As we age, most of us lose a lot of functional fitness that makes humans apex predators. This happens for many reasons, but it isn't something you have to accept. You can learn to move better and as our guest, Tony Riddle titled his new book, Be More Human.
Let's Say Hello
[00:03:29.590] – Allan
Hey, Ras, how are things going?
[00:03:31.850] – Rachel
Good, Allan, how are you today?
[00:03:33.670] – Allan
I'm doing good. I recently finished my coursework for the Precision Nutrition Level One and waiting for my certificate to come in. I set up on monthly payments, so it's kind of one of those things where because it's not cheap, but they offered monthly payments, I'm like, okay, I'll do monthly payments. And considering how long it usually takes people to get through that course, they said, okay, expect it to take three or four months, and you have to get about that many payments in before they'll even let you say that you're certified. So I think I have to wait until the end of this month. It's already July to wait till the end of this month, and I make a payment on the 29th. And so a couple of weeks from now, when this goes live, I'll get that payment in, and they should send me my certificate, and then I'll be precision Nutrition Level One certified.
[00:04:33.620] – Rachel
[00:04:35.290] – Allan
[00:04:36.140] – Rachel
What did you think about the class? Did you learn anything interesting or anything?
[00:04:40.600] – Allan
I did. For a lot of people, when they're thinking about this, they think about, I don't want to log everything I eat, and it's so hard to track this, or, oh, they want me to do away with this or do away with that. And Precision Nutrition is a lot more holistic things I've said. So it kind of fits my model of thought is one, eat whole food.
[00:05:08.230] – Rachel
[00:05:11.870] – Allan
Eat whole food. And then just take some time to start understanding portion sizes.
[00:05:17.330] – Rachel
Oh, yeah, that's a good one.
[00:05:20.030] – Allan
And then it's sleep and making sure that you're staying hydrated. And those are the kind of the four core principles of it. And guess what you don't have to do when you understand portion sizes? You're getting adequate sleep, you're staying hydrated, and you're eating real food. You don't have to track calories. You don't have to really worry about tracking macros, because guess what? You can't overeat whole food.
[00:05:49.010] – Rachel
[00:05:50.040] – Allan
Think about it.
[00:05:51.030] – Rachel
[00:05:51.380] – Allan
If I said, okay, here's what you got chicken or beef or fish as a protein, and maybe you want to do vegan or vegetarians, like, so you get your protein together, and you get your vegetables and fruits together and then try to overeat it.
[00:06:06.030] – Rachel
[00:06:07.050] – Allan
Try just try to overeat meat. Okay.
[00:06:13.950] – Allan
I'm really trying to cut a little bit more weight to get ready for the tough mudder, which is going to be in another month and a half from when this goes live. And so I've started really trying to get myself into ketosis and pushing through on that. And right now I'm going through something where anything I eat that has carbs in it pops me down, and I'm like, I'm right on that line. It's like, right over the line or right under the line. And I wouldn't be too terribly troubled about it other than I'm not cutting body fat right now, because I drop out of ketosis when I eat any carbs at all. So I'm actually, at least for the last 48 hours, full carnivore.
[00:06:58.930] – Rachel
[00:07:00.090] – Allan
And I can tell you so I had steak for breakfast. I had eggs for lunch. I say breakfast, I ate it like noon, but I had my breakfast at noon. It was steak. I had eggs for lunch, which was about 3:30, and then for dinner at about six, I had another steak. So I'm talking about eating maybe about a pound a steak. So a big 16 ounce steak and then three eggs is what I had for lunch. So kind of a light lunch and then another steak. So I ate about another pound of steak for dinner, and I couldn't eat anymore. I got some leftover steak here. I'm like, well, I don't want to go to waste, so I'll wrap it up and save it for tomorrow. I could not have eaten any more than I ate. And if I added up the calories, I'm pretty sure I was really low on calories. I mean, because a pound of steak, I don't know. But 2 lbs of steak and three eggs, you guys can look it up and kind of figure out how many calories I had that day. That's all I ate. And I stayed satiated full all day long.
[00:08:06.310] – Rachel
I would imagine that sounds fulfilling. Wow.
[00:08:10.200] – Allan
Whereas I could eat a whole loaf of bread without even batting an eye, literally buy a whole load of French bread and just sit there and eat it, and then I'd be hungry ten minutes later, 2 hours later, I'd be starving. So you look at the nutritional density of your food, and that's really kind of where the fundamental difference comes in. Whole food is nutritionally dense, and you get full before that, whereas a lot of other foods that are processed or even somewhat slightly mildly processed, they're just more calorie dense. And that's where the weight gain comes from.
[00:08:48.200] – Rachel
because they're just not satiating, they just don't fill you up.
[00:08:51.340] – Allan
So that's kind of some of the core principles between precision nutrition and there's a huge component of behavioral change. A lot of what they're talking about is how we build habits, how we change behaviors. And so that's kind of the secret sauce to the precision nutrition process. It's not just telling you what to eat or naughty. It's basically saying, beyond that, we have to build these habits. We have to build these things. And they don't just happen. You don't just decide. So there's a big behavioral component of making sure that happens, and within it is like they break it down. It's like sometimes you're dealing with elite athletes that want to really hit a physique target or something like that. So it gets very specific into some of the things that you would deal with, with someone who needs to lose a lot of weight versus someone who's really just trying to cut another 3 lbs without losing any body muscle mass and stuff like that. So there's a lot of that in there, too. It's kind of what I would say outside of my core demo. Most of us are not trying to win physique contests, but that said, it's a really good certification.
[00:10:07.070] – Allan
So anyone that is certified out there, I would look at precision nutrition as a way of understanding the nutrition aspects of personal training and then being able to offer that as a more holistic service.
[00:10:18.890] – Rachel
That sounds awesome. Sounds like a great class.
[00:10:21.990] – Allan
So what's up there?
[00:10:23.620] – Rachel
Good. You know, summertime brings some really fun stuff. Right now, we've got two massive mulberry trees on our property that are dropping mulberries like crazy. It's ridiculous. They're all over the ground. And my dogs love it. They get a free snack every time they go outside, but it also brings in other animals. And I just saw red fox the other day. So the little fox family living somewhere in our wooded subdivision is coming to snack on the mulberries that are on our property, and it's been a real treat.
[00:10:54.940] – Allan
Now, the thing about foxes, we see these cute, cuddly little pictures of foxes, and we see the pictures, and we see the cartoons, and they seem like they're just these lovable little animals.
[00:11:07.950] – Rachel
[00:11:08.870] – Allan
They're adorable. But some of them are really, like, not adorable. So you could get a good fox or a bad fox, but they're dangerous. They're wild.
[00:11:16.450] – Rachel
[00:11:17.260] – Allan
And they could go after your dog. They could go after you. So, yeah, you got to mind your Ps and Qs when you walk. Okay?
[00:11:25.960] – Rachel
Yeah, I keep an eye on my dogs, and I do let them out, and I'm always looking first before I let them out just to make sure there's nobody in our yard. With fox, we've had deer run through. We've had groundhogs coming through as well. So we've got a whole fun menagerie of wildlife in our property.
[00:11:46.040] – Allan
But it's like Noah's Ark.
[00:11:47.750] – Rachel
It is. It really is. Yes. But it is always fun. It's fun to see.
[00:11:53.610] – Allan
All right, are you ready to talk to Tony Riddle?
[00:11:56.790] – Rachel
[00:12:22.930] – Allan
Tony. Welcome to 40+ Fitness.
[00:12:25.390] – Tony
Thanks, Allan. Great to be here, man. Thanks for the invite.
[00:12:28.770] – Allan
Your book is called Be More Human, which I love. Be More Human: How to Transform Your Lifestyle for Optimum Health, Happiness and Vitality. And I think one of the reasons that your title and this book resonated so much with me is a lot of what I've done to improve my own health and Fitness has included a lot of the things that are in his book, including we moved to a small island, Caribbean island off the coast of Panama. And so while I do live in a town, I'm very close to the jungle, and I'm closer to nature and everything than I've ever been in my whole adult life. I can literally go out and be in places and not see a person walking for over an hour. And it's
[00:13:16.880] – Tony
just kind of a dream.
[00:13:18.020] – Allan
It is special, I know, but a lot of this in the book doesn't require you to travel thousands of miles and move into the jungle to experience a lot of the benefits that I get being here. And so I want to talk a lot about this, what's in the book here, because I think this is a really special way to get healthier, connect with the Earth.
[00:13:47.770] – Allan
You say that you're be more human, but I'm like, be who you're supposed to be. Be the person you want me to be.
[00:13:55.390] – Tony
Yeah, you're human. What the universe uniquely assigned you to be. Get into the understanding of that, what your own human potential is, or purpose, we could even call that. And I think we get so distracted from that in our everyday environment because we're simply not getting our needs met within those environments. And that's largely what the book is about. It's not about demonizing the urban environment or the lifestyles in the city or the city itself. It's trying to dismantle, deconstruct those ways of living that aren't serving us and then reconnect into ways of living that enable us to thrive in any environment. That's the point. To become the connected, empowered being that we entered with. We're all in a tiny, wild, connected, empowered beings. It's what we land with. And over time, unfortunately, we get pulled off the path. But really, for me, it's about every day should still be a get, a need and most fundamental needs that then enable us to thrive and really tune into, well, what's this human's potential here? How do I be more human?
[00:15:08.590] – Allan
And I like the way you put it in the book, because it really puts it in a really good context, is that we create our own human zoo. And then you introduce the term rewilding, which you see a lot of people are going to initially kind of have a cringe moment when they think about going back to the Stone Age, living in caves or maybe tents with stone tools. Can you go a little bit more into what this rewilding getting out of our human zoo is all about and why it's so important?
[00:15:45.730] – Tony
Yeah, when I first started this kind of path, there was this language of zoo human versus wild human. And first of all, it's a bit of an insult to call someone a zoo human. And at the same breath, we can't really connect to being what a wild human is, and even indigenous cultures don't want to be perceived as being wild right there. But again, looking at the indigenous template of what it is to be, there's some incredible kind of moments where I've had these deep insights in nature because it's taken me to unplug myself from the urban environment to really tune in to how sophisticated it all is, right? And, you know, if you look at indigenous cultures, how incredibly wise and understanding those cultures are to that landscape of which they're custodians, really, we could look at the what is it, the study I brought up in, there like, four to 5% of the world's population is indigenous, and yet look after 80% of the world's biodiversity. So then it's like, well, what is it that we're doing then, if that's 4%? And so firstly, there's the biodiversity. There's the question of that. What is it that we're doing within the environment?
[00:16:59.740] – Tony
Is it because we're so separate from it? So I guess that's where I'd go with the wild understanding of it, that we are part of nature, not separate of it. We're interconnected in that sense. And then the zoo human in my mind is the fact that we've become disconnected and unplugged from it and that we see ourselves separate. So there's the ego versus eco conversation. So a lot of the work for me is disconnecting from an ecosystem and reconnecting to an ecosystem, again, not by demonizing the urban environment or the environments of which we choose to live in. It's the habits, perhaps, that are in those environments. So we could be looking at movement, perhaps, what does movement looks like in nature? That would be a wild or organic way of moving versus what does it look like in the human zoo? What does it look like in our everyday urban setting? So we could even put movement down to let's look at one study of the Hadza, for instance, to give us an example of cultures that have been living the same way for tens of thousands of years. The Hadza are just as sedentary as we are.
[00:18:11.500] – Tony
As in they sit for ten and a half hours a day, as in we sit for ten and a half hours a day. But there's something very different. Well, we have a chair, whereas they're sitting practices of floor sitting. Therefore, there are multiple different rest positions we can be choosing on the ground, which ultimately will lead to one primary position, which is a squat. And that squat position enables me to recognize the same body weight on my feet in the base of support of my feet to which I would stand. So squatting is the same weight, same areas of the feet that I load when I'm standing. But it's a rest position. And we see squatting as kind of an exercise protocol or strength conditioning protocol, but ultimately, beneath it, there's a rest position that we can communicate, be around the fire, eat, poop give birth in, right? And if we then look at the chair, perhaps in that conversation, or the sofa, where we may spend ten and a half hours of our day committed to, in a way, it compromises or is the saboteur of the way that we stand. So suddenly we find ourselves locked in the hips or stagnation occurring in the hips.
[00:19:27.850] – Tony
Then the pelvis and the lumber become incredibly unstable because the hip joints aren't mobile enough. So the core element, the core we love talking about, becomes unstable. The mid back becomes compromised, our chest starts to collapse, our head position starts to shoot forward and all those postural changes aren't conducive with standing and we spend a large portion of our day in that position. So that could just be well, that could be a zoo posture versus a wild posture. And in terms of wild, I would say what is it to be this wild, connected, empowered being? Well, it could just be just simply the way we move through a landscape or interact with it. How upright we are, how open we are. Is our posture connected and our joints working how they should be? Are our feet connected how they should be? Are they? Nourishing. The behaviors of the ankle, the knee, the hip stabilizing, the lower back, we could then put sleep in that box because we all love the topic of sleep, right? And there are so many studies in what would be the human zoo or the human laboratory even, because most of the studies are in the laboratory which help us understand what we need.
[00:20:37.540] – Tony
8 hours sleep a day. We must get 8 hours sleep a day. And to the point people are stressed about getting 8 hours sleep a day because they've heard the news that if you don't receive 8 hours sleep, then you have a sleep debt or you'll have a number of symptoms based on the fact you haven't accumulated over 8 hours. And they are diabetes, obesity, inflammation. And yet, when you look at these indigenous cultures, there's a great study in the book again, Professor Siegel from university in California, he looks at three different geographic locations or three independent tribes. So different geographic locations, independent tribes, hadza are in there again and they all have the same time asleep. It's like 5.7 to 7.1 hour, no 8 hours at all. But no one is asleep for 8 hours or 5.7 to 7.1 hour in a solid state. It's this sleep wake cycle. And if you strip it back and think, well, that makes sense, right? Because in nature can be quite hostile. If it's been the same sleep or the same environment they've been inhabiting for tens of thousands of years, then that might have been hostile if they were all asleep for 8 hours.
[00:21:57.870] – Tony
So in that time, would we be here today? Would those cultures be here today in those hostile environments? If they went to the land of nod for 8 hours. So in that sleep wake cycle, what they're doing is they're waking, they're tending to fire because you have to have a fire, they're fixing tools, they are even known to smoke party or whatever it is. But when they break away from the study and they look at the hatza, for instance, and they assess for 220 hours, they study them, 33 members of that one tribe, 220 hours, they only ever sleep for 18 minutes together. They're all doing this all different sleep wake cycles. So where is the obesity, the chronic inflammation, the obesity? It's not there. They're in incredible shape. And if some of the studies, when you look at them, because we have this idea about longevity, that they're only living till their 40s, some of these tribes know they can live beyond 70. That's not the case when we look at it. It's quite an interesting model to unpack just looking at how does it look in nature and how does it look in the environments of which we're inhabiting and then what is it that's different?
[00:23:14.390] – Tony
So what is different in that sleep habitat? It's like lighting, right? There's no turn the light on to create sunrise at sunset. So we know then that through the studies around melatonin and light pollution and blue light spectrum, they've become the saboteur of melatonin which is this incredible hormone that we only really associate with sleep, but it has antioxidant properties, anti inflammatory. It's also the main regulatory system of our digestive system around Glenn, Glenn and Leptin which then regulate whether I've had too much food wherever I need to eat, right? And then insulin, right? So there's this link to pancreas and the insulin. So then we have a inflammation, diabetes and obesity all in a conversation around melatonin and lighting all of a sudden. So is it the 8 hours sleep or is it the environment of which we're choosing to so then my question is how do we rewild that environment? And that's the context of rewilding a zoo or zoo environment as simple as the bedroom. We could look at that one environment if we're looking to spend 8 hours in it. So what can we do? We could change the lighting. You can now bring in circadian lighting which offers the same biological darkness which is like starlight, moonlight and firelight.
[00:24:35.540] – Tony
So it brings in amber tones and anything they suggest between 60 and 600 hundred lux will inhibit a blue spiritual light or will inhibit melatonin. Then what else is different? The temperature. There's also studies that suggest that if the temperature could also be a saboteur of melatonin so it's about getting the temperature down in the evening. So if you think of it again about being in the outdoor environment, if you've ever camped, you know that once the sun goes down, it gets cooler at night. So we know this cooling down of temperature too. And then there's something else which is the materials that perhaps we're breathing in and out in that environment. So in nature, again, it's an organic experience. So we're only ever really inhaling, or let's call it consuming through everything, our ears and nose, our senses, our taste, everything organic. So how do we make that expression more organic? And it's probably one of the points in the book. Everything else is free, really, the points I put in the book. But this is one where you stuff out of that bedroom environment to replace it with more organic material that might be the bedding or things like breathing.
[00:25:43.810] – Tony
We can change breathing mechanics. We now know that for nasal breathing there's a change of relationship between parasympathetic and sympathetic and then the information that we receive, right? So we all have one of these now that's quite bright on my phone. There's some fantastic studies around just fields of vision. So that's quite bright for that alone the light will inhibit melatonin. It's the suppressor of that we recognize that now, the saboteur of that, but also the fact that the visual state is so concentrated and that's associated more sympathetic, which is like fight and flight, whereas an open visual field is more associated with parasympathetic. So you have one condition where we're staring at a blue light which will suppress melatonin. The second one we end up with really hypervisual state, which is sympathetic fight and flight before sleep. The next one is then dopamine because we're typing and swiping, which again isn't conducive with sleep. And studies suggest that up to 400% melatonin from just typing and swiping. And then it can just be the information we were receiving. So is the information up regulating? Am I perhaps the difference between the fire and the indigenous tribes around the fire is perhaps romance, comedy, imparting wisdom, whereas this can be quite toxic and we've even normalized emotional bullying over social media, right?
[00:27:08.240] – Tony
It's okay to drop this comment and that's incredibly abusive to one person that they might receive before sleep. Or it could be a movie you're watching which is incredibly violent. That would be the equivalent of being around the fire with your tribe in this really down regulated state and being invaded or something, right? Or in a moment a predator comes in. So then you switch to what would be fight and flight, right? That would be a reaction to it. But we have that in our possession the whole time. So when you see it like that and you understand, it's much easier to think, okay, I get it now. It's not really about the length of sleep. The length of sleep is almost symptom relief. It's a symptom. What's the cause? It could even be the bedroom of which you're sleeping in could be the cause of the very conditions that are leading you to suppress melatonin are leading to inflammatory disease, diabetes and obesity. Just simple factors like that. And we can address it relief or we can look at the cause and the cause change the environment.
[00:28:17.150] – Tony
Now, one of the things that's fascinating about you is you're an endurance runner and your runs barefooted. And I can tell you the other day it was raining and I had wore because I was planning to meet my wife out and I had wore my leather boat shoes, brand new leather boat shoes and I didn't have an umbrella. And I was like, okay, I can't walk home in these. I'm going to have to walk home barefoot. And so I put them in a plastic bag and I put them in another bag and then I started walking home barefoot. And when stepping in a puddle, when you can't see the bottom is a little kind of scary but sharp rocks. I seem to be able to find every single sharp rock between two points. How does someone get into barefoot running and do it in a way where they're not hurting themselves? Like I said, I think you can condition your foot and obviously it gets stronger. I know that because I spent a lot of time walking around barefoot. But to me, running barefoot is a little scary.
[00:29:17.590] – Tony
Yeah, I mean, there's a mind aspect to it, right, as well as obviously the physiological. But there's also a technique. I think we sometimes neglect the technique, but there's a study in the book from University of Liverpool, which is Chris Dart, and they look to the strength side the physiological changes that can occur by people returning just back to barefoot footwear, like Vivo Barefoot, for instance. In this particular study was Vivo Barefoot and within six months they'd improve 60% foot strength and 40% balance just by returning that. So if we think of that being the foundation of your superstructure so the first phase could be well, you could change to more minimal footwear. That's one step because then you're still getting the shape of the foot because ultimately you want to look at what's the shape of a foot versus the shoes that I'm wearing. So if you were to take a piece of paper, draw around your foot on the paper and you'd find the toe area like the foot, this area is much use. My dirty feet wide and the heel is much more narrow, right? Whereas if you then grab your footwear and you draw around it you might find that the toe box is actually much more narrow.
[00:30:29.550] – Tony
It's aesthetic so it's more aesthetically pleasing. But it's, again, the saboteur to how that foot is designed and to move and nourish the rest of your posture and the way that we move above it. So if the shape of the foot is compromised there's 26 bones, 33 articulation joint actions like 100 muscle, tendon, ligaments, 29 muscles. And then it's made up of tendon ligaments and then there's 200,000 receptors, like receptors like the equivalent of your hands that reside in a foot. I mean, it's. Phenomenal engineering, but that then feeds and nourishes how your joints and behaviors are above it to make you more efficient and minimize the risk of injury. But let's say Alan decides I'm going to take my shoes off, I'm going to walk over a hard surface which has hard stones on it. If I was to ask you to jump up and down barefoot on a really hard surface, what gives, Alan? Is it you or is it the hard surface?
[00:31:32.390] – Allan
I'm going to have to it's not going anywhere.
[00:31:35.450] – Tony
Not going anywhere. Or we'd be hitting hard on hard and one of those surfaces will have to break. Right? So what happens is that if you were to jump up and down on a compliant, really soft surface, we become can, more stiff and more rigid because the surface is doing this. So come 1969, it was normalized all of a sudden to wear more rubber. And then we have more rubber, but we also have a narrow toe box. So we create a narrow shape for the toes to go into. Then we put rubber underneath it with a heel, which raises it and pushes the foot into the footbed even more. So we create a stiff, rigid foot which becomes narrow in the toe box. And the whole point of that super wide foot is not just the loading points, leverage and pivoting. There's specific actions that have to occur in the foot that are based on leverage and balance. And this ability to even grip with the foot, when the foot becomes incredibly stiff and rigid in that shape, when you try and return back to walking over a stony path, you're then going back to that hitting hard on hard and stiff on stiff.
[00:32:42.830] – Tony
And it can feel like.. Until you would have to learn how to break the foot up. So again, going back into one way is to return back to minimalist barefoot footwear. So you can start to allow the foot to open up. There's a minimum layer between you and the earth. It's zero. Drop your feel stuff underneath you, but you won't be getting so much that which creates more tension. The more of that response, the more rigid intent you get, adding to more hard on hard expression. And the other thing I've put some practices in the book is to rewild the feet, which are practice like toga we call it like yoga for your feet. And that's then about opening the feet up and getting more expression into them and ultimately softening them so they can become the compliance over the stiff surfaces. And then eventually what happens, the more and more familiar you normalize it. And what you find is that you become more sensory aware, more sensitive. And I don't mean sensitive in that ah ah ah, I mean sensitive. I really learn that you'll learn how to become, again, soft when you need to be, stiff when you need to be.
[00:33:59.350] – Tony
We have the most sophisticated suspension systems within us. That's the point. And that's why those 26 bones, 33 articulations, 200,000 receptors are there and over 100 muscles, tendons ligaments or 29 muscles and the rest tendons, ligaments that make that 100 up. That's why it's there. But it's there also because it feeds and nourishes all the other mechanics above it. So that's where I'd go with feet. But then you then have well, the chair, so the chair will then the seat is sitting for ten and a half hours, then compromises the posture above it. So it's like a two pronged thing. Running for me is not just barefoot. Running isn't just about feet, it's about getting the appropriate posture and becoming much more upright and aware of that posture. And the whole point there is that our head should be up above, but we lead with the heart. The chest is the lead segment, not the head. The moment the head goes forward from typing, swiping and couching and slouching, I call it, what would happen is when you're running so that if your head is far forward of you, you have to have your foot further out in front of you, otherwise you'd simply fall over.
[00:35:08.880] – Tony
Imagine you're upright like this and we're running along. The moment the head drifts forward, you'd have to put your foot further out, otherwise you'll fall over. So the head would get to a point of tipping point. But if we can become much more upright, you can get to the point where your feet are pretty much landing underneath you and it means there's a lot less contact time. So you just catch the ground beneath you. And the idea is that leading from your heart and keeping your head up, we're literally just falling in this direction and you just keep pulling your feet softly from underneath you. And pulling is a great term, I understand that from a genius called Nicholas Romanoff who developed the Pose Method. And this idea that we think we have to push when we run and ultimately if you just keep doing this, you just pull your feet from the ground. And the idea is by pulling, you're not driving your feet down or pushing, you're trying to pick them up. And I would pick them up with sensitivity again like this, softening and you don't need to worry about putting them down, it will just happen naturally, just pick up.
[00:36:08.100] – Tony
So if you keep your head up, your chest up bead with the heart, nasal breathing also helps because again, the study suggests that there is through nitric oxide that we inhale through the nose it's stimulated will benefit vasodilation and bronchial dilation if we'll become more efficient with our lungs of breathing and we can lower our heart rate and our blood pressure just by nasal breathing. There's also 42% less vapor loss by nasal breathing, which is mind blowing, especially for me, for an endurance athlete. But it keeps us in that calm state. Again, so I think with breathing we can be relaxed with the right posture, we can deal with the forces appropriately. We're not creating longer levers or loading areas of the feet. We're not designed to load. And just by either wearing minimal footwear or allowing the feet to understand what's beneath them, again, it helps feed our movement brain to make the right calculations on what muscles, tendons and actions should be applied for that one locomotive pattern. And I say that one because walking is the same. It's like walking with an upright posture down regulated through breaths, less striding, actually trying to keep your feet underneath you, but thinking about rolling through the feet and becoming visually aware of the environment as well.
[00:37:27.860] – Tony
Because we bring the head down, the head starts to chase and we create longer levers. Otherwise again, we'd be falling over. And the less contact time, the more efficient. Again, because it requires less muscle action, you're on the ground for less time, basically posture, relaxation and the timings and the rhythms of that.
[00:37:53.340] – Allan
And the key takeaways I get from this, again, being over 40 actually over 50 now is balance, because falls become a big deal, particularly as we get over 60. So anything you can do to improve your balance, which this will do, is good. And as you mentioned, being more efficient means you're going to be capable of going faster and doing more work. So when you're out training, you're going to get more done and you're going to see better improvements because your efficiency and your capacity to do more, because your heart rate isn't racing as high, because you're not in that fight or flight state. So there's lots unpacked there that makes this really interesting. Now the other thing, and people won't know this, listening to a podcast, but you're sitting on the floor. And so sitting on the floor, it's one of the things if you hand a kid a book or a toy, immediately they're going to run over and they're going to sit on the floor. And then somewhere along their lives, probably around great school age, we start beating that out of them and then eventually they're going to be on couches and chairs just like the rest of us.
[00:38:56.440] – Allan
I found that sitting on the floor, when you're with a kid, it changes the whole relationship with that child. And I build relationships with my granddaughter. Initially she was terrified of me and I built a relationship by walking over and sitting on the floor and starting a Sponge Bob cartoon on my computer. And she came over and sat next to me and we watched SpongeBob for about an hour. And my ability to be able to sit on the floor for that amount of time, I shifted, I moved. You can't really just sit. You got different postures you have to do because your body is just naturally going to tell you to do that, which is actually part of the value. In there, you had actually like, I think, six different ways of sitting that you want to shift between. And I think actually, in my opinion, a lot of those just naturally happen. But can you talk about sitting and having a floor sitting and having a floor sitting practice?
[00:39:52.130] – Tony
Yeah, we've been a ground living floor sitting family for, I think, since lower. And really they're our eldest, so they're 13 and twelve to about 10 13 and ten. It's about around about nine years, I guess now eight or nine years. I used to have a Pilates studio and big practice, like six practitioners and people would rock up at the studio, they take their compromising, narrow toe box compliance shoes off, put them in the rack, and they would have no doubt been driving to the plate. Studio sitting would then come in and jump on the Reformers and the Cadillacs and try and dismantle all the harm that was being caused, the symptom relief from the environment, the cause, which was the footwear in the chair, because they've been sitting for ten odd hours. So I had this kind of eureka moments would pop off. It's like, wow, okay, this is like so what does that look like? Again, it came really through the barefoot running and understanding that, well, there's a natural running posture. Where do we see that? With indigenous cultures against natural running posture. It can be seen there. And again, these incredible tribes, running tribes are running the same.
[00:41:06.460] – Tony
They all look the same when they're running and have the same posture. What's different? Again, there's no footwear and there's no chair involved. That's how they've managed to maintain the same posture. What are the sitting postures look like? But it works out. You can strip it back. And you may see this as you've alluded to with kids. You see them sitting on the ground, you'll see them transition from one shape to another. And those rest positions that are in the book, there are six different series, a series of each. So there's a squatting series, a side sitting series, a long sitting series, and so on a kneeling series, each one of those rest positions is like a prerequisite or will complement the way we stand. Because that's ultimately what we used as a baby to toddler, to young adults to stand up. Right. And then what happened is at some stage a chair was pushed underneath us and then we start to sit in a chair for longer periods of time in a classroom environment with a hierarchical system, with a teacher at the front. And we're told to sit still and be quiet. And we may have had an hour then to go out and play.
[00:42:12.410] – Tony
And then that hour became lunch break and then play became PE physical education, which then involves stretching and doing all the stuff. But before the chair kid, you don't see any children, any toddlers stretching. They're just incredibly fluid and this ability to move on the ground. And what we've noticed through ground sitting and being a floor sitting families is our kids. That's how they've remained. We unschooled as well. There's no school in that conversation. So the only time we're sitting, it's unavoidable. It could be in a car or a plane or train or occasional cinema, but other than that, it's ground sitting. And their postures are incredible, right? Their framework is incredible. Their athleticism has remained incredible. They haven't had to relearn how to once they stand up from a chair. So again, I think it's understanding that there's beneath our upright, wild, empowered posture, there are these sitting postures and those sitting postures help nourish, that upright posture.
[00:43:17.710] – Allan
I love that concept of a sitting family and the reasons I think back to how much money I have spent on couches and chairs over the course of my life.
[00:43:32.870] – Tony
We use bolsters and stuff like that because you still want to create like a dining expense. Our dining room table is a low table and we have ground sitting, like little bowls, like yoga cushions and stuff like that on the ground. People come, they still have some experience as a dining experience that's not going to work for everyone. So my advice is always that look at the everyday environment. Can I spend less time on the couch? Can I set a timer and maybe kneel or squat? And you do get signals, and for some at the beginning it will be uncomfortable, but it's playing with the edges of that discomfort. Until some of those postures become a little more comfortable, they won't become so comfortable that you'll spend ten and a half hours like you could in a chair. Because nature's way is you'll get signals to tell you to move. And the beauty of that is there's a chemical metabolic cost for movement taking your everyday work. If you work from home, put your laptop down like, I'm on this call, I'm on the ground, I've been side sitting and I've been sitting crosslegged, I've been kneeling and I've been squatting already, all on a call.
[00:44:39.840] – Tony
And we're like 40 minutes in. I just have, whilst having a conversation, 40 minutes of mobility and strength work that ultimately is going to help me remain mobile in my hips and strong in my core, keep my head and chest upright, which then has an overlap in the way that I stand, I walk and I run as a 47 year old endurance athlete. Is that important? 100%. And we're all endurance athletes. That's the point. Underneath it, we are. Right? That's where we're at. And unfortunately, some of the habits within habitats aren't enabling that. And if you want to become more efficient, minimize the risk of injury, then get on the ground and just get back into understanding how those behaviors are on the ground and how that will then feed into how your posture will thrive. And there's a guy yehudi in my book, I mentioned to him, he's like 82 now. And he first came wanting to learn how to walk. And he had this stooped posture from working and collapsed in the chest and stiff in the hips and stiffing the ankles, and over time went through toga rewilding feet, rewilding footwear, vivo, barefoot, got him on the ground, ground sitting.
[00:46:00.170] – Tony
And then later on in time, the reason it turned out he wanted to learn how to walk because he wanted to climb Everest to base camp, everest base camp with his wife for his 50th anniversary. But his commute now looks like this. He walks to the tube in barefoot footwear. The tube is our underground train. He then gets on the underground and mostly people will go, do you want to seat? Because he's like 80. But no, I'm okay. And so here he hang off the bars above, so it hang on to the rails above while the train is moving. So he gets grip strength in, he opens his chest up, enables his whole respiratory system by enabling that upper posture through hanging. And then when the train stops or even squats whilst people get on, when the train goes again, the doors closed, he surf. So he's now balancing whilst not holding on to anything and surfing the train. And that just again, it proves that it's never too late, even Allan, because sometimes we look at this, we are past that. I'm never going to be able to sit back on the ground again.
[00:47:03.560] – Tony
Here we are, a dude in his 80s. That's what he's doing. And that's his practice. And he also works from home and he has a standing desk. And he also has a sitting desk. But he also has a lot of his practice on the ground that will help dismantle and deconstruct some of the poor qualities that come from sitting in a chair. But also enhance the way that he stands at his standing desk and will improve the posture of which he chooses to stand. Because standing tap desks get a lot of praise. But if I'm not posturally aware and I still have inefficiencies in movement within the ankle and the hip and I'm not flexible or upright in the mid back, which comes through sitting in a chair, then that's just as detrimental to stand with poor posture as it is sitting with it.
[00:47:50.510] – Allan
Now, one of the other areas of movement that I want to get into because I think this is another area where we kind of move from child to adult and we start casting away the things that we did. That was that quote. When I was a child, I played as a child and play as adults. Okay, I play tennis or maybe play basketball. But as you got in the book, I started thinking because you said this, it's like those sports that we play, they're usually unilateral or they're front and back or there's some aspect to them, where it's repetitive movement that we're doing. And while it's movement, which is great, I'm never going to poopoo movement at all. It's not really building us to be a better human. Can you talk about how we should play, how play would be if we got out of our zoo?
[00:48:46.090] – Tony
Yes, very specialized, the way that we observe those sports. Right. They're very specialist. And underneath it all, we're all generalist movers. So again, in the book I've put a study by Peter Gray. He wrote a fantastic book, Free to Learn, and we're an unschooling family. So it's around homeschooling and unschooling. But within it, again, three independent tribes, three different geographic locations. And he asked ten leading anthropologists, what does childhood look like in nature? And firstly, their responses. They're the most well adjusted, well rounded individuals they've ever met, which we refer our colonial minds like savages or whatever, comes to the most well rounded, well adjusted. And that's not from a lens of cultural appropriation. It's cultural appreciation. It's like, wow, okay, what's different? And children are playing from infancy through to their teenage years and they are left to play without adult intervention, without the adult supervision. So it's from infancy through to teenage years, all different ages, playing and mixing together. And they play at being everything. So they've played being the plants, the rocks, the animals. They've played at being the adults. Foraging, hunting, tracking, fire, building shelter, building. It's all in there.
[00:50:10.340] – Tony
So that the idea is that they walk into adulthood and still what would be a playful state of mind? And in adulthood we could then question, well, are those tribes that we're talking about operating with a playful state of mind? And when asking Bruce Perry, who I interview, and he's again mentioned in the book and from what said is that this Pen and tribe that he spent some time with in the Benjelli tribes is that these tribes are moving through a landscape in this meditative state, in a real parasympathetic state. What we call like flow state, they're in it. And flow state I refer to is just being placed. It's just an extension of that. And then the ability to move your physicality in that environment. Because if you're playing at being everything, you are, everything, you'll be the animals within that environment. We have this amazing ability to impersonate any animal, yet we have difficulty even moving with our own locomotive patterns. And there is this understanding how does it compare through childhood to what it would look like in nature? And so again, we enter a school system where we're very playful and we have play as the background within that, where we're moving around on a playground, a playground.
[00:51:33.300] – Tony
And we're expressing, but it's still supervised by adults. And there's now fear involved with that, that children might fall off something or hurt something. So we then start to worry about perhaps being sued. So then we change even how high kids can climb and practice climbing or jumping or balancing. And these are the fundamentals, like balance, climbing, jumping, lifting, throwing, defending, running, swimming, right? They are generalist movements. And even the imagine the amazing skills of foraging where you're down on the ground and Lowgate walking and grabbing things or have to crawl under something or over something or balance up in something or climb something. That's a generalist mover. And kids have that. If you actually let your kids just thrive in an environment, you'll be amazed at their capacity to move. But yet we go into a classroom environment where that's stripped back and we're told to sit. We then get into a PE physical education that's very specialist. And the specialist lens means that it doesn't often suit every child. We also have the age, massive age differences. So the eldest in the year versus the youngest in the year, who's going to be picked, who's going to be strongest and who's going to come away feeling inadequate.
[00:52:55.050] – Tony
The youngest kids, the bigger kids, are much stronger. They're taller. They're picked by whoever's in charge of that class. Then we have things like footwear. Again, like the basketball studies, like basketball footwear. Think of the forces that are involved in basketball. It's very playful, basketball. It's a really great practice. It would become even greater if we looked at foot function because those basketball boots we're talking about getting incredibly narrow in the toe box. The performance and behavior of the feet is compromised. That means the knee has to be the lower back. So if we then brought in that Professor Chris Dort study and said, well, what if we didn't put compromising footwear on those children to begin with and they maintained 60% of that foot strength and their balance, what potential would be there? Or we could say, what potential has been lost by wearing compromising footwear over time and then putting specialist sports through these young bodies that are, again, as you suggest, right, it's in the book. It's this understanding that they're very linear, those practices, like pushing, pulling one plane. Whereas actually, when you look at play, it's multi direction. And there's something else phenomenal that I observe through it and observing my kids.
[00:54:20.070] – Tony
It's through that tribal experience of the kids are being everything. It means that you can step outside your experience. So even if you get stuck, we get stuck, right? People get stuck in depression or could be mental health, for instance. But if you don't lose your playful state of mind, you can imagine yourself in a different position. You can play out being something else. So whereas in nature it might be I don't know, whatever we're playing out in a natural experience versus what we might be playing out in the human zoo might be Harry Potter, Dobby or all these characters. At least there's an opportunity to imagine yourself outside of that. So there's other things that empathy, compassion, that can be delivered through that. I had a big workshop it was with a yoga community and it's called Yoga Connects and I was asked to take a class at the festival and there's a large number of yogis came in and I said firstly we're going to just roll your maps up. Put them away. Take your footwear off and we will just come into the space and we walk around the space and meander around the space.
[00:55:29.550] – Tony
I said, Well, I'm not going to teach you yoga, I'm not a yogi, but I'm going to teach you something about connection and it's going to come through play. And all of a sudden I had these yogis in the room brushing shoulders and then bouncing off one another. Next body part, next body part. Then mirroring one other's movements, then dancing head to head, looking into one another's eyes and then mimicking each other as if they're working in a mirror. And suddenly what can become even in yoga, which is the same planes on one map, performing the same movements over and over religiously, suddenly the expression changed. This amazing vocabulary of movement started to unravel in a very short window of time. Because it's like Play hydration we call it, you can suddenly start to reconnect to something we've become quite divorced from.
[00:56:15.710] – Allan
Tony, I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?
[00:56:26.570] – Tony
So that trifecta for me is breath work. Looking at different modalities of breath that helped me change my state, my state of mind, my being, my very being. And that might be from nasal breathing to tempos of breath. Simple practice on the hour, every hour could be simply 4 seconds up through the nose, 6 seconds out. I call it a rebooting breath so that the day doesn't get away or the experience doesn't get away with me. I can stay in check and I can keep bringing it back to the breath. It's incredible powerful. It drops us into a more restful state and just enables us to stay more present and be present in the moment. The other one of course, is nature immersion. The study suggests just 20 minutes in a natural setting. It could even be the park really. But the more natural or more biodiverse, the better the emotional state would be. I would suggest just 20 minutes is enough to lower heart rate, blood pressure, and the more diverse, like forest, you start to get things like phytincides, which are the compounds that plants like terpenes are almost like aromatherapy that's given off by plants and they're antifungal and antibacterial.
[00:57:41.580] – Tony
And when we inhale that, our body starts to produce natural killer cells which help them fight things like viruses and even tumors, right? So we have lower in heart rate, blood pressure and amazing kind of ability to improve our immune system just by being in nature. So that's breath work. I would say nature immersion and then movement. Just finding those opportunities become more of an opportunist. Go back into that playful state of mind of how you might move, get out of the chair, get onto the ground, start moving around. Think of that as a mobility practice. If you work from home, you have an amazing opportunity to move more within that environment. Just we're so conditioned to think we have to sit and do the work. And that might also mean on the commute, can I run down the stairs instead of getting the lift? Or the escalator? Can I balance on curbstones or something? Just think of that. And along with nature immersion, we could say that nature immersion also involves cold immersion, like cold water therapy and getting into cold water. And that also has an ability to completely change our section altered State of Mind.
[00:58:45.360] – Tony
In two minutes, you're done. And you can literally maybe not be like the person getting in the water, but you'll be in love with the person getting out. It can really change things in a very short window of time. So they are my three, really. I call it Tony's trifecta.
[00:59:00.650] – Allan
Tony's trifecta. Love that.
[00:59:07.170] – Allan
All right, well, Tony, if someone wanted to get in touch with you or learn more about the book, Be More Human, where would you like for them to go?
[00:59:17.910] – Tony
You can hit my website, which is www.tonyriddle.com. I'm also known on Instagram as @thenaturallifestylist, and there's lots on there. So in the link bio there, you'll be able to find links to my book, up and coming workshops, upcoming retreats and experiences. I have a big retreat going in, in end of August, which is a rewilding retreat. So it's on an incredible estate. It's an opportunity to not just rewild movement, but also be involved in the landscape there and have that experience so that Tony Trifecta is in full there. It's a great place for that. And also have a look out for the 100 Human Experience, which is a weekend events that I hold with 100 people. We have 100 people come and there's breath work, movement, cold immersion, ice baths, ecstatic dance, cacao ceremony. It's like a really just an incredible experience. So all of that can be found, really, either on the website or on my Instagram account. They're good places to head, really. There's a number of tutorials there. And if you're interested in the barefoot stuff, there's a documentary. We just wrote one best documentary for the British Independent Film Festival.
[01:00:34.150] – Tony
It's called One Man 2 Feet Three Peaks. And that's up on YouTube. There's some great stuff there. That's a record that I broke running the three biggest peaks, highest peaks in the UK. And normally the idea is you drive between them. I decided to run the whole distance and I covered the mountains barefoot as well. So it was breaking a men's running record, but also breaking it being barefoot, which is quite something.
[01:01:01.710] – Allan
It is. Thank you, Tony. I'll make sure to have those links on the show notes for this episode. Tony, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.
[01:01:17.350] – Allan
Welcome back, Ras.
[01:01:19.090] – Rachel
Hey, Allan. That was a really interesting interview, and I really like the term rewilding. Yes. I'm not so sure. I'm a big fan of his wild human or zoo human.
[01:01:34.130] – Allan
I like that. I actually think that is well, because we don't want our kids to get dirty. They stick their hands in the dirt and we want to wipe it off. We don't want to get dirty. A lot of us don't. We want clean. We want sanitary. We're concerned about all this stuff. Hand sanitizer, avoiding everything concrete, this, rubber that, gloves, masks, all of it. We do so much to separate ourselves from our environment. Sunglasses. Something as simple as sunglasses is separating you from the sun. And so, yeah, I get it. If you're walking on Pensacola Beach, it's so bright white with the sun.
[01:02:32.430] – Allan
You can be blind for 20 minutes until your eyes adjust. I get it. But we do so much to separate ourselves from our environment, and that's frankly unnatural.
[01:02:45.330] – Rachel
Well, that's why I like the term we re wilding so that we do take an extra step into nature, which I love. I'm always outside running on the trails and checking out what is all out there. But the other part of the conversation was, you've said this in the past, too. We look at our ancestors, hunter gatherers. They were active. They weren't lounging on sofas and lazy boys like we are today. But also, you brought in the child aspect of it, looking at what our children are doing. They're just running around playing without even thinking about whether their watch just saying they're productive or not. They're just out there enjoying what they're doing.
[01:03:25.790] – Allan
Right. And the whole time we were on the conversation, tony was basically sitting on the floor. He had a lower desk, and so I could tell he was sitting on the floor. He was kneeling. He would move his leg. He would shift side to side as he was talking. You can't tell that's happening when you're listening to it. But the whole time he was sitting on the floor. And as a result of our interview, which I think ran almost an hour, he was moving, and that's positive movement. But all that said, we don't get down enough. We don't get up, and we don't get down. We're in chairs, we're in couches. We spend our office hours in a desk. We might be lucky enough to have an adjustable desk or something like that where we can at least stand part of the day. And that's better is good. It doesn't have to be perfect.
[01:04:24.510] – Rachel
Yeah, but it was interesting. I didn't even think about having a sitting on the floor type desk, like you just said, he was doing in his interview. We don't get down on the floor very often unless we drop something and have to kneel down to find it.
[01:04:46.270] – Allan
You have the people that joke about, well, I don't get on the floor anymore unless I have a plan on how to get up.
[01:04:52.810] – Rachel
Right? Yeah, it's so true.
[01:04:55.230] – Allan
And we can joke about it, but the reality is that's functional movement and let's say you wanted to go camping. Well, what are you doing? You're squatting, you're getting down. You're starting a fire, because you can't start a fire standing up. You're getting in and out of your tent, which, unless you are kind of really doing something special, you don't walk into your tent. You get on your hands and knees and you crawl. You're not sleeping on a pillow top bed. You now have, at best, a blow up, but a lot of times not the best you could do is make sure you don't have a rock or a root under your lower back to the right spot to lay. And then you have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. You're crawling back out of the tent and walking around. And so it's just these things that we say, okay, I would love to be able to do this, I'd love to be able to do that. I want to be able to carry my own kayak. I want to be able to go camping and enjoy myself. There's movement patterns that you're going to be doing that you should make a part of your regular life.
[01:05:59.780] – Allan
So when you're camping, this is not an unusual thing. This is a part of your lifestyle. It's the way you intended to live when you go camping, when you do these other things. Yeah, if you're on the floor and you're sitting for an extended period of time doing something, it could even be watching a television show, you're sitting there and your watch is not going to tell you, oh, you move this many squirms in that many ways, and your watch isn't going to do that. There's no metric for it other than you notice that it just gets more natural. It feels better. There's not these grunts and groans or pains or aches. You're building mobility from the very fact that you're on the floor and your body is forcing you to squirm around because you can't just sit. You're going to want to move your leg to the side. You're going to want to shift the other leg. You're going to move from one butt cheek to the other butt cheek. And then maybe you want to go ahead and get up into a kneeling position. And while you're in the kneeling position, instead of both knees on the ground, you want one knee on the ground.
[01:07:07.920] – Allan
And then you're just moving around through these ranges of motion. And that's one of the things he has in the book, is he literally has those laid out of. Okay, this is a set. This is a set. This is a set. And so you can say, I'm going to spend some time in a kneeling position, I'm going to spend some time in a sitting position. I'm going to spend some time in a squatting position. Because if you get your mobility right, the squat, as he mentioned, is a rest position. I know that sounds really weird, but without having your butt sitting on something other than maybe your heels, that should be a resting position. But we've kind of beat that out of ourselves with decades of sitting. We're not able to do that. You can look at videos and see if you've ever been to particularly Asia, but mostly across Asia and somewhat in Africa. I've seen this where literally, yeah, they squat down almost, butt to grass. And that's a resting position. They're just sitting there now. They're also most of the time when I see them doing that, they're smoking.
[01:08:14.490] – Rachel
[01:08:15.720] – Allan
But which we'll talk about in a few weeks with Dr. Romero. But that's the whole point though. That's their resting position. So instead of just standing around or sitting in a chair, they just plop down and they're in a very comfortable rest position because the joints are now all the pressures off the muscles and the joints. You're just in a natural lay there, sit there position.
[01:08:38.250] – Rachel
[01:08:38.700] – Allan
Yeah. There's a lot of little things we can do, and this book has some really good guidelines of how you can get started rewilding yourself. But to me, it's really just about finding function. It's about getting back to what, you know should be your natural approach.
[01:08:56.310] – Rachel
That sounds great. Interesting conversation.
[01:09:00.270] – Allan
I was pleasantly surprised with the book and with Tony because knowing some of his friends, I was expecting a totally different book from the be more human aspect of that. But no, it was a great book. And if you're concerned about mobility, flexibility, strength, all those functional fitness things we talk about right now, this is one of the best books you can buy to become more functionally fit.
[01:09:26.280] – Rachel
That sounds great.
[01:09:27.610] – Allan
Alright, well, Rachel, I'll talk to you next week.
[01:09:30.170] – Rachel
Great, thanks. Take care.
[01:09:31.930] – Allan
Okay, you too. Bye.
[01:09:33.410] – Rachel
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