Strenuous Exercise Will Change Minds, And in Particular, Diets

Prehistoric behaviors, according to which our species evolved, should enlighten us… although this does not mean we should blindly follow them… far from it.

The master principle of humanity is progress, not duplicating the past. Humanity was made to exercise heavily, intensely, when it’s hot. Humans are the only animals who will deliberately engage in hunting under the tropical sun at noon… When all other animals are panting in the shade, eyeing the humans warrily (I have played this game myself in Africa, as a child, with lions… Not too many times…) Under the tropical noon, humans outrun dogs easily.

We are made for heavy exercise. By not exercising our exercise capability we do not reveal to ourselves, all what we can be.

The lowering of metabolic rate is considerable after heavy exercise… Lasting days, it is central to the charm of heavy physical activity, which entails very different neurohormonal regimes, thus enriching minds, with diversity of neural ecology.

The perspective of heavy exercise decreases how one is attracted to food. Consuming food burns oxygen. When I start to climb or mountain-run again, my mind puts a huge clamp down on hunger, keeping those future exertions in mind, even over a period of weeks. The mind knows very well that excess weight would then bring suffering, so excess food and calories doesn’t feel attractive anymore. 

How does the mind know this? Eating within a few hours of heavy metabolic exercise starves the body for oxygen: a distinct discomfort appears… And of course it is impossible to exercise hard with a full stomach wobbling about. In other words, exercise is not just at the origin of physiological effects, but also the source of a complete change of psychology because the organism is now living for other reasons, and under other constraints, and has to plan accordingly. 

This is no doubt why so many religions insist on food intake restrictions: if one lives for other reasons, diet needs to change, and institutes a positive feedback loop. What one is going to do with one’s body forces upon us not just a change of physiology, but also of psychology, and becomes a metaphysical journey, exercising both faith and religion.

Agreed, exercise can be dangerous: I nearly died dozens of times while exercising, some of those putative deaths being rather weird (hint: stay away from mountains to reduce death probability considerably, an advice which I of course do not follow…) But the danger itself is most neurohormonally revealing, the danger itself is the spice through dimensions we did not know existed: I have spent many a night perched on a cliff, clinging for dear life, freezing, shaking, in unending pain, desperate for dawn… But then it was certainly a dawn more beautiful than any dawn ever experienced before, revealing a planet I had never known before, and being able at last to see holds down into the abyss, was the greatest gift… A honeymoon with hope returning the possibility of life again.

Food is not then what one thinks of. Heavy exercise and great adventure concentrates the physiology on maximum efficiency, and that means not wasting energy by digesting food. Hence hunger vanishes considerably, as the body goes into using fatty acids [1]

Snow running, in my experience, was invented by yours truly, and was long highly controversial. It is arguably the best sport, and has become popular. However, last few times I made portion of the notorious Tahoe Rim Trail, or the PCT in winter… I met nobody…. It is, IMHO, a better sport than cross country skiing and ski skating… Not as fast on the descents, but easier when going up…

This was written on New Year’s Eve. I ate a (meager) Greek salad…. It’s often hilarious how philosophical I have become, de facto… Socrates, as depicted by his friends, was a monster of depravity and dissolution relatively speaking… Maybe, or maybe not, after all I drove my mighty 4 wheel drive biodiesel a mile high in a raging storm with 20 feet (six meters) of snow falling. The major freeway connecting half of California to the whatever lays east (like the East Coast) was closed. Some people spent 20 hours in their cars… But the expensive snow tires made in Germany held… And since then, everyday, I have been running on snow (crampons on)… Scaring the bourgeois…

Socrates was not busy destroying the planet, he was not that mighty. Now, pretty much everybody does, driving around, flying, eating out of plastic soy beans obtained by destroying most of Amazonia…

Tomorrow I should try cross-country skiing, of the epic type.

Epics is what we need, since Ulysses. An Iliad in miniature a day keeps the thinker astray… Away from the automated path.

I will have less than seven hours to do what the park service warns, takes expert skiers 4 to 5 hours… one way (I did it, long long ago, with better vertebrae). And with a bad, hurting knee, already operated upon, and possibly paralyzingly painful back… But, w-hell… What life for, but for passion?

In an effort like that, one is transported in another universe… Meta, plus oultre, for real…

The ultimate way to make (“fer”) light (“lux”) is by changing one’s neurohormonal life… Let Lucifer be with me… Wish me hell!

And Happy New Year 2022!

Patrice Ayme

[1] Even athletes who are lean and mean have enough fat stored in muscle fibers and fat cells to supply up to 100,000 calories—enough for over 100 hours of marathon running… in balmy weather… in high altitude winds lashed by freezing rain, much less… The transition between using carbohydrates, glycogen in the liver, etc. and fatty acid is itself a training. In my personal case, I do not eat very much in the last 12 hours before heavy endurance, and not at all in the last two hours. So I switch to fatty acid quickly, which makes my hunger disappear. 3,000 calories of exercise later, I am completely not hungry at all… OK, I am mean, but lean has long stop being the case…

6 Responses to “Strenuous Exercise Will Change Minds, And in Particular, Diets”

  1. ronaldscheckelhoff Says:

    Yes, I’m a big believer in the benefits of exercise. Being in my mid sixties, I’m not inclined to do the intense stuff anymore, but I’ve been walking 5-6 miles every other day or two for the past 12 years. When I miss too many days (more than a few), I can really tell the difference in my energy level. So, I know for me it’s a must-do activity. Ginseng can’t do it all just by itself!


  2. gary gibson Says:

    Thanks Patrice for the inspirational New Years post. I shared this with my children. Being in my mid 70s I don’t test the equipment any longer but hike daily and seek out hills to climb. We are very fortunate to live in a rural and forested area. I lived in the Twin Cities mid life and desired to become a competitive cross country skier. I learned that skate skiing up a hill is what separates the men from the boys. I did a few races but did not have the necessary engine to be really competitive. None the less, the miles put in gave me a sense of well being and confidence that seemed to transcend the 9 to 5 grind, raising a family, even traffic. I know it sounds like an evangelic physical education teacher, but in challenging the body, the mind will quiet. Ha.
    Best wishes to you and your readers for the New Year.


    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Gary and welcome. Sorry for the delayed authorization of your comment, that happens only on the firt comment (in theory, although not always). I had some adventures in the last three days, including an exploded tire in the middle of nowhere (more exactly, Yosemite…)

      Before that I discovered indeed that I was not really up to skate skiing uphill at 8,000 feet… I will have to train again seriously to do what I wanted to do… But I am in the Bay Area, and going to the (climbing) gym with a mask is beyond my fortitude… I discovered that climbing maybe good training for skating, because of the arms… (Where much of my problem was, besides 20 pounds too many…)

      It is indeedd true, as you say, that “in challenging the body, the mind will quiet. Ha.” This is the piece missing in much traditional wisdom (although the monks of Shaoling had it, with their intense Kung Fu)

      Best wishes to you and your family. As Ron pointed out in a recent comment, many of the systems supposed to alert for publications of essays or comments do not function properly…


  3. Ambiallet Says:

    Nice pic 🙂 Is that you?
    Grande sagesse too.


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