Life Isn’t Complicated. We Are. My main goal here is, to be honest with you all and share the knowledge I’ve gained about health and longevity in the simplest way possible, the essentials. There is a ton of BS out there in the fitness industry and twice as much in the health industry. I won’t delve into the issues or dogmas here, but from my experience and knowledge, there is a lot of misinformation circulating.
The AMA Method breaks down a vast array of subjects and practices in great detail but there is a simple, solid, core structure that allows the ideas to stay consistent yet varied in the methods of practice and expression. Without further ado, I present to you:
1. Staple Based Eating 2. Movement as Nourishment 3. Rest and Recovery 4. Active Self-Care
1. Staple Based Eating
*For the sake of this article, I am including drinks in the idea of “food.”
Let’s break things down a little bit using Ocham’s Razor. Food in its most basic function sustains our physical life and regenerates our bodies over time. It is the cornerstone of survival for all living things. Once upon a time, long, long, ago before semi-trucks, trains, boats, and international shipping the human diet was defined by geography and season.
As a species, we did not evolve in isolation but in limitation.
This one key factor in life defines something very specific for you – it tells you how you should eat, by examining your history, and the geographical limitations both you and your ancestors are exposed to.
Once we’ve got a core set of limitations on our diet it becomes easy to manage health and wellness. Your physical body is programmed to want to consume as much salt and sugar as possible when it is available. This is an evolutionary relic from the time before grocery stores and processed sugary snacks. Salt and concentrated sugar are such a rare thing in nature that when human beings stumbled upon a natural source the body knew we needed to stock up for the long haul. This, however, is no longer the world we live in. We’ve been thrown into the lion’s den of always available sugary salty snacks and it is overloading western societies everywhere.
Getting to the meat and potatoes of the Staple Approach (I think I used to be funnier but now there are only dad jokes.) There are different schools of thought when it comes to how we should eat.
These very strict vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, Omnivore, Carnivore arguments the health community has been having for years have yielded very little benefit to the general public.
Some doctors say that human beings aren’t “made to be meat eaters?”, others say it’s stupid to think that we aren’t “made to eat meat.”
If you’ve been researching on your own or even looked at the magazine rack at your local market lately it’s not difficult to see it’s a mess. If none of the doctors or nutritionists can agree on one proper diet that would nourish and sustain a healthy human being the obvious conclusion is that it doesn’t exist. Just like there isn’t one perfect physical practice for the human body.
The one thing that all these schools of thought neglect is the fact that we are simply eating for survival. The diets, delicacies, and cultures that have evolved around the globe were based on this fact alone.
People are just trying to survive and the foods that evolved in the kitchen were based on available resources.
If we keep slicing away the only common threads linking our basic human diets together globally are simplicity, location, limitation, season, and change. This is the basis of healthy eating. Even after the age of agriculture human beings primarily existed on staple diets. Eating most, what they had the most of, and adapting to the allowances of the growing season. Across the globe, if we examine tribal cultures, or even just looking outside of the common western diet, we will see similar staples from place to place. This is because the foods and foliage that grow in an area are determined by there position in relation to the equator(climate zones), even if landmasses are separated by thousands of miles.
The same ferns in North Carolina can be found in Japan. So if we turn our eyes towards the survival staples that allow the whole globe to sustain we start to get a better idea of what it means to have a Staple Approach to eating. We have taken these staples and conveniently categorized them in a chart for ease and understanding. As far as nutrition intake, macro- and micro-nutrients and the delicate balance of food chemistry you will have to go to another article to learn more.
Here we just want to introduce you to the idea of staple eating. Let’s keep it simple. If you’re eating tons of different foods and spices on a daily basis (Latino for breakfast, Italian for lunch, and Indian for dinner) your body is going to be going haywire! These are all closed systems of health that evolved in different areas with limited, local, and seasonal ingredients. Eat a simple diet of locally sourced foods and limit the crap.
2. Movement as Nourishment
We are moving even before we know we are alive. Before we are human we are almost purely a motion, only if we are the fastest most adept mover do we make it to the world of birth. Sometimes it is easier to quote someone because nobody could say it better and Ido Portal said it best “First we are human, then we are movers, only after that do we become specialists.” If you’ve ever seen a child or remember what it was like to be a child all we are is a ball of motion searching for an outlet.
We run everywhere as soon as we learn. We run as fast as we can just to see how fast we can go. Until one day some adult somewhere starts barking “walking feet!” at us over and over again. The Tarahumara tribe from Mexico, the running people, are a testament to this. Running races of up to 350 miles. There are no medals, podiums, or cameras just love and freedom. (Get the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall for more on the Tarahumara best read I’ve had all year.)
We are the most mobile creature on the face of the planet and the only to make every continent the planet has to offer our home. Our ability to adapt as well as our movement diversity plays a key role in our position on top of the food chain. To go deeper movement is more than a means to an end. Exercise is an invention of the macro-society; Play is our first language and the fountain of youth that all the doctors out there are searching for. Our muscles need stress like our bellies need food and water.
Our spirits need adventure like the sky needs The Sun.
The first outlet we have for our stress and emotions is our bodies. Some turn temper tantrums into binge drinking, others binge TV, or overindulge in food and substance. All in an attempt to give their body the physical sensation of “goodness”- a shot of euphoria – Sweet release for all the sticky stuff that keeps you up at night and makes the days seem long. However, these euphoria shots wear off and take something from you as they go. They will not fulfill anybody in the long run and they certainly won’t give us the feeling of freedom and expression that movement always has, it is the best medicine.
As the Chinese say “Running water never goes stale.”
Good general movement and diet=Good General Health
3. Rest and Recovery
Everybody is talking about “days off” for a reason. Chance to catch up and get some well deserved R&R. We place these moments at the forefront of our program and have a great deal of respect for the health benefits of rest. Each of our programs has scheduled R&R days built into them to make sure you don’t miss one. I feel that this is one of the most overlooked aspects of any type of serious training; it is highly undervalued by most in the industry and those who are in the know are at the top of their game.
We place R&R in two houses, active and passive because creating balance and harmony is the focus of The AMA Method. Overtraining is a real thing and it slows down progress. Overuse is also a real thing and it leads to injury when it comes to specialization. We make the most out of our practice by preparing the body to perform at 110%. The secret sauce to unbelievable performance is rest!
4. Active Self Care
There is a secret out there that the high-performance community doesn’t speak about much, especially when they are selling their programs. We would rather be upfront and give you no BS beneficial information. If you are really looking to change your body and your life it takes help and support. This is especially true if you’ve never seen yourself as an athlete or the gym type. Sometimes it takes the intervention of good body-work practitioner, or a trip to the sauna, maybe even some cryotherapy. The bottom line is your body needs relief. Even if you have an outstanding movement or fitness practice; there are some things that you cannot do for yourself. We want to help illuminate this idea in the health community by providing solid information and resources for you to utilize.
As a voice to help eliminate misguidance and misinformation in the community we want this to be clear. The recovery process is where the benefit and change occurs. The exercise and movement are just a catalyst for the recovery aspects of this process. The number one culprit in for the human body is inflammation and the number one obstacle to a functional body in alignment. For those who have experienced physical trauma (we include sedentary lifestyle in trauma), we couldn’t stress this enough. Bodywork is the oldest medicine. Check out our library of restorative postures and practices to stay on top of your self-care game. Look at our list of recommended treatments and practitioners.