Lessons learned from Naked and Afraid

Naked and afraid


“In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia.” ~Charles Lindbergh

For the past couple months, I have put my van life on hold. I needed to sit still somewhere long enough to establish care with the VA. Since I had a good buddy in Colorado Springs and he had this big ass house (Oh, and he offered), I decided to stay with him.

Where not living on the road has cut into my reading time, I seemed to find plenty of time to watch TV. My time on the boob tube was limited to 5 channels, History Channel, National Geographic Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and TBS. (Hey how else am I gonna get my Family Guy and Seinfeld reruns in?) Of all the shows on these channels, Naked and Afraid seems to be my fave. And, it’s not just because they don’t blur out butts either. As a proponent of primitive living, Naked and Afraid reinforces a lot of what I believe when it comes to getting primitive.

A calorie restrictive diet is not the best option for weight loss.

I think it’s funny to say that I would go on Naked and Afraid just for the weight loss. 99% of the participants on this show lose weight during their 21-day challenge. Some lose a significant amount, sometimes up to 30 or 40 pounds. So how does this prove calorie restriction is not the best option? Well, it’s the “Before and After” pics at the end of the show. Have you seen them? They are not like the “Before and Afters” you see on you see on product websites or TV commercials, where the after picture is a super lean, muscular, “fit looking” person. The people on Naked and Afraid look rough.

The thin people look emaciated but that’s not the point, right? Those fuckers were already skinny. The people who had an excess of adipose tissue, or “chubby,” are the ones that prove my point. You know what a chubby person looks like after losing 20+ pounds in 21 days? They look chubby. Yeah, they are smaller but still chubby. 21 days of nearly starving did not yield them six-pack abs or any of the aesthetically pleasing features we all hope to gain when going on any weight loss or fitness program.

So here is the thing. We can use a lot of sciencey words like Gluconeogenesis and Autophagy. But let’s take a common sense look at this. Your body is designed to be efficient. It adapts to its environment so that it doesn’t waste energy. A good example of this is people’s messed up toes. The foot adapts the environment it spends the most time in. For most people, that is in shoes. If you spend a lot of time in pointy-toed shoes, your body will make adjustments so that it no longer waist energy resisting and conform to the shape of the shoe. Same goes for sitting, by the way.

When your body’s environment is such that there is not sufficient food or energy, it adapts. Fat is energy. The fat around your hips and gut is stored energy. Stored energy does not require energy to maintain it, you see, it is energy! You know what does require energy to maintain it? MUSCLE! In a calorie restricted situation your body will basically reduce the amount of lean muscle you have so that it requires less energy to maintain itself. Get it?

When you see these before and after pics the people look like smaller, but still chubby versions of their previous self. They don’t necessarily look lean. The reason for this is because most of the weight that they lost was muscle.

“Wow, you lost 30 pounds! But why are you still fat?”

Being physically fit is essential to your survival.

I covered this in a previous post. So I’ll keep this one brief. You should be able to walk to safety. Doing dumbbell curls with the 50s makes for impressive biceps but it’s completely useless if you are so out of shape you can’t walk. A lot of people blow off walking because there is no walking in Crossfit but have you ever walked at a higher elevation? Uphill? Over lose gravel or rocks? It’s exhausting. There are no sidewalks in the wild.

So if you are not in good overall shape these walks through the jungle or woods are going to get your heart rate up very easily. Once your heart rate gets up there, you start to burn your glycogen stores. When your glycogen stores are empty, they need to be refilled. But if you can’t find food, they will remain empty. The next day when you go to gather food or fortify your shelter, you won’t have the energy. Which is why the contestants spend so much time just lying around. If you were in better shape, your heart rate would not spike so high thus not using all your glycogen, saving some to gather food or water the next day.

Being a vegan in not natural for humans… continue to Part 2.




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