Tag Archives: Jules

I like to Mov it- Mov it

17 Nov

*This article can also be seen at Julia’s blog*

A few weekends ago, I participated in a MovNat workshop at Rock Creek Park in DC. I really enjoyed Erwan LeCorre’s presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium, so I was really looking forward to it. The workshop was taught by Clifton Harski, and he had an assistant instructor named Justin, who is training to teach their one-day workshops.

It was a great group of people in the class- there were all kinds of body types, ages, and fitness levels, and I definitely noticed that pretty much everyone was in minimalist shoes. It was a little chilly that morning, so I left my Vibrams at home due to the ol’ Raynaud’s; I had to chuckle to myself because I used to stick out like a wierdo wearing Vibrams at my gym, and now I was the wierdo in normal shoes!

So, what can one expect to get out of one of these workshops? The thing is, as we humans become so advanced that we no longer need to really do anything physical for ourselves, we’ve grown grossly out of touch with how to move. Many of us are spending a third of our lives in chairs; with online shopping, work, and school, we could probably live our entire lives on our asses if we wanted to! We’ve innovated away our instincts, and MovNat is a great way to re-learn skills that came naturally to us as kids, and that mankind used to depend on to survive.

The skills we went over were walking, running, balancing, crawling, jumping, climbing, lifting, carrying, throwing, and catching. Swimming and defense are also part of the MovNat skillset, but weren’t covered in the one-day workshop. We spent a chunk of time on each skill and learned different techniques for each one, such as various methods for climbing a tree, different ways to crawl in order to safely get up and down hills, etc. It’s all about learning to move in a way that is most efficient, safe and natural, and I learned a lot! I’ve always had a fear of going upside-down, and pretty much anything gymnastics-related; doing a ton of forward rolls (even a ninja-style one after hopping off a picnic table!) has made a dent in that. I’ve also gotten more efficient with crawling- I’ve done some bear crawls in my CrossFit workouts, but learned I had been wasting a bunch of energy by sticking my booty in the air. I even learned what the Smith machine is for- Clifton suggested we use it to do some stepping over/lunging under drills, and I’ve been incorporating that into my warmups in the gym!

One thing I really liked about the MovNat presentation at AHS was the emphasis on its intangible, unmeasurable benefits, such as courage, self-esteem, etc. At the workshop, I did some stuff I hadn’t done before, and that’s always a nice feeling; I was able to hoist myself up on a tree branch (still working on getting the full “MovNat leg swing”), and I found that I can pick up an average-sized dude and drag him to safety! I didn’t succeed in fireman-carrying him, but was pleased nonetheless.

I wish I had a better memory or had taken notes during the wrapup; Cliff talked with us about how he likes to work out when not teaching workshops, about eating well while traveling, and some other topics brought up by my classmates.  I definitely remember though, that when speaking about overtraining, he stated that most people are more likely to be under-recovering rather than over-training.  Ain’t that the truth!  So many are eating like crap, sleeping like crap, and thinking it’s all good because they spend an hour on the treadmill every day; if you’re one of ’em, you’re not doing yourself any favors by prioritizing exercise over recovery.

If you’re able to swing one of these workshops, I highly recommend it. I’m going to work on my leg-swinging and tree-climbing in earnest this winter, and will hopefully be able to attend another workshop next year!

Going with my gut…

14 Nov

Before! (Yes, it's bread)

Howdy!  My name is Julia; I’m 27, I work in a cubicle and I live in Maryland.  I’ve been doing the paleo thang for a little over a year. I’d struggled with my weight for several years after getting out of high school; I tried Atkins, South Beach, vegetarianism & veganism, tracking calories, you name it. I finally lost weight doing Weight Watchers! I lost about 15 pounds by obsessively tracking calories, fat grams, fiber grams, and minutes in the gym, but became burned out and was practically living off processed foods.  I finally realized that losing weight doesn’t equate to getting healthy.

While all that was going on, I became aware of the fact that I was physically suffering. A few years ago, I began to notice that almost every afternoon, I would come down with abdominal pain, and my belly would become distended. Usually, I looked like I was sporting a baby bump by the time I got home! I let this go on for about year until I decided it wasn’t normal and I ought to figure out what was going on. I did some research and went to a gastroenterologist’s office certain I’d be diagnosed with Celiac disease (I had just learned what that was, and my symptoms were pretty consistent with it). After bloodwork, a sonogram, and an endoscopy, the doctor ruled out Crohn’s, gallbladder problems, and Celiac. A lot of people seemed to think I should be happy about this, but I was getting pretty down about not knowing what was wrong with me.


Eventually I got interested in nutrition; I thought about doing the vegan thing again (thinking it was the healthiest way to go) and did a detox called the Clean Program.  A few days into it, my symptoms were gone, and I was elated!  I finally felt normal again; I had forgotten what that was like.  I had eliminated numerous foods, and upon adding things back in, I learned that gluten was indeed causing my symptoms, even though I don’t have Celiac. I struggled with the gluten-free thing for a few months, and felt mostly better.  During this time I started learning about paleo, and knew I needed to do more if I wanted to really get better. Eventually, I phased out the other grains & legumes, and most sugar & dairy. I’ve dropped ten more pounds, and on most days I feel fantastic.  Sometimes I feel disappointed in myself for taking so long to figure it all out, and in my doctor for his inability to help me, but I really am grateful I figured it out at all.

Soon after I had gone mostly paleo, the GI office contacted me to see if I was interested in participating in a study for a new IBS drug (I wasn’t even aware I had been diagnosed with anything), and I went in to see what it was all about.  The doctor I spoke with was very nice- we discussed my history of gut issues, and I told him how much better I’d been feeling since cutting out gluten and most other grains.  He replied flatly that since I had tested negative for Celiac, there was “no need to eliminate gluten” from my diet.  I was floored.  I still believe that doctors are generally in their profession because they genuinely want to help people, but it was a bit disheartening to tell this doctor that I had figured out what was wrong with me and was fixing it myself, and pretty much be told I’m full of crap and should take some pills instead.  There are many stories just like mine out there; unfortunately a lot of folks are listening to their doctors over their own bodies.

Danielle and I hobnobbing with the celebs at AHS!

This way of eating has led to so many positive changes- I’ve become more interested in sustainable farming, eating real food, fitness & being an ethical omnivore, and I’ve found a lovely community of like-minded people! Over the past few months, I’ve attended the Ancestral Health Symposium in L.A., a MovNat workshop in Washington, DC, and a Whole9 Nutrition workshop in Bowie, MD. I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to, but I also write a blog called Queen of the Stoneage and I contribute to Chowstalker.

DC MovNat workshop- October 2011