The Path to Legionnaire: Health and the Physical

A long time ago, when I was a wee lad and believed all the things that modern society wants one to believe, I stumbled across something that, in retrospect, was an incredibly subversive idea.  You see, I had found my way to Mark’s Daily Apple, one of biggest and most popular websites advocating the Primal/Paleo diet.  Even then, I was the intellectually curious sort, and so I began to devour all I could of this “Paleo Diet”.  I found myself convinced by the reasoning and the evidence presented, and so I adopted this diet for myself.

It wasn’t long before I began feeling the benefits.  My skin was clearer, my mind sharper, and my proficiency in martial arts was increasing at an unprecedented rate.  I realized that the advice pushed on me by the FDA and its sycophants was, in fact, flat-out wrong.  This was my first tangible moment when I realized that massive entities can be wrong, that governments can indeed make mistakes, and that people who should know better don’t.  It was my first true realization that sometime you can question authority and be in the right, imbuing me with a spark to seek out and identify more ways in which our current societal arrangements were misguided.  Several years later, I’m blogging about my distaste for the ideological underpinning of the modern world, which just goes to show how much these things can escalate.

So why am I proposing that reactionaries must first take charge of their physical health and well-being?  To answer that question I shall begin with a discussion of history.

History is the accumulated consequences of clashes of ideologies, yet history is also uniquely human affair.  It is simultaneously both utterly abstract and yet entirely corporeal.  How to reconcile this apparent discrepancy?

I propose a solution.  History is the record of ideological battles, and humanity is the battlefield.  Civilizations.  Armies.  Corporations.  Individuals.  All of these things are examples of mediums though which ideologies come into conflict.  This can be done through outlets such as physical violence (i.e. The Crusades as a clash of religious ideologies), economic competition (one business has an ideology more suited for the marketplace), or reasoned debate, among other things, but the underlying principle is that almost all conflict (physical, economic, intellectual, or otherwise) can be boiled down to proxy wars between ideologies seeking to exert themselves.

One of the factors dictating which ideologies prevail is the quality of the people who represent that ideology.  Think of a chess game.  If you have bishops or knights in the place of your pawns, or more than one queen, you have a significant advantage over an opponent.  Promoting yourself up to a higher piece thus serves as one method of supporting your ideology, provided you actually utilize your new capabilities in that service.

This is why it makes sense on a strategic level to increase the overall quality of those who subscribe to your ideology.  It should be blatantly obvious at this point that part of the reasoning behind my concept of The Legionnaire is based on this.  So why do I start this series off with an emphasis on the physical?

It is because all human action is made possible by health and wellness.  Physical actions are made possible by the body, mental processes occur because of the brain.  Social functioning is far easier when not weighed down by impediments to optimum’ health. Physical health is the foundation upon which all other things are grounded.

As the great Chess player Bobby Fischer put it: “Your body has to be in top condition. Your Chess deteriorates as your body does. You can’t separate body from mind. “

The overwhelming majority of the time, physical health boils down to just a few key factors.  The first of these major factors is diet.  It’s intuitively obvious that inputs affect output, that what you put into your body affects what you get out of it, but this is still somehow lost on some people.  Given that neoreactionaries tend to be a fairly smart lot though, I trust I won’t have to convince you people of this fact.

The best input I’ve stumbled across is terms of diet happens to be The Paleo Diet.  Indeed, several of the links to the right of these words (Evolvify, Free the Animal, Gnolls, and Mark’s Daily Apple) send you off to Paleo blogs.  In a nutshell, Paleo dieting recommends cutting out sugar, grains, and vegetable oils (beans, dairy, and sometimes potatoes in more restrictive interpretations) and focusing on eating clean meats, vegetables, seafood, and small amounts of fruit, nuts, and seeds.  Like I said earlier, I follow a Paleo-style diet myself, and I recommend tweaking the specifics to find something that works well for you.  I personally function best when going heavy on the seafood, eggs, butter, green tea, and vegetables, with moderate amounts of dairy, sweet potatoes, other meats, and nuts topped with small amounts of fruit, though everyone is going to have a slightly different mix that is optimal for their metabolic needs.  Think of it as Human Biodiversity on the micro level.

To get a better idea of the framework of the Paleo Diet, I recommend reading Mark’s Daily Apple Primal Blueprint 101, as well as at least two of the books in the “Health, Fitness, and Your Body” section of “The Legionnaire’s Reading List“.

There are a few other minor inputs in this vein I think are worth mentioning.  The first is alcohol.  I do subscribe to the belief that alcohol in moderate doses can do a body good, so I see no reason to recommend curtailing its use.  However, I am aware that many people report feeling much better when they cut out all alcohol consumption, so ultimately you’re going to have to figure out on your own whether you want to make it a part of your lifestyle.

The second input worth considering is smoking.  Despite the deluge of stories telling us that smoking cigarettes will do everything from giving us cancer to making us impotent, I don’t believe that the effects are necessarily so drastic.  A risk factor for those things? Most assuredly.  But is it wholly bad? Few things in life are so, and I don’t think smoking is one of those things.  For one, the nicotine found in tobacco has been found to have beneficial effects on cognitive function, which should intrigue those of you looking for ways to give your brainpower a boost.File:Hormesis dose response graph.svg

I don’t have any evidence for this theory, but I personally suspect that a certain level of smoking might trigger a hormetic response, and have slight beneficial effects.  There is some evidence that smokers might live longer than non-smokers (given a quirk of how smoking deaths are measured), although I’m well aware that issues of correlation/causation rear their ugly heads in studies like this.  When all is said and done though, I tend to agree with Hawaiian Libertarian…smoking cigarettes filled with all kinds of noxious chemicals is probably not the best thing, but the smoking of clean tobacco might not be as bad, and might have some benefit.

I’m no smoker personally (only on rare occasions for social reasons), but I think the subject has a bit nuance than it gets credit for. Same rules apply for smoking as drinking: figure out if it works for you or not. Adjust as necessary.

As for other drugs, minimal usage is probably for the best. This is not to say there are no attitudes toward drugs that are healthy, nor that there are no traditional grounds for certain substances in certain contexts, nor even that there aren’t medical justifications for certain circumstances.  What I am saying is that tripping balls is not a tactic a Legionnaire relies on all that much to revolt against the modern world.

The other major input that determines physical well-being is good, old-fashioned exercise.  The human body is made to be used in an extremely wide variety of ways, and modern man wastes this potential by sitting down all day hammering at a keyboard.  I admit that I am guilty of this as I sit and type these words, but that just proves my point, no?  It is said the the Legionnaires of Rome could march 25 miles a day in full armor.  Modern Legionnaires have a lot to live up.

I recommend four forms of physical activity: Walking, Sprinting, Lifting, and Martial Arts.

Walking serves as an excellent base activity upon which to work off of, for not only is the human body well-built for it, but it’s simple and easy and it has numerous health benefits.

Sprinting is perhaps one of the most efficient exercises one can do, with the number of health benefits so staggering it borders on the absurd.  It’s almost impossible not to get healthier, stronger, and leaner if you consistently run sprints.  Normally I assume you’ll read (or have already read) the things I link to, but I’m dispensing with that assumption and telling you to go read those links.  Then go run some sprints.  Legionnaires sprint.  This is not negotiable.

Third, stronger people are harder to kill.  There’s actually some evidence behind that trope, as strength and muscle mass is somewhat correlated with longevity.  Stronger people also have a greater physical capability than weaker people, and part of being a Legionnaire is all about increasing your capability in all spheres of life.  Lifting weights makes you stronger and probably makes you live longer, so pick a program and start moving iron.  It’s not all that relevant (especially at the beginning) whether you choose something like Starting Strength, something more balls to the wall, or just right out (I kid, don’t follow the advice on that last one).  What matters is consistency and discipline.

Fourth and finally, take up a martial art or two.  Physically, it’s a great way to train your reflexes and become faster, stronger, more agile, and more flexible.  It not only carves your body and builds up your athletic capabilities, but you also get some idea of how to handle yourself in a fight (provided you’re being trained by a competent instructor in a combat, not sport, martial art).  Training in any martial art though, when done right, breeds fitness, discipline, and toughness, as well as a proper sense of self-awareness.

Diet and exercise are the two keys.  Try just one month of what I suggest here.  Done with dedication, consistency, and motivation, you will be able to see the change take place in your body.  You will be stronger and faster and will tire less quickly, and have a better idea of how to throw your weight around if threatened.  You will become a physical threat.  You will become, in body, a Legionnaire.

Once diet and exercise are dialed in, then you can consider looking at various supplements for extra boosts in areas of interest (more energy, focus, testosterone…etc).  I’d go into more detail, but this is already far longer than my usual fare and Pill Scout does such a good job at that sort of thing anyway. Go read his stuff if you want to know more.

A few final details.  Get enough sleep.  Studies differ on how much sleep a healthy adult needs, but they almost always fall between 7 – 9 hours of sleep a night.  The actual length that’s optimal will differ by person, but too little sleep is a guaranteed way to have your health come crashing down.  Also, take cold showers, which, though unpleasant before you get used to them, have measurable and beneficial effects, including raising testosterone levels.

In summary:

  • Health and Physical well-being are the root of all things
  • Eat clean (I recommend Paleo)
  • Smoking and alcohol in moderation, if at all
  • Drugs and intoxicants only in the proper circumstances
  • Exercise regularly: Walk, sprint, lift weights, train in a martial art
  • Get enough sleep
  • Take cold showers

This is the first stage that must be completed in the process of becoming a Legionnaire.


UPDATE 12/29/2013: Vulture of Critique has a collection of studies about the relationship between tobacco, health, and longevity here.



3 thoughts on “The Path to Legionnaire: Health and the Physical

  1. Wally D. 12/05/2013 / 12:19 PM

    Good informative post.

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