Natural Born Heroes

How did the heroes of decades and even centuries past perform the miraculous feats of physical stamina and agility without today’s modern research and technology? That is the question Chris McDougal sets out to answer in this novel approach to an exercise and nutrition guide. Reading more like a historically accurate spy thriller, Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance is an entertaining and enjoyable read packed with ideas you can apply to both your daily life and training regimen. 

Natural Born Heroes

I’m a non-insulin dependent diabetic. Basically, if I don’t watch what I eat my blood sugar stays way too high and does all sorts of bad things to my body like destroying capillaries which in turn destroy tissue and before you know it the Doc is lobbing off toes and such.

Fortunately, I still have all of my toes…and fingers for that matter, no thanks to my lack of caution growing up… and I hope to keep it that way. A few years back I started down this path of getting healthier. It’s a very long road if you are not sure what getting healthier means. For me, it wasn’t about weight, how much muscle I could pack on, or how many push-ups I could bust out. I wanted to control my blood sugar with diet and exercise. In my quest, I began running short races building up to marathons and Olympic length triathlons. My favorite is the Spartan Races which are a totally awesome way to stay fit and I look forward to running a couple this year, you are welcome to join me if you like!

Through all of that, nutrition became a major challenge. Carbs; carbs kick the crap out of my sugar. Good carbs, bad carbs, pink carbs, blue carbs. They all shoot my blood sugar through the roof, primarily because carbs become sugars in our bodies.

I was toying with the Keto Diet when a good friend handed me this book, Natural Born Heroes: Mastering the Lost Secrets of Strength and Endurance. What a wonderful read! It is possibly the most entertaining, enlightening, and historically accurate book focusing on nutrition and overall physical health I have read to date. The author, Christopher McDougal, uses the story of a historical explorer tracing in the footsteps of a band of World War II resistance fighters on the island of Crete. Later in the book, he journeys to the streets of London to explore Parkour, back to Crete, then flashes back to the Fairbairn and Sykes in Shanghai developing their rough and tumble street fighting skills.

What possibly could all of this have in common? Chris wants to understand how normal people throughout history could accomplish what would seem to most of us to be heroic feats without Gu packs and sneakers. While exploring ancient methods of natural movement, sources of sustenance and methods of endurance (Mindset Matters) Chris takes us through a series of enjoyable stories making this book read more like a wartime spy thriller than a health and fitness book. I personally really enjoy how he advocates for us to look backward and learn lessons from our ancestors.

What I took away was that a laser focus on my body mechanics can return dividends in conserved energy during vigorous physical activity. Also, re-evaluating how I fuel my body and train it to access that fuel may not be what the mainstream workout nutrition gurus say is best. If nothing else, the book made me think about what I was doing.

I have recommended the book to several friends and family members, not sure I can give it a better endorsement than that.

Don’t forget to check out Chris’ other book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. In this piece Chris covers the natural virtues of running using the Tarahumara tribe’s long distance running as a discussion point. 

I have added it to my list of must reads in the near future. 

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