Traipsing through the woods

I watched the television show Mountain Men last night. My favorite mountain man is an old fella named Tom who lives with his wife Nancy – she’s as much a part of his success as him – in Northern Montana. I’ve spent a bit of time nearby and it’s as gorgeous IRL as it is on television.

It’s been a cold winter in Montana, and Tom’s meat stock is low: there is hunting to be done. To use as much of a deer as possible, he hunts with a homemade bow and arrows. Using a rifle, he explains, destroys much of the meat when the bullet impacts the animal. If shot correctly, an arrow kills as quickly without damaging the meat. Never one for hunting, I like his ideas compared to people who hunt trophy elk or antelope from a mile away with high-powered rifles. 

On the day of Tom’s hunt, he drives his ancient rig into the forest, loads up his pack, and walks into the woods looking for deer. The snow is fresh, and tracks shine like skylights. After a few miles, he comes up to a group of does and follows them for a mile until he spots a buck. “Just like humans,” he says with a chuckle. “When there are fertile females around, a stag won’t be far behind.” He approaches the buck, takes his shot, then tracks the animal until he finds it dead. He ends the day back at his house, butchering the deer in the dark as the temperature drops to less than zero. 

Is this how you were made?

Evolutionary psychologists refer to the EEA or the Environment of Evolutionary Adaptedness. There is controversy about the exact environment humans evolved within, but it certainly includes much of the lifestyle that Tom enjoys. He starts his day by splitting wood for warmth and for cooking. He walked miles in the snow and cold hunting a two hundred pound deer which he hauled out of the woods on his shoulders. Not bad for a seventy-plus-year-old man. His waking time, just like our ancestors, is spent burning calories – it’s easy to see why the body wants to hold on to fat. 

I exercise because I don’t do any of this. I spend my working day in an ergonomically adjusted chair at a desk with no sharp edges. I’m old enough to know that face-to-face is the best way to get things done and force myself to walk around and talk to people. The youngsters drape a chain across their cubicle entry, and, once they enter, they never leave but text and message and email all day. Efficient? I…can’t say, but the company loves it. I buy cow meat that’s been doctored for profit at the grocery store where they give me free cookies for simply darkening the front door. The door, incidentally, that slides open automatically. At home, we prefer clean and healthy food, but our schedules often make it easiest to cook something from a box. Nothing in my history or my EEA has prepared my body for this onslaught of luxury. 

So work a little

So, add a little physical hardship to your day. Do something that makes you sweat. Push the mower. It’s how you were made to work, and your body will respond with a thank you and achy muscles. 


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