Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Lightsome Life Reviews The Barefoot Book on YouTube

Check out this VIDEO review of The Barefoot Book on YouTube by thelightsomelife. A video review! What a brilliant idea. She gives her favorite 10 reasons to go barefoot... what are your favorite reasons?

Tamarah Bartmess, a.k.a., thelightsomelife, is a Certified SimplyHealed™ Practitioner who seems to specialize in weight loss strategies and affirmations. According to the dictionary, lightsome means "carefree and happy and lighthearted" and "full of light." Tamarah says that as a SimplyHealed™ Practitioner, "It is my job and honor to help you ignite the brilliance within you."

Check out her website, and don't forget to watch her book review.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Shoes & Psychology

This week marked the beginning of a new school year. Over 13,000 students have flooded onto the campus of Liberty University and more than 200 have found their way into my classroom. A few of these students knew a thing-or-two about me before they met me this week (they say I’m famous – or infamous), but most of them did not. And to them I got the joy of introducing myself and my “funny” ways.

So during these introductions I was reminded how many people (students or not) are skeptical when first presented with my proposition that shoes are harmful, unnatural and largely unnecessary. Many times they genuinely think I’m nuts. When I ask them to defend the use of shoes they usually recite a few myths and what-if’s but otherwise have no serious counter-argument. They say shoes are normal and going barefoot is not normal. The end.

But it’s not the end. Here’s the rest of the story: shoes are unnatural and going barefoot is natural and healthier, even if it’s not “normal.”

Those shoes may be "normal", but they are not healthy.
What amazes me is that so many people don’t know this already. They seem absolutely ignorant of the fact that shoes are unnatural, unhealthy and harmful. It’s not like it’s hard to demonstrate. Examples of the unhealthy nature of shoes are everywhere; just find someone and look down at their feet. I found a girl walking this morning and captured her gait on video. Watch the video closely; pause it anywhere and look at the still frame. Walking in those shoes is so obviously unnatural, unhealthy and down-right dangerous, yet no one bats an eye at her as she walks by; they’re too busy looking at me in my bare feet. I’m sorry people… I just don’t get it. I look around and see girls walking in shoes like those everywhere, and yet strangely all eyes are on me and my feet. Why is it not obvious to everyone else that these shoes are unnatural and unhealthy? Why is there so much resistance to the healthier option of ditching them? Why can she teeter onto the bus in those things, but I can’t walk on sure-footedly behind her? Why do security guards allow her to wobble through the mall on those monstrosities, but they escort me to the door? Why are bare feet not allowed on the airplane, but those things are?

Okay, enough questions; I need answers. But this is a problem of human psychology and, unfortunately, I don’t know much about that. Help!

*Two apologies: First, I apologize for the shaky video, my cell phone doesn’t have digital stabilizer. Second, my apologies to the young woman in the video… I’m not picking on you personally!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Running Barefoot Just One Slice of the Pie

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand this past year, you’ve no doubt heard about barefoot running. No less than five books were published in the past 12 months on this new running trend.  While my book touches on barefoot running, the topic only consumes one of eleven chapters. The amount of space I devoted to barefoot running in The Barefoot Book mirrors the amount of barefoot time I spend running.

Obviously, as an advocate of all things barefoot, I’m thrilled with the explosive interest in barefoot running. As I describe in detail in the book, shoes dramatically alter the way we run and they encourage body-wrecking poor form.  It’s simply a fact that running shoes are a major cause of running injuries (references in The Barefoot Book).  

However, while I’m excited by the growing popularity of barefoot running, I’m equally frustrated that so few barefoot runners seem to be taking the next logical step: barefoot walking.

Here’s the deal: shoes are bad for your form – and hence your body – when you run. But guess what? Shoes are also bad for your form – and hence your body – when you walk. (Indeed, shoes are bad for your posture even just standing). This is the first and foremost message of my book: shoes are bad for you, period. “But,” you might say, “walking is far less impactful than running so wearing shoes while you walk shouldn’t be as bad wearing shoes while you run, right?” Yes and no. Yes, walking is less impactful than running, but the average person takes far more walking steps than running steps throughout their week. All of those steps add up, as does the damage from bad walking form induced by your shoes.

Think about it. There are 168 hours in a week; how many of those hours do you spend running? Personally, I only spend about 6 hours per week running, on a good week (so as you can see, I’m not an avid runner; I’m a recreational runner). This amounts to just 3.5% of my week. If my activities were graphed on a pie chart, then running makes a rather small slice. The rest of my waking moments are spent almost entirely either sitting, standing or walking. Since walking is actually fantastic exercise, many health experts recommend walking 10,000 steps per day. If you’re not taking those steps in a zero-drop shoe or in a shoe without a toe spring, arch support, cushioning and all the other bunkum that goes into modern footwear, then you are walking with bad form and hurting yourself. Just as with running, the best way to correct bad form is to ditch your shoes and walk the way nature intended – barefoot.

The easiest way to walk barefoot more is to adopt an increasingly barefoot lifestyle. You simply can’t spend significant time walking barefoot if you put on shoes every time you go to the grocer, or the mall, or the cinema, or to dinner, or to work, or to church, or to…  

This gets to the heart of the second message of my book: we as a culture must chill-ax when it comes to going barefoot already! There is nothing wrong with (and so much right with) going barefoot, why is it so taboo? And for those of you who buck the norm to run barefoot, what keeps you from bucking the norm to walk barefoot? Consider your feet not just when you’re running, but all day long. Treat them right… walk barefoot. And the more of us that do it, the less taboo it will be.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Captain America's Fake Feet

Okay, apparently this is old news (from the Daily Mail Sept. 2010), but I just heard of it and my head has been spinning over it all day. Here’s the scoop: There is a scene in the new Captain America movie in which our hero tackles a gun-toting woman to keep her from killing someone. Our heroic captain, dressed nonchalantly in a white t-shirt, khaki pants and bare feet, tackles the woman with a full-speed running jump just as she pulls the trigger. Perhaps unfortunately, superheros like Captain America don’t exist in real life, and evidently neither do their feet even in the movies.

The stunt actor in this scene was not barefoot. He was wearing prosthetics designed to make him look barefoot.

There are so many insanities here I don’t where to start unpacking them.  First, the guy is a STUNTman who tackles a stuntwoman from a running start. Actor Chris Evans and his stunt double participate in many harrowing scenes throughout the movie, but they apparently cannot run across a street barefoot!

As you can see from the picture, the actor tumbles hard on the city street with the murderous woman in tow. His arms are bare and his torso covered only with a flimsy – practically see-through – t-shirt, but God bless his poor feet… they must be protected. They cannot withstand even a few steps on pavement.

What has happened to us? How can we think our feet are so useless and pathetic and incompetent that even a stunt man can’t use them for something as innocuous as running across pavement? Since I have run thousands of miles barefoot on pavement, clearly I should be getting paid more for my “stunt” that even a professional can’t pull off.

And yet… yet… we want them bare. Why not just film the scene with shoes? Why bother with the awkward prosthetics to give the impression of bare feet? Is it that most people believe our feet are so inept that having our hero in this scene barefoot adds to his “superhero-ness”?

I’m truly disturbed by this. I guess the only good news to take away from here is that the powers-that-be wanted to show bare feet in this scene even if they couldn’t bring themselves to bare any feet.

If there are any trained psychologists reading this post, then please… contact me. I would love to pick your brain about this bizarre foot-anxiety that plagues the “civilized” world.