Last year, I read an eye-opening book that helped develop EarthFit in such a way that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t incorporated the ideas before. That book was “The Nature Principle” by Richard Louv, and it was partly a follow-up to “Last Child In the Woods” and part follow up to the environmental/health movement he started with the coined phrase “Nature Deficit Disorder”. To me, the book engulfed the very idea of EarthFit and answered a very interesting “What if” question- “What if I told you that appreciating nature and getting outdoors would increase your overall health and well-being?”
Well, it does. Only, we live in a world where people are spending less and less time outdoors and in nature. While I’m not normally one who likes to delve into anthropology, it’s important to understand that as humans, we have evolved with the earth, but over recent decades (not even centuries, just the past few decades) we have become more and more separated from nature and the environment, and it’s starting to take its toll on our physical health and mental well-being. We are not our whole selves, and one of the best remedies to fixing our situation also happens to be one of the most fun, convenient, and accessible solutions as well. GET YE OUTSIDE!!!
If one was to seriously look at the early humans, we would see how closely tied we were to the earth. We depended upon nature to provide for us- food, water, shelter, comfort. Even when we began to settle and developed civilization, we were still very much a part of nature. Studying other civilizations compared to how we feed ourselves and treat the earth might as well be studying a different species. This is not how we are meant to be. We are not meant to be cooped up in cubicles, or eating products that don’t even remotely resemble food. I honestly think our bodies and our minds are revolting against the inhumane treatment towards ourselves, and the planet.
We NEED to be outdoors. Our bodies crave it, because it’s not just a “feel good” aspect. We get most of our essential Vitamin D from being outside in the sun. In fact, while you can supplement Vitamin D, it doesn’t even compare to the amount our bodies can actually create on our own by being out in the sun for just 15 minutes.
Richard Louv coined the phrase “Nature Deficit Disorder” to bring to light the problem facing us and the planet if we continue to break away from our necessary ties to the earth. I dream of taking his condition and providing the remedy- “EarthFit- Connecting to the earth in healthy ways”. See, it’s not just about being outside, it’s about being outside and bringing meaning back to the great outdoors. It’s about finding that ONE THING that you can’t get enough of- whether it’s hiking or biking, snorkeling or surfing, roller blading or skiing, walking in the park or gardening. Find your place. Find your passion. And allow yourself to fall in love with that place. Because it won’t just help you get better, it’ll help you make the place better. That place you love will be your sanctuary, and you will do anything you can to protect it.
And it doesn’t stop just there. “What if you could help save polar bears by getting fit?” Appreciating the outdoors can open new avenues to get healthy and protect the planet as well. With bike weather upon us, and entering “Bike to Work Month”, we can burn calories, increase our cardiovascular health, get outdoors, and burn less fossil fuels and reduce our carbon footprint. All in one simple action of riding our bike instead of driving. And you can use the polar bears as your motivation and encouragement to keep riding your bike whenever you can. Sure, you can save time by driving, but by biking, you can justify the time spent outdoors as doing it for the polar bears. I promise you, they will thank you for it!
The last few days have been wonderful for getting outside and appreciating nature. I spent some time in my garden, planting some seedlings into the “big boys and girls” area. I visited the Farmer’s Market and even won a blueberry bush (it’s only 2 years old and has another 3 years before it starts producing anything, but I won it and it is my new baby). I seeded some pots with butterfly and bee attracting flowers, and started my container herb garden with basil and cilantro. And even Chris got into the groove by letting me drop him off and deserting him so he could do a landscape at the Pacific Rim Institute while I headed up to Deception Pass to volunteer my time at the beach.
I feel spoiled that I have all these amazing opportunities to get outside and fall in love with nature, but there are places all over the world, even in gigantic cities that allow you to reconnect with nature in your own way. What if your connection to nature took you to your own backyard? Many cities have community gardens, city parks, botanical gardens, and zoos. While none of these are unrestricted wild places, they can be your refuge and your place within nature. I fell in love with the ocean at the tender age of five by visiting SeaWorld and I have been an avid and devoted ocean environmentalist ever since. I wouldn’t have even known about the palm oil crisis if it were not for zoos. And visiting the Chinese garden within the city of Portland was one of the most serene and beautiful places I’ve ever experienced.