3.23.2012

Paleo F(x)

 "The change that takes place when you go to Paleo is like being able to finally see The Matrix."
- Dr. Shilpi Mehta, OD


Phew.  It has been a whirlwind of a month... March started with a mind blowing week of staring at my computer and diligently taking notes while listening to the Underground Wellness Paleo Summit.  Throughout the summit, I was exposed to some of the biggest names in the Paleo movement for the first time:  Dr. Jack Kruse, Nora Gedgaudas, and Chris Kresser... not to mention all the other Paleo folks I already followed online and from whom I sought nutritional expertise.  The summit was a perfect precursor to the Paleo F(x) Symposium that took place mid-March in Austin, Texas.  What is about to follow is my take on the experience of attending PFX12 - it will be long and wordy and typical of my writing style.  So grab some jerky, some toasted coconut, a handful of macadamia nuts and settle in... What the following is NOT - a transcription of all of my notes.  I might crash the blogspot servers if I attempted that.  Instead, I am sharing the highlights and the information that I found exceptionally profound.  I am sharing my experience, my thoughts, and my realizations.  If you are specifically interested in my notes - contact me and we can sit down over green tea and discuss the details.  So now that you are nice and cozy - let's begin!

I mentioned in an earlier post my predetermined notion of the Paleo F(x) attendees.  And within minutes of walking into the North End lobby of Darryl K. Royal Memorial Stadium on Wednesday evening, all preconceived thoughts of being uncomfortably surrounded by perfect specimens of humanity were quickly dispelled.  These folks were normal!  Like me!  A vast spectrum of ages, shapes, sizes, and colors.  Sure, there was plenty of chiseling roaming around.  But there were even MORE normal sized healthy folks.  My nerves soon subsided, I gathered my registration info, and headed up to the Stark Center on the 5th floor.

For the details of the first day, read my post on Day 1 HERE.  The main point to take away is this: we should each take time to invest in the wellness and care of others and encourage transformation... because we never know who we may impact through our efforts...and who will continue on to share that love with others.  Like I mentioned in the Day 1 post, this "starfish story" became the theme of the entire Paleo F(x) event.  During the first evening of socializing and crowd watching, I met a delightful woman from Aromas, CA (visit her blog at www.oursacredroots.com).  She is an organic greens farmer and works at the farmer's markets in Menlo Park and San Francisco.  Since we were both traveling alone and got along quite well, we naturally buddied up over NorCal Margaritas and chased down our Paleo heroes for casual introductions.  Everyone we encountered was so down to earth and willing to converse and share her (and his) own stories.  The evening was certainly a very warm welcome to what was to be one heck of an intense and informative two day symposium.

Thursday morning started bright and early.  The very small leadership team that dreamed up this incredible event enthusiastically introduced Paleo F(x) and gave a short introduction of what it took to get from a kitchen table 150 days earlier to the spectacular event that we were about to witness.  Kevin, Keith, and Michelle each had their own story and busted their butts to present to us the very first PFX Symposium.

The first presenter of the day was CJ Hunt, creator of "In Search of The Perfect Human Diet."  His story is a fascinating one, suffering a full cardiac arrest while running.  He was given a second chance at life and told by the doctors that he couldn't walk up stairs, no more motocross, and don't go anywhere without someone by his side that was trained in CPR.  Instead of living a limited life - CJ Hunt began his quest to find out what was REALLY wrong.  His presentation led us through his journey of seeking out The Perfect Human Diet... which in the most simplest terms breaks down into Human Food vs. Non-Human Food.  A concept that we should be using to explain what we should be eating.  The DVD was on sale at the PFX bookstore and before the presentation was even over, the special edition was completely sold out!  I haven't yet watched the film, but can't wait to do so... it only reassures and offers an even deeper insight into what many of us are already discovering about our health and nutrition.

Next on the stage was Paleo Genius, Robb Wolf.  Much to everyone's surprise, Robb did not speak about Paleo.  Nothing on nutrition, no endocrinology to wade through, no science.  In fact, Robb's presentation barely even mentioned food... he spoke completely about how to "Run Your Gym Like a Caveman: The NorCal Method".  Quite simply - one of my most favorite presentations of the symposium.  The timing of this couldn't have been more perfect, so I sat with my ears perked and pen at the ready to scribble every word of every slide.  Robb spoke about NorCal Strength & Conditioning  and the methods that are employed in training their athletes.  He spoke about how to create a quality experience for each client from the client's very first interaction to their first workout to a long term commitment to improving their health... and how having a gym that feels like "home" - where they feel like they belong is such an important component.  Robb talked about retention, how to think about the big picture, class structures, programming.  I have over 6 pages of detailed notes from a 40 minute presentation.  Anyone that is or aspires to be a coach or trainer would benefit greatly from listening to Robb Wolf's philosophy on gym ownership.  If there's any question on the quality of his experience - take a peek at NorCal Strength & Conditioning.  If there are any coaches reading that would be interested in the details of Robb Wolf's presentation, let's get together and chat.  There is much to be gained!  One other note:  Robb mentioned that every coach and trainer should have read The Talent Code.  With so much traveling that was about to transpire in my life - I loaded it onto my Kindle and have been glued to this book ever since.  Fascinating, fascinating read, people.

At this point in the day, attendees were forced to make a decision on which presentation they wanted to see next.  There were Mastermind discussions at the east and west stages or a cooking demonstration at the main stage.  Honestly, it was a struggle from this point until Friday night to decide where to go - knowing full well, I was going to miss out on SOMETHING incredibly valuable.  I chose to stay in the main room and watch Chris Kresser prepare Goan Chicken Xacuti.  There was a little discussion about Chris's practice in integrative medicine and acupuncture.  He spoke a little about his online resources The Healthy Baby Code, The Personal Paleo Code, and his Meal Plan Generator and Recipes.  I have to admit, I was quite distracted by the intoxicating aroma that was wafting around the room.  Unfortunately - no samples.  <sad face>

The cooking demonstrations continued with a fabulously entertaining Melissa Joulwan.  If you don't know it already, she is one of my most favorite Paleo and lifestyle bloggers at The Clothes Make The Girl.  Not only was she the best dressed rock star of the symposium, but she was witty and engaging and everything you'd expect from reading her blog.  Melissa prepared coconut almond green beans from her super fantastic cookbook Well Fed.  For those of you that follow my blog - you know my love for this book.  If you have not yet purchased your own copy of Well Fed, you're making me cry.  This book got Matt and me through our Wedded Bliss Whole30.  And I continue to use the seasoning, sauces, and carnitas recipes almost weekly.  For any newcomers - trust me.  Buy the book.  You'll love it.  It will live on your counter and become encrusted with bits of cumin and lime juice and coconut oil and you will love every bit of it.  I mean it.  But back to the symposium... again, no samples of the gorgeous green beans.  I sadly accepted that I'd have to wait to try all this delicious demoed food once I returned home to my own kitchen.

The next presentation I attended was Affecting Future American Healthcare & Food Policy.  I honestly hated to miss the other offerings on the other stages - but I sincerely believe there was never  a bad choice to be made with ANY of the presentations.  I just can't wait for the DVD release so I can rewatch everything I already observed and newly watch everything I couldn't.  The speakers on the panel were:  Diana Rodgers of Radiance Nutritional Therapy, Robb Wolf, Shannon Ford - Mrs. United States 2011 who was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, Judith McGeary - an attorney and the founder and Executive Director of The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Michelle Norris - co-founder of Paleo F(x) and Executive Chef at Caveman Cuisine, Dr. Amy Meyers of Austin UltraHealth, and Heather Isely (I apologize, I didn't write down her affiliation at the time of the presentation).  The whole panel was moderated by a very exuberant and very Canadian Dean Dwyer.  There was a VAST amount of information crammed into this 40 minute presentation and I, of course, have a notebook full of scribble.  The items that really stuck out for me:

*  Just because it is done in a lab, doesn't mean it is good science (or good for us) - in reference to GMO's
*  When trying to identify what is causing someone to be sick, it is easier to eliminate a food or foods from a person's diet than it is to cut into them, explore, and medicate
*  The concept of "cash & carry" physicians - to take a high-deductible/catastrophic only insurance and put a monthly deposit into an HSA instead... that opens up the flexibility of seeing doctors that TRULY want to get their patients well and can order tests that are not covered by standard insurance policies
*  Get involved!  Sign petitions, talk to congressional representatives, write to manufacturers.  Food is a non-partisan issue
*  Our current healthcare system was referred to as "Putting a band-aid over a bullet wound"... we only continue to perpetuate a bad system for everyone
*  Robb Wolf made some excellent comments about sustainable permaculture and not wanting a top-down food policy - a fascinating explanation and one worth purchasing the symposium DVD to see

The day was barely half-way through when I scurried my way back to the main stage to watch the Longevity vs. Optimization Mastermind Panel.  Dr. Amy Meyers, Amy Kubal, Dallas Hartwig, Keith Norris, Dr. Lane Sebring, Robb Wolf, and Dr. Jack Kruse made up the panel that was moderated by Kevin Cottrell.  The panel started by discussing the shortened life spans of competitive athletes which quickly transitioned to a talk about elevated cortisol levels and the extreme effects that high cortisol can have on the body - in short, it speeds up our chemical clock.  It was also mentioned that ultimate performance does not equate to health.  We must decide what we are working towards... "what's the goal?"  We were told: don't chase performance at the expense of your health.  One of the key points that was reiterated was that we must get more good quality sleep.  And that vacations aren't a luxury - they are a necessity.  There was extensive discussion around the cortisol imbalance, adrenal burnout and fatigue, identifying WHY we need caffeine and addressing it from the root of the problem.  (I can't see it in this picture, but I'm almost certain Dallas Hartwig had a venti Starbucks at one point)  I'm not sure I wrote this next part right - but here goes... Aesthetics is a symptom of dysfunction... not something to focus on.  Work on the dysfunction directly instead of 'whack-a-mole' with the symptoms.  Whether I captured that thought correctly or not, it is a concept that I've believed in for a very long time and it was so incredibly reassuring to hear that from the mouths of experts - especially those in the medical profession.

Luckily I didn't have to move for the next presentation: The Future of Paleo.  Carlos Andres Toro of the Ancestral Health Symposium moderated the panel - Keith Norris, Dean Dwyer, Abel Bascom, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf, and Dr. Jack Kruse.  Quite simply - we are at the early adoption phase of Paleo and we need to continue in the direction we are going to maintain the momentum we have.  This is a 1:1 movement that will spread by talking to friends, to neighbors, to our doctors... Challenge the medical profession.  From the words of a doctor: if you go to your doctor with lab results and he/she can't figure out what's wrong... challenge him.  Make him feel uncomfortable.  This was the first time I had heard about The Paleo Physicians Network, comprised of medical professionals that believe in the benefits and the importance of this type of lifestyle and the role it plays in healing patients.  Believe me - I bookmarked that link as soon as I got home.  My favorite quote from this particular panel and also an idea that I firmly believe... The greatest liberty is controlling your own health, your destiny... in your own health.  The panel also mentioned that the best way to spread the word, to encourage more of the 1:1 is to have a story to tell that is different than what anyone else is doing.  People will come to us because they have a problem and it is up to us to find a creative way to offer a solution.  And share our story with them.

The final two presentations of the day were Mark Sisson and James OPT Fitzgerald.  Since I already benefit greatly from MarksDailyApple.com and have read The Primal Blueprint, it was great to listen to Mark Sisson reinforce and relate all of the information through discussion.  My takeaways that evening were this:

*  What's right for me may not always be right for you.
*  There are no right or wrong answers in life.  Just choices.  (and we must accept the results of the choices that we have made and cannot judge others for the choices that they make)

OPT gave a fantastic coaching presentation on assessment and coaching techniques for taking weight overhead.  He is incredibly enthusiastic and fun to watch and instead of reposting my notes - I'm just going to recommend heading out to his certification programs.  There is some hefty information to be had!

When all was said and done, I headed down to the book signing where I was able to meet all of the wonderful cookbook authors and have them sign my books which are now permanently within reach of my cooking corner.  I returned back "home" late that evening after a brain exhausting day - just in time to chow on some slow-cooked pork roast and pineapple before collapsing into my bed for the night.  More good quality sleep, right?  Not this trip!

Read the rest of the story HERE.


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