Kilter 2017

On health, nutrition and fitness

Ancient Systems, Modern Applications

Submitted by Steven Deobald (@stevendeobald) on Monday, 13 February 2017

Section: Full Talk Technical level: Beginner Status: Cancelled


The older nations of Earth form a rich tapestry of varied approaches to health. Newer nations often struggle with weight management and mental health problems. Fad solutions to these problems have become their own industries.

As a modern society who value the scientific method, what can we learn from these ancient systems? Where Science cannot be applied, how do we evaluate their merits?

Intended audience: Anyone


First, a walkthrough of my own personal journey through asthma, digestion problems, weight problems, mental health issues, and alcoholism.

Second, a survey of health systems I have stumbled upon and applied myself and others which I have studied, as they are related by history. Direct experience will include “modern” medicine, Ayurveda, raw diets, heavy meat diets, sattvic/vegetarian diets, various meditation techniques (Thich Nhat Hanh’s methods, Zazen, Vipassana, and Yogic meditation), and various heavy exercise regimes (swimming, Kempo, weight training, running, bicycling, skiing, kayaking, climbing, yoga). Related systems include Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, and energy practice martial arts.

Finally, we will discuss drug and alcohol use, sleep, self-evaluation of health, and our poop.

Speaker bio

I am an unlikely proponent of moderate diets and daily exercise. Outside of childhood asthma, I have never had any significant health issues – at least none I had noticed. In retrospect, it’s obvious that my friends and family were almost constantly concerned with my health and well-being but having no serious obesity or clinical mental health issues I remained unaware of my issues until I stumbled into solutions entirely by accident. These discoveries are recent. Well into my 30s I was still under the impression that society was binary: on the left, healthy people and on the right, unhealthy people with problems like obesity, depression, and disease. How wrong I was.


  • Zainab Bawa (@zainabbawa) Crew 3 years ago

    Steve, this proposal seems quite all over the place, in that I cannot understand what is it that this talk will get to. What insight will this talk give me?

  • Steven Deobald (@stevendeobald) Proposer 3 years ago

    @zainabbawa It would probably be about 80% “personal journey” (which is to say, anecdotes) and 20% “here’s some broad advice”. The insights would be a survey of formal and informal health systems, their interrelations, and where they support and content with one another. Explicit or otherwise, everyone has an interlocking health system governing their life:

    • nutrition
    • drugs
    • medicine
    • mental health “exercise”
    • physical exercise
    • overarching routine (when do you sleep? when do you poop?)

    An informal and inexplicit system might be: “I eat whatever is around but I try to avoid fast food, I drink and smoke pot weekly, I go to the doctor when I’m sick, I play the cello, I like trekking but have no regular physical exercise routine, and I sleep consistent hours.”

    The goal of the talk would be fairly humble: Make people cognizant of their systems, whether already intentional or unintentional, and have them reflect on how intentional application of a formal system (ancient or otherwise) might be beneficial to them.

  • Sandhya Ramesh (@sandhyaramesh) 3 years ago

    Hi Steve, could you please attach a slide deck?

  • Steven Deobald (@stevendeobald) Proposer 3 years ago

    @sandhyaramesh Since I’ve never given this talk before, I don’t have one. :) My time is a little tight to prepare potential or skeletal slides right now, but I can try to find some time next week. I may do a mind map if I can only find a couple hours. Hope that works.

    • Zainab Bawa (@zainabbawa) Crew 3 years ago

      Mind map works.

  • Sandhya Ramesh (@sandhyaramesh) 3 years ago

    Hi Steven, could you upload some slides please, so that we can see your content and then schedule a call to go over them?

  • Steven Deobald (@stevendeobald) Proposer 3 years ago

    @sandhyaramesh @zainabbawa

    Sorry folks. I still haven’t had a moment’s spare time to come up with sample slides or a mind map, despite the fact that this entire talk is quite crisp in my head. :/ I’m actually quite behind on everything at the moment and this is difficult to prioritise against real work. I’ll try to get slides (or at least a mind map) out next week but if I can’t, please do drop my proposal… one week won’t be enough time to come up with a talk.


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