the Good Badger archives

About the Good Badger

Zach Davis is a dude who writes blog posts and occasionally a book. One time he ran a marathon without any training. Another time he walked from Georgia to Maine without any training. Get special discounts on nothing by liking the Good Badger Facebook Page. Also find Zach on Google.

A Road Map Toward Perfect Health

…is not quite what you’re going to find here.  But I liked the way it sounded.

I’ve been projecting non-sense into the Interspace for quite some time now.  Never have I ever wrestled with a post in my head for quite so long.  Instead of trying to say everything, this post will serve as an introduction for what shall soon ensue.

Over the last few months, I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession with health.  And I don’t mean the casually perusing Yahoo!’s “7 super foods for a summer 6 pack” variety.  I mean spending weekend afternoons learning the history of how the food pyramid was born (Good Calories, Bad Caloriesread it), falling asleep to various “Paleo diet” podcasts, and waking up to 90-minute keynotes on why sugar is a delicious poison.  It began solely as means to cure my ills, and has developed into a full fledged knowledge boner-orama.

For those who know me personally, they would attest as to just how far off the deep end I’ve gone.  A conversation about Wisconsin basketball can, and will, be twisted into a rant about methylation (a word not present in Zach’s diction 6 weeks ago). I tend to get obsessive when confronted with a new topic of interest, and I am currently traveling at the speed of sound down this rabbit hole, but also realize I’ve only scratched the surface.

All that said, what I have learned, and what you already likely already believe about health, is that it’s both confusing and over-simplified, inconsistent and dogmatic.  The perfect diet is different for everyone, has many more inputs than just diet and exercise, and can change over time.  One health guru promotes a raw vegan diet, the other says steak and eggs, and both have granite abs (proof one, proof two).   Your 85 year old grandfather plays golf 4 times a week, landscapes his yard, makes frequent, awkward, wrinkly love to your grandma (sorry for the imagery), all the while eating a pound of bacon for breakfast and drinking three martinis every night.  Pappy is breaking all the health rules, yet somehow still totally HAM (Healthy As a Motherfucker).

It is this confusion that causes people to gravitate back toward conventional wisdom.  If there’s dissension on what to believe, the power in numbers becomes the most compelling piece of evidence.

Conventional Wisdom

Calories in, calories out.  One hour of cardio five times per week.  Eat mostly fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.  Avoid fat (especially saturated), sodium, and cholesterol.  That’s the recipe for good health, according to conventional wisdom.  However, through personal experimentation, I’ve come to learn that it’s an utter fucking lie, at least for me, and probably for  a larger portion of the population than we have been lead to believe.

If there’s one thing to take away from any proposed health ideology, it’s that even the best ideas are only concepts until tested.  It becomes a truth only when applied (and consequently, benefited).

Saying that [food X] is good/bad, is totally missing the point.   There are certain foods that tend to be good or bad for larger portions of the population. There are different qualities of the same food that have different reactions in the same body (grass fed beef from quality-controlled local farms vs. grain fed industrial beef factories).  Even spinach, something universally regarded as a “superfood“, can have a detrimental effect on certain individual’s health (if that person is especially histamine sensitive).  I’m not saying that spinach is unhealthy*- I consume spinach at a rate that would make Popeye blush.  The point is, when it comes to nutrition, dogma doesn’t work.

* = Editor’s note: I received the following note from my mom in an e-mail, “And by the way, food isn’t ‘healthy’  it’s ‘healthful.’  Healthy food would be a leaf of spinach running a marathon or doing push-ups.”  Maybe my spinach can do pushups, mom.

On Health

In my previous post, I announced to the world (i.e. the 16 people who read this) that the natural state of my brain was microwaved garbage.  For those who are curious, I feel substantially better today.  Although I haven’t conquered the title of “superhuman health” (still a ways to go in fact), my energy, mood, and clarity of thought are at their best since contracting West Nile virus.  At times, these markers (albeit qualitative and subjective) are better than ever.  Although other lifestyle changes have played a role, nutrition is undoubtedly a (maybe the) driving force.

And quite honestly, saying that I feel better is putting it lightly.  For the first time in a long time, I feel as if I’ve regained control of my life.  Even as of the writing of the previous post, I wasn’t fully aware of how bad my situation was.  Only through the contrast of clearing the fog and relieving the constant tension can I fully appreciate how awful it was.

I have a premonition- considering the current state of the western diet and lifestyle- that an alarming number of people go through life this way.  Not necessarily suffering to the extent that I was, but merely surviving instead of thriving

This isn’t a result of a lack of willpower or a defeatist attitude (although both play a role).  This is the result of bad information (see: conventional wisdom). 

We deserve better.

Cerebal Recalibration

Here’s the eleventy billion dollar question: HowHow was I able to fix a dilapidated brain?

That’s a two part answer.

1) Like I said, I’m not “there” yet, where ever there might be.  I’ve spent the last three months in an obsessive state of self-experimentation, research, and fine-tuning; I continue to refine.  Also, I’m human.  There are setbacks (which is code for whiskey).

2) What has worked has been largely unconventional.  The articles that will follow over the coming days, weeks, months (who knows?) will offer the full platter of unorthodox health tactics that have dug me out of the proverbial sewer.

Below is a box.  In that box is an area where you can input your e-mail address.  If you’re interested taking a trip down this rabbit hole with me, simply fill this box with the appropriate information (no, I don’t mean this).


On Health

Remember wayyyyyy back in February when I moved to San Francisco to embark in a new chapter of my existence?  Well much like the construct of Appalachian Trials, this chapter was pithy.  And now, like my favorite movie starring a golden retriever, I’m Homeward Bound (sorry Air Bud).

In many ways, the past nine months has been the most exciting, fulfilling, and surreal period of my life.  I published a book.  People didn’t hate it (including one of my idols).  I’ve crossed public speaking off the “gives violent diarrhea” list, and instead added it to the “am moderately comfortable” file.  Hell, I got to give a half hour Appalachian Trail presentation in front of Tony Hsieh (the CEO of Zappos & billionaire mastermind behind a massive rebuilding of Downtown Las Vegas).

I had the privilege of entrenching myself in a city brimming with culture, technology, ubiquitous intelligence, and world class restaurants.  And my personal favorite, I got to live in an area of the country whose beauty is second to none.  Northern California is hands down the best backpacking country I’ve ever been exposed to; Yosemite, Emigrant Wilderness, Big Sur, Big Basin, Mt. Tam State Park, John Muir Woods, Salt Point State Park….you are immaculate (AT still has a monopoly on my heart-space however).

All this being said, 2012 has been, by far and away the most challenging year of my life.  The sole cause being my health.

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One Year Later

Last Wednesday, August 22, marked my one year anniversary of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. 

In it of itself, that is maybe worthy of a Facebook status.  This post is dedicated to reflecting on where my life, or more accurately, my mindset, has since gone.

I’m Back

When Michael Jordan made this proclamation in 1995, it was without question the two sweetest words any Chicago Bulls fan could possibly hear (and equally as bitter for the other 29 teams – suck it Karl Malone/Patrick Ewing/Reggie Miller/Shawn Kemp).

When I say I’m back, I mean it in the – holy fuck what kind of routine have I fallen into – sort of way.  When I say I’m back, I mean I’m back to working 60+ hour weeks.  I’m back to living in my inbox.  I’m back to sweating the bullshit – the same person who actively acknowledged that everything is the bullshit.

I knew I wanted to write this post – although I hadn’t a clue about which direction to take it (disclosure: that’s my usual formula).  Just before I sat down to open up the faucet of thoughts, my earbuds (which were attached to my iPhone) snagged onto my belt and subsequently yanked my phone onto my bedroom’s hardwood floor and smashed the screen into 100 pieces.  This was after a full day of mundane, administrative tasks and thankless chores (commonly referred to as “headaches”).  Needless to say, if there was a face within arm’s reach, it would have been punched.  The shattered iFriend coupled with the carousel of task oriented thoughts began pushing my internal PSI near the “WE’LL DO IT LIVE” meltdown zone.

It then occurred to me, if you were to take a Polaroid of the August 22, 2012 Zach Davis and contrast it to the 2011 version, it’s clear that much has changed, and I’m not just referring to the majestic fire beard.  The serene, unshakable, and eternally optimistic Badger has been replaced with his easily annoyed twin.

The trail hasn’t bestowed me with the gift of unconditional and unwavering joy.  But it has offered me a worthy consolation: perspective.

When confronted with a challenging day, the pre-trail Good Badger believed that life’s events were out to get him, or at the very least, were unfolding unfavorably.  Like magnets, bad events would seem to attract one another until I was a moving manifestation of Murphy’s Law.  The mental radio was playing 40 stations at once, gradually building into a cacophony of angry static.  And that angry static was the medium through which life was observed.

Today the angry static still has a way of finding this radio, but unlike before, I’ve located the “off” switch.  I’ve learned that life isn’t the DJ; I’m the one laying down the tracks.  And the only way to change the song is to stop singing along, but instead listen objectively.  The space between the radio and the radiohead is the happy medium.

To un-radio-metaphor the above: life doesn’t cause your unhappiness, you do.  My iPhone shattered and immediately my internal monolog responded with, “FFFUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKK WHY FUCK SHIT FUCK NO SHIT NO FUCK WHY”.  After the mini-internal tantrum, however, I was able to remind myself, that 1) it’s not my health (other than perhaps a slight myocardial infarction) 2) it’s not the health of a loved one, and 3) I HAVE AN IPHONE TO BREAK.  The screen on my pocket laptop is now a little harder to read.  They’re called White People Problems because they’re not real problems.  Nobody should feel bad about my smashed iPhone display, myself included.

The moral of the story is that my greatest take away from the trail – that real happiness is a mindset, not a set of conditions – is occasionally forgotten.  I still get pulled into my own bullshit factory.  But unlike before, I now have the road-map to find my way out.  And although it may take a bit to discover that I’ve strayed, this GPS is shatter-proof.

——–

Sidenote: I will be speaking at the REI in Charlotte, NC next week.  If you can, come say hello.

the Good Badger Live, Uncut, Unraveled, Uncensored, Unlocked, Uncle, Unnecessarily Long Title

Hey team,

I ran out of un’s.  If I missed any, feel free to throw them in the comment rectangle at the bottom of this weblog.

BUT THIS POST IS MUCH BIGGER THAN UNS.  This post is about REI, YOU & ME. 

If you live in the Bay Area, you have the rare opportunity to see the Good Badger in front of a projector screen, taking you inside the mind of a thru-hiker, talking about running away from serial killers, and of course, showcasing the half-year evolution of a ManBeard.

Here are some relevant details:

When: Tuesday, August 7th; 7:00 – 8:30pm.  The talk is 60 minutes.  The Q&A is 30, or until someone forces me to go home.  I will warn you, I’m very strong.

Where:  REI – Saratoga. 400 El Paseo de Saratoga, San Jose, CA 95130.  They call it Saratoga’s REI.  The address is San Jose.  Your guess is as good as mine.

What:  This is the description REI is using:

“In March 2011, Zach Davis set out from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to hike the length of the Appalachian Trail-2,181 miles to Mount Katahdin, Maine; he’d never backpacked before. Tonight, Zach will share his perspectives on making a successful thru-hike, including highlights from his new book, “Appalachian Trials-A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail”. As Zach shows images of his journey northward through the spectacular wilderness lands of the East Coast states-Great Smoky Mountain and Shenandoah National Parks, White Mountain National Forest, and more, he’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of gearing up for an adventure of this magnitude, as well as the remarkable impact of the trail on the body and the spirit. If you register for this free presentation at www.rei.com/stores, we will hold a seat for you until the scheduled start time. Seating may be available at the door, even if registration is closed.”

Here’s my description:  Do you want to know what it’s like to walk ~2,200 miles without actually having to doing it?  Ok, come to the talk.

Why: Because you’ll surely get your money’s worth.

Cost:  Free.

If you know someone who lives in the Bay Area who enjoys doing things, can you please pass this along?  Have them tell me you sent them, and I will give them an uncomfortable bear hug in front of everyone.

Also important, if you do plan on going, you must register for the event.  Not only does this get the planner person off my case, but it ensures that they save you a seat.  Win, win.

[SIGN UP HERE]

Also, I’ll be selling some copies of Appalachian Trials (at a discount), followed by my scribbling in your book upon request.

I think that’s all the relevant information.

Truly yours,

Zach

Winning on Mt. Whitney

Winning on Mt. Whitney

Last month, I, along with a trio of friends, hiked the continental United States’ tallest mountain – Mt. Whitney.  Maxing out at an elevation of 14,508 ft, this 22-mile round trip trek is considered one of the most difficult day hikes in the entire country. I am proud to report that our attempt was a success.

So how long did it take us to summit?

Well, we didn’t.

This is where the truck is backed up…

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The Good Badger on Camping Gear TV

camping gear tv and the good badger

You’ve heard a lot about The Dusty Camel and Ian Mangiardi, both on this site and in Appalachian Trials.  Ian played a huge role in my thru-hike preparation, and ultimately, the book.  For this I am forever grateful.

But the catalyst to all of the AT goodwill began even before Ian took the reigns of Zach’s pre-trail therapist.  It was Josh Turner of Camping Gear TV who got the ball rolling, not only by putting me in touch with Ian, but also introducing me to many of the sponsors of his show (including Hi Tec, Eureka!, and Innate Gear).

The good folks of Camping Gear TV have dealt another bout of good fortune to the Good Badger (three goods, one sentence – the grammar equivalent of two girls, one cup.).  They decided to let me talk about living in the woods for a half year.  On video.  And they posted it.

If you’re into the outdoors in any capacity, I highly recommend subscribing to Camping Gear TV (either through RSS, Facebook, YouTube and/or Twitter accounts).  If REI and Santa made a superbaby, this superbaby would be Camping Gear TV.  In other words, they give you awesome camping equipment for freeGet some.

– Side Note of Awesomeness –

Guess which book recently got a positive endorsement from Tim Ferriss (read the comments), author of New York Times NUMBER 1 Best-Selling The 4-Hour Workweek and The 4-Hour Body?  Hint: I wrote it.  The cover is currently getting a slight makeover.

The Mysterious Absence of Your Lunch Break

Missing Lunch

I have this friend…

This friend is a diligent worker.  This friend shows up to work earlier and earlier every year.  This friend leaves work later and later.  This friend  eats a very abbreviated lunch at their desk.  This friend handles urgent work e-mail on the weekend (and most e-mail is urgent).  This friend has lost touch with many friends and family.  This friend has fallen into the trap.

This friend’s name:  WAY TOO MANY FUCKING PEOPLE

I understand, you work these hours because you have to, not because you want to.  The alternative could very likely spell unemployment, Ramen, mass transit, and 1-ply toilet paper.  The few extra hours at the office are worth not wiping with wax paper.  On this, we agree.

Here’s where we might not agree: Read more

4 New Things in The Life of the Good Badger

4 new things in the life of the good badger

This website didn’t used to be about me.  Sure my name is in the URL.  And yeah, the “about me” page contains more info about me than any person should know.  But the content of the posts were always marketing best practices, technology tutorials, and how to get your cat on Oprah-types-of-insights.  The subject changed, but it was consistently not me.

And then I went on a hike. 

Although I tried to make the focus of my writing the trail’s culture, I started to leak into the posts.  I never liked the idea of writing about me, too many people do it, and, in my opinion, very few do it well.  I didn’t want to fall into that category.   But in order for a hiker’s journal to have any context, it’s important to get to know the hiker.

So, I opened up.  One thing led to another.  I finished the trail.  I wrote a book.  I made a lot of noise about said book.  And now here we are…

Normally, I wouldn’t find a post updating you on the status of my life worth writing, but I am also cognizant of the fact that there are now people who care about the Badger behind the screen.  I’ve received enough e-mails inquiring about a life update to make this theory seem less delusional.  Although, far be it from me to let delusion prevent action.

So if you don’t care about a Zach Davis State of the Union, now is the time to click the “x” box in the top right corner.

….

You’re still with me?  Good.  I always liked you best anyway.

Here’s what’s new in the world of the Good Badger.

1) I have a job

As it turns out, writing two blog posts a month isn’t enough to pay the bills (or even to buy the pen that signs the check).  So instead of living at home forever, I decided to go the route that doesn’t end in suicide and join the working world.

I have accepted a position as the Marketing Director for Tech Cocktail, an emerging technology media company.  In a nutshell, my job is to be me– for them.  Pretty sweet.

More specifically – I write.  I cover startups.  I organize events.  I create and manage digital projects.  I meet and interact with millionaires and poor people who will soon be millionaires.  I learn a lot.  I send a tremendous amount of e-mails.

At this point, you might be asking yourself…

Aren’t you falling straight back into the technology suckhole you were so desperately trying to escape?

Although the conditions are eerily similar to where I was before leaving for the trail (working remotely, no strict hours, many projects), I have learned my lesson.  I know now that in order to my job effectively I have to intentionally build in a fair amount of fuck around time into my week.  The reason I’ve been slow to post here, is because my free time has largely been spent on hikes, exploring, and being social.  Fool me once, Appalachian Trail thru-hike.  Fool me twice, shame on me. 

As to the technology issue, yes, I am surrounded by all things tech on all levels at all times.  I like technology, and judging by the amount of interactions we have on Facebook, so do you.  I’ve learned that technology is not the enemy; it’s only our usage of it that can be at fault.  When it’s time to Tech Cocktail (a new verb I’m experimenting with), I am in a vortex of Tweets, cloud-based collaborative platforms, software, and keystrokes.  When it’s time for Zach to recharge, he is in the mountains, he is with friends, or playing basketball.  His phone is no where to be found (unless you look in his middle console or bedroom – this is not an invitation to rob him). 

So far, it’s been good (healthy and sustainable).  Plus, I like my job.  I like the people I work with.  I believe in the company.  I was fortunate to have options, and I chose based upon the above characteristics.  But most importantly, as I already stated, I get to be me.

My position involves having a fairly visible online persona.   For most who too share this digital semi-spotlight, it’s important that they speak through their work mouth – which roughly translates to constant self-censorship.  I’ve never been good at that and I have stopped trying.  In other words, I can tweet the occasional hippo having a crazy explosive diarrhea fart, and not worry about losing my job.  That’s important.  Once you start compromising on hippo farts, it’s all over.

2)  I moved to San Francisco

I moved to San Francisco.  Because I work remotely, I can live anywhere (with wi-fi access, that is).  San Francisco was my top choice.  Why?  Yosemite, Sonoma, Napa, Big Sur, John Muir Woods, Tahoe, Pacific Ocean.  Oh and the city is pretty neat too.  If you live in the bay area and like to drink beer, we should coordinate.

3)  I will write another book

Someday.  I have already decided.  Probably not this week, or this year, but before long.  You made the entire process a lot of fun, and I’m already itching to make the next one better.  But for now, I am focusing on Tech Cocktail’ing and getting lost in the mountains when I can.  If you want to be the first to know when the next idea drops, the Good Badger e-mail club is for you.

4)  Thank you

That’s not new, or even a thing really, but still very important and true.  Your Amazon reviews have made the book launch a glowing success.  I am proud of the early reception of Appalachian Trials (the best Appalachian Trail book ever written by a Badger), and you are the reason for this being so.  I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heat.

That’s it.

Stay good,

Zach

Appalachian Trials Has A New Home

appalachian trials dot com

Hi team,

I just wanted to let you know that Badger’s Appalachian Trail book has its own website.   If you’re so inclined, check it out, let me know what you think, maybe get a book or seven (one for Snow White and six of her dwarfs- Dopey doesn’t get one until he cleans his act up), maybe “like” the page, maybe tweet it, or Google plus it.  Or maybe do none of that.  That’s up to you.  I’m just giving you options.

The new Appalachian Trials website was designed and developed by Adam Nutting of Hiking the Trail.  You should check out Adam’s site because he gives you free gear.

Also, as a little bit of a change in procedure- this website will slowly be transitioning away from all things Appalachian Trail.  There is now a dedicated Appalachian Trials blog that will be taking over that role in due time.  It’s still a bit rough right now, but I promise you, it will eventually be awesome.  And let this be a warning to 2012 thru-hikers, pay attention to this blog over the course of the next couple of weeks.  Just trust me, k?

the Good Badger will return to its regular scheduled programming, which roughly translates to whatever is on my mind for the day.  I may still chat about the AT, but I may also try to get you to move to San Diego.  You just can’t be sure.

Also a little update with the status of the book:

You guys are amazing.  We already have 10 reviews.  That really, truly means a lot to me (as you likely already know).  If you have read the book and wouldn’t mind taking 89 seconds out of your day to share your thoughts with Amazon, that would bring a smile to my face.  Also, I’m hopeful Amazon will soon link the print and e-book page so all reviews feed into one.  ARE YOU LISTENING AMAZON!?!

That’s all we have for now.

Bear hugs,

Zach