Change Your Body, Change the World: Reflections on Health and the Human Predicament. This is a non-fiction book about “Big health,” the idea that individual, social, and environmental health are complementary reflections of one another. If we change one part of this relationship, for better or worse, we change the others as well.
This is a radically new orientation towards the human body, one that emphasizes relationship and experience over appearance. I try to give the reader a fresh perspective on the human predicament and new ideas for health with meaning.
Tell us something about yourself.
I studied human biology as an undergrad at Stanford University. At the same time, I was training in martial art and other physical disciplines. At the time, I thought that there had to be some common ground between the movement arts and the historical, evolutionary approach to the human body. This drove me to write several books about the body. I also made several trips to Africa to study the ancient environment of human history. Also, I’ve worked as a massage therapist, trainer and consultant to individuals and organizations interested in health and performance. I created the health-leadership organization, Exuberant Animal.
What inspired you to write this book?
There is simply so much to say about our distorted and dysfunctional approach to the human body. As a people, we treat the body as an isolated object, completely independent of habitat and environment. It’s no surprise that we suffer epidemic levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and attention disorders. This is a subject that begs for our attention. I find it endlessly fascinating.
How did you choose the title?
My title seeks to advance a holistic orientation to the body. I’m trying to unite two fields of study that are normally held apart and independent: personal health and environmental action. When we make changes to our bodies, ripples and cascade effects are inevitable. I’m trying to broaden people’s thinking on the subject.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?
I’ve had to overcome a highly-entrenched view that sees the body as a stand-alone organism, independent of context. In fact, I’ve had editors and agents tell me straight out that “the only way to sell a health and fitness book is to dumb it down and sex it up.” The health and fitness industry is a narrow, specialized field that is highly resistant to new ideas. The industry has a strict formula, which is why all health-and-fitness books are so alike. If you want to do something progressive or innovative, you have to do it yourself. This is why I created my own publishing company: Exuberant Animal.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I never wanted to be a writer and in fact, I don’t think of myself as a writer. I simply have a compelling need to get these ideas out into the world.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
In general, I’ve learned to stop leaning on friends and editors for advice about my writing. To make a book work, I have to stand on my own two feet and project my own unique voice. When I listen too long or too hard to others, my voice gets watered down and becomes ineffective. So, instead of seeking opinions, I now try to make my authentic voice even stronger.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Simply trust. I have a solid voice and something important to say. If I was to do it again, I’d dive in deeper and sooner.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I’m a non-fiction hound, especially cross-over books that bust standard categories.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Stop asking for advice. Stop listening to consultants. Write long and hard about the most important things in your life. Get down to your personal core and bring it to the surface. Don’t water it down.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
My book should appeal to people who are interested in taking a more holistic approach to health. People who like to move their bodies. Yoga teachers, coaches, personal trainers, dancers, martial artists, PE teachers and human resource managers. It should also appeal to environmentalists and anyone who’s seeking a more integrated relationship with the world at large.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?