On March 26, 2013 at 4:00am I began the first leg of my 28 hour drive to Austin Texas. Our group consisted of three other, eager participants from Ontario, Canada. Glen Lalond from Toronto, a Paleo Lifestyle Activist; Jon Randles of New Market, founder of Legendary Fitness and the popular blog Sex, Food & Kettlebells – A Guide to Ancestral Health in a Modern World; and Mitch Baird from the town of Thorold, the program developer for the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative.
The Paleo Parking Lot Boys with Glen, Jon and Mitch.
There was never a lull in our conversations, on the various topics we discussed during our long trek. We finally arrived at our destination in Austin at approximately 11:30 Wednesday night to the house that we were sharing with Michael Roesslein of Warrenville, Illinois, founder of Natural Evolution Holistic Health and Fitness.
It was ironic that for the past 18 months I was the healthiest I had ever been in my life, simply by following a Paleo/Primal lifestyle, and now, here I was, arriving at the Palmer Event Center, dehydrated, sleep deprived and with elevated cortisol levels. Even so, I felt a certain level of comfort being with all of these people who just understood what I was dealing with.
Nora Gedgaudas was the opening key note speaker and probably the number one reason I attended this conference. She spoke about the roots of various forms of adrenal dysregulation, based on more modern research and approaches for restoring a healthier state of internal stress management. If you want to take steps toward improving your health and nutrition, Nora has mastered the skill of putting extremely, confusing topics into an easy to understand format. Her book Primal Body, Primal Mind is a must read. The rest of the day was packed with speakers including Dr. Cate Shanahan, Dr. Emily Deans, Sarah Fragoso, Dr. Terry Wahls, Dr. Lauren Noel, Steve Cooksey, and Robb Wolf. I was especially impressed with Dr. Terry Wahls, who suffered from secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, and had spent four years confined to a tilt recline wheelchair. After combining Functional Medicine, Ancestral Health and the nutritional needs of the brain, she restored her health and less than a year later was out cycling 18 miles with her family. If that doesn’t impress you…
Stefani Ruper, Beverly Meyer, Diane Sanfilippo, Sarah Fragoso, Nora Gedgaudas
People entered the Paleo realm from different paths, whether from trying to improve diet, reverse disease, or increase their overall performance. As I am still in the healing stage of my journey, I was unable to spend time with the ‘awesome’, movement workshops running outside such as Mov Nat, Parkour, and Primal Play; although, after listening to my travel companions sharing their experiences I will certainly partake in these activities next year.
There was also cooking demonstrations and since I LOVE cooking and photographing my food, this was an area of interest as well. As I was spending most of my time listening to panel discussions, on various topics from women’s health, creating new habits, the effect of hormones, circadian rhythms and much more, I did not get many cooking demos in. There was more than enough topics to choose from, and sometimes you were in a state of panic of having to decide between topics, as they were presenting at the same time. This really helped me to focus my interest and to determine what was important and relevant to me right now.
George Bryant & Julie Bauer
I also went to the Paleo FX Conference imagining that all of my idols and gurus would be behind the scenes, while we lowly groupies would remain in the audience, waiting in long lines to shake their hands or snap a picture or two. To my delight there was no ‘THEM’ and ‘US’ thinking it was ‘WE’ and I have to say that this was probably one of my favourite parts of PFX. Not only did I get the chance to meet the authors of several books I have read over and over, along with the cooking or health blogs I follow like a religion, I was able hang out with them and then chat with them as they made themselves totally accessible for the entire event. They seemed truly interested in our stories, and I am certain that sharing the fact that we drove 28 hours to see them really worked its magic …pity has its place!
Michelle Tam & Jon Randles Glen Lalonde & Robb Wolf
Abel Bascom, Nora Gedgaudas, Jacob Egbert, Dan Pardi, Emily Deans, Dan French, Amy Kubal
There was a moment, during my week at PFX, that I stepped out for lunch. On my way back, I came upon a homeless man who was crawling on the ground collecting what I thought were stones. As I got closer, I realized he was collecting nuts that had fallen from the tree we were under.
I stood there for a moment and all I could think about was those hundreds of people, inside the events centre, trying to learn the ways of our ancestors from various doctors, scientists and chefs, and yet… here was a real live gatherer right outside the doors. I do not believe that anyone asked him to come and speak about his experiences. I even wonder how many people would even acknowledge his presence or that of the other gatherers living along the train tracks, which were living off Mother Earth. Sadly sometimes the homeless become nothing more than wallpaper.
Another group of people, who were not represented at PFX, was our own indigenous peoples, those real live hunters and gatherers of today living off of the land. Now that would have been an impressive panel. Sometimes we all forget to look right in front of us.
Mitch Baird of the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative
Looking back at the trip I loved every aspect of it, even including the flat tire we had to deal with on our way home, while in Tennessee. I learned, I laughed, I cried and happily, I made some incredible friends. Would I go back next year? Certainly; although, next year we fly!