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Much like my experience at the Weston A. Price Foundation conference in November, what made the PaleoFX event so special for me was getting the chance to meet so many people in the world of Ancestral health who I deeply respect and admire.
The small crowd and casual set up was probably the best aspect of PaleoFX. Most conferences are packed with people, and the only chance you have to talk to the presenters is on a microphone in front of a crowd, or after standing in line for twenty minutes. These guys and gals get swamped by other presenters, interested conference attendees, and what can only be described as ‘groupies’.
PaleoFX was completely different.
Mark Sisson chatted with me in line at Starbucks. I had a NorCal margarita with Robb Wolf. I got to hang out with Chris Kresser and Paul Jaminet. And let’s not even get started on the insanity that was the Paleo Bloggers House. The fact that the event was so casual, and the speakers were so accessible, made it such an incredible opportunity to get my networking on! Hopefully I made a good impression with those people who I’ve grown to be so impressed by.
So this post is dedicated to all the incredible people that made my weekend so awesome that I’m still buzzing from it.
Here comes the flattery.
Meeting Chris was great, and I really enjoyed the high level of thought he brought to all the panels he was on. Without a doubt, Chris’s talk on cholesterol was the best and most informative of the whole conference. It was structured much more like the discussions I’m used to seeing at conferences like WAPF, and I feel like I learned a lot from him. Granted, a lot of it was synthesized information from a variety of his blog posts and podcasts, but if anyone wasn’t aware of how brilliant Chris is before attending PaleoFX, they certainly know now!
As this was the first time I’ve seen Chris speaking live, I can assuredly say that he has solidified a spot in my short list of top experts that I rely on for unbiased, meticulously researched opinions on health and nutrition. There aren’t many people out there who I would listen to without some level of skepticism, but Chris is one of them. That may sound foolish, but honestly, Chris is probably one of the only bloggers/podcasters who I think (A) does not make strong, dogmatic statements, (B) has a brilliant grasp on both the research and clinical evidence behind his statements, and (C) is willing to be extremely up front when he realizes he’s made a mistake. His combination of careful research and real-world experience makes him an incredibly valuable resource for the Ancestral health community, and I hope that people will start following his work regularly. I trust him to give solid, unbiased information that will be helpful to a huge range of people. Plus, the content of his talk was much more informative than some of the other speakers who rely mostly on personality or entertainment value. (that said, Chris has a really cool, California-dude personality that was an unexpected surprise!)
Long story short, if you’re not reading Chris Kresser already, you’re missing out on a whole heap of useful information and health advice. I realize that his work may not have the same level of entertainment value as other sites or podcasts, but I believe the information he provides on a regular basis is going to take Paleo from a ‘chicken and broccoli’ type diet to a ‘bone broth and cod liver oil’ one, and we’ll all be better off for it. I’m glad we have brilliant writers like Chris who are willing to put in the level of dedication and effort it takes to synthesize all the conflicting health information out there.
Where to start about Robb? I’m sure everyone is well aware that he was one of the ‘Paleo Rockstars’ at the conference, with throngs of people following him around right and left. (Truly, I don’t know how the guy deals with that level of fandom at these events, I feel like it would drive me up a wall.) Based on his insane popularity and seemingly “I don’t give a s***” attitude, I was actually expecting him to be either standoff-ish, too busy to talk to people, or maybe even an egotistical jerk. Clearly I tend to pre-judge people way too easily, because nothing could be farther from the truth.
First of all, Robb has to be one of the nicest guys involved in the Paleo scene. I was borderline terrified of introducing myself to him, but after getting past the initial intimidation (and embarassment), I realized that he was super nice and actually seemed genuinely interested in meeting me and chatting about some projects I thought he would be interested in getting involved with. He could have blown me off or not taken the time to chat with me, but he was extremely warm and engaging when I approached him, which was a pleasant surprise. I feel much more comfortable discussing future projects with him, and now that I know how non-egotistical he is, I’m more inclined to continue referring to him as one of my go-to experts. (I find that when ‘experts’ have a huge ego, its a big turnoff to me wanting to listen to anything they have to say, even if they’re right.)
One more thing about Robb that I think is fantastic is his dedication to the policy and governmental side of the food issue. A lot of times, many of the big name nutrition and health ‘gurus’ don’t want to get involved in anything bigger than their own business, whether for lack of profit or fear of retaliation. Robb, on the other hand, is passionate about the politics of food and healthcare, and wants to start making a grassroots effort to change the way our country produces food and practices medicine. Robb cares about supporting local food economies, protecting clinicians that practice alternative medicine, and providing resources for the general public to get access to healthy food and better information about health. It’s pretty inspiring, especially because he could easily say ‘screw it’ and not care about less profitable endeavors like public health policy. I really enjoyed his contributions to the discussion about healthcare, community outreach, and food policy, and I hope I’ll get the opportunity to collaborate with him in the future on these issues. (end gushing!)
I had met Paul at the Weston A. Price conference in November, and I’m really glad that he was invited to PaleoFX. I think the whole safe starch debate was starting to get a little bit ridiculous (ok… a LOT bit ridiculous), and there was still some hint of animosity during some of the discussions regarding carbohydrates during the panels. Regardless, Paul has been excellent at defending his position regarding the ideal diet for most people, and gave a great talk about how he developed his dietary philosophy. He’s a smart guy, and I think having him at the event was a good move by the folks that organized the event. I hope that people will have left the conference giving a bit more thought to Paul’s theories, and I encourage people to check out his website, where he blogs about various hot topics in the Ancestral health world.
I was so pumped when I found out that Judith was going to be at PaleoFX! Pumped… and a little bit startled. I never would have thought to see her at an event like this. I’ve seen Judith talk at the WAPF conferences, and I’ve been blown away by how intelligent and passionate this woman is. She is an attorney, a farmer, and the Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance. The Alliance is “a non-profit organization founded to protect the rights of independent farmers, ranchers, and homesteaders, and to help ensure the success of independent agriculture.” So Judith not only talks the talk, she walks the walk. She knows what it’s like to be a farmer, and she sees their struggle every day. So seeing her and Robb hash out their ideas about sustainable agriculture and the future of the food movement was excellent and one of my favorite moments of the event. I really hope that those two start working together, since I think they could make some serious, impacting changes if they put their minds together on some of the food policy issues that they’re both so passionate about.
Another one of the nicest guys in the Paleo movement! I was pleased to get a chance to talk to Angelo at dinner on Friday night following the close of the conference. We chatted about the impending intersection of Paleo and Weston Price, and theorized about where the movement is going next. We both agree that one of the major topics that is bound to come up soon is the amount and type of protein people are eating – do most Paleo people eat too much protein? Should we all be eating more fish? Interesting questions that neither of us have the answer to, but we both had some opinions to share with each other. I always like running into people that are just as into WAPF as they are into Paleo, since the information presented by both sides is so valuable. Angelo is a super sharp guy, and is making a big name for himself as the podcaster on “Latest In Paleo”. I just signed up for automatic downloads of his podcast on iTunes, and I can’t wait to start listening to him on a weekly basis.
I was really excited to meet Jimmy, mainly because he has interviewed my mom, and went down to Washington DC with her to testify against the USDA guidelines! He’s another example of how we should be taking action instead of just talking about it. He was so encouraging of me, and to hear that he actually reads (and enjoys!) my blog was flattering. I think it’s really great that Jimmy covers all the major topics in the Paleo world so thoroughly, and always makes sure he shows both sides of the argument, no matter what the topic is. For a guy whose blog is called “Livin’ La Vida Low Carb”, he is certainly very open to the idea that there may be such things as safe starches, and I really look forward to hearing his opinion about this in the future. He’s definitely a guy that’s open to any and all information, and I’ll be interested to see where he goes in the future with his own personal diet strategy. I also had a really lovely conversation with him about the topic of religion and how it tends to be looked down upon in the Paleo movement. We both agree that someone’s religious beliefs should not play any role in their ability to critically analyze scientific evidence about the human diet. We both feel that a belief in God does not automatically make you unable to understand the science behind the Ancestral Health movement, and we hope that people will become more tolerant of personal beliefs in the future, especially because one’s beliefs about religion should not play any role in their pursuit of the optimal human diet.
Now I’ll take this opportunity to talk up my fabulous roommates from the weekend!
I hope Diane realizes how much I appreciate everything she’s done for me to get me where I am right now. I wouldn’t have even been able to attend PaleoFX without Diane’s help and inspiration, and the fact that she brought me in to the circle of Paleo bloggers for the weekend made such an incredible difference in the experience I had. Not many people would have done that for someone they don’t even know and have no obligation to support. I don’t know why Diane decided to take me under her wing, but I’m really glad she did! She’s super sweet but also a total sarcastic ‘Jersey girl’, which is a combination that I really appreciate since I tend to be that way myself. I had so much fun spending time with her this weekend, and I hope I get many more opportunities to do so in the future. She’s inspiring to me as far as her successful career goes, and I plan on continuing to look up to her as a source of influence for my future career in the world of nutrition.
Oh good lord, what can I even say about Liz without sounding like a total stalker? This girl is probably one of my favorite people on the planet (Paleo or otherwise). I had such a great time with her during WAPF, and even though I didn’t get to spend anywhere near as much time with her this weekend, I enjoyed every bit of time I did have. Liz is such a ridiculous combination of beauty, brains, and comedic genius that it kind of makes me jealous of her husband for getting to come home to that trifecta of awesomeness. (Is that weird?) So the fact that I’m mildly obsessed with this chick makes it even more flattering when she encourages me to keep pursuing my dreams and to value my contribution to the Ancestral Health community. Having someone like her to go to for advice about more than just nutrition has been great for me, and I look up to her the way someone would look up to a big sister. It makes me sad that I only get to see her a few times a year, and I hope I’ll continue to have the opportunity to spend time with her in the future. She’s a true inspiration to me, both as a nutritionist and generally as the kind of smart, sassy, and self-assured woman I aspire to be. Thebomb.com.
Diana and I got to spend a lot of time with each other this weekend, and I’m glad I got to meet her! Like me, she is studying to get her RD degree, though she already has a great nutritional consulting business as well as an organic farm. Diana is another one of those inspiring women who I look to as far as where my career may take me. I still have no idea how she manages to run a business, a farm, AND take classes towards an advanced degree, not to mention raise children! Pretty incredible, if you ask me. She was really fun to talk to, and it turns out we have so much more in common than I would have expected. I can’t wait to see her at AHS, and really hope I get to collaborate with her on future projects!
I’m so grateful that Bill and Hayley did such an amazing job at organizing the weekend for us! I’m glad I got to meet them this weekend, especially because they have created my absolute favorite Paleo cookbook out there. Watching Bill work his magic with a camera was amazing. He turned every picture of the event into a work of art – literally! I only wish that we’d gotten the opportunity to taste some of their cooking since I’ve heard so much about it! The two of them together are absolutely adorable, and I think its so sweet that they support each other through the thick and thin of running a business, dealing with health issues, and creating a successful blog. Their ability to design recipes is astounding, and their new website is one that I’ll be using frequently to plan my dinners. These two were a blast to hang out with, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them at future events.
‘Nom Nom Paleo’ and ‘Fit Bomb’ – yes, we really do call these two by their blog name. I’m pretty sure if you look up the term “down-to-earth” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of these two… and Nom Nom will probably be flicking you off. This dynamic duo was everything I expected and more – super smart, dedicated to their work, and absolutely hilarious. They work so freaking hard on their blogging that it’s no wonder they’re one of the most popular Paleo blog teams out there. I was amazed at the time and energy they spent perfecting their posts, and I was impressed by the amount of teamwork they engaged in to help each other get their work done. Nom Nom is sweet and spunky, while Fit Bomb is very mellow and laid back, and I think they compliment each other perfectly. I hope one day my future marriage is as well-matched as theirs seems to be. Again, I can’t wait to see these two at future events for some inevitable hilarity!
George from Civilized Caveman
I had no idea what to expect from meeting George, and I was suprised to see a fit, young, bald guy where I had thought I’d be seeing an old dude with a white beard. George is one of those unbelievable success stories in the Paleo community, which I think is why he is so inspiring to others. Not to mention he’s a social media genius, so I might have to hit him up for some pointers on marketing myself in the future. We got into some deep conversations, particularly about body image in the Paleo community and how women tend to be judged for not being as fit as the men. I was very pleased to see how open-minded George is, and also to hear that he was very supportive of women being healthy and not forcing themselves into a ‘bikini model’ ideal body. George was a blast to hang out with, and its flattering to hear that he was a fan of my blog before he even met me! I can’t wait to spend some more time with him, and I know he’s going to be a big contributor to the Paleo/Primal blog scene.
Stacy from Paleo Parents
I was glad I finally got to meet Stacy after she so generously sent me a copy of her cookbook! She was the first person to make me feel like a ‘real’ blogger, and I was thrilled to get a chance to write a review of her cookbook. Stacy is another inspiration in the world of Paleo, specifically for people who have children and are struggling with making the lifestyle change. We had some really interesting discussion about whether or not people should eat lower quality animal products like CAFO eggs and liver if they have no other options. It was cool to get to chat to someone who actually does have to feed a family on a budget and to see how she makes things work for her own kids. I’m really glad happy that Stacy’s had so much success with her book, and I’ll be glad to see her again at the next event!
Despite the fact that I heckled Bobby all weekend about not belonging at the “Paleo Blogger” house, I’m really glad he was able to attend the event with us. I owe Bobby a great deal of gratitude for getting me hooked up with Liz for the WAPF conference, and generally helping me get the ball rolling on my entry into the world of Paleo. I honestly have no idea where I’d be right now without his help! I’m so glad that I’ve gotten to meet him through a variety of different projects, and I can tell from his level of passion that he’s going to be in this for the long haul. I’m pumped to continue working with him on some pretty exciting projects, and I really hope he continues to pursue his dreams of making his own mark on the world of Ancestral health!
That about sums it up! This weekend was absolutely incredible, I had so much fun meeting everyone, and I can’t wait until we’re all back together in the future! Thanks for everything!!!