and interpretations of the same text again and again, and it was all based on a old-fashoned model, which for Freud the steam engine (normal, it was the technology of the time),and no way to challenge it as it was self-fulfilling. And Lacan, borrowing to topology, a mathematical science very complex and abstruse … Goodbye.
So, finally finding a taste of flawed model to it all (but understandable : once you belong to a group structured around some belief, there is not much choice than to defend the belief at any price – see religion), one day I came across « The Moral Animal » by Robert Wright and « The Selfish Gene » by Dawkins … and I found what I was looking for: a simple and elegant theory that explains a lot about how we function. The change of perspective « we are acted by our genes because genes that cause the behavior best adapted to the environment are those going to the next generation » is crystal clear and has a quite staggering power. The man who has all the talent but no desire to reproduce does not pass his genes to the next generation, and thus the genes disappear. Well, it’s very, very simplistic, and reality is far more complex, specially now with the discovery of the epigenetics … but you get the idea, and the model works quite well (especially when we say we have 50% of genes in common with a fly and 99% with a chimpanzee) – at least for me.
But I’m not a pure spirit – I also love working out – specially running. Fairly primitive sport, no ? As all the runners I have sore muscles, tendonitis, pain here and there and I am always looking for the perfect shoe that cushions supination pronation while allowing dynamic stride, and the highest possible price please ! And then one day I bought « Born to Run » at an airport in the U.S., which I devoured in a few hours and I discovered the Tarahumara Indians who run barefoot and made 100 miles runs in the mountains for fun. At first I think it was a hoax and I looked on the internet … shit, it’s true! So it mades me rethink my stride, and two years later I am just trying to understand how to run, but I realize that the heel strike I was taught when I was 18 years is bullshit, and my admiration for Nike … stricty marketing: genius for business, but for the health of riders?
And I love good food and eating and drinking too. At 28 I followed my first Montignac diet (very fashionable for business people at the time), but I quickly found unbearable the absence of carbohydrates: I come from a place where the bread is crisp and a little sour, and people eat rice, potatoes, pasta and drink wine. Live without bread? Impossible. Yo-yo wheight after attempts to build my own dissociated diet, and intermittent marathon diets, loading the beast with carbs and stuff yourself with pasta dishes the night before to store glycogen for race day . That’s how I thought at the time « carbohydrates only » meals thinking that if I do not eat fatty, it’s OK and it’s fuel for the muscles. Obviously it does not work that well, and with time, the increasing pain here and there (well I’m 45 years, probably too old to run a marathon…) fat accumulates and finally I weight 80 kilos and look like a bibendum, but thanks to self delusionI don’t see it . Finally, it isa picture with my kids in swimsuits (at the time between 17 and 20), which makes me realize my state of physical degradation.
And then things started to connect. My friend Thierry, an ultra runner, mades me realize that a marathon can be viewed as a short race, so, no, I’m not too old for this. Reading Jared Diamond (run get his books if you have not yet read them) and the simple idea that agriculture is a recent invention if the scale of humanity (10,000 years versus at least 1 million hunting and gathering … with no carbs) and that our ancestors managed it – otherwise we would not be here. Revelation! There are plenty of other exciting things from Jared Diamond, and other scientists, including doctors, who have thought about the possibility of living with very little carbohydrate (including work on epilepsy in years 30-40, forgotten with the invention of the molecules that more or less make the job ). It turns out that my son was epileptic, and I fed him with massive amounts of coke and pasta … no wonder.
And after … I stumbled upon Art de Vany (the new Evolution diet), and then Mark Sisson (the paleo blueprint) and many others, and things fell into place. Running, Eating, understanding the society in which I live … Obviously I do not want to live like a caveman, I love technology, guitars, hi-tech, wine and good food, but if I can live longer and in a better shape, and not in a programmed degeneration just because I am noti following dietary instructions which relevance can be questioned, because they are more driven by economic interests than by a concern for good health, it’s worth a try, right?
This is what I want to share in this blog. First post a bit long, but this is to set the scene. Next time I’ll talk about the exponential consumption of sugar in our society (4 kg per capita per year in the 1750s to more than 80 pounds currently in the U.S.) and the havoc that this creates is our metabolism.