A Paramedic On the Moon
My Journey to Master Evolutionary Wellness Practitioner
You are Evolutionarily Maladapted to your environment. Your genes don’t match what our environment is built to give us. This is true for all of us, until we consciously adapt. This evolutionary mismatch between our genes, lifestyle, and our environment, is one of the most significant root causes of most common health issues, and even cognitive and emotional challenges that are epidemic in our society.
The questions is, what are you going to do about it? After all, we do not have control of our genotype—the set of genes we are given by our parents, that which has been passed down to us over thousands of generations of people who’ve adapted to the environment. Fortunately, only a tiny percentage of diseases are truly genetic, meaning that most of the time, we have great control over whether or not those disorders manifest. We just need to realize we are in the pilot's seat, and take control of the spacecraft--our phenotypic expression.
We do have control over our phenotype—those genes that do turn on or off based on things we do control—our environment, our diet, even our thoughts. Simply put, we have control over our lifestyles and how we construct them. Critically, we have control over our mindset. With these tools, we can optimize our lives to a very high degree, maximizing energy, mood, strength, digestion, movement, and sleep.
I have personally experienced this wellness revolution. I’ve studied deeply this information, beginning at an early age, and integrated it fully and deeply. It’s not just in mind, but deeply within my body, at this point, bodily knowledge in every cell. I went through several personal healing crises, including a deep and long experience with a severe chronic pathogenic bacterial infection, commonly called Lyme Disease. Since before that experience, and long after it, I’ve had countless healing experiences with patients, witnessing profound health and wellness transformations. It’s not easy, though it can be simple to improve life and generate deep wellness and vitality.
How much better can your life become, when your genes and your lifestyle are optimized to generate the highest level of health and vitality you’re capable of?
Talking with my students, clients, family, friends, and myself, the answer is clear:
Your Life Can Improve Massively When You Solve the Mismatch.
I’ve dedicated my life to answering these questions for my clients, helping them find deeper health and vitality, and overcoming both chronic and acute illness and injury. Here’s my story.
Since I was five years old, I’ve been aware of this evolutionary mismatch in some way. Of course at that tender age, that sense was an unconscious, gut level awareness of the oddity of our environment relative to the way we exist as humans. This awareness posed existential questions about the nature of our existence and how we can optimize it, questions that I continually strive to answer, and to which I have dedicated my life to finding effective solutions.
I’ve spent two decades of my adult life studying and practicing nutrition, movement, biomechanics in the deepest sense Chinese Medicine, Functional medicine, Evolutionary medicine, mindset and coaching, and many other systems and techniques. This vast study and practice has privileged me to help thousands of people live with more vitality, energy, passion, purpose, more health, greater longevity, and more life satisfaction. Here’s my story:
As a very creative, energetic, and endessly curious five-year old, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up., I was constantly play-acting adult roles in often funny ways, and I think the adults around me got a kick out of my unorthodox and creative answers that changed daily. Dump-truck driver, cowboy, and scientist came up a lot. However the future professional identity that stuck around the longest was that of a Paramedic On the Moon. It was strange how strongly that concept had molded my early identity.
Yes, I had hybridized the concept of an astronaut and a paramedic. My impulse for integration of concepts and ideas began early. But why those two? Going back even further, to my first memory yields an answer, by way of an anecdote about my earliest memory.
My very first memory is that of the moment I became conscious of myself, of individuality, somewhere around age three. I was rambunctiously bouncing around on the floor of my family living room. Th green, textured high-low shag carpeting reminded me of a miniature forest, sparking my imagination, a mental space I explored early and often. A large old-school Zenith cathode-ray television stood on the floor of the living room, cased in oak, seemingly ancient, even then. This was the same old television that broadcast Sesame Street into the living room. The television was, until that moment, something I had took for granted.
In a strange moment of insight, followed by a moment of terror, I had the thought, one I’d never had before, the realization that I was an unique individual in the world, separate from my environment and my parents. Somehow the television and its oddly foreign quality compared to the familiar presence of my parents sparked a strange sort of awareness of myself. Of course every functioning person has a similar moment, though many do not remember that moment. My moment of self-awareness was singularly powerful in my memory, spurred by that television. My young mind reeled at the implications.
The television was turned on, though I can’t tell you which program was being aired. It didn’t matter. My immediate reaction to the television is it displayed images of people I didn’t know and in a location I’d never visited, was that it was a foreign, not-altogether friendly device. Its presence seemed alien, otherworldly, and inhuman despite its projection of human representations on its domed screen.
As I matured into the rambunctious, relentlessly curious (ask my parents) and endlessly fascinated five year old, I was somehow deeply aware that certain aspects of my existence, like the television, just didn’t fit somehow with my experience of myself and the natural world. Somehow at that early age, blessed with a lot of time outside and strong connection to nature, I conceived of myself as a part of nature, an animal like the family dog, that existed as a part of nature. I ate a lot of dirt, dug deep holes, ate flowers and plants in the yard, and asked a billion questions, if that explains anything.
Back to the TV and my moment of crisis of self awareness. Despite that sense of the TV being an alien presence, I eagerly enjoyed what I saw on it. I particularly enjoyed the fictional presentations of heroism and adventure. I latched onto the idea of being a paramedic from watching the TV show “Emergency!,” in which the paramedics from Fire Station 51 in Los Angeles saved people through heroism and performing medical miracles on those in accidents, in fires, etc.
At the same time, space flight was a popular media subject, as was various science fiction depictions, including Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek. These shows and movies were endless fodder for my vivid imagination and my budding intellect, gripped with the physics of flight, space travel, astronomy, and science in general.
Something clicked when I put those two ideas together—people exploring the moon and space were bound to run into trouble, and I wanted to be someone to help them out of those dangerous situations. I wanted to be a paramedic on the moon.
I had carried this idea as a realistic possibility into my teenage years, when the reality of the challenges of becoming an astronaut made that goal seem out of reach. Side note: thanks to Elon Musk and his visionary enterprises, new windows of possibility for employment in space travel are opening up.
Jumping ahead to much later, as I studied biological sciences and evolutionary theories in high school, college, and in graduate school, and became deeply fascinated with these ideas. I came across the concept of evolutionary mismatch, and instantly saw in in that concept a very important, and often overlooked truth about our existence, one that resonated with much of my early experience. That is, I became aware that our species evolved in an ecological niche that is far different from the man-made world of today, and our genes haven’t caught up yet. Or more appropriately, our ways of being haven’t caught up, which is what allows us to adapt to our environment, first behaviorally, and then, over time and multiple generations, we catch up genetically.
There are myriad examples of the evolutionary mismatch all around us. From the raging epidemics of heart disease and obesity, cancer, depression, and chronic pain—a whole host of illnesses of all kinds driven by our modern society—most medical disorders and health problems, all can be understood as being caused by this evolutionary mismatch.
Fundamentally, many modern diseases are caused by the modern industrial food we eat, a diet that isn’t even close to what our ancestors ate. We just don't have the evolved hardware to deal with processed food, massive amounts of carbohydrates, synthetic flavors, and instant delivery of highly palatable food.
Many other health problems are caused or compounded by the technological and social stresses we experience as a result of large high-tech, low-touch, sedentary societies built on a scale which is foreign to our human brains and consciousness that evolved in small, nomadic hunter-gatherer bands and tribes.
As a graduate student in Southern California, deep in my own healing process as you'll read, I remember a long drive back on Interstate 5 through there industrial heart of Los Angeles, coming home from meeting with a mentor. The density and industry of the city, ten lanes of cars rushing past each other at 80mph, and a haze of smog combined to form an impression in my mind once again of an alien landscape, a man-made place far from the environment that nature had optimized our genes to operate within. It might as well be a lunar landscape.
In that moment, I made the connection to my childhood daydream: the current environment might as well be on the surface of the moon, compared to the environment we evolved in. The differences are so stark that our current environment is otherworldly, compared to what we’re well-adapted for. I saw myself then as that Paramedic on the Moon, or at least one in training. And we are all astronauts on a modern, human made moonscape.
Simultaneously reinforcing this concept, in my professional world, as a nutritionist working my way through graduate school in integrative medical clinics where the word “paleo” was on everyone’s lips. Working alongside board-certified endocrinologists and internal medicine specialists who’d drunk deeply of from the evolutionary medicine wellspring, we focused on nutrition, sleep, and movement from the perspective of evolutionary and functional medicine, using lifestyle, nutrition, and supplements to bridge the gap in the evolutionary mismatch. It wasn’t always articulated to patients in this way, but in the big picture, everything we did, and everything I do comes from this lens. The results were very powerful. Even with the early, simplistic understanding of evolutionary medicine of the early 2000’s, we saw amazing results. Patients got better. They lost weight, slept better, cured their depression and autoimmune disorders, gained health and vitality in virtually every domain of function. The state of the art today has advanced exponentially, and I’m proud to operate on the vanguard of this movement, proud and excited for what I, and we as a profession, can do for patients, but also for what this medicine has done for me personally, which is why I’m such an evangelist for it.
My own healing journey was profoundly and beneficially affected by the concepts and practices of both evolutionary medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. In 2004, as a graduate student in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and while working as a nutritionist as previously described, I contracted Lyme disease from a tick bite. Western conventional medicine failed to treat the disease, as the infection quickly developed a resistance to first-line antibiotic care. Further proposed western medical care involved using intravenous antibiotics with a dodgy chance of success and many nasty side effects, including liver problems and corroding veins from the caustic chemicals. I chose not to go that route, and instead, I took a leap of faith and embraced the ancient medicine I was learning, and dove deeply into the pool of Chinese medicine knowledge, and used the lab testing and treatment protocols of functional medicine as backup and reinforcements.
Over time I was able to cure my own severe infection and its sequelae by faithfully applying the principles I had learned. It wasn’t instant—the process took about 18 months and tons of research, meeting with mentors and senior practitioners, to fully and permanently overcome the infection. Through sustained effort, I beat the infection, and healed the havoc and chaos the disease caused in my body. It took months longer to rebuild my health and vitality to its current thankfully vigorous state. This process will be the subject of future writing, but suffice to say I owe my life and my current state of vitality to the medicine that I’d been studying and helping others with for years.
It is impossible to truly convey the enormity of my gratitude for my teachers and mentors, my fellow clinicians, employers and coworkers, for their kindness and support, their knowledge and skill, and my own relentless drive to heal myself. With all these tools, I was able to overcome a debilitating, potentially lethal chronic disease. The only true way to repay this debt of gratitude, is to fully embody it, and propagate this knowledge. This has been my singular goal for more than a decade—to both somatically master the medicine, and to implement and scale these powerful healing modalities, and deploy them with kindness, compassion, and dedication.
After my own healing process as a graduate student, I studied as much as I could, and worked to fit everything I learned about medicine and health into this evolutionary model. Time after time, the evolutionary perspective succeeded, helping me to succeed with helping clients. Its power and influence began to permeate my thinking, providing a model for understanding the world around me, and providing a modern, scientific grounding for the ancient medicine to which I owe my life.
It’s not a perfect model--all models are incomplete. Yet this model is the most comprehensive synthesis of medicine and health that I've found. Evolutionary medicine compliments everything I’ve learned so far. Evolutionary theory renders legible a wide array of intellectual and practical ideas, including Traditional Chinese medicine, nutrition, many aspects of health and disease, social phenomena, dating, mating, politics, psychology and a whole lot more.
My life’s work has become the process of exploring the evolutionary perspective, and finding ways in which to harness this vast trove of wisdom, developing practical techniques based on ancient wisdom, and specializing in the unexpected truths that appear counter-intuitive to the post-modern culture within which we exist.
In practice since 2003, and teaching in the field since 2008, I’ve put together a totally unique palette of healing arts practices:
- Exploring and implementing botanical medicine deeply and thoroughly—Chinese, Western, and Ayurvedic herbology, supplements, and functional medicine approaches.
- Developing powerful nutritional protocols and lifestyle for maximum health and vitality, and to treat and prevent disease—focusing on paleo, primal, and ketogenic ways of eating.
- Mastering ancient and modern bodywork and movement therapy techniques—acupuncture, massage, fascial work, and functional movement.
- Implementing cutting-edge research and practice in injectable medicines, including TCM forms of stem cell therapies, prolotherapy, and others.
- Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned and developed powerful mindset and cognitive approaches to wellness, starting with radical self-acceptance, cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapies, mindfulness, qigong, and more.
I invite you to join me in a journey of discovery on your path to optimal health and resilient, deep wellness by optimizing your physiology. I'm honored to help you. Click on this link to inquire about my free wellness analysis, or to schedule an appointment at my clinic in the historic Mapleton hill district.