What a week!
I'm back home after eight fantastic, exhausting days in Austin! I may be the only person returning from a nutrition conference less lean than when I left. Can we not just pretend that Amy's (amazing!) Ice Cream is paleo? Deal? Super!
So from March 28th to 31st I attended the 2nd annual PaleoFX health and fitness symposium, where many of the best and brightest addressed issues that should matter to all of us. Achieving vibrant health, reversing disease, understanding hormones, eating for athletic performance, weight maintenance, environmental sustainability, and reforming health care were among the issues discussed by dozens of experts like Robb Wolf, Chris Kresser, Terry Wahls, Paul Jaminet, and Nora Gedgaudas.
Let me just admit, and I know I may lose what little credibility I have, that more than a couple of the speakers were "sponge-worthy". Sitting beside a young woman as a panel gathered onstage, I said "is it just me or is Robb Wolf a hunk?" to which she excitedly replied "I can't take my eyes off him!" as she continued to stare ahead, transfixed. And I get it: There's something about a lean, tanned, broad-shouldered, super smart, modest yet confident guy with light in his eyes and passion in his heart that inspires... Well sure, admiration. But more... let's call them "salacious thoughts".
The symposium launched on Thursday at noon. This year it was held in the beautiful, enormous Palmer Center on the south side of Lady Bird Lake overlooking downtown Austin. (Full disclosure: Every time I hear "Lady Bird" I kind of giggle!) The first speaker was Nora Gedgaudas, the dynamic, brilliant author of Primal Diet, Primal Mind. I'm sure her talk was fascinating but poor me, I was doing kundalini yoga with my *new friend* Melissa Joulwan, the faboo blogger and author of Well Fed, while panting like a dog!!! (Truly, the teacher said to do it. But I was so happy and excited, it came easily!)
That I've had the opportunity to befriend Mel and even hang a little with several other of my role models in this community - wonderful, gifted people like Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo, Stefani Ruper of Paleo For Women, Sarah Fragoso and husband John of Everyday Paleo and EPLifefit, and Sarah's partner Jason Seib, author of The Paleo Coach - is a testament to how unique this gathering is.
"Holy shit, there's Chris Kresser!" "Oh man, that looks like Matt and Stacy of The Paleo Parents!" On Day One my head was spinning. I'm a lot of things but aloof isn't one of them so with each sighting and handshake I could feel my face growing more flushed. Alas, I peaked at purple when, while talking to the Ryan Seacrest of paleo podcasting Jimmy Moore, I suddenly found myself choking on a piece of jerky! I'll let you imagine Jimmy's expression as I gasped wordlessly for air, both fearing death and wishing for it. But it's his pithy observation afterward that's truly priceless: "Eating and talking... That's not smart!" I AM AWARE! We spent the next two days pretending to not see each other. (Eventually I broke the ice in line for cocktails at the banquet at Springdale Farms on Saturday night.)
With few exceptions - most notably Mark Sisson and Melissa and Dallas Hartwig - the cream of the paleosphere could be found roaming the halls of Palmer Center. There was Amy Kubal (she's pocket-sized!), best-selling author Diane Sanfilippo from Balanced Bites, Bill Staley and Hayley Mason of The Food Lovers Kitchen, Julie and Charles Mayfield of Paleo Comfort Foods, CrossFit Games winner and coach James "OPT" Fitzgerald, two-time Olympic skier and fitness coach Eva Twardokens, podcasters Sean Croxton and Abel James, PaleOMG's Juli Bauer with George Bryant of Civilized Caveman, naturopathic doctor and podcaster Dr. Lauren Noel... There was no end to the stream of notable paleo peeps.
For my first time ever this placed me in proximity to, quite frankly, many of my heroes: These passionate writers, scientists, coaches, and cooks whose efforts enrich my daily life. After years of following their work, there in Austin I was in the delightfully surreal position to shake their hands and say thanks. So at PaleoFX I was about as happy as a pig in shit and felt incredibly, tearfully grateful for the opportunity my life had presented me to be there and to care.
Because the truth is, if their work is improving my life it's because I give a crap about how I live. So I was proud of myself too: I had travelled all the way from Montreal to Austin to listen to people talk about health on my own time and dime. Who does that? In these moments it's important to remember that roads often lead us to places and down other paths we cannot imagine. So my seeming misstep as an obese, secretly unhappy young adult paved the way for me to flourish into the healthy, vibrant woman I am today. I now realize that no other path could have guided me to this life I now live and love.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my PaleoFX wrap-up, coming soon!