Discover more from The 50-Mile Man
Sound health as a foundation for civic virtue
“The people perish for lack of vision.” - Proverbs 29
Welcome to the 50-Mile Man – the reincarnation of my old “Natural Method” newsletter, which offered contrarian fitness takes with occasional musings on the politics of health.
Since writing my first book, Hormetics, many of the central ideas about beneficial stress that I talked about have started to feel less contrarian – especially if you follow a certain vibrant enclave of “gurus” and personal trainers on Twitter. More people are talking about natural, hormetic stressors as the key to mitochondrial health and all-around energy and vitality. It got to the point where my rants started to feel tired and cliche.
For a time, I felt like I’d said everything that needed saying, or that other people were saying it better. Yet these ideas are still far from mainstream. The collective health crisis continues to worsen under our hopelessly captive public health establishment. Why, I’ve asked myself, does rigorous self-improvement seem like the exclusive domain of esoteric Twitter accounts? We need real education (or perhaps re-education), and it has to be accessible – not fringe.
In moving to Substack, I will focus on long-form essays about the harmonization of health and habitat, adding my half dollar (more than $0.02) to the conversation about our declining national vitality as a representative of the vast American political center.
The name of this publication, the 50-mile Man, refers to the kind of vigorous citizens JFK and Teddy Roosevelt called upon to restore a healthy body politic. Both of these presidents suffered from various physical ailments at different stages of their life, and thus didn’t take good health for granted. Strenuous exercise was often the remedy, in their view, for a variety of ills. My research and personal experience has led me to the same conclusion.
Both of these men were also, broadly speaking, centrists. They were progressives with an optimistic vision of the future, yet also bona fide conservatives in their own right. Roosevelt sought to conserve a robust wilderness from the clutches of new industrial technologies capable of reshaping the environment, while regulating those same technologies for the public good. Kennedy dreamed of landing man on the moon – and helped make that dream a reality – while rooting himself in the virtues of classical civilization, with its emphasis on physical fitness. By failing to keep our minds and bodies healthy, we may be depriving future generations of an interstellar civilization – or at least postponing it indefinitely.
Indeed, the fact that we haven’t been back to the moon since 1972 (!) may stem from the same cultural malaise that underlies the crises of obesity and sedentary life.
Centrists get a bad rap for being lukewarm, i.e., seeking “moderation in all things.” That’s not my ethos. Extremes are often required to bring an organism back into equilibrium. The measures necessary to restore our national vigor are far from moderate. They are radical. However, no functional political solutions can emerge without men that are capable of implementing them with vigor!
Thanks for reading The 50-Mile Man! Subscribe for unconventional ideas on becoming extraordinarily vigorous.
Trying to strike at the root of this malaise is a tall order. It’s easier to offer up platitudes and #lifehacks for increasing productivity – posting shirtless bathroom selfies and shuffling bitstreams around on a computer. But how do we actually motivate ourselves to do hard, worthwhile things? That requires a more all-encompassing vision, linking our physical health with our spiritual condition, along with the health of the land, and even the political landscape.
My vision starts with the 50-mile march, and ends with a better future for my children.
Here are the three pillars of the 50-mile man:
Healing the decline in male vigor. Why is it happening? How can we reverse its effects individually and collectively? My prescription is a return to the natural method of building strong minds and bodies – classical physical education in the tradition of Georges Hébert and the ancient Greeks (“mens sana in corpore sano”). while using modern insights into nutrition, hormones, and biomechanics.
Addressing the spiritual deficit implicit in ill health and addiction. This is the missing link in much of the conversation around health. This publication simultaneously hosts my podcast, Dreams & Ashes, about my experience as a “recovering pothead” with 6 years of sobriety. How can we ditch whatever substances we struggle with to find our own substance?
Filling the vacuum of creativity and vigor in our political system. Enhancing soil health. Eliminating environmental toxins. Restoring civic virtue through classical education. There are ample reforms that virtually every informed citizen would sign onto if special interests didn’t have superior sway over the system, as compared with the apathetic population. Can we create a strong enough physical subculture to recapture the institutions of public health and education?
Despite all of the amazing self-improvement gurus out there, I see very few people combining all three of these pillars in a compelling way, with reference to living harmoniously with one’s local habitat, state, and nation.
Therefore, I’m ending my writing hiatus with this announcement about the third annual 50-Mile March – scheduled on November 19, 2022, from Santa Cruz to Monterey. Stay tuned and subscribe for more details, and in the meantime, enjoy this inaugural post about how the 50-mile march can help you prepare for whatever unexpected events might be coming our way:
I may be slow to ramp up, but my hope with this in-person challenge, undertaken by real people in my area, is that I can rise up above the noise of the Twitterverse and encourage at least a handful of guys to escape from the clutches of modern mediocrity.