I just had a question come in via email that I though so good that I got up off my ass and started pounding the keyboard.
I stumbled upon your blog and find it very interesting to read. I just started doing the Paleo type diet on Wednesday (so about a week or so), so I’ve been settling into that. My question was when you started doing Paleo and when you started posting about it. I was hoping to read your intitial posts "from the beginning" of the change to see if there is any sort of advice or things I missed. I’m a graduate student in Oregon, and like your style (both recipe and writing). Any help is appreciated.
I think this is an excellent idea, not just for Travis, but for anyone relatively new. What I want you to see is that this in not orthodoxy. Like anyone else should be, you ought to navigate the path so as to do what’s optimal for you.
Here was the very first post, May 29, 2007. The first two paragraphs that started it all.
I will have much more to say about this in months to come [First sentence, first prediction, right on the nose :) ], but it’s becoming increasingly obvious to me that in terms of health and fitness, people have been suckered into a load of nonsense over the last 30 years with respect to the benefits of aerobics to the exclusion of all else.
Over four years ago, now, I embarked on a program of walking (briskly) every morning five days per week. I wanted to lose some poundage that needed losing, the dog needed walking anyway, and I like to walk. Well, 4,000 miles later (I was very religious about it, still am, and I enjoy it and intend to keep at it) I not only didn’t lose any weight but probably put on about 20 lbs. This was three miles per day (about 45 minutes), fifteen miles per week, every week. If you think you’re going to do much about an overweight problem with evening walks around the block you’re probably fooling yourself.
To my great fortune in life, a reader named Vendo commented thusly:
Are you familiar with Art De Vany? It looks pretty close to what you are doing. I’ve lost 20 lbs over the past two months following his advice.
He is also a friend of Tyler Cowan’s and an economist to boot.
Obviously, and as I later found out, he was keying into my independent realization that endurance and intensity were inversely related — Art’s power law. So I got an eye & brain full and blogged this the very next day, May 30th with an appropriate post title: Art De Vany.
This is an amazing blog on health and fitness that I’ve not been able to keep my eyes off of all morning since some kind commenter to my last post on resistance training steered me to it. They say pictures are worth a thousand words, and this is no exception…
Mr. De Vany will be 70 years old in three months (notice the chest and forearms; pictures of vitality, health and fitness both). I wish I looked half as good at 46 and am working on it (photos in two months). There’s two things I’d point out to you, both being categories on the blog and so quite a number of posts in each (but very much worth reading). The first is what not to do, i.e., very much aerobics. It’s dangerous to your health. Second…; eat fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and lean meats. Lift weights intensively for short periods of time and perhaps throw in some random (short) duration and distance wind sprints (intense running). All very simple, fun, and short and infrequent enough to benefit — not damage — your body and be fun.
And onward I went. My next post was a food post with no pictures and after that, a food post with crap pictures, with food looking far less than appetizing. Then, realizing that I began to hit my food and photo posts with decent pictures, here.
OK, so for anyone like Travis who’s up for it, You could read those links above and then from the last one, simply click next entry. Keep in mind, I was still a primarily political blogger and so, the food / fitness posts are at first a bit few & far between – with occasional droughts altogether. But by mid 2008 this had taken over and by fall of 2008, exclusive.
I think the value of doing this is to see how I myself have experimented and evolved, over time. you probably should do the same. Do and promote what works. I hope that’s helpful for anyone who undertakes to review.
Now there’s one item left to address and I fucking hate to do it, but it’s been bugging me. As all of you know who have read and followed me for any length of time, I have never failed to credit Art De Vany — in numerous post and every interview. In fact, I think I’ve fallen over myself, generally, in my attempt to make that perfectly clear. And that will never change. It’s the truth. The end.
It was along about the time Art organized a one-day seminar in Vegas (excellent) that some things began to change in the way he interacted with the growing "Paleo" community (his term is evolutionary fitness). Anyway, he soon went to a private, subscription blog and I suppose that to some extent that move left the door open to a lot of others, I suppose myself included. I have always since paid for his blog.
And I have had excellent interactions with Art over these three+ years. I’ve told him a number of times that I will never forget where I got started and would always credit him and I believe he appreciated that. And I meant it and still do.
But I increasingly noted a bit of a condescending attitude toward me in email responses from him, and then this, when Timothy Haas showed his own photo results in Philly Mag and credited Free the Animal. A comment.
Art De Vany says:
June 27, 2010 at 4:11 pm
Richard, the author of Free the Animal website, acknowledges that he learned most of this from me. He is a good student and has taken it his own way, as all who follow the lifestyle must do. Take a look at my site and see the deep side of the primal life from someone who has lived it for more than 25 years–called the grandfather of the paleo movement. Or read my forthcoming book, The New Evolution Diet.
OK, it pissed me off; not because it wasn’t essentially true, but because I’d just never, ever do something like that. Last I checked a few months back, I have well over 800 posts about all of this going back 3 years — probably 1,000, by now — I bow to no-fucking-one, and students eventually become teachers — and they often, as actually should be the case, surpass their masters. And I have covered ground Art never has, because I had other sources to learn from like Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Dr. Stephan Guyenet, Dr. Peter Dobromylskyj and others. While it’s unlikely I’ll ever gain the deep knowledge Art has acquired, that’s simply not all there is to it. I stick to my style. My style attracts readers: at about 80,000 visits and 120,000 page views per month (and Art: my "hits" are in the millions, too). And then they read here and go other places as well.
…But I held my tongue.
Then, in an email response to me that I initiated, Art actually dissed one of my Real Results folks, which person I won’t name. And still I held my tongue…
And finally, the other day while catching up on his blog I came to a post entitled "Cross Fit Gone Wild," which was, I think, a totally valid criticism of a particular exercise being done by some female (squats in the 400s). I agree: probably unnecessary and certainly not Paleo, Primal or EvFit. Criticism is crucial and I not only don’t mind it but encourage it. One of the reasons I have an open blog and unmoderated comments. Criticism is crucial for my own development — not only as a blogger, but as a fitness advocate.
But, alas, I’m not a scientist. In fact, I may be a "know nothing." And maybe so are many of you other bloggers. Here’s the last two paragraphs of that post.
I am a bit appalled at where this former Paleo or Natural movement is going. Things are getting weird and harmful. CrossFit has gone over the edge and Paleo is promoted by a lot of know nothings all over the internet, as well as by some people with some background in science (and no practical experience or bodies to show for it, albeit some dramatic weight losses, usually following a simple EF protocol).
All knowledge eventually turns recursively into itself and then propigates onto many stochastic paths. The original Paleo/Genetic approach is propigating non-linearly and stochastically into strange places. It always happens with any social process. As I said in Hollywood Economics, stochastic, recursive (feedback) processes can take you into strange places. We are getting into that strange world with the growing Paleo movement. I think CrossFit is being drawn into a strange attractor and so are many blogs by non-scientists and recent converts.
Now, Art didn’t name names, nor do I have any idea as to whether he was thinking of me in any of that. But then I have the recent history with him too. And he certainly didn’t specify any exceptions.
But all that doesn’t really matter. What truly bugs me is the sort of authoritarian attitude that one ought to have some formal qualifications in order to competently advocate for Paleo. If he’s not talking about me, then he’s certainly talking about some of my friends…many of whom are sending traffic my way, I theirs, and the pie just keeps getting bigger and bigger. The potential is that even Art — who had the chief slice of the pie way back then — will have an even greater slice, though merely a sliver of the whole. Uh, seems to me he should be the one preaching that economic reality.
Moreover, it’s an odd attitude to display right on the cusp of publishing a book (The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us about Weight Loss, Fitness, and Aging) he’s been promising for a decade. Doesn’t he realize that all of these know-nothings are chomping at the bit to get it, read it, and promote it — just as we have all done for Mark & Robb? And I know one thing about them because I’ve had email exchanges with both of them, with the other CC’d: Robb is thrilled for Mark and Mark is thrilled for Robb. Duh.
So, what is my purpose in brining this up? To clear the air, I suppose. What I most certainly don’t want is a slam fest in comments. If you have resentments toward Art, please hold them. If you must, give Art information. That is, tell him what you want from him.
There’s no doubt about his contribution. But there’s equally no doubt that others are going to take it, add their own twists, and run with it. I think history shows that the one who comes out on top of the heap is often not one of the original pioneers.
I will always continue to name Art as the one who stated it all from me. I will buy the book, read it, and give an objective review. I’m certain I’ll learn a few more things.
And I guess I have little choice but to keep blogging and, apparently, getting under his skin.