Saturday, August 28, 2010

How to do a Spartan Reboot

The ancient Spartans made a constant ally of hunger. They cultivated familiarity with hunger, and were so controlled in their diet that outsiders were shocked, horrified and amazed at how little the Spartans ate.

Of course, they ate well, and generally got enough to eat. And our modern Spartan Diet involves neither deprivation nor excess.

But wealthy aristocrats from Athens and elsewhere given a rare invitation to join a Spartan mess for dinner found something very different to the gluttonous, drunken symposia they were accustomed to. Spartans made an art form out of providing each person with precisely enough food to sustain health, but not a bite more. Boys in the agoge were repeatedly starved so they would become familiar with, and tolerant of, real hunger. If you can imagine hundreds of teenage boys capable of going days without food -- without complaining -- then you can imagine the Spartan agoge.

The irony of Spartan hunger is that Sparta was an incredibly wealthy polis, and their wealth existed entirely in the form of fertile farmland and food production. Every Spartan citizen by definition owned a huge farm. They had the means -- far more than most ancient Greeks -- to have stuffed their faces at every meal, but, as a matter of principle, abstained.

In the modern industrialized world, the cultivation of sensible hunger is utterly alien to us. We never go hungry. Not really. Although our incredibly low-quality food and sedentary lifestyles make us experience an urgent, panicky kind of hunger, most of us never go very long without eating all we want -- and more.

We're habituated with food-related discomfort. We're used to feeling edgy, dull, bloated and "stuffed." We've all experienced the cloudy, weak feeling from over-indulging in greasy, fatty or sugary foods. But hunger? We really don't understand it.

The Spartans did. And for good reason: It's a powerful practice to cultivate. If you do it right, hunger can sharpen your mind, lighten your body, and give you incredible energy.

New research at Washington University explains at least in part why the Spartan Reboot gives you mental and physical energy. Apparently hunger changes how the body manages the storage and use of fat molecules called lipids in a way that prevents those molecules from activating fatigue.

Want to try it?

A technique we call the Spartan Reboot enables you to use hunger to quickly attain high energy, mental clarity, physical stamina and overall vitality. Here is how to do it:

(This is a great thing to do on Sundays, by the way, to prepare for an awesome Monday.)

Eat a healthy balanced breakfast and lunch at the normal times, plus some fruit in the mid-afternoon. Then, after eating your fruit, go on a very long walk, hike or run – at least fifty percent more time or distance than you usually do. We generally do about 15 miles or so, but your miles may vary. Make sure you stay well hydrated.

Then you skip dinner. Go to bed early enough to get a solid 8 hours of sleep.

That's it! You've only skipped one meal. But when you wake up, you'll feel like a different person. Your body will feel light. Your mind will be super sharp and clear. And you'll have physical and mental energy and stamina all day. And you won't even be that hungry. In fact, if you follow your hunger, you'll probably want to eat less than you normally do.

Try it, and please report your results back to us here in the comments area of this post!