– Jess S.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend PaleoFx, a three-day conference held in Austin, Texas. In its third year, PaleoFx is like the Golden Globes of the primal sector. I can’t think of a single blogger, author or subject matter expert who was not hanging around the Palmer Events Center this weekend.
Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, Michelle Tam, Chris Kresser, Diane Sanfilippo, Hayley and Bill Staley (just to name a few – and I mean a few) were in attendance along with notable sport-minded – like triathlete Ben Greenfield, performance scientist John Kiefer and James Fitzgerald, owner and director of training at OPT.
There were neuroscientists and doctors of psychology, surgeons and professors of medicine, scholars and students of social behavior – even the Barbell Shrugged guys were working the event.
And in addition to the few members of the media (myself included) on hand there were three separate documentaries on the paleo lifestyle filming at any given time.
A lot of us are just coming off our Whole90 or Swole90 challenges. Some of us may be thinking it’s time for a Whole30 of our own. We’re considering our plans for the next training year and I’d bet there are a few of us out there still trying to get to a nutritional/fitness goal that we just haven’t been able to reach yet, so I wanted to share some of the key takeaways from this year’s conference.
– The theory of evolution – If there was one thing Robb Wolf and Mark Sisson, two respected members of the paleo community, wanted to make clear to standing room only audience, it was this: Paleo is evolving. It’s a lifestyle that follows the science – so that means that as new studies are done, new information is found and new opinions formed, so will the theories that being paleo means being the restrictive, retro-caveman seen by so many critics. It also means that understanding what works for you, what you can digest and what you can’t is going to make all the difference. Read up on some of the latest opinions to understand the processes of ensuring these foods are prepared for optimum nutrition and then make the best choice for you.
– The numbers game – If your goal is optimal health, then getting familiar with all of your numbers is kind of a big deal. Ben Greenfield, a former Ironman and triathlete just released a new book called Beyond Training. Greenfield focuses on how to achieve a heightened level of fitness – without destroying your body. He’s a numbers guy and recommends getting specific tests so you fully understand your cortisol levels and all the other levels I have yet to learn about. And he stresses the importance of all around health like sleep and stress. Robby and I both have his book and Robby will probably have it done by the time I get done writing this post.
– Now’s the time for notebooks – Numbers aren’t just important for nutrition. When James Fitzgerald talked about what he was studying in terms of performance, it also came down to the numbers. If you’re starting a new training program this year and you’re a so/so record keeper when it comes to your workouts and your lifts – start writing it all down now. Pay attention to the volume, pay attention to the sequence of the movements. If for nothing else, do it to set a realistic goal the next time you’re going after something personal. For some of you, it’ll be the Open. For others, it’ll be Murph. Either way, what’s the harm in writing a few things down?
– Play – Achieving balance in life overall was a topic touched on during almost every session at this year’s conference. Greenfield noted the importance of breathing – “breathe through your nose only for a workout,” he said. “It’s hard. I had to buy nasal strips to get used to it. But it’s a completely different experience.” Sleep. Listen to your body when it’s tired or when it keeps getting sick, or when it’s hungry and not hungry. And play. Darryl Edwards a.k.a “The Fitness Explorer” left a lucrative career and made the switch to a health and fitness coach focusing on natural movement. He encourages the idea of play, of getting outside and enjoying yourself and making whatever exercise you’re doing, fun.
Edwards also suffered a blow to the head during one of his sessions and after consulting with the EMT on the scene, discovered his split eyelid would need more than two dozen stitches. Being from the UK, after a few more discussions – those stitches would set him back $12,000 in our current healthcare system. He was able to get to a physician on a number of recommendations who recognized his work – and stitched him up for free.
The moral of the story? There are a lot of reasons to take stock and make the matter of your health a high priority – including the cost of it all. My first day back, I let Robby know I’d be coming to him for advice on specific tests to take and would consult with him on some nutrition questions. We’re really lucky to have Robby, guys. He knows way more about this stuff than most and you can set up a time to talk to him for less than it would cost for 25 stitches in Austin, Texas.
When asked by one enthusiastic attendee how she might get the word out about paleo, Robb Wolf’s answer was pretty simple. Look no further than your community. So when you can, support a farmer, buy local, ask anyone at the gym who’s willing to listen any questions you might have. And you don’t have to be a jerk to those who maybe don’t understand the lifestyle change you’ve chosen to make. You just have to tell them how great you feel.
Oh and here’s a cool video that Primal Palate put together about their trip to PFX14.