Naturist Health

When I first got into nudism and began participating in social nudism, I noticed there a definite emphasis on recreation and body acceptance which isn’t, in itself, a bad thing. When I delved into the history I noted that in the early part of the 20th Century, there was, at least in the naturist movements, an emphasis on health and fitness which profoundly influenced the philosophical basis of my evolution as a naturist.

I can’t say that I’ve followed through completely on that philosophy but it’s still something for me to shoot for. When I exercise, do yoga, or hike, I prefer to do them in the nude. I think I might have more interest in social nudism and visiting landed clubs if there was more emphasis on health and fitness while providing more activities promoting it.

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My Naturism: At Odds With the Paradigm

AANR mission statement:
Our Mission: Simply put, we exist “To advocate nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings while educating and informing society of their value and enjoyment.”

TNS mission statement:
The mission of The Naturist Society is to promote body, acceptance through clothing-optional recreation using the tools of education and community outreach.

“Body acceptance is the idea…Nude recreation is the way.” – TNS founder Lee Baxandall

Nude recreation and social nudism haven’t been central to my practice of naturism in quite a while. In the last decade those aspects have substantially decreased in importance to me and I’ve found that my own ideas about naturism and clothes-free living have aligned less and less with the nudist paradigm of the national nudist organizations, AANR and TNS.

Both AANR and TNS emphasize nude (clothing-optional) recreation in their mission statements. This seems to imply that engaging in recreational activities is a primary reason for being nude. Personally, I would like see a change in the direction of our national nudist organizations and their member clubs to promoting nudism and naturism as healthy lifestyles as opposed to being merely a recreational activity.

Many of my basic ideas and philosophies concerning naturism stem from the nudist and naturist movements in Europe in the early 20th century, especially the Freikörperkultur (FKK) in Germany though I’ve been somewhat influenced by some of the French naturist movements as well. I appreciated their emphasis on fitness and health although I don’t necessarily advocate group calisthenics and the like. I’m more of a proponent of individual discipline. Stéphane Deschênes, owner of the Bare Oaks Naturist Park in Canada, has also been an influence.

I envision a clothes-free lifestyle as one the promotes health and fitness, not to achieve some abstract aesthetic standard, but to enhance one’s health and physical abilities, and to benefit one’s own well-being. I regard body acceptance as a starting point rather than an end in itself. We have to accept things as they are before we can work to change them through our own efforts.

In my naturist vision, full nudity, though not absolutely essential, should be encouraged whenever possible. I consider being nude and incorporating nudity into our daily activities as much as possible to be extremely beneficial to one’s physical, psychological, and spiritual health. It starts with accepting our bodies and being comfortable in our own skin, then moving forward,

AANR’s mission statement talks about advocating “nudity and nude recreation in appropriate settings”. Who determines which settings are appropriate and how do they make this determination? Settings I deem appropriate for nudity are often quite different from what society and the law deem appropriate. Why shouldn’t I be able to tend my garden or sunbathe in my backyard in the nude? Or wash my car, check my mail, relax on my deck, or take my garbage can to the curb? Who is harmed? Whose rights are being infringed?

I believe that casual nudity should be decriminalized and that there should be no criminal, legal, or civil sanctions for simply being unclothed in view of the public. I won’t argue about whether being nude is or isn’t a right but why should an activity that harms no one, infringes no one’s rights or property, and is generally beneficial to one’s overall health, be illegal?

I take issue with the secrecy that surrounds American nudism. Trying to make nude recreation and clothes-free living more acceptable and mainstream while keeping it secret from friends, family, and coworkers seems counterintuitive.

I lived and worked for 20 years in a “culture of secrecy” which bled into and negatively influenced my personal life. The resulting lack of transparency in personal matters has caused me a lot of grief over the years. I’ve worked to overcome its influence and I endeavor to be as open and transparent as possible.

I think it’s time we made peace with the camera. They are everywhere and nearly everyone has one built into their mobile phone. For better or for worse, we live in a society where virtually everything we do is subject to being photographed, recorded, and otherwise documented and potentially released into public media. By embracing our technology we have given up our expectations of privacy and once it gets on the Internet, there’s no getting it back or controlling what happens to it. This makes living with openness and transparency all the more important. It also becomes more important to be able to positively defend your lifestyle choices.

Body acceptance is only a beginning

Larry Darter’s article, Roots of nudist culture, reminded me that many of my own ideas about naturism are grounded in the ideals, concepts and philosophies of the Nacktkultur and Freikörperkultur movements of the early 20th century when there was an emphasis on fitness and health that seems to be generally lacking in nudism today.

It seems that in the last 40 or 50 years, the emphasis shifted from health and fitness to body acceptance and nude recreation. There is nothing wrong with body acceptance and nude recreation. There is a need for body acceptance and nudism should be fun. However, body acceptance is a beginning, not an end in itself. Many people mistakenly equate body acceptance with body satisfaction — “I accept my body as it is and I’m okay with it. I don’t need to do anything else.” They accept their body and go no further. We need to accept things as they are but if we can change things for the better, it behooves us to do so.

I’m not advocating a return to group calisthenics at the crack of dawn or anything like that. Nor am I advocating that nudist strive to achieve some impossible aesthetic ideal of “looking good naked.”  I’d like to see our national organizations and their clubs place more emphasis on health and fitness, promote nudism and naturism as a healthy lifestyle, and offer more healthy alternatives at nudist venues.

Naked Time

I enjoyed some extended naked time today. I had a naked lunch, watched a couple of films on Netflix and did some reading. Why do I enjoy my naked time? I believe that it’s because I simply enjoy the comfort of being nude. Other factors such as the feeling of freedom, the physical and mental health benefits, and a form of rebellion against a repressive and prudish society are secondary. For me, it’s definitely about the comfort I feel when in my natural state.

Kenfreehiker – Honoring the Body

Honoring the Body by Kenfreehiker is a call to naturism’s positive, historic values such as living a healthy lifestyle through exercise and a proper diet, embracing good conduct, accepting and respecting others and encouraging others to honor their bodies.

I’ve advocated naturism as a healthy lifestyle and it has helped motivate me to lose weight, get more exercise and change my attitudes and habits toward food. Since integrating naturism into my life, I’ve learned to accept my body while striving to keep it fit and healthy. There are other phlosophies, experiences and events that have also contributed to this motivation but naturism was my launching pad.

I intend to embrace the “honor the body” concept and I’d encourage others to do so as well.

Healthy Naturist Revolution

Today on the KenFreehiker blog, he calls upon naturists to Reintroduce a Healthy Naturist Revolution, and lead the way in practicing a healthy lifestyle.

Healthy eating and exercise, along with mental and spiritual health, were essential to early naturist practice. What happened? It’s as if when people took off their clothes they forgot why. Originally, it was for physical and mental health. It’s time to bring healthy living back to naturism.

Perhaps “nudists”” are okay with an unhealthy lifestyle, but not “naturists”. By definition, naturists are physically active, eat healthy food, avoid unhealthy habits, seek mental and spiritual advancement, and encourage others to understand so they also live in true health. It’s time for everyone to become “true” naturists.

I can’t say that I disagree with him. Fitness and health are part of my ideal of naturism. I’m not advocating going back to mandatory calisthenics, a vegan/vegetarian diet or total abstinence from certain substances for all naturists. I’m not saying we should all look like Greek gods and goddesses either. I’m suggesting that we do what we can to move away from a sedentary lifestyle to one with a sensible and proactive approach to physical, mental and spiritual health and fitness.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the epitome of good health. I’m a bit overweight, my cholesterol levels are out of balance, I’m taking medication for blood pressure, and my blood sugar is a bit higher that it ought to be. I’m doing what I can to correct or control those problems. Since I got my wake-up call a year and a half ago, I’ve lost over 30 pounds, my cholesterol levels are better, my blood pressure is lower and my blood sugar is under better control. I’ve almost completely eliminated junk food from my diet and I’m mindful of what I eat. I’m exercising more although I’m still working to overcome longstanding mental blocks about exercise. I’ve recently taken up yoga and I’m beginning to realize its physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

When I first got involved with nudism, I was not at all happy with the way my body looked in the mirror but I learned to accept it. I also figured out that accepting my body did not imply that I was satisfied with it or that I should just let it go. For me, body acceptance was a beginning, not an end in itself. In the mirror, I saw my protruding belly, my love handles, and my man-boobs and I told myself, “OK. That’s my body and I accept it for what it is. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, what do I need to do to improve it, to make it healthier?” I feel that too many of us reach body acceptance and don’t take the next step.

As naturists, we’ve rejected our society’s ideas of body shame, its skewed view of modesty and the nudity equals sex myth. Why don’t we take it further and reject the attitude that gluttony is good. There are diet plans and magical formulas that will make you thin again without changing your diet or exercise habits. It’s a contradictory message meant to sell super sized happy meals and diet aids.

Of prudes and nudes

In Of prudes and nudes in the online edition of the Winnipeg Free Press, Josephine Matyas discusses her experience at the Lindner Alpentherme in Leukerbad, Switzerland, a mixed-gender nude spa. My earliest experiences with mixed-gender, non-sexual nudity were in the spa facilities at European sport hotels. I didn’t consider it nudism but it was certainly a relaxing environment. Those experiences helped shape my attitudes about nudity.

The article highlights some of the differences between North American and European attitudes about nudity and health. In European spas, the emphasis is on wellness and prevention whereas in North America, the emphasis tends to be on cures and repairing the damage. Body acceptance is certainly part of wellness and we spend vast amounts of money treating the aftermath of poor body image.

In America we go to a spa to relax after we’re already stressed out and we go to the gym after we’re already fat and out of shape. That also seems to be a key difference between the American and European approaches to health care. The American system is focused on cures and damage control when we should be trying to prevent the condition from happening in the first place. There’s more money to be made in repair and long term care than there is in prevention. But that’s just my opinion.

Belated World Nude Day

Okay, I’m a little late since World Nude Day was this past Friday (at least in the Southern Hemisphere). I hope everyone south of the Equator enjoyed the day. While it was warming up here in southwest Ohio, it didn’t get warm enough to really get into the spirit of the day.

But anyway, I saw a link to the Nudists unite: World Nude Day article on Nudiarist‘s Newsreel. The author, Ozzie Jacobs, is not a nudist but, as a fitness expert, does appreciate some naturist ideas.

I’m not a Nudist but I think the free spirited nature of the Nudist is quite admirable. To walk around in the nude is a testament toward your ability to be comfortable in your own skin and to love your body inside and out. Loving your body inside and out requires that you take care of it:

  1. Eat Well — give your body only the best balance of protein, carbs and fats
  2. Get Active — commit to a fitness routine that shapes, tones and defines
  3. Get Sweaty — keep the heart healthy by incorporating cardio into your fitness regime
  4. Appreciate Your Individuality — nude bodies come in all shapes and sizes but the nude body you should strive for is the one that is healthy. Healthy is always attractive.

Finally, he tells his readers to “Take the time to enjoy a few moments in your birthday suit even if you take that moment in your shower.”

That all sounds like good advice to me. I think I’ll print that and post it someplace where I can see often.