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Kelly Merritt: What would Grok do?

Less than two weeks into 2014, it's probably a safe bet to say that many are already wavering, if not giving up completely, on their New Year's diet and fitness resolutions.

If you are still resolving to continue your new diet and exercise program but tempted to quit, or may have already caved and are wondering what could motivate you to get back to a healthy new lifestyle, ask yourself, "What would Grok do?"

Do you know Grok?

Grok is the model primal human from 10,000 years ago, as imagined by health and fitness author Mark Sisson in his 2009 book, "The Primal Blueprint."

Grok lived in an era that is completely strange to us. No Facebook, no iphone, no fast-food drive through. How he survived is beyond the comprehension of any teenager today.

Grok lived before the advent of agriculture. That means, no eating of grain or soybeans or any farmed product, as in no pizza, linguini, chocolate milk, or even coarse bread.

Therein lies why, as Sisson theorizes, Grok and his family were much healthier than many of us are today. The human body evolved over two million years, Sisson says, largely by eating fruits, nuts, tubers, berries, birds, fish, insects and mammals. Agriculture, meanwhile, has been around for only about 10,000 years, far too short of time for the human digestive system to effectively evolve to this "new" way of eating.

Grok's menu - as well as a lack of tools such as farm tractors to harvest plants and rifles to kill fast running mammals - required an active hunter/gatherer existence, where humans foraged, wandered, scouted, migrated, climbed, swam, ran, threw and whatever else to obtain limited quantities of food for their meals.

So much for the idea of sitting in front of the TV eating Chinese takeout.

But how does all this affect your New Year's diet and exercise resolution? Be more like Grok, Sisson says.

While food today is certainly more plentiful thanks to agriculture, the quality of the food many modern humans eat is worse than ever, Sisson says. Many human-made products are foreign to our genes and disturb the normal, healthy function of our body when ingested, he says.

While we all know the big offenders such as sugars, carbonated drinks, and heavily processed foods, Sisson also points to wheat and flour products, such as bread, pasta, crackers, baked goods and more.

Ingesting these products regularly contribute to many common ailments, the author says, including diabetes, heart disease, asthma, arthritis and inflammation-related diseases.

While many folks - including me - may be skeptical about this part - the rising occurrence of celiac disease, plus my own experience of my doctor simply shrugging when I asked what might be causing my inflammation, does bear this out to some extent.

My skepticism is also reduced because I remember reading years ago that researchers were surprised to find little evidence of many of today's diseases in the bone fragments of ancient man.

But primitive man didn't live long enough to get these diseases, you might say.

Good argument. But while life expectancy for primitive man was about 33 years, less than half that for modern humans, Sisson points to research that shows that primal humans who managed to avoid disease or becoming dinner for a saber tooth tiger could enjoy healthy lives comparable to today's life expectancy.

So that brings us back to our original question, "What would Grok do?"

Just be sure to ask this question in the proper context.

Ten thousand years ago, Grok would have eaten lots of plants and animals, moved frequently throughout the day, lifted heavy things, sprinted to either catch food or avoid being caught as food, rested, and used his brain to figure out how to survive.

But that was then. If Grok could somehow magically be transported from his hunter/gatherer existence of yore to the comfortable middle class lifestyle so many humans enjoy today, "What would Grok do now?"

Probably the same as most of us guys. He'd relax in his man cave rocking in his favorite recliner in front of the big screen TV watching his two favorite football teams, the Bears and the Lions, with a remote, pizza and beer all in arm's reach, thanking the Great Spirit for the great new life he's found.

And when the new year starts, he'd say to himself, "This loincloth just doesn't fit like it used to. I need to start a diet and fitness program."

 

Merritt is Daily Mail editorial page editor. Reach him at 304 348-4802 or by email at Kelly.merritt@dailymailwv.com. Follow on Twitter @ekmerritt.


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