This is The Way: A Plan for Endless Health
What does “health” look like to you? Is it a clean doctor’s report? A smiling Men’s Health cover model? The idea of dancing at your grandchildren’s weddings? Or perhaps just looking good naked for your better half? Health is a hard word to define. Even more so the idea of easy, endless health. But it’s not difficult to see, is it?
According to the great Dr. Phil Maffetone, health is “the optimal interplay of the organs.” And while we can’t exactly see our organs, we can see the clues that they’re playing well together. They look like this:
You. You’re lean, with little excess bodyfat. You’ve got muscle. You’re strong enough to move furniture, mow the yard, and carry your children out of a burning house. Your doctor looks at your blood report and smiles. You’re tanned and grinning. You have hobbies you love and sleep easily at night. Neighbors say you look younger than your age, because you glow with the telltale signs of a hormonally balanced human being who’s unencumbered by stress.
Certainly, we can try to measure health through quantifiable metrics. Certainly, it means an absence of disease. But in the end, you already know what health looks like.
It looks like you living at your very best.
And despite what the mainstream media and medical science would have us believe, achieving this strong, glowing, attractive state of health might be a LOT easier to achieve than you imagine.
Let me show you the way.
A Lifetime Pinnacle
A few years ago, I was the strongest I’d ever been in my life. Despite a sordid history of back injuries, I’d far exceeded a double-bodyweight deadlift, and done so without a single workout that couldn’t be described as “easy.” I was also lean, with full-on Men’s health cover model abs. When people learned I was approaching my 40s, they’d exclaim: “Whoa! You look like you’re in your 20s!”
Even so, a fluke medical problem sent me to the doctor. It wasn’t a huge deal, but it did require surgery. When I arrived at the doctor’s office, they ran the basic tests and learned that my blood pressure was perfect and my resting heart rate was 54.
“Nice work,” the nurse said. “You must do a lot of cardio!”
I laughed. Outside of easy weightlifting and daily walks through the park, I hadn’t done cardio in years. In fact, as I considered my life over the previous year, I couldn’t find a single day where I trained “hard” at all.
And that’s when a lightbulb clicked on.
As a physical being, my life was ridiculously easy. I trained in an easy way. I ate in an easy way. I’d finally learned to sleep easy at night. And somehow, the confluence of all this easiness sparked a cascade of physical health that made me stronger and leaner than ever, completely stress-free, and made my surgery recovery…you guessed it…easy.
Despite having a small portion of my digestive tract removed, I was back to chin-ups within a few days, and back to deadlifting in about two weeks.
“Take it easy,” my doctor said.
And again, I laughed.
“Don’t worry, I will.”
Easiness, I had discovered, or maybe naturalness, was the key.
The methods I used to achieve this rare state of health were anything but fancy, and I’ve discussed them in this blog before.
- Easy Strength
- Original Strength
- Easy Walking
- Easy Sleep
- Easy Nutrition
Let’s examine each one and see how they work together in a holistic way to produce a body that functions beautifully, day in and day out.
I’ve written a lot about Easy Strength, the incredibly powerful training program of Coach Dan John’s. You can find the cheat sheet on Dan’s own site: DanJohnUniversity.com, but the basic premise (as I interpret it) is:
- 4-5 days a week
- 4 exercises: a press, a pull, deadlift, and the ab wheel
- 10 total reps per exercise, per workout
- Make it feel easy, never miss a lift
- Workouts rarely last longer than 30 minutes
- Allow the volume to work over time, and watch your strength grow in a way that feels like magic
Will it make you look like a bodybuilder? No. But will it make you strong enough to handle anything life throws at you? Yes, absolutely - even stronger. Will it allow you to stay lean and athletic? 100%.
The beauty of Easy Strength is that it mimics and improves the physical reality of the human body as it engages daily with our natural world. Many weightlifting programs demand days of recovery. They leave us sore and with aching joints. They require 10 hours of sleep to function. Indeed, they rapidly make us big and strong, and that’s great at certain times in our lives. But this style of training also takes a lot away. Anyone who’s ever done 20-rep “breathing” squats knows the feeling of being useless and obliterated for days afterward.
Easy Strength makes you stronger without taking anything away. Sometimes, the workouts only take 20 minutes. At the end of each session, you feel stronger than when you started.
This is a more “human” way to train. By not requiring days of recovery, it allows you to engage with the world whenever and however you want. You can go for hikes, swim in the ocean, and play with your kids. It reminds you that “strength” should be your natural state, and not something you only access in the gym.
I’ve raved about Original Strength on the Hibernate VIP Newsletter, but even so, it’s hard to explain.
Is it yoga? No.
Is it “mobility work?” Well, yes, in a way.
Is it easy? Absolutely!
The OS system teaches us that easy daily movement can “heal” our bodies. Its creator, Tim Anderson, is a genius – he discovered something intuitive that our bodies have known all along, even if we didn’t. His YouTube channel is chocked full of things for you to try. But I recommend something simple: a “daily reset” that only takes 5 minutes.
Each morning, do the following:
- Diaphragm Breathing x 1 minute
- Head nods x 20 reps
- Egg Rolls x 1 minute
- Rocking x 1 minute
- Cross Crawl x 1 minute
That’s it. 5 minutes of breathing, nodding, rocking, and rolling. Do it every day and you’ll find your spine regaining its youth, your joints moving freely, and your body prepared to handle anything life throws at you. Of all the training programs you can find these days, I’ve discovered nothing more intuitive or more “human” than Original Strength. And certainly nothing easier.
Coach Dan John has said that ES and OS go together like peas and carrots. I agree 100%. As Tim himself claims: “It is simple. It is not fancy or complicated. But, it is restoration, and it can change your life.”
Good old-fashioned walking. Everybody wants to run a marathon in their snazzy Nike trainers, but few understand the miraculous, profound benefits of just…taking a stroll.
This is no grand discovery. For decades, bodybuilders have lauded morning walks as a key to shaving off excess fat. The Chinese have a maxim: “If you take 100 steps after each meal, you’ll live to 99.” And of course, everyone knows that 10,000 steps is the new daily apple: it keeps the doctor away.
Simple: nothing is more “human” than walking. We’re almost the only bipedal species on the planet that walks habitually. Harvard scientist Daniel Lieberman argues that we evolved to walk 6 miles a day on average, and also that we evolved to avoid anything more physically strenuous. He discovered what ancient hunter-gatherer cultures already know: “easy walking” is our natural state of existence.
Much like Original Strength, walking lubricates your spine. It burns bodyfat. It improves heart health without injuring your joints. And, if you do it outside in nature, it’s more effective at promoting mental health than any pharmaceutical.
Want to be healthy in the most human way possible? Walk. Don’t run. There’s a reason why 79% of active runners get injured at least once a year.
But who ever heard of anyone getting injured from walking?
I rest my case.
Recommendation: 15-60 minutes of walking each day, outside in nature, surrounded by greenery. Avoid the treadmill. There’s nothing easy nor human about tromping on plastic in your garage. Walking in nature is a stress reducer. Walking on a conveyor belt is a stress enhancer.
It’s no surprise that my greatest training results came in the year when (after a lifetime of chronic insomnia) I finally learned how to sleep. Yes, I had to learn how to sleep. And chances are, you do too.
Sleep isn’t a binary process. Most people confuse it with “being unconscious.” They might stay unconscious for 7 or 8 hours and think they’re great sleepers. They don’t question why they yawn all morning. They think needing 6 cups of coffee is normal.
It’s not. It’s not normal. It’s not human at all.
Sleep is a wildly complex (and mysterious) regenerative process, and most modern humans never experience its full power and potential. 1 in 3 Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep a night – a high-speed train ride toward heart disease, obesity, stroke, and depression. But even those who DO get 7 hours never understand what it feels like to have a seemingly inexhaustible supply of energy. To never yawn during the day. To never get sick. To train without getting injured.
Proper sleep quality makes this possible. Everything in life gets 10% better. It’s like steroids for every part of your physical and mental existence.
Our free guide, The 3 Laws of Paleo Sleep, details the evolutionary biology underpinning your body’s sleep requirements. But let’s keep it simple: your body and brain cannot function at 100% without high-quality sleep (most) every night.
Learning to achieve this sleep isn’t difficult. You just have to prepare for bed in a way that mimics your evolutionary ancestors:
- 1-2 hours of darkness before lying down;
- No phones, laptops, or screens for 1-2 hours before bed;
- No electronics in the bedroom;
- Get as much sunlight as possible throughout the day;
- And if you want an extra boost, give your brain the ingredients it needs to manufacture natural sleep with Hibernate.
When your sleep is on point, everything in life gets easier. It’s a cheat code. I highly recommend you use it.
It’s difficult to talk about food these days without making someone angry. I don’t care. Especially because the answer to all our dietary woes is incredibly, stupidly easy. It only takes 3 words:
“Meat. Fruit. Vegetables.”
Meat, fruit, and vegetables should make up 80-90% of the matter you put into your mouth. The canines and molars in your mouth evolved specifically for tearing meat. (They’re quite different from the teeth of herbivores.) Your stomach and its wondrous gut biome function beautifully when fed a steady diet of fiber-rich veggies and fruit. Without them? Welcome to ulcer-town.
We can debate the science all day. But why? No matter who wins the argument, we’ll never be able to disprove this reality: people who primarily eat meat, fruit, and vegetables — ancestral foods — and who stop worrying about the tedious details, tend to be lean and free of chronic disease. (Arguing about food is also a stressor, you know.)
The rules are easy:
- Food consists of: meat (including fish and eggs), vegetables, fruit, and berries, with occasional helpings of earth-grown stuff like potatoes, rice, nuts, butter, olive/coconut oil, and herbs. If it comes in a box, it is not “food”;
- Kill it, grow it, cook it and produce it yourself whenever possible;
- Eat meat and vegetables at every meal;
- To gain muscle, eat more fruit, rice, and potatoes;
- To lose fat, eat less fruit, rice, and potatoes;
- For as many as 3-4 meals per week, eat anything you want, including desserts, bread and alcohol, as long as you do so in a social setting with people you like or with whom you want to sleep naked.
Don’t overthink this. Meat, fruit, and vegetables. It really is that easy. You don’t need a scientific lecture to understand that.
This Is The Way
The idea of “endless health,” as easy as it may be in practice, is ultimately complex. It involves a serious interrogation of how our modern lives and societies are constructed in ways we don't fully understand. There's the automatic assumption that scientific progress — in fitness, technology, food production, and pharmaceuticals — is better. We believe it "corrects" some gap or mistake in our natural existence. But, that's almost never self-evident.
It's easy to look at the sleepless, skinny-fat guy on his apartment treadmill, and the guy strolling through the woods doing tree-branch pullups, and say: "Hmmmm, one of these is a heck of a lot happier, healthier, and less stressed than the other." But most folks never see that comparison, especially when there are so many smart people producing machines, apartment towers, phone apps, pharmaceuticals, and bug-protein cookies and saying, "Yes! This is progress! This is the key we've always needed!"
Ultimately, we all want to look and be like Tarzan. Yet, none of us want to swing through the jungle all day and fight mosquitoes. It’s a conundrum, but not one that’s impossible to solve.
Easy Strength + Original Strength + Walking + Sleep + Meat, Fruit, and Veggies.
These ingredients are easy and human. When you combine them, the effect is magically profound. Certainly, they go together like peas and carrots. But I prefer to channel The Mandalorian and say: “This is The Way.”
Easiness. Naturalness. This seems to be the best (and certainly least damaging) way to live, look, and relax like Tarzan in a stressful modern world. It gave me the greatest health and fitness I’ve ever experienced. I never had to struggle. I just had to believe that this was the way, and then…stay the course.
I hope you’ll stay the course too. Endless health. Easy health. It’s human. It’s natural. It’s not a prescription. It’s your birthright.
How will you pursue endless health and make it look as easy as possible?