Episode 2 - Tribes
Arguably the most important founding principal of The Misfit Project is to provide effective lifestyle changes with a low barrier to entry. We are often presented with diet and exercise advise that feels daunting to even begin because of the monetary commitment and skill level required. The same problem arises when our most precious resource, time, is gobbled up. This is where the basis for the structure of our modern tribal activity comes in. In this article we will take a dive into why meaningful relationships and the great outdoors are so important to your health, and how we can combine them to ensure you still have time for everything else in your life.
Choose Your Tribe
The concept of the ancestral heath model can be a controversial topic, if you’re looking for controversy, that is. But if we look through the lens of trying to understand where they were healthier and why instead of arguing over details, it is a vastly powerful template to adopt. Evolutionary biology tells us that human beings evolved in groups and developed reward systems around them to ensure we were well protected, fed, and had means to procreate. Fast forward to present day and those reward systems are still deeply engrained in our biology, but much harder engage. The further science digs into our response to meaningful relationships, and loneliness, the more apparent it becomes that they play a distinctly meaningful role in the modern diseases epidemic. One study that examined data from more than 300,000 individuals found that lack of meaningful relationships increased the risk of premature death from all causes by 50%. Those numbers surpass obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and even a smoking habit upwards of a pack a day. Scare tactics of that nature often work well as motivation, but considering the solution itself can be extremely uplifting as well. Taking the time to audit your personal relationships so that you can focus on the good ones, clean up the ones worth saving, and pull away from negativity is a very low cost high reward scenario. It’s important to note when choosing the members of your tribe that we continue to use the words meaningful personal relationships and not just relationships. This is where a pragmatic approach to ancestral health comes in handy. The tribesmen and women of the past may not have been able to choose the exact makings of their inner circle, but you certainly can.
Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you
With your tribe secure it’s time to turn to tribal activities, which took place exclusively in the great outdoors. Regardless of whether you call the city, suburbs, or a more remote setting home, almost everyone has ample opportunity to completely change their wellbeing simply by spending 10-20 minutes outside, showing off as much skin as possible, between 10am and 3pm. How? Sunshine. When researching the effects of sun exposure and vitamin D3 synthesis the main issue with the findings is choosing from the thousands of studies showing remarkable health benefits. This “problem” stems from findings that D3 regulates upwards of 1,000 different genes that govern nearly every tissue in our bodies. This explains lack of sun exposure on bare skin leading to depression, breast cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis while a steady diet of rays increases testosterone, dopamine, serotonin, and immune function. Once again we are handed a life changing behavior on a silver platter. Imagine how beneficial meeting your tribe for lunch in the sun could be on your health.
Ditch the concrete jungle for the real one
Now that we’re gaining some momentum it’s time for a bigger ask. In the modern world many of us are a lengthy car ride away from a true nature setting, but armed with the knowledge of the benefits and our tribe along for the ride, it’s a no brainer for everyone. While being able to lean on scientific proof is always helpful in the pursuit of wellness, being able to intuitively understand and even feel the benefits of something just based on personal experience is extremely powerful. Most people would agree that a leisurely walk through the woods on a nice day leaves them feeling better than they did prior to entering the forest. This feeling is an important part of convincing yourself to make it part of your routine, as is the case with most anecdotal evidence. Beyond the feel good hormones associated with combining friends, sunshine, and a quiet setting are some profound “behind the scenes” health benefits. Part of our innate immune system consists of a type of white blood cell called a Natural Killer Cell (AKA NK Cell) that has a profound roll in rejection of tumors and viral infections. Two separate studies done on a group of males, and then repeated on a group of females, showed a significant increase in NK cells that lasted for more than 7 days in the groups that walked in the forest vs the groups that walked in an urban environment. To think regular walks in a woods setting could stave off the common cold/flu and potentially even cancer is very powerful.
Don’t talk about it, be about it
Just as providing effective lifestyle changes with a low barrier to entry is a founding principal of The Misfit Project, so is action! We have made it our duty to convince you to do more than just acquire knowledge. We want you to use it, share it, and embody it so that you can make the changes in your world you want to see in yourself and others. Take the time to assemble that supportive inner circle and lead them out into some sunshine and the occasional stroll in the woods. Resist the urge to downplay the effects of such simple things until you’ve given them the chance to change your life.